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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
1 Peter 4

 

 

Verses 1-6

1 Peter 4:1-6

Analysis:—Exhortation to being armed with the mind of the sufferings of Christ, and to killing the flesh in order to make room for the life of the spirit

1 Forasmuch then[FN1] as Christ hath suffered for us[FN2] in the flesh, arm yourselves[FN3] likewise with the same mind: for[FN4] he that hath suffered in the flesh[FN5] hath ceased[FN6] from 2 sin; That he[FN7] no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.[FN8] 3For the time past of our life may suffice[FN9] us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when[FN10] we walked in[FN11] lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, 4banquetings, and abominable[FN12] idolatries: Wherein[FN13] they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot,[FN14] speaking evil of you: 5Who shall give 6 account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. For, for this cause[FN15] was the gospel preached also to them that are dead,[FN16] that they might be judged[FN17] according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1 Peter 4:1. Christ then, having suffered for us—do you also arm yourselves with the same mind.—οὖν takes up again 1 Peter 3:18, and shows that the subject developed in 1 Peter 3:19-22 is governed by the reference to the sufferings of Christ.—ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, for our benefit and in our stead, cf. 1 Peter 3:18.—σαρκί; Roos rightly remarks that Peter never uses σάρξ in the bad sense in which Paul has used it several times, but only as denoting the weak, mortal nature belonging to our earthly condition.—ἔννοια; Wiesinger [and Calvin, Beza, Gerhard, Bengel and Erasm-Schmidt.—M.] render it “thought,” but it denotes as much as mens, mind, intent, resolution, as appears from a passage from Isocrates, cited by Riemer. [οὐ γὰρ [οἱ Θεοὶ] αὐτόχειρες οὔτε τῶν ἀγαθῶν οὔτε τῶν κακῶν γίγνονται τῶν συμβαινόντων αὐτοῖς, [τοῖς ἀνθρώποις], ἀλλ’ ἑκάστοιςτοιαύτην ἔννοιαν ἐμποιοῦσιν, ὤστε δἰ ἀλλήγων ἡμῖν ἑκάτερα παραγίγνεσθαι τούτων; see also Eur. Hel1026; Diodor. Sic. II:30.—M.] Exhibit a manly, constant readiness (intent) to suffer innocently for the sins of others and for their benefit (yet not vicariously) with the purpose, as much as you are able, to remove sin and to conduct, souls to God.—ὁπλίσασθε, cf. Romans 13:12; 2 Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 6:11; use this purpose as a shield against temptation to sin.

[Arming oneself with a thought, without the intent or resolution of using it as a piece of armour for defensive warfare, conveys no very clear idea. The aforesaid commentators, who render ἐννοιαν, thought, and ὄτι, that, are clearly embarrassed about καὶ ὑμεῖς and τὴν αὐτήν, which are decisive for the interpretation given in the text. “Do ye also arm yourselves (καὶ ὑμεῖς) with the same (τὴν αὐτήν) mind, viz.: put on the purpose to suffer in the flesh, as Christ did, as a piece of armour.” This strikes us as being far more to the point than the paraphrase of Amyraut: “Mais encore nous nous devons armer de cette bonne pensie contre toutes sortes de tentations au mal. que celui qui a soufftrt en cette nature humaine, n’a desormais plus de commerce avec le péché” or the interpretation of Gerhard: “ὅτι rectius accipitur expositive, expoint enim Apostolus illam cogitationem ἔννοιαν qua nos vult armari: hæc cogitatio erit vobis uistar firmissimi scuti et munimenti contra peccatum.” It Isaiah, moreover, difficult to make good sense of these interpretations, unless the thought be clothed with intent.—M.]

ὅτι must not be joined with ἔννοια, as specifying the substance of this thought, this would require ταύτην instead of τὴν αὐτήν,—but it defines the exhortation more closely. [Rendering ὅτι because, as Alford does, makes his paraphrase very forcible, “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.”—M.]

Because He that hath suffered as to the flesh hath rest from sin.—ὁ παθὼν ἐν σαρκί, it appears to me, is best applied to Christ Himself; the expression then connects closely with that which precedes, and defines it. For He who has once suffered as to the flesh, which suffering includes His death, as in 1 Peter 3:18, has now rest from sin, He is fortified against all its assaults. [πάσχειν σαρκί means to suffer according to the flesh. Winer, p431. The Dative, relating to things, denotes that in reference to which an action is done, or a state exists. Winer, p228.—M.] He has died unto sin once, as Paul expresses it in Romans 6:10; Romans 6:7. Hence, he who puts on His mind, and is in communion with Him, henceforth must serve sin no more. The Aorist παθών denotes an action once existing, but having now absolutely passed away. All other explanations are liable to many grammatical and psychological objections. Weiss: “He that suffers on account of sin, because of opposition to sin, thereby breaks with sin, and testifies that he will no longer obey the will of the world.” But the Aorist παθών, not the Present πάσχων is used; again, many experiences might contradict the general statement, and the exhortation which follows would seem to be superfluous.—Others are compelled to have recourse to arbitrary supplements. So Steiger: “Christ suffering bodily freed us from sin, and we, participating by faith in the sufferings of Christ, die unto sin.” Grotius and others, contrary to all grammatical usage, understand the passage of the crucifying and the mortification of fleshly lusts.

1 Peter 4:2. To the end that. ye should not.—Join εἰς τὸ μηκέτι with ὁπλίσασθε, not with πέπευται, which concludes the parenthesis. Acquire the mind which has done with sin, so that your relation to sin may be that of one who has died and is risen again, as that of Christ after His exaltation, 1 Peter 3:21-22.

To the lusts of men, not to be taken as = fleshly, worldly lusts in general (κοσμικαί, σαρκικαὶ ἐπιθυμίαι, Titus 2:12; Romans 12:2), not as in 1 Peter 1:14; 1 Peter 2:11, but in a narrower sense with reference to 1 Peter 4:4, denoting the desire of worldly-minded men, that believers also ought to live as they do, and that they ought not to single themselves out at the world’s disposition to coerce them also to serve its idols. The will of God alone ought to be our pole-star. The Dative is the dativus commodi, to live to some one=to devote to him one’s life, to place oneself at his service, cf. 1 Peter 2:24; Galatians 2:19.

The rest of your time in the flesh,=the time of our pilgrimage, as in 1 Peter 1:17. This is to indicate that our earthly life constitutes only a small part of our existence, and that to individual Christians, after their conversion, only a brief term of grace is allotted. But there is also a reference to what follows.

1 Peter 4:3. For sufficient is the past time—to have wrought the will of the Gentiles.—ἀρκετὸς γὰρ ἡμῖν sc. ἐστιν.—The following Infinitive depends on these words; the time past is sufficient to have wrought the will of the Gentiles. Here is an implied irony. If you believe that you are debtors to the flesh ( Romans 8:12), and obliged to serve sin, surely you have done enough, and more than enough of it, you have abundantly done your duty in the service of sin. Grotius quotes a passage from Martial: “Lusistis, satis est—”you have played, it is enough. This lessens the severity of the reproach. Otherwise Bengel, who avers that penitents are seized with a loathing of sin.

τὸ βούλημα τῶν ἐθνῶν.—(The Text. Rec. has θέλημα). On the demands made upon them by the heathen, among whom they were obliged to live, cf. 1 Peter 4:2. Suppose that the readers of Peter’s Epistle had been formerly heathens, his reproaching them with having formerly done the will of the Gentiles would surely be singular. This passage, therefore, renders it highly probable that he was addressing Jewish Christians, who, belonging to the chosen people of God, and having received extraordinary Revelation, ought so much the less have placed themselves on a level with the heathen. Paul also reproaches the Jews with their heathenish, vicious life, Rom. ii. Only the expression ἀθέμιτοι εἰδωλολατρεῖαι might militate against our view.—Ἀθεμίτοις=things forbidden by, wrong and wicked before laws human and divine, especially opposed to the law of the Old Covenant, Acts 10:28. It is asked, Where is the evidence of such open participating on the part of the Jews of that time in such heathen iniquities? Weiss replies that the expression is susceptible of a wider meaning, that the use of the Plural intimates an enlarged application of the term, cf. Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5; Philippians 3:19, and that ἀθεμίτοις relates to persons on whom the law of the Old Covenant was obligatory. Grotius calls attention to their participation in the common meals of heathen communities. Those who are not satisfied with these explanations may reflect that individual former heathen may have joined those Jewish Christian congregations. [On the other hand, the strong expressions used by the Apostle seem to contemplate a great deal more than isolated participation in heathen wickedness and abomination. There is absolutely no evidence that the Jews ever went so far as the language employed indicates. Moreover, there is nothing absurd, or even strange, in the Apostle’s reproach, if addressed to Gentile Christians; they had doubtless intimate relations with their friends in heathenism, and the danger of relapsing into their abominations must have been ever present, at all events, it was as great as that of modern Christians, from intercourse with worldly and ungodly people, of relapsing into the ways of an ungodly world.—M.]—κατειργάσθαι allude? to sexual sins.

