The Believer’s Warfare

13 Feb

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Although we are not to resist evil by returning blow for blow (Matthew 5:39), we are told to resist the evil committed against us by taking to us the armor of God (Ephesians 6:13) which is our protection in the day of evil (persecution). The armor consists of having our loins (procreative power – i.e. evangelism) girded with the truth, and the breastplate (which guards the heart) with righteousness or good deeds (Ephesians 6:14). The armor also includes protecting the feet (our walk or behavior) with the Gospel of peace (Ephesians 5:15)—not returning evil with evil, but enduring affliction (2Timothy 4:5) and insults (Matthew 5:39); and, finally, having the shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16), trusting in God will shield us from the fiery darts of those who slander or falsely accuse us. In this manner, Peter tells us in 1Peter 5:9 to resist our adversary, the slanderer, who walks about seeking whom he might trip up in order to compel him to abandon Christ and return to our previous lifestyle.

Peter tells his readers that the same kind of sufferings (G3804) are endured by your brethren throughout the world. Paul uses this same word in Colossians 1:24, saying that he rejoices in his suffering (G3804) for the brethren, knowing he is filling up what is lacking in the afflictions (G2347) of Christ (i.e. what is lacking in what the Church—the Body of Christ—must endure). Paul says in Acts 14:22 that it is through much affliction (G2347) that we enter the Kingdom of God (cf. Matthew 11:12). Paul says that he presses toward the goal (Philippians 3:14) that he may know Christ by participating in his sufferings (G3804) to the end that he might be conformed to his death (Philippians 3:10). Enduring persecution makes us like Christ, which is Peter’s point in 1Peter 4:13, showing that, if we willingly partake in the sufferings (G3804) of Christ, when the trial is complete Christ’s glory will be revealed in us to our great joy.

According to 1Peter 5:10, all persecution is temporary. It may seem unending at times, but it won’t be carried on forever. Peter tells his readers that, when the persecution is over, it will become evident what God had been doing in us. First of all, he was perfecting or restoring (G2675) the believer. The same word is used in Matthew 4:21 for John and James mending their nets, and again in Luke 6:40 for Christ saying that, when a disciple becomes perfect, he will be as his Master. In other words God was using the difficult season of trouble to make the believer more like Christ.

Secondly, God uses the persecution to establish or confirm (G4741) the believer. Paul tells us in 1Thessalonians 3:13 that the Lord will establish our hearts causing us to be irreproachable and set apart to God. In 2Thessalonians 2:17 Paul claims that God will establish the believer in every good word and work, and in this way he keeps us from evil (2Thessalonians 3:3). So during the season of persecution, God had been keeping the believer from doing evil by inspiriting him to do good and speak only good of others, and in this manner he has made his children’s character irreproachable.

Thirdly, Peter says that God strengthens us during the seasons of trouble. That is, he adds to our ability to endure affliction. All we need to do is trust that he will do so. Finally, Peter says during the times of persecution God had been settling (G2311) the believer. Jesus used this same word to say that those who obey him are founded (G2311) upon the Rock (Matthew 7:25; Luke 6:48). In other words, what Peter means is that, during our difficult seasons of life, God had been building us up on the foundation of Christ.

It is possible for God to use evil, i.e. persecution this way, because only God is sufficient for these things (1Corinthians 10:13; cf. 1Peter 4:11). Only God has dominion over all forever and ever. He is able to bring to pass whatever he wishes, and in the time he wishes (1Peter 5:11).

Peter probably wrote his epistle (1Peter 5:12) by collaborating with Silvanus (Silas of Acts 15, 16, 17 and 18). Peter was a fisherman by trade, but Silvanus was a Hellenist Jew who believed in Christ. Many Hellenist believers were well educated and equipped to help folks like Peter who were the leaders of the Church, but didn’t have the education to express themselves in the best manner of their day. Peter wasn’t illiterate, but even today literate folks—even well educated folks—use the services of people specialized in their fields to speak for them, such as lawyers, poets and tax preparation experts.

Peter tells us that he wrote from Babylon, but this name is a code word for another place. It was the seat of the persecuting authority. Peter wrote from Jerusalem. Babylon was a code name for Jerusalem in the New Testament (1Peter 5:13-14). Babylon, according to Scripture is “that great city” (Revelation 14:8; 16:19; 17:18: 18:10, 16, 18-19, 21), and “that great city” is identified as the city where Jesus was crucified (Revelation 11:8; cf. Revelation 21:10).

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Posted by on February 13, 2017 in Epistles of Peter


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