Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
As was the custom of the day, Peter’s letter ends with a final greeting. But unlike the typical letters of the day, Peter’s epistle to the churches of Asia Minor is the inspired Word of God. As such even the words of final greeting are rich with meaning.
In verse 12 Peter summarizes the point of his entire letter: “…I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.” Writing to fledgling churches far from Jerusalem who were experiencing the same sorts of trials as Christians throughout the empire, Peter’s goal was to exhort them to stand firm in God’s grace lest they succumb to the pressure and abandon the faith.
The grace of God is expressed most supremely in his initiative to reconcile sinners to himself. As he writes in chapter one: “…knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (vv 18-19). In chapter two Peter writes of the sinlessness of Jesus (vs. 22) and of his taking our sins upon himself on the cross (vs. 24). In chapter three the apostle writes of Christ’s substitutionary atonement for sinners: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (vs. 18).
The call to stand firm in the grace of God summarizes the exhortations in Peter’s letter. Suffering is a sure thing for all people. But along with the sufferings that are common to all, Christians can count on experiencing the sufferings that are unique to God’s people in a sinful world. Such suffering requires endurance. It requires a grace-fueled determination to stand firm in the salvation that the Lord alone has accomplished and applied.
The final words of the letter are a benediction pronouncing peace upon all those who are in Christ Jesus. The peace Peter refers to here is not a simple peace of mind or a momentary cessation of stress. It is the peace experienced at war’s end; the peace of the sinner’s magnificent defeat at the hands of our gracious God.