Where the world comes to study the Bible

I Peter 4

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

UBS4 NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Good Stewards of God's Grace Christ's Suffering and Ours The Obligations of Christians Changed Lives The Break with Sin
  (3:18-4:6) (2:11-4:11)    
4:1-6   4:1-6 4:1-6 4:1-6
  Serving for God's Glory   Good Managers of God's Gifts The Revelation of Christ is Close
4:7-11 4:7-11 4:7-11 4:7-11 4:7-11
Suffering as a Christian Suffering for God's Glory Recapitulation Suffering as a Christian Suffering for Christ
4:12-19 4:12-19 4:12-19 4:12-19 4:12-19

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 1 PETER 4:1-6
 1Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. 4In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; 5but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.

4:1 "Therefore" This links the previous discussion to what follows.

▣ "Christ has suffered in the flesh" This relates to 3:18. Flesh refers to Jesus' physical life. He was really one of us (i.e., human). He died in our place (cf. 1 Pet. 4:18; Isaiah 53; Mark 10:45; 2 Cor. 5:21). 1 Peter emphasizes Christ's suffering (cf. 1 Pet. 2:21,23; 3:18; 4:1) and the reality of His followers' suffering because they are following Him (cf. 1 Pet. 2:19-20; 3:14,17; 4:15,19; 5:10).

The substitutionary nature of Christ's suffering mentioned in 1 Pet. 3:18 and 2:21 is accentuated by several Greek manuscripts adding "suffered for you" (i.e., א) or "for us" (i.e., אc, A, K, and P).

The same type of pronoun specifying addition can also be seen in 1 Pet. 4:3. Early church scribes tried to clarify their texts.

"arm yourselves also" This is an aorist middle imperative. "Arm" is a military term for putting on heavy armor and preparing for battle. There is a spiritual conflict in our daily lives (cf. Eph. 6:10-20; Rom. 13:12; 1 Thess. 5:8).

"with the same purpose" Jesus' attitude toward suffering, including innocent suffering, is that it is normative for the godly in a spiritually fallen world (cf. John 15:20; Rom. 8:17; Phil. 1:29; 2 Tim. 3:12; 1 Pet. 4:12-19).

▣ "because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin" This phrase can be interpreted in several ways depending on the grammatical form. Christ is our example in suffering innocently, even vicariously (aorist active participle). Believers are now involved in suffering because of their identification with Him.

The main verb can be either middle (A. T. Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament, p. 121) or passive (Moulton's Analytical Greek Lexicon and Barbara and Tim Friberg's Analytical Greek New Testament). If it is middle it is encouraging believers to be actively involved in not sinning as followers of Christ's example. If passive it is emphasizing the spiritual fact of the believer's deliverance from the power of sin.

Death annuls one's relationship to sin. This may be connected to the theological concepts of Rom. 6. Death to the old life brings potential service to God (cf. Rom. 6:2,6,7) or baptism symbolizes one's newness of life (cf. Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12).

The whole point is that as believers follow Christ's example of suffering, so too, His example of victory over sin. We are new creatures in Christ! We must live like it. Christlikeness is the will of God (cf. Rom. 8:28-29; 2 Cor. 3:18; 7:1; Gal. 4:19; Eph. 1:4; 4:13; 1 Thess. 3:13; 4:3,7; 5:23; 1 Pet. 1:15). It reflects the fact that the image of God lost in the Fall (cf. Genesis 3) is fully restored in Christ. Christians have a choice again on how they will live. They are no longer slaves of sin! Walk in Him!

4:2 "so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men" This reflects the same theological truth as Romans 6. Believers have died to sin and are now alive to God's service (cf. Rom. 6:20). Salvation is a new life, a new creation. It has observable characteristics.

"but for the will of God" See Special Topic: The Will of God at 1 Peter 2:15.

4:3 This verse is a condemnation of the readers' previous lives in paganism. This is one of the verses that causes commentators to assert that the churches to which Peter is writing are mostly Gentile congregations. Pagan society was very immoral, even in its worship practices. Christianity should make a noticeably different and dramatic change in lifestyle habits. This change is often the beginning of the persecution by other pagans. Sin loves company.

After the opening "for," some Greek texts add "you" and others "us." These are both scribal additions trying to clarify the author's phrasing.

