devotion 10-22-14

Good Morning!

1 Peter 5:12-14

12Through Silvanus, whom I consider a faithful brother, I have written this short letter to encourage you and to testify that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it. 13Your sister church in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark. 14Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

The author says here that the letter was written through Silvanus; it was common at the time to use an “amanuensis” (somewhat like a secretary who wrote for a person). Certainly, if the letter did actually originate with Peter, he would have had a better educated person to write for him. This is one explanation for the higher level of Greek found in the letter. Silvanus, whom the author calls a faithful brother, may also have carried the letter to the churches. It was common for letters to be written, but read aloud by an emissary of the writer in each church visited.

The author gives the purpose of the letter: it is written to encourage the churches (communities) to whom it is addressed, and to testify to the true grace of God. They should stand fast in God’s grace.

The author speaks of greetings from the “sister church in Babylon”, chosen together with them. “Babylon” was code for Rome, and indicates to us that the letter was written in Rome and sent from there. This, however, tends to give us a later date for the letter; the use of “Babylon” as code for Rome is also found in Revelation, the last book of the New Testament written – around 95 AD (or CE, as they say today). The church (or churches) in Rome are also chosen – for persecution? Or simply chosen as a part of God’s church, and kingdom? The allusion to Mark, may be to lend authenticity to the letter. Or, it may refer to the same John Mark whom we saw traveling with Paul on his first missionary journey, later proving himself very helpful to Paul in prison in Rome. It is this Mark who is thought to be the writer of the gospel of Mark.

Those who hear the letter and its greetings should also greet one another in love. It would appear that a “kiss of love” was a usual greeting in that culture at that time. Translating that to our culture does not mean we should kiss everyone, but that our greetings should be loving. Finally, the author sends his peace.

And so we come to the end of 1st Peter. It has been dense, when closely examined, and difficult to understand in places. We have looked at it verse by verse, sometimes word by word, in order to find understanding. We have said that it most likely was not written by Peter but by a follower of Peter, as sort of a tribute, years after Peter’s death in 65 CE. The author has frequently referred to the persecution of those to whom he writes, but has not indicated what sort of persecution he references. Certainly, much of the letter is written within that perspective – suffering is something they must endure for the reward to come. These are not suggestions one would make to a church whose people are doing well. It reminds us that we must consider the context within which an author writes as well as the words themselves.

We will move on into the second letter of Peter.

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