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God is with you - Part 36

1 Peter 5v12-14


2nd March 2018

At the end of this fascinating, encouraging, challenging and realistic letter, Peter signs off. He begins to end his letter by saying:

1 Peter 5v12a
With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly

Peter didn't have to write about Silas being a faithful brother, but he wanted to celebrate another Christian, so he did. It's good to take time to acknowledge those who have helped us, and to thank them for their love and faithfulness.

1 Peter 5v12b
I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.

The true grace of God is that whatever you've done, God wants to forgive you, and whatever is going on, however much you hurt, God will enable you to do the right thing. You can be self-controlled and alert (1Peter 5v8). You can endure injustice. You can keep going. And you will be restored. In God's way and in God's time, God will do it. So stand fast.

1 Peter 5v13
She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark.

Peter sent greetings from "She who is in Babylon". This is almost certainly a reference to a church in a town which Peter called "Babylon", but people disagree about which town Peter meant when he said "Babylon". He might have meant the famous old city of Babylon, or he might have meant Rome, or Jerusalem, and there were other villages in the Roman Empire called "Babylon". We don't know which he meant.

I think Peter deliberately used a place name that couldn't be understood, except by someone who already knew. I think the church was being persecuted so badly that Peter didn't want outsiders to know where he was living. If the letter was intercepted, he might have been arrested, so he used a code name for wherever it was that he was living.

The church has always suffered. As Paul wrote to Timothy, "Anybody who wants to live a godly life will be persecuted" (2 Timothy 3v12). It's inevitable. Peter was being persecuted and, not long after writing this letter, he was crucified. He knew what he was talking about in this letter.

Peter also sent greeting from his "son" Mark, who was the writer of Mark's gospel. He was Paul's close associate, but not his physical son. Two Christians can be so close they feel like father and son, or like brothers. And such a close relationship in Christ is a tremendous blessing and strength.

1 Peter 5v14a
Greet one another with a kiss of love.

This is a passage that might challenge the literalists among us. Do we have to obey this verse literally? I think it's OK to shake hands, or have a hug. But if there is going to be a kiss, let it always be a holy kiss.

And finally, at the end of a tough letter to a church in very difficult circumstances, Peter prays for peace:

1 Peter 5v14b
Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

In the Anglican church, before breaking bread, they turn to each other and say "the peace of the Lord be with you". Dear reader, as we finish this set of studies, I turn to you in my mind, and say "the peace of the Lord be with you". God bless you.