COMMENTARY ON FIRST PETER
“ 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. 11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 12 By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand. 13 The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son. 14 Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.” (1 Pet 5:8-9 KJV)
In Scripture, beginnings and endings are always significant. With unwavering consistency, inspired writers leave their writers contemplating heavenly realities. They begin in the heavenly places, communicate their message from there, and conclude by leaving us looking forward to glory. This is the manner of the Kingdom of Christ, and those who minister in His name do well to follow their example. Peter now casts the mantel of clarity upon his writings, confirming that believers are in the hands of God. He assures them of the Lord’s gracious intentions in salvation. In Christ they have been called to better things. God is stripping from them all that cannot enter glory, and is perfecting them for their reign with Christ. What they have received and are enjoying from heaven is real. It is no cunningly devised fable, or mere emotional experience. The gracious manner in which the Apostle writes is characteristic of a true shepherd who cares for and nourishes the sheep. Peter has done what Jesus told him to do: feed the sheep.
THE WORKING OF GOD
“ 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” KJV The first word of this sentence is important: “But!” He has just finished reminding us of our adversary the devil, and of his wicked intentions. We are to set ourselves to resist him by steadfastness in the faith. But Peter will not leave us contemplating our enemy. He introduces the triumph-factor: “But God!” (v 8-9). In this expression he is telling us God is accomplishing His will in the midst of our conflict with the wicked one. The devil is seeking to devour us, but look what God is going! This is an intercessory prayer, uttered to God, and written for the consolation of the saints.
GOD OF ALL GRACE. In this expression, the Spirit traces all true benefits back to a beneficent God. It is similar to saying “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). Also, the idea of limitlessness is conveyed. Believers are a situation where grace is abundant and exhaustless. There is no extent to which God will not go to bless those who believe in His Son. He will withhold no good thing from them. As it is written, “no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Psa 84:11).
CALLED TO HIS ETERNAL GLORY. Because there are “many gods” (1 Cor 8:5), the true God is identified. It is the One who has called us to participate in HIS “eternal glory.” This parallels with the Spirit’s words, “whom He justified, them He also glorified” (Rom 8:30). This is the glory into which we are being changed, from one stage to another (2 Cor 3:18). Any form of religion that comes short of this is spurious and worthless.
AFTER YOU HAVE SUFFERED A WHILE. The way to our appointed reign is through the crucible of suffering. Only “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him” (2 Tim 2:12). Our suffering, however, is only for “a while.” From the standpoint of faith, it is “but for a moment” (2 Cor 4:17). The duration of our hardship is not known to us, but it is to God. It will not extend one second beyond the point where it is of eternal benefit. Our “times” and our sufferings are in the hands of our gracious God (Psa 31:1; 1 Cor 10:13). We are “appointed” to our afflictions (1 Thess 3:3), and they are strictly governed.
MAKE YOU PERFECT. Our sufferings do not “perfect” us automatically. God Himself MAKES us “perfect” by means of them. Here perfection means to complete the preparation for an appointed role and place. Elsewhere it is called “finish the work” (Rom 9:28), or completing the work He has begun in us “until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6). In the sense of this text, we will be perfected when we are ready to leave this world.
STABLISH YOU. To be established is to be made firm, reliable, and stable. It is to cease to be tossed to and fro by the circumstances of life and the doctrines of men. This is something God Himself does “after” we have “suffered a while.” Working through our faith and in His grace, the Lord brings us to a point where we are “no more children.” Life does not jostle us as it once did, and we are able to “stand in the evil day.” Surely, God “is of power to stablish you” (Rom 16:25). This is having “root” in ourselves (Mk 4:17).
