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God’s Word for You

1 Peter 5:12 Grace

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, May 30, 2022

12 With 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.

This mention of Silas (Greek Σιλουανός, Sylvanus), is unexpected. Not because Silas never appears in the greetings of letters (he appears in four; three from Paul), but because this letter was meant for the Christians in Asia Minor. Almost everything else we know about Silas from his twenty-one mentions in the New Testament show that he mostly worked with Paul and Barnabas in Greece. But he may have been in Asia Minor with Paul when the Apostle took on Timothy as a companion (Acts 16:1-8) since he is with the group when Luke joined Paul in Troas (Acts 16:8-10) and traveled from Asia Minor to Greece and was arrested with Paul in Philippi (Acts 16:19). Most of everything else we know about Silas involves work in Greece, at Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-9; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1), at Berea (Acts 17:10-14), and at Corinth (Acts 18:5; 2 Corinthians 1:19).

Since Peter is writing from Rome (see 5:13 and comments there), we must regard Silas as having arrived in Rome as well. Silas was possibly there to build on the mission work Paul had accomplished in his strange Roman pulpit (which was a prison), building a little congregation there. Since Paul was released from his first Roman imprisonment in about 62 AD and wrote to Timothy and Titus from Philippi in about 64 or 65, that leaves two or three years for his attempted trip to Spain (Romans 15:24,28) to carry the gospel to the Atlantic Ocean. Perhaps Paul had in mind to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy about the voyage of the gospel: “I will send some to Tarshish. They will proclaim my glory among the nations” (Isaiah 66:19). The reason we don’t know more about this trip to Spain is undoubtedly because Paul doesn’t mention it in 2 Timothy, the only letter he wrote after his journey. And Paul was wise enough not to boast about his plans ahead of time, apart from a general interest in going, since “one who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off” (1 Kings 20:11).

Peter summarizes his letter by saying he encouraged his readers to testify that “this is the true grace of God.” The most important question to ask of that sentence is, what does “this” point to? This was Peter’s original theme in chapter 1. “In his great mercy he has given us new birth,” he said, “into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade, kept in heaven for you” (1:3-4).

The grace of God is not something man possesses except as God’s gift. We don’t show it; we don’t have it to give. It is God’s love, undeserved by man, but given by God because God is gracious. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail” (Lamentations 3:22). By God’s grace, we are saved through Christ. By God’s grace, we are chastised to bring us to repentance. By God’s grace, he is patient with us our whole lives through. And while sin infects us all, God’s grace is the solution given by God to man. “If the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!” (Romans 5:15).

Stand fast in this grace, Peter says. This is the true summary of the letter. Do not let the grace of God be taken from you. The devil is a murderer and a liar, and he wants to kill you and ruin your soul by tearing you away from God’s grace, but God’s grace abounds and overflows. You live such a good life that the devil is furious with you and jealous of you. Like a bad neighbor, the devil will hound you with troubles and noises in the night and he will always make you wish you lived somewhere else. But God has placed you where you are. Live for Christ, live a life that thanks God for his grace and all his blessings, and let the devil be a sourpuss on your left hand. He has nothing else. But you have Christ. You have forgiveness and salvation. Kiss the final sentences of the Creed as you say them day by day, week by week, for they are the summary of the greatest blessings God gives:

I believe in the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body
and the life everlasting. Amen.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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