SPECIAL TOPIC: VICES AND VIRTUES IN THE NT

▣ "having pursued a course of" This is a perfect middle participle. Unbelievers have purposefully and permanently set their course on self and sin.

NASB"sensuality"
NKJV, NRSV"licentiousness"
TEV"indecency"
NJB"behaving in a debauched way"

This term implies a total lack of self control, a determined violation of social norms, especially in the sexual area (cf. Mark 7:22; Rom. 13:13; 2 Cor. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 4:19; 1 Pet. 4:3; 2 Pet. 2:7,18; Jude 6).

▣ "lusts" This term means to strongly desire something or someone. The intense craving can be positive (cf. Luke 22:15; 1 Tim. 2:1; 1 Pet. 1:12), but usually it is negative (cf. 1 Pet. 1:14; 2:11; 4:2,3; 2 Pet. 1:4; 2:10,18; 3:3; Mark 4:19).

▣ "drunkenness" This is a compound term, found only here in the NT of "wine" (oinos) and "bubble over" (phluō). The ancient world drank wine regularly, as did Jesus (cf. Matt. 11:18-19) and the early church. It is the excess that is condemned (cf. Pro. 23:29-35; Rom. 13:13; Gal. 5:21).

SPECIAL TOPIC: BIBLICAL ATTITUDES TOWARD ALCOHOL AND ALCOHOLISM

NASB"carousing"
NKJV"revelries"
NRSV"revels"
TEV"orgies"

This term kōmos is related to the Greek term for village, kōmē. It implies a large community-wide festive party involving excess of eating, drinking, and unrestrained sexual activity (cf. Rom. 13:13; Gal. 5:21).

"drinking parties" This term is related to the previous term. The NJB combines them into "having wild parties and drunken orgies."

NASB, NKJV"abominable idolatries"
NRSV"lawless idolatry"
TEV"the disgusting worship of idols"
NJB"sacrilegiously worshiping false gods"

This list of sins relates to pagan worship practices that often involved excess of drinking, eating, and sexual immorality of the most base kind. It was similar to the Canaanite fertility worship so condemned in the OT.

4:4 This verse relates to 2:12,15; 3:16. Christians were misunderstood and attacked because (1) their lives and priorities changed so obviously and radically that family, friends, and neighbors noticed and (2) some of the Christian terms and practices were misinterpreted (i.e., love feasts as incest, Lord's Supper as cannibalism, etc.).

4:5 "they will give account to Him who is ready to judge" Judgment is certain (cf. Matt. 12:36; Heb. 9:27; 10:27; 2 Pet. 2:4,9; 3:7). The one who judges is

1. God (cf. Rom. 2:2-3; 14:10,12; 1 Pet. 1:17; 2:23; Rev. 20:11-15)

2. Christ (cf. John 9:39; Matt. 16:27; 25:31-46; Acts 10:42; 17:31; 2 Cor. 5:10; 2 Tim. 4:1)

3. the Father through the Son (cf. John 5:22-27; Acts 17:31; Rom. 2:16)

Judgment is an unpleasant subject, but a recurrent theme in the Bible. It is based on several bedrock biblical truths.

1. This is a moral universe created by an ethical God (we reap what we sow, cf. Gal. 6:7).

2. Humanity is fallen; we have rebelled.

3. This is not the world God intended it to be.

4. All conscious creations (angels and humans) will give an accounting to their Creator for the gift of life. We are stewards.

5. Eternity will be permanently determined by our actions and choices made in this life.

 

▣ "living and the dead" This means all humans, both those who are alive and those who have already died (cf. Phil. 2:10; Rev. 2:13).

4:6 "For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead" There are several theories concerning this phrase:

1. it relates to 3:18-20 (i.e., "the spirits in prison")

2. it refers to all humans because all humans, believers and unbelievers, die physically because of sin (parallel to 1 Pet. 4:5)

3. it refers to those who responded to the gospel but have since died (both aorist passives)

4. it refers to the spiritually dead (i.e., the lost) according to Augustine, Bede, Erasmus, and Luther (cf. Luke 15:24,32; Eph. 2:1,5; 5:14; Col. 2:13)

This last theory speculates that some (i.e., those who never heard the gospel) will receive a chance to accept Christ after death. This theory is attractive to human reason, but totally foreign to the rest of Scripture (i.e., Heb. 9:27). It negates the urgency and necessity of evangelism and missions now! I think option 1 or 3 best fits the context.

