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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
1 Peter 4

 

 

Verse 11

11–4:6.] Exhortations to walk christianly and worthily towards and among those without who speak and act in a hostile manner. Hitherto we have seen them exhorted to walk worthily of their calling as distinguished from their own former walk: now the Apostle exhorts them to glorify God before an ungodly and persecuting world.


Verse 13

13–4:6.] Exhortation to right behaviour towards the world in persecutions which come upon them for righteousness’ sake (13–17): and that by the example of Christ (18–22), whose suffering in the flesh, and by consequence whose purity and freedom from sin they are to imitate (1 Peter 4:1-6).


Verse 1

1.] Christ then having suffered in the flesh (see on σαρκί above, ch. 1 Peter 3:18. This conclusion takes up again the ὅτι καὶ χριστὸς ἔπαθεν there, which led to the enlarging on the result of those His sufferings as regarded both Himself and us), do ye also arm yourselves with (put on as armour) the same mind (intent, resolution; scil., to suffer in the flesh, as He did. That this is the sense, is shewn, it appears to me, decisively by καὶ ὑμεῖς and τὴν αὐτήν. Those who, as Calv., Beza, Gerh., Beng., Erasm. Schmid, Wiesinger, al., take ἔννοιαν for ‘thought,’ and render the following ὅτι, ‘that,’ can give no adequate interpretation either to καὶ ὑμεῖς or to τὴν αὐτήν. The sentence, for them, stands as if it were ταύτην ἔννοιαν ὁπλίσασθε, ὅτι.… And when obtained, the expression, meaning only ‘remember, that,’ is surely mere rhetorical inflation. Wiesinger denies that ἔννοια ever means “intent” or “resolution;” and refers to Passow to justify his denial. But in Palm and Rost’s edn., the meaning Gesinnung is given, and borne out by Eur. Hel. 1026, ἱκετεύετεἥρας δὲ τὴν ἔννοιαν ἐν ταὐτῷ μένειν, ἣν ἐς σὲ καὶ σὸν πόσιν ἔχει σωτηρίας: Isoc., p. 112 D,— οὐ γὰρ ( οἱ θεοὶ) αὐτόχειρες οὔτε τῶν ἀγαθῶν οὔτε τῶν κακῶν γίγνονται τῶν συμβαινόντων αὐτοῖς ( τοῖς ἀνθρώποις), ἀλλʼ ἑκάστοις τοιαύτην ἔννοιαν ἐμποιοῦσιν, ὥστε διʼ ἀλλήλων ἡμῖν ἑκάτερα παραγίγνεσθαι τούτων: Diodor. Sic. ii. 30 says of the Chaldæans, that they regard the planets as ἑρμηνεύοντες τοῖς ἀνθρώποις τὴν τῶν θεῶν ἔννοιαν (var. εὔνοιαν). The meaning then is, “arm yourselves also with the same purpose as that which was in Christ”); because (the ὅτι assigns a reason for the expression τὴν αὐτὴν ἔννοιαν ὁπλίσασθε: “and ye will need this arming, because, the course of suffering according to the flesh which ye have to undergo ending in an entire freedom from sin, your warfare with sin must be begun and carried on from this time forward”) he that hath suffered in the flesh is made to cease from sin (if actively expressed, the sentence, as Huther remarks, would be τὸ πάσχειν (rather τὸ παθεῖν) πέπαυκεν αὐτὸν ἁμαρτίας: he is, by the very fact of having thus suffered, brought to an end with sin—has no more to do with it: and by an inference, the suffering in the flesh, and the being made to cease from sin, are commensurate in their progress. Commonly, πέπαυται is taken in a middle sense, and παθών made = πάσχων: but neither of these is justifiable. On the sense see Romans 6:7, ὁ γὰρ ἀποθανὼν δεδικαίωται ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίας. Here too there is surely throughout, though Weiss denies it, a presupposition of our being united to the sufferings of Christ, and not merely, ‘quoad’ ourselves, πάσχοντες σαρκί, but by virtue of union with Him, τῷ παθόντι, παθόντες and so divorced from all sin. That this sentence itself is general, and not to be understood in itself of Christ, is plain: equally plain, that He is the person hinted at in the background, and with reference to whom the general truth is adduced. The general assertion itself, here and in Rom. l. c., is enthymematic, resting on the fact that the flesh is the element of sin, and he that has mortified it by suffering has in the same proportion got rid of sin):


Verses 1-6

1–6.] Exhortation, after the forecited example of Christ’s sufferings, to entire separation from the ungodly Gentile world. This passage closes the set of exhortations which began at ch. 1 Peter 2:11, with reference to behaviour towards the heathen world around: and with ch. 1 Peter 4:7, begins a new and concluding set, no longer regarding the world without.


Verse 2

2.] with a view ( εἰς τό depends on ὁπλίσασθε, the intermediate general sentence being parenthetical) no longer ( μηκέτι, subjective) by the lusts of men (as your rule: what is called the normal dative: not, as Wies. al., = δικαιοσύνῃ ζήσωμεν, ch. 1 Peter 2:24; cf. Romans 6:10-13; this βιῶσαι κ. τ. λ. is a very different matter from ζῇν in those places. ἀνθρώπων, put forward for contemptuous emphasis, as opposed to θεοῦ, which gains more majesty by not being thus put forward. What the lusts are, is shewn in 1 Peter 4:3), but by the will of God (according to that which God wills, as your rule) to live (the 2 aor. βιῶναι is more common) the rest of your time in the flesh (cf. τὸν τῆς παροικίας ὑμῶν χρόνον, ch. 1 Peter 1:17. Observe ἐν σαρκί here not σαρκί,—of the actual matter-of-fact element, in which we corporeally live and move for a certain time).


