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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament

1 Peter 4

Verse 1

1 Peter 4:1. Christ having died to flesh, arm yourselves with the same thought that (or because) he that died hath ceased to sins.— Peter goes back to the starting point of 1 Peter 3:18 in order to emphasise the import of the first step taken by Christ and His followers, apart now from the consequences. The new life implies death to the old.— . . only occurs once elsewhere in N.T., Hebrews 4:12, , but is common in LXX of Proverbs; compare (e.g.) Proverbs 2:2, ( , discernment) shall keep thee. Here it is the noun-equivalent of (Philippians 2:1). Christ’s thought (or purpose) which He had in dying is shared by the Christian: and it is defined by , . . .— , sc. for the fight with sin and sinners whom you have deserted.— . This axiom is better taken as explaining the same thought than as motive for . St. Paul states it in other words, ; compare the death-bed confession of the Jew, “O may my death be an atonement for all the sin ’ of which I have been guilty against thee”. One dead—literally or spiritually—hath rest in respect of sins assumed or committed; so Hebrews 9:28 insists that after His death Christ is . echoes of 1 Peter 3:10. In the Greek Bible the perfect passive occurs only once (Exodus 9:34) outside Isaiah 1:-31., where it is used three times to render (cf. , Hebrews 4:9). The dative . is analogous to that following ( ); the v.l. is due to the common construction of .



Verse 2

1 Peter 4:2. Christians who were baptised into Christ’s death and resurrection (Romans 6:2-11) are not taken out of the world at once (John 17:15); they have to live in the flesh but not to the flesh, because they have been born not of the will of the flesh nor of man but of God (John 1:13). Their duty is to their new Father.— ’ gives the result of . . . which must be achieved by, and is therefore also the object of, the required ornament.



Verse 3

1 Peter 4:3. The use of the rare indicates the saying which St. Peter here applies, sufficient unto the day [that is past] its evil. Compare Ezekiel 44:6, . The detailed description of the evil follows the traditional redaction of the simple picture of absorption in the ordinary concerns of life which Jesus is content to repeat (Matthew 24:37, etc.). Eating, drinking, marrying were interpreted in the worst sense to account for the visitation and become gluttony, drunkenness and all conceivable perversions of marriage; see Sap. 14:21–27, followed by Romans 1:29, etc.— , from 2 Kings 17:8, . The construction is broken (for the will ’ to have been accomplishe ’ for you walking) unless . be taken as if middle to . as subject.— , acts of licentiousness (as in Polybius); so Sap. 14:26. Earlier of wanton violence arising out of drunkenness (Demosthenes).— , wine-bibbings, Deuteronomy 21:20, = . Noun occurs in Philo coupled with .— , revellings associated with alien rites, Sap. 14:26. For cf. , 1 Corinthians 10:14 ff.— , a Jew’s description of current Pagan cults, which were often illicit according to Roman law. For . cf.Acts 10:28, it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with a foreigner, and 2 Maccabees 4:5; 2 Maccabees 7:1 (of swine flesh).



Verse 4

1 Peter 4:4. , whereat, i.e. (i.) at your change of life (1 Peter 4:2 f.) explained below by .’ or (ii.) on which ground, because you lived as they did.— , are surprised, as in 1 Peter 4:12, where this use of . (elsewhere in N.T. entertain, except Acts 17:20, ) is explained by . Polybius has it in the same sense followed by dative, acc., with acc. and with dative. So in Josephus Adam was surprised ( ) that the animals had mates and he none, Ant., i. 1, 2) and the making of garments surprised God (Acts 17:4).— , from Psalms 50:18, LXX, if thou sawest a thief, , and with adulterers thou didst set thy portion; where consent has been rendered as if from run. It thus corresponds to St. Paul’s (Romans 1:32).— , profligacy. According to Aristotle . is the excess of liberality, but is applied in complex sense to . Prodigality is in fact a destruction of oneself as well as one’s property (Eth. Nic., iv. 13).— . Violence and lust are classed with drunkenness, which breeds and fosters them. . is wanton violence as well as licentiousness. So the classic Christian example of the word is exactly justified; see Luke 15:13, the Prodigal Son squandered his substance, living .— , excess, overflow, properly of water (Philo ii. 508 f., description of evolution of air from fire, water from air, land from water). In Strabo (iii. 1, 4, etc.) = estuary. St. Peter is still thinking of the narrative of the Deluge, which was the fit punishment of an inundation of prodigality.— , put last for emphasis and to pave the way for 1 Peter 4:5 in accordance with the saying, for every idle word (cf.Romans 3:8). The abuse is directed against the apostate heathens and implies blasphemy in its technical sense as opposed to the giving glory to God (1 Peter 2:12).



