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Bible Commentaries
1 Peter 4

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

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Verse 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;

Suffered. 'Aleph ('), 'died,' [apothanontos].

For us. Supported by 'Aleph (') ('you') A; but B C, Vulgate, omit. In the flesh - in His body of humiliation.

Arm - (Ephesians 6:11; Ephesians 6:13.)

The same mind - of suffering with patient willingness what God wills.

He that hath suffered - a thing now past [ pathoon (G3958)]: Christ first, and in His person the believer: a general proposition.

Hath ceased, [ pepautai (G3973)] - 'has been made to cease;' i:e., has obtained by His past and completed suffering a cessation from sin, which heretofore lay on him (Romans 6:6-11, especially 7). The Christian is by faith one with Christ: as Christ by death is judicially freed from sin, so the Christian who has in the person of Christ died has no more to do with it judicially, and ought have no more to do with it actually. "The flesh" is the sphere in which sin has place.

Verse 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.

That he ... 'That he (the believer, who has once for all obtained cessation from sin by suffering, in the person of Christ, namely, in virtue of his union with the crucified Christ) should no longer live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God,' 'Rest of his time in the flesh' (the Greek has 'in' here, not in 1 Peter 4:1 as to Christ) proves that the reference is not to Christ, but to the believer, whose remaining time in the flesh for glorifying God is short (1 Peter 4:3). Not as Alford, 'Arm yourselves ... with a view no longer to live the rest of your time.'

Verse 3

For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:

May suffice - `is sufficient.' Peter takes the lowest ground: for not even the past time ought to have been wasted in lust; but since you cannot recall it, at least lay out the future to better account.

Us. Omitted in A B C, Vulgate; 'Aleph (') has 'you.'

Wrought, [ kateirgasthai (G2716)] - 'wrought out.' Gentiles - pagan: which many of you were.

When ... [ perporeumenous (G4198)] - 'walking as ye have done in lasciviousness' (Alford) [ aselgeiais (G766) means petulant, wantonness]; unbridled conduct: not merely filthy lust.

Excess of wine, [ oinoflugiais (G3632)] - 'wine-bibbings.'

Abominable, [ athemitois (G111)] - 'lawless idolatries,' violating God's sacred law: not that all Peter's readers (note, 1 Peter 1:1) walked in these, but many, namely, the Gentile portion.

Verse 4

Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:

Wherein - in respect to which abandonment of your former walk (1 Peter 4:3).

Run not with them - eagerly, in troops (Bengel).

Excess, [ anachusin (G401)] - profusion; sink: stagnant water after an inundation.

Riot - profligacy.

Speaking evil - charging you with pride, singularity, hypocrisy, and secret crimes (2 Peter 2:2). However, there is no Greek "of you;" simply 'blaspheming.' It seems always used, either directly or indirectly, of impious reviling against God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, or the Christian religion; not merely against men as such (Greek, 1 Peter 4:14).

Verse 5

Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.

They who call you to account falsely shall have to give account of themselves for this evil-speaking (Jude

15), and be condemned justly.

Ready - speedily (1 Peter 4:7; 2 Peter 3:10).

Verse 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.

For - reason for 1 Peter 4:5, "judge the dead."

Gospel preached also to ... dead - as well as to them now living, and to them that shall be found alive at the Judge's coming. "Dead" must be taken in the literal sense, as 1 Peter 4:5, which refutes the explanation "dead" in sins. Moreover, the absence of the article does not restrict "dead" to particular dead persons, for there is no article in 1 Peter 4:5 also, where "the dead" is universal in meaning. The sense seems, Peter, representing the attitude of the Church in every age expecting Christ at any moment, says, The Judge is ready to judge the quick and dead-the dead, I say, for they, too, in their lifetime, had the Gospel preached to them, that so they may be judged at last as those living now (and those who shall be alive when Christ comes), namely, 'men in the flesh,' and that they may, having escaped condemnation by embracing the Gospel so preached, live unto God in the spirit (though death has passed over their flesh: Luke 20:38), thus being made like Christ in death and in life (note, 1 Peter 3:18).

