1 Peter Chapter 4: Suffering for Christ

Nov 12th, 2009 | By | Category: 1 & 2 Peter, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

1 Peter Chapter 4: Suffering for Christ

1 Pet. 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;

Verses 1–5 are a follow-up to verse 18 of the previous chapter. (Verses 19–22 regarding the Ark, baptism, and souls being saved are an interim thought.) Peter now resumes with thoughts about the sufferings of Christ.

“He that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin.” Many in monastic institutions use this verse to justify flagellation of the body and punishing oneself physically as a means of expiating sin, but that is not what this verse teaches.

Generally speaking, if a person is bold and courageous for righteousness and truth, it is an evidence that he is pleasing the Lord. Activity that brings suffering and reproach for righteousness’ sake is an evidence that a person’s will and intent are to please God. Although not a foolproof evidence, this is generally true. If we stand up for God and suffer for it, if we suffer for principle, if we suffer by curbing our own desires, if we suffer for witnessing and testifying about Jesus, etc., etc., these are favorable manifestations the Lord is looking for in us.

Some might take this verse to its conclusion and say that a person who not only suffers but also literally dies in the flesh ceases from sin, but that is not the thought here. This verse pertains to the present life. We die daily. Verse 2 proves that verse 1 applies to the present life. Also, the context (1 Pet. 3:16–18) shows that the suffering Peter refers to is suffering for welldoing and righteousness’ sake, not for self-inflicted scourgings, etc. The context disproves the claims of monastic orders.

“He that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin.” This axiom is a principle. In verses 2 and 3, Peter amplifies this thought.

Comment: For part of verses 1 and 2, the New International Version reads, “He who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.”

Q: Hebrews 2:10 states, “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” Does this text have any bearing on 1 Peter 4:1?

A: The perfection through sufferings that Christ needed was to qualify him as the High Priest, to make him more compassionate, tender, and sympathetic to fallen humankind. In other words, when Jesus came down here and lived on this sinful earth, his firsthand experience during his ministry was very valuable—so valuable, in fact, that God deemed the experience necessary to further qualify him as a sympathetic High Priest in dealing with mankind.

Q: Does 1 John 3:9 tie in with 1 Peter 4:1? “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” The thought is not that a Christian never sins but that he does not practice willful sin.

A: John is dealing with the same principle but from another standpoint. A proof or the degree of one’s being spiritual is directly proportional to the time he devotes to spiritual matters and the minimizing of attention to the flesh.

Comment: In Romans 6:6,7, Paul said, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.”

Reply: Paul, John, and Peter are all speaking on the same subject, but each approaches the subject from a different perspective. We will treat Peter’s perspective in more detail as we proceed.

1 Pet. 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.

1 Pet. 4:3 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:

Verse 3 is still part of the reasoning of verse 1: “he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin.” Notice the time element. Verse 2 reads, “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.” Verse 3 adds, “For the time past of our life.” In other words, we spent sufficient time in the past with earthly pleasures. Before we gave our heart to the Lord, our time was employed in areas that satisfied self with pleasure.

But now, after consecration, if we suffer in the flesh for Christ, we are spending time in spiritual pursuits. In proportion as we are trying to please the Lord and walk in his paths, there is less time for the flesh. The thought is not that our Christian walk cancels sin, but certainly the more time we spend on spiritual matters, the less time we spend on earthly pleasures.

The point is that time spent on spiritual pursuits means sacrifice. For example, when we work eight hours a day, we must redeem time for the Lord. To the extent we do redeem time, we cease from sinful pursuits or even from pursuits that are not sinful but are time-consuming and not helpful to the new creature. Suffering is a theme of this epistle—not only the suffering of the faithful Christian but especially the suffering of Jesus on the Cross, which left a very deep impression on Peter. Seeing Jesus on the Cross penetrated to the core of his being.

Comment: 1 Corinthians 6:9–11 lists some past sins and then says, “Such were some of you.” “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”

Reply: Paul said, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10). Whether we realize it or not, we indulged in some of these categories in the past, such as the desire for money or fame or influence.

