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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
1 Peter 4

 

 

Verse 1

1. οὖν sums up the various lessons drawn from the sufferings of Christ in the preceding 1 Peter 4 :1 Peter 3:18-22, that suffering in the flesh is (a) a termination of the regime of sin, (b) an opportunity for new and wider service in the spirit, (c) the prelude to future glory.

παθόντος σαρκὶ, refers to ἀπέθανεν, θανατωθεὶς σαρκὶ in 1 Peter 3:18.

τὴν αὐτὴν ἔννοιαν ὁπλίσασθε, arm yourselves with the same attitude of mind towards suffering with which Christ armed Himself to face suffering and death, cf. Hebrews 12:2 ff.; Philippians 2:5 ff.

ἔννοια only occurs again in Hebrews 4:12 where it refers to the action of the reason as opposed to ἐνθύμησις the action of the affections.

ὁπλίζειν occurs nowhere else in the N.T. but καθωπλισμένος is used of “the strong man armed” Luke 11:21, and the Christian’s armour is referred to in Ephesians 6:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:8; Romans 13:12.

ὅτι might be translated that = arm yourselves with the thought that, but more probably it means because.

ὁ παθὼν σαρκὶ πέπαυται ἁμαρτίαις. Bigg explains this to mean “he that in meekness and fear hath endured persecutions, rather than join in the wicked ways of the heathen, can be trusted to do right; temptation has manifestly no power over him.” He denies any connexion between this passage and St Paul’s words, Romans 6:7 ὁ γὰρ ἀποθανὼν δεδικαίωται ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίας. In Romans St Paul is borrowing a Rabbinic formula, “When a man is dead he is free from the law and the commandments.” Delitzsch describes this as a well-known locus communis or stock phrase, and in this case St Peter’s language might be independent of St Paul’s. But this is hardly possible in view of the numerous coincidences with Romans in other parts of the Epistle, and a careful comparison shews that St Peter is following the same line of thought as St Paul. St Paul’s argument is that in Baptism the Christian professes to have shared in Christ’s death and resurrection. Now Christ died to sin once and for all (ἐφάπαξ). He is no longer under the dominion of death. He lives unto God. So the baptized Christian is ideally dead to the regime of sin. Death has cancelled the old bonds of slavery. If sin tries to reclaim him as his slave, sin will lose his suit on the ground that the slave is dead. He is acquitted against the claims of sin and is therefore bound to live unto God and not revert to the old life of sin.

Similarly St Peter has just described Christ as having died (or suffered) for sins once (ἅπαξ) to present us to God (cf. 1 Peter 2:24, “who himself bare our sins in his body upon the tree that we having died (ἀπογενόμενοι) unto sins might live unto righteousness”). His death in the flesh was the quickening of His spirit for new service to God with whom He now reigns in glory. Then, having shewn how the Flood symbolized the termination of the old guilty world and the salvation of Noah’s family for a new and purified world, St Peter describes the same putting off of defilement and resurrection to live with a good conscience toward God as being symbolized by Baptism. That is the ideal to which Christians are pledged in Baptism, but it is an ideal which needs to be realized by painful efforts and watchful prayer, so long as they still live in the flesh. Bodily sufferings, instead of being resented as a hardship and a hindrance, should be welcomed as a factor in emancipating man from the thraldom of sin and enabling him to live unto God in the spirit. Though they still have to live in the flesh their life must no longer be regulated by the wayward desires of men but by the will of God.


Verses 1-6

1 Peter 3:17 to 1 Peter 4:6. The blessedness of suffering in the flesh

The interpretation suggested for this confessedly difficult passage may be best explained by a paraphrase of the whole section with illustrations from other parts of the N.T. Other interpretations of it will be discussed in an additional note (p. 87).

17 Paraphrase. To suffer for well-doing, if the will of God should so will, is better than to suffer for evil-doing, because to suffer innocently is what Christ also did, thereby (as explained above 1 Peter 2:21) leaving us an example, and to imitate Him must in any case be good. But the value of suffering is enormously enhanced when we consider the purpose and effects of Christ’s sufferings.


Verse 2

2. εἰς τὸ may be taken (a) with ὁπλίσασθε in order that ye should no longer live, etc. as R.V., or (b) as A.V. and R.V. marg. with πέπαυται that he should no longer live, etc.

ἐπιθυμίαις, the many variable lusts of men are contrasted with the single unvarying purpose of God. So Heracleon ap. Origen on Jn tom. xx. 24 says that the devil has not θέλημα but ἐπιθυμίαι.

βιῶσαι. Nowhere else in the N.T. but cf. Job 29:18, with an accusative, and absolutely in Proverbs 7:3. βίωσις = manner of life Acts 26:4.

ἐπίλοιπον, here only in N.T.


Verse 3

3. ἀρκετὸς γάρ. The γάρ explains ἐπίλοιπον, I say “what remains of your life” for the sinful past has been all too long.

βούλημα τῶν ἐθνῶν. The T.R. reads θέλημα as in the previous verse of the will of God. The distinction between βούλημα and θέλημα, like that between βούλεσθαι and θέλειν, is somewhat disputed. θέλημα is much more common than βούλημα and is constantly used of the will of God, though it is also used of the will of men or of the flesh, while βούλημα is used of God in Romans 9:19 and βούλεσθαι (in Hebrews 6:17; James 1:18; 2 Peter 3:9, while βουλή is several times used of God, and in Ephesians 1:11 we have κατὰ τὴν βουλὴν τοῦ θελήματος. The predominant N.T. usage seems to be that θέλειν denotes the will which proceeds from character or inclination, while βούλεσθαι denotes more deliberation. For the two words occurring together, see Matthew 1:19, Ἰωσὴφμὴ θέλων αὐτὴν δειγματίσαι ἐβουλήθη λάθρᾳ ἀπολῦσαι αὐτήν, 1 Timothy 5:12; 1 Timothy 5:14, γαμεῖν θέλουσινβούλομαι οὖν, cf. also 2 Peter 3:9 contrasted with 1 Timothy 2:4.

τῶν ἐθνῶν. Those who regard the Epistle as addressed to Jewish readers explain this as referring to their previous laxity in conforming to the customs of their heathen neighbours, but it is more natural if addressed to Gentiles, cf. Ephesians 4:17.

κατειργάσθαι, to have wrought, the word is coupled with ποιεῖν and πράσσειν in Romans 7:15 and means to put into execution or carry into effect.

πεπορευμένους, the perfect participle denotes walking as you have done until recently. The verb is generally used of a literal journey but of following a certain line of conduct here and in 2 Peter 2:10; 2 Peter 3:3; Judges 1:11; Judges 1:16; Judges 1:18; Luke 1:6; Acts 9:31; Acts 14:16.

