Friday, June 2, 2017

Family Time (1 Peter 5:12-14)

“Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it! She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark. Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace be to you all who are in Christ.” (1 Peter 5:12–14, NASB95)

I learned a long time ago not to skip the names. Often in them are important truths to hang on to and timely encouragements for us. Embedded here in the names are things that Peter shares with us both about them and how his readers are to respond because of them.

We see in Peter’s salutation a commendation for faithfulness. “Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him),” Silvanus is the same person as Silas, who traveled with Paul and who was mentioned repeated alongside Timothy as a faithful servant. Silas was one of those selected by the apostles to go along with Paul and Barnabas to Antioch to instruct Gentile believers in how to walk with their Jewish brothers and sisters in Christ. These men were the official word being sent out, and Silas was one of those chosen to attest to its veracity, thus speaking to his standing. (We see the link between Silas and Silvanus as likely being the same person in several of Paul’s letters: 2 Corinthians 1:19; and 1 & 2 Thessalonians 1:1) And, Peter in sending this letter, apparently chose Silvanus to pen the words and most likely deliver it as well. Silvanus had proven himself faithful and this is exactly how Peter said that he regarded him.

We see also an attestation of truth. Peter went on to add, “I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God.” There were a lot of cults around at that time making all kinds of promises just as there are today. There were even false teachers. Peter warned of them as did other New Testament writers. Peter added these words to assure his readers that these words brought to them indeed are the truth about the grace of God, and he encouraged them to listen to these issues of truth as they were encouraged by them and exhorted to apply them to their lives. These words were indeed sent to them by an apostle personally chosen and sent by Christ. As such they were to heed them fully.

Next is the command. Stand firm in it! Because the words are trustworthy they were to stand firm in them. This is not sent to them as an instruction to give or take as they choose. It is a command given to them to heed, and that command is to stand firm in the truth. They were not to be shaken by their trials no matter how pressing they might seem. They were not to be dissuaded by other arguments no matter how authoritatively they might be given. These words were given to them as the truth and they were to stand on them as an absolute and unshakable foundation. Times were tough and we know from history that they got tougher. But God is able. They were to trust Him to see them through.

They were also told that they were not in this alone. He wrote, “She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark.” This letter was not written from Babylon, but most likely from a non-specified church in Rome. Other believers stood with Peter in encouraging them. They sent their best. It is as if every single one of them signed the card with a personal note at the end. They were not alone both as a body of believers, nor as individual believers. We read that even Peter’s spiritual son, Mark, sent his greetings. This is the Mark that Peter brought under his wing and who penned the gospel, and it is also the Mark over who when Paul and Barnabas were sent to leave Antioch that there was such division over. These believers were not alone. They were part of Christ’s church and a much bigger body than they could locally see. For all of us, knowing that what we see in front of us is not all there is can often be a huge encouragement. This is especially true if we ourselves are struggling. Knowing that others are with us, encouraging us, and praying for us is a big deal.

Knowing that, a part of the letter pointed even to things going on possibly inside their churches, as Peter added, “Greet one another with a kiss of love.” Working in a retail store at present I see many people whom my wife and I have known from various places, and frequently I will be asked to tell Robin “hi” or even to give her a hug on behalf of one of them. I know when we are on the phone with our kids it usually ends with the request to give their spouse or their children hugs and kisses. These shows of affection are a sign of a union that runs very deep. These believers were united in Christ, and it didn’t matter their background or what they were facing, the love which God had for them is something that they were encouraged to communicate to others. It was so then and it is so even now. Whatever else might be going on, remember who you are, one in Christ, and demonstrate His love for you by your acts of love for them. Don’t let the stuff get in the way. That is how they were to be with each other as they shared Peter’s paper kiss by giving a personal kiss on his behalf.

And lastly, Peter wrote, “Peace be to you all who are in Christ.” With that his letter ended. But what did not end was the hands of the person who brought it and the fellowship that they shared with one another in Christ. Because we are at peace with God we can know the peace of God and live in peace with those who are joined with us in Christ.

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