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).
June 5, 2011
1) 1 Peter 5:13,14 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
1 Peter 5:13,14
by Tom Edwards
After mentioning Silvanus (Silas), whom Peter regards as a faithful
brother, and after exhorting the brethren to "stand firm" in the "true
grace of God," Peter then says in 1 Peter 5:13, "She who is in Babylon,
chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son,
The KJV renders this as, "The church that is at Babylon, elected
together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son." But
the phrase "church that is" is in italics because it is not in the
original Greek. It has been added by the translators.
The NKJV translates it as "She who is in Babylon...," as well as the
NASB, the NIV, and others. But who, though, is this "She"? And
what "Babylon" is this referring to?
Commentators are divided over both of these questions. Some take
the "She" to be referring to a church; others, to Peter's wife; and
still others, to a woman in the church.
And when it comes to "Babylon," some take this as literal Babylon (on
the Euphrates), while others view it as figuratively referring to
Rome. Some have even taken it to mean "Jerusalem." So
different speculations have been made.
For those who think the "she"
is Peter's wife, they can point out that she
sometimes did accompany him on his journeys, as 1 Corinthians 9:5
"Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the
rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?"
But still, this doesn't conclusively answer for us who the "she" is.
Some individuals view this "she" as being the "church in Babylon" --
"Babylon" is figuratively standing for Rome. The similarities in
these two places would be that Babylon once persecuted God's people --
even as Rome was now doing. In addition, just as Babylon
had once been a world-ruling empire that was eventually destroyed, even
so, there was coming that time for the fall of the
Roman Empire. But though it is true that Babylon is used
figuratively to refer to Rome in the Revelation letter, that letter
(which is highly symbolic) wasn't written until about 30 years later,
around A.D. 96.
Furthermore, during the time of the early church, there were many Jews
who had dwelt in Mesopotamia, where Babylon was located. For
Luke lists "residents of Mesopotamia" as some of those Jews who had
come to Jerusalem to observe Pentecost on the day the church was
established (Acts 2:9). Plus, according to Colossians 1:23
(which was written a few years prior to 1 Peter), the gospel had
already been taken into all the world. So it is not unreasonable
to view this Babylon
of 1 Peter 5:13 as being the one in Mesopotamia, which is more
likely. For to say that Peter was in Rome, based on this verse,
is an assumption that doesn't appear to hold true in the light of what
the rest of the NT teaches or implies. For regardless of
how much we search the Scriptures, it never shows or indicates that
Peter had ever been in Rome. Rather, our inference would be to
Still others view the "She" as being some woman who was a Christian;
and, therefore, one of the Lord's elect. But, as one writer
points out, since there is "so much uncertainty in the discussions to
be found in the histories,
lexicons and commentaries on this phrase, that I shall be careful
to avoid speculation" (E.M. Zerr). And that would be best for us,
The "Marcus," in this passage, which the KJV uses, is also rendered as
"Mark" in some other translations. Peter refers to him as his
son, but he doesn't mean of the flesh. For Mark was not a literal
son of Peter. Some have referred to Peter's use of this
expression as indicating that he was the one who had converted Mark to
the Lord. It would then seem that Peter is using
this term for Mark, just as Paul used a similar one for
Timothy. For instance, in 1 Timothy 1:10, Paul addresses that
epistle, "To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and
peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord." But it is
also true that even if one did not actually convert another to the
Lord, "son" was also used figuratively in referring to someone who had
been a disciple or student of another. For instance, the phrase
"sons of the prophets" is seen ten times in 2 Kings, and once in 1
Kings. In 2 Kings 2:5, it was the "sons of the prophets" at
Jericho who told Elisha that the Lord was going to take away Elijah
that day; but Elisha already knew that. Verse 7 mentions "fifty
men of the sons of the prophets...." But this doesn't mean that
each of these men literally had a father who was a prophet.