"they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit" This phrasing is very similar to the description of Jesus in 1 Pet. 3:18. It confirms the reality of an afterlife. The Bible is explicit about a resurrection of both the saved and lost (cf. Dan. 12:2; Matt. 25:46; John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 1 PETER 4:7-11
 7The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. 8Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint. 10As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

4:7 "the end of all things is near" This is a perfect active indicative. The Second Coming is a recurrent theme in 1 Peter (cf. 1 Pet. 1:5,6; 4:13,17; 5:1,10). The physical earth is going to be destroyed/cleansed by a purifying fire (cf. 2 Pet. 3:10). The view of imminency of the Parousia is also seen in Jesus (cf. Mark 1:15; Luke 21:32); Paul (cf. Rom. 13:11); James (cf. James 5:8); and John (cf. Rev. 1:1,3; 3:11; 22:6,7,10,12,20).

The imminence of Jesus' return has been the subject of many sermons for two thousand years and still He has not returned. Does this imply (1) that He is not coming or (2) that the NT is wrong about His coming soon? Jesus did not know the time of His return (cf. Matt. 24:36). This surprises us and is part of the mystery of the incarnation.

An immediate return seems to be the perspective of the authors of the NT. What has happened? First, let us remember that time is only significant to those involved in it. God is not slow, but also God is above time. The nearness of Jesus' return has been an encouragement and motivator of godly living for every generation of believers. Yet, theologically 2 Thessalonians depicts a delayed return (i.e., not until the "man of lawlessness is revealed"). The Second Coming is a recurrent theme, but a reality for only one generation of believers (cf. 2 Pet. 3).

NASB"be of sound judgment and sober spirit"
NKJV"be serious and watchful"
NRSV"be serious and disciple yourselves"
TEV"you must be self-controlled and alert"
NJB"so keep your minds calm and sober"

This is the beginning of a series of imperatives or participles used as imperatives, which emphasize godly living (cf. 1 Pet. 4:6c). These two terms refer to mental alertness, especially in the area of prayer. The first term is sōphroneō. It (and its related forms) refers to calm, sound, stable, and vigorous thinking (it is used often in the Pastoral Letters of Paul, cf. 1 Tim. 2:9,15; 3:2; 2 Tim. 1:7; Titus 1:8; 2:2,4,5,6,12). The second term is nēphō (and its related forms), which is literally related to drunkenness, but is used figuratively of rational, controlled, sound thinking, possibly self-controlled (cf. 1 Thess. 5:6,8; 1 Tim. 3:11; Titus 2:2; and 1 Pet. 1:13; 5:8).

However, notice that Peter mentions no end-time events connected to Christ's return. He uses the reality of it as an impetus to godly living. These are both aorist imperatives. This is possibly related to Peter's Gethsemane experience (cf. Matt. 26:40-41). The immediate prospect of the Parousia is a real encouragement to Christlike living in every age, especially amidst severe persecution.

"for the purpose of prayer" Prayer is a powerful weapon in times of persecution and temptation (cf. Eph. 6:18-19), not only for oneself, but for others (cf. 1 Thess. 5:17,25; James 5:16). As 1 Pet. 4:3 describes the inappropriate behavior of the unbelieving pagans, 1 Pet. 4:7-11 describe the behavior expected of believers.

4:8

NASB, NRSV,
NJB"above all"
NKJV"above all things"
TEV"above everything"

This is a Greek idiom for priority (cf. James 5:12). Love is priority (cf. 1 Pet. 1:22; 3:8; John 13:34; 15:12,17; 1 Cor. 13; 1 John 2:7-8; 3:11,23; 4:7-21).

▣ "keep fervent in your love" This is a present active participle used as an imperative. This mandated an ongoing love for other believers, which is a theme 1 Peter has introduced before (cf. 1 Pet. 1:22; 3:8).

"for one another" Notice the threefold use of "one another" (cf. 1 Pet. 4:8,9, and 10). Christianity is communal. We are given one to another (cf. 1 Cor. 12:7).

▣ "love covers a multitude of sins" There are several theories concerning this phrase.

