1 Peter Chapter 04

1 PeterChapter 4 – Chapter 1590

It will be to the benefit of the reader to ignore this man-made Chapter division, and to allow the Divine flow of thought to penetrate the mind. Having set before us the sufferings of Christ, even to the point of death (3:18) as an essential pattern to attain unto redemption and glory (3:22), Peter now demands of the reader that same attitude of mind to the end that God, Whose judgments are soon to be manifested, might be glorified (4:5.7.11).

The Weapons of Victory—Vv. 1-11

Having indicated the attitude that should be adopted by those claiming to be Christ's in the various circumstances of life: in the home, the ecclesia, and in the world, and having warned of the possibility of active and hurtful persecution, Peter now emphasises the weapons we can use to ensure the victory of faith.

VERSE 1

"Forasmuch then" — This establishes a connection with thoughts previously expressed. Rotherham renders: "Christ then having suffered in flesh, DO YE ALSO ..." This rendering makes the connection with Ch. 3:18 even more apparent. It is upon that statement that Peter wishes to now build.

"As Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh" — Christ suffered as our representative showing the heed for putting to death the lusts of the flesh that are opposed to the commands of God.

"Arm yourselves" — Christ has called believers to him as soldiers in a spiritual warfare (2 Tim. 2:3-4). The weapons that are to be used are not carnal ones, however (2 Cor. 10:4-5). Peter here instructs believers of something they must do for themselves. They must "arm themselves with the same mind" as Christ, determining to fulfil the will of God (See Rom. 13:14; Phil. 2:5; Heb. 12:3; Rom. 8:6). This armour will protect them from the enemy (Heb. 2:14) that would destroy them.

"With the same mind" — The mind of the spirit (Rom. 8:6), the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5), the mind that says: "I come to do Thy will, O God" (Heb. 10:7).

"He that hath suffered in the flesh"—Christ suffered because he denied the flesh, and that is the kind of suffering to which Peter is referring. It is possible, as he has already observed, for one to "suffer for evil doing" (Ch. 3:17), but Peter is not referring to such as that. The statement of this verse should be equated with that found in Ch. 3:18, where Christ's sufferings are described as "being put to death in the flesh." Paul likens this to "dying unto sin" (Rom. 6:10), for he uses the term "sin" as a synonym for the flesh with its lusts. These lusts ceased to make any demands on Christ in death for they were silenced thereby, and when he rose from the dead, it was to "newness of life." Therefore, he that has "suffered in the flesh" in this manner, has "ceased from sin." But how can we thus suffer in the flesh and continue to live ? Only by figuratively "crucifying the flesh with its lusts" (Gal. 5:24), by "mortifying (putting to death) the deeds of the body" (Rom. 8:13; Eph. 4:22), by recognising that baptism is a "baptism into his death" (Rom. 6:3), and that we, too, are to account ourselves as "dead to sin" (V. 2), making no provision "for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof" (Rom. 13:14). Peter's words can therefore be understood thus: "He that is dead hath ceased from sin."

VERSE 2

"That he should no longer live the rest of his time in the flesh" —This verse is explanatory of V. 1. To suffer in the flesh, and to cease from sin, is to deny the flesh, and to obey God rather than the unrestrained lusts of the flesh. If . we "arm ourselves with the mind of Christ," and seek to do God's will, we will gradually gain the mastery over the lusts of the flesh, so that ultimately that which was obedient only to its desires will automatically respond to the will of the Father. So Paul teaches in Romans 2:14-15.

"To the lusts of men" — Such lusts as men of the flesh commonly live for and indulge in. Some of these are enumerated in the following verses.

"But to the will of God" — Christ's disciples are called upon to subordinate their natural desires (or lusts) so that their lives conform to the will of God. The Truth must be manifested in practice, and not mere theory.

VERSE 3

"The time past of our life" — Christ's true disciples have died to the old way of life, and have risen from the waters of baptism to a newness of life. For them the past is over and done with, they are completely severed from it, and are now walking in the new way which Christ has revealed (Rom. 6:4).

