This blog continues my translation and study of the First Letter of Peter
1 Peter 5: 6
Bow down under God’s strong hand, so that he may lift you up at the right time. Throw all your distress upon him, for he cares about you. Be sober, be alert, for your adversary the Accuser prowls around like a roaring lion, looking to swallow someone. Stand against him firm in your faithfulness, knowing that the same sufferings are imposed upon your brothers and sisters throughout the world. And may the God of all kindness, who has summoned you to his eternal splendour in Messiah, restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you! His be the power that rules for ever and ever!
I have written this little note by the hand of Sylvanus, – a faithful brother, in my estimation- to encourage you and to testify that this is the real kindness of God. Stand in it!
The “lady who is in Babylon,” your sister assembly, sends you greetings, as does my son Markos. Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you in Messiah.
I get a feeling as I translate some of these phrases, that the author has used them before, either in speech or writing, drawing on the Psalms, and knows their effectiveness: bowing down so that you may be lifted up, throwing your distress on the Lord, standing firm in faithfulness, and so on. These are the clichés of Assembly preaching, but none the worse for that. They remind the addressees of truths they already know. They reflect, as the author says, the experience of the Assemblies throughout the Empire, that the life they share in Messiah Jesus is hard as well as joyful. The “enemy” is the mighty spirit of lies who tests the Assemblies as once he tested Job. His characterisation as a lion, possibly taken from Psalm 22, represents the harsh trials which can attack a person or assembly without warning.
The blessing offered by the author, beginning “and may the God of all kindness” is both beautiful and precise: God is kind, especially in his summons to human beings to share his splendour through Jesus. The author prays that God will restore their confidence, confirm their trust in Messiah, strengthen their endurance in testing circumstances, and establish them as assemblies of Messiah in their areas.
It’s possible that the author writing under the name of Peter is in fact Sylvanus, presented here as a secretary. Or the greetings may be copied from letters of Paul. The description of the Roman assembly as ” the lady who is in Babylon” is interesting in its identification of Rome with Babylon, the city of captivity for God’s people. The book of Revelation, which also comes from Asia Minor, uses the same designation, with much greater bitterness.
I’ll take one more blog to sum up my experience of this letter.