The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
May 15, 2011


1) 1 Peter 5:7-9 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes


1 Peter 5:7-9
by Tom Edwards

Last week, we ended with Peter's exhortation to "humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time" (1 Pet. 5:6).  Peter then adds to that, by saying, "casting all your anxiety upon Him because He cares for you" (v. 7).  How good that is to really take to heart!  For what more encouraging reason could be given for prayer than simply knowing that the Lord wants us to do so because He cares for His children!

God's concern and care for His people can also be seen in Psalm 55:22: "Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken."

Try to imagine the contrast between that intense caring the Lord has for His people to the "feelings" an idol would have toward its worshipers.  It has been said that the heathen gods and goddesses were always depicted as being very distant from those who worshiped them and not even having a concern for them.  Of course, what would you expect from lifeless images and false gods?  

The Greek word for "anxiety," in 1 Peter 5:7, comes from "merimna," which Bullinger defines as "dividing or distracting the mind; then, that which does so, as care, thought, esp. anxious care, trouble."

There are things we should not be overly concerned about:  For instance, Jesus shows that if we are seeking after His kingdom first and all His righteousness, then we don't have to be overly concerned for even the necessities of food and clothing -- for they will be added to us (Matt. 6:25-34).  He also cites the birds of the air as an example of creatures that God feeds, and then asks the rhetorical question, "Are you not worth much more than they?"

This Greek word "merimna" is also translated as "worries" in Luke 8:14, in the parable of the Seed and the Sower, in which we see the harm it can lead to: "And the seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity."

In warning of the destruction of Jerusalem, which was to take place during the generation of whom Christ spoke, He urged them to "Be on guard, that your hearts may not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries [merimna] of life, and that day come on you suddenly like a trap."

As Peter shows, when it comes to "anxiety," the Christian is to cast that on the Lord. With reference to the word "casting" in this verse, Guy N. Woods states that it "is derived from a term which means to deposit, and is in the aorist tense here, thus signifying a once-for-all act by which one rids himself forevermore of all anxious care by depositing it with the Lord!"

Peter than goes on to say in 1 Peter 5:8, "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert...."  The Greek word for "sober" is "nepho."  Strong shows it to mean not only "to abstain from wine (keep sober)," but also, figuratively, as "be discreet."  In addition to being sober, Thayer also defines it as "to be calm and collected in spirit" and, secondarily, as "to be temperate, dispassionate, circumspect."

Peter had also taught the need to "keep sober in spirit" in 1 Peter 1:13; and in 1 Peter 4:7, he speaks of being "of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer."  In writing to Timothy, Paul instructed him to "be sober in all things" (2 Tim. 4:5); and Paul also urged the Thessalonians to "be alert and sober" (1 Thess. 5:6).

In 1 Peter 5:8, the NIV translates "sober" as "Be self- controlled."  It is also rendered in some other versions as, "curb every passion," "Be sensible," "Be clear-minded," "Be vigilant," and "Be serious."

Coupled with being "sober" is also the command to "be on the alert."  The KJV renders it as "be vigilant."  It comes from the Greek word "gregoreuo," which Strong defines as "to keep awake, that is, watch (literally or figuratively)...."  The RSV and ASV translate it as "be watchful." 

One way we are to keep on the alert can be seen in Colossians 4:2, "Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving."  It is the same word Jesus used when he told Peter, James, and John in the Garden of Gethsemane to "keep watch with Me" (Matt. 26:38,40);  and in verse 41, to "Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."  So prayer is one of the ways in which we keep watch.  

The last place in the Bible where this term is used is in Revelation 16:15, where the Lord Himself parenthetically declares, "(Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who STAYS AWAKE and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.)"  This is figurative, but it indicates the need for the saint to be alert in living the life of a Christian, so he will be clothed with the garments of righteousness (cf. Rev. 3:1-5).  

In 1 Peter 5:8, Peter also refers to the devil as being the Christian's "adversary."  The Greek word is "antidikos," which is defined by Bullinger as "an adversary or opponent in a lawsuit, any enemy or accuser."  The NIV renders it as "enemy" in this verse.  It actually is translated as "an opponent at law" and "opponent" in Matthew 5:25, where Jesus says, "Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, in order that your opponent may not deliver you to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison."  The devil certainly is an accuser.  Consider these following verses:  Zechariah 3:1, "Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him."  In Revelation 12:10, Satan is referred to as "'...the accuser of our brethren...who accuses them before our God day and night.'"  Yes, Satan is an accuser; but we know his accusations are false charges because of what Jesus tells us about him in John 8:44, "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies."

There are various names or phrases that the devil goes by.  Two very common ones are "Satan" (which is used 53 times in the Bible) and the "devil" (which is used only in the NT 34 times).  As we saw in Revelation 12:10, Satan is the "accuser" of the brethren.  In John 8:44, he is called a "murderer" -- and has been that way since the beginning.  In that same passage, he is not only a liar, but also the "father of lies."  In Revelation 12:9, he is called "the devil and Satan," "the great dragon," and "the serpent of old" -- 4 different designations in just one verse.  The passage states that it was he "who deceives the whole world"; and that "he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him."  The "serpent of old" is an allusion to the devil when he was in the form of a serpent in the Garden of Eden.  It was he who had tempted Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and deceived her into doing so.  So we are made aware of his corrupt and deceitful nature right from the start; and according to 1 Timothy 3:6, it appears that it was pride that had led Satan into sin and away from God.  Jesus spoke of him as being the "enemy" (Matt. 13:39).  In Matthew 4:3, he is called "the tempter." He is also referred to as "the evil one" (Matt. 13:38).  Matthew 12:24-26 shows that Satan is also called "Beelzebul," which the KJV renders as "Beelzebub."  In 2 Corinthians 6:15, he is also referred to as "Belial."

