Using Our Tools: 1 Peter 2:12
There are many Bible texts by which doctrines have been made, only come to find out a mistranslation had been made or something of the sort. Is it possible that there is something amiss in our understanding of “visitation” in 1 Peter 2:12 because of footnotes in our Bibles that read, “i.e. Christ’s coming again in judgment”? This is the view of many people I love and respect. I am not saying that this option is not possible because there is much to be said for people bowing and confessing the name of Jesus in the judgment. But maybe let’s look at the text to see what it has to say specifically about the day of visitation.
“Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.” 1 Peter 2:12. Let’s just consider this one verse. It would seem that Gentiles are visiting these Christians to see what they are doing and how they are living. What the Gentiles are supposed to see are a people with excellent behavior. The text says literally, “out of the good works, while the men are observing them, glorify God in a day of oversight/visitation (same Greek word: επίσκοπος).” So while they are observing they are to give God glory in the day of oversight. When is the oversight or visitation taking place? If it’s way off in the future when the judgment day is, then these Gentiles are in torment (if not converted) glorifying God because of the behavior of some Christians all those years ago. What’s the good in that? The day of visitation or oversight seems to be the same time as the glorification is taking place. Remember it says, while the men are observing them (being the good deeds), glorify God in the day of visitation. Whose visitation is it? If it’s Jesus’ visitation then what’s the point in these Gentiles seeing good behavior in the time of Peter. Doesn’t it make more sense for the visitation or oversight to be that of the Gentiles so that something positive can actually come from this?
To make the point stronger look at verses 13 and 14 of chapter 2. He says there are governors who are sent by kings for the punishment of “evildoers” (v.12- in which they slander you as evil doers) and the praise of those who do right. Verse 15 says it is God’s will that by doing the right thing you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. It is, maybe too big of an assumption on my part, but it is mine that the Gentiles in verse 12 are the governors who are sent by the kings to do harm to the “evildoers.” In both situations the people coming are silenced because of the behavior of the evildoers. This view also makes sense with the overriding theme of the book, being submission. The word for visitation is a word that has to do with oversight. So whose visitation/oversight is it?
If it is Jesus’ visitation then these Gentiles have a long time to wait to glorify God because of the behavior of some Christians some millennia ago. But, if it is the governors’ visitation then the glorification of God took place while they observed the Christians’ good deeds, as the verse seems to be indicating.
I’m not saying that I’m right and there are no rivaling views. I’m not saying that at all. I am saying we should think it through before we preach Jesus is going to come back and those Gentiles back in the first century are going to glorify God when He does.
God bless and happy studying!