Walking (as ye have done) in—idolatries.—πεπορευμένους like περιπατεῖν ἐν=הָלַךְ Luke 1:6; Acts 9:31; 2 Peter 2:10. Calov: “Not only because life is compared to a journey, but also in order to denote the eagerness with which they go on from sin to sin.”—ἀσέλγειαι, licentious practices, the outbreaks of intemperance, and excesses of every kind, while ἐπιθυμίαι denote hidden sins of voluptuousness, inward unchastity and lewdness, where the power to indulge in outward acts is wanting.—οἰνοφλυγίαι; φλύω to bubble up, overflow like boiling water, intoxication.—κῶμοι, cf. Romans 13:13; Galatians 5:21, festive processions on days sacred to Bacchus, characterized by wild revelling, licentious songs and jests, and folly in general. Then banqueting, convivial carousing, terminating, as Eustathius remarks, in deep sleep.—πότος, particularly drinking in common, drinking-bouts.

1 Peter 4:4. At which—speaking evil of you.—ἐν relates to ἀρκετός. Suffering it to suffice, and giving up your former course, seems strange, and is altogether inexplicable to them. The fuller meaning is brought out by μὴ συντρεχόντων ὑμῶν, because you no longer join them and run with them.—εἰς τὴν αὐτὴν—ἀνάχυσιν, probably a place reached by the sea at the flood-tide, the flowed-out water forming a pool or puddle.—ἀσωτία from ἄσωτος, without salvation, past redemption, hence extravagant, voluptuous, profligate manner of life, Ephesians 5:18; Titus 1:6; Luke 15:13; εἰς τὴν αὐτήν into which formerly they had thrown themselves, and dragged you.

[Wordsworth:—A strong and expressive metaphor, especially in countries where after violent rain the gutters are suddenly swollen and pour their contents together with violence into a common sower. Such is the Apostolic figure of vicious companies rushing together in a filthy conference for reckless indulgence and effusion in sin, cf. Juvenal, 3, 63, “Jam pridem Syrus in Tiberim defluxit Orontes,” etc, and G. Dyer’s Description of the Ruins of Rome, 4:62–66.—M.]

βλασφημοῖντες.—Grotius:—Of Christians as those who leave civil society; Calov:—Of the Christian religion, because it leads to a different manner of life. The two ideas may be combined.

1 Peter 4:5. Who shall give account—dead.—Let not their evil speaking confuse you, they will have to render account.—τᾤ ἑτοίμως ἔχοντι. He is fully prepared, all the means and necessary conditions are already in His hand, as described in Psalm 7:12-17.—ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς, cf. Acts 10:42. None can escape the judgment, it comprehends all, no matter whether at the appearing of the Judge one is alive or dead; and it may come at any moment. “Where the Apostles did not treat expressly of the time of Christ’s advent, they were wont to describe it as immediately impending.”

1 Peter 4:6. For to this end was the Gospel preached even to them that are dead.—This evidently goes back to the important passage, 1 Peter 3:19-20. The Apostle meets the objection: Can the dead also be judged? Yes, and for this very purpose Christ, as aforesaid, preached the Gospel in Hades to the dead. This is the most natural connection. Bengel takes it in conjunction with ἑτοίμως ἔχοντι, the Judge is ready, for the end must come after the Gospel has been preached. Steiger: “The verse is to prove not the reality, but the moral possibility, the justice of a judgment even on the dead, since the Gospel was preached to them also for the purpose of giving them the means of being delivered from the wrath of God.” So Weiss and Wiesinger.—νεκροῖς in our exposition is not to be taken generally, as 1 Peter 4:5, but as applying to those spirits in prison; these are adduced by way of example, from which we may draw a conclusion affecting all other dead men, who before Christ were surely as yet more or less in prison.—κηρύττειν 1 Peter 3:19, explains εὐηγγελίσθη; cf. Matthew 11:5; Romans 10:15. The above-mentioned example is therefore simply to prove the universality of the judgment as extending also to the dead; that it is just, is a secondary point. But what is the object of that preaching which was vouchsafed to the dead and particularly to the dead of the deluge?

That they might indeed be judged—as to the spirit.—Various expositions, arising from dogmatical prejudices, have been set up with regard to this passage, which we do not refute in this place. The right exposition depends on the correct meaning of κριθῶσι. The tense is designedly different from ζῶσι in the corresponding secondary sentence. The Aorist as contrasted with the Present points to some past action; it is used of past actions, see Winer.—ἵνα after εὐηγγελίσθη refers to something subsequent to the preaching of the Gospel. This apparent contradiction is solved, if κρίνεσθαι is taken to denote a judicial sentence, as such decisions are made by human tribunals (κατὰ ἀνθρώπους). On Christ’s appearing in the realms of death and preaching to them repentance and faith, the declaration that was to be published to them was as it were thus: “You have merited death both as to the body and to the soul, because of your disobedience you perished in the flood and were brought to this subterranean place of confinement; but a way of salvation has now been opened for you, so that you may live in the spirit as to God, according to the will of God.” This declaration, on the one hand, must have produced a painful impression upon them, but on the other, encouraged them to accept the offered salvation. However we are not informed whether few or many [or any.—M.] did thereby attain unto spiritual life. The apposition beginning with ἵνα relates not to 1 Peter 4:5, but to 1 Peter 3:19, thereby shedding more light on the latter passage. How forced, as contrasted with this exposition, is that of Hofmann, that salvation was published to the dead in order that they might secure a life surviving the judgment of death which they have incurred and must continue to incur, or that of Wiesinger, that the Gospel was preached to the dead for the purpose of shaping their condition so that, while on the one hand they are judged according to the flesh (the state of death viewed as a continuing judgment according to the flesh), on the other they might be able through the judgment (Aorist) to attain, in God’s way, to the immortal life of the spirit. Nor is the view of Köing more admissible, that in the resurrection their judgment in the body should consist in their receiving a less perfect resurrection-body. For other expositions consult Steiger and Wiesinger. [See also the Excursus on the Descensus ad Inferos at the end of the preceding section.—M.]

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The common view, which is shared also by Gerlach, sees in 1 Peter 4:1, the leading idea, that to the Christian, in virtue of the communion of his heart and life with Christ, suffering in the flesh is the dying of sin. So early an expositor as Justin says: “Suffering and temptation, like a medicine, render man more free from his evil intent, and make him more sound.” Tauler: “What the fire is to iron, what the crucible is to cold, such is temptation to the righteous.” But this is introducing the Pauline doctrine of the communion of suffering with Christ, although the original contains no allusion to it; besides the circumstance is lost sight of, that the original says “who hath suffered,” not “who is suffering.” According to the exposition given above, it should be the aim of believers not to let the sins of others find a point of support in themselves in order that not sinning after the example of Christ may become their second nature.

2. The abuse which the ungodly cast on the former companions of their sin has its final reason in the circumstance that they feel themselves reproved, opposed and judged by their conversion.

