Peter summaries his first epistle with a call to stand firm in God’s grace (12). He then concludes the epistle with farewells and benedictions (13-14). It is once again a call to stand firm in God’s true grace.
1 Peter 5:12–14 (ESV)
12By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.
By Silvanus…briefly to you: Silvanus is the long form for Silas, one of Paul’s constant traveling companions (mentioned a dozen times in Acts 15-18). Silas was a Christian (brother), a prophet (Acts 15.32), and a Roman citizen (Acts 16.37). He was a letter-bearer for the letter produced at the Jerusalem conference (Acts 15.22). He may have been the letter-bearer for this epistle & possibly the amanuensis for Peter; it is “with the help if Silas” (NIV) that Peter has written briefly. Peter identifies Silas as a faithful brother which is a typical commendation for a letter-bearer (cf. Rom 16.1-2), however, it need not be a designation for an amanuensis. Briefly cf. Heb 13.22.
Exhorting…grace of God: Exhorting or “encouraging” (NIV) speaks to the moral commands to which Peter has called these disciples. Declaring or “testifying” (NIV) speaks to the true doctrine of Christ Peter has put forth throughout the epistle. This refers to the epistle as a whole. Everything Peter has written informs the moral practices & doctrinal beliefs of these Christians. Thus, the true grace of God instructs us concerning morality & doctrine.
Stand firm in it: It is this true grace in which these Christians are to stand firm. Any wavering or deviation from the true grace would be apostasy. God’s grace is to support these Christians as they live the Christian life in an increasingly hostile unbelieving world.
Just as these Christians in Asia Minor were to stand firm in God’s true grace, so too must Christ’s church today stand firm in God’s true grace. From this position we then work out our own salvation with fear & trembling, leaning upon &, indeed, utilizing the grace of God to accomplish this.
13She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son.
She…sends you greetings: Babylon is a figure for Rome, not the ancient city in Mesopotamia. She is speculatively considered 1) a prominent woman & leader of the church in Rome known to these Christians in Asia Minor or 2) Peter’s wife. Likewise chosen (Gk suneklektē) would militate against a view of a single person since Peter is writing to churches in Asia Minor. Also, identifying the church in a given locale as an “elect lady” is not without precedent in the NT (see 2 John 2). Hence, it seems reasonable to see here the church in Rome sending greetings to her sister churches in Asia Minor. See Introductory Material for more on “Babylon.”
So does Mark, my son: Mark is John Mark, another regular companion of Paul of whom Paul spoke highly (e.g. 2 Tim 4.11), though they did have a rocky patch (see Acts 15.36ff). Peter calls him my son, a term of endearment indicating Peter fatherly love for Mark, not an actual father-son relationship. Like Babylon, this is a figure. Mark is Peter’s spiritual son, similar to Timothy with Paul (cf. 1 Tim 1.2).
Peter referring to Rome as Babylon has roots in the OT where Babylon is often used as a general figure for those opposed to God (see Isa 13-14; 46-47; Jer 50-51). The same image is used again in Revelation 17-18. It is as if, for Peter & those with him, the whole city is opposed to God’s chosen church. So we come full circle from where we started the epistle: Christians are “elect exiles,” Peter’s two-word sermon for Christians not only in Asia Minor, but even today. The world remains hostile, antagonistic toward the church. “Darkness hates light.”
14Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
Greet…kiss of love: cf. Rom 16.16; 1 Cor 16.20; 2 Cor 13.12; 1 Thess 5.26. The language of Peter’s injunction is different than Paul’s “holy kiss.” Nevertheless, the same practice is in view. This was an established practice in the church, probably performed during assembly. The kiss would be given either on the brow or cheek. It was a symbol of familial love among siblings, friendly affection, and honor.
Peace…in Christ: Peter concludes his epistle with a peace wish. Once more we see the end tied to the beginning (1.2). Christians are at peace with God and with one another. For the original audience, peace was much needed. Persecution & trouble beset them within & without. God’s peace is needed is such high stress situations.