Meditations in 1 Peter : 68: And Finally
1 Pet 5:12-14 With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it. She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
And so we come to the end of this great little letter. In these closing sentences Peter brings greetings and in this we move into an area that lacks clarity. There are a number of questions over this passage that we are simply not able to answer with any measure of certainty.
For instance, who is the Silas that he mentions? Is it the Silas who is mentioned in Acts who travelled with Paul? Whoever he is, Peter assumes the church receiving the letter will know. In other words he is a well known figure in the early church. Then there is the reference to Babylon? There is no indication that Peter ever went east to the literal Babylon and so we must assume it is a figurative Babylon. In the book of revelation Babylon seems to be used to refer to the godless world. It is quite possible therefore that Babylon was a term used by the early church to disguise their real location, and so here it may well refer to Rome. Then there is the reference to his son, Mark. Was Mark a literal son or simply a figurative term to describe someone who had become very close to Peter (the one who wrote Mark’s Gospel?), possibly a spiritual son? Each of these names leave us realising that not everything is clear, and we have to leave it at that. Let’s put the names aside, therefore and see what else comes out of these verses.
Peter says he has written ‘briefly’. Well we may wonder at that description after five chapters but what it must do is suggest that Peter had lots more that he could have said. In fact when you look back over this letter much of it is about the difficulties of living at that time, facing persecution, and so much of it is reassurance in the face of that. In many ways that is quite a limited theme. Yes, Peter could have said a lot more but he limits himself to what he sees (and has heard?) is a primary need in respect of the churches to whom he is writing.
He specifies his objectives: “encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God.” This is primarily a letter of encouragement (in the face of persecution) and part of that encouragement has been to explain the grace of God which is theirs. They are who they are by the grace of God. They receive from Him what they receive by God’s grace. What they receive in terms of enabling, is the grace of God. Look back over this letter and realise that it is all about the grace of God – but isn’t that exactly what our lives are? Everything about us has to do with the grace of God. It describes what we are, what we have received and what we go on receiving. It is all grace, the free gift of God.
This, he says, is what should anchor you. Remember it is not by your efforts that you stand, but by His. It is all His provision, and so receive it and stand fast in it, not letting the enemy or the people he uses put you off or bring you down. Understand that the things you experience are common to Christians all over the world and the same grace is available to all of us. For that reason we can be assured and we can stand fast in the face of all that comes.
Then he sends greetings from the church in Rome (we assume). In this there is subtle encouragement for he is, we believe, referring to the believers in Rome, a church that lives right under the nose of the emperor. If persecution hits out in the provinces, how much more so in the capital of the empire – yet they stand and from there Peter is able to write.
In the face of the things that he has covered in this letter it is understandable that he finishes with a blessing of peace. Peace is what we all need in the face of the trials and tribulations of life, especially persecution. The apostle John in his first letter wrote about perfect love casting out fear. Well love casts it out and the result is peace. When we are confident of God’s love for us, we can learn to rest in it and even in the face of opposition we can be at peace. If you have peace, you will not have fear. So, in the face of concerns, worries, and difficulties, let the love of God fill you, and may you know His peace. Amen? Amen!