Peace to all (1 Peter 5:13)

door slot for letters

Peter closes his letter with several personal remarks, showing a tenderness that surprises, given the intensity we had seen in the gospels. She who is in Babylon … sends greetings. Is Peter referring to a person? A church? Opinion is divided, as it is on the location of ‘Babylon’ (though Rome seems likely). It’s a code of sorts, not clear for us, but most likely plain to first readers–and even though the full message is obscured, the sense of it comes through: one person/group is mindful of another, concerned, aware, engaged.

… and so does my son Mark. The Mark of the Gospels, the guy who supposedly fled naked after Jesus’ arrest, the one who later left Paul and Barnabas, only to be sought out by the latter to participate in another mission? The Mark whom Paul eventually saw as a valuable member of the larger team and who spent time with Paul during at least one imprisonment? The Mark who wrote a Gospel, and who, according to tradition was Peter’s scribe? Maybe so; probably, and regarded highly by one who also had stumbled more than once.

Peace to all of you who are in Christ. ‘In Christ’ is that potent phrase so common to Paul, but picked up by others: it works like shorthand, to convey in brief the much huger notion of life in a particular ‘place’. And ‘peace’? In the midst of turmoil–both that facing the writer and what his readers are experiencing–Peter shares his wish for peace. He’s wanting this for them, asking for it from God on their behalf. He wants that they will have peace to manage, to handle all that’s happening. And notice that he prays for peace, not removal.

Know anyone for whom a prayer like this would be meaningful?

That Peter ends here shows us his heart. No last minute, ‘make sure you do this’ or ‘stay far away from this’–but an emotional epilogue full of insight and interest. In this world you will have trouble, Jesus said, and Peter would have heard it. Would also have remembered what followed: take heart, for I have overcome. Peter’s counting on that for all who are in Christ, assuring them that peace can wrap a heart and mind. He’s been there, done that, and lived to tell the story.

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