1 Peter 4 - Outlines of 1 & 2 Peter (Book Notes menu page)
III. Suffering and the Suffering of Christ (ch. 2-4)
C. Produces Obedience to the Will of God (ch. 4)
  1. Like Christ, Christians are strangers in the world (v.1-11).
  2. Like Christ, Christians are no strangers to trouble (v.12-19).
4:1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh,
arm yourselves likewise with the same mind:
for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
{cp. 1Pet 2:24; 3:18,22}
4:2 That he no longer should live the rest of [his] time in the flesh to the lusts of men,
but to the will of God.
{cp. 1Pet 2:1-5}
he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin... (v.1,2) -
'ceased' {GK=pauo} has nuances of meaning:
  • 'to stop' or 'to refrain' (when in the GK active voice). Example: 1Pet 3:10
    In this case, you, as the active agent, must stop a type of activity.
  • here (in the GK middle voice):
    ''to come to an end, to take one's rest, a willing cessation'' [Vine],
    or, ''hath gotten release'' [J.Thayer quoted by McGee]
    Examples of 'cease' (in GK middle voice): Luk 8:24; 1Cor 13:8).
    In this case, the cessation is caused by Christ.
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh...
What is true of Christ is also true of those who have been 'baptized' into Him (1Pet 3:21).
Christ suffered and died for my sin. But sin has no more claim upon Him.
By His resurrection, He has departed from the realm where sin and death reign, to the realm where the Will of God is unopposed. In Him, the believer has obtained release from the power of sin.
     Paul discusses this victory in Rom 6:1-11, and contrasts the bondage of the fleshly believer (Rom 7:14-25) with the freedom of the spiritual believer (Rom 8:1-12; Gal 5:24,25).
arm yourselves likewise with the same mind...-
'Arm yourselves' {GK=hoplizo, furnish yourself with this weapon}: the mind {GK=ennoia, central thought and purpose} of Christ (which He has made available to you, through His death and resurrection). That mindset is expressed in v.2, and explained more fully in Rom 6:11-23.
4:3 For the time past of [our] life may suffice us
to have wrought the will of the Gentiles,
{ie., ...the will of the unsaved world, cp. 1Pet 2:12; Rom 12:2}
when we walked in lasciviousness {ie., licentiousness, wantonness}, lusts {cravings},
excess of wine
{ie., drunkenness}, revellings, banquetings {ie., carousings},
and abominable idolatries:
{the illicit worship of false gods, or of the material world}
4:4 Wherein they think it strange
{GK=xenizo, alien, foreign} that ye run not with [them]
to the same excess of riot
{GK=asotia, profligacy, reckless wastefulness}
speaking evil of [you]:
{cp. 1Pet 3:15-17; 1Cor 6:9-11; Eph 2:1-7}
4:5 Who shall give account to him
that is ready to judge the quick
{ie., the living} and the dead.
4:6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead,
that they might be judged according to men in the flesh,
but live according to God in the spirit.
who shall give account to Him...- The sobering reality of coming judgment should...
for this cause {ie., because judgment is coming}...
was the gospel preached to them that are dead -
Here, the ''dead'' may refer to:
  1. the spiritually dead, Eph 2:1-3 -
    This applies equally to the unbelievers of Noah's day (1Pet 3:19,20), Peter's day, and our day (v.1-5).
       The gospel message of judgment and salvation is proclaimed, because God desires that men would judge themselves as sinners, repent, avail themselves of His salvation, and pass from spiritual death into spiritual life (cp. 2Cor 5:14; Joh 5:24; 11:25,26; Rom 8:9-13; Gal 5:25).
  2. the physically dead - those who were killed (martyred) for their faith in Christ.
    They were judged by men as unworthy of life on earth.
    But, they were judged by God as worthy of life in His presence. cp. Mat 10:24-33
    [adapted from GWms and WWiersbe]
4:7 But the end of all things is at hand {ie., is near}:
This statement appears to include...
  1. the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple (in 70 AD).
    This would be 'the end of all things' as they knew it. Life would never be the same afterwards.
       Compare the language of Ezek 7:2,3,6 (which refers to the Babylonian captivity, in 586 BC), and Mat 24:1-3,6 (where Jesus spoke prophetically of the fall of Jerusalem, in 70 AD).