3. Holy Scripture nowhere teaches the eternal damnation of those who died as heathens or non-Christians; it rather intimates in many passages that forgiveness may be possible beyond the grave, and refers the final decision not to death, but to the day of Christ, Acts 17:31; 2 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 4:8; 1 John 4:17. But in our passage, as in 1 Peter 3:19-20, Peter by Divine illumination clearly affirms that the ways of God’s salvation do not terminate with earthly life, and that the Gospel is preached beyond the grave to those who have departed from this life without a knowledge of the same. But this proves neither the doctrine of universal recovery, even that of Satan, the devils and the ungodly, nor the doctrine of purgatory to the cleansing of which the Romish Church affirms subjected all who reach the other world without being wholly purified, and further maintains, that the stay in it may be shortened by the performance of many good works in this life and even after death by the performance of good works and prayers for the dead on the part of survivors. Gerlach cites a passage from John Damasc, in which the doctrine of the ancient Church on the subject of Christ’s descent into hell is summed up as follows: “His glorified soul descends into Hades in order that like as the Sun of righteousness did rise to men on earth, so in like manner He might shine on those who under the earth sit in darkness and in the shadow of death; in order that as He did publish peace to men on earth, gave deliverance to the captives and sight to the blind, and became the Cause of eternal salvation to believers, while He convicted the disobedient of unbelief, so in like manner He might deal with the inhabitants of Hades, so that to Him every knee should bow of those who are in heaven, on earth and under the earth, and that having thus loosed the chains of those long-confined prisoners, He might return from the dead and prepare to us the way of the resurrection.” The divine truths contained in this passage may be abused against the cause of missions and the necessity of a holy life; but abuse does not cancel the right use.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The Christian’s best armour against the assaults of suffering is the believing, obedient and submissive mind of suffering in which Christ accepted His suffering as a cup tendered by the paternal, hand of God.—God’s chief design in sending suffering is to withdraw us from sin and the lusts of men up to Himself.—Sufferings under persecution and abuse are a means of purifying and refining.—Which are the dangers against which we ought to be especially armed under persecutions for righteousness’ sake?—Consider the comforting fact that Christ has suffered in the flesh for you. Look, 1. at His person; 2. at the greatness of His suffering in the flesh; 3. at His suffering for you; 4. at the result of it.—Preservatives against relapsing into heathenish ways: 1. the communion with and conformity to Christ; 2. frequent reflection on your former sinful condition; 3. the abuse of unbelievers; 4. the nearness of the impending account to be rendered: 5. prayer; 6. continuance in the communion of love with the brethren; 7. the founding of all your actions on the word and strength of God.—The unhappy consistency in the service of sin.—Will you continue in the service of sin, although Christ came to save you?—The appearing of Christ among the dead is both the last degree of His condescension and the turning-point of His exaltation.—The mercy of God extends even to the judgment-prison of the realms of death.—Who will preach to the untold thousands, who after Christ’s descent into Hades have been born and have died without a knowledge of the Gospel?—Why should that fact not check, but rather strengthen missionary zeal?

Starke:—Shall the disciple be greater than his master, and the servant greater than his Lord? Be content, if in the world it fares with you as with your Saviour, it is enough that you shall be like Him in heaven. Matthew 10:24-25.—Will you fret at sufferings and tribulations? If you knew the wholesomeness of this cup, you would joyfully empty it, Ezekiel 2:6.—The beloved cross is like strong salt: as the latter prevents corruption, so does the cross prevent the corruption of the flesh, Psalm 119:71.—Sin at a standstill is the well-being of sinners, continuance in sin the strongest barrier against grace, the best repentance is never to sin.—Christianity renders the best, service to the commonwealth, in that it most earnestly forbids the vices which are most dangerous to it.—The children of the world grieve most at your separating from their communion; by that they consider themselves put to shame and despised. Haughtiness and venomous malice are the sources of their abuse.—The remembrance of the last day and its judgment ought to be to us a constant sermon on repentance, Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; 2 Corinthians 5:10.

Lisco:—The blessed effect of suffering.—The Lord’s miracles of grace in His kingdom. The sufferings of Christ present us with a strong motive to arm ourselves with His mind.

[Pythagoras:

1 Peter 4:1. Summa religionis imitari quern colis.—M.]

[Leighton:—Love desires nothing more than likeness, and shares willingly in all with the party loved; and above all love, this Divine love is purest and highest and works most strongly that way, takes pleasure in that pain, and is a voluntary death, as Plato calls love.—M.]

[Atterbury:—“Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, let us arm ourselves with the same mind,” with a resolution to imitate Him in His perfect submission and resignation of Himself to the Divine will and pleasure; in His contempt of all the enjoyments of sense, of all the vanities of this world, its allurements and terrors; in His practice of religious severities; in His love of religious retirement; in making it His meat and drink, His only study and delight, “to work the work of Him that sent Him”; in His choosing for that end, when that end could not otherwise be obtained, want before abundance, shame before honour, pain before pleasure, death before life; and in His preferring always a laborious uninterrupted practice of virtue to a life of rest and ease and indolence.—M.]

[Bengel:

1 Peter 4:2 “βιῶσαι. Aptum verbum; non dicitur de brutis.”—M.]

[Augustine:—Perdit quod vivit, qui te Deum non diligit; qui curat vivere, non propter te, Domine, nihil est et pro nihilo est; qui tibi vivere recusat mortuus est; qui tibi non sapit, desipit.—M.]

[Leighton:—Politic men have observed, that in states, if alterations must be, it is better to alter many things than a few. And physicians have the same remark for one’s habit and custom for bodily health upon the same ground, because things do so relate one to another, that except they be adapted and suited together in the change, it avails not; yea, it sometimes proves the worse in the whole, though a few things in particular seem to be bettered. Thus, half reformations in a Christian, turn to his prejudice; it is only best to be thoroughly reformed, and to give up with all idols; not to live one half to himself and the world and, as it were, another half to God; for that is but falsely so and in reality it cannot be. The only way is to make a heap of all, to have all sacrificed together, and to live to no lust, but altogether and only to God.—M.]

[Illustration of 1 Peter 4:3-4. The poet says of the orgies of Bacchus:—

Turba, ruunt; mixtæque viris, matresque nurusque

Vulgusque, proceresque ignota ad sacra feruntur

Quis furor—

Femineæ voces, et mota insania vino

Obscenique greges, et inania tympana.”

Ovid, Met3, 529, etc.—M.]

Footnotes:

FN#1 - οὖν=then, better than forasmuch; render, “Christ then having suffered.”—M.]

FN#2 - ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν inserted in Text. Rec, A. K. L, omitted in B. C. and by Lachmann and Tischendorf. Cod. Sin. reads ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν.—M.]

FN#3 - καὶ ὑμεῖς ὁπλίσασθε=“Do you also arm yourself with,” strongly emphatic.—M.]

FN#4 - ὅτι=because, gives a reason for τὴν αὐτὴν ἔννοιαν ὁπλίσασθε.—M.]

FN#5 - σαρκί. Text. Rec. inserts ἐν before second σαρκὶ with K, Vulgate and others; A. B. C. L, Cod. Sin, Alford omit it. σαρκί, used adverbially=quod ad carnem.—M.]

FN#6 - πέπαυται, Pass,=is made to cease; he has rest from sin. Winer § 39, 3, p277.—M.]

FN#7 - εἰς τὸ μηκέτι=“with a view, to the end that”; depends on ὁπλίσασθε. The Greek has no pronoun, but the construction and sense require the continuance of the2 p. Plural. The3 p. Sing, of the English version is singularly unhappy, and obscures the sense.—M.]

FN#8 - Render, either with Alford, “With a view no longer (μηκέτι subjective) by the lusts of men, but by the will of God, to live the rest of your time in the flesh”; or to avoid the awkwardness of that rendering: “To the end that, as for the rest of your time in the flesh, ye should live no longer to (as conforming to) the lusts of men but to the will of God.”—M.]

FN#9 - ἀρκετὸς γὰρ ἡμῖν, Text. Rec, with C. K. L.; Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford, with A. B. omit ἡμῖν, Cod. Sin. has ὑμῖν. τοῦ βίου after χρόνος inserted in Text. Rec. with K. L, omitted in A. B. C, Alford, Lachmann and Tischendorf. Translate: “For sufficient is the past time (or the time past of your life).”—M.]

FN#10 - Cod. Sin. has πορευόμενους, but read with Receptus, πεπορευμένους, and translate, “walking as you have done”, so Alford.—M.]

FN#11 - ἀσελγείαις, Plural.—M.]

FN#12 - ἀθεμίτοις=lawless, godless, nefarious.—M.]

FN#13 - ἐν =at which.—M.]

FN#14 - τῆς ἀσῶτίας ἀνάχυσιν=slough or puddle of profligacy.—M.]

FN#15 - εἰς τοῦτο γὰρ=for to this end.—M.]

FN#16 - καὶ νεκροῖς=even to dead men.—M.]

FN#17 - Translate: “That they might indeed be judged according to men as to the flesh (see note5 under 1 Peter 4:1), but that they might (continue to) live (present tense) according to God, as to the spirit.”—M.]