"May suffice us" — Sufficient time has been spent prior to accepting Christ in indulging ourselves, and following the propensities of the flesh.

"To have wrought the will of the Gentiles" — Before accepting Christ, disciples whether Jew or otherwise, lived as Gentiles, that is, in ignorance or indifference to the will of God. In Christ, different standards are set and must be observed as best they can. For example, Matt. 6:32.

Lasciviousness"—disgusting sensuality.

"Lusts" — Inordinate desires.

"Excess of wine" — The word used here occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It signifies overflowing of wine, and therefore drinking to excess. Apparently, some to whom Peter wrote were one time guilty of this, but they had come under the influence of the Word, and had changed their ways in that regard. They were to be commended for so doing.

"Revellings" — Wild carousals, the consequence of drunkenness.

"Banquetings"—Gr. Potos, drinking bouts.

"Abominable idolatries" — The word "abominable" is Athemitos, and signifies "unlawful." Peter is doubtless referring to the vile religious ceremonies that were a feature of some pagan forms of worship, and which were so lewd and shocking, that even the very liberal Roman law forbade them, so that they who indulged in them did so only secretly.

VERSE 4

"They think it strange" — A disciple's changed life is the most powerful testimony to the truth he has esppused that he can present. It was so in the case of Peter, for in the changed character of the once belligerent Simon there is seen the transforming power of Christ's influence. How much more is this so, when one has been caused to turn from a life of fleshly indulgence to do the will of God. Such a changed life is the seal of truth. Others, who were once boon companions, observe the great difference wrought, and note how unusual (the real significance of "strange") is the attitude now revealed, and thus a powerful testimony to truth is proclaimed without a word being spoken. Note that Peter was himself the subject of such observation (Acts 4:13).

"That ye run not with them" — To "run" implies an eagerness to possess, whilst the addition "not with them" indicates separation from those who perhaps were once boon companions.

"Excess of riot" — The flood of profligacy which is typical of the world, and which sweeps away every law of restraint. The changed disciple will no longer perform the very things in which he once found delight, and his very action stands in judgment upon those who continue to do such, and condemns them without words of censure. Worldly people cannot bear the silent rebuke of such an attitude, and therefore, though they have no cause to do so, they "speak evil of" Christ's followers.

"Speaking evil of you" — The Greek is blaspheming. To "blaspheme" in that way is to falsely accuse another, or claim a relationship with God one does not possess (see Rev. 2:9). Those who once associated with the brethren now spake falsely of them and their relationship with Christ, and therefore blasphemed.

VERSE 5

"Who shall give account to,him that is ready to judge" — Recognising that they must give account at the Judgment Seat, Christ's followers restrain the lusts of the flesh in accordance with the Divine will, seeking to please him who has called them (2 Tim. 2:4). The A.V. would imply that the judgment is immediate, for "he is ready to judge," but Rotherham renders these words: "who is holding in readiness to judge," and the Diaglott: "who is prepared to judge." Christ overshadows the lives of his disciples from this standpoint, that he might ultimately judge them according as they have obeyed him (Rev. 22:12).

"The quick and the dead"—This implies the resurrection. See 2 Tim. 4:1.

VERSE 6

"For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead"—The gospel is preached to them who are "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1), in order to create in them an awareness of God. Such unilluminated people are the "spirits in prison" to whom the Lord preached the word during his ministry (Ch. 3:19). The objective of such preaching is to make known unto such the purpose of God in all its goodness, in the hope that the hearer may be led to repentance, i.e. to a completely changed mental attitude, moral disposition, and habits (Rom. 2:4). This new life will find approval at the judgment seat of Christ. With this in mind, one must be prepared-to bear the ignominy of men with indifference.

