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Bible Commentaries
1 Peter 4

Hampton's Commentary on Selected BooksHampton's Commentary

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Verses 1-2

Preparing to Suffer

The resurrected Christ has now returned to heaven ( Act_1:9 ), where he is seated at God's right hand. Such a seat symbolizes the honor and power that is now his ( Psa_110:1 ; Rom_8:34 ; Heb_1:3 ; Heb_12:2 ). Having assured his readers that Christ suffered for them ( 1Pe_3:18 ), Peter urges them to prepare for troubles ahead. His words bring forth the image of a soldier getting his weapon, when he tells them to arm themselves with Christ's attitude toward suffering. The one who suffers persecution for Christianity has given up the life of sin. Thus, sin no longer lures him through lusts that appeal to sinful men. Instead, he is drawn by the will of God to live the right life. A Christian's time for living in sin is past ( 1Pe_3:22 ; 1Pe_4:1-2 ).

Verses 3-6

"Licentiousness" describes uncontrolled desires, such as, gluttony and sensual passions. "Lusts" is a word describing desire for things forbidden. "Drunkenness" and wild drinking parties, or "revelries," should also be put away. Woods says the word translated "drinking parties" describes a drinking contest in which each one tries to outdo the others. "Abominable idolatries" would describe the sinful excesses some went to in worship of idols. The Christians to whom Peter wrote had participated in all of these. Having realized the emptiness of sin, Christians look on their lives of selfish desire as being more than long enough ( 1Pe_4:3 ; Rom_6:21 ; Rom_13:11-12 ).

Living totally unrestrained lives was so common and acceptable to the Gentiles that they were shocked by those Christians not joining them. They were astonished that Christians did not rush to let their lives overflow, or flood, with evil deeds. So they blasphemed them, accusing them of untrue things in an attempt to injure them.

However, Christians do not have to worry with a response since these will be judged by the great judge of the living and the dead ( Mat_12:36-37 ; Rom_14:12 ; Act_10:42 ). Kelcy says the word "ready," "indicates that Christ is competent and qualified; he stands prepared to judge and may do so at any time." Because Jesus will judge all men, the good news was proclaimed to some who had died by the time Peter wrote. They were not dead when preached to, but had heard the message that can cause one to live eternally in the spirit like God. All will be judged according to what they did in the flesh ( 2Co_5:10 ). Those who obey the gospel will live in the spirit like God ( 1Pe_4:4-6 ).

Verses 7-11

Serving to Glorify God

From considering some who had heard the gospel and already died, Peter went immediately into the nearness of the end of all things. Peter may well have been specifically thinking about the end of the Jewish system and destruction of Jerusalem which was just a few years away from the time of his writing. To this writer, it also seems likely that he took the Lord's words to heart ( Mat_24:36-44 ) and constantly thought of His return as imminent so that he would be prepared ( Mat_25:13 ). Stable thinking and self-control coupled with a regular diet of prayer would help keep one prepared.

A deep love for the brethren would also help sustain a Christian during an approaching disaster, as the destruction of Jerusalem might be considered, as well as encourage him in faithfulness in watching for the Lord's return. Such love causes one to forgive and forget sins the brethren may have committed against him. That love would also cause one to participate in hospitality, or being friendly to strangers. In a day when so much wickedness was found in public inns, it was very important for Christians who were traveling to find lodging in a place where they would not be exposed to so much evil. Thus, hospitality is frequently enjoined upon Christians ( Rom_12:13 ; 1Ti_3:7 ; 1Ti_5:10 ; Tit_1:8 ; Heb_13:2 ; 3Jn_1:5-8 ). As with anything done in the Lord's service, there would be no true value in entertaining strangers if one did it with a complaining spirit ( 1Pe_4:7-9 ).

The word for "gift," in 4:10, is the Greek word charisma and indicates it is something given by the grace of God. It can stand for miraculous gifts ( 1Co_12:4 ), but does not have to ( Rom_6:23 ). Either usage here would be fine. Whatever God has given the Christian has been entrusted to him and should be used wisely ( 1Co_4:2 ; Mat_25:14-30 ). Christians should especially want to use what they had to help fellow Christians.

Of the word translated "oracles," in 4:11, Thayer says, "In the New Testament spoken of the words or utterances of God." It is used in Act_7:38 ; Rom_3:2 ; Heb_5:12 ; and here. Peter seems to be continuing the thought of verse 10 by saying those who used the ability to speak, which God gave them, should speak only those words that God revealed. Those who do by helping others need to realize that their ability to serve and the means with which they serve are from God. Thus, God provides the words of the speaker and the means of the doer and all should be used to glorify him ( 1Co_10:31 ; Mat_5:16 ; Joh_15:8 ). God has planned for man to glorify him in Christ, or his body, the church ( Eph_3:21 ). Praise belongs to God now and throughout all eternity.

Verses 12-19

Glorifying God in Suffering

Trials are a part of the Christian's life and should not surprise him ( Joh_15:18-20 ; 2Ti_3:12 ). Woods says of the "fiery trial," "the figure here used is that of gold ore cast into a crucible for the purpose of separating the worthless dross from the precious metal." When Christians suffer for the same reason Christ suffered, they have reason to rejoice ( Mat_5:11-12 ). Such rejoicing in sufferings can occur now because Christians look forward to the great joy the faithful will experience at Christ's return ( 1Pe_4:12-13 ).

Woods says the word "if" at the beginning of verse 14 would be better translated "when". When others speak evil of Christ's followers because they wear the name Christian, in word and deed, they should be inwardly happy, which is the meaning of "blessed" here and in Mat_5:1-12 . That happiness stems, in part, from the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. Christ is evil spoken of when Christians are evil spoken of ( Act_8:3 ; Act_9:1 ; Act_9:5 ).

Others may speak evil of Christ because of the good lives of believers, but the good done in His name glorifies Him. Christ's disciples can be happy when suffering for Christ, but should be ashamed to suffer as an evil doer.

"Busybody" comes from the Greek word "allotrioepiskopos" which Thayer says is "one who takes supervision of affairs pertaining to others and in no wise to himself." Disciples should not suffer for such actions. On the other hand, there is no shame in suffering because one follows Christ. The name "Christian" is also used in Act_11:26 ; Act_26:28 . It would appear to be the new name promised in Isa_62:2 ( 1Pe_4:15-16 ).

Woods says "judgment" is used in 4:17 to denote severe trial. They were already in the season of that trial. If God would allow the church (see 1Ti_3:15 ) to go through such trials, then the wicked need not expect to escape the sure doom awaiting those who refuse to obey ( 2Th_1:7-9 ). Peter then quoted from the LXX translation of Pro_11:31 ( 1Pe_4:18 ). God will save those who walk uprightly from the great trial to come, but it will be with great difficulty. If God would take great difficulty to save the righteous from the impending trial the ungodly would put them through, imagine the terrible punishment God would send the ungodly to in the end of time.

On the basis of what he had already written, Peter concluded that Christians who suffer should remember that such suffering is a part of being a Christian. They should place their soul's well-being in God's hands, since He is the creator and sustainer of life and can be trusted to maintain it ( 1Pe_4:19 ).

Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on 1 Peter 4". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghc/1-peter-4.html. 2014.
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