In worship yesterday, the scriptures were read from Peter’s first letter. As I was listened I was able to tell that the speaker was reading from the New American Standard, not updated, Bible. The original NASB reads-
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure. (1 Peter 1:1-2)
It is the phrase “that you may obey Jesus Christ” that causes my consternation. The reading gives a Calvinistic tone that is not demanded by the Greek language. The implication is that a person is chosen by the foreknowledge of God to obedience. Essentially, predestination is implied. Simply put, predestination is a doctrine teaching that God, before creation, chose who would be saved and who would be lost, irrespective of our actions.
I am thankful that the NASB update did correct this text so that the predestination bias was somewhat removed.
…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure. (1 Peter 1:2, NASB update)
The NRSV reads similar to the update:
…who have been chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit to be obedient to Jesus Christ and to be sprinkled with his blood: May grace and peace be yours in abundance. (1 Peter 1:2; NRSV)
Now the scripture is rendered in a way to allow the reader to make the interpretation. If you want to see predestination in this text, so be it. The possibility remains. But one can also see that a Christian is called (chosen) to obey. Peter may not at all be talking about how we are saved, but simply pointing out that the saved have been called for the purpose of obedience to Jesus. Other translations also reflect this possibility.
…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. (1 Peter 1:2; ESV)
…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and set apart by the Spirit for obedience and |for the| sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ. May grace and peace be multiplied to you. (1 Peter 1:2; HCSB)
…elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied. (1 Peter 1:2; NKJV)
…who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.Â (1 Peter 1:2; NIV)
Since Peter is writing to Christians, it seems more likely that he was telling his audience that they have been called for obedience to Jesus Christ rather than telling them about how they were saved. Why explain to the saved how they were saved? The saved should know how they were saved, otherwise they would not be saved! Peter is telling the saved about their need for continued obedience in the face of the suffering and trials they are enduring. Being God’s elect means that we have been called for a life of obedience to Jesus.
I tried for a long time to use the NASB as my primary version. In college, the NASB was required for study in the Bible classes. Even though I have used the NASB for years I still just cannot use it. I find too many instances where unnecessary words are added, causing the text to change meaning. Anyway, here is another reason why one should not be exclusive to any one particular translation. Looking at another version may open one’s eyes to another possible understanding of a text.