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DD1-4: Peter as “Mr. Euthus-iasm”

This entry is part 9 of 11 in the series The John the Baptist Experience: Book 1

The John the Baptist Experience
Book 1: The Exceptional Messenger
Deeper Dive #4:
Peter as Mr. “Euthus-iasm”
1

Copyright © 20222

by
Jim Kerwin

Image of John the Baptist from a 16th Century painting“He must increase, I must decrease.”3

In a footnote in chapter 4 (Jesus Reveals John in Malachi), we mentioned that the unanimous testimony of the Early Church Fathers was that Mark’s Gospel is the faithful recounting of the preaching of the Apostle Peter.

Peter’s Favorite Adverb

Adding weight to this historical testimony is the energetic brevity of the accounts in Mark’s Gospel, and Mark’s frequent use of the adverb εὐυθύς (eu-thús). The word appears in the New Testament 59 times; of those occurrences, it functions 51 times as an adverb, and is rendered (depending on your translation) as immediately or as soon as. Mark (or Peter, if you prefer) uses εὐυθύς / euthús adverbially 41 of those 51 times, and it seems like we can almost listen through Mark’s ears to Peter’s animated and enthusiastic style of preaching and testifying.

Even Luke, in relating the Acts 10:16 description of the vision-sheet being taken up from before Peter’s eyes, uses euthús / εὐυθύς to describe the sheet’s disappearance. That’s very appropriate, since the story would have originally come from Peter’s personal testimony about the incident! We might say of Peter that his “middle name” was euthús / εὐυθύς, whereas Mark (also called John Mark) wasn’t exactly a barn burner, at least early in his career. (See Mark 14:51-52, where Mark makes an autobiographical stamp in his Gospel, as well as Acts 13:13; 15:37-39.)

Adjectivally Speaking

Peter uses euthúsεὐυθύς as an adjective in 2 Peter 2:15, when he describes the false prophets and teachers as having “forsaken the right way.” When used as an adjective, rather than an adverb, euthús / εὐυθύς means straight or right or upright. In this adjectival use, the word ties back directly and indirectly to our discussion of John the Baptist. As a direct connection, it’s the word used to describe John’s Isaiah-40:3 mission (e.g., “Make His paths straight”euthús / εὐυθύς — in Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4, as well as “the crooked will become straight”euthús / εὐυθύς — in Luke 3:5).

Indirectly, when thought of in terms of heart preparation, John the Baptist’s “heart-straightening” ministry is contrasted by Peter, when he rebukes Simon Magus in Acts 8:21 by saying, “Your heart is not euthús / εὐυθύς before God.”

Similarly, before Paul lowers the spiritual “boom” on Elymas the sorcerer in Acts 13:10, he demands: “Will you not cease to make crooked the euthús / εὐυθύς / straight ways of the Lord?”4

And perhaps there’s even a twinkle in the Holy Spirit’s Scripture-inspiring eye when He chooses a street address for the blind Saul of Tarsus to complete his conversion process and get “straightened out.” When the Lord visits faithful Ananias in a vision (Acts 9:10), He tells him that Saul will be found “on the street called Straight” — euthús / εὐυθύς (Acts 9:11)!


Endnotes:


  1. This “deeper dive” is associated with Book 1, chapter 4: Jesus Reveals John in Malachi
  2. This is an excerpt from the forthcoming book The John the Baptist Experience: Book 1: The Exceptional Messenger; copyright © 2022 by Jim Kerwin. All rights reserved.

    Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations are taken from New American Standard Bible (nasb) Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA. All rights reserved. Used by Permission. www.lockman.org

  3. Cover: Detail from Mathias Grünewald's altarpiece Crucifixion-scene painting for a church in Isenheim, France (c. 1515). Courtesy of Wikipedia, but copyright is held by Zenodot Verlagsgesellschaft mbH and licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. The Latin phrase in the “crook” of John's arm declares, “Illum oportet crescere me autem minui,” the Vulgate reading of John 3:30 — “He must increase, I must decrease.”
  4. Luke describes Elymas as “a Jewish false prophet” (Acts 13:6, where his other, that is, Jewish name is given as Bar-Jesus, i.e., “son of Joshua” in Aramaic). How opposite Elymas’ “ministry” is to that of John the Baptist! John’s commission (as noted above) was to make Messiah’s paths straight (Luke 3:4, euthús / εὐυθύς) and to oversee the crooked becoming straight (Luke 3:5, euthús / εὐυθύς). But Elymas, as “an enemy of all righteousness,” continually worked at making “crooked the straight (euthús / εὐυθύς) ways of the Lord (Acts 13:10), apparently in his controlling bid to turn Proconsul Sergius Paulus “away from the the faith” (Acts 13:8).
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