"That they might be judged according to men in the flesh"—This phrase is awkwardly expressed in the A.V., for it reads as though the purpose of preaching the gospel is in order that people might be judged according to men in the flesh, whereas the truth is the very opposite. MacKnight has translated the statement as follows: "... although they might be condemned indeed by men in the flesh." He thus contrasts two things: though men might condemn them (see V.4), Christ will not. The Diaglolt and Rotherham render it in a similar way. The word "judged" signifies "to divide, separate, to make a distinction, to come to a decision." Men of the world, looking at one converted to Christ, will judge him and condemn him according to the reasoning of flesh, whereas, actually, he is "living according to God in the spirit." The spirit in question relates to the spirit-word (John 6:63; 1 John 5:6), concerning which Paul exhorts: "Walk in the spirit and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh" (Gal. 5:16). (Consider Paul's attitude in this matter—1 Cor. 4:3-5.)

"But live according to God in the spirit" — Whereas men of the flesh might ridicule or condemn a Godly person, God will not. By Him they would not be condemned, but would be energised to live the true life. Whereas men of the flesh are "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1-2), those "in Christ" have been raised to "newness of life" (Rom. 6:4). The energising power of that new life is the Spirit word, concerning which, Paul exhorted: "Walk in the spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh" (Gal. 5:16). That way of life is God-approved and will lead to life eternal in the Kingdom of God.

VERSE 7

"The end of ail things is at hand"—The "end" referred to is that concerning which Jesus spoke in Matth. 24:14. and which was fulfilled in the destruction of the Jewish State in A.D.70. As far as the Jews were concerned this was a crisis comparable with the flood, when God determined that the "end of all flesh shall come" (Gen. 6:13). The destruction of the Jewish State was to involve further trials for Christians, because, to the Roman authorities, Christianity was but a branch of Judaism, and though they were very tolerant towards religion, the Jewish revolt caused a hardening of attitude towards their religious principles. In the face of these impending greater trials, greater vigilance was required on the part of every disciple. None was to give occasion for authorities to falsely accuse him; hence the instructions of Peter in this verse.

"Be sober"—The Revised Version renders this "sound mind," the Diaglott: "a sober mind." Sobriety of mind was required in the face of trials that were about to fall upon them (see V.12).

"Watch"—Gr. nepho, signifying "to abstain from wine." Peter is using the word metaphorically, exhorting his readers not to become over-excited by "external stimulants that may befuddle thejn, but to remain calm, for such a spirit will lead to effective prayer. Perhaps Peter remembered the occasion when he did not put this advice into practice, and excited by, externals, forgot to watch his own attitude and words and "began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the Man" (Matt. 26:74). Paul exhorted the Ephesians: "be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit" (Eph. 5:18). Emotional, evangelical religion can be likened to the heady, intoxicating influence of wine; it induces religion of emotion divorced from understanding, and causes its disciples to act irrationally and rashly. Such an attitude must be avoided, warned Peter.

"Unto prayer"—"Unto" is Eis and signifies "to the end that..." Rotherham renders: "Be of sound mind therefore, and be sober for prayers." Such prayers are absolutely necessary if a man wishes to withstand the pressure from without and incitements from within. In answering prayer God will grant strength.

VERSE 8

"Above all"—In view of impending troubles, there was a vital need that ecclesias should be strong and united, manifesting the same self-sacrificing love of Christ one towards another.

"Fervent"—Gr. Extenes, signifying "stretched out," and thus extended to all.

"Charity among yourselves" — "Charity" is agape, elsewhere rendered "love". Such a quality should characterise a community that belongs to Christ. He instructed his disciples: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35). A knowledge of the Truth in the absence of this divine characteristic is useless.

"Charity shall cover the multitude of sins"—For the significance of the word agape (charity, or love) see comments on Ch. 1:22. Such a love will not broadcast the sins of others, but will hide them and do its best to prevent scandalous gossip. In this it is like God's love which blots out the sins of those who come unto Him. Paul therefore exhorts: "God commendeth His love towards us ..." (Rom. 5:8).