STRENGTHEN YOU. Being established is being firmly fixed or anchored in the appointed place. “Strength” has to do with personal solidity and integrity. It is being able to extend ourselves in the wilderness-journey of life without giving up. It is spiritual stamina, where we do not become “weary in well doing” (Gal 6:9). To be strengthened is to recover from spiritual fatigue (Isa 41:10). It is to be made equal to the battles of life and the challenges of the wicked one (Eph 6:10). Strength results in refusing to yield to the temptations of the wicked one, and declining to “quit” (1 Cor 16:13).
SETTLE YOU. To be settled is to be stable and grounded. It speaks of an aspect of spiritual life that is slightly different from being made perfect, established, and strengthened. Settling has to do with being firmly planted on the appointed foundation–blended, as it were, with that foundation. This is the process of reference in Ephesians 2:20-21. “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.” That is being settled, and is the work of God!
THE PURPOSE AND SURENESS OF IT ALL
“ 5:11 To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” KJV One of the great lessons to be learned is that salvation is primarily for the honor and glory of God. It is a glorious enterprise in which holy angels are tutored in the magnificent wisdom of God (Eph 3:10). All of heaven stands in amazement at the working of God in salvation. This is emphasized again and again in the Revelation. “ . . . those beasts give glory and honor and thanks to Him that sat on the throne . . .Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power . . . Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever . . . Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever . . . Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God” (4:9,11; 5:13; 7:12; 19:12). The supremacy of faith is seen in the fact that it gives “glory to God” (Rom 4:20). When Christ “received us” from the hand of the Father, it was “to the glory of God” (Rom 15:2). The modern church has placed a disproportionate emphasis on helping people, and too little upon glorifying God. The real purpose of the salvation of God has nearly been obliterated by the institutionalized church.
GLORY. Technically, “glory” involves the honor, praise, dignity, and the worship of God. In salvation, all of this is rendered out of an understanding and thankful heart. God received glory upon the head of Pharaoh (Rom 9:17), Sennacherib (2 Chron 32:22), and Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 4:36-37). While such glory is involved in the walk of faith, that is not the type of glory in our text. This is not a text of admonition, nor is it a statement of doctrine–although both are found elsewhere in Scripture. This is an outbreak of praise–of insightful thanksgiving. Peter, who himself was suffering because of his faith, had seen the hand of the Lord in it all. He knew it was God who was working in him “both to will and to do of His own good pleasure” (Phil 2:12). He has so taught the disciples as to allow them to share in such insight.
There is a special honor brought to the Lord when His people perceive who He is and what He is doing–when they recognize “It is the Lord!” (1 Sam 3:18; John 21:7). This is part of God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt 6:10). Heaven knows “the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isa 6:3). But when that is perceived among the elect, a magnificent and transcendent glory is brought to God. When His hand and work are perceived, and due honor is given to Him, the “glory” of our text will occur.
DOMINION. Here is an aspect of our great God that has been greatly obscured by academic approaches to Scripture. Flesh refuses to think of God in connection with “dominion.” It had rather shine the light of attention upon men, their free will, and their ability. But there is no room for such emphases in the Kingdom of God. That is why they are totally absent in the sacred record. “Dominion” has to do with God’s Sovereignty, might, control, and supremacy. He is, in fact, “greater than all” (John 10:29). Those who oppose Him will be summarily cast down. Those who believe Him will be upheld. His enemies will all be put under His feet, and His children will all be exalted to sit with His Son in His throne. If men do not acknowledge Him, He is fully able to reduce them to a place where they will be prone to give Him honor, as with Nebuchadnezzar. He can stop Pharaoh from doing his wicked will, and cause young David to defeat mighty Goliath. God HAS the dominion! It belongs to Him. It is not that He ought to have it, but that He DOES have it. Further, He can give power in any degree to whomever He desires (Dan 4:25,32). Blessed is the person who knows and confesses this.
The church needs to hear of a Sovereign, or all powerful, God. “But our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased” (Psa 115:3). And again, “Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did He in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places” (Psa 135:6). This is a truth the people of God must grasp with both hands, else they will not be able to stand “against the wiles of the devil.” True praise will ascribe “all power” to God. It will acknowledge that “dominion” belongs to Him. Faith will take that truth and live triumphantly in a hostile world, bringing honor to God.
