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The letter of 1 Peter was written to encourage Christians to stand firm until the end. In 1 Peter 5:12-14, as in the entire letter, Peter repeatedly reminds believers that followers of Jesus are not alone: By 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. (13) She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son.

First, Peter mentions Silvanus. Since Silvanus is the Latinized form of the Greek name Silas,[1] many believe this is the same Silas we know from the book of Acts. The same Silas who was imprisoned with Paul in Philippi and helped deliver the letter from the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. Peter mentions Silas here because he is likely the one who is delivering this letter to the Christians in Asia Minor.

Robert Mounce writes this about Silas: “[He] was an influential person in the early church…yet his highest commendation is that he was a faithful brother. Silas was such a man—content to take a subordinate place and faithful to carry out the responsibilities that fell to him. The church desperately needs men like Silas who will work quietly in the supportive roles of Christian ministry.”[2]

When the exiles stand firm, they’re standing firm alongside a faithful brother like Silas. And when you stand firm, you’re standing firm alongside men and women like Silas in our own church. You’re not alone.

Next, Peter mentions the local church in Rome where he is a member and an elder. Verse 13 says this: She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings.

How is this a reference to the local church in Rome? Well, for one the New Testament writers occasionally referred to local churches as a chosen lady. For example, John does this twice in 2 John when he writes “to the elect lady” and sends greeting from “the children of your elect sister.” So the chosen lady in 1 Peter 5 is almost certainly referring to a local church.

But why would we say Peter is writing from Rome when he mentions Babylon? He’s not writing from Babylon because in his day there was no Babylon! That ancient city had been destroyed 600 years earlier. But from the beginning to the end of the Bible, the name “Babylon” was used to refer to any place anywhere that set itself against God. To be in Babylon was to be in exile. To be in Babylon was to be anywhere but home.

Peter is saying, “you’re not alone exiled Christians in Asia Minor. We’re exiles too.” And if he could speak to us today he just might say, “you’re not alone exiled Christians in Poquoson, Newport News, York County, Hampton, and beyond. You’re a part of a long line of men and women who have lived as exiles on this earth. ​         

Then Peter mentions Mark, his son. Peter is probably not referring to a biological son named Mark, but the Mark who we know from the book of Acts. It was this Mark who abandoned Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, which eventually led to a fight between Paul and Barnabas. But over time Mark would mature and would eventually write the Gospel that bears his name, likely with Peter’s assistance and supervision.

When you stand firm, you’re standing firm alongside those who have messed things up. You’re not alone. Because we’re not alone, Peter instructs his readers in verse 14 to Greet one another with the kiss of love.

In that culture a kiss of greeting was common for friends and family. The Ephesian elders kissed Paul when they saw him for the last time (Acts 20:37). The father kissed the Prodigal son when he returned (Luke 15:20). Judas’ kiss of Jesus in Gethsemane was not insulting because it was a kiss, but because he would twist a sign of love and friendship into a sign of betrayal.​

About this call to kiss, John Stott writes: “The form which kissing takes varies considerably from culture to culture. It may involve the use of our hands, arms, mouths, cheeks or noses. Or the custom of our country may be to stand back and bow without any bodily contact. Yet the apostle’s instruction is clear that when Christians meet each other they should greet each other, and that their verbal greeting should be made stronger, warmer and more personal by a culturally appropriate sign.”[3]

The application for us is not to insist on this particular cultural expression of a warm greeting (especially in a time of sickness and social distancing), but to insist on the warm greeting. We must not allow face masks and social distancing to keep us from warmly greeting one another in love.  We should, insofar as we are able, labor to greet one another in love. And perhaps especially during a time when many of us feel more alone than over. No one should ever leave our gatherings feeling unloved.

Stand firm until the end because you’re not alone. [1] Karen H. Jobes, 1 Peter, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005), 321. [2] Robert H. Mounce, A Living Hope: A Commentary on 1 and 2 Peter (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 1982), 91. [3] As quoted by C.J. Mahaney, Postscript, Exiles: Sustained By Hope in a Hostile World (Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, 2017),