ἀσελγείαις = wanton immorality, shameless acts etc., Mark 7:22; Judges 1:4; 2 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 2:7; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 4:19 and in the plural in Romans 13:13 where it is coupled with κώμοις καὶ μέθαις. οἰνοφλυγίαις, wine-bibbings, a classical word only found here in Biblical Greek though the verb occurs Deuteronomy 21:20; Isaiah 56:12. It denotes excessive drinking, debauch. κώμοις, revellings, cf. Romans 13:13; Galatians 5:21. πότοις, carousings, drinking-parties, only here in the N.T. In the LXX. it is sometimes used of banquets, Genesis 19:3; 2 Samuel 3:20; Esther 6:14. ἀθεμίτοις, lit. contrary to law and justice. In the only other passage where it occurs in the N.T. it is used of intercourse with Gentiles as being unlawful for Jews, Acts 10:28. So here those who regard the readers as Jews explain it to mean illegal for you to take part in, but more probably it means illicit, abominable deeds which are contrary to what is right (fas). It occurs in 2 Maccabees 6:5; 2 Maccabees 7:1; 2 Maccabees 10:34.

εἰδωλολατρίαις. Of idol-worship in 1 Corinthians 10:14, but in Colossians 3:5 it is used as an explanation of covetousness, greed being regarded as the idolatry of Mammon, cf. Ephesians 5:5, 1 Corinthians 5:11. In Galatians 5:20 it is included among the works of the flesh, but, though coupled with sins of drunkenness and immorality, should probably be understood literally of tampering with false gods, the word which follows being φαρμακεία, sorcery. Here the plural may denote various forms of idolatry, or the abominable vices which were so frequently connected with idolatry and which would be wrong for Gentiles to practise no less than for Jews.


Verse 4

4. ἐν ᾧ, wherein, in which respect

ξενίζονται. In the active the verb is used transitively of entertaining strangers, Acts 10:23; Acts 28:7; Hebrews 13:2, and once of “surprising doctrines,” Acts 17:20; cf. Polyb. 3. 114. 4; Joseph. Ant. 1. 1. 4. In the middle it generally means to lodge, Acts 10:6; Acts 10:18; Acts 10:32; Acts 21:16. But here and in 1 Peter 4:12 it is passive and means “are surprised,” cf. Polyb. 1. 23. 5, etc. The surprise here attributed to their heathen neighbours would be hardly intelligible if the readers were Jews, as there is no evidence that the Jews of the Dispersion had so generally taken part in heathen excesses that their abandonment of them would excite astonishment, whereas such new strictness on the part of the Gentile converts would provoke criticism.

συντρεχόντων probably denotes unrestrained indulgence, running headlong after, not merely concurrence.

ἀνάχυσιν, only here in Biblical Greek. Philo uses the word in a good sense of the out-pouring of the soul, but here it means the excess or flood of riot in which a dissolute life pours itself out.

ἀσωτίας from a privative and σώζειν, the spendthrift character which squanders itself and its goods recklessly. This is the definition adopted by Aristotle, Eth. Nic. iv. 1, 4 and it suits the description given of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15:13 ζῶν ἀσώτως, so also Theophylact on Ephesians 5:18, but Clement Al. explains it as meaning the conduct of one who is ἄσωτος, i.e. one who cannot be saved, an abandoned reprobate. The substantive occurs again in Ephesians 5:18, οἶνος ἐν ᾧ ἐστὶν ἀσωτία and Titus 1:6. LXX. Proverbs 28:7; 2 Maccabees 6:4.

βλασφημοῦντες, railing at you, reviling you, cf. Matthew 27:39 ff.; Romans 3:8. The word does not necessarily imply blasphemous language toward God (as in Matthew 9:3; Acts 19:37; Revelation 13:6, etc.), nor foul accusations against Christians, but might include taunts and reproaches against them as being gloomy, morose or fanatical.


Verse 5

5. οἵ. For this abrupt and emphatic use of the relative, cf. Romans 3:8.

δίδοναι or ἀποδίδοναι λόγον is used of rendering account in Matthew 12:36; Luke 16:2; Acts 19:40; Romans 14:12; Hebrews 4:13; Hebrews 13:17.

τῷ ἑτοίμως κρίνοντι. The T.R. reads ἑτοίμως ἔχοντι κρῖναι for which phrase cf. Acts 21:13; 2 Corinthians 12:14 and ἐν ἑτοίμῳ ἔχειν, 2 Corinthians 10:6.

Bengel explains “Paratus est Judex; nam evangelio praedicato nil nisi finis restat.” The living will soon have heard the Gospel, the dead have already done so, therefore all is ready for the judgment. But the reading of the best MSS. ἑτοίμως κρίνοντι means not so much that the judgment is ready to be executed but that God judges readily “with the unerring precision of perfect knowledge” (Chase, Hastings D. of B. III. 795). He knows the opportunities which He has afforded to all and their consequent responsibility in accepting or rejecting His message.

ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς, the judgment of “the quick and the dead” is referred to again only in St Peter’s speech to Cornelius, Acts 10:42, where Christ is the appointed Judge and in 2 Timothy 4:1, but cf. Romans 14:9. Here the personality of the Judge is not stated, but in 1 Peter 1:17, 1 Peter 2:23 God is spoken of as judging.


Verse 6

6. εἰς τοῦτο γάρ. εἰς τοῦτο does not refer to what precedes, viz. that the Gospel was preached to the dead in order that they might fairly be included in the judgment. That idea may perhaps be suggested by the γάρ. But wherever εἰς τοῦτο or διὰ τοῦτο in the N.T. is followed by ἵνα, ὅπως or an infinitive it points forward to the object of the action, e.g. John 18:37; Acts 9:21; 2 Corinthians 2:9; Colossians 4:8; Ephesians 6:22; 1 Peter 3:9; 1 John 3:8. So here the object for which good tidings was preached to the dead was that they might live unto God in the spirit despite their judgment in the flesh. This is the same message which is being taught to the living by their sufferings in the flesh.

καὶ νεκροῖς. Various attempts have been made to explain this passage:

(a) As referring to the spiritually dead in trespasses and sins (so Augustine, Cyril, Bede, Erasmus, Luther, etc.). But, having used νεκροὺς in its literal sense of the physically dead in the previous sentence, it is hardly credible that St Peter here employs the word metaphorically.

(b) As referring to those who have died since they heard the Gospel (so Bengel, who regarded it as impossible that anyone could receive the Gospel after death). According to this view the words have been explained by Van Soden as a message of encouragement, that Christians who received the Gospel but have since been judged in the flesh by dying will share in eternal life (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Hofman, on the other hand, regards it as a warning to blasphemers, that those who escape punishment in this life will not be exempted from judgment after death. Such interpretations, however, do not naturally follow from the words, and if St Peter had meant to describe “those who have since died,” he would have written κεκοιμημένοις or τεθνηκόσιν.

(c) Another interpretation is “those who hear the Gospel in their lifetime but who will be dead before they are judged.”