Peter was preparing the brethren back there for further persecution. The epistle was primarily addressed to Jewish Christians in Asia Minor and secondarily to the Church as a whole. Since we are living at the end of the age, the secondary application is more important to us now.

1 Pet. 4:4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:

Most of us have had this experience in one way or another.

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

Comment: The same Apostle Peter states the same thought in Acts 10:42, “And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.”

What about the expression “the quick and the dead” here in 1 Peter 4:5? Now the world speaks evil of those who do not run to their same excesses, but the time will come when they see matters in the proper perspective. The intimation is that in some instances where worldly people have given specific insults to the Lord’s little ones, they will be reminded of their words in the future.

Verse 6 sheds light on who “the quick and  the dead” are in this context. The “dead” would be those who are not in Christ; they are “dead” in trespasses and sins in the world. The “quick” are those who have been made alive, or quickened, in Christ.

“Him” would be Jesus. This verse could apply to either the Church or the world, but the application is probably to the Church. The reason the Church class do not indulge in these things is that they realize they will have to give an account of their life to Jesus.

“Wherein they [those of the world] think it strange that ye [the consecrated] run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you [the consecrated]: who shall give [an] account to … [Jesus].”

1 Pet. 4:6 For 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.

“For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead.” The preaching of the gospel to those who do not know God is one thing, but what about the preaching of the gospel to the consecrated? All, both the quick and the dead, shall have to give an account, “for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Rom. 14:10). The consecrated as well as the unconsecrated will all, at one time or another, have to pass before the judgment seat of Christ.

The consecrated go before the judgment seat in the present life, for they are on trial for life now. Those who commit the sin unto Second Death receive their judgment now, for they will not be awakened from the grave in the future to hear their judgment of permanent extinction. For those who are not Christ’s in the Gospel Age, their judgment is held in reserve for the Kingdom Age. Their time for going before the judgment seat is future; our time is now. In other words, Jesus, like a refiner of silver and gold, is looking into the crucible of our hearts to see our motives and intentions. He assesses whether or not we really love the Lord our God. Our problem is to make sure we are not self-deceived in the examination process. Once we expire in the present life, the judgment is set as to whether our destiny is the Little Flock, the Great Company, or Second Death. As for the world, although their judgment is future, certain of their words and deeds are being recorded, especially the more heinous acts.

When verse 6 is applied to the world, the reasoning would be as follows. God is just in condemning the world in that they pay no attention to Him and they continue in their ungodly pursuits. God is also justified in granting a higher reward to those who obey Him by forsaking the present life and consecrating their lives to Him.

1 Pet. 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

Of course we are nearer to “the end of all things” today than when this epistle was written. In the Keys of Revelation, attention is called to the fact that the Second Epistle of Peter and the Epistle of Jude both speak of the end time, which is now “at hand.”

Q: What did Peter have in mind back in his day when he said, “The end of all things is at hand”? Were his words related to the destruction of Jerusalem?

A: For Christian Jews in Israel that was a problem, for a holocaust occurred there in AD 69–70, but Peter is addressing this epistle to Christian Jews in Asia Minor. Evidently, when the destruction occurred in Judah, there were repercussions that affected Jews elsewhere in the Roman Empire, such as in Cappadocia (1 Pet. 1:1). Also Orthodox Jewry, being very opposed to the gospel of Christ, persecuted Christian Jews.

In Matthew 24, which is called “Our Lord’s Great Prophecy,” the emphasis is on spiritual Israel at the end of the age and the coming of the great Time of Trouble. But Luke 17 and 21 have a double fulfillment upon both natural and spiritual Israel.

Peter’s message was primarily to the Christian Jews of his time, but once their experiences became history, the apostle’s message was for Gentile Christians, for those who are Israelites indeed according to the spirit.

“But the end of all things is at hand.” This admonition applies especially to Christians living in the Harvest in that the term “all things” refers to the present evil world, but there is also a broader application to all Christians throughout the age. The messages to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 are an example. Each message especially applied to the particular period of the Church to which it was addressed, but it also applied to the entire Church. What the Spirit said to one Church applies to all the churches. In regard to the epistles of Peter, their location in Holy Writ, as well as their message, is peculiarly adaptable to experiences at the end of the age, especially the second epistle. However, their principles also apply throughout the age.