So Peter warns the brethren of the devil's intent, of his walking about "as a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (in 1 Peter 5:8).  

John shows a three-fold way in which early believers had overcome the wiles of the devil. Revelation 12:11,12 states, "...they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death."  This last phrase means they were willing to be martyrs for Jesus' sake -- rather than saving their physical life by denying the Lord.  

John says that "the devil has come down...having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time."  How did Satan come down to these?  What exactly was it that these Christians would be up against?  Would it not be the persecutions, which is the primary reason for the need of the Revelation letter, in order to bring comfort and hope to these early Christians who were undergoing that?  And would not that persecution be what is being attributed to the work of Satan?  That, though it was the evil being carried out through men, they were as Satan's agents. So the devil was being personified through these persecutors of the church.  Consider, for example, what Jesus had said to the church at Pergamum in Revelation 2:13, "I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith, even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells."  It has been said that Pergamum had been "a center of heathen idolatry" and "notorious" for that.  That would certainly seem like Satan's kind of place.  So though Satan did not literally have a throne there, Pergamum, due to all its wickedness, is figuratively depicted as a place where Satan not only dwelt, but also ruled.  Similarly, Revelation 2:10, which was addressed to the church in Smyrna, states, "Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life."  Satan did not literally cast any of the brethren into prison, but the evil of that being done by non-Christians toward the saints is being symbolized by Satan -- as if he were the one who was personally carrying that out.  

So, in a manner of speaking, Satan still has his servants today who are carrying out his evil intents -- and doing so, whether they realize it or not.  Paul speaks of these in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15: "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.  And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.  Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds."

Peter tells the Christian to "resist" the devil, "firm in your faith" (1 Peter 5:9).  Though there are various translations that render this as "your faith," there also are those that translate it as "the faith," which is truly what one needs in order to resist the devil.  In other words, not merely one's own subjective faith; but, rather, the objective faith of the gospel itself.  For it is "the power of God unto salvation" (Rom. 1:16). 

The term "resist" comes from a Greek word that means "to stand against, that is, oppose."  It is the same Greek word James uses when he exhorts the brethren in James 4:7 to "Submit therefore to God.  RESIST the devil and he will flee from you."  The Greek word is rendered several times as "opposed" in the NASB.  

Unfortunately, many people today -- just like many in days gone by -- our guilty of resisting what is good, while accepting what is evil.  This is exemplified in 2 Timothy 3:8,9: "Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith.  But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes's and Jambres's folly was also."  Paul also told Timothy about another individual like that -- Alexander the coppersmith -- in 2 Timothy 4:14,15.  He was "vigorously OPPOSED" to the gospel.  

The way we resist the devil is by not yielding to temptation; by not giving ourselves over to any sinful thing; by maintaining a love for the truth; by fighting the good fight and keeping the faith; by hating and shunning the evil, but loving and practicing the good.  

Paul gives instruction concerning this to the Ephesians in Ephesians 6:10-13: "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm."  So we need to continually grow strong in the Lord and be well-equipped with the full armor of God, as Paul goes on to speak of in this chapter; and part of that is the shield of faith -- Eph. 6:16, "in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one."  

Peter comforts the brethren by letting them know that whatever suffering they would have to endure for the cause of Christ, other brethren elsewhere were also going through similar circumstances.  This might remind you of what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:13, "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it."

What can a man go through that someone else had not already gone through in some similar way?  That phrase, "in the world" (1 Pet. 5:9) that refers to other brethren who are undergoing similar trials, is thought, by some, to be an allusion toward one being "under Nero and his persecution."  That to be in the world at that time, for the Christian, would be to be caught up in Nero's opposition.  

Concerning all Christians of that day being caught up in trials, what about what Paul writes Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:12?  "Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."  Zerr makes a good point with regard to 1 Peter 5:8,9.  He writes, "This verse will throw more light on the preceding one.  The pronoun 'whom' refers to the devil, and Christians are exhorted to resist him.  Then in direct connection with the subject they are told that their brethren have been experiencing the same afflictions.  This makes it plain that when Christians are tempted and persecuted by evil men, as these disciples had been, the apostle would say it is the work of the devil, and in that way he goes about like a roaring (ravenous) lion."

May we ever take heed to God's word, to "Be of sober spirit," to "be on the alert," and to increase in the faith so that we will be "firm" in it and able to "resist" the craftiness and evil intent of the devil who seeks to do us harm (such as through his followers, whether they realize it or not).  For in equipping ourselves with God's word, we will have the Lord's help in overcoming all the wiles of this ancient foe -- and God will be glorified.  


News & Notes

Let those of us who are Christians continue to remember Agnes Shuff in our prayers who has been under hospice care for more than a year.  Let us also be praying for Cheryl Crews who has not been able to be with us for a while, due to various ailments.  We want to also be praying that all will go well for Ed St. Clair in his upcoming medical procedure.

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

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evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
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