Verse 3

3.] For (follows on τὸν ἐπίλοιπον χρόνον: “I say, the rest of the time, for the past time surely” &c.) sufficient is the past time (“ μείωσις. Nam ne pristina quidem tempora debuere peccatis teri. Fastidium peccati apud resipiscentes.” Bengel) to have wrought out ( κατεργάζομαι cannot always be pressed in the sense of “to work out to an end,” as distinguished from ἐργάζομαι: but this sense may fairly be insisted on here. The perf. implies that the course is closed and done, and looked back on as a standing and accomplished fact) the will of the Gentiles (that which the Gentiles βούλονται, would have you do. In ref. Rom. it is used of God. The N. T. line of demarcation between θέλω and βούλομαι appears to be but slender: and slenderer still that between their derivatives. We may perhaps say here, that the θέλημα, used of God, carries with it more of authority and “willing,” βούλημα, used of man, more of persuasion, and wishing (cf. 1 Timothy 6:9): so that the βούλημα is that which we may be overpersuaded into following, the θέλημα that which we are bound to obey. τῶν ἐθνῶν, used not of any national distinction, but of heathens as distinguished from Christians, shews that the majority of the readers of the Epistle had been Gentiles, among these ἔθνη, themselves. Cf. a very similar passage in Isocr. Panegyr. p. 75 D: ἄξιον δʼ ἐπὶ τῆς νῦν ἡλικίας ποιήσασθαι τὴν στρατείαν, ἵνʼ οἱ τῶν συμφορῶν κοινωνήσαντες, οὗτοι καὶ τῶν ἀγαθῶν ἀπολαύσωσι· καὶ μὴ πάντα τὸν χρόνον δυστυχοῦντες διαγάγωσιν. ἱκανὸς γὰρ ὁ παρεληλυθώς, ἐν ᾧ τί τῶν δεινῶν οὐ γέγονεν;), walking as ye have done (the perf. part. connects with κατειργάσθαι: the absence of the art. gives it the slight inferential force which justifies the former assertion) in lasciviousnesses (outbreaks of ἀσέλγεια), lusts (here perhaps not general, as in 1 Peter 4:2, but particular, lusts of uncleanness), wine-bibbings ( οἰνοφλυγία ἐστὶν ἐπιθυμία οἴνου ἄπληστος, Andronicus Rhodius, περὶ παθῶν, p. 6. But from the other examples of its use in Wetst., it seems to express not only the desire, but its indulgence), revellings (see for a full explanation of κῶμοι, the word in Palm and Rost), drinking-bouts (Appian says of Sertorius, Bell. Civ. i. p. 700 (Wetst.), τὰ πολλὰ ἦν ἐπὶ τρυφῆς, γυναιξὶ καὶ κώμοις καὶ πότοις σχολάζων. Suidas gives, ποτὸς τὸ πινόμενον, πότος δὲ τὸ συμπόσιον), and nefarious (“quibus sanctissimum Dei jus violatur,” Beng.) idolatries (I may remark as against the view that this Epistle was written to Jews, that this passage cannot be explained on that supposition. The Jews certainly never went so far into Gentile abominations as to justify its assertions):


Verse 4

4.] at which ([wherein, viz. at] your having done with such practices, implied in the κατειργάσθαι and πεπορευμένους above: then the gen. absolute following further explains the ἐν ᾧ. ἐν, as the element in which their ξενίζεσθαι is versed. The aim of this verse is well given by Gerhard: “monuit hæc προθεραπεία ipsorum animos, ne perversis et præposteris illis impiorum judiciis ac blasphemis sermonibus turbentur, multo vero minus ad pristinorum vitiorum societatem sese pertrahi patiantur.” They must give offence to their former companions: for this there is no help) they are astonished (think it strange, as E. V. see reff.), that you run not (the μή puts the reader on their footing: “when they notice that you run not”) with them ( συντρεχ., ‘turmatim,’ ‘avide,’ Bengel) to ( εἰς, of the direction and purpose of the confluence) the same slough (of ἀνάχυσις, Strabo iii. p. 206 A, says, λέγονται δὲ ἀναχύσεις αἱ πληρούμεναι τῇ θαλάττῃ κοιλάδες ἐν ταῖς πλημμυρίσι: æstuaries: and so ἀναχ. = ‘sentina,’ a sink, or slough, or puddle: and this is the meaning taken by Huther and Wiesinger. But Suidas interprets it βλακείαἔκλυσις; and ἀνακεχυμένος,— ἀνειμένος, κεχαυνωμένος, ἀνετός. Hence Gerhard takes it for ‘virium exsolutio, mollities.’ De Wette follows Grotius: ‘profusio,’ which in its etymology, though not in its ordinary acceptation, exactly answers to ἀνάχυσις. On the whole the local meaning is I think to be preferred, on account of the figure in συντρεχόντων) of profligacy ( , σώζειν: see note on ref. Eph.), speaking evil of you (“jactantes convicia in vos superbiæ, singularitatis, occultæ impietatis,” &c. Bengel. The early apologists testify abundantly to the fact):


Verse 5

5.] who (your blasphemers. The consideration is propounded for the comfort and stay of Christians unjustly slandered) shall render account (reff.) to Him that is ready (reff.) to judge (aor.: once for all, decisively) living and dead.