VERSE 9

"Use hospitality" — Gr. Philox-enos, "love of strangers." Peter would have us show hospitality to those brethren who are strangers to us, and not merely to our friends. There should be a general atmosphere of friendliness in the ecclesia of God (cp. Rom. 12:13; Heb. 13:2).

"Without grudging"—Here the word is Gongusmos, and signifies a murmuring, a muttering of displeasure mostly offered privately. Peter is referring to that class of hospitality that is extended grudgingly to others, and with a muttering of displeasure, and a complaining of the need to do so. The host, or hostess, is put out by the inconvenience, and instead of seeing a service to Christ in the hospitality offered to one of their brethren, only feels the inconvenience entailed.

VERSE 10

"As every man has received the gift"—There is no definite article in the Greek, so that the statement is better rendered "a gift." Everybody has a gift of some kind or other. It might be the gift of speaking, the gift of ministering to others, the gift of exposition; but whatever it is it should be manifested not on the grounds of its merits, but as by a "steward of the manifold grace of God." The gift comes from Him, and we are bound to use it as His. We become merely His good steward in manifesting the particular gift we may have. When natural ability, or talents, are viewed in that light, we will appreciate the need of using all such natural attributes in His service, and not merely for our own pleasure.

"Even so minister the same one to another" — As the gift comes from God, the disciple becomes the channel of God's goodness to others when he ministers to them of his ability. A disciples needs to regard any gift he may have as given him for the common good; and so be ready to impart it as the needs of others require.

"As good stewards" — A disciple needs to view himself as a mere steward of God; that is, as appointed by Him and under His direction to minister to others the gift that he has received- His particular talent is to be extended to help others so that all may benefit.

"Of the manifold grace of God" — The manifold grace or favour of God relates to the variety of gifts possessed by individual brethren (see Rom. 12:6-8). These can include both spiritual and material resources and the disciple must be prepared to share these with others recognising his possessions, whether of wealth or wisdom, as coming from God for that purpose (see 2 Tim. 6:17-19).

VERSE 11

"If any man speak," etc.—Peter now lists some of these natural attributes, and shows how they are to be used to the glory of God.

"Let him speak as the oracles of God" — Let him speak in accordance with the Truth as revealed in the Word.

"If any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth" — This can relate to ministering the Word of truth, or any other service which might be rendered. It is to be performed in humility, with due recognition in heart, if not publicly, that the ability enabling him so to do comes from God, not from flesh. He needs to be motivated by the Word, and extend himself to the full extent of his ability. No one is bound to go beyond his ability, but everyone is required to come up to it.

"That God in all things may be glorified"—This statement sums up the doctrine of God manifestation. When a person uses the natural ability that he possesses to the glory of the Father, he reflects God in action. Humble acts of generosity and good can accomplish this (Matt. 5:46-48); the knowledge of God's love in Christ can induce it (Eph. 3:17-19); the disciplining of the lusts of the flesh will reveal it (1 Cor. 6:20; 10-31); imitating Christ will manifest it (John 17:22; 13:31). The purpose of calling people by the Gospel is designed to this end (John 17:17), so that the beautiful words of Psalm 90:17 are fulfilled in those who reach out to this perfection:

"Let the beauty of Yahweh our God be upon us; and establish Thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish Thou it." Where a person is fully moved by the influence of Christ, so as to reveal him in action, there is revealed "the beauty of Yahweh," and, in the words of Peter: "all things are glorified through Jesus Christ."

"To whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever"—The Diaglott renders: "For the age of ages." The reign of Christ on earth will be made up of lesser epochs, climaxing in the change at the end of the thousand years when the kingdom shall be handed over to God that He might be "all and in all."

"Amen" — Amen signifies so be it. Peter rounds off this part of his Epistle in this way to give added emphasis, and Apostolic endorsement in his exhortation.
 

