True Grace

1 Peter 5:12-14 

12With 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. 13She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. 14Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.


            Have you ever been infected by corona virus? Did you feel any discomfort?

During the early stage of the pandemic, if an individual was infected by the virus, all members of the household were required to isolate. They are expected to be infected when a family member caught the corona virus. Well, infected or not, anyone can be affected when one member of a household has illness. Surely, we don’t want our love ones to get sick. Can sickness cause deeper trust in God?

How do you interpret the prophecy about Christ’s crucifixion in Isaiah 53:5?  5He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

            Reflection: Christ has endured many things until he died on the cross. The punishment he endured brought us peace. What is this peace? The original term in Hebrew translated “peace” in English language includes “welfare, favor, good health, friendship and prosperity.” In short, this peace is beneficial to our life.

            How do we explain to a child when it says, “By his wounds we are healed?” Do his wounds specifically pertain only to cuts, bruises and shedding of blood? It’s not necessarily be. How about a wounded heart or emotional hurt or mental harm?

            The wounds that Christ suffered may include: the betrayal of disciples who ate with him; he was falsely accused; his disciples left him alone and ran away when he was arrested; no disciple stood up to argue for his defense; he was insulted by the Roman soldiers and others who saw him crucified. It hurts, right?

Betrayal, accusation, insult could be more painful than flogging, lashing, beating, stricken by spear and nailing on the cross. Christ silently endured all of them.

Skin-deep pain can heal faster than emotional pain or mental harm.

Sometimes, we carelessly hurt ourselves when we run, cook or shave. But if our best friend or the person we trusted betrayed us, it can cause us more pain. It is not easy to heal. Right? Betrayal is very common among politicians. Yet, even among Christians, betrayal is also a very undesirable occurrence. What can we do about it?

We have to continue encouraging one another. It encourages us in Hebrews 10:23-25, 23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Just by being present during worship service or fellowship, you encourage us.

The Day when Christ returns is fast approaching. How can we be sure of it? Earthquake, famine, natural calamities and also man-made calamities, nations going to war against other nations, betrayals and rebellious attitudes, Christ had declared those as the beginning of birth pains and testing to reveal faithfulness and expose pretenders.

            Everyone can be affected, and we are instructed to encourage one another.

1.  Encourage

12With 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.

            Apostle Peter specified Silas as faithful by the grace of God. Silas helped Peter wrote his letter of encouragement. Who was Silas? Bible scholars suggest that, if Silas was one of the leaders in Jerusalem church who joined the missionary team of Apostle Paul at some point, then, Peter himself personally knew Silas.

            When Silas helped Peter wrote his letter, that occasion contributes as biblical proof to the notion that Peter and Paul were in Rome, possibly during the time of Emperor Nero. According to history, there was a great fire that destroyed buildings in Rome, and Emperor Nero blamed the Christian community.

            Christians were imprisoned and tortured to death in Rome. So, Peter wrote his letter to encourage persecuted believers, just as he was persecuted.

Price Increase

            There are sufferings of persecution aside from physical harm. How about financial and economic problems, are they considered suffering and persecution? Have you heard of people who complained about price increases of commodities?

Even Christians cannot hide their disgust and complaint against high prices.

Someone said, “To avoid complaints about price increase, just don’t buy.” Maybe, the intention is to divert attention and not emotionally and mentally disturbed. Financial problem may cause emotional or mental harm, and peace is affected.

            The Scripture teaches that Christ was punished for us to have peace. By his wounds we are healed. How should we pragmatically realize such biblical truth?

Have you considered what King David had exemplified in Psalm 103:2-5? 2Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—3who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5who satisfies your desires with good things.

When difficult problems preoccupy our minds, we can be emotionally or mentally disturbed; it is very easy to worry. What should we do? We divert our attention to the goodness of God. We count our blessings. We pray! Like King David, we praise God for all his favors, including his promise of eternal life.

            It encourages us in Romans 8:35-39, 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

            When we pray, the Spirit of Christ in us empowers us to be pro-active and wait for solution to problems instead of worrying. Let me ask: Do you still sense doubt about the love of Christ for you? Has God chosen you to be with him in his eternal heaven? Do you believe God allows difficult circumstances for us to check if we trust him?

By faith, we trust God, and Christ elected us to live with him in heaven.

2.  Elect

13She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. 

            Theologians suggest that Mark was the same John Mark who accompanied Apostle Paul and Barnabas in mission; but Mark left them to return to Jerusalem. Sometime later, Barnabas wanted to take Mark again, but Paul thought that it’s not wise for mission work to take Mark. Halfhearted person can risk a mission.

