After a Little While (1 Peter 5:9-10)
Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. —1 Peter 5:9-10
Peter wrote his first letter to Christians who were experiencing various kinds of trials. They were being criticized, insulted, and threatened, and their trials were affecting their faith. They were afraid, and they were tempted to respond to their persecutors with malevolence. Most serious of all and foundational to their other problems, as a result of the trials they were experiencing they were questioning their Christian experience. Peter’s stated purpose in writing 1 Peter is to exhort them to persevere and not lose heart in their trials and to declare to them, “This is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it” (5:12). Peter’s recipients needed to understand that the experience of the true grace of God involves sharing in Jesus’ sufferings as well as sharing in his eschatological glory. Peter exhorts them to stand firm in that true grace of God.
The Fighter Verses for this week are in a paragraph at the end of 1 Peter that contains some final exhortations concerning the appropriate conduct for suffering believers (5:6-9) and the formal conclusion of the body of the letter (5:10-11). In 5:8 Peter exhorts Christians to be vigilant because they are in a spiritual battle, and Satan is seeking to destroy them. But Christians need not be terrified by Satan’s roar; they can resist him by remaining steadfast in the faith (5:9), and after they have suffered God will deliver them (5:10).
The command to “resist” Satan at the beginning of 5:9 serves notice that Christians are engaged in spiritual warfare with the forces of evil. The resistance represented by this verb is not passive but rather active resistance. The next words give the means by which one resists Satan (“by being firm in your faith”). This kind of active resistance is not doing great works for God; instead it is firm, persevering faith. Believers demonstrate such persevering faith in simple acts of obedience and love. This is clear in 4:19: “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” One entrusts his life to God by “doing good.” The last clause in 5:9 gives the motivation for such active resistance of Satan. The logic of Peter’s argument is that since you know that all followers of Jesus follow him in his suffering (2:21) as well as his glory (5:10), you should be encouraged in your sufferings and you should persevere.
Your steadfast faith in your sufferings is actually an indication of the reality of your relationship with God (4:13-14). We might ask what kind of sufferings is Peter talking about in 5:9? John Piper explains that all sufferings one experiences in the path of obedience to God’s calling are Christian sufferings, whether they are sufferings resulting directly from one’s Christian witness or not. He writes, “What turns sufferings into sufferings with and for Christ is not how intentional our enemies are, but how faithful we are. If we are Christ’s, then what befalls us is for His glory and for our good, whether it is caused by enzymes or enemies” (Desiring God, 2003 ed., p. 260).
Verse 10, which begins the formal conclusion of the letter, moves from the commands of verse 9 to promises of God’s deliverance. We are responsible to resist Satan by remaining steadfast in our faith, but it is God who delivers us. Verse 10 summarizes the Christian life in three steps:
First, the God of all grace calls people to salvation. “Call” here refers to God’s effective work of creating faith and bringing people to himself in a saving relationship (see also 1:15; 2:9; 2:21; 3:9). The God who possesses all grace and gives all grace calls people to eschatological “glory” (1:7, 11, 21; 4:13; 5:1, 4).
But, secondly, the call of God to salvation and glory is also a call to suffer for “a little while” (2:21). “A little while” in 5:10 echoes the mention of believers experiencing “various trials” for “a little while” in 1:6. That context gives the reason God ordains that believers experience trials and sufferings for the short time they are here on earth. The reason is to reveal the authenticity of their faith, so their tested and approved faith may result in praise and glory to God at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1:7).
Finally, 1 Peter 5:10 emphasizes that God will complete the salvation of believers. It is his work; the intensive pronoun “himself” accentuates this, but the repetition of the four verbs at the end of the verse leaves no doubt that salvation is God’s work. According to these verbs God’s work of salvation involves equipping, strengthening, and enabling believers to persevere in the faith and establishing them unshakeable in their eschatological inheritance.
The promises of 5:10 are reliable because eternal dominion belongs to the God of all grace (5:11). Therefore, we should have absolute confidence that the apostolic message concerning Christ is the true grace of God, and that after we have followed Christ in his sufferings for a little while we will share in his glory.
What does Peter mean by “resist” Satan? What does this imply?
What does steadfastness in suffering indicate?
What comfort do we have that we will remain steadfast?