In Church, Today. Conversion: Turning Around
August 22, 2010 2 Comments
In a Sunday Sacrament service there were two addresses on the notion of conversion. One speaker very feelingly quoted Luke 22:31-2 from the KJV:
31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
The speaker went on to talk about the meaning of this pericope, with I think the usual LDS message that it was the gift of the Holy Ghost that made the difference in Peter’s strength in the face of challenge. I don’t find that explanation problematic particularly, but I think the KJV text obscures several features of the passage that may be useful.
First, the “Satan hath desired to have you” is in fact directed to all present. In this case, the Greek uses the plural form of “you.” A rather literal version of the passage would be
Said yet the Master: Simon, Simon, be perceiving. The Satan [Heb: adversary] wishes you all to quake as the grain. Yet I besought about you that [there] may be no lack in [your] faith and you once turning around stand fast [for your] brothers
“Turning around” (epistrepsis) is translated “converted” here. My own personal reflection on this during the talk set me to thinking about this command as one presaging Peter’s eventual responsibility. Turning around or just “turning” here can be literal and could suggest that in facing his fellow disciples he would stand in the place of Jesus as care-taker of the flock. This makes the passage one which leaps over the coming dark moments, to both a hopeful and challenging future. I think that this way of looking at the passage makes the words prophetic in a somewhat different way than the KJV texts suggests.
Peter’s response (which the writer seems to portray with some incredulity) reported in Luke 22:33, suggests that Peter is unwilling to be parted from Jesus, no matter what. There is no recorded response to the prediction of denial. A bit of a conversation stopper.