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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Silvanus (1 Peter 5:12)

Peter brings his letter to a close by a short series of brief greetings in which he mentions at least three individuals who are with him. We may imagine that such verses are not important and perhaps we rush over them.  Yet they are part of God’s Word and highlight the names of people and the good wishes of the author. One name mentioned is Silvanus.

Silvanus may be the Silas who accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey. Yet we cannot be sure about that detail. What is important here about Silvanus is that Peter reveals he was a ‘faithful brother’. Perhaps he called Silvanus by this name because he carried the letter to them and if he was unknown to the readers he would need Peter’s commendation. 

What is a faithful brother? Clearly the description indicates a close relationship, members of the family of God. At one time, both Peter and Silvanus were outside God’s family. We know how Peter came into it, when he met the Saviour after Andrew had spent some time with him (John 1:35-42). But we have no idea how Silvanus was converted. By enlarging the relationship with the idea of faithfulness, Peter is stressing that loyalty as well as love is part of a healthy Christian relationship. Silvanus could be depended upon, says Peter. 

Peter then summarises the type of letter that he had dictated to Silvanus. We know that there are various types of letters and we respond differently, depending on what kind it is. Peter’s letter is not merely providing doctrinal information or even news about how some Christians are doing. In addition, it is an exhortation and a declaration. These terms emphasise the authority of God’s Word and the passion with which it was delivered. Peter, as an apostle, had been given special authority to rule in God’s kingdom and here he does so. He was certainly aware that what he was writing had binding authority on his readers. Peter believed that his message was essential for his readers to hear and obey. 

Peter wants his readers to be assured that his letter had described the ‘true grace of God’. No doubt he was aware that other messages were claiming to be from God. One can imagine how it would be easy for a false teacher to argue that the persecution believers were facing was an indication that they were not following a message from God. Peter had written to them to remind them that their suffering for the faith was a common Christian experience and an opportunity for witnessing to their faith. They were not to be moved from it, no matter what happened to them. 

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