Verse 6

6.] For (assigns a reason for the κρῖναι νεκρούς just mentioned) to this end (viz. that enunciated by the ἵνα which follows: see ref. John; ch. 1 Peter 3:9) to dead men also (as well as to living, which is the ordinary case: καί carrying with it a climax,—“even to the dead”) was the gospel preached (when, and by Whom, see below), that they might indeed be judged (aor.) according to men as regards the flesh, but might live on (pres.) according to God as regards the spirit. In examining into the meaning of this difficult verse, one thing may be laid down at the outset, as certain on any sure principles of exegesis: and thereby a whole class of interpretations removed out of our way. Seeing that γάρ binds 1 Peter 4:5-6 logically together, and that καὶ νεκροῖς distinctly takes up the νεκρούς before in this logical connexion, all interpretations must be false which do not give νεκροῖς in 1 Peter 4:6 the same meaning as νεκρούς in 1 Peter 4:5; i. e. that of dead men, literally and simply so called: men who have died, and are in their graves. This at once rids us of all the Commentators who interpret this second νεκροῖς of the dead in trespasses and sins, so Aug(14), Cyril, Œc. (only as an altern., and he blames the interpretation, saying that οἱ παλαιοὶ τῶν πατέρων so explained it, οὐδὲν φροντίσαντες τῆς συνεχείας τῶν ἄνω, οὐδʼ ὅτι αἰτιολογικῶς εἰρημένων δεῖ πρὸς τὰ πρὸ αὐτοῦ ἀναφέρεσθαι. He himself interprets it of the descent of our Lord into Hades), Bed(15), Erasmus, Luther, Whitby, Gerhard, al., as well as those who to gain this meaning here, distort νεκρούς in 1 Peter 4:5 from its constant reference in that connexion, to mean the spiritually dead, or the Gentiles, as e. g. Severus in Cramer’s Catena, Huss, Benson, Macknight. A second principle which we may lay down is this: that νεκροῖς in 1 Peter 4:6 must be kept as wide in its reference as νεκρούς in 1 Peter 4:5; i. e., that it must not be interpreted as applying merely to the blasphemers of the Christians who should have died before the judgment, or merely to such blasphemed Christians themselves as shall have then died, or merely to the spirits in prison of ch. 1 Peter 3:19, but must be treated as a general assertion in the literal meaning of νεκροῖς. The want of the article does not justify any limitation of this word: for the art. is also wanting before νεκρούς in 1 Peter 4:5, which indisputably is universal in its reference. At the same time, seeing that νεκροῖς asserts that which it asserts of the genus, the ground of so doing may be the occurrence of it with reference to certain fore-mentioned instances, though those instances themselves are not the subjects here. So that we cannot remove from consideration these last-mentioned interpretations, but must deal with them seriatim. First then comes that of Hofmann (Schriftb. ii. 1. 339–341), al., that the Apostle comforts his readers in persecution and slander, by the thought that bodily death would not exempt their adversaries from the divine judgment. In this case νεκροῖς would mean “now dead,” and εὐηγγελίσθη would point to the time when the gospel was preached to them, before they died. This of itself is a very weighty objection. Such a divulsion of the verb from its object by an intervening change of state and time was precisely that against which we protested in τοῖς ἐν φυλακῇ πνεύμασιν ἐκήρυξεν above, ch. 1 Peter 3:19. But even granting that this might be so, other as great objections remain. For how does it consist with the ἑτοίμως ἔχειν above, that the Apostle should assume the deaths of these persecutors as a matter of course, to happen before the Lord’s coming to judgment? Again, even granting such assumption, the number of their persecutors who would be amenable to punishment would thus be confined to those to whom the Gospel had been preached: any who might never have heard it would, by this reasoning, escape such judgment. Again, even supposing that all such objections were removed, the point established would be an utterly unworthy one. For who ever thought, that the fact of death before the Lord’s coming would exempt any man from judgment? And to what purpose would it be, to speak to the readers in so marked a manner of their dead persecutors, in the midst of exhortations concerning their behaviour amidst their living ones? Next, we have the view (Calv., al.) that the particular case, on which the general νεκροῖς is founded, is that of such persecuted Christians as should decease before the Lord’s coming. To this the first of the before raised objections, that νεκροῖς must mean ‘now dead,’ and εὐηγγ. refer to a former preaching when they were alive, applies in full force. And this I should hold to be fatal to it. It must be confessed, that it agrees better with the context than the last: for while that finds no assignable contextual justification, it might be said in this case, that for this very reason was the Gospel preached to those among you who have suffered death at the hands of persecutors,—even hereunto were they called,—that they might indeed be judged, condemned, by human persecution, as regards the flesh, but notwithstanding might live eternally with God as regards the spirit. Still I conceive we are not at liberty to receive it, on account of the above objection. If καὶ νεκροῖς εὐηγγελίσθη may mean, “the Gospel was preached to some during their lifetime, who are now dead,” exegesis has no longer any fixed rule, and Scripture may be made to prove any thing. (Bengel takes it in both the last-mentioned references: to the persecutors, and to the Christians.) It remains that we consider the view, that the persons pointed at are those spirits in prison to whom our Lord went and preached, ch. 1 Peter 3:19. This supposition, but always with the protest raised above, that νεκροῖς does not refer only to these, but to the dead generally, and that these are only the occasion of the general assertion, is also adopted by Wiesinger. And it may be thus defended: granted, that the γάρ of our verse assigns a reason, not for the persecutors giving an account to the judge of the quick and dead, nor for the Christians bearing up under the prospect of martyrdom,—it will follow of necessity that it assigns a reason for the κρῖναι ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς which it immediately follows: or rather, for the νεκρούς portion of that clause. Our Lord is ready to judge the dead: and with reason: for even they have not been without opportunity of receiving His gospel: as the example which was adduced in ch. 1 Peter 3:19 shews. For this end the gospel was preached even to the dead,—that they might—not indeed escape the universal judgment on human sin, which is physical death,—but, that they might be judged (aor.; be in the state of the completed sentence on sin, which is death after the flesh) according to (as) man as regards the flesh (this first clause following ἵνα being the subordinate one, of the state which the εὐηγγελίσθη left remaining), but (notwithstanding) might live (pres.; of a state to continue) according to God (a life with God, and divine) as regards the spirit: so that the relation of these two clauses with μέν and δέ is precisely as in Romans 8:10, εἰ δὲ χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν, τὸ μὲν σῶμα νεκρόν διὰ ἁμαρτίαν, τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα ζωὴ διὰ δικαιοσύνην: where the former clause in the apodosis is not the consequence of the protasis, but an abiding fact, seeming to militate against, but really not hindering that consequence. And this interpretation I adopt, believing it to be the only one which satisfies the philological conditions of the sentence: which justifies the γάρ as accounting for the κρῖναι νεκρούς: the καί, as taking up, and bringing into prominence and climax the νεκροῖς: the νεκροῖς, as used in precisely the same sense as in the last verse, and contemporary with the verb which governs it: the εὐηγγελίσθη, as grounded on a previously announced fact, ch. 1 Peter 3:19; the aim and end introduced by the ἵνα, which on this, and on no other rendering, receives meaning and perspicuity. And so, in the main, with minor deviations, the more accurate of the modern Commentators: Steiger, De Wette, Huther, Wiesinger, Weiss.


