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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament
1 Peter 4

 

 

Verses 1-4

ARGUMENT 18

OUR CRUCIFIXION SIMILITUDINOUS TO THAT OF CHRIST

1. “Therefore Christ having suffered in the flesh you also arm yourselves with same mind, because the one having suffered in carnality has ceased from sin.” As Christ is the only unfallen son of Adam, His physical being was pure. Yet it suffered death on the cross for the sins of the world. How shall we be “armed with the same mind”? By reason of the fall we all have the carnal mind which Jesus never had. As the mind which rules the body predominates even in its eclipse, so, in common parlance, the body is lost sight of. Hence our crucifixion, which is absolutely necessary, pursuant to true discipleship, while it may include the body, especially if we live in an age of martyrdom, does not essentially mean physical crucifixion, but always and invariably that of the carnal mind, which is utterly destroyed, i.e., crucified in sanctification, leaving the heart pure from all the malevolent affections, the clean temple of the Holy Ghost. In this verse sarx, flesh, occurs twice, antithetically referring to Christ in one case and to us in the other. Hence, in the normal exegesis it refers to Christ’s mortal body and our carnal mind. This carnal mind is born in us, transmitted from Satan in the fall through Adam. It is conquered in regeneration, when the mind of Christ is imparted by the Holy Ghost; still surviving in subjugation, it is crucified on the cross, when we follow Christ in entire sanctification.

2. This verse describes the beautiful life of the sanctified, no longer in carnality, but in the sweet will of God.

3, 4. Here the Holy Ghost draws an appallingly dark picture of the wicked delighting in brutal sensualities and diabolical debaucheries, and at the same time unutterably astonished because the Lord’s people will not participate with them in their bacchanalian revelries.


Verse 5-6

ARGUMENT 19

THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO ALL, LIVING AND DEAD

5. This certifies the general judgment, where all living and dead shall stand before the great white throne.

6. “For unto this was the Gospel also preached to the dead in order that they may be judged according to men in the flesh, and live according to God in the Spirit.” There is no argument here for second probation and not the slightest inference that the Gospel was preached to any one after death, but to the dead generations, while they were living. How is this Christ himself is the Gospel, the true light, “which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 19). The Holy Ghost, who shines on every human soul in all ages and nations, is the Spirit of Christ. Hence Paul says (Romans 1), “The heathens are left without excuse,” as salvation is, and always has been, possible to every human being. 1 John 1:7, “If we walk in the light... The blood cleanses from all sin,” applies to every human being, regardless of age, race or religion. Those who walk in all the light they have, not only receive pardon, but complete purification from sin and readiness for heaven. In the final judgment, those who have lived under the former dispensation will be judged by the Old Testament only, Christian nations by the whole Bible, while the heathen will only be judged by the laws of nature. Thus the Holy Spirit, the Revelator of Christ, so shines upon every human soul as to leave none with an apology before the judgment bar, where they will only be responsible for the light they have rejected.


Verses 7-11

ARGUMENT 20

THE DIVINE AGAPEE HIDES THE MULTITUDE OF SINS

7. Every New Testament writer constantly reminds us that the personal Savior is speedily coming back to this world, not to suffer and to die, but to conquer and to reign. The laxity of the churches in heeding this stirring admonition largely accounts for the lamentable apostasy at the present day. The graveyard preaching, to say the least, is unapostolic. Their grand incentive to holiness was the constant expectation of their coming Lord.

8. “Before all things having divine love steadfast toward one another, because divine love hides a multitude of sins.” It is much to be regretted that the English translation has not revealed the difference between human and divine love, as the Greek does by using entirely different words, i.e., agapee, divine love, and filia, human love. The former is the divine nature imparted by the Holy Ghost in regeneration. Romans 5:5, “The agapee of God is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Ghost.” This agapee makes you a Christian, while sanctification destroys its enemy, the carnal mind, and leaves it to reign in your heart without a rival. “Charity” in your English is a wrong translation, agapee having no such a meaning. When the English Church made the translation in 1611 she was full of Romish fog. While true religion makes all salvation God’s work, false religion makes it the work of man. Heathenism, Mohammedanism, Romanism, and all other dead churches, make salvation the work of man, while the Gospel makes it the work of God only. Charity is the work of man. Hence it is magnified and made a condition of salvation. “This divine agapee hides a multitude of sins. Oh, how true because it hides all you have. It does not make you blind to the sins of others, but when perfected by the cleansing blood makes you a very acute discerner of all evil, at the same time flooding you with love and bipartial philanthropy for all. While divine love is exotic in all human hearts, having been transferred by the Holy Ghost from the heart of God, human love is indigenous, being born in us, perfectly compatible with inherited depravity and, of course, utterly destitute of salvation. The rich man in hell loved his brethren so that he wanted to send them a missionary to save their souls. Popular churches for ages have been filled up with members on a profession of love, when it is nothing but human love and utterly destitute of salvation. How can I discriminate between the divine and the human love in my heart?

(a) When the Holy Ghost pours out the divine agapee into your heart, he is certain to notify you.

(b) When you have the divine agapee you will love your enemies and love all people without regard to race, sect or color.