“ 5:12-14 By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand. The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son. Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.” KJV There is a very personal aspect to life in Christ that must not be overlooked. There is a tendency in flesh to so formalize the truth as to rob it of any heart or spirit. Notice how personal and tender the grace of God moves Peter to speak. It is not a mere formal tone that we hear, but the heart of one who is laboring together with God.
SILVANUS. This name is mentioned three other times in Scripture. In all of them, he was grouped with Paul and Timothy (2 Cor 1:19; 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1). It is generally understood that Silvanus is an alternate name for “Silas.” The NIV reads “Silas,” providing a footnote stating it is the Greek variant of Silas. The highest tribute is paid to Silvanus, which is to be coveted by every child of God: “a faithful brother.” He was dependable, always siding with the Lord and engaging in His work. The words “I suppose” do not cast doubt on this description. They rather mean, “I consider, or regard, him to be a faithful brother.” NKJV,NASB,NIV Silvanus has been the scribe of the letter, and will deliver it to the brethren. Here Peter is personally writing a postscript.
WRITTEN BRIEFLY. The letter was “brief” in comparison to what could have been shared, and what was on the heart of the Apostle. Literarily, the letter consists of 2,580 words and 116 sentences, but it was “brief,” or a “short letter.”NRSV Those with a love for the truth will also consider it brief. Flesh will see it as long and tedious. This letter is appropriately called an exhortation and a testimony (“exhorting and testifying”). It is a call to involvement from one who himself was working together with the Lord.
THE TRUE GRACE OF GOD. The CAUSE of the endurance of the faithful is identified as “the true grace of God”–the real thing. It is interesting to note that Peter does not resort to an academic definition of grace, but to the working of grace. He thus speaks to the faith of his readers. They were to trace their stability back to God’s grace, or love and favor. Real grace is effective, and is not merely theoretical. This is the grace made known through the Gospel (Acts 20:24). I find it disconcerting that so much talk about the grace of God has little to do with the actual experience of standing firm in the midst of trial–even “fiery trial” (1 Pet 4:12). This word–“true grace”–builds confidence.
THE CHURCH AT BABYLON. Some have thought Peter was ascribing the name “Babylon” to Rome, where they suppose he was located at this time. I do not concur with this judgment, for he would not have mentioned the true church in the context of a spiritual Babylon. That, in my judgment, is an admixture. If he was speaking of saints in Rome, he would have mentioned the sanctified “in Rome” as Paul did (Rom 1:1). This is the only mention of historic Babylon in the New Testament writings. I understand it to be Babylon in Syria, where many dispersed Jews still resided.
ELECTED WITH YOU. Babylon was foreign geographic territory, indeed. Yet, the church there is said to be “elected together with you.” Something all believers have in common is God’s choice of them “in Him [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Eph 1:4). That election was implemented through the Gospel, and is evidenced by its reception (1 Thess 1:4).
MARCUS MY SON. This is the same as “Mark,” and is so translated in the other versions. In the KJV, Paul also refers to him as “Marcus,” identifying him as a cousin of Barnabas (“sister’s son to Barnabas,” Col 4:12). This was the “John Mark” over which Paul and Barnabas disputed and eventually parted (Acts 15:37-40). This text indicates he was begotten in the Gospel through Peter, and was presently with the Apostle in Babylon.
GREET ONE ANOTHER. A “kiss of charity” was common among early believers (Rom 16:16; 1 Cor 16:20; 2 Cor 13:12; 1 Thess 5:26). The Eastern manner was for all to greet each other with a kiss. Brethren, however, were worthy of a special greeting, and still are.
PEACE BE WITH YOU. The Apostle begins and ends his letter with peace (1:2). This is to be a pervasive quality among the saints at all times. It is the environment of growth.