Verse 7

7.] But (the connexion is close with what had gone before: the ἑτοίμως ἔχοντι of 1 Peter 4:5 is in the Apostle’s mind: and he passes, with it before him, from considerations external to the church, to those affecting its internal condition) the end of all things (not, ‘of all men:’ nor as Œc. altern. is τέλος, the τέλος πάντων προφητῶν· τοῦτο δὲ ἀληθεῖ λόγῳ, ὁ χριστός: but simply the end, as in reff. Observe the emphatically prefixed πάντων, almost bearing the sense of τούτων πάντων: as Bengel: “Finis adeoque etiam petulantiæ malorum et passionum piorum”) is at hand (on this being the constant expectation of the apostolic age, see Acts 1:7, note: 1 Thessalonians 4:15, note): be therefore of temperate mind (see note on 1 Timothy 2:9), and be sober unto (with a view to) prayers (the τάς before προσευχάς, which Tischdf. in his 7th edition has again inserted [not in edn. 8], as probably omitted in (16) (17) &c., because its force was not perceived, may just as well be regarded as an insertion owing to the plural seeming strange, which has also led to the correction into προσευχήν in ms. 13. Possibly Polycarp’s νήφοντες πρὸς τὰς εὐχάς, ad Phil. 7, p. 1012, led to the change. At all events, where subjective considerations are so equivocal, it is our simple duty to follow the most ancient testimonies),