9. This love makes you truly and genuinely philanthropic and hospitable.

10. It is a boundless thesaurus of heavenly grace out of which the saints minister holy benefactions indiscriminately.

11. “If any one speak as the oracles of God.” The Bible is the only authority, and this divine agapee the whole sum and substance of the Christian religion. The sectarian creeds were made during the Dark Ages, when not one man in a thousand could read. At that time an effort to focalize Bible truth into a small compass and thereby facilitate instruction, was perhaps apologetical. Now all the people can read, hence the credistic ages, to say the least, have come and gone, leaving the blessed Bible sole victor of the field. If you believe your creed to be true, of course you find it in the Bible. So preach the truth from the Bible, saying nothing about your creed, and you will glorify God, remembering that your creed will not be mentioned when you stand before the great White Throne, while you will certainly be judged by the whole Bible. “As of the strength which God supplieth in order that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ...” Here is the criterion of all soul-saving work. We are to preach nothing but the Word of God; not by the power of our intellect and learning, but by the “strength” which God supplies, i.e., with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. Oh, the counterfeit preaching passed off for gospel.


Verses 12-17

ARGUMENT 21

BLOODY MARTYRDOM IN VIEW

12. “Beloved, be not jostled by the fiery ordeal which is among you for your testing, as something foreign happening to you.” At the time of this writing the great Roman Empire, belting the globe, was racking with the pent-up fires of martyrdom, like a surging volcano, just ready to explode and inundate the saints in deadly persecutions. Peter saw it moving in prophetic panorama. In little time he and Paul and many others sealed heir faith with their blood. Nero, the cruel tyrant, issued the murderous edict, which was repeated by his successors, till three hundred years of blood and slaughter had rolled away. Meanwhile the Christians were put to death by every conceivable torture Satan could invent, and especially were they fed to the lions in the Coliseum, for the nightly entertainment of one hundred thousand cruel spectators; these bloody martyrdoms sweeping right down to the conversion of the Emperor Constantine.

13. Peter fervently exhorted the saints of all ages to rejoice in all their persecutions, in order that they may shout victory when the Lord is revealed from heaven.

14. He assured us that when we suffer reproach or persecutions in the name of Christ, at that very time the Spirit of glory and of God is resting upon us. Under these inspiring apostolical exhortations, corroborated by their example, exultantly submitting to bloody martyrdom, no wonder the primitive Christians not only heroically brooked the persecutionary storms, but the glowing enthusiasm to wear the martyr’s crown, became the absorbing sensation of the age.

15, 16. With unreproachable lives, loyal to the ruling powers, Peter exhorts them that all their sufferings are to supervene simply in the attitude Christians.

17. The bloody persecutions seen by Peter’s prophetic eye in panoramic visions, kept the Church pure three centuries, till the great Constantinian apostasy, which supervened upon the cessation of the persecutions. Of course, the persecutions could only come by the permissive providence of God, who made them a great source of blessing to His true people. It seemed that millions must add their blood to that of Jesus to confirm the glorious plan of salvation and make a fixture in the world. If the righteous judgments of God are so terrible with His people, what will be the “end of them that obey not the Gospel of God.” Those who do not pass the terrible judgment ordeals in this world, utterly destroying carnality, must meet them in hell and endure them through all eternity, as the judgment fires in this world only can consume sin, and thus help us to win our probation, while in the world to come probation being lost, they will eternally condemn the soul itself.


Verse 18-19

ARGUMENT 22

THE RIGHTEOUS SCARCELY SAVED

18. “If the righteous is scarcely saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” The Greek dikaios literally means a justified man in contradistinction to the “sinner,” and the “ungodly,” who are under condemnation. The sinner is a person addicted to habits of overt wickedness, while the “ungodly,” sustaining a good moral character, are simply unsaved, i.e., without the knowledge and possession of God in the heart. Worldly churches are largely filled up with this class. It is frequently the case, as with moral outsiders, their greatest sins are self-righteousness. As a rule they seem to be harder to save than overt sinners, because they depend on their morality, churchanity and good works, all of which are utterly powerless to keep them out of hell, into which they plunge headlong with all of the outbreaking sinners. Not so with the justified man. He goes to heaven when he dies, though “scarcely,” i.e., he barely squeezes in. But see what a glorious achievement, though he barely gets in by the skin of his teeth. Having neglected sanctification during his life, he receives it in the article of death, going out of the world under the redeeming blood like an infant, and entering heaven in a state of spiritual infancy, having forfeited all of the glorious opportunities of spiritual growth, culture and development during probation (which at best are certainly very meager with the unsanctified). It is fearfully risky to live and die in the justified state, without sanctification, depending on its reception in the article of death, and then squeezing into heaven. I would not like to risk it, lest I be squeezed out instead of in. Peter gives us something infinitely better in his next letter, i.e., the abundant entrance for the man who has not only been justified, but sanctified and enriched with the bright constellation of spiritual graces described in the first chapter.

19. God is in everything, good and bad, so far as His true people are concerned, making all things a blessing to them through perfect submission and good works.

 


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on 1 Peter 4:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/1-peter-4.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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