The most natural interpretation of the words is that good tidings was preached to those who were dead at the time when they received the message.

The passage must be considered in connexion with 1 Peter 3:19, though three important differences must be noticed:

(a) In 1 Peter 3:19 one particular generation of the dead is specified, viz. those who being disobedient perished in the great typical judgment of the ancient world. Here νεκροῖς, though not necessarily universal in its scope, is presumably as wide as the preceding ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς. Many of the Fathers, e.g. Ignatius, Hermas, Clement Al., Irenaeus, seem to restrict the preaching in Hades to the just alone, but in view of the special mention of those who were formerly disobedient in 1 Peter 3:19 it would seem as if the proclamation was made to all. St Peter is, however, silent as to the results of the preaching. In Hades, as on earth, it may have been rejected by many.

(b) In 1 Peter 3:19 the agency of Christ as the herald (ἐκήρυξεν), through His spirit quickened and set free by death, is emphasized. Here the agent is not specified, but the character of the message is defined as being good tidings (εὐηγγελίσθη) and stress is laid upon the recipients of the message (καὶ νεκροῖς). The agent and the occasion may, however, be identical both in ἐκήρυξεν and εὐηγγελίσθη, though early Fathers, e.g. Hermas and Clement Al., ascribed preaching of good tidings in Hades to the Apostles.

(c) In 1 Peter 3:19 nothing is said about the purpose of the proclamation, whereas here it is emphasized as being in order that though judged in the flesh they might live in the spirit.

ἵνα κριθῶσι μὲνζῶσι δέ. The μέν clause is practically subordinate to the δέ clause, though on the one hand they are judged yet on the other they may live. The aorist κριθῶσι denotes the one crisis of judgment while the present ζῶσι points to continuous life in the spirit. In one sense all who die may be regarded as “judged in the flesh.” Cf. Wisdom of Solomon 3:4

“For though they be punished in the sight of men,

Yet is their hope full of immortality.”

Possibly however, in view of the fact that the disobedient who perished in the Flood are specially mentioned as being preached to in 1 Peter 3:19, the judgment in the flesh here also refers to those whose death was markedly a punishment. σάρξ and πνεῦμα are contrasted in 1 Peter 3:18 and virtually in 1 Peter 3:21 and 1 Peter 4:2.

κατὰ ἀνθρώπουςκατὰ θεόν. κατὰ ἀνθρώπους, cf. 1 Corinthians 3:3 περιπατεῖτε κατὰ ἄνθρωπον = ye conduct yourselves as men do; 1 Corinthians 9:8; Romans 3:5; Galatians 3:15 λέγειν κατὰ ἄνθρωπον = to speak according to human modes of thought, cf. 1 Corinthians 15:32; Galatians 1:11.

κατὰ θεόν is used in Romans 8:27 of the Spirit making intercession for us κατὰ θεόν, which might mean in the presence of God but more probably in accordance with God’s will, cf. 2 Corinthians 7:9; 2 Corinthians 7:11 (2 Corinthians 11:17 κατὰ κύριον), Romans 15:5 (κατὰ Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν). In Ephesians 4:24 it means after the image of God, cf. 1 Peter 1:15 κατὰ τὸν καλέσαντα ὑμᾶς, after the model of Him that called you. Here the meaning might be in the estimation of men … of God but more probably it means judged as it is fit that men should be judged but live as God lives.


Verse 7

7. πάντων δὲ τὸ τέλος ἤγγικεν. The mention of God’s readiness to judge both the quick and the dead leads St Peter to remind his readers that the end of all things has drawn nearer. Our Lord compared the coming of the Son of Man to the Flood, as coming unexpectedly upon those who were living in careless, self-indulgent ease, eating and drinking, and He warned His disciples to watch (γρηγορεῖτε) and not prove wicked servants who eat and drink with the drunken. St Luke in a parallel passage represents St Peter as asking whether the warning to watch is addressed to all, and in reply our Lord shews the special responsibility of “the faithful and wise steward” (οἰκονόμος) who is appointed to give out food to the Master’s household. The persecution of Christ’s followers for His name and the preaching of the Gospel among all nations were to be signs of His coming and “then shall the end come,” Matthew 24:14. Thus there seem to be constant echoes of our Lord’s teaching all through this passage of St Peter: (a) The allusion to the Flood (1 Peter 3:20 and? 1 Peter 4:6). (b) The surprise of the Gentiles when Christians refuse to join in their drunkenness and immorality may be a comparison with the conduct of Noah’s contemporaries. (c) The special responsibility of those who are “stewards (οἰκονόμοι) of the manifold grace of God.” (d) The persecution of Christians in Christ’s name as a sign that the judgment is beginning. (e) Indirectly the fact that his Gentile readers are representatives of “all the nations” to whom the Gospel was to be preached would be another of the signs predicted by our Lord that the “end had drawn nearer.”

σωφρογήσατε οὖν, be ye therefore of sound mind. The verb is used of the Gadarene demoniac being restored to his right mind, Mark 5:15; Luke 8:35, and in contrast to being “beside oneself” in 2 Corinthians 5:13. In Romans 12:3 it is opposed to ὑπερφρονεῖν and in Titus 2:6 it is used in the sense of being sober-minded. In 4 Maccabees 1:31 σωφροσύνη is defined as ἐπικράτεια τῶν ἐπιθυμιῶν. So here in view of the approaching “end of all things” Christians are bidden to be sober-minded, not carried away by self-indulgence nor by unhealthy excitement.

νήψατε εἰς προσευχάς, cf. Mark 14:38; Luke 21:36. For νήψατε, cf. 1 Peter 1:13; all their faculties must be under control and quietly devoted to prayer.


Verses 7-11

7–11. Having urged the necessity of terminating the regime of sin, St Peter next gives a summary of what life according to God in the Spirit should be. It is a life of sober-mindedness, of watchful prayer, of strenuous love, of faithful stewardship in administering God’s varied gifts of grace, so that in all things God may be glorified in them as members of Christ, to whom be glory and dominion to endless ages, Amen.


Verse 8

8. τὴνἀγάπην ἐκτενῆ ἔχοντες. ἐκτενῆ is the predicate. It is assumed that they have love towards one another, but they are bidden to maintain it in a fervent, strenuous condition, cf. 1 Peter 1:22.

ἑαυτούς. For ἀλλήλους as often in N.T. and also class. Greek.

ἀγάπη καλύπτει πλῆθος ἁμαρτιῶν. The words are borrowed from Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirreth up strife but love covereth all transgressions.” The LXX. however is πάντας δὲ τοὺς μὴ φιλονεικοῦντας καλύπτει φιλία but the versions of Aquila and Theodotion read ἐπὶ πάσας ἀθεσίας καλύψει ἀγάπη. On the relation of this passage to James 5:20 see Intr. p. lviii. In Proverbs there can be little doubt that the meaning is Love refuses to see faults, it passes over without notice and so forgives the sins of others. St Peter’s form of the words occurs in Clem. 1 Cor. 49 where Lightfoot explains it, Love forgives the sins of others, which he thinks is probably the meaning in St Peter. Similarly in St James he explains that the sins of the man who is converted are buried from the sight of God, being wiped out by the conversion and repentance of the sinner.

