November 20 - Final Greetings

Thursday, November 20, 2008

November 20 - Final Greetings - 1 Peter 5:12-14

As we come to a close in this first letter of Peter's we meet some of the people that are close to him.

Silas, or Silvanus, is more than likely the same man that was a companion of Paul's and participated in much of the growth of the early church. It is likely that he not only assisted Peter with writing this letter, but delivered it as well. Peter calls him a faithful brother, which probably means that he was quite familiar to the people reading this letter.

We meet Silas in Acts 15:22 and read about his ministry with Paul through Acts 18:5. He assisted Paul and Timothy in writing the two letters to the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 1:1-2, 2 Thess. 1:2) and was obviously a part of Paul's ministry to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 1:19). This was a man of great faith with a strong evangelistic ministry.

At the end of 1 Peter 5:12, we find that he repeats the message of grace that he began teaching at the beginning of the letter (1 Peter 1:2b). He calls us to stand firm in the message of grace. That message is found all through the letter, but spelled out clearly in 1 Peter 1:8, 21.

Stand firm in this message of holiness.

1 Peter 5:13 could have one of two meanings. There is an assumption that Peter is speaking of his wife. She traveled with him on his journeys, was well-known to his readers and tradition says that she was martyred in Rome before he was. The 'Mark' that is spoken of here is more than likely John Mark, who authored the second gospel. There is a strong assertion that Mark's gospel is actually Peter's gospel, he wrote down the things that Peter remembered about Jesus' time on earth.

The second meaning of the woman in Babylon is that Peter is speaking of the church - the word 'ekklesia' is a feminine noun. If this is so, then it is likely that Peter was already in Rome. Babylon was a term used to describe this city, though that is also disputed. He would have been sending greetings to the Asiatic churches from the home church there. History shows that Peter was in Rome at the end of his life and Col. 4:10 also places Mark there.

The NIV version of the Bible translates 1 Peter 5:14 as 'Greet one another with a kiss of love,' yet the original meaning here is 'holy or divine kiss.' The Greek word is 'agape,' which is the love that comes from god. This greeting was common among New Testament Christians (Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:12; 1 Thes. 5:26).

Peter concludes this letter with prayers for peace for those Christians who are persecuted. Jesus said "My leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives." (John 14:27a)

Greet each other with a divine kiss. Love and holiness cannot be separated.