Verses 7-11

1 Peter 4:7-11

Analysis:—Exhortation, in contemplation of the approaching end of all things, to watch and pray, to love and to do, to serve others with the gifts they have received, and in a word to seek in everything the glory of God

7 But the end of all things is at hand:[FN18]be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.[FN19] 8And above all things have fervent charity among[FN20]yourselves: for charity 9 shall cover[FN21] the multitude of sins. Use hospitality[FN22] one to another[FN23] without grudging. [FN24]10As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God 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[FN25] which God giveth; that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ: to whom be[FN26]praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.[FN27]

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1 Peter 4:7. The connection is with 1 Peter 4:5; the Apostle takes up and further enforces the thought that the Lord is ready to judge the living and the dead; here begins also a new series of exhortations closely connected with the thought of the end of all things. It has been shown that Peter in common with the other Apostles, James 5:7-9; Judges 18; 1 John 2:18; Revelation 1:3; Revelation 22:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Romans 13:11-12; 1 Corinthians 1551; 2 Corinthians 5:2; Philippians 4:5, expected that the second advent of Christ and the end of the whole present dispensation were nearly impending, cf. 1 Peter 1:5; 1 Peter 4:5; 1 Peter 4:17; 1 Peter 4:13; 1 Peter 1:7; 1 Peter 5:4; 2 Peter 3:10-11; Matthew 24:6. This may be accounted for by the fact that the coming of Christ in the flesh is the beginning of the world’s last period, during which no further revelation of grace is to be expected; and that according to the mind of Jesus, His disciples ought to consider His second coming as always close at hand, and to be prepared for it. “It ought to be the chief concern of believers to fix their minds fully on His second advent.” Calvin. “We live in the latter half of the world’s period, which will quickly flow on. Although we may not live to see it, after death we shall realize that we are near it.” Roos. It is however to be remembered that nothing but the long-suffering of God is arresting the judgment, and that He is counting by the measure of eternity, according to which a thousand years are as one day ( 2 Peter 3:8; Psalm 90:4). [The emphasis of πάντων is noteworthy. Bengel; “Finis adeoque etiam petulantiæ malorum et passionum piorum.”—M.]

Be temperate therefore and sober unto prayers.—As our Lord in contemplation of His day exhorts the disciples, Luke 21:34, “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life,” so the Apostle here exhorts us to σωφρονε͂ιν = to act wisely, to be temperate and modest. It primarily denotes bodily temperance, then mental discretion and watchfulness, cf. 1 Peter 5:8; Romans 12:3; 2 Corinthians 5:13; Titus 2:6.—νήφειν=to live soberly, moderately both bodily and mentally as in 1 Peter 1:13. “Temperance facilitates vigilance, and both aid prayer.” Bengel.—εἰς τὰς προσευχάς, the Plural, because, as Huss remarks, there are different kinds of prayer and because prayer ought to be without ceasing. The reference is probably to fixed, regular prayers of the Church.

1 Peter 4:8. Then follows the still more important exhortation to brotherly love according to its real nature, cf. on ἐκτενῆ 1 Peter 1:22; 1 Corinthians 13:1, etc.; 1 Corinthians 14:1. It is the mother of all the duties to our neighbour. Where love is wanting, prayer is hindered.

Because love covereth a multitude of sins.—καλύψει πλῆθος ἁμαρτιῶν. The words are cited from the Hebrew not from the LXX. of Proverbs 10:12, cf. Proverbs 17:9, but the former passage reads: “Hatred stirreth up strifes, but love covereth all sins”; and the latter: “He that covereth transgression, seeketh love.” In both instances the reference is to human love which is to consign to oblivion the sins of others. Some see in כִםָּה a reference to Genesis 9:23, and consider it an easy thing; so Cæsarius of Aries says: “There is nothing more easy than covering oneself or others with clothes.” But forgiveness is hardly so easy a task. It is better to explain it of the unsightliness of sin which forgiveness covers up. The old Protestant expositors understand it therefore rightly of human love pardoning the sin of our neighbour. “The covering up relates to man not to God. Nothing can cover thy sin before God except faith. But my love covers my neighbour’s sin, and just as God covers my sin if I believe, so ought I also to cover the sin of my neighbour.” Luther. So also Steiger, Hoffman, Lechler, Wiesinger and Weiss. Even Estius, the Romish expositor, admits that the quotation sustains the Protestant exposition. But many Romanist and rationalistic expositors explain the passage of merit and atoning virtue, which they ascribe to the love of our neighbour. Some quote Matthew 6:14-15, but that passage simply affirms that forgiveness is made possible, not that it is positively effected. Others, with reference to James 5:20, suggest an activity tending to improvement [that of others,—M.], but this is foreign to our passage. ὅτι seems however to conflict with our exposition, but its design is to give the reason for the ἐκτένεια of love. “The Apostle takes for granted that Christians love one another, still he recommends them to expand and increase in the brotherly love which they have, because true love forgives a multitude of sins.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Matthew 18:22. Steiger. According to Beza the connection is: “Love one another, because love, as the Scripture says, removes the substance of strife.” Calov remarks on this covering of sin, that it does not do away with the correcting of our neighbour, Matthew 18:15, and that it is necessary to distinguish public and private sins, between known and concealed sins. [Alford thinks that the meaning is the hiding of offences both from one another and in God’s sight, by mutual forbearance and forgiveness. He advocates to take the passage in its widest sense, “understanding it primarily 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.”—M.]

[Wordsworth: “St. Peter had spoken of love, stretching itself out without interruption; and the passage James 5:20, considered together with the context here, where St. Peter is presenting Christ as their Example, may suggest a belief, that he is comparing the act of Love to that of the Cherubim stretching out their wings on the Mercy Seat, and forming a part of the Mercy Seat ( Exodus 25:18-20), the emblem of Christ’s propitiatory covering of sins.”—M.]

[Neander Ch. Hist. I. pp347, 348, referring to Tertullian, ad uxorem, II:1, 8.; de jejunio, c. XII: “The care of providing for the support and maintenance of strangers, of the poor, the sick, the old, of widows and orphans, and of those in prison on account of their faith, devolved on the whole Church. This was one of the main purposes for which the collection of voluntary contributions, in the assemblies convened for public worship, was instituted; and the charity of individuals, moreover, led them to emulate each other in the same good work. In particular, it was considered as belonging to the office of the Christian matron to provide for the poor, for the brethren languishing in prison, and to show hospitality to strangers. The hindrance occasioned to this kind of Christian activity, is reckoned by Tertullian among the disadvantages of a mixed marriage. ‘What heathen,’ says Hebrews, ‘will suffer his wife to go about from one street to another, to the house of strangers, to the meanest hovels indeed, for the purpose of visiting the brethren? What heathen will allow her to steal away into the dungeon, to kiss the chain of the martyr? If a brother arrive from abroad, what reception will he meet in the house of the stranger? If an alms is to be bestowed, storehouse and cellar are shut fast!’ On the other hand, he counts it among the felicities of a marriage contracted between Christians, that the wife is at liberty to visit the sick and relieve the needy, and is never straitened or perplexed in the bestowment of her charities. Nor did the active brotherly love of each community confine itself to what transpired in its own immediate circle, but extended itself also to the wants of Christian communities in distant lands. On urgent occasions of this kind, the bishops made arrangements for special collections. They appointed fasts; so that what was saved, even by the poorest of the flock, from their daily food, might help to supply the common wants.”—M.]

1 Peter 4:10. Each Prayer of Manasseh, as he received a gift of grace.—Grotius rightly expounds this not only of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:4, etc, but also of gifts of the body and estate. These are as well gifts of grace as those. Natural endowments also are included in the expression. The Apostle does not refer to specific official duties and the qualifications necessary to their discharge; he is unwilling to exact too much from and to impose too much on believers.

Even so minister to one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.—αὐτὸ διακονοῦντες, cf. 1 Peter 1:12, to offer something as a servant. The term comprises the different duties of the Church which are not specifically committed to the pastoral office as such, and which are the outgoings of voluntary activity.

As good stewards.—ὡς denotes not only mere resemblance, but, as frequently, the generally known reason [as is becoming, fit in good stewards.—M.]. Christians are not owners, but only stewards of their goods and gifts, 1 Corinthians 4:2; Matthew 25:14; Titus 1:7.—Manifold, because exhibited in various gifts of grace [cf. 1 Corinthians 12:4; Matthew 25:15. Luke 19:13.—M.]. “We are liberal not with our own goods, but with that of another.” Gerhard.

[But see Romans 12:8; 1 Corinthians 12:28.—M.] ἰσχύς the act springs from the power of God [as from a fountain.—M.] which He supplies. The term relates to powers of the body as well as to those of the mind. χορηγεῖν=παρέχειν, διδόναι. [The primary sense and origin of the word is Classical, and denotes “to defray the cost of bringing out a chorus”, thence to furnish supply in general.—M.]. “Let each man apply to his neighbour all the good in his power with the utmost humility, knowing that of himself [i. e., without God’s supplying.—M.] he cannot have any thing to apply.” [Wordsworth: This precept of St. Peter deserves the consideration of those who claim to be his successors, and profess great reverence for his authority, and yet derogate from the dignity of the oracles of God, and set up oracles of their own, in place of the Scriptures and against them. See 2 Timothy 4:3. Revelation 11:3-10.—M.]. Bede.