Rather, they had belonged to a school of the prophets that had begun
with Samuel (cf. 1 Sam. 19:20; Acts 3:24). So the phrase, "sons
of the prophets," has been referred to as "the scholars of the
prophets" or the "disciples of the
This particular Mark is "John Mark," the one who accompanied Paul for
some of his missionary journey and who also wrote the gospel of
Mark. He was Barnabas' cousin, according to Colossians 4:10 (in
many translations). However, in the KJV, Mark is referred to as
"sister's son to Barnabas," as well as in the Webster Bible. And
the Young's Literal Translation also shows him as being the "nephew of
Barnabas"; but in all other translations I looked this up, Mark is
referred to as a COUSIN -- the NKJV, NASB, RSV, NIV, ASV, and 15
other translations. The Greek word is "anepsios," which Thayer
defines as "a cousin." According to Vincent Word Studies, this
word is correctly rendered as "cousin" in the Scriptures; and "The
sense of nephew did not attach to the word until very late." So,
it wasn't used to denote "nephew" at the time of the writing.
Robertson's Word Pictures also agrees with this, stating that it is
"clearly 'cousin' here and common so in the papyri." His mother
was Mary, who had many brethren in her home praying for Peter when he
was incarcerated (Acts 12:12).
Peter then closes this epistle by saying, "Greet one another with a
of love. Peace be to you all who are in Christ" (1 Peter 5:14).
This might also remind you of what the NT says elsewhere about the
"holy kiss." It actually speaks of this in four different
passages. In three of them (Rom. 16:16, 1 Cor. 16:20, and 2 Cor.
13:12), they each use the same phrase in expressing this; and that is,
"Greet one another with a holy kiss." The fourth place is
similar, in 1 Thessalonians 5:26, but stated as, "Greet all the
brethren with a holy kiss." In commenting on this, Zerr writes:
"I have examined a number of dictionaries and histories, as well as
four lexicons, and they all represent the kiss to have been a form of
salute between persons of both sexes, the custom dating back to ancient
times. The instruction of the apostle, then, was not to start any
new form of salutation, for that of the kiss was in existence centuries
before he was born. The point is in the word holy, and it means for the
salutation to be sincere and not hypocritical as was that of
Judas." Another commentator made the remark that "The practice
[of greeting with a kiss] seems to have been universal in those
times." In our time and culture, hand-shaking has been liken to
the "holy kiss" of Peter's day.
Peter also says in 1 Peter 2:14, "Peace be to you all who are in
Christ." This is where true peace is -- in Jesus. Paul
writes, "For He Himself [Jesus] is our peace..." (Eph. 2:14). God
is also referred to as a "God of peace" (1 Thess. 5:23 and Heb. 13:20).
Through the cross of Christ, though we were formerly enemies and
hostile toward God, we can now have peace with Him, to be reconciled
into a harmonious relationship, and also have peace with fellow
Christians, as Paul shows in Ephesians 2:13-18. He also says in
Romans 5:1, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace
with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
The Hebrew word for peace is "shalom." According to the
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, it was used to mean not only
"freedom from disturbance" (whether outwardly, like in war; or
inwardly, within the soul), but also to signify "prosperity,"
"well-being in general, all good in relation to both man and
God." It was used as a "common friendly greeting, used in asking
the health of anyone; also in farewells."
In the NT, we also see "peace" being frequently used in salutations or
greetings. The Greek word is "eirene." Strong defines it as
"peace (literally or figuratively); by implication
prosperity...." This Greek word is used in every book of the NT
with the exception of 1 John. It is coupled with grace for the
salutation in 17 of the NT epistles (Rom. 1:7, 1 Cor. 1:3, 2 Cor. 1:2,
Gal. 1:3, Eph. 1:2, Phil. 1:2, Col. 1:2, 1 Thess. 1:1, 2 Thess. 1:2, 1
Tim. 1:2, 2 Tim. 1:2, Titus 1:4, Philemon 1:3, 1 Peter 1:2, 2 Pet. 1:2,
2 Jn. 1:3, Rev. 1:4).
We are reminded, too, of the words of the resurrected Savior when He
said to His apostles (who, after His crucifixion, had been behind
closed doors for fear of the Jews), "Peace be with you" (John
20:19). He also repeated this to them in verse 21, and then one
week later when Thomas was present (v. 26).