This verse can be viewed from the standpoint that each Christian lives but a short time. Even if one is consecrated for 60 years, this is not a long period of time. Each one has to make his calling and election sure in a relatively short time and, therefore, should be “sober, and watch unto prayer.” Thus verse 7 has been appropriate for individual Christians throughout the age, but for the Church as a whole, it applies to the end of the age.

From God’s standpoint, two thirds of the permission of evil was over when Jesus died on the Cross, opening up the new and living way. Also from His standpoint, it could be said that today six sevenths of the Seventh Creative Day is over. But that concept is not realistically practical to us as individuals. Therefore, it is better to view this verse from the standpoint that the Christian’s personal life span is short no matter when he lives in the Gospel Age. And for the Church as a whole, the time is short at the end of the age.

In summary, verse 7 can be viewed three ways:

1. From a personal standpoint

2. From a dispensational standpoint

3. From God’s overall perspective

“Sober” has the thought of “earnest” in another translation. Because “the end of all things is at hand,” we are to be “earnest, and watch unto prayer.” Prior to consecration our time was generally spent in revelings, drunkenness, etc. (verse 3), but now we should live soberly and earnestly with watchfulness and prayer.

1 Pet. 4:8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

This verse reminds us of James 5:20, “Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” The difference is that James is primarily discussing those who are spiritually sick.

Here Peter uses similar words. What relationship does “charity” have to covering a “multitude of sins”? Peter is discussing a proper attitude, for the sins are not necessarily forgiven. Suppose the government passed an edict today that Bible Students are marked for imprisonment and/or persecution. What effect would that edict have on us as brethren? We would be bonded together with sympathy for one another. Of necessity, we would feel the need for being of a kindred mind, or spirit. We would be very interested in the welfare of our brethren and automatically be very tender. Differences would melt away because of the common danger about to engulf us. Under that circumstance, love would blanket differences of judgment and sin, and these matters would be left in God’s hands and in Jesus’ hands. In other words, under this situation, when the danger is imminent and the pressure is on, we would not moralize but would think of each other from the standpoint of our initial consecrations. Our common danger would knit us together as a whole. We would need this fervency, warmth, love, and sympathy one for another to bolster up our spirits to not quail or lose faith in the face of whatever is coming. We would be bonded for Christ’s cause.

Comment: We have the Scriptural admonition of Hebrews 10:25 to forsake not “the assembling of ourselves together … but … [to exhort] one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

Q: It is easy to see how an allowance should be made for a multitude of shortcomings, but how can willful sin be covered?

A: Serious, grievous sin should not be countenanced, but Peter is referring to differences and shortcomings. It is important not to forsake the assembling of ourselves.

1 Corinthians 13 gives a definition of love. However, the Apostle Paul describes only the positive side of love. Many Scriptures discuss “love” from another standpoint, such as hating iniquity. Some think 1 Corinthians 13 presents the whole subject of love in a nutshell, but this chapter treats only the positive or happy sense of love. Jesus was anointed above his fellows because he not only loved righteousness but also hated iniquity (Heb. 1:9). “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil

of gladness above thy fellows.” Thus hating iniquity is part of love. A perfect hatred is proper; perfect hatred is the negative aspect of love. Psalm 139:22 says, “I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.” Ecclesiastes 3:8 says there is a time to love and a time to hate.

Q: Please explain again what it means to cover a “multitude of sins” with love.

A: These sins would be shortcomings, not willful, grievous sin. Verse 7 reads, “The end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” Then verse 8 enjoins, “Above all things have fervent charity among yourselves.” We could not have fervent charity for those who are openly disobeying the Lord, as for example, for those who are committing adultery. Shortcomings are another matter, for we all have them and many of them are obvious to others. It has been said, “God give us the gift to see us as others see us.” Usually we are not aware of our own shortcomings to the extent that others see them. And we may have secret faults or shortcomings that others cannot see. In times of peril when life and death are in the balance, when the fire is coming, shortcomings and differences must be set aside. The doctrine of importance at that time will be to have fervent love for the Lord and to have the feeling of being knit together with our brethren in a common cause.