But in 2 Clem. 16 the same words are quoted as follows: “Almsgiving is good as repentance from sin (is good). Fasting is better than prayer but almsgiving (is better) than both. But love covereth a multitude of sins and prayer from a good conscience rescues from death … for almsgiving removes the load of sin.” The meaning adopted is evidently that love atones for the sins of him who loves, the rest of the passage being borrowed from Tobit 12:9 “Almsgiving rescues from death and it purgeth all sin.” Cf. Daniel 4:27 “redeem thy sins by almsgivings and thine iniquities by acts of pity to the poor,” Sirach 3:3 “He that honoureth his father shall atone for sins,” Sirach 3:30 “almsgiving shall atone for sins,” Sirach 3:14 “pity for a father … shall be imputed to thee for good against thy sins.” Tertullian Scorp. 6 explains the words as meaning that love wins forgiveness for a man’s own sins, so also Origen in Hom. Lev. ii.4, illustrating them by Luke 7:47 “Her sins which are many are forgiven her for she loved much.” Clement Al. Paed. iii. 12 quotes the words with the formula φησί. Consequently Resch regards them as one of the unwritten sayings of Christ, but as the preceding passages in Clement are quotations from the O.T. this explanation is doubtful, but in Didascalia ii. 3 the words are quoted with the formula λέγει Κύριος. Clement Al. Strom. ii. 15 explains the words as referring to God’s love in Christ which forgives men’s sins, but in Quis div. salv. 38 he says that love working in a man enables him to repent and put away his own sins.

For the idea that deeds of love to others affect a man’s own pardon, cf. Luke 16:9; Matthew 25:34-40. On the whole the primary meaning in St Peter probably is that love forgives the sins of others, but our Lord said “If ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will forgive you,” therefore by love which forgives others a man does enable God’s forgiveness to be extended to himself.


Verse 9

9. φιλόξενοι. The duty of hospitality to strangers, commended by our Lord, Matthew 25:35, is also enjoined in Romans 12:13 and Hebrews 13:2. In 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:8 it is demanded as one of the special qualifications for an ἐπίσκοπος. In the primitive Church Christian travellers would be exposed to certain annoyance and possible danger unless the Christians of the place received them into their houses, and without such aid the missions of itinerant preachers (ἀπόστολοι) would have been almost impossible (cf. Titus 3:13; 3 John 1:6-8; 3 John 1:10; Philemon 1:22; Romans 16:1; 1 Corinthians 9:4-14). At the same time such hospitality must have been a somewhat serious tax upon Christians who were by no means well off, and from the regulations given in the Didache we gather that there was before long a real danger that unscrupulous strangers might impose upon the generosity of the Church.

So here St Peter urges his readers to exercise hospitality ungrudgingly, remembering that any gifts which they possess, whether in worldly goods or faculties for service, are only entrusted to them as stewards to use them for God. For the duty of giving cheerfully, cf. 2 Corinthians 9:7; Romans 12:8. In this latter passage, as here, charitable duties are coupled with those of preaching, teaching or ministering, as varied χαρίσματα given by God to the several members of the Body of Christ.

For γογγυσμός cf. Philippians 2:14.


Verse 10

10. καθὼς ἔλαβεν χάρισμα. The aorist most naturally refers to their conversion or their baptism but, if worldly goods to be used in hospitality are included as a χάρισμα, these would be possessed before conversion, and the aorist may refer to God’s endowment of His future stewards.

διακονοῦντες. διακονεῖν, διακονία, and διάκονος can be used of any kind of ministry or service. Thus our Lord uses it of His own work and it is used of the ministry of angels, or of prophets, 1 Peter 1:12, or of apostles, but it is specially used of ministering to the wants of others. The word is used both in its general and special sense in Acts 6:1-4 where διακονία is first used of the distribution of alms (cf. διακονεῖν τραπέζαις) and then of “the ministry of the word” i.e. preaching. Again in Romans 12:7 διακονία is mentioned as a special duty, side by side with prophesying, teaching, exhortation. So here διακονοῦντες is first used generally of all kinds of Christian service and then specially εἴ τις διακονεῖ.

There are such numerous echoes of Romans 12, 13 in 1 Pet. (see Int. p. lx.) that there can be little doubt that in this passage about the use of various χαρίσματα St Peter is borrowing from Romans 12:6 ff. but instead of employing St Paul’s characteristic illustration of the body and its members he uses that of stewardship.

οἰκονόμοι. οἰκονομία means primarily “the office of a steward” or “household management,” but the latter meaning was used in a very wide sense of any kind of provision or arrangement, cf. the English word “dispensation,” so in Ephesians 1:10; Ephesians 3:2; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:25 it is used of God’s plan or arrangement; but in 1 Corinthians 4:1-2; 1 Corinthians 9:17 St Paul speaks of his own stewardship and says that he and his fellow-workers should be regarded as “stewards,” so Titus 1:7 the ἐπίσκοπος must be blameless as being “the steward of God” (cf. the Parable of the unjust steward and Luke 12:42). In the latter passage the steward, though himself a slave, is evidently regarded as being in a position of authority over the other servants, but here St Peter seems to regard every man as an οἰκονόμος. As members of “the household of God” each one is responsible for using what his Master has given him for the benefit of the household in accordance with God’s “housekeeping arrangements.”

ποικίλης χάριτος. All the different gifts (χαρίσματα) are bestowed by God’s free favour (χάρις) which shows itself in a variety (ποικίλης) of forms (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; Romans 12:3-8).


Verse 11

11. εἴ τις λαλεῖ. In classical Greek λαλεῖν has generally a disparaging sense to chatter but in the N.T. it means to talk, to utter one’s thoughts, and is frequently used of God. Where it is contrasted with λέγειν it denotes the sound, pronunciation or form of what is said while λέγειν refers to the meaning and substance. λαγεῖν is frequently used in the N.T. of teachers, of our Lord, the apostles and others. So here the context implies that the “speaking” is a gift of God’s grace which they have to administer as stewards, and the primary reference is to the utterances of prophets or teachers, whether in preaching (προφητεία), exhortation or teaching (cf. Romans 12:6-8), but other unofficial utterances of Christians may be included, such as their answers to those who demand an account of their hope (1 Peter 3:15): cf. Matthew 10:20 where the Spirit of their Father is promised to speak in the mouth of His persecuted children.