1. it is an OT quote from Pro. 10:12 (from the MT not the LXX) where love does not remember wrongs done to it

2. it is related to James 5:20 where love helps another believer reverse the spiritual consequences of back sliding

3. it is related to Matt. 6:14-15 and Mark 11:25 where our forgiveness of others is an evidence of our being forgiven (i.e., Origen and Tertullian)

4. it is related to 1 Cor. 13:7, the ability of love not to see the obvious weaknesses of fellow Christians under persecution

 

4:9 "Be hospitable to one another" This is a compound term of phileō (love) plus xenos (stranger). This stranger-loving was especially needed for itinerant Christians in a day where Inns were notorious places of evil (cf. Matt. 25:35ff; Rom. 12:13; 1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8; Heb. 13:2; 2 John 5-8). There is no verb in this phrase in the Greek text. Because of the number of imperatives, this is probably also an ongoing command.

"without complaint" Believers' attitudes are crucial. Believers realize they are owners of nothing and stewards of everything. This open door policy was not only needed for traveling church workers, but also for local believers who had lost their jobs and homes because of persecution. This command, like the others, shows the corporate nature of the Christian faith.

4:10 "As each one has received a special gift" This is an Aorist active indicative, which implies a completed act in past time. The term gift (charisma) is from the root for "grace" (charis). These gifts are undeserved, unmerited love gifts for ministry. Every believer has a spiritual gift, given by God at salvation, for the purpose of ministry to and for the Church (cf. Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Cor. 12:7,11,18; Eph. 4:7). These gifts may be natural talents, but if so, they are supernaturally energized for the glory of Christ!

The practical aspect of this NT truth is that every believer is a full-time, called, gifted minister of Christ (cf. Eph. 4:12). Every believer is therefore crucial to the effective working of the local church. This is the biblical correction to the clergy/laity model so common in the modern church, but so dysfunctional. The world will never be won and discipled by paid or ordained staff only!

▣ "in serving one another" This is a present active participle used as an imperative. It is from the Greek term for servant (diakonos). This later becomes the title for deacons (cf. Phil. 1:1). In Christianity leaders are servants, not bosses. Spiritual gifts are for others, not ourselves (cf. 1 Cor. 12:7). Spiritual gifts are not "merit badges" but "service towels."

"as good stewards" This is literally "household managers." The church is the household of God (cf. 1 Pet. 4:17). Believers will give an account to God in Christ for their stewardship of spiritual gifts (cf. 1 Cor. 3:10-17; 2 Cor. 5:10).

▣ "the manifold grace of God" The word "manifold" appears twice in 1 Peter, meaning "variegated," like light going through a prism. This passage balances 1 Pet. 1:6. For every trial (cf. James 1:2) there is a commensurate grace of God and God has chosen to make it available through other believers. No believer is an island.

4:11 "whoever. . .whoever" These are two first class conditional sentences. God's gifted servants are expected to speak and serve through His power. If we speak it is His utterances. If we serve it is by His strength.

▣ "which God supplies" This is a present active indicative of a word used of one who financially supported a "chorus" (chorēgēo, which is a compound of choros and hēgeomai). God continues to richly supply His gifted ones (cf. 2 Cor. 9:10, the same word with epi prefixed, occurs in 2 Pet. 1:5,11).

It is interesting that Paul seems to attribute spiritual gifts to the Spirit (cf. Rom. 12) or to Christ (cf. Eph. 4:11), but Peter attributes them to God the Father. This is another example of all the persons of the Godhead being involved in kingdom activities (cf. 1 Cor. 12:4-6).

▣ "so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ" This is a purpose (hina) clause. Spiritual gifts should glorify God, not the human agent. Our giftedness points to Him (cf. Matt. 5:16; 1 Cor. 10:31; 1 Pet. 2:12).

"to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever" This refers to Jesus in this context (cf. 2 Tim. 4:18; 2 Pet. 3:18; Rev. 1:6). In Rev. 5:13 it is used of both the Father and the Son. Usually this phrase refers to the Father (cf. 1 Pet. 5:11; Rom. 11:36; 16:27; Eph. 3:21; Phil 4:20; 1 Tim. 1:17; 1 Pet. 5:11; Jude 25; Rev. 7:12). For note on "glory" see 1:21.

Doxologies are common in the NT. The NT authors often break out in praise to God (cf. Rom. 11:33-36; Eph. 3:20-21; 1 Pet. 5:11).

