By Mike Chaffin
By Silvanus, our faithful brother as I consider him, I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you stand. 13 She who is in Babylon, elect together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus. Amen. 1 Peter 5:12-14
Peter sent his first letter to Christians who had scattered throughout the known world to escape persecution for being a follower of Jesus. These last words wrap up great advice on how to live the Christian life in difficult times. Something we all need to read and absorb so we can survive when we face persecution.
Writing from Rome, (although Peter called it Babylon), he closes his letter thanking Silvanus for penning it. He also lets people know he is not alone, he is with friends, coworkers, and fellow believers. Even in exile the church thrived and grew.
Peter tells the readers of his day to greet each other with the kiss of love. Some translation read, kiss of holiness, or holy kiss. Paul instructed his readers in four different letters to do the same. This was common practice in the early Apostolic church. Since the church was segregated, males sitting with males, and female with female, it was a kiss on the cheek that signified Christ’s love for his neighbor and brother in Christ, or for her neighbor and sister in Christ. As churches came to allow men and women to sit together this practice of the holy kiss was eliminated. This was simply an outward sign of the love that lived in the Christian’s heart and was a symbol of the peace that lived in them, even in the hostile environment they had to face outside the church’s doors.
The last words here remind us of Ephesians 6:23-24,
Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.
Done in earnestness of heart, and purity of thought, it signifies we are a child of God and fully embracing a life in Christ.
Prayer: Lord thank you for these great last words that encourage us to show love to our neighbor, to share the peace that passes all understanding that lives in us as a child of God and partaker of Christ, with Holy Spirit power filling us so we can stand in these evil times, face persecution with love and share your gospel in a hostile world. In Jesus’ name, amen.