We come to the final chapter in the book of 1 Peter. It reminds us that we have a Great Adversary, who seeks to devour us. Let us notice 1 Peter 5:8-10.
“Be sober, be vigilant because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
We have an adversary. He is compared to a hungry lion seeking its prey. A male lion can stand 4 feet tall at the shoulders, be 10 feet long and weigh 330-550 pounds (Lion, nationalzoo.si.edu).
Imagine that you are in lion country, or that a lion is loose in your area (In 2021, there was a tiger on the loose in West Houston). How would you conduct yourself?
Peter says: (1) Be sober (sober-minded ESV; self-controlled NIV). The word (nepho) means “to be free from the influence of intoxicants” (Vine’s). Figuratively, it means “be free from every form of mental and spiritual ‘drunkeness… be well-balanced, self-controlled” (BDAG). The word is being used to mean “clear-thinking, rational, alert.” (2) Be vigilant (on the alert NASB; watchful ESV; alert NIV). The word (gregoreo) means “watch… of keeping awake… of spiritual alertness” (Vine’s). Figuratively, it means “to watch i.e. give strict attention to, be cautious” (Thayer).
Predators do not usually bring down the alert and healthy. They get the inattentive, the distracted, those who stray from safety, and the weak.
“Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:9).
What if this adversary comes for me? (1) Resist him. One may not stand much of a chance against a lion. However, this adversary can be resisted (James 4:7). When I was in Alaska, I was told that if attacked by a brown bear, play dead; if attacked by a black bear, fight it with all that you have. One should fight the great adversary with all one has. (2) Remain steadfast in the faith. “Steadfast” (stereos) means “lit. firm, hard, solid, strong… fig. of human character steadfast, firm” (BDAG). “The faith” refers to the system of faith, God’s word. Stay in the word. (3) Remember that one is not alone. Others in the brotherhood suffer for the same reasons, i.e. following Christ, and doing the will of God. Christ also suffered (cf. 1 Peter 2:21; 3:17-18, 4:12-13).
Notice that the attack of the adversary is herein tied to suffering. It is one of his means to bring us down. Don’t let him bring you down. When one gives up because of suffering, the devil wins. We need perseverance of Job (James 5:11).
“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” (1 Peter 5:10).
God has called us to eternal glory. He called us by the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14).
Christians may suffer in this life, but something better awaits. He will: (1) Perfect (katartizo). The words means “to render fit, complete (artios) is used of mending nets, Matthew 4:21; Mark 1:19, and is translated ‘restore’ Galatians 6:1. It does not necessarily imply, however, that that to which it is applied has been damaged, though it may do so… it signifies, rather, right ordering and arrangement” (Vine’s). (2) Establish (sterizo). The word means “to make stable… to strengthen, make firm” (Thayer). (3) Strengthen (sthenoo). The word means “to make strong, to strengthen” (Thayer). (4) Settle (themelioo). Vine’s comments, “In 1 Peter 5:10, some texts have themelioo, ‘to lay a foundation,’ used metaphorically, and translated ‘settle’ KJV.” This is looking beyond their current afflictions. “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1).
Do not give up. Earthly afflictions are light and temporary when compared with the eternal glory which awaits the faithful (2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1; Romans 8:18).