Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Faithful Friends – 1 Peter 5:12-14

With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it. She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. (NIV)


We all need faithful brothers. We need to have people in our lives that will be faithful when we need help or encouragement. Faithful is the key word. I remember a person whom I respected for his knowledge and kindness. I went to him seeking advice about something. In his wisdom he asked me questions about the decision that I was working through. However, after some time I realized that he was not providing me any help. He was in essence a very polite and kind “yes” man. He was not faithful to help me find the best answer but was simply affirming what I had already thought, right or wrong. I didn’t seek his counsel for anything else because I couldn’t trust him to tell me the truth if it wasn’t something I had already discovered.

Peter knew about faithful brothers and how they sometimes have to confront you when you are going in the wrong direction. Gal 2:11 When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. (NIV) Paul had to rebuke Peter when he was wrong. Can you imagine walking up to Peter and telling him he is wrong about something? In Gal 2:14, Paul says that he did this in front of everyone. Now that is a faithful brother! Paul risked being ostracized and maybe even worse.

A faithful brother is more concerned with pleasing God than pleasing people. Gal 1:10 Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ. (RSV) Without an eternal perspective it is easy to fall into the trap of pleasing people instead of God. This admonition for a faithful brother really only comes into play when pleasing people is opposed to pleasing God. After all, we do have the command to look out after other’s interest (Phil 2:4.) However sometimes looking out after someone’s interest means you have to tell him the truth, even if it hurts.

There are many more aspects of being a faithful brother. Col 4:12-13 Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis. (NASB) Epaphras was a good example of a faithful bother. He was one who prayed for his friends. Note that he had a great concern for them. A casual acquaintance is seldom a faithful brother. This requires getting to know each other.

Peter reminds his readers that his purpose is to encourage them in that what he has said is really from God. Remember that the main topic of this letter is to stand faithful in the face of trials. That ability to stand firm is rooted in the message of salvation and eternal hope that we have in Jesus. This salvation is the grace that is from God and it helps us stand through any trials.

Peter ends his letter in the same way as many of the other letters in the New Testament, with greetings from people. We do this all the time when talking on the phone to a relative or friend in a distant location. We say, “Say Hi to Sally (or whoever) for me.” Who is sending greetings in this letter? The “she in Babylon” sounds like the Church in Babylon. This is the simplest meaning and fits with the context of Mark sending his greetings. I read the preface to Adam Clark’s Commentary where he used several pages to come to this conclusion. He cited many historians and others and finally concluded that the ancient city of Babylon was still in existence when Peter wrote the letter. He also concluded that Peter was most likely there since there were many Jews living there. The significance is that we are people and that we really like to acknowledge each other and say, “Hi,” when we are far away from people we love and care for.

When we are present with our friends and loved ones, we should show that love. Not all cultures greet each other in the same way. At that time, a kiss was very common. Whatever our culture has, we should express that love to each other.

With Christ we can have peace. As we were reminded in previous verses, that peace is only available in Christ. For those outside of Christ, there is not peace but only an expectation of condemnation. We have peace. Rom 5:1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (RSV) Those without Christ don’t have peace. Heb 10:27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. (NIV) Where do you stand? In His grace or outside of it. What is your hope in trials? I pray that you know Him and His peace.

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