Tuesday, August 10, 2010

1 Peter 5 – The Conclusion

Conclusion of 1st Peter
I Peter 5:12-14

12 By Silvanus, our faithful brother as I consider him, I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you stand.

"By Silvanus, our faithful brother as I consider him"

In his concluding remarks, the apostle Peter considers the faithfulness of "Silvanus"; which is another name for Silas. Silvanus is the Latin or Roman form, Silas is believed to be sort of a Greek nickname.

We know Silas from his travels with Paul (Acts 15:40; 16:25). He was a prophet (Acts 15:32, 40) and Roman citizen (Acts 16:37) who for this letter was Peter's secretary. He recorded the apostle's words and later delivered the letter to its intended recipients.

Peter calls Silvanus (Silas) a "faithful" brother, a model of commitment to the truth and the church, and to Peter himself. Silvanus (Silas) had endured many of the same persecutions for the gospel's sake as Paul on their journeys together and yet remained faithful to Christ and His church. He was now ministering by Peter's side and was entrusted to both record and deliver God's Word to the Church through Peter.

Silvanus is mentioned by Paul as part of his ministry team along with Timothy in his letters to the Thessalonians and Corinthians. This trio is first assembled in Acts 15 where Silvanus is called Silas by Luke. He was a missionary, a prophet, but he is a prime example of what we studied last week, always working with and in submission to the elders, in this case the 12 Apostles, but very much engaged in the battles of spiritual warfare. Clearly he was loved and respected by Paul and Peter.

Tonia and I ran one of the children's churches here for several years and In the old South Freeway building we had a wired stage with all the Audio visual equipment back stage. James Cox ran all the sound and video every week from back stage. The kids hardly saw him but he was central to the ministry, and he shares in all the fruit from those years of work. To me that's a Silvanus kind of person, always there to help, but seldom seen center stage.

"This is the true grace of God in which you stand"

What can Peter mean by this other than the letter itself, with all its gospel truth coming to his readers and all others who love the true, saving, sanctifying, and glorifying grace of God?

This is actually a claim to inspiration that in a sense previews Peter's statement in 2 Peter 1:20-21, "knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved (inspired) by the Holy Spirit" (NKJV).

In 2 Peter the apostle affirms Old Testament's inspiration, and here he speaks of his first letter being the truth concerning God's salvation. He wrote as an inspired, authoritative author of "the living and enduring Word of God" (I Peter 1:23). Because this is true, the apostle exhorts believers to faithfulness to the truth of his letter by exclaiming, STAND FIRM IN IT! This reiterates the call of 5:9 to remain firm in the faith. Rom. 5:1-2 reminds is to stand in the same grace and truth, that we first believed through faith, for salvation.

As Christians, we do not stand upon a foundation built by human hands. The Bible is NOT the book of the month; it is the book of the ages! Its truth is timeless and its source is Divine! The truth we hold is of GOD, not of man.

13 She who is in Babylon, elect together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son.

Peter sends greetings from "she who is in Babylon, elect together with you". Some scholars say that Peter is referring here to the "church" which is in Babylon (or the figurative Babylon of Rome); other scholars say that he is actually sending greetings from his wife who travels with him. Yet another view is that Peter is referring to the diaspora, the dispersion, but chapter 1 says Peter is writing to the dispersion, so I find this view a little silly. Only the King James Version has rendered "she" as "the church". Either way (be it "the church", "Peter's wife", or the dispersion of believers") all are a part of the family of God and have fellowship with one another because we have been "elect together" in Christ.

Peter refers to Mark as his "son" indicating that he was the apostle's spiritual son (as Timothy was to Paul). This is the John Mark mentioned in Acts 12:12. He was Barnabas's cousin and accompanied Paul and him to Antioch and Cyprus (12:25; 13:4-5). He later deserted them at Perga (Acts 13:13), which caused Paul to refuse to take him along on the apostle's second missionary journey (Acts 15:36-41). Paul later found John mark to be useful to him (2 Tim. 4:11).

Can you point to a "son" or "daughter in the faith"? Only two things will last forever: the Word of God and the souls of men. Who are you bringing to heaven with you? Even the closest of earthly relationships will end in death unless you share a common faith in Jesus Christ.

14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus. Amen.

"Peace to all who are in Christ Jesus"

While the apostle Paul would often end his letters with the word "grace", Peter ends his with a word that he had often heard fall from the lips of the Lord Jesus Himself, "peace" (Mark 9:50; John 14:27; 20:19, 21, 26).

Peter wanted all the scattered and suffering saints to know that if they faithfully applied the words of his letter to their lives - God's supernatural peace would result.

Perhaps Peter recalled the time when he and the other disciples were in a wave tossed, water-logged boat thinking they were about to drown. Jesus was asleep in the stern on a pillow. They woke him up frantically saying, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?!" Jesus rebuked the wind and said, "Peace, be still!" and the wind ceased and there was a great calm (Mark 4:35-39).

Regardless of your circumstances, if Jesus is in your life, you can have peace that passes all understanding.

Philippians 4:7  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

The focus on Election, the greetings from other believers, and the blessings of grace and peace all serve to highlight the common faith, the common salvation, and the shared experience we have as believers in a fallen world.

These broken and battered believers that were being persecuted by a merciless tyrant could know peace in the midst of their storm. The same Jesus that saved them would also sustain them, secure them, and celebrate their arrival in heaven! Their loving Lord was preparing a home in heaven for them and would provide peace on their pilgrimage and joy on their journey home.

There is a lot of writing about suffering, and mourning in the Bible. Romans 12:15 tells us to "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep." This means to share the experiences of life as a community of believers. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said the mourners would be comforted, and the persecuted would inherit and be rewarded in heaven. Knowing the Lord, and trusting in his providence, allows us to always have peace regardless of circumstances.

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