Trials Amplify Praise
Central Idea: Peter affirms his readers’ joy in salvation - joy that is the fruit of a faith that, refined by trials, sees its way through to love for Christ and a joy that makes no sense in this world. Prophets and angels alike were intrigued by this salvation, wanting to know who and when. It is you who get to hear this glorious gospel.
Explanations / Questions:
I have two primary arcs in this passage, v.6-9 and v.10-12. I considered relating these as Id-Ex as v.10 begins, “concerning this salvation…” which directly follows, “… the salvation of your souls” in v.9. However, v.6, “In this…”, and v.10, “Concerning this…” are both pointing back to the same antecedent - the salvation that Peter was praising God for in v.3-5. In this way v.6-12 are the two-part explanation of the idea presented in v.3-5.
v.6-9, Peter both affirms that his readers are rejoicing in their salvation even though they are facing trials as well as instructs them in how it is possible to rejoice in trials:
v.6-7, Peter does not merely put a silver lining on a dark cloud. Far from hindering our joy in God, trials actually serve to amplify praise.
v.8, The logic is as follows:
Even though you did not see Christ, you came to love him; You still don’t see him but you are trusting him and so you rejoice with a joy that has no earthly counterpart.
v.10-12, The ‘Action’: prophets intently sought to understand the details of God’s salvation plan. Their ‘Manner’: asking specifically who? and when?
v.11, Question: Is Peter referring to specific prophets, specific OT passages? (We can only speculate, but Isaiah 53 certainly comes to mind.)
v.12, a & b could be combined as one assertion as 12a only introduces the main point which is the answer that was revealed. If arced this way there would be no Id-Ex, only the -/+ answer.
v.6-9, Many authors have written on Peter’s maturing as a man of God as seen through the lens of the Gospels, Acts, Paul, and finally in Peter’s own letters. It is striking to me how masterfully Peter weaves encouragement and instruction seamlessly together. At the same time that he gives instruction concerning the necessity of trials in refining faith, he affirms their faith and joy in salvation. So much like the Chief-Shepherd, Peter models a deep pastoral sensitivity.
Jonathan Edwards finds in this passage, particularly verse 8, the foundation for his treatise on Religious Affections. He affirms,
“True religion, in great part, consists in holy affections. We see that the apostle, in observing and remarking the operations and exercises of religion in the Christians he wrote to, wherein their religion appeared to be true and of the right kind, when it had its greatest trial of what sort it was, being tried by persecution as gold is tried in the fire, and when their religion not only proved true, but was most pure, and cleansed from its dross and mixtures of that which was not true, and when religion appeared in them most in its genuine excellency and native beauty, and was found to praise, and honor, and glory; he singles out the religious affections of love and joy, that were then in exercise in them: these are the exercises of religion he takes notice of wherein their religion did thus appear true and pure, and in its proper glory.” Religious Affections, Part I
v.12, cf. Hebrews 11:39-40, concerning the many faithful who have gone before us, it is written, “…that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” Oh, the wonderful grace of God’s patience that brings salvation down through the ages.
A Concessive proposition, by definition, will appear to contradict the main assertion. But ponder v. 28 awhile. “No one is greater than John” yet “even the least in the kingdom is greater than John.”
The starkness of the Concessive in v.28 highlights the Progression to this verse as the Main Point of Jesus’ message (v.24–28):
Do not doubt John’s integrity. He is the greatest of the prophets. Nevertheless, as his whole ministry was only to point to Christ, even the least among those who believe in Christ is greater than John.
This may run counter to all human expectations, but God’s wisdom will be proven out in the end.
So here’s a nagging question that I have had: Why is there not a label for a Ground-Inference-Ground arc? I might call it an Inverse Bilateral.
Psalm 86:8-10 seems like a perfect candidate. Because verse 10 is a restatement of verse 8, it does not seem accurate to arc 8-9 together, grounded by 10. Nor 9-10 together as an inference from 8.
Brandon, here is a reference sheet of English conjunctions from the Arcing Course. It is not an exhaustive list but it is quite thorough. The middle symbol for each item is a specific label used for arcing/bracketing. For the sake of the Paraphrase Course, simply note that the symbols S, A, and P are all Parallel connections, while all the rest are Supporting connections.
My inclination would be to use Action-Result for the first type, that is, a cause-effect. Ground fits here as well if the emphasis is on the logical basis of an outcome as opposed to an event based outcome.
For the second type (evidence of a reality), Ground is appropriate. As in courtroom law, evidence presented forms the basis (or ground) for the conclusions drawn.
I would suggest either the Phrasing or Bracketing courses. Phrasing will emphasize the grammar, while Bracketing/arcing will emphasize the logical flow, so take your pick.
I lean (and it is only slightly) toward Bracketing over Arcing only because it has an emphasis on discerning the main point which is a great follow-up to Paraphrase.
That being said, I’d love to hear what others have to say.
I think this is a great question Jonathan. I’m posting this comment in order to bring it back up the pile for others to see. I’d love to hear ideas on this.
My own thought is that the Phrasing module might be a good place to start. It can help show children how words come together to make phrases (which is how we speak) and that phrases are the building blocks for communicating ideas. This module doesn’t require getting technical about grammar and so it can be adapted to whatever level a child is at.
Brandon, my biggest encouragement is plunge in. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake… the instructor has made plenty of his own! (that would be me)
I would also advise you not to get lost in the details. Focus on the big picture. That is, identify the major topics that you see and place a division when the topic changes. Look for the clues the author himself gives that he is shifting gears.
And prayerfully enjoy your study.
I look forward to seeing your work,
I would not agree with your assessment for a few reasons…
Arcing/Bracketing are quite useful with smaller portions - anything with 2 or more propositions. I have often pulled just a verse or two out of a larger arc simply to highlight a single logical relationship.
Phrasing can be useful for larger passages. In my own experience, I have regularly phrased whole chapters, in fact this is often the first step in my sermon preparation. (My phrase often gets tweaked as my study progresses.)
I agree that Arcing/Bracketing does work well with a large, extended passage of multiple chapters. This is called macro-arcing and requires that you condense closely related propositions into single units, otherwise the arc gets unwieldy and the larger thought flow lost in the details. I’ve not tried to Phrase such a long passage, but suspect it can be done in the same manner– that is, by condensing closely knit phrases together.
The main difference I see is that Phrasing emphasizes the grammatical relationships, while Arcing/Bracketing emphasizes the logical relationships. I say, “emphasize,” because, of course, grammar and logic are closely related.