ὡς λόγια θεοῦ. Bigg takes λόγια as a nominative = speaks as Scripture speaks, with sincerity and gravity, but it is better to take λόγια as an accusative. Anyone who undertakes to speak for God must do so in meekness and fear. He must remember that his message is not his own but God’s. He must not parade his eloquence, nor speak lightly and thoughtlessly.

λόγια occurs again in Acts 7:38 of Moses receiving “living oracles,” i.e. the Law at Sinai; in Romans 3:2 of the Jews being entrusted with “the oracles of God” where it probably means the O.T. Scriptures in general. In Hebrews 5:12 the Hebrews “need to be taught again the rudiments of the beginning of the oracles of God,” i.e. elementary Christian truths. In Philo λόγια is certainly used of the narrative portions of the O.T., as well as of the Law or the utterances of the prophets. So in Christian writers τὰ λόγια τοῦ Κυρίου or Κυριακὰ λόγια may sometimes denote the Gospels and not merely “Sayings of our Lord,” e.g. in Polycarp, Papias, Eusebius, Ephraem Syrus.

ὡς ἐξ ἰσχύος. Any services for others, rendered by the Christian as a “minister” or servant of Christ, must be performed (a) modestly, because they are not due to his own strength, (b) strenuously, because God supplies him with strength.

χορηγεῖ (see Robinson on Ephesians 4:16). In classical Greek χορηγός means the leader of a chorus. Thence χορηγεῖν means (a) to be a chorus leader, (b) to furnish a chorus at one’s own expense, providing all necessary requisites to place a play upon the stage, and so (c) in late Greek, Polybius, Philo, Josephus and in the LXX. it means to supply, provide, or equip. In the N.T. χορηγεῖν only occurs again in 2 Corinthians 9:10 but the compound ἐπιχορηγεῖν is found in 2 Corinthians 9:10; Galatians 3:5; Colossians 2:19; 2 Peter 1:5; 2 Peter 1:11, and ἐπιχορηγία in Ephesians 4:16; Philippians 1:19.

ἵναδοξάζηται ὁ θεὸς, cf. 1 Peter 2:12 and Matthew 5:16 “that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. Just as the prayers of Christ’s members are offered to God “through Jesus Christ” as their Head and spokesman, so their good works redound to God’s glory through Him. In Romans 16:27 and Judges 1:25 glory is offered to God through Jesus Christ.

ᾧ ἐστὶν ἡ δόξα. Grammatically might refer to θεός but in 2 Timothy 4:18 a similar doxology is addressed to “the Lord,” i.e. Christ, so also 2 Peter 3:18; Revelation 1:6. Therefore here, as also in Hebrews 13:21, the may refer to Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ which immediately precedes it. δόξα occurs in 14 of the 16 doxologies in the N.T. and κράτος in 6, while εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων occurs in 8 and εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας in 5, ἀμήν being appended to all of them, marking the formula as liturgical. The concluding doxology in the Lord’s prayer is not found in the best texts either in Mt. or Lk. and is a liturgical addition.


Verse 12

12. ἀγαπητοί seems to introduce a fresh section as in 1 Peter 2:11.

πυρώσει (see Intr. p. xli) not “fiery trial” but “trial by fire,” referring to the refining of gold by smelting as in 1 Peter 1:7. The phrase is probably borrowed from Proverbs 27:21 δοκίμιον ἀργυρίῳ καὶ χρυσῷ πύρωσις, cf. Psalms 17:3 “thou hast tried me” (ἐπύρωσας). In the N.T. πύρωσις occurs again only in Revelation 18:9-18 of the “burning” or conflagration in which “Babylon is destroyed.”

For fire as a testing, purifying agent cf. Mark 9:49; Luke 12:49; 1 Corinthians 3:13. Elsewhere fire is the destroying agency of judgment. St Peter reverts to the theme of “suffering for righteousness’ sake.” His readers are bidden not to be amazed at it or resent it as some strange misfortune which is happening to them by chance (συμβαίνοντος). Rather it is coming to pass in the ordered sequence of God’s purpose (γινομένῃ) to test and try their character.

γινομένῃ being without the article might be taken as a predicate, “do not be surprised that the fiery trial in your midst is taking place,” but in classical Greek a complex epithet is frequently put partly between the article and the substantive and partly outside.


Verse 13

13. καθὸ κοινωνεῖτε = in proportion as you have personal fellowship in the sufferings of the Christ. Christians are regarded not merely as suffering with (συμπάσχοντες) Christ, (Romans 8:17), but as members of His body they have a personal share in His sufferings, cf. Philippians 3:10; Colossians 1:24; 2 Corinthians 1:5. Suffering was the necessary prelude to glory in the case of Christ their Head, therefore His members can rejoice in present sufferings as being the prelude to glory in which they too will share when it is revealed. For rejoicing in suffering cf. Matthew 5:12; Luke 6:23; Acts 5:41; 2 Corinthians 6:10; Philippians 2:17; Colossians 1:24, etc.

χαίρετε ἵνα might possibly be explained as in John 8:56 “Your father Abraham ἠγαλλιάσατο ἵνα = rejoiced in the effort to see my day.” Abraham’s joy was that of anticipation and not that of present realization. So the joy of Christians in suffering is prompted by their anticipation of their exultation in the glory which is to follow. But it is simpler to regard joy in suffering as a preparation for the final joy. (See J. H. Moulton, Gram. pp. 205 ff.)

χαρῆτε ἀγαλλιώμενοι. ἀγαλλιᾶσθαι denotes exultant joy. Here such exultation is only regarded as possible when suffering culminates in glory, the joy during the process of suffering being of a more chastened character. But in 1 Peter 1:6; 1 Peter 1:8 ἀγαλλιᾶσθαι is used of the Christian’s present joy despite his griefs. The two words are combined in Matthew 5:12; Revelation 19:7.


Verse 14

14. εἰ ὀνειδίζεσθε ἐν ὀνόματι Χριστοῦ, cf. Psalms 89:50-51 “Remember, O Lord, the reproach of thy servants … wherewith they have reproached (ὠνείδισαν) the footsteps of thine anointed” (τοῦ χριστοῦ σου), cf. also Hebrews 11:26 τὸν ὀνειδισμὸν τοῦ χριστοῦ as preferred by Moses to all the treasures of Egypt, and Hebrews 13:13 “bearing His reproach,” also Psalms 69:9 “the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.” This verse is an unmistakable echo of the beatitude in Matthew 5:11. This is the only passage where the actual phrase ὄνομα Χριστοῦ occurs, and it is probably employed because it is as χριστιανοί that they are likely to suffer, but cf. Mark 9:41 ἐν ὀνόματι ὅτι Χριστοῦ ἐστε and see note on 1 Peter 4:16.

τὸ τῆς δόξης καὶ τὸ τοῦ θεοῦ πνεῦμα ἐφʼ ὑμᾶς ἀναπαύεται. So BKL very many cursives, lat. vg. Syr. vg. Clem. Al. Cyr. Al. Tert. Fulg., but the lat. vg. and Sy. vg. omit καὶ.