  2. the end of the present age,
    when Christ returns to earth to judge all things according to righteousness. Jam 5:8,9
  3. the end of earthly history, the final judgments,
    and the establishment of the new heaven and new earth. 1Cor 15:24-28; 2Pet 3:10-13
       From Peter's perspective, all of these events were still future. Like the OT prophets (1Pet 1:10-12), his prophetic view may have blended two or more of these points together. The Revelation concerning 'things which must shortly come to pass' was not yet given (Rev 1:1).
       Peter's point: It won't be long before God makes everything right. Meanwhile, serve Him with all your being, in spite of opposition and injustices suffered.
be ye therefore sober {ie., sober minded, cp. 1Pet 1:13; Titus 2:11-14},
and watch unto prayer.
ie., We are to watch for Christ's return (Mat 24:42; Mark 13:33; Rev 16:15),
while prayerfully seeking His direction and enabling as His servants.
Those who 'watch' must remain alert, aware, and free of intoxicating distractions. cp. 1The 5:6-9; 2Tim 4:5
'Watch' and 'pray': in these two words, Peter offers the cause of his failure
as the secret of the believer's success. Mark 14:37,38
4:8 And above all things
have fervent charity
{GK=agape, love; 1Pet 1:22} among yourselves:
for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
{a partial quote of Prov 10:12; cp. Prov 17:9}
'fervent' {GK=ektenes, stretched out, strained (cp. English: 'extended')}
This word is often used of 'stretching forth the hand.' The idea is of practical love in action.
Such love follows Jesus' example of compassion (eg., Mark 1:41), and depends on His enabling (cp. Acts 4:29,30; Mat 12:13).
Love neither condones sin, nor slanders the sinning brother, but stretches to lift him.
4:9 Use hospitality {GK=philoxenos, love of strangers, cp. v.4; 1Pet 1:1; 2:11}
one to another without grudging.
4:10 As every man hath received the gift,
{cp. Rom 12:6-8; 1Cor 12:4-11}
[even so] minister the same one to another,
as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
4:11 If any man speak, [let him speak] as the oracles
{utterances} of God;
as the oracles of God - ie., in the authority of God's Word.
if any man minister, {GK=diakaneo, to serve.}
The word is used of physical care for the needs of others (eg., the work of deacons, in 'ministration' to 'serve,' Acts 6:1-3) and also of spiritual care in the 'ministry' of the Word (Acts 6:4).
[let him do it] as of the ability which God giveth: {cp. Joh 15:4,5; 2Cor 3:5,6; 1Pet 2:5}
Just as believers no longer live according to fleshly desires (v.1-4), we also must not minister from fleshly wisdom or ability, but by the authority of God's Word, and by the enabling of His Spirit.
that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ,
{cp. 1Cor 6:20; 10:31; eg., Php 2:19-22}
to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
III. Suffering and the Suffering of Christ (ch. 2-4)
C. Produces Obedience to the Will of God (ch. 4)
  1. Like Christ, Christians are strangers in the world (v.1-11).
  2. Like Christ, Christians are no strangers to trouble (v.12-19).
4:12 Beloved, think it not strange {GK=xenizo}
concerning the fiery trial
{GK=purosis, the burning, the smelting}
which is to try you,
{cp. 1Pet 1:7}
as though some strange
{GK=xenos, alien} thing happened unto you:
Suffering for Christ is not unusual, but rather it is the normal experience of His people.
cp. Joh 15:18- 16:4; 2Cor 4:8-11; 1Joh 3:11-13
4:13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings;
that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
4:14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy [are ye];
for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you:
on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
the fiery trial which is to try you (v.12)- Peter foresees...
  1. the persecutions of believers by the Roman empire, beginning under Nero.
  2. the persecutions of believers in every age.
  3. the persecutions of the believing remnant of Israel during the Tribulation period.
    Remember, he is writing primarily to believers among the Jewish diaspora (1Pet 1:1; cp. Jam 1:1).
rejoice... ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings (v.13,14) -
The estate of the suffering believer is one of...
  1. joy (in the present privilege of fellowship with Him) -
       cp. Php 1:29; 3:10; Jam 1:2-4; 1Pet 1:6-9
    He is with His people in their trials. Isa 41:10; 43:2; Mat 28:18-20; Acts 9:4 (where the persecution was not only of believers, but of 'Me.')
  2. exceeding joy (at His appearing). cp. Rom 8:17; 2Tim 2:12; 1Pet 1:7,8
  3. happiness (blessedness) in bearing the reproach of Christ...