That God in all things—to the ages of the ages.—ἴνα, the aim and end of all the Apostle’s exhortations.—ἐν πᾶσι may mean, in all of you or in all your doings; the latter is preferable. “As through Christ all benefits descend upon us from God, so also ought we in humble gratitude to refer all things through Christ to the glory of God.” Gerhard. δοξάζηται, the honour should be ascribed to Him for whatever is done in the Church, He should be praised for it, cf. Hebrews 13:15. Everything is mediated through Christ, through whom we receive all the power we have.—ᾦ ἐστὶν δόξα; refers to Θεός as in 1 Peter 5:11, because God has already been named as the subject of adoration, and because Peter elsewhere calls Jesus κύριος=Jehovah, but not absolutely God.—On δόξα see 1 Peter 1:7.—κράτος goes back to ἰσχύς. All power among men is the emanation of His power, cf. 1 Peter 5:11.—εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων, cf. Philippians 4:20.—ἀμήν, not a note of conclusion, but an expression of assurance of heart.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The doctrine of the consummation of all things on the coming of Christ, which is peculiarly prominent in the writings of Peter, contains the most powerful reasons for our encouragement and consolation. They make no mention of the distinction between the first and still impending coming for the establishment of the kingdom of glory and the judgment of a corrupt Christendom and the coming for the final judgment: that distinction was reserved for special revelations made to St. John.

2. The love covering sins, which is here so emphatically recommended, is widely removed from the laxity, weakness and want of principle with which it is frequently confounded. The latter, says Wiesinger, ignores the sacred earnestness of love and fancies to do some great thing by putting some deceptive boards over graves full of mouldering decay and crying, Peace, peace! Hatred which unsparingly uncovers in its effects is preferable to love which thus covers up. The love here insisted upon has these characteristics, it is not put to anger by insults, it does not discover needlessly the sins of others and does not by revenge or passionate reproaches drag them forth into the light of rebuke.

3. The opinion that the love of our neighbour covers our sins before God conflicts with the fundamental principles of the Gospel; it is not the cause, but only one of the conditions on which we are made partakers of Divine forgiveness, Matthew 6:14.

4. With respect to God, we are stewards of goods committed to our keeping, with respect to our neighbour only we are owners.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The end of all things, how it should minister to, 1, encouragement, 2, warning, 3, consolation.—Whatsoever thou takest in hand, remember the end, Sirach 7:36.—If Peter more than eighteen centuries ago was permitted to say the end of all things was at hand, how much more ought we to be prepared, to watch and pray. We should ever consider the great day of Christ to be near at hand. Believers wait for it as a bridegroom waits for his bride. The end of the way and the nearness of home is sweet and comforting to strangers and pilgrims.—Communion with God, the most precious enjoyment of earth, is only possible to those who are temperate and sober.—He that ministers to sensuality cannot soar in thought to God.—Love should be like fire which spreads its flame afar, and like a cloak which covers much. “That godly father would not shut his door to any poor guest, for I am afraid, said Hebrews, lest the Lord Himself might some day come, in the guise of a poor Prayer of Manasseh, to test my liberality: how could I ever justify my having suffered Him sadly to depart from me?”

Besser: There is none so poor as to be unable to serve his neighbour with some gift.—God distributes His gifts unequally, Matthew 25:15. Moses has five talents, Aaron two, Jethro only one. Let each use his gifts to the glory of God, and he will stand before God and men.

Herberger: The Christian’s motto: Faithful and only faithful!—A Christian’s any and every work, should be a Divine service and conduce to the glory of God.

Starke: Men, beware of confidence! be ready that you may be able to stand worthily before the Son of [But prayer—instead of ministering to the wants of the needy—where the ability is present and the occasion requires it—is sheer hypocrisy.—M.]. The glory of God should be the end and aim of all our works, otherwise they are good for nothing, 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Lisco: What does qualify us to receive the gifts of the Holy Ghost?—The conditions of real prayer.

Herberger: How should a good Christian, who desires to go to heaven acquit himself, 1, towards God, 2, towards his neighbour, 3, with respect to his own conscience, soul and office?

Stier: How Christians ought to prepare for the end of all things, or how we must live here in time in order that we may stand in the last judgment?

Kapff: Spiritual ascension, 1, By whom and how it is accomplished, 2, What are its effects on our earthly life?

Staudt: Christian mutual readiness to oblige, 1, its ability, 2, its opportunities, 3, the condition necessary for its discharge.

[Leighton:

1 Peter 4:7. It is reported of one that, hearing the 5 th of Genesis read so long lived, and yet the burden still, they died; Enos lived905 and he died, Seth 912 and he died, Methusaleh969 and he died, he took so deep the thought of death and eternity, that it changed his whole frame and set him from a voluptuous to a most strict and pious course of life.

1 Peter 4:8. Love is witty in finding out the fairest construction of things doubtful.—Where the thing is so plainly a sin, that this way of covering it can have no place, yet then will love consider what will lessen it most.—All private reproofs and where conscience requires public delation and censure, even these will be sweetened in that compassion that flows from love.—If thou be interested in the offence, even by unfeigned free forgiveness, so far as thy concern goes, let it be as if it had not been.

1 Peter 4:9. Now for supply of our brethren’s necessities, one good help Isaiah, the retrenching of our superfluities. Turn the stream into that channel, where it will refresh thy brethren and enrich thyself, and let it not run into the dead sea.—As the disease of the youth of the world, was the abounding of lust, Gen. vi, so of its age, decay of love: and as that heat called for a total deluge of waters, to this coldness for fire, to the kindling an universal fire, that shall make an end of it and the world together. (Aqua propter ardorem libidinis, ignis propter teporem charitatis.)

1 Peter 4:10. Manifold grace.—There is such an admirable beauty in this variety, such a symmetry and contemperature of different, yea of contrary qualities, as speaks His riches, that so divers gifts are from the same Spirit. A kind of embroidering of many colours (see Psalm 139:15) happily mixed, as the word ποικίλλειν signifies; as it is in the frame of the natural body of man as the lesser world, and in the composure of the greater world: thus in the Church of God, the mystical body of Jesus Christ exceeding both the former in excellence and beauty.—Be not discouraged, to have little in the account shall be no prejudice. The approbation runs not, thou hadst much, but on the contrary, thou hast been faithful in little; great faithfulness in the use of small gifts hath great acceptance, and a great and sure reward.

1 Peter 4:11. Ministers must speak faithfully, holily and wisely.—Faith’s great work is to renounce self-power and to bring in the power of God to be ours When I am weak, then am I strong, 2 Corinthians 12:10.—This is the Christian’s aim, to have nothing in himself, nor in anything but in this tenure: all for the glory of my God, my estate, family, abilities, my whole self, all I have and am. And as the love of God grows in the heart, this purpose grows; the higher the flame rises, the purer it is; the eye is daily more upon it; it is oftener in the mind in all actions than before. In common things, the very works of our calling, our very refreshments, to eat and drink and sleep, all are for this end and with a particular aim at it as much as may be; even the thought of it often renewed throughout the day, and at times generally applied to all our ways and employments. It is that elixir that turns thy ordinary works into gold, into sacrifices, by a touch of it.—M.]

Footnotes:

FN#18 - σωφρονήσατε=be temperate, of a temperate mind; νήψατε=be sober.—M.]

FN#19 - εἰς τὰς προσευχάς; (τάς is omitted in A. B. and by Lachmann;) also in Cod. Sin.—M.]

FN#20 - Translate: “Above all things having love intense towards one another;” on ἐκτενῆ see 1 Peter 1:22.—M.]

FN#21 - καλύπτει, A. B. K. Lachmann and Tischendorf, also Alford: καλύψει L. Receptus, is the more difficult reading.—ἀγάπη=love.—M.]

FN#22 - φιλόξενοι=hospitable.—M.]

FN#23 - ἄνευ γογγυσμοῦ, A. B, Cod. Sinait, Lachm, Tisch, Alford. γογγυσμῶν, Rec. K. L. Translate: “without murmuring,” so German.—M.]

FN#24 - Translate: “Each Prayer of Manasseh, as he has received a gift of grace.”—M.]

FN#25 - ὡς ἐξ ἰσχύος ἦς χορηγεῖ Θεός=“as out of the power which God bestoweth,” so German, Van Ess, Allioli and others.—M.]

FN#26 - ἐστιν=is, not be.—M.]