But אAP many good cursives, Ath. Did. Cyp. (twice) add καὶ δυνάμεως after δόξης and have various modifications, e.g. good cursives, many versions and Cyprian omit καὶ τὸ and the best cursives Syr. hl. and Cyr. have ὄνομα either instead of or combined with πνεῦμα.

Syrp. reads quia nomen et spiritus gloriae et virtutis (= δυνάμεως) dei. Sah.: spiritus gloriae et virtutis dei. Vged.: quoniam quod est honoris gloriae et virtutis dei et qui est ejus spiritus, where quod may agree with nomen understood, or τὸ τῆς δόξης was taken in the sense “that which appertains to the glory.”

At the end of the verse the T.R. with KLP Vulg. Syr. hl. * Theb. and Cyp. (twice) adds κατὰ μὲν αὐτοὺς βλασφημεῖται κατὰ δὲ ὑμᾶς δοξάζεται, and in lat. codd. and Cyp. this is introduced with quod evidently agreeing with nomen. This addition (not found in אAB some cursives Vulg. some codd. Syr. vg. hl. txt. Memph. Arm. Ephr. Tert.) was evidently intended as an explanation of ὀνειδίζεσθε ἐν ὀνόματι Χρίστου. ὅτι τὸ (ὄνομα) τῆς δόξης ἐφʼ ὑμᾶς ἀναπαύεται. Its phraseology is borrowed from Romans 2:24 (from Isaiah 52:5) (cf. James 2:7; Revelation 13:6; Revelation 16:9), coupled with 1 Peter 4:16 of this chapter δοξαζέτω τὸν θεὸν ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τούτῳ.

It is possible that some of the numerous various readings in this passage were liturgical insertions borrowed from early forms of the Lord’s Prayer. In Luke 11:2 D reads ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου ἐφʼ ἡμᾶς (d super nos). This addition of ἐφʼ ἡμᾶς Dr Hort (following Sanday) suggests may be a trace of a clause sometimes used in the Lord’s Prayer, probably when the prayer was used at “the laying on of hands,” ἐλθέτω τὸ πνεῦμά σου (τὸ ἅγιον) ἐφʼ ἡμᾶς (καὶ καθαρισάτω ἡμᾶς). This addition is found in Cod. Ev. 604 = 700 Gregory, and the first part of it seems certainly to have been known to Tertullian (adv. Marcion. iv. 26 where the argument implies that Marcion used this form) and Gregory Nyss. (de Orat. Dom.), also Maximus (VII cent.).

Dr Chase, however (Texts and Studies, The Lord’s Prayer in the Early Church), argues that there were two separate developments of petitions in the Lord’s Prayer, (a) a clause asking that the Holy Spirit may come upon us, used at the laying on of hands, and thence passing into a liturgical form used in eucharistic prayers (e.g. in the Didache), (b) at Baptism the clause Hallowed be Thy Name was expounded as being the Name τὸ ἐπικληθὲν ἐφʼ ἡμᾶς or ὃ κατεσκήνωσας ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν (see the Eucharistic thanksgiving, Didache X.) cf. Jeremiah 7:12; Nehemiah 1:9.

The preceding liturgical doxology in 1 Peter 4:11 might not unnaturally suggest reminiscences of the Lord’s Prayer and account for such insertions as καὶ δυνάμεως (lat. virtutis), δόξα καὶ δύναμις being one of the earliest forms of doxology added to the Lord’s Prayer (e.g. in the Didache).

The absence of πνεῦμα or its equivalent in some texts and the substitution or addition of ὄνομα may suggest that the original reading was merely τὸ τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ or τὸ τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ ὄνομα. If no substantive was expressed ὄνομα would be supplied from the preceding verse while πνεῦμα would be a natural insertion from Isaiah 11:2 ἀναπαύσεται ἐπʼ αὐτὸν πνεῦμα Κυρίου, and such an insertion might further be facilitated by liturgical forms of the Lord’s Prayer. If the original reading was θεουονομα it might easily be altered into θεουπνευμα θεουπνα, the letters ον being omitted from their similarity to the preceding ου.

τὸ τῆς δόξης. The A.V. and R.V. supply πνεῦμα. There is no parallel for the phrase τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς δόξης (but cf. ὁ θεὸς τῆς δόξης, Acts 7:2; τὸν Κύριον τῆς δόξης, 1 Corinthians 2:8). The Holy Spirit is however described as τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς ἀληθείας, and as His work is to “glorify” Christ by revealing Him (John 16:14) He might in that sense be described as τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς δόξης. Or τῆς δόξης may be taken as a title of Christ. So Mayor on James 2:1 adopts a suggestion of Bengel that τῆς δόξης means that Jesus Christ is the true Shekinah or visible manifestation of God, just as He is the Λόγος or Word of God. In support of this view Bengel quotes this passage in 1 Pet. and Ephesians 1:17, ὁ θεὸς τοῦ Κ. ἡμῶν Ἰ. Χ. ὁ πατὴρ τῆς δόξης, and Luke 2:32, to which Mayor adds John 1:14; Hebrews 1:3, etc. According to this view τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς δόξης would mean “the Spirit of Christ who is the visible manifestation of God,” and the passage might thus be quoted in support of the clause in the Creed, “who proceedeth from the Father and the Son.” But if πνεῦμα governs τῆς δόξης, καί should be translated “even,” otherwise the second τό would strictly imply that the Spirit of God is another Spirit.

It is therefore better to take τὸ τῆς δόξης as a substantival expression meaning “the mark or characteristic of the glory.” For the neuter article thus used with a genitive, cf. Matthew 21:21, τὸ τῆς σύκης; James 4:14, τὸ τῆς αὔριον; 2 Peter 2:22, τὸ τῆς παροιμίας; cf. τὰ τῆς σαρκός, Romans 8:5; τὰ τῆς εἰρήνης, Romans 14:19. St Peter regards suffering as the necessary mark or characteristic of glory under present conditions. As members of Christ Christians will ultimately share in the revelation of His glory, i.e. manhood perfected and summed up in Christ. Here and now they participate in the preliminary stages of that glory by personal fellowship in His sufferings. To be reproached in the name of Christ is an indication that the glory is already resting upon them. So it was of His approaching sufferings that the Incarnate Christ said “now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in Him” (John 13:31), cf. Colossians 1:24; Colossians 1:27; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Ephesians 3:13.

The above idea of suffering as a characteristic of glory would be equally intended if St Peter was referring to the Shekinah as the glory which was resting upon his readers. St Paul uses ἡ δόξα in that sense in Romans 9:4 (? cf. Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 9:5; 2 Peter 1:17). It is possible also that James 2:1 may mean that Jesus Christ is present as the true Shekinah among those who are gathered together in His name (Matthew 18:20), cf. Pirke Aboth, iii. 3: Whenever two men sit together and are occupied with the words of the Torah, the Shekinah is with them.

