by Richard Mansel, managing editor
Peter is a figure of great drama. “He was impulsive, impetuous, warm hearted, disarming, sometimes vacillating, but always humble, devoted, courageous and true.”/1
His remarkable life vibrantly adorns the pages of the gospels and Acts, before he moves off-screen. Re-appearing in his two epistles [after a brief appearance in Galatians 2], older and wiser, we see a man who has learned from his mistakes and victories in Christ. His maturity in the faith is apparent in his writing and we are all wealthier, as a result.
Peter, in his later years, reminds the reader of an aging soldier, sharing his wisdom with younger warriors. He bears the scars from his life on the battlefield. Yet, he has survived through his faith and courage. We must listen to his tales and instruction, if we will persevere (Ephesians 6:11-12; John. 21:18).
Peter prepared himself and urged his readers to be ready for their last end (1 Peter 4:1).
Final chapters of epistles are often a mix of final thoughts, loose ends, warnings and greetings. Peter follows this form and provides an insight into his concern for the saints.
The chapter is poignant when we read the final verse of chapter four: “Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:19).
Paul’s comment in his final epistle frames Peter’s mindset at the end of his own letter. Paul wrote, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).
Accordingly, our loving Savior will provide a way for us to survive the onslaught (Hebrews 13:5). Peter describes the way of victory and comforts all the saints in 1 Peter 5. Let us heed his wisdom, through the inspiration of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Because Peter worries about the suffering of the saints, he wants to ensure that they will be comforted. He was a witness to Christ, his teachings, miracles and love. Moreover, he was also “a witness of the sufferings of Christ” (1 Peter 5:1).
Selected by Christ to be an apostle (Matthew 10:2-4), Peter moved into Christ’s inner circle (Matt. 17:1; 26:37). However, when the time came for Christ’s arrest by the Roman army, Peter was running from the danger (Matthew 26:56).
The word “witness” in 5:2 means a “spectator or eye-witness” Peter watched Christ as he taught the people, faced his enemies and no doubt saw the pain in his eyes after Gethsemane. He knew first-hand what Christ endured./2
Guy N. Woods writes, “Though Peter had seen-from afar-the agony of Christ on the cross, and was, in this manner, a ‘witness’ of the suffering of Christ, the word ‘witness’ here signifies ‘testimony.” /3
Peter’s denial of Christ was the bitterest of memories and, no doubt, was a perpetual companion as he wrote these epistles. The vivid scene may have revisited his dreams, through the years.
Peter knew the savage temptations of sin (Luke 22:31-32).
Fear led him to deny the Lord he boldly proclaimed, when Jesus was at his lowest point (Matthew 26:69-75). One of the most chilling passages in all of Scripture lays bare the torture Peter’s soul felt at the betrayal of His Savior:
“And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So Peter went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:61-62).
Undoubtedly, that look tore him apart and motivated his concern for his fellow saints. He is witness to the cold realities of denial and the dangers of apostasy.
1/ Guy N. Woods, A Commentary On the New Testament Epistles of Peter, John and Jude (Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1966), 12.
2/ Marvin Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament (Peabody: Hendricksen, n.d.), 1:665.
3/ Woods, 123.
by Richard Mansel, managing editor