"Amen" See SPECIAL TOPIC: AMEN at Mark 3:28.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 1 PETER 4:12-19
 12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 14If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. 17For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? 19Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.

4:12 "Beloved" This was the Father's way of referring to His Son (at Jesus' baptism, cf. Matt. 3:17; quote from Isa. 42:1,12:18; at Jesus' transfiguration, 17:5). This title is later transferred to His followers (cf. 1 Pet. 2:11; 4:12; 2 Pet. 1:17; 3:1,8,15,15,17; and used repeatedly in Paul's writings).

▣ "do not be surprised" This is a present passive imperative with the negative particle, which usually refers to stopping an act already in progress. These believers were surprised at the persecution.

▣ "at the fiery ordeal" This is a metaphor for trials and persecutions (not common problems of daily life, cf. 1 Pet. 4:14,18; but how we handle our cultural life is a witness) . There are so many biblical texts that assert that persecution and suffering are normal for those who follow Christ (cf. Matt. 5:10-12; John 15:18-21; 16:1-3; 17:14; Acts 14:22; Rom. 5:3-4; 8:17; 2 Cor. 4:16-18; 6:3-10; 11:23-30; Phil. 1:29; 1 Thess. 3:3; 2 Tim. 3:12; James 1:2-4; 1 Pet. 4:12-16). They are the Father's means of producing Christlikeness (cf. Heb. 5:8).

▣ "which comes upon you" This is not a future tense, but a present participle. It was a present unexpected reality!

▣ "for your testing" This is the Greek verb periazō, see Special Topic at Mark 1:13, #2, c.

▣ "as though some strange things were happening to you" This phrase has a compound verb (present active participle) with the preposition sun, which means "participation with." These believers were going through persecutions. They needed to know

1. it was not unusual for believers

2. it was not a result of sin (i.e., Deut. 27-28)

3. it had a purpose in God's will

 

SPECIAL TOPIC: WHY DO CHRISTIANS SUFFER?

4:13 "share" See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: KOINŌNIA

▣ "keep on rejoicing" This is a present active imperative. It is amazing that suffering for Christ is linked to joy. This shows the radically new world view that believers receive by faith when they put their ultimate trust in Christ. Jesus Himself first stated this truth in Matt. 5:10-12. Paul states the same truth in Rom. 5:2,3.

"so that also at the revelation of His glory" This refers to the glorious return of Christ to receive His own (cf. John 14:1-3).

4:14 "if" This is a first class conditional, which is assumed to be true and fulfilled according to the author's perspective or for his literary purposes.

"reviled" The term "reviled" or "insulted" is also from Matt. 5:11. Peter must have remembered hearing Jesus speak on this very subject.

▣ "the name of Christ" "In the name of. . ." is an OT idiom referring to the person. Calling upon the name of the Lord (i.e., Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21, cf. Rom. 10:9-13) means trusting in Jesus as Savior. Praying in the name of the Lord (cf. John 14:13; 15:16; 16:23-24) means praying in His person and character.

▣ "you are blessed" This is the Greek term makarios, used by Jesus in the Beatitudes (cf. Matt. 5:3-9). This verse reflects Matt. 5:10-12. The same truth (and same word) is also in 1 Pet. 3:14. It is so surprising to western materialists that suffering and persecution can bring joy and blessing.

▣ "the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you" This is either an allusion to (1) an experience similar to Christ's baptism (cf. Matt. 3:16; John 1:32) or (2) how the Spirit empowered the Messiah (cf. Isa. 11:2, 42:2, 59:21, 61:1). Jesus' experience of suffering is now ours (cf. Rom. 8:17). The Spirit's presence does not bring health, wealth, and prosperity, but persecution (cf. John 15:18; 17:14). Jesus promised the Spirit's presence and help in times of persecution (cf. Matt. 10:16-23, esp. 1 Pet. 4:20).

There are several variations (4) of this phrase in the Greek manuscripts. The UBS4 gives the one cited in NASB a "A" rating (certain).

The Textus Receptus adds a phrase at this point which is reflected in the KJV and the NKJV: "On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified." This phrase appears in differing forms only in later uncial manuscripts (i.e., K from the 9th century; L from the 8th century; and P from the 6th century) and is probably not original. The UBS4 rates its omission as "certain."

