8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
For a third time, St. Peter warns his readers to be “sober” (from the Gk. nepho, which he had also used in 1:13 and 4:7). The reason he gives here for the need to be sober is a very serious one. The devil and his demons do not sit idly by and wait for us to decide to sin. Instead, they actively tempt us and eagerly seek our downfall. St. Peter uses a very picturesque image to describe the situation, comparing the devil to a lion on the prowl, ravenous with hunger, seeking to devour whomever he can.
(In passing, I recommend the book The Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis. Although Lewis was not Orthodox, much of his teaching was. I think that the way he portrays the demons actively seeking to tempt us and turn us away from Christ may well be more or less what is really happening.)
The good news is that we do not have to fall prey to the demons’ scheming. Because we have the Holy Spirit within us, we have the strength to resist the temptations. This is why St. Peter urges his readers to “Resist him,” or in FF’s translation, “withstand.” He elaborates on this passage thus: “The word rendered withstand is the Gr. anthistemi; it is the word used for Paul’s vigorous confrontation of Peter at Antioch (Gal. 2:11). It describes not a passive resistance, but an active opposition. Christians are to withstand Satan during times of persecution by boldly confessing Christ before all men, glad to suffer and die for Him” (105).
St. Peter then assures his audience that they are not alone in their sufferings. They are not being singled out by God or men. They can take comfort in the fact that all of Christ’s disciples face similar trials at one time or another. And so can we!
The apostle concludes this section with a prayer of blessing and a doxology. His prayer is more than a wish for his audience; it rings with the tone of assurance. For God promises that after we have suffered “a little” in this life (and all suffering in this life is really only a little in the context of eternity), he will one day “perfect” (Gk. karartizo, better translated as “restore”, a word used in Mark 1:19 for the mending of nets) us. He will also establish us, strengthen us, and “settle” (Gk. themelioo, better translated as “found”, since this word is cognate with the word for a foundation) us. God will one day wipe every tear from our eye and fix all the damage that the world and the devil have done to us.