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Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

1 Peter 4

Verse 1

1Pe 4:1. Forasmuch then refers back to chapter 3:18 which mentions the suffering and death of Christ in the flesh which He underwent for our sins. Arm yourselves likewise with the same mind. Prepare yourselves for the trials that will come upon you for being faithful disciples of Him, by a mind that expects such experiences. He that hath suffered . . . ceased from sin. Christ suffered in the flesh in order to make atonement for sin. The true disciple who wishes to profit from the example of Christ, will cease his life of sin even though he must suffer persecution for it.

Verse 2

1Pe 4:2. This continues the thoughts of the preceding verse. It is not enough to make a break in one's life of sin, but he should practice sin no longer. Lusts of men means the lusts that men of the world practice, while the will of God will direct the disciple in a pathway of righteousness.

Verse 3

1Pe 4:3. It is a popular notion that every person should have the privilege of some worldly enjoyment. The apostle does not endorse that idea, yet even if such a claim were allowed, the writer shows that they have had their full opportunity along that line. Will of the Gentiles means the manner of the nations who are still in heathendom. Walked in lasciviousness means to continue in the way of filthy desires. Lusts is repeated from the preceding verse; it especially means "desire for what is forbidden"--Thayer. Excess of wine. A little wine for the stomach's sake (1Ti 5:23) will not make a man drunk, hence the ex cessive use of it would be that amount that will intoxicate. Revellings, ban-quetings. These words are similar in meaning according to the definitions of Thayer. The first he defines, "A revel, carousal," and the second is, "A drinking, carousing." The overall meaning of the two words is a reference to any disorderly or riotous conduct, including dancing and late "night parties." Abominable idolatries. There are no forms of idolatry that are right; the first word is used to intensify the extreme objectionable character of such practices to the loathing of God.

Verse 4

1Pe 4:4. They means the Gentiles or unconverted nations referred to in verse 3. Think it strange means to be surprised at something as though a novelty had been introduced from the outside. It would especially have the idea of something very unexpected. This describes the impression that was being made on these Gentiles by the conduct of the Christians. The heathen thought there was much reason for indulging in the worldly practices because it brought them gratification for their fleshly lusts. They thought their standard of life was correct and that all normal people should follow it. When they observed the Christians' opposite way of life they concluded that something was wrong with them and expressed themselves with evil accusations. Excess of riot; an extreme degree of loose and disorderly conduct.

Verse 5

1Pe 4:5. Give account denotes that these people who persecute Christians in this world, will have to answer for it to the Lord Jesus Christ, he being ready (authorized and qualified) to judge the quick (living) and the dead. There will be men living when Jesus comes (1Co 15:51), and they will have to stand before the judgment of Christ, as well as the ones not living. (See Act 10:42 Act 17:31.)

Verse 6

1Pe 4:6. For this cause. For the reason that is about to be stated. This verse does not teach that people will be preached to after they die. Why give the Gospel to dead people when they will not have any opportunity of obeying it then? This is clearly taught in the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luk 16:19-31. It is important to observe that the words was and are do not have the same tense; the one is past and the other is present. The Gospel was preached at some time before Peter was writing, but the ones who received that preaching afterward died. Hence at the time the apostle was writing this epistle he would say they are dead. Judged according to men in the flesh. At the last day men will be judged according to the way they lived while in the flesh or before they died (2Co 5:10). If they have been falsely accused notwithstanding their obedience to the Gospel, they will be permitted to live according to God; will live with Him in the spirit or in the spirit world. This grand truth should be comforting to all the true servants of Christ who are persecuted for righteousness' sake.

Verse 7

1Pe 4:7. End of all things is at hand or near comparatively speaking, for "our life on earth is but a span." With the day of judgment an assured event and not far away, it behooves us to be sober or serious minded. Watch unto prayer is the same as "watch and pray" as Jesus taught while here (Mat 26:41).

Verse 8

1Pe 4:8. The original word for charity means such love for the brethren as causes one to have a genuine interest in their welfare. To cover the sins does not mean to shield another in wrong, for that would make the two equally guilty. But there are countless instances where the sins are not positively proved, or where there might be some question as to the extent of the wrong done, if any. In such cases we should exercise that charity that will give the other person the "benefit of the doubt." If that is done the sins will be covered in that they will not be held against the other person nor be spread out publicly.

Verse 9

1Pe 4:9. Hospitality one to another. This is the treatment to be shown by the brethren toward each other, and is different from that which pertains to "strangers" (Heb 13:2). Since the disciples of Christ have a common relation to Christ, they ought to feel "at home" when in each other's company. Without grudging denotes that, it will be without murmuring or complaining. When brethren extend the hospitality of their homes to each other, it should not be in the attitude of "have-to" duty, as if they were dealing with "objects of charity."

Verse 10

1Pe 4:10. Received the gift. The preceding verse deals with hospitality, hence the present one has that subject principally under consideration, so that the gift has special application to the good things of life with which one can manifest hospitality. He should not be selfish with the favors he has in possession since they all came from God and the disciple is but a steward (agent) under Him. Of course the principle of this passage will logically apply to any talent a man may possess.

Verse 11

1Pe 4:11. Speak as the oracles of God. In old times certain persons were consulted who were supposed to have special or superhuman knowledge. Those who believed in them would go there for information, then speak or deliver that information to others. The persons thus consulted were referred to as "oracles." Myers Ancient History says the following on this subject: "The Romans, like the Greeks, thought that the will of the gods was communicated to men by means of oracles, and by strange sights, unusual events, or singular coincidences." Peter therefore means for the disciples to speak as the oracles of God (the Bible) and not those of superstition. If any man minister or serve, let him do whatever his ability under God will enable him to do. By such performances the glory will go to God who is the giver of all talents, and all will be accomplished through Christ. Dominion (rule or authority, Mat 28:18) for ever and ever signifies that Jesus is to reign until he has put all foes beneath His feet (1Co 15:25).

