As the Apostle Peter is concluding his powerful Epistle, he writes what could be considered a passing remark. But, passing remarks can be very meaningful, not only in the Scriptures but in everyday life. And rather than seeing these words as a passing remark, I think we need to view them as a significant statement as the Apostle is closing his letter.
“By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him I have written…”
(1 Peter 5:12)
The Apostle is recognizing Silvanus for his help. This help was either in delivering the letter or as his actual amanuensis, or both. In any case, this was the Apostle’s way of commending and saying thanks to one who has had a part in the readers receiving this written communication. Letter writing was not a casual process in the first century. The materials were not as cheap as today, and the process of writing carefully to preserve space was time-consuming, especially when writing a document like 1 Peter. So using someone as an amanuensis or a help in some way to write a letter was common, and of course, the letter needed to get to the readers.
Keep in mind that this was a document that was to be delivered to a number of regions in the ancient world, as you learn from the opening of the letter. Delivering a letter like this was no small matter either.
Silvanus had a part in the “ministry” of this letter and the Apostle wanted the readers to know that. Peter says just a few words, but they are a meaningful commendation indeed. The phrase “faithful brother” says much in and of itself. This description reveals Peter’s assessment of Silvanus, and it includes Silvanus in the brotherhood of Christians already referred to (5:9). The phrase translated “as I regard him" shows that this was a “considered opinion” on the part of Peter. We are not able to just pass over these simple words of acknowledgment without realizing that Peter wanted us to know his high opinion of Silvanus. Silvanus meant a lot to Peter, and Silvanus could be trusted.
We cannot be sure it was the same Silvanus that traveled with the Apostle Paul, mentioned in 1 and 2 Thessalonians. But, certainly, that is a possibility. It is an intriguing possibility to me. At times, you read phrases and wording in this Letter that are similar to that of the Apostle Paul. This may just be because Peter and Paul shared the same faith, and served the same Lord. But, it very well could be that Silvanus himself had “a hand” in some of the wording of the Epistle under Peter’s direction. One thing is for certain, there is quite a difference between the wording of 1 Peter and the wording of 2 Peter. There could be many reasons for this, but one could be the role of Silvanus in 1 Peter. We don’t’ know if 2 Peter was written by Peter’s hand or if he had another amanuensis. This is all speculation, but what is not speculation is that Peter is being very open about the significant role of Silvanus and he honors him in a significant way.
Is it not encouraging to sense that the Apostle was not too “big” to express appreciation? After all, this is the Apostle Peter, the man who proclaimed the crucified risen Christ on the day of Pentecost. This is the Apostle who dominates the first part of Acts, Acts 1-12, 15. This is the Peter of “Peter, James, and John,” whose name often comes up first among others. I think it is appropriate to see him as a good example for us in this regard.
Sometimes you don’t need to say much, but it is encouraging to say something to commend someone. Showing appreciation for what someone has done can lift their spirits and encourage them in the work they are doing. Peter’s commendation was a considered one. He speaks of his own assessment. The ESV translates the phrase “as I regard him.” It is almost as if Peter wants us to take special note of the phrase “faithful brother” that applied to Silvanus.
Clearly, any commendation should be honest. At the same time, we should not let an honest word of commendation be left “unsaid” (or unwritten) if it is appropriate and right to share it. I think this is especially true if you are in a place of authority or leadership and you have an opportunity to encourage someone for the good service they are rendering. This commendation may further the work of the Lord and for the gospel that they are doing. It certainly can strengthen the sense of fellowship and relationship in the Lord.
Maybe there is someone who needs your commendation today!