He says, "live," not 'made alive;' for they are supposed to have been already "quickened together with Christ" (Ephesians 2:5). This is parallel to 1 Peter 3:19: cf. note. The Gospel, substantially, was "preached" to the Old Testament Church; though not so fully as to us. It is no objection that the Gospel was not preached to all that shall be found dead at Christ's coming. For Peter is plainly referring only to those within reach of the Gospel, or who might have known God through His ministers in Old and New Testament times. Peter, like Paul (1 Thessalonians 4:15), argues that those found living at Christ's coming shall have no advantage above the dead who shall then be raised, since the latter live unto, or according to,' God, already in His purpose. Alford is wrong, 'that they might be judged according to men as regards the flesh' - i:e., be in the state of the completed sentence on sin, which is death after the flesh. For "judged" cannot have a different meaning here from "judge" in 1 Peter 4:5. "Live according to God" means, 'live a life such as God lives'-divine: contrasted with "according to men in the flesh" - i:e., such as men live in the flesh.

Verse 7

But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

Resuming 1 Peter 4:5.

The end of all things - therefore also of the wantonness (1 Peter 4:3-4) of the wicked, and of the sufferings of the righteous. The nearness is not that of time, but that before the Lord; as he explains, 2 Peter 3:8-9, to guard against misapprehension, and defends God from the charge of procrastination. We live in the last dispensation, not like the Jews under the Old Testament. The Lord will come as a thief: He is "ready" (1 Peter 4:5) to judge the world at any moment: it is only God's long-suffering, that the Gospel may be preached as a witness to all nations, that lengthens out the time which is with Him still as nothing. Sober, [ soofroneesate (G4993)] - 'self-restrained.' The opposite duties to the sins, 1 Peter 4:3, are inculcated. "Sober," the opposite of "lasciviousness" (1 Peter 4:3).

Watch, [ neepsate (G3525)] - 'be soberly vigilant;' not intoxicated with worldly cares and pleasures. Temperance promotes wakefulness; both promote prayer. Drink makes drowsy; drowsiness prevents prayer.

Prayer - Greek, 'prayers:' the end for which we should exercise vigilance.

Verse 8

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

Above all things - not that "charity" is above "prayer," but love is the animating spirit, without which other duties are dead. [ Teen (G3588) eis (G1519) heautous (G1438) agapeen (G26) ektenee (G1618), 'Have your mutual (literally, toward yourselves) love intense.'] He presupposes its existence: he urges them to make it more fervent.

Charity shall cover the multitude of sins. So 'Aleph ('); but A B, Vulgate, 'covereth.' From Proverbs 10:12: cf. Proverbs 10:17:9. 'Covereth,' so as not harshly to condemn or expose; but to bear the other's burdens, forgiving and forgetting offences. Perhaps the additional idea is included. By prayer for them, love tries to have them covered by God; so being the instrument of converting sinners, 'covereth a (not "the") multitude of sins;' the former idea from Proverbs is prominent. It is not, as Rome teaches, 'covereth' his own sins; then the Greek middle would be used; and Proverbs 10:12; Proverbs 17:9, support the Protestant view. 'As God with His love covers my sins if I believe, so must I cover my neighbour's' (Luther). Compare the conduct of Shem and Japheth (Genesis 9:23), in contrast to Ham's exposure of his father's shame. We ought to cover others' sins only where love itself does not require the contrary.

Verse 9

Use hospitality one to another without grudging.

(Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2.) Not the spurious hospitality which passes current in the world; but entertaining those needing it; especially those exiled for the faith, as representatives of Christ; and all hospitality to whomsoever exercised, from Christian love.

Without grudging, [ gongusmou (G1112)] - 'murmuring' (Romans 12:8); open-hearted sincerity, cordiality. Not secretly speaking against the person whom we entertain, or upbraiding him with the favour we have conferred.

Verse 10

As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Every - `even as each received,' in whatever degree, and of whatever kind. The Spirit's gifts [ charisma (G5486), 'a gift of grace' - i:e., gratuitous] are the common property of the Christian community, each being but a steward for edifying the whole; not receiving the gift merely for himself.

Minister the same - not discontentedly envying or disparaging the gift of another.

One to another - Greek as 1 Peter 4:8, 'toward yourselves:' all form one body; in seeking the good of other members they are promoting the good of themselves.

Stewards - (Matthew 25:15, etc.; Luke 19:13-26)

Verse 11

If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

If any man speak - namely, as a prophet, or divinely-taught teacher in the church assembly.

