The Devil, Afflictions, and Suffering, 1 Pet 5:8-14

Peter’s exhortation in 1 Pet 5:8-11 deals, primarily, with three different subjects: the devil, afflictions, and suffering.  The final three verse of the chapter are Silvanus’ closing remarks.

The devil – 1 Pet 5:8-9 – the devil is our adversary.  Therefore, he is our enemy.  He opposes God and he opposes us.  He is typified as a roaring lion seeking prey.  He is: 

  • Deceptive – Rev 12:9; 2 Thes 2:9-10
  • Destructive – Jn 10:10; Job 1, 2
  • Deadly – 1 Pet 5:8; Heb 2:14; Prov 21:16

His main way to attack is by causing doubt in God’s word and in God himself – Gen 3:1.  Therefore, we are to resist him by two things.  We resist him by faith, by simply believing and obeying everything God said.  We resist him by submission to God [Jas 4:7].  If Adam and Eve had done these two things, they would have never fallen.

Because the devil is seeking whom he may devour, we must be sober; we must be vigilant, and we must be stedfast in our resistance.  

Sober is having the regular exercise of cool dispassionate reason; calm; not under the influence of passion.  Imagine a staff sergeant who is battle hardened.  Thomas Vogel, author of Growing Up In Vietnam, described an incident where his staff sergeant led the troops in a charge against an enemy attack to their rear.  Because of his decisive and courageous response to the enemy’s surprise attack, not one soldier was wounded or lost and the attack was thwarted.  Had they not charged the enemy, they were sitting ducks and many men would have been killed or wounded.  So, we must keep a clear head in spiritual warfare.

Vigilant is watchful; circumspect; attentive to discover and avoid danger, or to provide for safety.  We must keep our spiritual eyes open at all times.  We must be on the lookout for any possible way the devil can attack and safeguard ourselves from him.  We don’t know how many times Jesus was tempted during his forty-day fast, but we know he was attacked at the end by very clever temptations.  Jesus was not taken by surprise.  He saw the devil coming and knew what to do to protect himself.  

Stedfast is constant; firm; resolute; not fickle or wavering.  You can never let your guard down in spiritual warfare.  You are always vulnerable to attack.  While the devil is not to be blamed for tempting us with every sin we commit, we must be aware that he is always ready to pounce.  Therefore, we must constantly resist him.  Consider every avenue the devil has used against you in the past and set up defenses against those in the future.  He can use your sight, your thoughts, you lusts, your desires, your ambitions, your pride, your heart, your mouth, and so forth, against you.  Be resolute to secure everyone of these avenues of attack.

Afflictions – 1 Pet 5:9 – in the context, the kinds of afflictions Peter addressed are distresses, adversities, and persecutions, for example.  We should be comforted in the understanding that other Christians are going through the same treatment we are.  In a world run by the devil, Christians, who desire to live close to the Lord, are going to get it.

Suffering – 1 Pet 5:10-11 – Peter has dealt with suffering in every chapter of this epistle.  You’re going to suffer if you live for Jesus [2 Tim 3:12; Rom 8:17-18].  But there is a good side to suffering.  God uses suffering to “make you perfect.” That is, he uses suffering to remove some of your defects.  Suffering is part of the refining process, conforming us to the image of Jesus Christ. Through suffering, we are stablished, strengthened, and settled.  To stablish is to fix; to settle in a state of permanence.  Imagine clay molded on the potter’s wheel and then fired in the kiln.  It comes out “fixed.”  Furthermore, we are strengthened.  God does not intend for adversity and suffering to destroy you, but to make you stronger.  And we are settled.  Once we are settled, we are free from doubt and wavering [Jas 1:6-8; Mk 11:23-24].  Through suffering, God is glorified [1 Pet 5:11; 1 Pet 4:16; Jn 13:31-32; Jn 21:18-19].

Closing remarks – 1 Pet 5:12-14 – Silvanus is the person who wrote what Peter dictated.  He makes these final remarks.  He testifies that the things Peter wrote are true and are available to us by the grace of God [1 Pet 5:10].  It is by his grace that we stand.  

Silvanus sent greetings from the church that is at Babylon.  Because people have interpreted that Mystery Babylon in Rev 17 is Rome, therefore, they conclude that Rome is “the church that is at Babylon.”  In this way they make Peter the first pope.  Of course, this is ludicrous.  Silvanus also sent greetings from his son, Marcus.

We are to “greet on another with a kiss of charity.”  This kiss is holy [Rom 16:16], not carnal.  We accomplish this with touch.  The “kiss” can be a handshake, a hug, or in some regions, even a kiss on the cheek.  The emphasis is on charity, not on the kiss.  Charity is “the bond of perfectness,” [Col 3:14].  The result of charity is peace.