ESV - 32 But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.
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Because being part of the "elect" does not make you any less human and capable of falling into sin. If that were the case, then I don't think any one living would be part of the elect. Sanctification is a process by which daily we strive to become more like Christ. We all still need grace, wisdom, and encouragement to continue to strive to become more like Christ.
Given the context of Luke's gospel and that of this conversation and specific event, it does not seem to me that what Luke had in mind was "saving faith"--such as Paul describes in Romans, chapters 4-5. When Jesus asked the disciples, "Where is your faith?" in Luke 8:25, he was not suggesting they had no faith, but that they had failed to exercise it. When they asked him later on to increase their faith, it was not to secure a place in the kingdom of heaven, but to be able to live up to the challenges Jesus set before them on earth (Luke 17:4-5). They may have been men of "little faith," but that only meant that like all of us, it was difficult for them to always believe that God was going to meet their needs (Luke 12:28). We derive the word "eclipse" from the Greek word translated "fail" in this verse. A cognate of the same word is used of the sun being darkened in Luke 23:45. It is not so much that Peter would lose his faith in Jesus or walk away from "the faith," but that his faith would not stand up to the coming test. Contrast that failure with the faith that Jesus could see in the four men who brought to him their paralyzed friend or the centurion whose faith was greater than any that Jesus had seen in Israel (Luke 5:20; 7:9). And Jesus was right about Peter, because his faith did fail--perhaps being "eclipsed" by fear. That is why the Lord goes on to say, "And when you have turned back" (NIV). Jesus anticipated both the failure of Peter's faith and his return. Peter was greatly distressed by his three denials of Christ, which is why he went away and "wept bitterly" (Luke 22:62). But he returned, because even though his faith gave out in a moment of crisis, it never gave out completely. I have found that in my own reading of scripture, it is not helpful to read "election" into every passage or every reference to faith. Doing so can obscure what the text actually says.
If you read the verse before, it says in Luke 22:31 KJV And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: So Jesus prayed for Peter that he may be able to stand the tricks of the evil one. 1 peter 5:8 KJV Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: We all christians are in the same boat as Peter, that's why 1 Tess 5:17 tells us to pray without ceasing. I hope this helps.
Being a part of the "elect" does not guarantee safety from failure. The devil desired Peter as he did Job; but it was up to Job to decide how he would respond. Even a member of the elect will be ensnared and fall away unless our faith likewise be strengthened during its testing (James 1:3-4).
Jesus did not want Peter to "fail" to have faith in His ability and willingness to forgive him and restore him. Jesus knows that we will always fail in some way and to live under the bondage of that guilt does not serve the purpose of the kingdom which is bringing others to Christ. Trusting Him by faith will give us as believers a glow that will attract others to His saving and sustaining grace.
Jesus sees all of us as we are, even Peter. Peter had a history of failing faith. Remember when he looked away from Jesus while walking on water. He sunk. Jesus pulled out. Remember That after vowing to even to die with Jesus, Peter denied Jesus three times (Luke 22.31-34). With Peters impulsive nature and pass failings in unfaithfulness Jesus rightly concluded that Peter may fail.
I have really appreciated everyone's thoughts on this verse. Each of you had a nugget for me to think on and most of you hit the subject squarely and head on. I do appreciate the Greek word studies as well. I am no scholar but I glean around the edges of the harvest and hope to find the true bread that satisfies. Thank you all for your time and your help. I did look more into the Greek this afternoon and found some very interesting info. The word that is translated "fail" in this verse is used only 4 times in the NT. The general definition of the word is "to fail, end, stop." The specific definition as applied in each instance varies slightly: to fail, die out, Lk. 22:32; to come to an end, Heb. 1:12; to be defunct, Lk. 16:9; 23:45. Now because it appears to me that it was possible for Peter's faith to fail utterly (Jesus knew that Satan himself was coming against all of the disciples), this caused Jesus to pray and intercede on Peter's behalf. It is apparent that Peter's faith did fail, but he returned (repented) and recovered his faith. Think about this: when Jesus was resurrected He wanted to see Peter first. There were of course, the women at the tomb, but the angel said, "Go tell the disciples AND PETER." Then when the disciples rushed back from Emmaus to tell their friends in Jerusalem that Jesus had appeared to them, before they could tell them their story the disciples told them that Jesus was alive because He had appeared to Peter! Paul spent time with Peter as well, when he was first converted and he wrote to the church in 1Cor. 15, that Jesus had appeared to Peter first and then to the twelve. I think that Jesus knew how fragile Peter's faith was, especially after he denied Him. Jesus even looked at him when the cock crowed and Peter went out and wept bitterly. Jesus not only prayed for Peter, but He went to him as soon as He could to show him it was okay and that He still loved him. I wish that we knew more about that meeting. Knowing how much Jesus loved Peter strengthens my faith and makes my own heart swell with love for such a Saviior. I believe that it is possible for our faith to fail utterly, but Jesus is our Advocate with the Father and so long as we turn back (return) like Peter, we will not shipwreck our faith. There is no God like Jehovah!
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