The - no article: 'as oracles of God.' This may be due to "God" having no article, it being a principle, when a governed noun omits the article, that the governing noun shall omit it too. In Acts 7:38 the article is wanting: thus, "as the oracles of God," the Old Testament may be right; so Romans 12:6. But the context suits better, 'Let him speak as (becomes one speaking) oracles OF GOD.' His divinely-inspired words are not his own, but God's; as a steward (1 Peter 4:10) having them committed to him, he ought so to speak them. Jesus was the pattern (Matthew 7:29; John 12:49; John 14:10: cf. 2 Corinthians 2:17). Note, the very term restricted elsewhere (Acts 7:38; Romans 3:2; Hebrews 5:12) to the Old Testament writings, is here predicated of the inspired words (the substance of which was afterward written) of the New Testament prophets.

Minister - in acts: the other sphere of spiritual activity besides speaking.

As of - `out of' the store of his 'strength' [ ischuos (G2479), physical: for outward service; not moral and intellectual 'ability:' so. Mark 12:30 ].

Giveth, [ choreegei (G5524)] - 'supplieth:' said of a choragus, who supplied the chorus with necessaries for performing their several parts.

That God in all things may be glorified - the end of all a Christian's acts.

Through Jesus Christ - the Mediator through whom all blessings come down to us, and all our praises ascend to God. Through Christ alone can God he glorified in us, our saying, and doings.

To whom - Christ.

Be - `is.'

Forever and ever - `unto the ages of the ages.'

Verse 12

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

Strange - they might think it strange that God should allow His chosen children to be sore tried.

Fiery trial - like the fire by which metals are tested and their dross removed. The Greek adds 'in the case.'

Which is to try you - Greek, 'which is taking place for a trial to you.' Instead of its 'happening to you' as some strange chance, it 'is taking place' with tile gracious design of trying you: a consolatory reflection.

Verse 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.

Inasmuch as. 'Aleph (') A B read [ katho (G2526)] 'in proportion as ye by suffering are partakers of Christ's sufferings - i:e., by faith enter willingly into realizing fellowship with them.

With exceeding joy, [ agallioomenoi (G21)] - 'exulting joy:' now ye rejoice amidst sufferings; then ye shall EXULT forever free from sufferings (1 Peter 1:6; 1 Peter 1:8). If we will not bear suffering for Christ now, we must bear eternal sufferings hereafter.

Verse 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.

For - `IN the name of Christ;' namely, Christians (1 Peter 4:16; 1 Peter 3:14, above; Mark 9:41), 'in my name, because ye belong to Christ.' 1 Peter 4:15, 'as a murderer, thief,' etc., stands in contrast. Let your suffering be on account of Christ, not on account of evil doing (1 Peter 2:20).

Reproached. Reproach affects noble minds more than loss of goods, or even bodily sufferings.

The Spirit ... upon you - the same as rested on Christ (Luke 4:18). "The Spirit of glory" is His Spirit, for He is the "Lord of glory" (James 2:1). Believers may well overcome 'reproach' (cf. Hebrews 11:26), since "the Spirit of glory" rests upon them, as upon Him. Reproach cannot prevent their happiness, because they retain before God their glory entire, as having the Spirit, with whom glory is inseparably joined (Calvin). 'Aleph (') A add, 'and of His power;' B C omit.

And of God, [ kai (G2532) to (G3588) tou (G3588) Theou (G2316)] - 'and the (Spirit) of God:' the Spirit of glory (i:e., Christ's Spirit) is also the Spirit of God.

On their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. So the oldest Vulgate, Thebaic, and Cyprian; omitted in 'Aleph (') A B, Syriac, and Coptic versions, etc., "Evil spoken of" - literally, 'blasphemed.' Not merely do they 'speak against you,' as 1 Peter 3:16, but blasphemously mock Christ and Christianity.

Verse 15

But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters.

But - `For.' 'Reproached in the name of Christ,' I say (1 Peter 4:14), 'FOR let none,' etc.

As ... as ... as ... as. The as twice in italics is not in the Greek. The second Greek "as" distinguishes the class "busybody in other men's matters" from the previous delinquents. Christians, from mistaken zeal, under the plea of faithfulness, might make themselves judges of the acts of unbelievers. [ Allotriepiskopos (G244), 'a bishop in what is (not his own, but) another's province; an allusion to the existing bishops of the Church; a self-constituted overseer in others' concerns.]