Verse 5

1 Peter 4:5. , will render account—if of their blasphemy, cf.Matthew 12:36, if of their (see note) cf. the steward of Luke 16:2.— , i.e., to Christ rather than to God (as 1 Peter 1:17). The Christians took over the Jewish doctrine that every man must give an account of his life (Romans 14:10). As already Enoch (lxix. 27 = John 5:22; John 5:27) taught that this judgment was delegated to Messiah. So St. Peter said at Caesarea this is he that hath been appointed by God judge of living and dead (Acts 10:43). Compare Matthew 25:31 ff. for a more primitive and pictorial statement. The use of probably represents (see 1 Peter 1:5) i.e., the future judge; Greek readers would understand the imminent judge (cf. use of = ready, sure to come, Homer, Il., xviii. 96, etc.). The 5., . softens the rugged original.



Verse 6

1 Peter 4:6. The judgment is imminent because all necessary preliminaries have been accomplished. There is no ground for the objection “perhaps the culprits have not heard the Gospel”. As regards the living, there is a brotherhood in the world witnessing for Christ in their lives and the missionaries have done their part. As regards the dead Christ descended into Hades to preach there and so was followed by His Apostles. And the object of this was that though the dead have been judged as all men are in respect of the flesh they might yet live as God lives in respect of the spirit.— , with a view to the final judgment or = , . . .— , to dead men generally, but probably as distinct from the rebel spirits who were presumably immortal and could only be imprisoned. Oecumenius rightly condemns the view, which adds in trespasses and sins or takes dead in a figurative sense, despite the authority of e.g., Augustine (Ep., 164, §§ 1–18).— , the Gospel was preached, the impersonal passive leaves the way open for the development of this belief according to which not Christ only but also the Apostles preached to the dead. Hermas, Sim., ix. 16.5–16.7; Cl. Al. Strom., vi. 645 f. So was provision made for those who died between the descent of Christ and the evangelisation of their own countries.— , . . ., that though they had been judged in respect of flesh as men are judged they might live in respect of spirit as God lives. The parallel between the dead and Christ is exact (see 1 Peter 3:20). Death is the judgment or sentence passed on all men (Sirach 14:17 = Genesis 2:17; Genesis 3:19). Even Christians, who have died spiritually and ethically (Romans 8:10), can only hope wistfully to escape it (2 Corinthians 5:2 ff.). But it is preliminary to the Last Judgment (Hebrews 9:27), at which believers, who are quickened spiritually, cannot be condemned to the second death (Revelation 20:6).



Verse 7

1 Peter 4:7. But the end of all things and men has drawn nigh; Christians also must be ready, watch and pray, as Jesus taught in the parable of Mark 13:34-37 (cf.Mark 14:38).— parallels . (1 Peter 4:3) cf.4 Maccabees 1:31, temperance is restraint of lust. In Romans 12:3 St. Paul plays on the meaning of the component parts of - , cf. above.— , corresponds to (1 Peter 4:3); cf.1 Peter 1:13, 1 Peter 5:8. St. Paul also depends on parable of Luke 12:42-46 in 1 Thessalonians 5:6 ff.— , the paramount duty of Christians is prayer especially for the coming of the Lord (Revelation 22:20; Luke 11:2; cf. Luke 3:7).



Verse 8

1 Peter 4:8. , St. Peter emphasises the pre-eminent importance of love of man as much as St. cf. John 1:22.— put for in accordance with the saying thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself as much as with the contemporary practice.— , quotation of Proverbs 10:12, love hides all transgressions which was adduced by Jesus (Luke 7:47). The plain sense of the aphorism has been evaded by the LXX ( ) and Syriac translators substitutes shame for love. The currency of the true version is attested by James 5:20, he that converted a sinner ’ .



Verse 9

1 Peter 4:9. Hospitality is the practical proof of this love; its practice was necessary to the cohesion of the scattered brotherhood as to the welfare of those whose duties called them to travel. The inns were little better than brothels and Christians were commonly poor. Chrysostom cites the examples of Abraham and Lot (cf.Hebrews 13:2). The united advocacy of this virtue was successful—so much so that the Didache has to provide against abuses such as Lucian depicts in the biography of Peregrinus “a Christian traveller shall not remain more than two or three days ’ if he wishes to settle ’ is unskilled and will not work he is a , makes his Christian profession his merchandise.”— , used despite above and below, perhaps because the recipients of hospitality belong necessarily to other Churches.— , St. Peter guards against the imperfection of even Christian human nature. Sirach 29:25-28 describes how a stranger who outstays his welcome is first set to menial tasks and then driven out.