There are also probable allusions to the Shekinah in passages where σκηνὴ and σκηνοῦν are used apparently as a transliteration of the Hebrew word שׁכן, שְׁכִינָה e.g. John 1:14, ὁ λόγος ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ. Revelation 21:3, ἰδοὺ ἡ σκηνὴ τοῦ θεοῦ μετὰ τῶν ἀνθρώπων καὶ σκηνώσει μετʼ αὐτῶν.

So in this passage St Peter goes on to describe the sufferings of Christians as a judgment which begins with the House of God, apparently meaning the temple and referring to Ezekiel 9:6 “begin at my sanctuary.” Similarly in speaking of their sufferings as a πύρωσις or “trial by fire” he may be alluding to Malachi 3:1-5 where the Lord is described as visiting His temple like a refiner’s fire. St Peter has already described His readers as being built up as a πνευματικὸς οἶκος, 1 Peter 2:5, and the reference to “the House of God” in 1 Peter 4:17 would be more intelligible if he had just described Christians as the resting-place of the Shekinah. This interpretation might give some support to the view that ὄνομα should be understood with τὸ τῆς δόξης. In the O.T. “The Name of God” (see Westcott, Epp. S. Jn, 232) denotes the manifestation of Himself which God has been pleased to give, and “the Name” and “the glory” are closely allied.

Thus 1 Kings 8:20, Solomon’s Temple is built for “the Name of the Lord,” and 1 Peter 4:11, “the glory of the Lord filled the House.” So St Peter may mean that in bearing “the Name of Christ” Christ as the Shekinah is resting upon them, and the present manifestation of “Christ in them” is their fellowship in His sufferings.

It may be of interest to compare Revelation 13:6 where the Beast who makes war against the Saints is described as “blaspheming the Name of God and His tabernacle” (σκηνή), which Andreas explains thus σκηνὴ δὲ τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἡ ἐν σαρκὶ τοῦ λόγου σκήνωσις καὶ ἡ ἐν τοῖς ἁγίοις ἀνάπαυσις (cf. Revelation 7:15).


Verse 15

15. The question whether the “suffering” referred to in this passage implies a legal persecution conducted by the state, and its consequent bearing upon the date of the Epistle has been fully discussed in the Introduction (p. xliii f.). It may therefore suffice here to give a brief summary of the conclusions which were there adopted.

(a) That πάσχειν in other passages of this Epistle, as well as in St Paul’s Epistles, is an inclusive word, and can denote any form of violence, buffetings, insults, slander, boycotting, without necessarily implying organized legal persecution such as torture and execution.

(b) That legal persecution is perhaps contemplated as a possibility from the fact that suffering ὡς Χριστιανός is coupled with at least three legal offences (φονεύς, κλέπτης, κακοποιός). But the fourth word ἀλλοτριεπίσκοπος, which is separated from the others by the repetition of ὡς, denotes rather an alleged nuisance than a statutable offence and the same may therefore be true of Χριστιανός.

(c) That, even if legal persecution for the name Christian apart from other imputed crimes is intended, there is no necessity to postulate a later date than the reign of Nero.

μὴ γὰρπασχέτω. The γάρ means “Take care that it really is Christ’s reproach that you bear and do not incur suffering by any criminal act or social indiscretion.”

φονεὺς, κλέπτης, κακοποιός. Some would explain these as referring to such false charges as were brought against Christians, cf. the note on 1 Peter 2:12 when κακοποιός is certainly described as a false charge. But Christians would have no choice in selecting what false charges their accusers should employ, and the merit of suffering unjustly for Christ would be the same, whatever the charge might be, provided that it was false. Therefore here St Peter must mean “Take care that no such charge can be brought with truth against you” (cf. 1 Peter 2:20). In such a country as Asia Minor in days when violence and dishonesty were rife it might be by no means improbable that some imperfectly converted Christians might fall away and be guilty of such crimes. Clement of Alexandria tells a story of a favourite young convert of St John who became the leader of a band of brigands.

ἀλλοτριεπίσκοπος = “a meddler in other men’s matters” R.V. occurs nowhere else. In the Vulgate it is translated “alienorum appetitor,” so Calvin and Beza “alieni cupidus” i.e., one who covets other people’s money. In one of the Fayyûm papyri 2nd cent. A.D. ἀλλοτρίων ἐπιθυμητής is coupled with ἄδικος. More probably it refers to the charge of being busybodies, interfering in the affairs of others. In their zeal for purity and truth Christians may not infrequently have been indiscreet, and exasperated their neighbours by officious attempts to reform their morals or eradicate their heathen superstitions. So Epictetus speaking of the Cynic Encheir. iii. 22 says, οὐ γὰρ τὰ ἀλλότρια πολυπραγμονεῖ ὅταν τὰ ἀνθρώπινα ἐπισκοπῇ ἀλλὰ τὰ ἴδια, cf. Horace, Sat. ii. 3. 19, “Aliena negotia curo excussus propriis” (see Chase, Hastings D. of B. iii. 783 f.).

But besides being thus regarded as a social nuisance, as meddlesome busybodies, Christians may have been attacked on a more legal charge for causing divisions in families (cf. Matthew 10:35-36) or for interfering with trade (cf. Acts 16:19 the masters of the divining girl at Philippi, and Acts 19:24-27 the silversmiths at Ephesus—so also Pliny describes the trade in fodder and animals for sacrifices as having been seriously affected by the spread of Christianity). Such interferences with family or commercial life would cause disunion and discord, rousing discontent and disobedience, and as such would be an offence against the state. This is the explanation adopted by Ramsay who insists that an organized persecution conducted by legal methods is implied. But though the three preceding words are legal charges coupled together with , ἀλλοτριεπίσκοπος seems to be separated from them as a different kind of offence by the repetition of the ὡς1[1].


