A lot of the OT is pretty scary if you take it literally. Yet I do think that if we read it correctly, we can still see a picture of our loving Father there, and of Jesus and the dear Holy Spirit as well. The atheists are justified in railing against the literal “god” they see Christians believing in, in the OT. THAT god (the one they perceive) IS horrible, but THAT is not our Father and our God. I think that the OT is a story, written by human beings, about the growth and development of the nation of Israel in their relationship with God. A LOT of it is colored by their early perceptions of what a god was likely to look like, and by what was seen as a good trait for a god to have (the ability and desire to hate and defeat one’s enemies, keep those rebellious kids in line, straighten out those weirdos on the other side of town, etc.) As you read through it, you see things changing in the view that the writers have of God. I would definitely recommend (when you someday do decide to read it) reading in chronological order. That reading method highlights the change over the years.
I wrote a post yesterday, here: Inspiration-What does it mean to you? talking about how I feel about the nature of scriptural inspiration, and there are a lot of other good posts there too, on the same subject.
So, about your verses:
Looking at my other translations, that seems to be a good rendering. Here it is in the Jonathan Mitchel NT (not a version for casual reading )
I’m just sharing it because I love the visual of being immersed in the “set-apart Breath-effect” of the Holy Spirit – and at the same time, in fire. In other words, we’re not in the fire alone – the Spirit is there all around, comforting, counseling, teaching, loving . . . . But the fire is the scary part I guess. In the AoG church I used to go to, the “fire baptism” was coveted because we thought it made you fiery and powerful. I kind of think we missed the point. I suspect the fire purifies, as it almost always does in scripture. It is certainly a desirable baptism for that reason, though it’s good to know the Spirit will be and is there with us.
Again, it seems a good translation to me. It looks like you quoted only the first part of the verse (which is fine). Here it is in the CLV:
First, I want to point out that “trial” here doesn’t refer to a courtroom hearing, but rather a testing/proving of faith. We test our children in school to make sure they’ve understood and learned their lessons. If they fail the test, then they have to go back and study some more so they’ll pass the test. In the end, WE unfortunately often make it all about the test grade, but in reality, it’s all about the kids learning things they need to know, and then making sure they’ve learned them. The faith is more precious than gold (which will perish) and as it is tested by fire (probably the only effective way to test faith is by adversity), Peter prays that their faith will be found praiseworthy and that this beautiful faith will show Jesus Christ to the world.
Again, not bad. Here’s the CLV:
Just to clarify, Peter is talking about persecution that the church to whom he’s writing is or will soon be suffering. That is the fiery trial. Like the last one, this remark refers to earthly persecution as opposed to anything that might have to do with a celestial judgment. Sometimes we do suffer persecution; sometimes it’s just the trials of life. You and I know these can indeed be fiery.
There’s another meaning for testing, and while Peter didn’t use the exact word (which I don’t remember just now), I think it nevertheless applies, and it is so used elsewhere. In the refining of metals, testing means “proving,” or completing the purification and refinement of the metal by heat. So the trial doesn’t ONLY measure faith, but goes beyond that to IMPROVE the faith by getting rid of anything in there that doesn’t belong – anything that’s NOT faith.
Regarding the statement, “Our God is a consuming fire,” clearly He is not literally a fire, so we have to look at what the fire symbolizes. In the verses you’ve cited, the fire is testing, proving, purifying. Baptism is a rite of purification, and surely those being purified aren’t to be destroyed. But their impurities WILL be destroyed, and that destruction may hurt. I can testify that often it DOES hurt. To learn to hate lying because you’ve seen the damage a lie that YOU have told has done in your own and even more, in others’ lives, is NOT a pleasant process. I would call that an experience of “fiery wrath,” even though it was necessary for purification. If we can set our sins aside voluntarily, that will save us from experiencing the fire in that instance, but of course many of us find this very difficult to do. Sometimes nothing but fiery wrath can set us free from persistent, enslaving sins. As I was writing this post, I was also writing a letter to a dear friend, encouraging her to remember the same thing for her alcoholic husband. Sometimes we need to feel the pain if we’re ever going to recover. It’s sad but true.