Never has there been a day when it is easier than today to believe in the Devil of Peter. Why? Because Peter connects the Devil with systemic violence. And never have we faced what Walter Wink calls the “powers,” and we need to name for what they are so we can resist them.
Notice Peter’s connections in 1 Peter 5:8-9:
Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.
Peter is working on a way to respond to the Roman Empire’s power; he is a strong advocate for being good folk, even to the point of being public benefactors. But, they are opposed: by “your adversary the devil.” And the devil is prowling around trying to devour folks. Peter contends they are to resist the devil by being steadfast in the the faith, and then he makes it clear what he is talking about: suffering. The suffering they are experiencing is the suffering brothers and sisters are experiencing throughout the Roman Empire.
I wonder, as I write this, just what Peter meant by “resist.” The one thing I’m confident of saying is that Peter means doing good by being faithfully obedient. And he thought faithful obedience and public benefaction was nearly irresistible. This is the point of 2:11-12 and and 2:13–3:12.
Revolutionary actions for Peter involve being good in the face of evil. He learned this by living with Jesus for three years or so, and this too comes to the surface in 2:18-25.
Did Peter think beyond this? Did he think of calling up Nero or getting his best friends to have a chat with Nero and his powerful cronies? I don’t know. Did he think of protesting? I doubt it. What good could the resident aliens and temporary residents bring about by protesting as powerless folks in the face of the might power of Rome? None. So, in Peter’s day the strategy was to maintain a faithful Christian witness and pray to God that their life would provide an adequate basis for their enemies to treat them more gently.