FN#27 - 1 Peter 4:11. Translate: “To whom is the glory and the power (or might) to the ages of the ages. Amen.”—M.]


Verses 12-19

1 Peter 4:12-19

Analysis:—Further exhortation to readiness of suffering and becoming conduct in suffering. They are to consider suffering as inseparable from following Christ, as necessary to their trial, and instrumental toward their future glory, as rendering them partakers of the power of the Spirit, and as delivering them from the last judgment. But they should never lose sight of maintaining their difference from unbelievers

12 Beloved,[FN28]think it not strange concerning[FN29]the fiery trial which is to try you,[FN30]as 13 though some strange thing[FN31]happened unto you: But rejoice,[FN32]inasmuch as ye are partakers[FN33] of Christ’s sufferings;[FN34]that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also[FN35]with exceeding joy.[FN36]14If ye be reproached for[FN37]the name of Christ, happy[FN38] are ye;[FN39]for the Spirit of glory and[FN40] of God resteth upon you:[FN41]on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.[FN42]15But let none of you suffer as a murderer, 16or as a thief, or as an evil doer, or as a[FN43]busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God [FN44]on this behalf.[FN45]17For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God:[FN46]and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18And if the righteous[FN47]scarcely be saved[FN48], where shall the ungodly and 19 the sinner appear? Wherefore,[FN49]let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing,[FN50]as unto a faithful Creator.[FN51]

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

The exhortations to readiness of suffering are repeated, but urged on different grounds.

1 Peter 4:12. Beloved.—This address, as in 1 Peter 2:11, denotes the Apostle’s heart-felt sympathy with them in the sufferings concerning which he is consoling them.

Be not astonished at.—”If the heathen think the behaviour of Christians strange, Christians need not be surprised if unbelievers persecute them on that account,” 1 Peter 1:7, Steiger.—τῇ ἐν ὑμῖν πυρώσει. πύρωσις=burning, ignition, kindling, fire while burning, from πυροῦμαι, 2 Peter 3:12; Revelation 18:9; Proverbs 27:21; LXX. Zechariah 13:9. It is a simile of great tribulations, which burn like fire, but conduce to proof.—[Cf. also Psalm 66:10 in LXX. Oecumenius says, πύρωσιν τὰς θλίψεις εἰπών, ἐνέφῃνεν ὡς διὰ δοκιμασίαν αὐτοῖς αὖται.—M.] ’εν ὑμῖν, may mean “which you feel within yourselves,” better, “which is among you.”—”As the potter or the goldsmith adjusts the furnace to the earthen vessel or to the gold, so that it be neither too hot nor too cold, so God adjusts temptation (trial) to the strength of man and to the grace which He grants him, and suffers him not to be tempted beyond his ability to bear.” Ephrem.—πρὸς πειρασμόν, cf. 1 Peter 1:7; James 1:2. Not unto perdition, but unto salvation. Even this moderates the pain of the heat.—ὡς ξένου.—Perhaps you consider the suffering accidental, interfering with God’s purpose concerning you, and putting you back in your Christianity, but know that it has been decreed from all eternity, it has been repeatedly foretold in the Scriptures, it has been the common experience of all believers from the beginning, and it is absolutely necessary for the mortification of the old man. That cannot be displeasing which is dealt by the hand of a friend.” Gerhard.

1 Peter 4:13. In as far as ye are partakers with the sufferings of Christ.—καθὸ κοινῶνειτε.—It is a great consolation that the believer is permitted to consider his sufferings as a partaking with the sufferings of Christ; but it is a greater consolation that he is permitted to infer his communion with the glory of Christ from his communion with His sufferings. καθὸ denotes, at once the reason and the measure of the sufferings.

The sufferings of Christ, as in 1 Peter 1:11; cf. 1 Peter 2:21; 1 Peter 3:18, not such as affect Him in His members, but such as He Himself endured in the days of His incarnation. Christians partake with them, if, for the sake of truth and righteousness, their experience of the world’s sin is similar to that of Christ. They are in Christ, and the hatred shown to them is really shown to Him, cf. Romans 8:17; Romans 8:29; 2 Timothy 2:11.

That ye may also at the revelation of His glory rejoice, exulting.—ἵνα καί, otherwise the day of the revelation of Christ would be to you a day of terror.—καί, as you now rejoice already in hope.—τῆς δόξης, in contrast with the darkness of suffering, 1 Peter 1:5; 1 Peter 1:7; 1 Peter 1:11.—χαρῆτε ἀγαλλιώμενοι, cf. 1 Peter 1:8. “The joy of the saints will be inward and outward, bodily and spiritual.” Huss. The connection Isaiah, as given by Weiss: Only he who suffers with Christ and for His cause, is a true disciple of Christ. Such an one may cherish the expectation of the heavenly reward of partaking with His glory, even as Christ has promised again and again, Matthew 10:38-39; Matthew 16:24-25; Luke 9:23-24; Luke 14:27; John 12:26; John 14:3; John 17:24; Matthew 5:12; Luke 6:22-23. The real life-communion with Christ, as we find it described in the writings of Paul, is not affirmed here.

1 Peter 4:14. If ye are reproached in (German, for) the name of Christ.—ἐν ὀνόματι. ὄνομα, often like שֵם =revealed being (revelation of the being, i. e., nature and existence). John 17:6; John 17:26; John 1:12; Acts 3:16; Acts 4:12; Hebrews 2:12, also=order, command. Here in its proper sense =the name and whatever it involves. Mark 9:41 contains the best key to the exposition. The passage reads: “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.” As the benefactions of others may be the result of their belonging to Christ, so it may be with their hatred. They reproach you because you confess, call upon and bear the name of Christ, which they hate. cf. 1 Peter 4:16. ὡς χριστιανός, and Matthew 5:11; Luke 6:22. Christ is to the world a hateful name; if one preaches it, he must suffer. The reproaches cast at their persons and conversation probably proceeded from unbelieving Jews, who blasphemed the name of Christ, James 2:7.

Blessed are ye—resteth upon you.—μακάριοι, cf. 1 Peter 3:14. Their state of bliss is inferred from the glory already existing, although invisible to ordinary eyes. τὸ τῆς δόξης—Spirit of glory denotes the Holy Spirit, because, as Calov explains it, He brings glory and seals it in suffering. This Spirit being given to you with the communion of Christ, you are even now, by faith and hope, partakers of future glory, you anticipate it in the Spirit, and therefore you are blessed, cf. 1 Peter 1:8. Hence Paul, in the further development of this thought, called the Spirit the earnest of the inheritance, Ephesians 1:14.—καὶ τὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ, this second predicate is added by way of explanation. It is not the spirit of Elijah, or of an angel, but the Spirit of God. “This is to the Apostle so great and so blessed a thing, that though the world is against them, God is for them, as their shield and exceeding great reward.” Wiesinger. ἐφ’ ὑμᾶς ἀναπαύεται.—The reference appears to be to Isaiah 11:2; cf. 2 Kings 2:15. Luke 10:6. ἐπί, with the Accus, denotes the descent of the Spirit on them.—ἀναπαύεσθαι, according to Olshausen, contains the idea of an abiding that cannot be overthrown, even by doubts and temptations. It is cognizable to those whose spiritual vision has been rendered acute, and is evinced chiefly in a meek spirit of suffering.

[Wordsworth:—”The glory and happiness of suffering for God in the fire of persecution might also well occur to his mind at Babylon, where he is writing, and where he would be cheered by a remembrance of the three faithful children walking unhurt in the fiery furnace with the Son of God. ( Daniel 3:1-25.)”—M.]

On their part—glorified.—[See note 14 in Appar. Critic.—M.] With and among them, the children of the world, as is their nature and wont, He is evil spoken of; they traduce the spirit of suffering as a degrading and slavish spirit, and humility as cowardice. These invectives fall back on the Spirit Himself.—Others connect βγασφημεῖται with ὄνομα χριστοῦ, which is rather a forced construction. Among you it is glorified by the consolations, the quietness and peace which it brings to you; thus it evinces its Divine power, and excites your praise and gratitude. The passage gives a good sense, and it would be a pity if it were spurious [as the authorities declare it to be.—M.]

[ επισκεπτόμενος τὰ ἀλλότρια. Hanc explicationem probat 1, ipsa vocis compositio 2, veterum expositio, Tert. Cypr. Aug. 3, temporis et loci circumstantia. Procul dubio quidam Christiani, ex incogitantia, temeritate et levitate, in actiones infidelium utpote vicinorum suorum curiosius inquirebant, eas propria arbitrio redarguebant ac judices eorum esse volebant, quod non pertinebat ad eorum vocationem. Gerhard.—M.]

