First Peter 5

I Peter 5:6-11

Persevere by Grace

Although 1 Peter 5:5-9 has similarities with James 4:6-10 to suggest a common source for the imagery, the application is different. In James–the test is poverty and oppression which tempts people to retaliate. In 1 Peter, it is persecution tempting believers to fall away.

5:6

When following Proverbs 3:34 which is cited in 1 Peter 5:5, Peter urges believers to be humble before God. Concerning this in the OT, this idea often meant repenting, sometimes facing impending judgment 1 Peter 4:17, or learning one’s complete dependence upon God alone. It is about embracing and accepting the suffering until God provides the way out. Note Jeremiah 27:11. Note Luke 1:52-53 and Luke 14:11; the cries of God’s people during unjust sufferings had always moved him to act on their behalf.

Luke 1:52-53

The mighty have come down from their high places. Those of low degree have been exalted.

The hungry have been filled, and the rich are empty of those which they valued.

Luke 14:11

Those who exalt themselves shall be brought low. Those who humble themselves shall be exalted.

The cries of God’s people during unjust sufferings had always moved him to act on their behalf.

Exodus 2:23-25

When Israel was under Egyptian bondage, they cried to the Lord for deliverance. God heard their cry, and He remembered the Abrahamic Covenant. God looked upon them in their distress, and He had respect unto them.

Exodus 3:7-9

God has seen the affliction of His children in Egypt. He has heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters. He will deliver them from their bondage. He knows their sorrow. God has come down to deliver them from this agony. He is going to bring them to a land flowing with milk and honey.

Judges 2:18

The Lord raised up judges which He would walk with during their time as a judge.

Judges 10:16

They put away the pagan gods from among them. They turned to the Lord, and his soul was grieved because of what they had done.

5:7

Although the promise of complete relief from persecution is future 1 Peter 5:6, Peter encourages believers to pray and trust God’s love for them in the present. Judaism learned to see God’s love in Israel’s sufferings (as disciplines of love), but most pagans, who bartered sacrifices and vows to get benefactions from the gods, had difficulty with this concept.

5:8-11

In OT, “Satan” (in the Hebrew of Job, a title, “the satan”) was the accuser, the prosecuting attorney before God–the “adversary,” as Peter says. The devil is the “slanderer,” carrying the connotation as the adverbial accuser. Jewish teachers recognized that, as in the book of Job (where he “went about” over the face of the earth–I Peter 2:12), Satan sought in this present age to turn people to apostasy from the truth, although his power was limited because he ultimately had to answer to God. The Dead Sea Scrolls called the present evil age the “dominion of Satan.”

Lions were viewed as the most ferocious and mighty beasts. From Psalm 22:13 (probably the background here) they came to be used as figures for enemies of God’s people. In the time of Nero, Christians were fed to some literal lions as well. The small, isolated Christian communities could take heart that their other spiritual siblings–starting with the churches Peter knew in Rome–were experiencing the same trials (1 Peter 5:9), until the end (1 Peter 5:10).

I Peter 5:12-14

Conclusion

5:12

Silvanus (this is the full name of Silas). He apparently is the amanuensis, scribe. As a Roman citizen Acts 16:37, Silas presumably came from a fairly well-to-do Jewish family that provided him a good literary and rhetorical education. Peter may have given him some degree of freedom in wording the letter. The short closing was considered to be a polite closing formula in many ancient speeches and letters.

5:13

Some elements of contemporary Judaism had readily transferred prophecies of Babylon’s demise in the OT to the new empire of Rome. “Babylon” was a common cryptogram for Rome (although “Edom” was more popular with later rabbis).

5:14

Kisses were a common affectionate greeting for close friends and relatives.

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