Peter also points out that this peace is "in Jesus" (1 Pet.
5:14). Because of Him, Christians can truly dwell together in
peace, which was even prophesied and figuratively portrayed in Isaiah
11:6-9 as a wolf that would dwell with a lamb, a leopard lying down
with a young goat, and others peacefully coexisting that we would
normally think of as being hostile toward each other. Even a
nursing child would be able to safely play near a cobra! This, of
course, is all figurative. It is not foretelling a time when
animals would literal do this; but, rather of Christians who would be
living harmoniously with fellow saints in the Lord. For "They
will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain" (v. 9). That
"holy mountain" represents God's authority, His rule. So those
who have given themselves over to that are in His spiritual
kingdom. This peaceful coexistence can specifically be seen in
the reconciliation that was made between Jew and Gentile through the
cross of Christ: "...For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups
into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing
in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in
ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man,
thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to
God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity..."
(Ephesians 2:11-22). The Law of Moses was never intended for all
mankind, but only for the Jews. That Law showed that the Jews
were to be a separate people from the Gentiles (Lev. 18:24-30; Deut.
7:3-12). But now through Christ, Jew and Gentile can be one and
at peace, through that one gospel that is for all.
Being "in Jesus" is certainly the key. For we must be in Him for
not only peace, but also for all spiritual blessings. As the
Bible shows, in Christ Jesus, the Christian has redemption (Rom. 3:24),
the "free gift of God...eternal life" (6:23), "no condemnation" (Rom.
8:1), the "love of God" (8:39), sanctification (1 Cor. 1:2), grace (1
Cor. 1:4), and victory (2 Cor. 2:14). In Christ, one also becomes
"a new creature" (2 Cor. 5:17), has true liberty (Gal. 2:4), has unity
among brethren (Gal. 3:28), has the blessings of Abraham (3:14), has
all spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3), has an inheritance from God (Eph.
1:10,11), has been made to sit in heavenly places (2:6), has the
"surpassing riches" of God's "grace in kindness toward us," has "been
brought near by the blood of Christ" (2:13), has the forgiveness of
sins (4:32), has "the upward call of God" (Phil. 3:14), has "the peace
of God, which surpasses all comprehension," to "guard your hearts and
your minds" (4:17), has all needs fully met (4:19), and is heading for
that ultimate salvation in heaven itself, where there is eternal glory
(2 Tim. 2:10).
All of these verses show the great importance of being in Christ, and
what better verse could there be than Galatians 3:26,27 to end this
section with? For here Paul shows how one gets into Christ: "For
you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of
you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."
This is certainly a good thought to also end this epistle with.
For those who take heed to God's gospel plan of salvation will then
have all the spiritual blessings we just considered for those who are
in Christ. And what a major difference it will make in the
judgment day, whether one is in Christ or not in Christ.
Those who are in Christ are those who also listen to Him; and the
importance of doing so can be seen in Matthew 7:21-23, as well as many
other verses in the Bible. But let us remind ourselves with what
this passage says: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will
enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who
is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did
we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in
Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare
to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE
How tragic it would be to hear those words in the judgment day. Let us,
therefore, live in such a way that we will not hear any pronouncement
of doom upon us in that great day of reckoning; but, rather, one that
we can joyfully receive -- such as, "Well done, My good and faithful
servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord." That is certainly
worth striving for -- and even for these whom Peter is addressing that
would experience "fiery trials" for simply doing so. For as we have
seen, the sufferings of this life are temporal; but the blissfulness of
heaven -- that ultimate relief -- will be forevermore!
News & Notes
I had mentioned last week of Danny Holton, preacher in the church of
Christ in Greenville, Mississippi, who had been diagnosed with
cancer. I found out recently that it is Stage 4 Pancreatic
Cancer. His doctor did not recommend chemotherapy, but did
mention doing a clinical trial. So Danny is seeking a second
opinion. For those of us who are Christians, let us keep him in
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;
CHURCH OF CHRIST
9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)