The Victory of Faith

How are we to overcome? John answers: "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." What is "our faith?" Paul answers: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for." It is a question of confidence in things to come. Whence comes this confidence? Paul tells us: "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." It comes to what Paul said to the Ephesian elders in his farewell address: "I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified." The advice remains good to this day. The diligent, sympathetic daily reading and studying of the oracles of the living God, with prayer to Him who slumbers not nor sleeps, will fortify a man for successful conflict with all the enemies he has to encounter on the road to eternal life; while the neglect of them will certainly ensure his failure, however gifted he may be as a natural man, or however successful in the objects of life which the common run of men set before his eyes.

"All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord endureth forever." — R.R.

The Fiery Trial and How to Bear It (Chapter 4:12-5:11)

In this fourth section of the Epistle, Peter warns of a fiery trial that was soon to come upon the ecclesia. Most likely this relates to the bitter persecution initiated by the Emperor Nero against the Christians. History has it that Nero set fire to Rome, but in the face of public censure, he blamed it on the Christians, and instituted the most brutal persecution against them. Christians were made to do service for a Roman holiday. Tacitus reports that, as an entertainment, the Emperor dealt with the Christians in three ways: 1. He ordered them to be dressed in the skins of wild animals and thrown to dogs which tore them to pieces. 2. He crucified them. 3. He had them dipped in boiling pitch, and, after dark, used as human torches. As a refinement of this last method he had his garden specially equipped for the human flares. Then, dressed as a charioteer, the Emperor, amid the plaudits of a specially-arranged crowd, raced round the arena in his chariot by the light of the burning Christians. No one knows how many Christians were martyred in the butchery ordered by Nero in A.D. 64, but it was a large number. Although the mass murder waned after a time, persecution continued, and Paul and Peter became martyrs to the Nero terror.

Nero was a brute governed by an insatiable blood-lust, and many others besides Christians were destroyed by him. He gratified every sensual and fleshly evil, and his actions became so coarse and abandoned as to occasion even the censure of the hardened Roman people. Ultimately the whole empire seethed with revolt, and this flared into open mutiny in Gaul. The revolting general issued a proclamation accusing Nero of being "Murderer, Matricide, Poisoner, but worst of all a dreadful singer who did not even know the rules of art.'!" It is said that this last incensed Nero more than anything else, and with great cruelty the revolt was suppressed. But ultimately even his own bodyguard, the Praetorian Guard, the soldiers in Rome, had had enough. They turned on Nero, and he was forced to flee. But he found no place of refuge. He was forced to watch his grave being dug, and commanded to kill himself. Terror-stricken he tried to avoid the inevitable, but finally, urged on by his companions, tie plunged a dagger in his heart, and so died.

Meanwhile, Judah had revolted against Rome, and Vespasian had taken the field against the Jews. The death of Nero was followed by the elevation of Vespasian, to position of Emperor. Ordering his son, Titus, to assume command of the army, Vespasian hurried back to Rome to assume the purple. Thus, no sooner had the scourge of Nero ceased, than the terror and bloodshed of the siege of Jerusalem commenced. It was the epoch of the fiery trial.

Partakers of Christ's Sufferings— Vv. 12-19

Faith must invariably be subjected to a "fiery" trial in order that it might be perfected, but in those days, sufferings of unprecedented extent were about to be experienced, and brethren were in dire need of the strengthening counsel of the Apostle. He sought to fortify them by indicating the purpose of trial, the inevitability of it, and the way to overcome it.

VERSE 12

"Beloved" — The word Agapetos is a term denoting one who stands in a special relationship with God, having experienced the divine love as expressed in John 3:16.

"Think it not strange" — Do not consider your tribulation as unique, as something you had no reason to expect, and as incidental only to you. Paul warned that "we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). He warned Timothy that "the last days" in which he was living were such that "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Tim. 3:12). At the Judgment Seat, there will be only one among the sons of God who has never sinned, but there will be nobody who has never been tried. Trial is incidental to a life in Christ, for only through it will a godly character be developed. The testing, however, takes various forms; even that of affluence.

