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Two Kinds of Strength

Four words containing two kinds of strength have had my attention lately.

And 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. 1 Peter 5:10. 

Peter concludes his tender letter to scattered, persecuted and suffering Asian believers with a precious promise in the form of a picture. Having laced the theme of present suffering and a subsequent glory throughout his letter, Peter leaves the tattered flock with the picture of God Himself restoring, confirming, strengthening and establishing them.

In the verses immediately preceding this one, ever-honest Peter charges them to remain sober and watchful, as a very real Enemy prowls around, seeking to eat them up. The original audience would have easily understood the reality of enemies and sufferings, as they were facing the ever-increasing persecution that took place in Nero’s reign.

Sure suffering awaited them; however, Peter would have them remember that another surety awaited them as well.

Restore. Confirm. Strengthen. Establish. Four powerful words that present a full-orbed picture of the glory that will come after we pass through our short-in-reference-to-eternity exile on earth.

Peter begins with the Greek word kataridzo, which means to repair, to perfect, to put back into ideal working order. The same Greek word is used of the fishermen who would be disciples, mending their nets by the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

Peter, aware that the flock to which he is writing was literally being torn apart by wild animals as torture, paints the picture of God Himself one day mending them, fully repairing them. Then, he moves on to two different kinds of strength.

Two Kinds of Strength

Peter writes that God Himself will one day both confirm (sterizo) and strengthen (sthenoo) them.

The first Greek word, sterizo, means to hold fast, to prop up, to support, or to buttress.  The image that comes immediately to my mind a banyan trees with its prop roots that shoot down to buttress a heavy tree, anchoring it in place, allowing it to withstand heavy weights and strong forces.

God Himself will enable you to withstand. He will buttress you. He will strengthen you to remain forever in Him. Strength to stand. Static. Steady.

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The second Greek word, sthenoo, is used only here in the New Testament. It means to make strong so as to be mobile, to be strengthened to accomplish a purpose. Active. Moving.

I was struck by the two types of strength Peter promises the flock of God. While some people tend to focus on a still strength, others tend to focus on active strength, accomplishing strength. God gives us a both/and, not an either/or.

Strength to be still, to know that He is God and will be exalted above the nations (Psalm 46). 

Strength to will and to work for His purposes and the good works He has prepared in advance for us to walk into (Philippians 2:13 and Ephesians 2:10).

We desperately need both, as did the scattered Asiatic believers to whom Peter was originally writing.

Suffering is a guarantee for the human, but especially for the believer. When (not if) we  suffer, Peter would remind us that something far more glorious and heavy and lasting waits on the other side. The God of all grace who sent His son to suffer stands  waiting to restore, confirm, strengthen and establish us.

No wonder Peter bursts into doxology after writing such pregnant promises. We will join him there when we realize the rewards that await us.

To Him be the dominion forever and ever (1 Peter 5:11). 

 

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