Verse 16

Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

A Christian - the name given first at Antioch (Acts 11:26; Acts 26:27-28); the only three places where the term occurs. At first believers had no distinctive name, but were called among themselves "brethren," "disciples," 'those of the way' (Acts 6:1; Acts 6:3; Acts 9:2), "saints" (Romans 1:7); by the Jews (who denied that Jesus was the Christ, and so would never originate 'Christian' in contempt), Nazarenes.' At Antioch, where first idolatrous Gentiles (Cornelius, Acts 10:1-48, was not an idolater, but a proselyte) were converted, and wide missionary work began, they could be no longer looked on as a Jewish sect; so the Gentiles, perhaps first, designated them by the new name, 'Christians.' [But chreematizoo (G5537) is always used of a divine utterance: so Acts 11:26 probably means, the name was given by divine appointment, rather than by the nicknaming wit for which the people of Antioch were notorious.] The new name marked a new epoch in the Church's development-namely, its missions to the Gentiles. The date of this letter must have been when this had become the generally recognized designation among Gentiles (for its common use among believers was not until subsequently) - an undesigned proof that the New Testament was composed when it professes, and when the name exposed one to reproach and suffering, though not yet to systematic persecution.

Let him not be ashamed - though the world is ashamed of shame. To suffer for one's faults is no honour (1 Peter 4:15; 1 Peter 2:20) - for Christ, is no shame (1 Peter 4:14; 1 Peter 3:14).

But let him glorify God - not merely glory in persecution. Peter might have said, 'but let him esteem it an honour;' but the honour is to be given to God, who counts him worthy of it, involving exemption from the coming judgments on the ungodly.

On this behalf. 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate, read 'in this name' - i:e., in suffering for such a name.

Verse 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?

Another consolation. All must pass under God's judgment: God's own household first, their chastisement being here, for which they glorify Him as a proof of their membership in His family, and a pledge of their escape from the end of those whom the last judgment shall find disobedient to the Gospel.

The time, [ ho (G3588) kairos (G2540)] - 'fit time.'

Judgment must begin at the house of God - the Church of living believers. Peter has in mind Ezekiel 9:6: cf. Jeremiah 25:29; Amos 3:2. Judgment is already begun-the Gospel, as a "two-edged sword," having the double effect of saving some and condemning others-and shall be consummated at the last. God limits the destroyer's temporarily permitted power over His people.

If at us what shall the end be of them If even the godly have chastening judgments now how much If ... at us, what shall the end be of them ... If even the godly have chastening judgments now, how much more shall the ungodly be doomed to damnatory judgments at last!

Gospel of God - the God who is to judge them.

Verse 18

And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

Scarcely (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:15, end) - having to pass through trying chastisements, as David did for sin. "The righteous" man has trial, but the issue is certain, and the entrance into the kingdom abundant at last. The "scarcely" marks the severity of the ordeal, and the unlikelihood (in a human point of view) of the righteous sustaining it; but the righteousness of Christ, and God's everlasting covenant, make it sure.

Ungodly - without regard for God: negative.

Sinner - loving sin: positive: the same man is at once God-forgetting and sin-loving.

Appear - in judgment.

Verse 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.

Conclusion from 1 Peter 4:17-18. Since the godly know that their sufferings are by God's will, for their good (1 Peter 4:17), to chasten them that they may not perish with the world, they ought to trust God cheerfully amidst sufferings, persevering in well doing.

Let them - Greek, 'let them also,' as well as those not suffering. Not only in ordinary circumstances, but also in suffering, let believers commit, etc. (cf. note, 1 Peter 3:14).

According to the will of God - (note, 1 Peter 3:17.)

In well doing - B 'Aleph ('); but A, Vulgate, read 'well doings' (contrast ill doings, 1 Peter 4:15). Our committing of ourselves to God is to be, not in indolent quietism, but accompanied with active well doings.

Faithful - to His covenant promises. Creator - who is therefore our Almighty Preserver. He, not we, must keep our souls. Sin destroyed the spiritual relation between us and the Creator, leaving that only of government. Faith restores it: the believer, living to the will of God (1 Peter 4:2), rests implicitly on his Creator's faithfulness.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Peter 4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/1-peter-4.html. 1871-8.
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