Strangers And Aliens (23b): Cross Now, Glory Later (1 Peter 5:6–11)

6Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10And 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. 6Ταπεινώθητε οὖν ὑπὸ τὴν κραταιὰν χεῖρα τοῦ θεοῦ, ἵνα ὑμᾶς ὑψώσῃ ἐν καιρῷ, 7πᾶσαν τὴν μέριμναν ὑμῶν ἐπιρίψαντες ἐπ᾿ αὐτόν, ὅτι αὐτῷ μέλει περὶ ὑμῶν. 8Νήψατε, γρηγορήσατε. ὁ ἀντίδικος ὑμῶν διάβολος ὡς λέων ὠρυόμενος περιπατεῖ ζητῶν [τινα] καταπιεῖν· 9ᾧ ἀντίστητε στερεοὶ τῇ πίστει εἰδότες τὰ αὐτὰ τῶν παθημάτων τῇ ἐν [τῷ] κόσμῳ ὑμῶν ἀδελφότητι ἐπιτελεῖσθαι. 10Ὁ δὲ θεὸς πάσης χάριτος, ὁ καλέσας ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν αἰώνιον αὐτοῦ δόξαν ἐν Χριστῷ [Ἰησοῦ], ὀλίγον παθόντας αὐτὸς καταρτίσει, στηρίξει, σθενώσει, θεμελιώσει. 11αὐτῷ τὸ κράτος εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, ἀμήν.

v. 7a: Trusting God The Son Incarnate
The Christians of Asia Minor were being tested under difficult circumstances. They were being challenged and even harassed because of their Christian faith. We know that some of them were slaves and faced the temptation of disobeying unjust masters. It is not difficult for us to imagine how Christians were regarded by a surrounding culture that was largely pagan because that is the world in which you and I now live. We know that the Christians were misunderstood as being arrogant because they refused to go along with established Greco-Roman religious worship. They could not acknowledge Caesar (just now, Nero) as a deity. Their worship was misunderstood, misinterpreted, and misrepresented. In the second century they were suspected of being a death cult because of their talk about Jesus’ death, of worshiping the cross—which would have provoked the Romans particularly to disgust—because of their theology of the cross. We know that later they were accused of cannibalism because of the Christian doctrine that, in the Lord’s Supper, by the mysterious operation of the Spirit, the risen Christ feeds believers with his body and blood. Beyond all this, doubtless they had or would soon have news of the lies told about the Christians by Caesar and their martyrdom at Caesar’s hands in Rome.

Thus, the Christians of Asia Minor had reasons to worry. In response Peter invokes Psalm 55:22, “Cast your burden upon Yahweh and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken (Ps 55:22). The LXX (the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew and Aramaic Scriptures) reveals the connections between v. 7 and Ps 55:22 (54:22 in the LXX).

Ἐπίῤῥιψον ἐπὶ Κύριον τὴν μέριμνάν σου, καὶ αὐτός σε διαθρέψει, οὐ δώσει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα σάλον τῷ δικαίῳ (Lancelot C. L. Brenton, The Septuagint Version: Greek (London: Samuel Bagster & Sons, 1851), Ps 54:22.)

Exploring the connections reveals theological depth under girding Peter’s pastoral counsel. In the Hebrew text (Ps 55:23) the one upon whom we are to cast our cares is Yahweh (‏יהוה), the same Yahweh who delivered his people out of Egypt, the God who is. Yahweh is God’s covenant name to his people. In Exodus 6:3, he said, “I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as El Shaddai, but by my name Yahweh I did not reveal myself to them.” In the LXX God’s special covenant name is translated as Lord (κύριος), which is the very title that the New Testament writers frequently apply to our risen Messiah Jesus. We are entitled to think that the Lord, the Kyrios, the Yahweh, upon whom we are to cast our cares is he who became incarnate for us, who obeyed for us, who, as the God-Man, in his humanity suffered in our place, who was raised for us, and is now seated at the right hand. He is God. He is Son and our Mediator.

Thus, when Peter quotes Ps 55:22, calling us to cast our cares, our worries upon the Lord because he cares for us, this is not a vague piety but a specific reminder of the greatest of all of God’s concrete saving acts in history: the cross. Our God cannot abandon us because he has committed himself to us in his Son. As the Psalmist says, he will sustain us, because he saved us. He will not allow his righteous to be shaken.

Next time: What, me worry?

Here are all the posts in this series on 1 Peter.

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