Verse 10

1 Peter 4:10 f. supplement the foregoing directions for the inner life of the Church and rest partly on Romans 12:6 (with simpler classification of gifts), partly on the conception of disciples as stewards (Luke 12:42) serving out rations in God’s house.— , in the widest sense (as in Acts 6:1; Acts 6:4; 1 Corinthians 12:5) in accordance with the saying, the Son of Man cameto minister (Mark 10:45), which is interpreted here, as part of the pattern, by the addition of an object (only here and 1 Peter 1:12); cf.2 Corinthians 8:19, .— . The title is applied to all and not only to the governors as by St. Paul (1 Corinthians 4:1; Titus 1:7); compare the question of St. Peter which precedes the source (Luke 12:41 f.).



Verse 11

1 Peter 4:11 follows the primitive division of ministry into that of the word and that of tables (Acts 6:2-4); compare prophecy and ministry (in narrower sense like here) of Romans 12:6.— covers all the speaking described in 1 Corinthians 12:8; 1 Corinthians 12:10, to one by means of the spirit hath been given a word of wisdom, etc.’ 1 Corinthians 14:6; 1 Corinthians 14:26.— (perhaps echoes of Romans 12:6) as being God’s oracles or as speaking God’s oracles. The Seer is the model for the Christian preacher: Numbers 24:4, . His message is the particular grace of God which he has to administer like the prophets and evangelists, 1 Peter 1:10-12.— includes all forms of the ministration of God’s gifts other than those of speech—primarily almsgiving, hospitality and the like.— , . . . A liturgical formula such as this is necessarily capable of many special meanings.— may refer particularly to the gifts or their possessors—hardly to the Gentiles as Oec. suggests (Matthew 5:1)—but so to limit it would be a gratuitious injustice to the author. The saying is sufficient to justify this appendix to the exhortation love one another in deed , through Jesus Christ through whom the spirit descended on each of you, Acts 2:33, through whom you offer a sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15); cf. .— ’ The insertion of changes the doxology to a statement of fact and thus supports the interpretation of as referring of the immediate antecedent Jesus Christ. Already He possesses the glory and the victory; realising this His followers endure joyfully their present suffering and defeat.



Verse 12

1 Peter 4:12. marks the beginning of the third division of the Epistle in which Peter having cleared the ground faces at last the pressing problem.— , be surprised, as in 1 Peter 4:4.— , the ordeal which is in your midst or rather in your hearts.— , cf. (1 Peter 5:1) but the test is internal—in what frame of mind will they meet it? Will they regard it as a strange thing or as a share in Christ’s sufferings, part of the pattern?— This conception of suffering as a trial not vindictive is stated in Judges 8:25; Judges 8:27, ; compare Zechariah 13:9, , Proverbs 27:21, parallels but a man is tried . also occurs in the sense of blasting, Amos 4:9; Revelation 18:9; Revelation 18:18.



Verse 13

1 Peter 4:13. , so for as, i.e., so far as your suffering is undeserved and for Christ’s name.— , ye share the sufferings of the Messiah. The dative after . usually denotes the partner; here the thing shared as in Romans 15:27; 1 Timothy 5:22; 2 John 1:11; and in LXX; Sap. 6:23; 3 Maccabees 4:11. This idea is expressed even more strongly by St. Paul (Colossians 1:24). It is derived from such sayings as the disciple is as his Master (Matthew 10:24 f.)—the sons of Zebedee must drink his cup, be baptised with his baptism (Mark 10:38 f.). To suffer in Christ’s name is to suffer as representing Christ and so to share His sufferings.— . . ., from Matthew 5:12, . But St. Peter postpones the exultation. St. James (1 Peter 5:10) follows Jesus in appealing to the pattern of the prophets. , the final revelation represents an original wordplay on the quoted = .



Verse 14

1 Peter 4:14. The Beautitude, is supported by prophecy which referred originally to the root of Jesse. Both are partially paraphrased for sake of clearness. For ; cf.Mark 9:41, . For the reproach cf.Hebrews 13:13, let us come out to him bearing His reproach, with Psalms 89, so remember Lord the reproaches ( LXX) of thy servants.— , quoted from a current Targum of Isaiah 11:1 f., a branch ( : LXX, : Targ. Messiah) from his roots shall grow and there shall rest upon him the spirit of Jehovah. An elaborate description of this spirit follows, which Peter summarises by . The Glory is a name of God in the Targums (so John 12:41 = Isaiah 6:5; Onkelos has for ) and its use here is probably due to the juxtaposition of Isaiah 11:10, his rest shall be glorious. It is not impossible that is an insertion by first or later scribes for the benefit of Greek readers.



