Paragon of Excellence: 1 Peter

Paragon of Excellence: 1 Peter

Fortress Press

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Scholars routinely describe how Martin Luther prioritized the books of the New Testament that he believed most truly represented the gospel, the Living Word of Jesus Christ. Luther adored the Gospel of John and the Pauline epistles. Less well known is the admiration he had for the pastoral epistle of 1 Peter. Dennis Ngien's careful explication brings 1 Peter into the light of Lutheran biblical scholarship, demonstrating its standing for Luther alongside the Gospel of John and the Pauline epistles as the "true kernel and marrow of all books."

Ngien rejects caricatured portrayals of Peter disappearing halfway through the book of Acts. Instead, Ngien demonstrates that, for Luther, Peter stands alongside John and Paul as a master of the majestic doctrine of justification. Luther variously describes 1 Peter as "the paragon of excellence" and "the genuine and pure gospel." Ngien uses the epistle's five chapters as thematic frames for describing the depth and breadth of regard Luther had for Peter.

Indeed, for Ngien the sermons on 1 Peter present the most comprehensive early expression of Luther's mature thought and reflect the reformer's vocational maturation as "care-taker of the soul." Proclaiming Christ as gift and example, 1 Peter preached "genuinely evangelical words" that helped Luther understand his call as a theologian and, more importantly, as a minister.

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