1Pe 5:12-14 “By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand. The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son. Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.”
As was the case with many of Paul’s letters, it appears that Peter also dictated this letter to the strangers scattered throughout Asia Minor. He makes it a point to identity the writer as Silvanus, who was known to them to be a trustworthy brother in their afflictions for Christ’s sake. As a fisherman by trade, it has often been pointed out by scholars, that Peter was not likely to have been able to write with such eloquence. However, we know from the Acts of the Apostles that the Spirit had made him an eloquent speaker. Perhaps it was this paradox that moved Peter to assure his audience that these were his words penned by someone they knew they could trust to convey what Peter said. The final assurance to these strangers and to us is the witness of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.
Peter’s purpose in this writing was to assure them in the course they were on. He was exhorting them that they were in the true grace of God. In other words, his deep desire was to offer them consolation during their suffering that they were still firmly entrenched in God’s grace. How great do you suppose Peter’s suffering was that morning when he heard the cock crow? Yet, it was through experiences such as this that he grew and was strengthened. It was by God’s grace so that Peter could fulfill Jesus’ command to him, “…when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren (Luk 22:32).”
Peter did not only exhort, but he also testified. Have you ever had someone who has never faced a trial like you might be facing to offer you consolation? On the other hand, have you had someone who has been in your shoes to come and offer consolation? We get much greater comfort from someone who can testify to us; someone who has born a similar burden; someone who has walked through that suffering and can still say “this is the true grace of God.” Peter could tell them these things with power because God had used his own sufferings to turn him from self-reliant legalism to fully trusting in the power of the Holy Ghost. We need to understand that being Christians does not mean we have come to the end of suffering. It does mean that we have come to the end of suffering alone, of despairing of hope, of being afraid that we are somehow outside the grace of God! Rather, in our suffering we see the true grace of God.
Peter further assures them that there are those who are called in a commonality of faith, even in the city of their greatest persecution. At the time of Peter’s letter, the Babylonian empire no longer existed. The Babylon that was the place of Israel’s captivity fell around 539 BC. In Peter’s day, the greatest persecution of Christians came from the Roman Empire. We see in this the power of God to unite His church even in the darkest of places. We see proof of the unity of the Spirit regardless of the suffering we may endure, or the distance that may sometimes separate us otherwise. We are assured that, even from the places of greatest persecution, there are those with whom God has bound us (elected together) in His service.
Finally, we are to be genuinely and kindly affectionate toward each other. This is to be a holy affection generated by the love and peace of Jesus Christ that is in us as we are in Him. It is an affection that is rooted in our common understanding that our suffering as well as our joy is the true grace of God.
May we always salute the family of God with a holy kiss of charity in the peace of Jesus Christ!