8]. above all things ( πρὸ πάντων, as Wies. well remarks, not placing love above prayer, but because all social life and duty must presuppose love as its necessary bond and condition. Here again it is just as likely that the δέ was inserted because there seemed to be no immediate connexion, as that it was omitted to produce that connexion), having your love towards one another (on ἑαυτούς in this sense, see note, Colossians 3:13) intense (see ch. 1 Peter 1:22. “Amor jam præsupponitur: ut sit vehemens, præcipitur.” Beng.): because love covereth a multitude of sins (from ref. Prov., except that there it is כָּל־פְּשָׁעִים, all sins. The LXX have translated this word wrongly πάντας τοὺς μὴ φιλονεικοῦντας. De Wette denies the reference, seeing that if St. Peter had cited from the Heb., he would in all probability have written πάσας τὰς ἁμαρτίας, or rather πάντα τὰ ἀδικήματα, as in Proverbs 17:9; and thinks, on account of the verbal correspondence with ref. James, that the expression was a proverb in common use. But even if so, there can be no reasonable doubt that Proverbs 10:12 was the source of it: so that it comes to nearly the same thing. As to the meaning, the words here are used in a different reference from that in St. James, where see note. Here it is the hiding of offences (both from one another and in God’s sight: see below) by mutual forbearance and forgiveness, which is meant. This has been recently denied by De Wette and Huther, the former understanding the sins rather as those of the Christian body, which mutual love keeps back from being committed, and the latter not excluding the other meaning. They would understand the words, as of old Œc., ὁ μὲν γὰρ εἰς τὸν πλησίον ἔλεος, τὸν θεὸν ἡμῖν ἵλεων ποιεῖ, and many Commentators both Romanist (not Estius) and Protestant, that love causes God to overlook a multitude of sins. This they do partly on account of ἁμαρτιῶν, which they maintain cannot well be applied to the mutual offences of common life (see however Matthew 18:15, ἐὰν ἁμαρτήσῃ εἰς σὲ ὁ ἀδελφός σου) and partly on account of ὅτι, which “indicare videtur incitamentum aliquod, quo Christianus amor commendatur” (Hottinger in De W.). And doubtless there is something in this latter consideration, especially when we remember that the nearness of the divine judgment is a pressing motive throughout these exhortations. I do not see why we should not take the saying in its widest reference, understanding it primarily perhaps of forgiveness, but then also of that prevention of sin by kindliness of word and deed, and also that intercession for sin in prayer, which are the constant fruits of fervent love. It is a truth from which we need not shrink, that every sin which love hides from man’s sight, is hidden in God’s sight also. There is but One efficient cause of the hiding of sin; but mutual love applies that cause: draws the universal cover over the particular sin. This meaning, as long as it is not perverted into the thought that love towards others covers a man’s own sin ‘ex promerito,’ need not and should not be excluded):—


Verses 7-11

7–5:11.] General exhortations with reference to behaviour within the Christian body, in contemplation of the approaching end. This portion of the Epistle falls into three sections: 7–11, Christian and social duties, in consideration of the end being at hand: 12–19, Christian bearing of suffering, in the same consideration: 1 Peter 5:1-11, ecclesiastical and general mutual ministrations: passing off into fervent general exhortations and aspirations.


Verse 9

9.] hospitable towards one another (see besides reff., Romans 12:13. “Loquitur non de pomposa hospitalitate Luke 14:12, … sed de Christiana illa et sancta hospitalitate, qua peregrinos egenos, maxime vero propter religionis veræ professionem exules Christiani ex sincera caritate promte in ædes suas recipiunt, eos amanter et benigne complectuntur, tanquam Christi membra et ecclesiæ concives fovent” &c. Gerhard) without murmuring (see ref. Phil. and note. The opposite to γογγυσμός in hospitality is simple open-heartedness, Romans 12:8; the consequence of it, “occulta maledicentia, odiosa exprobratio beneficiorum,” as Gerhard here):


Verse 10

10.] And this is to be so, not merely in the interchange of this world’s good offices, but also in the communication of the gifts of the Spirit, which are the common endowment of the whole body, individual Christians being only the stewards of them. Each man even as (in whatever quality and quantity: but the subsequent injunctions seem more to regard the quality than the quantity. It is otherwise in Ephesians 4:7; Romans 12:3. The καθώς has no reference to the manner of reception,—“Sicut gratis accepimus, ita gratis demus,” Lorinus in Huther) he received a gift of grace (see Romans 12:6 ff.: 1 Corinthians 12:4; 1 Corinthians 12:28. χάρισμα, anarthrous, any one of the gifts known by that name), to each other (see above 1 Peter 4:8; the ἑαυτούς here brings up strikingly the idea that all are members of one body) ministering it ( διακονεῖν, transitive, as in ch. 1 Peter 1:12; ministering to the need of others; his store out of which he ministers being that gift thus bestowed upon him) as (being: or, as becometh: see ch. 1 Peter 1:14) good (reff.) stewards (reff., there is most likely a reference to our Lord’s parable of the talents) of the various (see this illustrated 1 Corinthians 12:4; Matthew 25:15; Luke 19:13) grace of God.


Verse 11

11.] And this both in speaking and acting. If any one speaketh (as a προφήτης or διδάσκαλος, see 1 Corinthians 12:8; 1 Corinthians 12:10, where the several branches of this gift are laid out), speaking (understand λαλοῦντες, from the former construction, not λαλείτω) as oracles (not, “the oracles;” the meaning is not, speaking in accord with Scripture, but, speaking what he does speak, as God’s sayings, not his own: as a steward, “non liberalis de proprio sed de alieno,” as Gerh. on the last verse. On λόγια, see note, ref. Heb.) of God: if any one ministereth (in Romans 12:8; 1 Corinthians 12:28, we have the several parts of this διακονία laid out), ( διακονοῦντες) as (see above) out of (as his store and power of ministration) the power (thus to minister) which God bestoweth ( ἐπιχορηγέω is commoner than the simple word: cf. 2 Peter 1:11; 2 Corinthians 9:10; Galatians 3:5; Colossians 2:19; and ἐπιχορηγία, Philippians 1:19; Ephesians 4:16. From signifying the supply of means to furnish a chorus for the public performances at Athens, it came to mean generally, to supply, or furnish): that (aim and end of all this, as of every act both of the Christian community and of the Christian man) in all things (not, as De Wette, in all of you as His organs, referring to John 13:31; John 17:10; but as in ref. The fact that all things are referred to God and done as of and to Him, is His being glorified in the Christian church. Œc. gives as an altern., ἐν πᾶσιν ἔθνεσιν, which is still more in fault) God may be glorified through Jesus Christ (“sicut a Deo per Christum omnia beneficia ad nos descendunt, ita quoque … per Christum omnia ad Dei gloriam referri debent.” Gerh.), to whom (viz. to God, as the main subject of the foregoing, and also because ἡ δόξα refers back to δοξάζηται. Grot., Calov., Steiger, al. refer the words to Christ, which is not so natural here, seeing that διὰ ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ is introduced only secondarily. The case is very similar to Hebrews 13:21, where see note. See similar doxologies, ch. 1 Peter 5:11; Romans 11:36; Ephesians 3:21) is the glory and the might (exactly so in Revelation 1:6; see also Revelation 5:13) to the ages of the ages (i. e., for ever and ever, see note, 1 Timothy 1:17). Amen (is, as Harl., not a note of conclusion, but of strong emotion of heart).