4:15 "none of you suffers as a" This is a present active imperative with a negative particle which usually means to stop an act that is already in process.

▣ "troublesome meddler" This word is used only here in all of Greek literature. It is a compound from two Greek words, "belonging to another" (i.e., allotrios) and "look over" or "inspect" (i.e., episkopos). This then refers to someone who meddles in the affairs of others, a busybody.

4:16 "if" This is another First class conditional sentence, which is assumed to be true. Christians were suffering simply because they were Christians.

▣ "a Christian" This was originally a term of derision (cf. Acts 11:26; 26:28). It is only used three times in the NT. It meant "little Christ" (i.e., Christianos). It became the common designation for believers by the middle of the first century (i.e., Tacitus, Ann. 15:44).

▣ "he is not to be ashamed" This is a present passive imperative with the negative particle which usually implies to stop an act already in process. This may be a flashback for Peter to Jesus' night trials where he was ashamed (cf. Matt. 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:56-62; John 18:16-18,25-27).

4:17 "For it is time for judgment to begin" This may be an allusion to Mal. 3:1-6 where judgment starts with the Messiah coming suddenly and surprisingly to His own people (to whom much is given, much is required, cf. Jer. 25:29). If there are willfully unrepentant sinners among God's people (and there are) they will be judged first. Their only hope is the unchanging character of YHWH (cf. Mal. 1:6).

This phrase may also be a Jewish idiom of the nearness of the Second Coming of Christ as Judge. The OT Jews (and the NT Apostles) envisioned a catastrophic conclusion to human history, often called "the birth pains of the new age," which is clearly stated by Jesus Himself in Mark 13:8.

▣ "the household of God" There are two building metaphors in 1 Peter that relate to the church: (1) the church as a temple built from living stones (cf. 1 Pet. 2:4-10) and (2) the church as the household of God (corporate metaphor of people or large family home, cf. 1 Pet. 4:17; 1 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 3:6).

▣ "if" This is another first class conditional sentence, as are 1 Pet. 4:16 and 18.

4:18 "if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved" This is an allusion to Pro. 11:31 in the Septuagint ( "if the righteous is scarcely saved, where will the impious and sinner appear?").

4:19 "those who suffer according to the will of God" If in this world it is the "righteous" who suffer (first class conditional sentence of 1 Pet. 4:18), what will it be like for the unrighteous in the day of God's judgment? The Lord is with the saved (cf. 1 Pet. 3:12,14), but against the rebellious unbeliever and persecutor (cf. 1 Pet. 3:12).

▣ "shall entrust their souls" This is a Present middle imperative implying they themselves need to continue to entrust themselves to God. Paul entrusted the gospel to Timothy (cf. 1 Tim. 1:18). Paul entrusted the gospel to believers to pass on (cf. 2 Tim. 2:2). It is a banking term for a "deposit." Jesus used this same term at the time of His death on the cross. He entrusted His soul to the Father (cf. Luke 23:46).

▣ "a faithful Creator" God is faithful! This is the basic affirmation of the Bible (cf. Num. 23:19; Deut. 7:9; Isa. 40:8; 49:7; 55:11; 1 Cor. 1:9; 10:23; 2 Cor. 1:18; 1 Thess. 5:24; 2 Thess. 3:3; 2 Tim. 2:13 and 1 Pet. 1:19). It is the unchanging character of God (cf. Mal. 3:6) that is the sure hope of every believer. God will do what He has said He will do!

▣ "in doing what is right" This Greek term means "do good" or "well doing." This is a repeated theme in 1 Peter (cf. 1 Pet. 2:14,15,20; 3:6,17; 4:19). This letter is dominated by the admonitions to live right and be prepared to suffer. See SPECIAL TOPIC: WHY DO CHRISTIANS SUFFER? at 1 Pet. 4:14.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. List the things that believers are to do because of the imminence of the Second Coming.

2. Did the NT writers expect the Lord's coming to be soon or much later?

3. How does love cover sins? Whose sins?

4. Does each and every Christian have a spiritual gift? If so, why?

5. Is persecution normal or abnormal for believers?

6. What is the purpose of innocent suffering and trials in the lives of believers?

7. How should a Christian respond to innocent persecution?

8. Will Christians be judged? How? Why? When? Where?

 

Related Topics: Bible Study Methods