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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
1 Peter 4

 

 

Verses 1-13

1 Peter 4:1. Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin: —

Brethren, we have a Saviour who suffered for us. As the Head was, such must the members expect to be. Let us, then, be resolutely determined that, suffer as we may, we will never turn aside from our Lord; for, inasmuch as we suffered in him, yea, and died in him, we ought to reckon that we are henceforth dead to sin, and that we have ceased from it, and can no longer be drawn into it. “He that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin:”—

1 Peter 4:2. That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.

The doctrine of substitution is the strongest possible argument for holiness. You lived in sin once, but Christ died for your sin, so you must reckon that, in him, you died to sin, seeing that he died in your stead. And the argument is that, henceforth, your life is to be a life in him, a life of holiness, to the praise and glory of God.

1 Peter 4:3. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, —

Suffice? O brethren, let it do much more than that! Let it make us cry, “Would God that we had never wrought the will of the Gentiles at all!” Some young people foolishly say that they must have a little space in which they can “see life.” Ah, those of you who have been converted in after years regret that ever you saw what men call “life”, which is but the alias for corruption and death! “For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles,” —

1 Peter 4:3-4. When we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excesses of wine, revellings banquetings, and abominable idolatries. Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:

What a strange world this world is! It speaks evil of men because they will not do evil. Yet it has ever been so; the men, “of whom the world was not worthy,” have been the very people of whom worldliness have said, “Away with such fellows from the earth! It is not fit that they should live.” The world’s verdict concerning Christians is of little value.

1 Peter 4:5-6. Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men is the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

This is a very difficult passage to expound, but I suppose the meaning is that the gospel was preached to those departed saints who had been called to die for Christ’s sake, and that it was preached to them for this very reason, that, while they were judged by wicked men, and were by them condemned to die, they still live a far more glorious life than they lived here, because they were thus enabled, by their martyr death, to consummate their consecration to God.

1 Peter 4:7-8. But the end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

It covers them sometimes by not seeing them; for, where there is much love, we are blind to many faults which, otherwise, we might see; we do not exercise the sharpness of criticism which malice would be sure to exercise. Besides that, when love applies herself to prayer, and when, in addition to prayer, she kindly gives admonition to a beloved friend, it often happens that true Christian love does really prevent a multitude of sins.

The apostle does not mean that, by loving another person, I shall cover my own sin; nor does he mean that the exercise of charity, in the common acceptation of that word, can cover my sin. But if I have much love to others, I may be the instrument, in the hand of God, for covering many of their sins in one or other of the senses I have mentioned.

1 Peter 4:9-10. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Whatever “the gift” is, whether it be money, or talent, or grace, “even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” God gives much to you that you may give it to others; it is only meant to run through you as through a pipe. You are a steward and if a steward should receive his lord’s goods, and keep them for himself he would be an unfaithful steward. Child of God, see to it that you faithfully discharge your responsibility as one of the “good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

1 Peter 4:11-13. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you. But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

If you do not share in Christ’s humiliation, how can you expect to share in his exaltation? But if worldlings begin to rebuke and reproach you, take it for granted that they can discern something of Christ in you. Dogs do not usually bark at those who live in the same village with them; it is only at strangers that they bark. And when ribald tongues are lifted up against you, you have reason to hope that you are a stranger and a foreigner to the citizens of this world, for they love their own, as our Saviour reminded his disciples, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you”

This exposition consisted of readings from Psalms 88:10-18; and 1 Peter 4:1-13.


Verses 1-19

1 Peter 4:1. Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind:

Accepting this great truth, that it is well that the flesh should die that the spirit may triumph, even as it was with Christ.

1 Peter 4:1. For he that bath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;

If he has indeed died with Christ, and the power of Christ’s sufferings has made him dead to sin, he has ceased from it.

1 Peter 4:2-4. That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the ,will of God for the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:

For the very thing in which they ought to speak well of you, men will speak evil of you. If you will not drink as they do, if you will not follow after sinful pleasures as they do, if you will not sing their songs, or use their language, then straightway they will hate you, and call you a hypocrite. It is a pity that, if we are not willing to go into sin as they do, they should for that reason speak ill of us; yet this is what we must expect.

1 Peter 4:5. Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.

There will be a day, when those who are alive at the coming of Christ will be judged; and those who were dead long before that time will not escape the judgment, for they shall be raised from their graves to appear before the judgment seat of Christ.

1 Peter 4:6. for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

Men who heard the gospel, and believed it, are now dead; they have undergone the sentence of death like other men; but, still, they are living “according to God in the spirit.”

