Monday, 30 December 2019
By Silvanus, our faithful brother as I consider him, I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you stand. 1 Peter 5:12
Peter now begins the closing section of the epistle. He begins with, “By Silvanus.” This is certainly the same person who traveled with Paul, known both as Silas and Silvanus. The shorter name is something commonly seen, just as a nickname today would be. Someone named Richard is shortened to Dick. Someone named James is shortened to Jim. In the Bible, Priscilla is shortened to Prisca. And the name Silvanus is shortened to Silas. He is seen with Paul in Acts quite a few times, such as in Acts 18 –
“When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ.” Acts 18:5
Lining the timeline of that account up with his words in 2 Corinthians, it is evident that this is the same person as Silvanus –
“And in this confidence I intended to come to you before, that you might have a second benefit— 16 to pass by way of you to Macedonia, to come again from Macedonia to you, and be helped by you on my way to Judea. 17 Therefore, when I was planning this, did I do it lightly? Or the things I plan, do I plan according to the flesh, that with me there should be Yes, Yes, and No, No? 18 But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No. 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes.” 2 Corinthians 1:15-19
With this established, it is apparent, once again, that because Silvanus is ministering the gospel with both Paul and Peter, that he is ministering the same gospel, not two different gospels – one for Jew and one for Gentile. This is evidenced by the rest of the words of the verse, beginning with “our faithful brother.”
The Greek rather reads, “the faithful brother.” The words here tell us several things. Silvanus was well known by his name alone among the churches. It is evident that he had traveled through them extensively. This is evidenced by his frequent travels with Paul throughout all of the area. It also tells us that he was considered highly trustworthy, as is evidenced by Paul’s epistles. His character was well known and well-received by all.
Peter then adds in, “as I consider him.” In other words, Peter gives his stamp of approval along with Paul’s. It is a note of complete conviction. Silvanus was a careful herald of the one gospel preached by both men, and he was trustworthy to proclaim that unified message to both Jew and Gentile.
Peter then says, “I have written to you briefly.” The Greek reads, “through few.” In other words, he has used very few words to train and exhort those he is addressing. He could have gone on and on, but the length of the letter, and its precision of thought, was sufficient to convey his intent concerning what was on his mind.
He next sums up the entire letter by saying, “exhorting and testifying.” Peter has both spurred them on in their knowledge and walk with Christ through exhortation, and he has testified to what he knows to be the truth when necessary. The word translated as “testifying” is only found here in the New Testament. It intensifies the word which signifies “to bear witness,” and thus it means something like “attesting further.” Peter has been full and complete in his words, despite the short nature of the letter. And this exhortation and testifying is “that this is the true grace of God.”
Peter had previously waffled on the gospel. This is found clearly written out by Paul in Galatians 2:11-21. Paul rebuked Peter because he had allowed the Jews to intimidate him and draw back from the freedom found in Christ. Since that time, Peter had corrected his deficiencies to the point where he was useable by God to even write his own epistle on the surety of the gospel. With his now firm stand on the gospel of Jesus Christ, he is assuring the recipients of his letter that what he is telling them is not a word of waffling, but of conviction. It is the word “in which you stand.”
It is the gospel which Paul preached, and which Peter was in complete agreement with, as Paul notes in 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul calls him Cephas. First Paul uses the same terminology by saying, “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand.” (1 Corinthians 15:1). He then mentions Peter, or Cephas,” along with the other apostles in 1 Corinthians 15:5-7. And then he says of all of them in 1 Corinthians 15:11 –
“Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.”
There is one, unified gospel preached by all of the apostles, and it is that one gospel in which all stand.
Life application: Two questions for each of us arise from this verse –
1) If Peter were here today, would he consider you, as he considered Silvanus, a “faithful brother?” Are you trustworthy to handle and transmit the word of God faithfully? Think on this and evaluate how you treat the Bible and if you are willing to share it with others who are lacking in the grace of God.
2) Do you stand firmly on the Person of Jesus Christ? And if you feel you do, what gospel are you placing your faith in? There is one gospel presented in the Bible – God united with human flesh, lived the perfect life we can’t live, died on a cross to pay for our sins, and was resurrected to eternal life. His death is fully sufficient to reconcile us to God and He now sits at the right hand of God ever interceding for those who have called on Him as Lord.
Stand firm in the gospel of Jesus Christ, be willing to share this gospel with others, and ensure that when you do share the gospel, you do it in a manner which squares with the biblical account.
Heavenly Father, we trust in your grace, displayed in the gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord. Be with us as we head out into the world. Like Silvanus who carried this message with both Peter and Paul, send us as tried and true servants to share with others the same grace we have received and by which we stand. May You be pleased with us as we faithfully go forth. Amen.