CONNECTED!

CONNECTED!

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. She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.   (1 Peter 5: 12-14)

Is this writer the same rough and ready fisherman who put his foot in his mouth every time he opened it? What a long way Peter has come since the days when he walked with Jesus on earth!

As we have moved through this letter, we couldn’t help feeling that there was a strong connection between Peter and Paul. So many of his thoughts and expressions echoed Paul’s that it was almost as though they had spent hours together honing their understanding of the gospel entrusted to them. We know that Peter had read many of Paul’s letters because he mentioned them in his second letter.

Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3: 15-16)

After his initial suspicion, Peter had a high regard for Paul. Whether or not they actually spent time together, he was able to read his letters which he regarded as inspired, putting them in the same category as ‘the other Scriptures’.

Silas, if he was the same Silas who accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey, was also a link. We have no idea how Silas came to be with Peter when he wrote this letter. Was he Peter’s scribe? Did he help Peter to form his ideas in the Greek language which was not Peter’s first language? Scholars have noted that Peter’s Greek is the most complicated of all the New Testament writers. Where did he learn to write Greek like that?

And what about Mark whom he also mentioned in his final greeting? He called him ‘my son’, obviously indicating a very close association with him. Mark’s Gospel is based, according to New Testament scholarship, on Peter’s preaching which Mark may have recorded or he may have had access to Peter’s written notes, upon which Matthew and Luke based their gospels.

All of these clues point to an interconnection between the leaders in the early church. This is remarkable, considering that there was no technology to keep them in touch, and that they ministered to groups of people across the Roman Empire which spanned the whole Mediterranean area, without the luxury of motorised vehicles or air travel. They had to get around by ship or on foot and letters were delivered by hand, not even by ‘snail mail’!

Who was the ‘she’ and where was ‘Babylon’? ‘She’ could have been any prominent and well-known Christian woman or even a group of believers who resided in ‘Babylon’ and who were known to Peter’s readers. Why did he not mention her name or identify them? We don’t know. It may have been for security reasons.

Where was ‘Babylon’? Was it a cryptic title for Rome? The ancient city of Babylon no longer existed at that time. Did the spiritual leaders of that day already recognise in Rome some of the characteristics of the city of Babylon where God’s ancient people had suffered under Babylonian captivity? The church was, in a sense, in captivity as well because of persecution at the hands of Roman rulers.

‘Babylon’ in the book of Revelation is a pseudonym for the counterfeit church or the bride, the scarlet woman, the great prostitute who was a counterfeit of the bride of Christ. The church was in the world just like the Jews were in Babylon, and even there, God protected them and restored them to their own land.

Whatever Peter meant by his words, we are comforted to know that God protects His church in the midst of the pain and suffering we experience as part of this world system.  He will rescue and restore His people to their own ‘land'; the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, when He returns to restore everything to its original purpose.

 

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

Luella Campbell


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