Verse 12

12.] Beloved (so ch. 1 Peter 2:11; here it begins an affectionate address in which comfort and joy is about to be introduced), be not astonished at (see on 1 Peter 4:4; think it not a thing alien from you, in which you are not at home. St. Peter himself ἐξενίζετο at our Lord’s sufferings, when he said ἵλεώς σοι, κύριε. On the construction with dat. of reference, cf. Brasidas, Thuc. iv. 85, θαυμάζω δὲ τῇ τε ἀποκλείσει μου τῶν πυλῶν, καὶ εἰ μὴ κ. τ. λ.: and Winer, § 31. 1. f) the passing through the fire ( πύρωσις, lit. burning: in its later use, smelting, trying of metal by fire: cf. Psalms 65:10 LXX, ἐπύρωσας ἡμᾶς, ὡς πυροῦται τὸ ἀργύριον: Proverbs 27:21, δοκίμιον ἀργυρίῳ καὶ χρυσῷ πύρωσις. See also Revelation 3:18. Œc. says, πύρωσιν τὰς θλίψεις εἰπών, ἐνέφῃνεν ὡς διὰ δοκιμασίαν αὐτοῖς αὗται) which is taking place ( γινομένῃ (not τῇ γινομένῃ) may be rendered “taking place,” as predicate after πυρώσει: so that the object of their astonishment was τὸ τὴν ἐν αὐτοῖς πύρωσιν γίνεσθαι: the sentence would thus stand, “at the πύρωσις in your case happening for a πειρασμός to you.” But this is not grammatically necessary, and would be pragmatically hardly justifiable: because it would take the occurrence of the πύρωσις for granted, and make its purpose alone matter of astonishment: which was not so) in your case ( ἐν ὑμῖν is rendered “among you” by De Wette and Huther (einige in eurer Mitte betreffende, De W.), and this may be: we can hardly say with Wiesinger that it is afterwards treated as a trial for all: the εἰ ὀνειδίζεσθε and εἴ ( τις πάσχει) ὡς χριστιανός necessarily assume that there were exceptions from the supposition. But I prefer the other rendering, as the Apostle evidently is in this and the next verse speaking generally) for a trial to you ( ὑμῖν, dat. commodi), as if (explanatory of ξενίζεσθε) some strange thing were happening to you ( συμβαίνοντος, as Bengel, “temere:” were falling by chance on you: opposed to πρὸς πειρασμὸν γινομένῃ, done with a purpose, by One who knows how to serve that purpose):


Verse 12-13

12, 13.] See above.


Verses 12-19

12–19.] Exhortations (see summary above) in reference to the trial of affliction which they were to undergo: and that, in view of the end of things. The section falls into three parts: 1) 1 Peter 4:12-13,—these sufferings, as participation in Christ’s sufferings, are to be rejoiced in, as in prospect of participation of His glory also: 2) 14–16—if really sufferings for Christ, the glory of Christ already rests on you: take care then that they be verily sufferings for Him: 3) 17, 18, these sufferings are a part of the coming judgment which begins at the house of God. Then 1 Peter 4:19 concludes. This passage is no repetition of ch. 1 Peter 3:13 to 1 Peter 4:6, which treated of their sufferings with reference to their inflictors: whereas this proceeds wholly on reference to a Christian’s own inner hopes, and considerations within the church itself.


Verse 13

13.] but in as far as ( καθό, not “in that,” “inasmuch as,” E. V., nor quando, Pott: see reff.) ye are partakers with the sufferings of Christ (i. e. have a share, in your own persons, of those sufferings which He personally bare: cf. 2 Corinthians 4:10; Philippians 3:10; Hebrews 13:13 &c. It is not the sufferings of Christ mystical in His Body the church (cf. Colossians 1:24) which are meant: in these the readers might bear their part, but could hardly be said κοινωνεῖν), rejoice, that ( ἵνα simply of the scope of that joy, as the preparation for what follows) ye may also at (in, i. e. “in the day or time of:” not to be taken with χαρῆτε, as indicating that at which or because of which the joy takes place) the revelation of His glory rejoice (aor.: χαίρετε before, of the habit of life; now χαρῆτε, of the single event of that day) exulting (“quia prius illud cum dolore et tristitia mixtum est, secundum cum exultatione conjungit.” Calv.).


