Sunday, August 24, 2008

Restored, Strong, Firm and Steadfast

In First Peter 5:10 Peter speaks to Christians who have been enduring some social rejection and are feeling the strain of living separate from the world. Peter lists a sequence of four things that God will do for them because of this process and through this process called suffering.

Peter writes:, “The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Pt. 5:10)

First, it needs to be noted that Peter writes, “after you have suffered a little while.” Although God’s plan includes suffering and takes into account trials and tribulations, the suffering is not God’s final destination for his people. The suffering will end. There is a time in our lives identified here as the time “after” suffering.

This reminds me of Paul’s words at the end of Romans: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” (Rm.16:20) The concept here is that believers must maintain hope and endure the process. The end of a trial will come. The end of Satan’s temptation is inevitable. Christ’s glory is revealed in us in the battle as well as it is in the victory.

James says, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12) The process will produce for us. Peter says that after the suffering, in fact, even during the suffering, God will do four things for us:

1. Restore you – The Greek word “katartisei” (future, indicative, active) means “to put in order, to mend, to reestablish, to make whole.” It is a medical word used to describe the setting of a broken bone. It is also used of refitting or repairing a broken vessel or of James and John repairing their nets in Mark 1:19. Paul uses this word in Ephesians 412 when he says that the gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher are to “prepare” God’s people for works of service. After a time of suffering, even during the time of suffering, God will establish you . . . he will prepare you . . . he will mend you . . . he will position you for the glory of Christ that is to be revealed in you. Probably refers to your character having been prepared to handle God’s plan.

2. Make you Strong – The Greek word “steridxei” (future, indicative, active) means “to set up, to fix firmly, to establish, to strengthen, to support”. A form of this word is used in the previous verse (5:9): “Resist him (Satan), standing firm (“stereos”) in the faith.” Through testing, trials and suffering God will plant your roots deep so that in the future you will be unshakable in you faith. You will be able to resist hopelessness , temptation, doubt and even Satan himself.

3. Make you Firm – The Greek word “sthenosei” (future, indicative, active) means “to strengthen, to make strong”. This word is used nowhere else in the New Testament and rarely used in Greek literature at all. If we see these words in a sequence then this word follows the mending of character and the fixing of faith but comes before grounding on the solid foundation. It would appear that this word refers to your actions and works that are made strong by God. These works would follow character and faith but proceed the final, unmovable product of the glory of Christ in you.

4. Make you Steadfast – The Greek word “themeliosei” (future, indicative, active) means “to make a foundation, to provide a solid foundation, to ground firmly”. Jesus had said that that man who hears and does the word would be like a man who built his house on the rock. The storms of this life would not be able to move this man because he was ground firmly on the truth. In the midst of future storms or suffering you will be steadfast and will not collapse.

Future tense – the action will take place at a future timeIndicative mood – a statement of fact. (not the mood of potential, or a command or removed from actually occurring)
Active Voice – the subject does the action. Here God himself will do each of these four things.

Conclusion of the tense, mood and voice of the four verbs: It is a statement of fact that God himself will do these four things in the future. In the context of the verse, the future is in a “little while”.

God himself will:
- restore your character so that no fault remains
- establish you faith so that nothing will shake you
- strengthen your actions so that you will finish the course
- firmly ground your life so that storms will not destroy your work.

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