1 Peter 4:7. But the end of all things is at hand:

We are never told the exact date of the times or seasons which are yet to come; it is the evident aim of the Holy Spirit to keep us on the tip-toe of expectation. We are always to be as men whose Lord may come at any minute of the day or night: “the end of all things is at hand: “ —

1 Peter 4:7. Be ye therefore sober,

Do not get intoxicated with anything, neither with pride, nor with covetousness, nor with the cares of this world. Maintain your equilibrium; stand steadfast and firm: “Be ye therefore sober,” —

1 Peter 4:7-8. And watch unto prayer. And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves:

For, when Christ comes, he will know you as his disciples if you love one another; but if there be an absence of Christian affection when he comes, he will say at once that you have missed the main mark of discipleship.

1 Peter 4:8. for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

Not your own sins, but the sins of your friends, so that you will not see them. Where love is thin, there faults are always thick. Wherever there is true love in the heart, we make many apologies and allowances for the weaknesses and infirmities of our friends. Often, we cannot see the faults in them; and when we know they are there, we go backward, like the godly sons of Noah, and cover the nakedness upon which we will not think of looking, “for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.”

1 Peter 4:9. Use hospitality one to another without grudging.

Whenever saints of God traveled in those days, there were few public inns available for their accommodation, so they stayed with brethren in Christ as they went on their way.

1 Peter 4:10. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

God’s grace takes many shapes, it is manifold; and he gives to one brother one form of grace, and to another quite a different form; and, to a third, yet another form of his blessing. now, as nations increase their wealth by mutual commerce, so do Christian men increase their grace by a sweet fellowship in the good things with which God has entrusted them.

1 Peter 4:11. If any man speak —

Let him speak thoroughly well; but, in order that he may do so, what shall be his model?

1 Peter 4:11. Let him speak as the oracles of God/

As truthful]y, carefully, solemnly, as the Book itself speaks: “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.”

1 Peter 4:11. If any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth.

“If any man minister,” or serve, — if he is called to serve the church in any capacity, — “ let him do it as of the ability which God giveth.”

1 Peter 4:11. that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Note how Peter has the same spirit in him as that which burned in the breast of Paul, for he stops in the middle of a letter, lays down his pen, and lifts up his heart to God in an adoring strain of thanksgiving: “to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

1 Peter 4:12. Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

In Peter’s day, the Christians were called, not only to what might he metaphorically termed, “the fiery trial,” but they had literally to suffer thus for Christ’s sake. Nero had multitudes of Christians brought to his gardens, and tied to stakes, that he might light up his midnight revelries by the burning of these godly men and women smeared with pitch. they had to bear even that fiery trial for the name of Christ. Many periods of martyrdom have passed since then, in which the saints of God have willingly died rather than deny their Lord. We have fallen upon comparatively silken times; a jest, a slander, a calumnious observation, — these are the only weapons with which our enemies can smite most of us.

1 Peter 4:13-14. But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; did not your Saviour say, “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.”

So, be glad about it.

1 Peter 4:14. For the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

Whenever they speak against you that which is not true, they think that they shall slander the name of God by slandering you; but they do no such thing. As far as they are concerned, God is evil spoken of; but, then, that is all you could have expected from such people. “But on your part” — and that is the thing you have to look to, — “on your part he is glorified.”

1 Peter 4:15. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.

A curious mixture that, — is it not? A murderer is classed with “a busybody in other men’s matters.” But, really, people of this latter sort are very obnoxious. there are some who seem as if they cannot mind their own business; I have heard that it is for two reasons; first, because they have not any business to mind, and, secondly, they have no mind at all with which to mind their business. But these very people think they can mind other people’s business; and the more is the pity. See how strongly Peter condemns them, and asks that none of those to whom he writes may have to suffer because of such wrongdoing.

1 Peter 4:16-17. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf for the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God :-

Trial and testing must begin there; we must not expect to have our religion taken for granted, and ourselves to be saved simply upon our own warranty. We must be tried: “the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed? “the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God:” —

1 Peter 4:17. And if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

If the wheat is winnowed, what is to become of the chaff? If God casts even the gold into the fire, what is to become of the dross? If that which is really valuable yet has to be tested, what is to be done with the mire and the clay? Oh, that all who have no part or lot with Christ would consider this solemn truth:

1 Peter 4:18. And if the righteous scarcely be saved, —

If they be saved with difficulty, —

1 Peter 4:18. Where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

If even men who live godly lives are often hard put to it to know whether they shall be saved or not, — if they raise the question again and again with a terrible seriousness, “where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”

1 Peter 4:19. Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

The whole run of the chapter is that we are to prefer any suffering of the flesh to the sin of the spirit; and we are to be prepared to endure whatever trial or pain may come upon us for Christ’s sake, and to hear it joyfully, rather than to seek the pleasures of sin, and to be plunged under the waves of the wrath of God. May he give us the grace thus to glorify him, for Christ’s sake! Amen.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on 1 Peter 4:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/1-peter-4.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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