A traveling salesman was known for his good sales, but also for his poor grammar. He filled his orders with misspellings and his speech was peppered with dialect. Still he was top salesman. The manager took opportunity to send a note to the sales staff: “There ain’t been enough emphasis in this here company on sellin’. Sellin’s a heap more important than spellin’. George done good. Ya’ll go out and do like he done.”
We have another “George” in the New Testament, namely Simon Peter.
Those who read the original language have puzzled over the poor grammar in 2 Peter, but the excellent grammar in 1 Peter. The answer seems to be that Peter had a coach in writing his first letter. The apostle said in 1 Peter 5:12 that he wrote “with the help of Silas.” Silas was the man who took the affirming letter from the mother church in Jerusalem to the new Gentile church in Antioch (Acts 15:22), and who became Paul’s partner on his second missionary journey (Acts 15:40). We primarily remember him as the missionary who sang praises with Paul at midnight in the Philippian jail. But in this case, he was what scholars call an “amanuensis,” or secretary. He helped Peter craft his message in an acceptable fashion.
But no amanuensis is mentioned in the second letter, so we believe Peter wrote on his own. In Acts he’s called “unlearned.” Of course he was. He was a laborer who had no opportunity for education. But God used him to give us significant truths in this letter he wrote as he faced death in a Roman prison.
The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly how God gave scripture, but theologians have proposed several theories about this. One theory is called the “plenary verbal” theory. It states that God dictated words and every single word of scripture is from the Lord. Another theory is called the “dynamic” theory. It states God gave thoughts to the writers who used their unique personalities to give us truth.
I’ve always found this second theory a better option, and 2 Peter is an example. If we believed God dictated every word, we’d need to extrapolate and say God used bad grammar in 2 Peter! This, of course, is ridiculous. Instead God took a wonderfully committed though uneducated man, Peter, and revealed his word to him and through him to us.
I believe this principle offers hope to us all. God made everyone unique. He doesn’t eradicate our personalities when we become Christians, unless they’re destructive. Instead he celebrates and enhances our uniqueness. He fills us with his Spirit despite our flaws and promises to use us in his kingdom work.