1 Peter 5:12-14

1 Peter 5:12‑14  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 10
The Epistle thus concludes.
“By Silvanus, the faithful brother, as I account, I write to you in (by) few [words], exhorting and testifying that this is God's true grace in which stand (or, ye stand). She that is in Babylon elect with [you] saluteth you, and Mark my son. Salute one another with a kiss of love. Peace to you all that are in Christ” (vers. 12-14).
It is of interest to learn that Silas, or Silvanus, the fellow-laborer of Paul in Achaia and Macedonia was the messenger through whom Peter sent his first Epistle to the saints of the Dispersion. Once Peter had himself been far from faithful to the Christian truth of liberty for Gentile as for Jew that believed the glad tidings; and Paul withstood him to the face. For it was not to walk straightforwardly according to the gospel, but to compromise it to the Lord's dishonor. Now Peter writes fearlessly to confirm with his apostolic testimony the yet bolder and deeper witness which the apostle of the uncircumcision had borne in Asia Minor, through one who was in his estimate as in Paul's a faithful brother, a suited link between them. It was to hold fast the Head from whom all the body, ministered to and united together by the joints and bands, increaseth with the increase of God.
His words were few but weighty from one who was justly looked up to by Christian Jews who had already profited in those Gentile lands by him whose province lay there especially. But God took care that so conspicuous a pillar of the circumcision as Kephas should write without doubt and fervently in the same strain of grace to the sheep whom the Lord confided to his love and care. Who can fail to recognize an unjealous largeness which was quickly forgotten, or rather never known, in haughty Christendom with its little yet ever-growing fences, bound up by official pride, miscalled rights, far from the Lord's mind as possible.
Nor can any description of the Epistle be more exact than “exhorting and testifying that this is God's true grace in which” he calls them to “stand.” It is what every intelligent saint cannot fail to discern as distinguishing Peter's letter beyond James, Jude, John, or even Paul, though each wrote from the heart, with solemn sense of divine authority, and in abundant love to the saints, each with his own distinctive excellency as a good steward of God's various grace, and as of strength which God supplied. How earnestly Peter exhorted! How freely and pertinently he testified as from his Master, full of grace and truth, to the glad tidings of God's true grace! Yes, in his glowing words is no exaggeration. He adhered to what he bore witness at a great earlier crisis (Acts 15). He believed, and would have them to believe, “through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved as they,” not merely they even as we: then a noble testimony in Jerusalem above all.
He believed in the same grace still. It is not man conceding or yielding, it is not fearing nor yet pleasing man. It is God's true grace, in which, he says, “Stand,” as he did not doubt they were standing. Nor was it needless so to exhort as a last call. What one of our own poets says of his imagined angel, a saint should here and now surely be,
“Unshaken, unseduced, unterrified;
His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal.
Nor number, nor example, with him wrought
To swerve from truth, or change his constant mind.”
We owe it to God, and to our Lord Jesus; but His grace can alone make us thus stand.
The subjoined salutation is strikingly instructive. Not from the Apocalyptic Babylon did Peter write, but from the great ruined city in the East, to which Jews strangely clung, when the natives migrated elsewhere. Many Jews still lived there as they did for hundreds of years after as before, and there had a famous school of Rabbinical lore, which issued in their most copious Talmud completed about 500, A.D. There, it appears, Kephas led about a sister wife, like the other apostles and the brethren of our Lord (1 Cor. 9:5, 65Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? 6Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working? (1 Corinthians 9:5‑6)); as scripture fails not to inform us, and thus gives the lie to the false and demoralizing tradition which Romanism prefers to the plain and holy word of God. For this seems the real bearing of “the co-elect sister in Babylon” who salutes those addressed, no less than Mark his son.
The apostle, we see, was careful not to speak of “the church” as such in either of his Epistles: they are essentially individual in their character. It was an oversight, therefore, to interpolate “the church,” even in italics. We have no ground to think there was an assembly there, and can readily conceive that the apostle (with his wife, and Mark caring in love for them both in advanced age) should yearn to impart the gospel to the benighted Jews, so, dear to him in that distant quarter, far away from the fabulous Episcopate of which tradition dreamed in the West. How forced and unnatural to borrow from the future symbol of John in Rev. 17 for an epistle so simple, fervent, and matter of fact, as this of Peter unquestionably is!
Assuredly, too, one likes to think of Mark in happy and devoted service, as none other than he whose early failure is recorded when he ventured in zeal beyond his then faith to accompany Barnabas and Saul on their first circuit among the Gentiles. If he then so soon grew weary or discouraged, he at a later day, when it was peculiarly sweet to the apostle of nations, became serviceable to him for ministry (2 Tim. 4:1111Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. (2 Timothy 4:11)), and even before this had won back his confidence (Col. 4:1010Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;) (Colossians 4:10)). As his mother's house had been a house of prayer, when his spiritual father's life was in extreme danger, he is now the attendant on those so long dear to him, and shares their visit of love for the gospel's sake as well as the saints, where of old their forefathers had been sent in captivity. Any other Mark, like any other Silas, we might expect to be distinguished from each of those familiar to us in scripture; whereas those we have already known appear in this new phase with emphatic propriety.
It was meet in this world of selfishness and sin for the apostle Paul to invite the saints in Rome, Corinth, and Thessalonica to salute one another with a holy kiss; and not less so that Peter should bid the Christian Jews, scattered in lands devoted to dark paganism, salute one another with a kiss of love. The affections are apt to grow cold, as the world's spirit prevails; and Jews needed the intimation as well as Greeks and Romans.
And how precious is “peace” as the suited portion to us all that are in Christ! How unseemly among such is difference and dispute, self-seeking, and strife! Were Christ the object as He is entitled to be, these things could not be. Peter had not forgotten His words, so welcome to their hearts on the resurrection day, “Peace to you; and having said this He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples rejoiced therefore, having seen the Lord. He said therefore again to them, Peace to you: as the Father sent me forth, I also send you.”