Verse 12

1Pe 4:12. To think strange has the same meaning that the word does in verse 4; disciples should not be surprised if trials and persecutions come upon them. (See verse 1.)

Verse 13

1Pe 4:13. They would not rejoice in the sufferings as though they are things that give pleasure in themselves. To pretend to find such to be enjoyable would be affectation. The rejoicing is over the thought of being a partaker or partner with Christ. If His disciples share in his suffering they may expect to have a part in His glory when the day of redemption arrives.

Verse 14

1Pe 4:14. To be reproached means to be reviled or have belittling things said of one. If that kind of treatment is given to a man because of his connection with Christ, he then will have much reason to rejoice on the principle set forth in the preceding verse. Such enemies unconsciously recognize the glory (honor) of God that has been bestowed upon His servants by the Spirit. It should be observed that no specific wrong is charged against the disciple, only he is reproached just because of his profession of faith in Christ. Their part refers to the enemies who revile the disciples because of their devotion to Christ. Your part means that the persecuted disciples feel glorified or honored by such treatment, because it is an acknowledgement that the worst that can be said of them is that they are believers in Christ.

Verse 15

1Pe 4:15. Suffer is from the Greek word PASCHO, and Thayer defines it at this place (and many others) as follows: "To suffer, to undergo evils, to be afflicted." Peter applies his instruction to specific actions that are wrong, and hence to things that the disciples could commit but should not. They-are forbidden to act in such a way that they could justly be made to suffer for it. The apostle is not expecting his readers to prevent such mistreatment being unjustly forced upon them, for that would be requiring what might be impossible. He means for them not to he guilty and thus bring suffering upon themselves as a punishment for the deeds now to be mentioned. Murderer and thief are specific and it would be proper for them to be made to suffer were they guilty of being such persons. Evildoer seems more general yet it refers to any violation of law and in any given instance the accusation could be made specific. Busybody in other men's matters all comes from one Greek word ALLOTRIOEPISKOPOS. and Thayer defines it as follows: "One who takes the supervision of affairs pertaining to others and in no wise to himself, a meddler in other men's affairs." He then gives the following explanation of the origin of the word: "The writer seems to refer to those who, with holy hut intemperate zeal, meddle with the affairs of the Gentiles--whether public or private, civil or sacred in order to make them conform to the Christian standard." The lexicons of Robinson and Strong give virtually the same definition and explanation of the word, which is not in any other passage in the New Testament.

Verse 16

1Pe 4:16. Any man suffer. These words are not in the Greek text in this- verse, but they are justified by the language in the preceding verse. To suffer as a Christian is the same as to suffer for the name of Christ as in verse 14. For the significance of the name Christian, see the comments at Act 11:26 in the first volume of the New Testament Commentary. To suffer as a Christian does not specify any wrong-doing on the part of the accused, but only means persecution for being a follower of Christ. A man need not be ashamed for being a fol- lower of Him and of having such an experience, for it Promises him the recognition of Christ before his Father in heaven (Mat 10:32); for this reason he may glorify God or give God the glory. On this behalf means in this respect or because of this great honor.

Verse 17

1Pe 4:17. Is come has been supplied by the King James Version, but the words are inserted in square brackets by the Englishmen's Greek New Testament, and they are included also in three other translations that I have examined. It is an important item in explaining this passage, for it shows that whatever Peter meant by Judy-»tent was not to wait until the last day of the world. Hence the word refers to the persecutions that God will let come on His People in this life, to test their faith whether they are genuine children of God. With this thought in mind I will ask the reader to see the following passages. (1Co 11:19; 2Ti 3:12; Heb 12:6-11; Jas 1:2-4.) Us and house of God are used in the same connection which shows who is to receive the judgment mentioned; it means the Christians. If good people like Christians deserve the unpleasant experiences in the form of persecutions in order to keep them in the line of obedience, then certainly those who make no profession at all will come to a sad end afterward.

Verse 18

1Pe 4:18. Righteous scarcely be saved. The salvation of the righteous is no uncertain matter, and the Bible in no place indicates any doubt about it. As to whether a man becomes and remains righteous is another subject, and lie is warned all through the word of God to be watchful and not become slack in his service to the Lord. But our passage is speaking only of the faithful and so far as the salvation of them is concerned the scriptures are definite. (See Joh 10:28 Joh 11:26 :2Ti 2:19; 2 Peter 1:10. 11: Rev 20:6.) The word for scarcely is defined "with difficulty" by Thayer, hence we should have no trouble in understanding the statement. The trials that will be forced upon Christians by the foe will make the conflict difficult, but if they will be faithful to the end in spite of the difficulties (which is something that all who will can do), then their salvation is as sure as that the Lord lives. If the words ungodly and sinner are used separately they mean virtually the same. Peter uses them in one sentence hence he recognizes a distinction. Ungodly his direct reference to a man's deliberate disrespect for God, while sinner has more reference to the kind of personal life he is following without any special consideration of what he thinks of God. Of course both men described are wrong and will not be saved unless they repent. The question about where they shall appear is an implied declaration that they will appear or show up at the day of judgment on the left side of Him before whom all nations will be gathered (Mat 25:31-33).

Verse 19

1Pe 4:19. This verse is the grand and consoling conclusion from the truths that have been considered in the preceding three chapters. To suffer according to the will of God means to suffer persecutions for having lived in harmony with His will. Commit the keeping of their souls. Man can kill the body but not the soul (Mat 10:28). This commitment must be done in well doing, and since God created that soul He is the one who can and will keep it safely.
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 1 Peter 4". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/1-peter-4.html. 1952.