1 Peter 4:16. But if (he suffer) as a Christian.—The name Christian appears at that time to have been adopted by believers, Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28. In the opinion of their enemies, the name was infamous, and so we must understand it here, cf. 1 Peter 4:14. With the Jews it was tantamount to sectary, renegade and rebel; with the heathen it was equal to atheist.

Let him not be ashamed.—Cf. Romans 1:16 : 2 Timothy 1:8; 2 Timothy 1:12. Such sufferings conduce not to shame, but to honour; “they are precious jewels in the sight of God.” Calov. Acts 5:41.

But let him glorify God in this part.—“On account of the antithesis, Peter might have said: Let him rather glory; but he teaches that the glory must be ascribed to God.” Bengel. Let him glorify God by patience, by good courage, confessing the faith, and by joyful praises and thanksgiving.—ἐν μέρει τούτῳ.—(Lachmann and Tischendorf read ὀνόματι at because of the name of Christ. Others render, less aptly; matter, case). [See Appar. Crit, 1 Peter 4:16, note17. M.]—Steiger:—”In this lot which falls to him.” It is difficult to prove this use of μέρος. It is rather to be taken as 1 Peter 3:16. ἐν καταλαλῶσιν, they were to glorify God in the very thing for which they were slandered, viz.: their faith in Christ.

1 Peter 4:17 introduces a new ground why Christians should gladly suffer for Christ’s sake. Possessed of such a mind (the mind of suffering gladly for Christ’s sake), they will be delivered from the near and inevitable judgment of God which is about to burst on unbelievers, but begins at the Church of God in the persecutions that are coming on her. The former will feel the whole weight of the judgment, the latter its first beginnings only, whereby they are saved.

It is time.—As it is the inflexible purpose of God that we must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God, and as it is a well-known law of the Divine kingdom that judgment must begin at the city and house of God, Jeremiah 25:29; Jeremiah 10:13; Jeremiah 14:18-19; Jeremiah 49:12; Amos 3:14; Ezekiel 9:6; Ezekiel 21:4; Hebrews 12:6, as manifested in the troubles of Israel in Egypt and in the wilderness, so now is the season of the judgment, for the end of all things is at hand, 1 Peter 4:7.

The judgment.—To believers it is a paternal chastisement, contemplating their deliverance from unknown and unrepented sins, in order that they may not be condemned with the world 1 Corinthians 11:28; 1 Corinthians 11:31; it is to them a judgment of mercy, but to unbelievers a judgment of wrath, revealing the punitive justice of God. The one leads to salvation, the other to perdition, cf. Luke 23:30; Matthew 25:41; Revelation 6:15-17; Revelation 9:11-15; Romans 2:5; 2 Thessalonians 1:6.

At the house of God.—Cf. 1 Peter 2:5; 1 Timothy 3:15. The Church of the Lord. Steiger has several quotations from the Rabbis stating that the judgment will begin with the righteous.

What will be the end of them?—What will be their final state? “If the sons are chastised, what have the most malicious slaves to expect? How will it fare with the unrighteous before Thee, if Thou dost not even spare Thy believing children, in order to exercise and instruct them?” Augustine.—Cf. [Bengel:—“Judicium, initio tolerabilius, sensim ingravescit. Pii sua parte perfuncti cum immunitate spectant miserias impiorum: impii dum pios affligunt, suam mensuram implent et discunt quæua ipsorum portio futura sit: sed id melius sciunt pii, quare patientes sunt.”—M.].

1 Peter 4:18. If the righteous hardly is saved.—The thought of 1 Peter 4:17 is verified and strengthened by the verbatim quotation of Proverbs 11:31 in the LXX. The Apostle may also have remembered the accounts which Christ Himself gave of the great perils of the last temptations, Matthew 24:12-13; Matthew 24:22; Matthew 24:24.—μόλις, with difficulty, with hard pains and not without suffering.—ποῦ φανεῖται, Psalm 1:4-5, describes the ungodly as chaff which the wind scattereth away.—Δίκαιος=πιστεύων, one who as a believer leads a life well-pleasing and acceptable to God, is justified and follows after righteousness. The opposite, ἀπειθῶν and ἁσεβής=σώζεται sc, unto life eternal. The opposite, to be lost, to fall hopelessly into perdition.

1 Peter 4:19. Wherefore—well-doings.—General conclusion from the entire exhortation. If suffering according to the purpose of God is so necessary, if it contemplates such glorious ends, we ought patiently to submit to this Divine necessity (German:—göttlichem Muss), 1 Peter 1:6; 1 Peter 5:9, commit our soul to Him, on whom we have a firm and sacred hold, and never lose sight of the equal necessity that we continue in well-doing.—καὶ οἱ πάσχοντες—Some take it as in 1 Peter 3:14; others join it with ὤστε, although it is never used to strengthen ὤστε. Better follow Wiesinger: “The end and aim of every thing should be the glory of God, 1 Peter 4:11, hence also suffering.” Those also who do not suffer are to commit their souls to the faithful Creator.

According to the will of God.— [Oecumenius:—ἀσφαλὴς καὶ ἀψευδὴς κατὰ τὰς ἐπαγγελίας αὐτοῦ.—M.]—παρατιθέσθωσαν.—As Christ’s dying words were: “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit,” Luke 23:46; cf. 1 Peter 1:9.—He is the most trusty Guardian of our souls, Psalm 31:6; Ecclesiastes 12:7, and our bodies also are in the hands of God. Without His will, not a hair of His children can be hurt. “As the most faithful, He will preserve them, as the most mighty He can do it.” Gerhard.—ἐν ἀγαθοποιΐαις.—In well-doings. The apposition goes back to 1 Peter 4:15 and 1 Peter 4:16. Trust in God and well-doing must be in-dissolubly united. “Only inasmuch as faith restores the primal spiritual relation of Creator and creature, man is warranted to rejoice over this faithfulness of the Creator.” Steiger. Cf. Matthew 10:28; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Peter 2:9; Psalm 138:8; Psalm 103:14.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. There is no reward attached to suffering as such; it is only the patience and constancy with which, for Christ’s sake, suffering is borne, to which reward is mercifully promised.

2. The Holy Ghost who rests upon saints, protects them, shines forth from them, is called the Spirit of Glory because, says Roos, He is holy, and causes His holiness to radiate, and because He is worthy of being glorified by men and all other creatures.

3. “The fire of trial belongs to Christianity, it is the rule, not the exception.” Richter.

4. Why does judgment begin at the house of God? 1. There is one law for the Church as a whole, and for the individual members of it. Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, Hebrews 12:6. A father, if he is earnestly opposed to evil, chastises first his children, afterward his household. He is first severe to the former, afterward also to the latter. Since cleansing from sin is the end contemplated, enlightened believers recognize a merciful provision in being judged now that they may be saved hereafter. Hence it is one of the prerogatives of the house of God that it is destined to pass through the judgment of grace in time, in order that it may be saved from the future judgment of wrath2. Because thereby the accuser of our souls and censurer of God’s ways, and his followers, are silenced and deprived of all objections against the justice of God.

5. 1 Peter 4:17 is not in conflict with John 3:18. “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already;” all that is necessary is to distinguish the judgment of grace from the judgment of wrath, and temporal punishment from eternal.

6. The words, “It is time that judgment should begin”—supply a hint concerning the date of this Epistle. The destruction of Jerusalem could not have taken place when the author wrote this passage.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The cross, the fire-proof of faith.—Why ought we not to be astonished at the heat of tribulation? a. It comes from God. b. It is designed to put us to the test. c. It is meet that the flesh should suffer and that sinners should have trouble, d. The way of Christ goes through sufferings to glory, e. Suffering with Christ is a token of the state of grace and an earnest of future glory. f. Sufferings are no disgrace but an honour, g. They are attended by a sense of blessedness in the foretaste of expected glory, h. The patience which we exhibit saves us from the judgment of wrath, which overtakes the ungodly, i. Not even the smallest injury can befall believers without the will of God, and all things must conduce to their salvation.—What is suffering with Christ? a. Not to do any wrong that renders us liable to just punishment, b. To suffer innocently for righteousness’ sake. c. To suffer for Christ’s sake, and in communion with Him.

Zeller: “Like as our secular princes distinguish faithful and constant servants and victorious generals with the badge of some order, so the Lord of lords distinguishes His faithful servants and victors with crosses of suffering in order to prepare them a joy, as with a cross of honour and a token and assured expectation of the great honour that, as those, who with Christ continue patient in suffering, they shall be blessed hereafter with joy and gladness when at His second and even at His third coming, He shall reveal the glory of His power, and raise them to participation in the glory of His kingdom.”

