The book of 1 Peter is the Biblical focus for this summer’s meeting of bishops and spouses at the Lambeth conference.
To support this focus, a new commentary has just been published on 1 Peter. It’s been written as a result of the work of the St Augustine Seminar – an international group of 35 New Testament scholars from Anglican and other churches around world. The St Augustine Seminar was convened by Professor Jennifer Strawbridge, Associate Professor in New Testament Studies at Mansfield College in the University of Oxford. The work of the St Augustine Seminar and the resources it has produced have all been funded by St Augustine’s Foundation.
According to Professor Jenn Strawbridge, verses from the book of 1 Peter will speak into many issues across the world today, from people in exile and the homeless to those suffering through abuses of power and lack of identity.
In a video about the book she said, “It’s written for real people in the world, communities who are grappling with what it means to follow Christ and to respond to a God who calls them, and that plays out in pretty much every situation of our lives.”
Professor Strawbridge, who is also a non-stipendiary minister at St Andrew’s Church in Headington, in the Diocese of Oxford, said the focus on the Bible will drive all that happens around the conference and also set the tone of discussion and debate.
“In a sense the situations we face today are really not new when we look at scripture, so I think there is a lot we can learn today about how it is we live faithfully…” she said. “The scriptural themes really do, and are driving the agenda of the Lambeth Conference, so the scripture sets the tone and the reading of 1 Peter really sets the foundation.”
The Christians addressed in 1 Peter are not aliens and exiles because they have been forcibly displaced, explained the professor, but in choosing to follow Christ, it had led them to be at odds with the political and socio situation of their day.
The book of 1 Peter was chosen by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, because it spoke to him and he believed it would speak deeply to the Anglican Communion.
The various threads and themes within the book will run throughout the conference programme. “Everything will be looked at through the lens of scripture,” said the Professor.
Other issues dealt with in these Bible passages include power and asking questions about abuses of power and how Christians continue to honour Christ in the midst of systems and regimes of authority that may be at odds with their faith.
She said, “Another key verse of 1 Peter is it calls us to live a life that leads others to ask us to give an account of the hope that is within us – to live in a way that begs that question.
“There is a real challenge there for the Communion, how is it that we live in a way that others say, ‘What is the source of your hope? How can you account for the hope that is in you, that has transformed you?’”
Professor Strawbridge outlines many other themes within the chosen book including love and reconciliation, joy and walking together in unity that will all be drawn on for the Lambeth Conference programme. Delegates are also being invited to take part in studies leading up to the event.
To get access to the commentary and see films on 1 Peter, visit the Bible Resources area of the web site here.