"The fiery trial"—Gr. Purosis, "a burning," relating to the smelting process. In the Septuagint the word is found in Prov. 27:21; Psalm 66:10: "Thou, O God, hast proved us: Thou hast tried us, as silver is tried." The term, "fiery trial," therefore, indicates the process whereby the faith of believers will be tried that they might produce the gold of 1 Pet. 1:7, and does not necessarily refer to any specific period of persecution, even though one was impending at that time. Believers are not to think it strange that they are subjected to trial, for such is absolutely necessary to purge the dross from their characters, and to reveal in them that which will be fit for the Master's use.

"Which is to try you"—The Diaglott and Rotherham's translation give this in the present tense: "... the fire among you, occurring to you for a trial." Trials are always experienced by believers, though not always to the same extent of suffering, and the trials are always "fiery" inasmuch as they are designed of God to purify. Some are tried by opposition, some by persecution, and some by prosperity. The brethren to whom Peter wrote were already being tried, but there was to be an intensification of trials.

"Some strange thing" — Trials and tribulations are not foreign to the life in Christ, but incidental to it, being the means designed by God for the purification of saints, and the testing of their faith (1 Pet. 1:7).

VERSE 13

"But rejoice"—A reminder of the Lord's words in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:11-12). Rejoicing in tribulation is only possible if the person tried sees the divine purpose in it. The Apostles rejoiced under such conditions because they recognised that they were thus considered "worthy to suffer" (Acts 5:41). Paul taught that we should "glory in tribulations," "knowing that tribulation worketh patience (endurance)" (Rom. 5:3-5). Here glorying is connected with KNOWING. If we do not know the purpose of tribulation we will not endure it patiently. But Paul saw that it developed endurance, then "experience (Gr. Dokimen = "full proof under trial") by which our confidence in God is put to the test, and, if approved, leads to hope, and "hope maketh not ashamed." In other words, we realise when we have successfully endured trial that God's strength is available to us and is adequate to all our needs. This experience engenders hope that He Who sustained us in the past will do so in the future. Hope, in turn, will give us confidence that we will find approval in the day of judgment. Such an attitude to trial will enable one to surmount it and to come forth from it purified and upbuilt. Only when we recognise this divine purpose in tribulation will we understand why it is permitted, and will be able to "rejoice," in that we are considered worthy to be tried bv it. If we are able to rejoice in this fashion in the time of tribulation, how much more shall we rejoice with exceeding joy when Christ returns to be glorified in his saints. This is what Peter wishes to impress upon us by using the word twice, for. both "rejoice" and "be glad," in this verse, are from the Gr. Chairo.

"Inasmuch as"—This can be better rendered: "To the extent that..." They were to rejoice in sufferings to the same extent as they suffered "for Christ's sake," but not if they did so through their own folly.

"Partakers of Christ's sufferings"—Sharers with him, fellowshipping his sufferings. We can better appreciate and identify ourselves with Christ's sacrifice if we suffer for the Truth's sake, for when this happens, we fellowship his sufferings. See 2 Cor. 1:5-7; Phil. 1:29. The person who has had the experience of adversity or of suffering, is better able to sympathise with those who are in a like position, so we can better understand, share, and sympathise with Christ's sufferings if we suffer ourselves. (See the principle expressed in Heb. 5:1-3.)

"When his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad"—Suffering now causes a believer to look forward more ardently to Christ's return and the relief that will then come. In this he rejoices, and when it occurs, he will be made glad (cp. 2 Tim. 4:8).

"With exceeding joy" — Every one who conquers trial through faith will ultimately, at Christ's return, experience a joy of such extent as to be beyond expression now. See Rom. 8:18,28; Eph. 3:20-21.

VERSE 14

"If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye" — This is a quotation from the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:11). The word "reproached" is perhaps better rendered "reviled." The frame of mind suggested is that manifested by the Apostle who "rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name" (Acts 5:41). Great faith is needed to manifest such an attitude.