Verse 14

14.] If ye are reproached in [i. e. in the matter of, for] the name of Christ (see Matthew 5:11, from which the words are adopted, as also ch. 1 Peter 3:14. The word there added, ψευδόμενοι, comes below, 1 Peter 4:15-16. On ὀνειδ. Bengel says, “probrum putabant gentes si quem appellarunt Christianum, 1 Peter 4:16.” But probably the reference is more general, and Calv. is right, “probrorum meminit, quoniam plus sæpe acerbitatis in se habent quam bonorum jactura, vel etiam tormenta et cruciatus corporis: itaque nihil est quod ingenuos animos magis frangat.” And ἐν ὀνόματι χριστοῦ also must have a wider sense: on account of your confession of Christ in word and deed, as De Wette: cf. ἐν ὀνόματι ὅτι χριστοῦ ἐστέ, Mark 9:41), blessed are ye (cf. ch. 1 Peter 3:14; blessed, and that even now), because the Spirit of glory and that of God (the Apostle does not mean, by repeating the art., two different spirits, but identifies the same Spirit under two different denominations: the Spirit of glory, which is also the Spirit of God: “qui idem Spiritus Dei.” Winer, § 20. 1. c, compares Thuc. i. 126, ἐν τῇ τοῦ διὸς τῇ μεγίστῃ ἑορτῇ: and Plato, Rep. viii. 565 D, περὶ τὸ ἐν ἀρκαδίᾳ τὸ τοῦ διὸς ἱερόν, both of which however want the καί. Huther strangely takes τὸ τῆς δόξης alone, independent of πνεῦμα, as a periphrasis of δόξα: Bengel takes τῆς δόξης as concrete, “ut sit appellatio Christi, Jac. ii. 1,” and remarks, “ut innuatur, Spiritum Christi eundem esse Spiritum Dei Patris”) resteth upon you (from ref. Isa.: on you, as on Him: cf. also Numbers 11:25-26; Numbers 4 Kings 1 Peter 2:15. ἐφʼ ὑμᾶς, prægn., “demissus in vos requiescit in vobis,” as Wahl: not, as Huther, “the construction of the prep. with the acc. denotes the living operation of the Spirit on him upon whom He rests:” for no such idea as living operation, however true the fact may be, is contained in ἀναπαύεται).

It is of course possible that the clause which follows in the rec. (see var. readd.) may have fallen out by similarity of endings, ἀναπαύεται.… δοξάζεται: but in judging of this as a likelihood, we must remember that not only the three great MSS. (18) (19) (20) omit it, but so many of the ancient versions, as to make it very improbable that it has been thus overlooked: and its very glossematic appearance, to explain τῆς δόξης, is against it.


Verses 14-16

14–16.] See the summary above, at 1 Peter 4:12.


Verse 15

15.] In the name of Christ, I say: for let no one of you suffer (reproach or persecution: suffer in any way) as (being) a murderer, or a malefactor (as opposed to ἀγαθοποιῶν, ch. 1 Peter 3:17), or as (the repetition of ὡς separates the following word from the foregoing, as belonging to a separate class) a prier into other men’s matters ( ὁ ἐπισκεπτόμενος τὰ ἀλλότρια. “Hanc explicationem,” says Gerhard, “probat 1) ipsa vocis compositio, 2) veterum expositio, Tert(21) Cypr(22) Aug(23) (Œc., ὁ τὰ ἀλλότρια περιεργαζόμενος), 3) temporis et loci circumstantia. Procul dubio quidam Christiani, ex incogitantia, temeritate et levitate, in actiones infidelium utpote vicinorum suorum curiosius inquirebant, eas proprio arbitrio redarguebant, ac judices eorum esse volebant, quod non pertinebat ad eorum vocationem.” Wies. suggests that the word probably alludes to the ἐπίσκοπος of the church, combining it with ἀλλοτριο-, to shew the incongruity).


Verse 15-16

15, 16.] Negative, and positive, resumptions and enlargements of ἐν ὀνόματι χριστοῦ.


Verse 16

16.] But if (he suffer) as (being) a Christian (see reff. The word appears here, as in Acts 26:28, to be used as carrying contempt, from the mouth of an adversary) let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this name (viz. that of χριστιανός: at, or in, the fact that he is counted worthy to suffer by such a name. This seems better, with Wies., al., than to take ὀνόματι as = μέρει, the word substituted for it in the later MSS., as “causa nominata,” “behalf” E. V., “regard, matter,” as most Commentators. Even in ref. Mark, ἐν ὀνόματι ὅτι does not lose its allusion to the ὄνομα itself: see there. On the sense, Bengel well remarks, “Poterat Petrus antitheti vi dicere, honori sibi ducat: sed honorem Deo resignandum esse docet”).