Certain types of music, such as military marches by John Philip Sousa, are so inspirational that those listening feel they could do almost anything, even to march off to death in a battle. Just as music has an effect on one’s courage, so sympathy for one another that is seen and felt under pressure-cooker conditions will have beneficial and helpful results on an individual basis as well as for the brotherhood.

Above all things have fervent charity [love] among yourselves: for charity shall cover a [Diaglott] multitude of sins.” Peter emphasizes charity as a special need, but this does not mean that we should be forgiving and kind no matter what the circumstances or that nothing should interfere with forgiving love. This “charity” is agape love, a disinterested love, which puts God’s will first, not our emotional love for one another and for our families.

The object of disfellowshipping a sinner is to bring him to godly repentance so that we can receive him back. Therefore, the door should not be slammed and bolted unless a person has sinned the sin unto Second Death. Only in these rare cases should an irrevocable stand be taken.

An illustration of repentance would be Peter himself, who denied the Lord with cursing. Then later, based on personal experience, he said in his epistle, “The Lord knoweth how to forgive.” But consider Peter’s case. He realized he had sinned, and when the Lord looked at him, Peter went out and wept bitterly. His attitude and action manifested repentance. Later, while the apostles were in the boat fishing, John called Peter’s attention to the Lord on the shore. Peter’s love for the Lord was so great that he jumped into the water and swam to shore. First, however, he covered his nakedness. His enthusiasm to not wait for the boat to reach shore but to cover himself and plunge into the water to reach the Lord sooner was commendable. This incident shows that certain conditions of repentance and recognition are conducive to reinstatement to the Lord’s favor.

Judas also denied and betrayed the Lord, and he also wept, but his weeping was not a sign of repentance. Judas had had previous opportunities to reconsider his plans, but he continued to pursue his premeditated course. In contrast, Peter was overtaken by a momentary surprise.

With us today, if God has given us previous opportunities to make proper judgments and we have done so in regard to others, then when the same situation occurs to one close to us— either in our family or in our ecclesia—we must be consistent and decide correctly. If we decide and act wrongly, we are accountable—and especially if one is an elder.

Having fervent charity means that the desire and hope for the sinner to recover is always there, but we must follow the steps for recovery that God has outlined. Our fervent love should be fair, reasonable, and just. We should desire the retrieval of a sinner.

Another example is the prodigal son (Luke 15:11–24). When he came to his senses through disillusionment with his life, he returned and went to his father first. Only then did his father emotionally receive him. Prior to his son’s manifestation of repentance, the father did not lavish gifts on him. The father did not forsake principle.

In this same chapter, in which Peter says to have fervent love above all, he makes another statement to counterbalance a too liberal interpretation: “And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1 Pet. 4:18).

Comment: We have to draw a line in our fellowship with those who have taken a wrong stand because if full fellowship is extended, as was the case before the violation of principle, the whole lesson will be negated. The entire household of faith will think the matter has been reconciled. Therefore, there should be reservations in fellowship until such time as, hopefully, the wrong is corrected. Otherwise, the whole lesson will go down the drain.

Peter’s statement “charity shall cover the [a] multitude of sins” as we said before reminds us of James 5:20, “He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from [Second] death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” James is saying that in the case of an individual who has sinned, his repentance will “hide” his own sins and save him from Second Death. The repentant sinner is the object of mercy.

Verse 8 directs Christians to “have fervent charity among yourselves [plural].” In other words, several brethren might be involved in the difference or differences, and charity should be exercised toward them. Here the beholder of those who have problems is told to have mercy toward them. These “sins” would primarily be shortcomings, although partially willful sins could be included.

The Lord’s Prayer gives the principle that we will be forgiven for our trespasses in accordance with our forgiveness of others who trespass against us (not against the Lord or someone else).

There are certain things that we may not forgive. It is incorrect to say that we should forgive everybody everything. We cannot forgive what someone does to someone else. That matter is between those two individuals and the Lord. God will have mercy on those who forgive according to Scriptural reasoning and His mind.

