It Isn’t Forever

Text: I Peter 5:8-14

Resist Satan - I Peter 5:8-9

Being a Christian doesn't mean you will never be tempted again. Satan is not going to give up that easily. In fact, during times of persecution, you can expect temptations to increase. While God asks for our anxieties because of His care for us, Satan has no care for mankind. He is like a roaring lion seeking prey. He creates fear (the roar) to make his intended victim cower.

There is a play on words in I Peter 5:8 that doesn’t come through in translation. “Be sober” is the Greek word nepsate, which is a form of the word nepho. It is a compound word (ne (not) and piein (to drink)) that literally means “drink no wine.” It came to mean to be sober or self-controlled. “Devour” is used to translate katapien, which is also a compound word (kata (down) and piein (to drink)). But to English readers using a word that means to swallow a drink doesn’t match well with the image of a lion consuming prey so “devour” is used instead. However, notice the wordplay in the contrasts. If you are not sober, such as when imbibing alcohol, you leave yourself vulnerable for Satan to gulp you down. A similar play on words is found in I Thessalonians 5:6 between “not sleep,” “watchful,” and “be sober.”

Satan is not some mindless impersonal evil force. He has a personality. He is an adversary who seeks out victims. Recall when Jesus told Peter that “Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat” (Luke 22:31).

We must put up a fight against Satan. There is no compromising with him. The only way to win is to remain firm in your faith (James 4:7). The Greek word for "firm" is stereoi. “The word was used of a Greek army unit or phalanx presenting a solid front; the soldiers stood in ranks and files that were close and deep, forming a strong defense against the weapons of their day.” [The Complete Biblical Library]. You are not the only one dealing with the temptation. All the brethren in the world are experiencing similar struggles. We must stand firm in our ranks to succeed.

Class Discussion:

  1. What experiences during persecution would increase temptations?

It Isn’t Forever - I Peter 5:10-11

What suffering we must face is only for a short while (I Peter 1:6; II Corinthians 4:17). It is nothing compared to the eternal glory that is available in Christ. The God of all grace is with us. And through it all, Christ will

  • perfect (katartisai) - to adjust, to fit parts together into the right configuration, to repair or restore (I Corinthians 1:10; II Corinthians 13:11).
  • confirm (sterixai) - to set firmly in place, support, or make fast (Luke 22:36; II Thessalonians 2:17; 3:3).
  • strengthen (sthenosai) - to make strong (similar to Colossians 1:11).
  • establish (themeliosai) - to lay a foundation, to make stable (Luke 6:48; Ephesians 3:17-18).

Remember that it is Christ who rules eternally. The phrase is a repeat from I Peter 4:11. It is a natural response to what Christ has done for his people.

Closing - I Peter 5:12-14

Silvanus (Silas) was Peter’s scribe for I Peter. This is likely the same Silas who frequently traveled with Paul (II Corinthians 1:19; I Thessalonians 1:1). Some speculate that Silas’ presence with Peter is an indication that Paul has died at the time of this letter. However, there can be numerous reasons for Silas being with Peter that don’t require Paul to have already died. Peter considered Silas to be a faithful brother. This is not to say that Peter had doubts about Silas, but rather an acknowledgment that Peter was not the Judge. It may be that Peter is expecting that Silas would most likely deliver the letter, but he is not certain.

Peter’s purpose in writing his letter is summed up. It is not nearly as long as it could have been but it was long enough to provide encouragement and to give evidence of God’s grace to Christians. During times of persecution, it may seem difficult to believe that God is aiding His people and Peter has shown that God is still at work benefitting Christians. Rather than doubt God, we must stand firm in His grace. Thus, Peter started his letter by mentioning God’s grace (I Peter 1:2) and ends on the same topic.

She who is in Babylon” is most likely a reference to the church located in Babylon. These were chosen along with the Christians being addressed (Colossians 3:12). Thus, the members of the church there send their greetings to the Christians in the regions of Asia Minor. John used similar terms (II John 1,13).

A specific greeting is sent from Mark. Mark’s mother was one of the Marys mentioned in the Bible, and it was to Mary’s house that Peter went when released from prison (Acts 12:13-16). Notice that the maid recognized Peter’s voice, so he must have come by at least several times before. It is likely that Peter is the one who converted Mark to Christianity, which is indicated by calling him “my son.”

The love we are to have for one another is shown in our warm welcomes (Romans 16:16; Philippians 4:21). Thus, the greetings sent here should be extended to all Christians.

In closing, Peter wishes the Christians who read his letter peace, which is an appropriate conclusion to a letter dealing with living under persecution.

“In Christ”

This simple two-word phrase occurs about 85 times in the New Testament. It is used to refer to a state in which a person finds himself, as illustrated by Peter's benediction, "Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus" (I Peter 5:14). Some people are in Christ and others are not in Christ. Those who are in Christ enter at some point in time, as shown by Paul noting that two were in Christ before he himself was in Christ (Romans 16:7). Those who are in Christ are able to remain in that state even after death (I Thessalonians 4:16).

So who are in Christ? Paul tells us that Christians are in Christ. "To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse" (Colossians 1:2). This was Paul's point in Galatians 3:28-29, all who are in Christ are united together without distinction (see also Romans 12:5). The same point is made in Ephesians 2:11-13, "Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh – who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands -- that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." In Christ is where we find salvation (Romans 3:24; I Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 4:32; Romans 8:1-2).

Notice the contrast made between being in Christ and being in the flesh or in the world. We all live in the world; that is, we have our physical being here. Some have given their lives over to this physical plane. Christians, however, have left the world behind.

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