Verse 17

17.] Because (grounds the δοξαζέτω, and the whole behaviour implied in it) it is the season (now: “the time is come,” as E. V.) of the judgment (nouns in - μα and - σις became very much confounded in later Greek: witness καύχημα, sometimes hardly distinguishable from καύχησις, even in the passages where we have maintained the concrete meaning, 2 Corinthians 5:12; 2 Corinthians 9:3. And κρῖμα must very often be simply rendered “judgment,” “act of judging:” cf. reff.) beginning at ( ἀπό, reff.: and proceeding onward from) the house of God (explained in the next clause ( ἀφʼ ἡμῶν) to mean the church, the temple of living stones, the οἶκος πνευματικός of ch. 1 Peter 2:5. The reference is to prophecies like Jeremiah 25:15 ff., Ezekiel 9:6; Amos 3:2. “Hanc sententiam ex trita et perpetua Scripturæ doctrina sumpsit Petrus: idque mihi probabilius est, quam quod alii putant, certum aliquem locum notari.” Calv. Wiesinger reminds us that it is hardly possible that the destruction of Jerusalem was past, when these words were written: if that had been so, it would hardly have been said, ὁ καιρὸς τοῦ ἄρξασθαι): but if first (it begin) at us (= τοῦ οἴκου τοῦ θεοῦ, cf. Hebrews 3:6. The argument, ‘a minori ad majus,’ see expanded above. Cf. our Lord’s question, Luke 23:31, εἰ ἐν τῷ ὑγρῷ ξύλῳ ταῦτα ποιοῦσιν, ἐν τῷ ξηρῷ τί γένηται;), what (will be) the end of them that disobey (reff.) the gospel of God ( τοῦ θεοῦ prefixed to εὐαγγ. for emphasis: q. d. “the blessed tidings of the very God who is to judge them.” Bengel’s summary is excellent: “Judicium, initio tolerabilius, sensim ingravescit. Pii sua parte perfuncti cum immunitate spectant miserias impiorum: impii dum pios affligunt, suam mensuram implent et discunt quæ sua ipsorum portio futura sit: sed id melius sciunt pii, quare patientes sunt”)?


Verses 17-19

17–19.] See summary at 1 Peter 4:12. The thought which lies at the root, is this: all men must come under the judgment of God. His own family He brings first under it, chastising them in this life: let then those who suffer for His sake glorify Him for it, as apprehending their part in His family, and as mindful of the terrible lot of those whom His judgment shall find impenitent and unchastised. It is this latter thought, the escape from the weight of God’s hand (ch. 1 Peter 5:6), and not (Gerh.) the thought of the terrible vengeance which God will take on their persecutors, which is adduced as the second ground of comfort to the persecuted Christians.


Verse 18

18.] and (the question of the last verse is again repeated under a well-known form, taken from the O. T., which however casts solemn light on both members of the interrogation: explaining what is meant by judgment on God’s people and also by the end of the disobedient. The citation is verbatim from the LXX, except that μέν is omitted between and δίκαιος. The LXX departs from the Heb. text, which is as the E. V., “Behold the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner”) if the righteous is (is being, see reff.: or rather perhaps the pres., of that which is to be) with difficulty saved (on account of the sharpness of the trial, and his own weakness. “Hoc μόλις temperatur 2 Peter 1:11 prolixe.” Bengel. Cf. Revelation 5:4-5. The μόλις does not induce any doubt as to the issue, only wonder: if we be δίκαιοι by faith in Christ, our salvation, however difficult and apparently impossible, is as certain as Christ’s own triumph), the ungodly ( ἀσεβής, ‘impius,’ the man who in his innermost heart cares not for God and turns not to Him) and sinner (he that is devoted to sin. The absence of a second article, and the singular verb, both shew, that the same person is meant by both), where shall he appear (so in Psalms 1:5; where shall he stand and find an abiding place in the judgment?)?


Verse 19

19.] Wherefore (general conclusion from 1 Peter 4:17-18. If the sufferings of Christians as Christians are a sign of God’s favour towards them, in subjecting them to His judgments, with a view to their not perishing with the ungodly world, then have they every reason to trust Him in those sufferings, and to take comfort: continuing in that same well-doing which is their very element and condition) let also them who suffer ( καί, as well as all other persons: not as Bengel, καί, concessive: “ καί, etiam, cum participio, idem quod εἰ καί, et si, cum verbo:” for it is on this very εἰ καί hypothesis that the Apostle has been long proceeding; so that it would be unnatural for him to introduce it here again with a climax:—nor as De Wette and Huther, is it to be taken with ὥστε) according to (in pursuit of, along the course of) the will of God (see on ch. 1 Peter 3:17; here especially in reference to our 1 Peter 4:17, seeing that it is God’s will that judgment should begin at His house), commit (reff. deliver (subjectively) into the hands of, and confidently leave there) their souls (their personal safety and ultimate σώζεσθαι, 1 Peter 4:18) in ( ἐν, as clad in, accompanied with, subsisting and employed in) well-doing (as contrasted with the opposite characters in 1 Peter 4:15. Huther says well: “This addition, ἐν ἀγαθοπ., shews that the confident surrender to God is to be joined, not with careless indolence, but with active practice of good”) to a faithful Creator (in God being our Creator, without whom not a hair falls to the ground, we have an assurance that we are not overlooked by Him: in His being a faithful Creator ( ἀσφαλὴς κ. ἀψευδὴς κατὰ τὰς ἐπαγγελίας αὐτοῦ, Œc.), whose covenant truth is pledged to us, it is implied that we are within that covenant, suffering according to His will and as His children. κτίστης must not be understood of the second creation in the new birth, nor must it be rendered possessor, as Calvin).

 


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Peter 4:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/1-peter-4.html. 1863-1878.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, July 6th, 2020
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14
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