"The spirit of glory"—The Greek has the definite article: "The spirit of the glory." If trials and sufferings are looked at properly, refreshment will come from the "spirit of the glory," or looking forward to the fulfilment of the purpose of trials, even the bestowal of glorj1 at Christ's coming (cp.Ch. 5:1; 2 Tim. 2:10-12).

"The spirit of God"—The spirit of God is a term synonymous with the truth believed. The Truth enables the believer to look at trials from the proper perspective.

"Resteth"—Gr. Anapauo, "to refresh," and is so rendered in 1 Cor. 16:18; Philemon V. 20. The teaching of the Truth, and the anticipations of coming glory are well calculated to refresh one during the dreary period of trial and suffering. Anapauo can also be rendered "to give rest again," thus Rotherham renders: "The spirit of glory and the spirit of God unto you is bringing rest."

"On their part he is evil spoken of"—Cp.Ch. 2:12.

"But on your part he is glorified" — God is glorified when He is honoured and obeyed, and when endurance is manifested under trial. By so doing disciples witness in a practical manner that they are prepared to submit to whatever is laid upon them, recognising that God knows best.

VERSE 15

"Let none of you suffer as a murderer"—There is no need to supply the ellipsis here: "suffer reproach as a murderer."

"Or as a thief, or as an evildoer" — Thieves and evildoers are guilty of injustice and wrong towards others. It is incongruous that those who have been given so much by God, should so act towards their fellowmen.

"Or as a busy-body in other men's matters" — The Greek word allot-rioepiskopos occurs nowhere else in the N.T. It is said to literally mean, an inspector of strange things, or of the things of others. It is rendered meddler in the R.V. According to Vine it was "a legal term for a charge brought against Christians as being hostile to civilised society, their purpose being to make Gentiles conform to Christian standards." Such a charge would accuse disciples of Christ of undue political activity and pressure, from which, of course, they should stand aside. Whether the legal term be accepted, or it be considered as denoting one who pries into the affairs of others, or busies himself with what does not concern him, the practice is condemned by the Apostle.

VERSE 16

"Yet if any man suffer as a Christian" — There is great merit in such suffering. Indeed, Paul earnestly desired to "fellowship the sufferings" of Christ (Phil. 3:10). The disciple who does so will appreciate better what Christ has accomplished for him.

"Let him not be ashamed"—But Peter was ashamed when he was called upon to suffer as a Christian (Matt. 26:75). Perhaps he recalled the unpleasant incident, and out of his own personal experience, exhorted his brethren, encouraging them by the example of his own "conversion."

"But let him glorify God on this behalf” — Let him oe as the Apostles, and praise God that he is deemed worthy to suffer in such a cause. It is evidence of God's interest in the future of such, revealing that He is treating them as sons (see Heb. 12:7,11). See also Acts 5:41; Phil. 3:10; Col. 1:24. Christ made it clear to Peter, that the cross must come before the crown (Matt. 16:20-28).

VERSE 17

"For the time is come" — The Mosaic epoch was about to end, and with it came an intensification of persecution. Rome bitterly attacked Jews throughout the world, and made no distinction between those who followed Judaism or those who followed Christ. Nero, who persecuted the Christians so bitterly, also launched the attack on Judea that saw the overthrow of the Jewish State and the destruction of the Temple.

"Judgment" — Gr. Krima, signifying "decision, verdict," or "the process of judgment leading to a decision" (Vine). Thus a testing by examination.

"Must begin"—The trials about to fall upon the Christians through the persecution of Nero would thoroughly test them. It was a form of judgment that would commence at the "house of God," and then would involve the Jewish people (God's nation) in the Roman invasion of A.D. 70, and finally would extend to the Empire itself. The first related to the persecution of Nero, the second to the overthrow of the Jewish State in A.D. 70, and the last to the judgment of the seven seals of Rev. Ch. 6 which consummated in the defeat of paganism (see "Eureka" vol. ii). Peter thus set forth a principle of Judgment for all time: first upon the household, then upon Israel, finally upon the world. Whilst his words applied primarily to that age, the principle remains true for the future, and Christ's judgment will be first pronounced upon the elect, then upon Israel, and finally upon the Gentile world. The saints shall participate in the execution of these latter judgments (Psalm 149:5-9).