Verse 16

16. Χριστιανός. א reads Χρηστιανός here and in the two passages of Acts where the word occurs, while B reads Χρειστιανός. These variations may be merely errors of sound on the part of copyists, but Blass argues that Χρηστιανός was the original form of the nickname as used by heathen opponents of Christianity. The name “Chrestiani” was certainly so used, and Apologists like Justin Martyr and Tertullian argue that it is unfair to punish men for a name which by its very derivation (χρηστός) denotes goodness. The termination -ιανος is originally Latin, e.g. Caesariani, Pompeiani, but it was speedily adopted in Greek both in Palestine and in Asia, e.g. Ἡρωδιανοί. St Luke says that the name Χριστιανοί was first applied to Christians in Antioch, Acts 11:26. In the Ignatian Epistles it is used as an honourable title by Christians of themselves, but originally it was evidently a nickname given either by the Roman officials or the Gentile mob at Antioch, as the Jewish nickname for Christians was “Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5). It was thus used as a scornful nickname by Agrippa (Acts 26:28) “With but little persuasion thou wouldest fain make me a Christian” (R.V.). So here it describes the title which will be used by enemies at whose hands Christ’s followers will have to suffer. The letter of Pliny to Trajan (c. 110 A.D.) implies that it was a familiar title, which had evidently long been in use in his time, and that it had already been the custom to put Christians to death for the name only, and the rescript of Trajan merely gives imperial sanction to this existing form of procedure. The most natural interpretation of Tacitus’ account of the Neronian persecution almost certainly implies that Christians were even then punished for the name only. Certainly the Christians themselves, knowing their innocence of other charges, would regard themselves as suffering under Nero for the name Christian only, even if the magistrates who tried the case did not admit this as technically true in legal phraseology (but see Intr. pp. xl, xliii f.).

One fact at any rate is clearly shewn by Tacitus, viz. that Χριστιανός was already a popular nickname in 64 A.D. Therefore the statement of Lipsius that the name Christian did not exist at all until the time of Trajan is amply refuted by both secular and Biblical evidence.

ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τούτῳ is the reading of the best MSS. but the T.R. with KLP and later MSS. reads ἐν τῷ μέρει τούτῳ = on that account. Even if ὀνόματι be read it is possible that it ought to be translated “account,” cf. Mark 9:41, εἰς ὄνομα ὅτι Χριστοῦ ἐστέ =“on the score of your being Christ’s” (? Matthew 10:41, εἰς ὄνομα προφήτου, δικαίου—). Cf. the similar use of nomen in Latin.

Deissmann Bib. Stud. pp. 146, 196 gives several illustrations of εἰς τὸ ὄνομα used of purchases etc. made on behalf of a person or a god, i.e. designated as their property (cf. βαπτίζειν εἰς τὸ ὄ.). So here to be reproached ὀνόματι Χριστοῦ may mean “because you belong to Christ” and ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τούτῳ = “on that account.” But from the constant references in the N.T. to the Name of Christ as being “called upon” Christians (ἐπικληθὲν) (James 2:7), “carried” (βαστάζειν) Acts 9:15, “glorified in them” 2 Thessalonians 1:12 etc., “held fast” Revelation 2:13 etc., it is more probable that St Peter includes the more literal sense of “Name” and refers to the name χριστιανός used as a term of abuse and ground of accusation, cf. Pliny (Epp. x. 96). Although this passage must not be overpressed as implying that Χριστιανός was a definite legal charge as yet, it was undoubtedly a recognized ground of complaint used to injure Christians. In Acts 5:41, 3 John 1:7, (? James 5:14) τὸ ὄνομα is used absolutely (so Ign. Eph. iii. 1 etc.).


Verse 17

17. ὅτι [] καιρὸς τοῦ ἄρξασθαι τὸ κρίμα ἀπὸ τοῦ οἴκου τοῦ θεοῦ.

The sufferings of Christians are the initial stages in the judgment of the world. The process of judgment begins with God’s own house first. οἶκος might mean merely household (cf. Hebrews 12:7, where chastisement is regarded as a proof of sonship), but it may mean God’s temple—and the idea that judgment is to begin at God’s house may be borrowed from Ezekiel 9:6, where God’s agents of punishment are instructed to “begin at my sanctuary” (LXX. ἀπὸ τῶν ἁγίων μου). Again in Malachi 3:2-3, the coming of the Lord is compared to a refiner’s fire (cf. πύρωσις in 1 Peter 4:12): He will come to His Temple and purify the sons of Levi and purge them as gold and silver that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness … pleasant unto the Lord. Then, when the purification of the priesthood is accomplished, sudden judgment will descend upon sinners and all who do not fear God. So St Peter (1 Peter 2:5) has described his readers as a spiritual house or temple—a priesthood to offer sacrifices acceptable to God, and (1 Peter 4:12) their sufferings are regarded as a refining or “trial by fire.” If the purging of God’s own house is thus painful how far more terrible will be the judgment of sinners which follows it. For the idea that the judgment of aliens will be more terrible than that of God’s own city cf. Jeremiah’s language about Jerusalem Jeremiah 25:29, Jeremiah 49:12[2].

So St Peter has described his readers as living stones built into God’s house, and here he means, if a man suffer as a Christian, a follower of the Messiah, let him not be ashamed, for though persecuted now unjustly by his fellow-men and so “saved with difficulty,” he will share the approaching victory of Messiah the Great King, whose spiritual house is now being built in glory with us first. The Seven Weeks are past and the Eighth is now at its close, and we of this generation are “the house of the Great King.” If the judgment begins with the building of us, what shall be the end of those who reject the Gospel which we preach?

This interpretation is very improbable. In this section St Peter is not referring to the “building up” of Christians as a Temple, but to the “trial by fire” which they have to undergo. The righteous as God’s Temple are the first to undergo judgment, whereas in Henoch during the eighth week sinners are delivered into the hands of the righteous.

τί τὸ τέλος. τέλος may mean: (a) What shall be the end or fate of? or (b) what shall be the final stage of the judgment? as contrasted with its initial stages (ἄρξασθαιπρῶτον) as seen in the sufferings of Christians.


Verse 18

18. εἰ ὁ δίκαιος μόλις σώζεται κ.τ.λ. The quotation is taken from the LXX. of Proverbs 11:31 where the Hebrew is “Behold the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth; how much more the wicked and the sinner.” The righteous is regarded as being “hardly saved” because of the painful nature of the “fiery trial” through which he has to pass. To share Christ’s glory he has to share Christ’s reproach. He has to “come out of great tribulation,” and his robes must be “washed in the Blood of the Lamb” by personal fellowship in his Master’s sufferings, Revelation 7:14.


Verse 19

19. ὥστε. The view of suffering inculcated in the preceding verses enables Christians to glorify God for permitting them to suffer in Christ’s name, and they can do this with perfect trust because they can also (καί) feel that they are committing their souls (or lives) to the keeping of the God who made them, and He can be relied upon not to deal untruly with His own handiwork.

παρατίθεσθαι. In the sense of entrusting a deposit to safe keeping cf. our Lord’s dying words Luke 23:46 quoting Psalms 31:5 εἰς χεῖράς σου παρατίθεμαι τὸ πνεῦμά μου, cf. Acts 14:23; Acts 20:32; 1 Timothy 1:18; 2 Timothy 2:2.

κτίστης is used of God in the prayer of Jonathan, 2 Maccabees 1:24, but does not occur elsewhere in the N.T.

ἐν ἀγαθοποιίᾳ. The way in which Christians are to shew their trust is by continued well-doing in spite of their sufferings. There must be active obedience as well as patient endurance.

 


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on 1 Peter 4:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/1-peter-4.html. 1896.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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