    ''...for the presence of the glory, even the Spirit, rests upon you.'' [v.14b as translated by WWeirsbe]
    cp. Ex 40:34; Acts 6:15; 7:54-60; cp. Mat 5:11,12,16; Jam 1:12; 5:11
4:15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or [as] a thief,
or [as] an evildoer, or as a busybody in
{an overseer of} other men's matters.
4:16 Yet if [any man suffer] as a Christian, let him not be ashamed;
{cp. Rom 1:16; Php 1:20,21; 2Tim 1:12}
but let him glorify God on this behalf.{cp. 1Pet 2:20; 3:14-17; Isa 51:7,8}
murderer... thief... evildoer {malefactor}... 'meddler'...-
Sin, of any kind, prevents the believer's life from glorifying God.
if any suffer as a Christian... let him glorify God...
...in this behalf {GK=meros, allotment, portion; ie., persecution}. However, some MSS read:
...in this name {GK=onoma, name; ie., 'Christian'}.
  • "The world is the Christian's greatest enemy.
    Persecution cuts off from the world and breaks its snare." [GWms]
    As Christ's suffering freed the believer from bondage to sin (v.1,2),
    so, persecution encourages him to separate from the world.
  • The name "Christian," originally a term of derision and shame,
    is a mark of identification with Christ, who suffered for God's glory.
    cp. Acts 5:41; 11:26; 26:27,28
  • Just as we no longer live or minister according to the flesh (v.1-4; v.10-11),
    our attitude toward persecution is not from a fleshly mindset.
    The believer seeks to glorify God, even in the midst of persecution.
4:17 For the time [is come] that judgment must begin at the house of God:
and if [it] first [begin] at us,
what shall the end [be] of them that obey not the gospel of God?
4:18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved,
where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
{Prov 11:31}
4:19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God
commit the keeping of their souls [to him] in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
judgment must begin at the house of God.-
God always judges His people before executing judgment upon the unbelievers.
While He actively purifies His people, that they might glorify Him (cp. Rev 3:19),
He withholds wrath, waiting for sinners to repent (cp. 2Pet 3:9).
the time has come that judgment must begin at the house of God.-
  1. The house of God - is the Church of true believers. 1Pet 2:5
    'The time' of this judgment extends throughout the Church age.
    • In Christ's death, the believer's sin was judged and purged. v.1; 1Pet 2:24; 3:18
    • The believer is to judge himself and separate from all impurity. v.2, v.15; 1Cor 11:31
    • The believer is tested and refined through persecution. v.12-14; cp. 1Pet 1:7; Heb 12:6
    • At 'the Judgment Seat of Christ' (2Cor 5:10; 1Cor 3:11-15),
      the works of Church Age believers will be evaluated and rewarded.
      This event, soon after the Rapture of the Church, will occur before the wrath of God is poured out upon the world system, at the end of the Tribulation period.
  2. The house of God - may also refer to Israel and the Temple (the House). Eze 9:6,7
    • In OT prophecy, judgment starts with Jerusalem and progresses to all nations. Jer 25:15-33
    • As applied to Israel, 'the time' may refer to:
      1. the destruction of Jerusalem (in 70 AD),
        which, at the time of Peter's writing, was imminent.
      2. the 'time of Jacob's trouble,' and the refining of the Jewish remnant,
        during the Tribulation period. cp. Jer 30:3-7; Mat 24:21-25
        In our day, the stage has been set, and this time of trouble is imminent.
if the righteous scarcely {ie., with difficulty} be saved...-
Since, no one could be saved apart from the intervention of God's grace and power,
there is no hope for the ungodly and unrepentant sinner. Psa 1:4-6; 2The 1:4-10
     This is illustrated by the special measures taken to save Noah and Lot from the destruction that fell upon their contemporaries (2Pet 2:4-9).
     The fact, that our sufferings foreshadow the judgment which is to come upon unbelievers, should give urgency to our witness.
commit {ie., continually commit} the keeping of their souls to Him...(v.19; cp. 1Pet 2:23; Psa 37:5-7)
  • in well-doing - This commitment is not passive consignment,
    but active confidence, to do God's will at any cost.
  • as unto a faithful Creator - The Giver of every good and perfect gift (Jam 1:17)
    will re-establish any loss we might suffer for Him (cp. Mat 6:24-34; 19:29,30; Heb 12:2,3).

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