Besser: As our Lord at His first coming began with the purifying of the Temple, so it is the token of the commencement of His second coming that He refines His house as with a refiner’s fire. Malachi 3:2.

Starke: Little pain, great refreshing. Both with Christ, how glorious! What is taken from thee, for which thou dost not receive a million-fold reward? What boots then, thy complaining and weeping? Let us look upon the future and sweeten therewith the present. Marks [German ‘Moles’ Maalzeichen.—M.] of Christ are tokens of honour. Disgrace before the world is exaltation before God and His angels.—Peter had made experience both of being astonished at the heat of tribulation, Matthew 16:22, and of rejoicing in suffering with Christ, Acts 5:41.—Partners in the fight, partners in the coronation. As surely as thou art suffering for Christ’s sake, so surely thou wilt be eternally clothed with joy and glory.—Art thou faint-hearted and timid in the state of temptation, observe where thou art suffering for Christ’s sake, and rejoice, for this is to thee an infallible token that thou art the Lord’s, John 15:19. Thou sayest: I have to suffer much; examine thyself, if it is not thine own fault; if it Isaiah, do not complain, but repent and amend. Lamentations 3:39.—If a Christian, who is neither in the magistracy nor the ministry, is unable to do anything towards the improvement of much that is disorderly, it is enough for him to sigh, to desire and to commit it to God, Ezekiel 9:4.—They call thee, and thou art a Christian; then remember thy Head from whom thou hast thy name, thy anointing which thou hast received from Him, 1 John 2:27, and thy duty, to follow Him, Matthew 10:38.—The wrath of God is no jest. Fear, whosoever thou art, for sin which cannot stand before the judgment seat, cleaves to thee, Job 34:11.—Many sorrows shall be to the wicked, Psalm 32:10, while the godly simply hold and taste the cup of God, the ungodly have to drink the very dregs, Psalm 75:9.—Unbelief is the greatest sin and the real cause of the temporal and eternal judgments of God, Mark 16:16.—Let none envy the prosperity of the wicked: alas! it will fare ill with them in eternity, unless they repent, Psalm 73:12.—A true Christian ought neither to cause his own sufferings, nor wish for them, but commit everything to the will of God, 1 Samuel 3:18.—Whoso committeth his soul to God must be in a state of grace and holiness, otherwise all his committing is lost and in vain. Job 16:17.—The soul, if we die a happy death, will surely go to God, who will preserve it as an immortal spirit, and the more so because it has been saved by Christ and sanctified by the Holy Spirit, John 5:24.

Roos: God decrees punishment on the righteous on account of their probable indolence, on account of their abuse of His grace and means of grace, or also on account of other disorders and failures, which, unless they are checked, might lead us to positive falling away from grace.—The word of God announces loving severity and wholesome strictness; God is very exact with His family.

Lisco: Blessed are innocent sufferers.—The hidden glory of the sharers of Christ reign. The different import of sufferings, a, in the house of God; b, in sinners.

Stier: How Christians ought to submit to suffering.

Kapff: The school of the cross, the school of heaven; 1, There is no way to heaven without the cross; 2, Heaven is opened in the cross; 3, The crown of the cross is in heaven.

[Leighton:

1 Peter 4:12. In these fires, as faith is tried, the word on which faith relies is tried, and is found all gold, most precious, no refuse in it. The truth and sweetness of the promises are much confirmed in the Christian’s heart upon his experiment of them in his sufferings; his God is found to be as good as His word, being with him when he goes through the fire, Isaiah 43:2, preserving him that he loses nothing except dross, which is a gainful loss, leaving only his corruption behind him.

1 Peter 4:13. I remember what that pious duke is said to have declared at Jerusalem, when they offered to crown him king there, “Nolo auream, ubi Christus spineam.

1 Peter 4:14. Here what the Apostle had said, concerning suffering in general, he specifies in the particular case of suffering reproaches; but this expression seems not to come up to the height of that which he has used before; he spoke of fiery trial, but this of reproach seems rather fit to be called an airy trial, the blast of vanquishing words. Yet upon trial it will be found to be (as it is here accounted) a very sharp, a fiery trial, cf. James 3:6.—M.]

[Macknight:

1 Peter 4:12. The metaphor is old but noble: it represents the Christians at Pontus as having fire cast upon them, for trying of their faith, as gold is tried by fire, 1 Peter 1:7, to which the Apostle alludes.—M.]

[ 1 Peter 4:17. In Bava Kama, fol60, 1. the following passage occurs: “God never punishes the world but because of the wicked, but He always begins with the righteous first. The destroyer makes no difference between the just and the unjust: only he begins first with the righteous.”—M.]

Footnotes:

FN#28 - μὴ ξενίζεσθε, Pass, see 1 Peter 4:4, “be not astonished at.” On the construction of this Verb with the Dative, see Winer, p222.—M.]

FN#29 - πύρωσις, literally, burning, figuratively, trial by fire; the rendering of E. V. must be regarded as very felicitous, πρὸς πειρασμὸν ὑμῖν γινομἐνῃ=which is taking place among you (or as Alford renders, “in your case”) for a trial to you.—M.]

FN#30 - ὡς=as if.—M.]

FN#31 - ξένου συμβαίνοντος ὑμῖν=“some strange thing were happening to you.—M.]

FN#32 - καθὸ is supported by A. B. K. L, Rec. and many others; καθὼς, a less authentic reading; translate “in as far as,” (Alford) or “in the degree to which” (German); cf. Romans 8:26; 2 Corinthians 8:12.—M.]

FN#33 - κοινωνεῖτε τοῖς κ. τ. λ.=“ye are partakers with the sufferings of Christ.”—M.]

FN#34 - Translate, “In order that ye may also at (=in) the revelation of his glory rejoice.”—M.]

FN#35 - ἀγαλλιώμενοι=exulting, Participle.—M.]

FN#36 - “If ye are reproached,” εἰ with Indicative.—M.]

FN#37 - ἐν ὀνόματι=in the name of Christ, cf. Matthew 5:11; 1 Peter 3:14.—M.]

FN#38 - μακάριοι=blessed are ye.—M.]

FN#39 - ὅτι=because, it gives the reason why they are blessed.—M.]

FN#40 -

[On the Article with attributives, see Winer, p144. Translate: “the Spirit of glory, and that of God”—“the Spirit of Glory, who is none else than God’s Spirit Himself.” For classical illustrations, see Winer.—M.]

[A. (Griesbach, Scholz and Lachmann insert after δόξης, καὶ δυνάμεως); so Sinait.; but (Tischendorf rejects the addition).—M.]

FN#41 - κατὰ μὲν αὐτοὺς βλασφημεῖται, κατὰ δὲ μᾶς δοξάζεται. This clause stands in Recept, K. L. and others,] but is wanting in A. B, Sinaitic. and many MSS. Lachmann and Tischendorf, also Alford reject it. [It is in all probability a gloss.—M.]

FN#42 - γὰρ=for.—M.]

FN#43 - αλλοτριοεπίσκοπος, a ἅπαξ λεγόμενον, denoting “overseeing other people’s affairs, prying into them.” Alford: “Pryer into other men’s matters.” De Wette: “an impertinent;” but see note below.—M.]

FN#44 - ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τουτῷ. Rec. reads μέρει instead of ὀνόματι, with K. L.; but the former reading has more weighty authorities, and is sustained by Lachmann, Tischendorf and Alford. Translate: “in this name,” i. e., the name of χριστιανός.—M.]

FN#45 - ὅτι καιρὸς=because it is the season, Alford; (because) it is time, German.—M.]

FN#46 - Translate: “of the judgment beginning at the house of God, but if (it begin) first at us, what (will be) the end of them that are disobedient to the Gospel of God?”—M.]

FN#47 - μόλις=with difficulty, hardly (German).—M.]

FN#48 - σώζεται=is saved. Translate, to bring out the force of the Greek: “the ungodly and the sinner where shall he appear?” Alford.—M.]

FN#49 - ὥστε καὶ κ. τ. λ.=wherefore let also them who suffer, etc.—M.]

FN#50 - 1 Peter 4:19. Tischendorf reads ἀγαθοποιΐᾳ, a more authentic reading than ἀγαθοποιΐαις.

FN#51 - 1 Peter 4:19. ὡς is omitted in A. B, Sinait, and by Lachmann [and Alford; it is inserted in Rec, with K. L. and others.—M.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 1 Peter 4:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/1-peter-4.html. 1857-84.

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