Some sins are impersonal wrongs—that is, not against us or another individual but a wrong deed. And perhaps the one who committed the sin has brought the matter to the Lord in prayer, asking for and receiving forgiveness. In that case, we are merely a spectator on the sidelines, and we do not know what the situation is between that person and the Lord. In other words, the sin is not a public one.

It is not good for us to analyze one another like psychiatrists and psychoanalysts. This practice would tend to cultivate a superior attitude on the part of the beholder. However, the Scriptures do tell us to study deeds and actions—our own as well as those of others. God encourages critical (not hypercritical) examination.

We must guard against a provincial love. The basis upon which we can gather for conventions is having a general love for all of the brotherhood. Certain groups are prejudiced against other groups, but such prejudice should not prevent fellowship. Our nobility of thought should realize we are all imperfect, and therefore, we should be able to have at least some fellowship with others. Otherwise, everyone would polarize and there would be no conventions. If we look hypercritically at each other, we can all find faults to “justify” not meeting together even as a little ecclesia, let alone gathering in convention.

In 2 Peter 2:9, the apostle is partly referring to his own experience. “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” Peter was really right-hearted, but he fell temporarily. If the Lord had not rescued him, Peter could have been swallowed up in the temptation or trial. Just as Jesus rescued Peter out of the water when he began to sink, so Jesus rescued Peter by giving him a look after Peter had denied him three times and also by appearing to him after his resurrection. If Jesus had not desired to retrieve Peter, he could have passed him by and disowned him. However, Jesus left the door open, and Peter took the steps necessary for retrieval.

Fervent charity goes beyond sweet fellowship to the point where we would gladly sacrifice a temporal matter, if necessary, in order to remove temptation from a brother or sister in Christ.

An example might be the complete abstaining from wine in the presence of a brother.

A caution is needed. Verse 8 does not mean that we should put a blanket over everything. Just as a person puts a cloth over dirty laundry, so some erroneously think we should put a mantle of charity (love) over all misdeeds. It is one thing to have the desire to forgive when it is permissible to do so according to God’s Word, but it is another matter entirely to just give a carte blanche approval and forgiveness in cases that would be out of harmony with Scripture. If we look for faults, we will find them quickly, but if we have fervent charity for the brethren as a whole, we will overlook a lot of things. However, the Scriptures say we cannot overlook certain matters. For his three denials of Jesus, Peter had to make three confessions of faith.

Some erroneously think Godlikeness and love mean to forgive without any conditions. That is not God’s standard of love—it is weakness and pure emotionalism!

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

Comment: This is another way of saying, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10).

“Extend hospitality to one another without murmuring” (paraphrase). This exhortation is also conditional, for hospitality has limits. For instance, it should be made known in advance by the host what the terms of the visit will be so that the guest will not overstay. In 2 Thessalonians 3:6–15, Paul advised that a sponger should be denied the company of his host: “withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us…. For even when we were with you, this we commanded … that if any would not work, neither should he eat…. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.”

Fervent love is controlled and disciplined according to principle, and so is proper hospitality. It is one thing to be hospitable for an occasion or two, and it is another matter to be hospitable indefinitely.

1 Pet. 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.

The talents, gifts, or abilities that a Christian has should be used in ministering to others. We

should consider ourselves as a steward of whatever talents or gifts we possess. In other words,

we are a steward of God’s grace, and we are to use our gifts in the Master’s service to benefit

others.

1 Pet. 4:11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability 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.

“To whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever.” Praise and dominion go to God forever and ever through Jesus.

When verses 10 and 11 are read together, the lesson is one of humility. “As every man hath received the gift” means that we were not called initially because we are innately better than others but through God’s mercy. Grace has called and redeemed us. While God is certainly happy that we appreciate the truth and what He has done not only for us but also for the world, we should feel this gift is so wonderful that we want to share it with others. But in sharing the gift, we must emphasize that it is God’s gift and God’s Word, and not something we have done ourselves.