Verse 15

1 Peter 4:15. . I assume that you suffer in Christ’s name as representing Him and bearing only the reproach which attaches to it per se. The crimes of which slanderers had accused Christians are given in the order of probability and are selected as belonging to the pattern. Christ Himself was implicitly accused thereof by His persecutors and acquitted of each by independent witnesses, as the Gospels are at pains to show. He suffered the fate from which the murderer was preserved (Acts 3:14) by the petition of the Jews; shared it with thieves or brigands, being delivered up to the secular arm as a malefactor (John 18:30). Such slanders the Christian must rebut for the credit of his Lord; that he must not be guilty of such crimes goes without saying.— is distinguished from the preceding accusations by the insertion of ; it is also an addition to the pattern of Christ, unless stress be laid on the sneer, He saved others. The word was apparently coined to express the idea of the itinerant philosopher of whatever sect current among the unphilosophical. Epictetus defends the true Cynic against this very calumny; he is a messenger sent from Zeus to men to show them concerning good and evil (Arrian, iii. 22, 23) ’ a spy of what is helpful and harmful to me ’ he approaches all men, cares for all (ib. 81) ’ neither meddler— —nor busybody is such an one; for he is not busy about alien things— —when he inspects the actions and relations of mankind— (ib. 97). This zeal for the welfare of others was certainly the most obvious charge to bring against Christians, who indeed were not always content to testify by good behaviour without word. St. Paul heard of some at Thessalonica, (2 Thessalonians 3:2). Women generally if unattached were prone to be not merely idle but meddlers speaking what they should not (1 Timothy 5:13). So St. Peter (cf.1 Corinthians 10:27) has emphasised the duty of all Christians—even of the wives of heathen husbands—to preach Christianity only by example and now deprecates their acquiescence in what some might reckon a title of honour. The fate of Socrates is the classical example of the suffering of such; and later one philosopher was scourged and another beheaded for denunciation of the alliance of Titus with Berenice (Dio Cassius, lxvi. 15). Punishment of this offence would depend on the power of the other man concerned who, if not in authority, would naturally utilise mob-law like Demetrius (Acts 19.).



Verse 16

1 Peter 4:16. , if one suffers as a follower of Christ, in the name of Christ (14). See on Acts 9:26 and Introduction.— echoes the saying, Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and my words of him also the Son of Man shall be ashamed when He cometh in the glory; so St. Paul says I suffer thus but am not ashamed (2 Timothy 1:12; cf.2 Timothy 1:8).— , by martyrdom if necessary, for this sense the phrase has acquired already in John 21:19.— = Mark 9:41.



Verse 17

1 Peter 4:17. That Judgment begins at the House of God is a deduction from the vision of Ezekiel 9. (cf.Ezekiel 7:4, the has come); the slaughter of Israelites who are not marked with Tau, is ordained by the Glory of the God of Israel; the Lord said, and the men began at ( ) the elders who were within in the house. The new Israel has precedence like the old even in condemnation; cf.Romans 2:8 f., .— , cf.Mark 1:14. The Gospel or Word, which God spake in a Son, succeeds to the law as the expression of the will against which all but the remnant (Ez. l.c.) rebel.



Verse 18

1 Peter 4:18. To the summary excerpt from Ezekiel Peter appends the Septuagint version of Proverbs 11:31, which is followed by the Syriac and partially by the Targum: The original—according to the Masoretic text—is Behold or if the righteous will be punished on the earth: how much more the wicked and the sinner. The Greek, which probably represents a different Hebrew text, is more apt to his purpose and to the teaching of Jesus, which provoked the question, Who then can be saved (Mark 10:24-26).



Verse 19

1 Peter 4:19. So let even those who suffer in accordance with the will of God with a faithful Creator deposit their souls in well-doing. The Christian must still follow the pattern. It is God’s will that he share Christ’s sufferings in whatever degree; let him in this also copy Christ, who said, Father into thy hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46 = Psalms 31:6) and bade His disciples lose their souls that they might find them unto life eternal. With this teaching Peter combines that of the Psalmist which is assumed by Jesus (Matthew 6:25 ff.), Jehovah knows His creature. He the God of faithfulness ( , Ps. l.c.) is the faithful Creator to whom the soul He gave and redeemed (Ps. l.c.) may confidently return.




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Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 Peter 4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.