From Studies in the Scriptures Publication: March, 1939
"But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you" (1 Peter 5:10). Though we have drawn so freely in our current articles on the manifestation of election, from the most excellent exposition of this verse given by Thomas Goodwin, we feel that it will be glorifying to God and helpful to our readers if we here insert verbatim the striking introduction which that Puritan gave to his comments on this passage. First, because it contains a very beautiful linking up of one passage with another, serving to show how wondrously Scripture itself interprets Scripture. Second, because the case of Peter himself serves to supply such a blessed illustration and demonstration of what is here declared: if notwithstanding his sad lapse, the God of all grace preserved him unto eternal glory, this is a sure pledge that He will do so with all believers.--A.W.P.
Our Apostle Peter had himself greatly suffered for a while. Satan sought to winnow and to devour him, but the God of all grace did, by Christ, and His fore-warning of him, and through His prayer for him, graciously restore, strengthen, settle, stablish him, as the story of the Evangelists and the Acts record. So all this was exemplified first in himself; and he, who himself hath been instructed in temptations and sufferings, is the ablest fore-warner and instructor of others. You know our Saviour did thereupon take occasion to command him, that, "when he should be converted or restored, he should strengthen his brethren" (Luke 22:32). And this our holy Apostle, you see, is carefully mindful of, and that to the utmost; and hath left it behind him for all his brethren to the end of the world, the greatest consolatory against Satan and all temptations that hath in so few words fallen from any Apostle's pen.
And when I more seriously compare things together, I am strongly inclined to think and believe that Peter, in uttering these words of exhortation and comfort in verses 8-10, had those very passages of Christ to himself in his eye and view; and be yourselves the judges: "And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have thee, that he may sift thee as wheat" (Luke 22:31). Observe the parallel.
1. "Satan hath desired"; that is, obtained leave of God, by seeking "thee (Peter) to winnow thee" and shake forth all grace out of thee. Thus Christ to Peter. Correspondingly Peter here to us: "Satan, your adversary, goeth about seeking whom (of you) he may (have leave to) devour." And as Christ gave Peter fore-warning there, so Peter here his brethren.
2. Christ prayed that his "faith fail not." That was the matter of Christ's prayer for him on that occasion. Faith's not failing is Satan's foiling. Answerably the subject matter of our Apostle also in his exhortation here is, "whom resist steadfast in the faith," as that which is the most effectual remedy and shield of resistance of all others (Eph. 6:16). It is not "in the faith" as understanding the doctrine of faith only, as some would seem to restrain it, because of the article (in the Greek), but in the grace of faith, as Calvin more genuinely stated. And the grace of faith is so eminent in itself, and hath so great an hand, and bears so great a stress in this business of temptation, that it deserves here the honour of this article.
3. "Strengthen thy brethren." There are but two words, yet both are here in terminus. "Knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren in the world" (1 Peter 5:9), there is the one, and then, "after ye have suffered, God will strengthen you" (v. 10) there is the other. So publisheth he the comfort and concernment thereof to all his brethren in the world: and contents not himself to utter it barely in the very same word of strengthening, but further surroundeth that, for the more abundant consolation, for the multiplication of words to the same intent: He shall "restore you" (see Gal. 6:1); that is, when you are fallen--"set you in joint again," which was Peter's very case: "stablish, strengthen, settle you."
4. Lastly, which is not to be neglected, Christ, in strengthening Peter's faith against Satan, sets a, "but I have prayed," as in direct opposition unto all that Satan could do; and Peter, when he had set forth Satan as our professed adversary in the greatest dreadfulness, he then in like manner of opposition, brings in his intended consolatory with a "but God, the God of all grace by Jesus Christ," etc., set in full array and counter against him on our behalf, as our Undertaker, Guardian, and the strength of our hearts forever" (Thomas Goodwin).
N.B. It is indeed striking and most blessed to observe the particular instruments God employed as His penmen in the communicating of His Word, and how specially fitted and suited they were for their several tasks. Who, but Solomon was so well qualified, experimentally, to write the book of Ecclesiastes: the man who had such exceptional opportunity to drink from all the poor cisterns of this world, and then to record the fact that no satisfaction was to be found in any of them. Who was so eminently adapted to write upon the beautiful theme of Divine love (as he does throughout the Epistles) as the one who had been so peculiarly favoured as to lean upon the bosom of God's Beloved! So here: who could so feelingly write upon "the God of all grace" as poor Peter! If Saul of Tarsus is the supreme example in New Testament times (for Manasseh is as remarkable a case in the Old Testament) of the wondrous saving grace of God, surely Simon is the most outstanding trophy, in New Testament times (for David parallels him in the Old) of God's preserving grace. And, my reader, it is the same today. When God calls any man into His service, He qualifies him for the particular work He has for him to do. Alas, how many run without being sent of Him.--A.W.P.