"At the house of God"—See this principle set forth also in Ezek. 9:1-7. The preposition "at" is Apo in Greek, signifying "from." So judgment extends from believers (the house of God) to engulf their persecutors. Christ told his Apostles they would suffer persecution, but also shows that the persecutors would be judged.

The Jews were foremost in persecuting Christians (see 1 Thess. 2:14-16), and because of this, divine judgment and justice decreed the overthrow of the Jewish State (see Matt. 23:37-38). Though true Christians did not retaliate against the Jews in any way, the judgment is represented as issuing forth from "the house of God" because God avenged them on their enemies (Rom. 12:19). The term "house of God" defines the family or people of God (Num. 12:7; Hos. 8:1; 1 Tim. 3:15).

"And if it first begin at us" — Peter does not answer this question, but leaves it to his readers to use their spiritual discernment. If God is going to try and judge His people, what measure of judgment will He pour out upon those who have completely turned their backs upon His offer of mercy in the Gospel? In the age to come, the Judgment of the Household will precede that of the world, for those who are glorified as a result of it, will assist Christ in the outpouring of judgment upon the world at large (see Ps. 149:4-9; Zech. 14:5).

"What shall the end of them be that obey not"—The answer is found in such places at Matt. 23: 35; 2 Thess. 1:8-9.

VERSE 18

"If the righteous scarcely be saved"—This verse is a quotation from Prov. 11:31, and teaches that the righteous can only be saved with difficulty.

"Where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear"—In the terms "ungodly and sinner" the suggestion of negative (ungodly) and positive (sinner) wickedness is expressed. The answer to the question is self-evident: they will be blotted out.

VERSE 19

"Them that suffer according to the will of God"—A person does this if he suffers because of doing God's will. Nero persecuted people because they were Christians, in other words, because they performed God's will.

"Commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing”—The word "keeping" is Paratithemi, "entrust." It is a banking term, implying the giving in trust of valuables as a deposit. The lives of those who perform God's will in spite of the threat of persecution are entrusted to God as unto a "faithful Creator," and they will not lose thereby, for He knoweth those who are His (2 Tim. 1:12). The use of this banking term by Peter is interesting in the light of the legal use of another term that is of similar significance. The word we have in mind is the Greek Hypostasis ("substance" — Heb. 11:1). In colloquial Greek, Hypostasis was a legal term indicating the right to property, and has been translated in Hebrews 11:1 as "title deeds." "Faith is the title deeds of things hoped for." Faith places our name on the title deeds of the inheritance, and if the terms and conditions are fully carried out by us we will receive that "property" indicated by faith. In like manner, Peter sees our lives as entrusted to the Bank of Heaven, where by "well doing" interest is accrued to be claimed in due course.

"As unto a faithful Creator" — Complete trust can be placed in God. As Creator, He brought the earth into being that it might be inhabited (Isa. 45:18), and created man, that he might glorify Him (Isa. 43:7). For that purpose He is "taking out of the Gentiles a people for His name" (Acts 15:14). And His intention is to ultimately fill the earth with His glory (Num. 14:21). He is faithful in that His purpose will be accomplished without doubt, and His spiritual sons and daughters find Him true to His purpose; even in spite of their own failings.

LESSONS LEARNT

 

  • Many of the first centuary Christians suffered far more than we; yet they showed faith

 

REFERENCE LIBRARY

 

  • HP Mansfield – 1 Peter

  • Diaglott – Bible

  • Rotherham - Bible

  • Robert Roberts – Law of Moses

PARAGRAPH QUESTIONS:

  • What are the firey darts of the wicked?

 

ESSAY QUESTIONS:

  • How did the faithful withstand the evils of the Romans? How does this relate to our trials?

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  • Why does God allow suffering?

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