            Mission frontiers should expect spiritual warfare. War is risky. The Israelites had strict policy for anyone who goes to war. It narrated in Deuteronomy 20:8, 8Then the officers shall add, “Is anyone afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his fellow soldiers will not become disheartened too.”

            The sharp disagreement of Apostle Paul and Barnabas about Mark caused them to have separate mission teams. Barnabas took his cousin John Mark and went overseas while Paul took Silas and continued on their missionary journey.

            Interestingly, Apostle Peter mentioned both Silas and Mark in his letter. It is possible that Apostle Peter had requested for ministry help, and Apostle Paul sent Silas and Mark to assist him, specifically in writing his letter of encouragement.

            Anyhow, Peter added, “She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings.” Who’s the person in Babylon that sent her greetings?

            There was no absolute interpretation. Maybe, she was a friend or ministry partner who was known also to the recipients of his letter. But if we consider the situation when Christians were persecuted in Rome, it is possible that Peter was using a figurative language to hide her identity and circumstances.

            When he used the pronoun “she,” Apostle Peter may have in mind the church in Rome; and when he mentioned “Babylon,” it may pertain to Rome. So, when he said, “She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings,” he chose not to use the literal words for “church in Rome.” Why?

            It is possible that Peter may have anticipated that his letter could fall into the hands of Roman authorities, and that may place the recipients to dangerous situation, if they were caught to have communication with the believers in Rome.

Asian Mission

            I know a family who went to mission in East Asia; they also used figurative language in their mails and not expose their identity. When they tell supporters that they have witnessed to people, they just say, “We went fishing.” For local church, they say, “aquarium.” For prayer, they say, “We talk to the CEO.”

            Authorities in the city where they went may have possibly put all foreigners under surveillance. So, if ever authorities open their mails, they find nothing that could be prohibited for foreigner. For safety, it’s wise to use a figure of speech.

            When Peter said, “She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you,” it is more likely that he was pertaining to the elect, the believers, and the original recipients of his letter had understood him for sure, since he said in 1 Peter 1:1-2, 1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ: To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:

            Peter had known that the original recipients of his letter were persecuted. He said, “Chosen together with you.” Peter reminded them of their election. And, despite their suffering, he instructed them to express concern for each other.

3.  Express

                 14Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

            To greet one another with a kiss of love may have been their cultural way to express concern for each other. They also say, “Shalom” or “Peace” to each other. Interestingly, Apostle Peter wrote his original letter in Greek language. So, instead of greeting in the usual Hebrew “Shalom,” he used the Greek term, “Eiréné.” Both Hebrew “Shalom” and Greek “Eiréné” (i-ray’-nay) mean “Peace” in English.

            Personally, what comes to your mind when someone greets you and say, “Peace be with you?” Do you sense some sort of deep concern from the greeter?

When we greet one another and say, “Peace!” ordinarily, it’s just some kind of well-wishing for the well-being of the person to be greeted. It’s not significantly solemn or momentous greeting to be pondered upon for a while. It’s trivial, right?

Listen carefully: As we mentioned earlier, this peace” from God includes “welfare, favor, good health, friendship and prosperity.” And if we consider that the letter of Peter was inspired by the Holy Spirit, it’s considered as God’s word. What does it imply? As believers of God, we believe that God’s word is our life.

Your Life

            Learn from the farewell speech of Moses in Deuteronomy 30:20, 20Love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life.

We are admonished also in Deuteronomy 32:46, 46Obey carefully all the words of this law. 47They are not just idle words for you—they are your life.

As children of God, we believe that his word is alive. It’s not idle words. God is our life; his words are guiding principles that we abide with and to know his will. It is the will of God our Father for us to have joyful peace in life; life in its fullness.

Let us meditatively read Hebrews 4:12, 12For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Reflection: Whenever you read or hear the word of God, do you personally sense in your innermost being some sort of stimulation, enthusiasm or conviction to do what he says? Do you sense any prompting to respond to the word of God?

Christ declares in John 16:13, 13The Spirit of truth will guide you into all the truth.

Together: Let’s pray that the Lord inspires and guides us to obey his word.

            Life on earth is uncertain. We don’t know what the future brings, but at least, we are sure that sooner when Christ comes again, he takes us to his heaven.

Maranatha! Abundant grace and peace from God be with us all, amen. Hallelujah

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