Man should not be honored above what honor is due him—even if the individual is one of the seven messengers. For instance, sometimes praise is given to the Pastor more than to God and Jesus. In some respects, sincere Christians in the nominal Church have a better appreciation of the need to emphasize the Lord, and they would be shocked to hear some of our expressions. In the Book of Revelation, when John fell at the feet of the messenger to worship him, the messenger said, “See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10). The Pastor had such a wonderful understanding of the divine plan that people just sat and listened in awe. The awe is all right as long as it is centered in God’s wisdom spoken through a human being. The source (God) must always be kept in mind.

In Revelation 22:9, a similar statement is again made to John: “Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.” The first time the “fellowservant” was a dispensational servant, but this time the “fellowservant” is the risen Jesus. Even he said to John in vision, “See thou do it not! Worship God.”

“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.” Any ability comes from God and not from ourselves.

Q: Does the statement “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” apply to all conversation?

A: No, an oracle speaks more along the line of interpretation. There was an oracle in Delphi and another one in Egypt in the desert, to whom people went to have their questions answered. People felt that the oracles gave them a touch with the Creator.

In other words, it is dangerous for a novice to speak as an oracle of God unless he speaks on things that he knows. Speculative matters should be treated as such. Prophetic interpretation should be backed up with two or three witnesses in the Word.

A wrong conclusion could be drawn; namely, that whenever we speak, we should speak with authority and conviction as though declaring the oracles of God. Instead the point is that we should study a matter thoroughly before speaking to make sure we are speaking according to and in harmony with the oracles of God.

The result is then a qualified, limited, disciplined speaking. In fact, manifesting charity, extending hospitality, having a gift or talent, and speaking should all be done judiciously, in harmony with God’s Word. All of these are to be disciplined qualities—disciplined according to the Word.

“If any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth.” When a Christian serves, he is to serve according to the ability or strength that God gives.

The purpose of so speaking and so serving is so “that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” In other words, we should speak or serve to glorify God. “To God be praise and dominion for ever and ever.”

Q: Does this verse also warn against levity in regard to the Word?

A: That is not the main thrust here, but it is a good observation. “The end of all things is at hand,” so we are to be sober (1 Pet. 4:7). However, we are not all to go around with a downcast look, for some are more cheerful by temperament. But even one who is bubbly by nature must learn to control the quality so that it does not get out of hand. However, the clause “That God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ” would affect even idle conversation. At all times, we should have a certain consciousness of decorum and reverence for the Lord and of our being ambassadors for Christ.

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

1 Pet. 4:13 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.

Comment: Again there seems to be a hint of problems coming in among the consecrated at the end of the age.

Reply: As mentioned previously, this epistle was written to, and thus is primarily directed to, the Jewish believers in Asia Minor just prior to the holocaust of AD 69–70. Once the epistle served its purpose for that early application, it became a general epistle to the Gentile Church.

When we consider the second epistle, which zeros in on the end of the age, we can see that there are hints along the same line in the first epistle.

Comment: Verse 12 fits in with 1 Peter 1:7, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”

Reply: Yes, the verses are related, and they both mention the fiery trial and the appearance of Jesus or his glory being revealed. The fact Peter repeats the theme shows that at the time he wrote the epistle, that particular thought was very prominent in his mind. It puts the whole theme of the first epistle in a nutshell, namely, to be prepared for the very hard experience that would come. Peter directed the epistle to those churches in Asia Minor that he ministered to.

The Apostle Paul had a much larger field of operation in Asia Minor. Paul’s statement in 2 Timothy 1:15 near the conclusion of his ministry that all in Asia had forsaken him was profound, for it shows that a severe trial did come in among the churches in Asia Minor. The trial was so severe that from a group standpoint, the great majority turned away from Paul.

“This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.” The Church at Galatia had a hard trial with the Jewish Christian element insisting that Christians must obey the ceremonial aspects of the Law of Moses as well as the teachings of Christ. Paul was very emphatic: “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth” (Gal. 3:1). Other churches had similar experiences at that time. Hence Peter speaks of the coming “fiery trial.”

“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.” The “exceeding joy” to come when Christ’s “glory shall be revealed” will more than compensate for any trials and sufferings in the present life.

This “fiery trial” is limited to a particular type of trial: being partakers of Christ’s sufferings.

There are other types of trials, such as to develop patience or to endure sickness, but these trials are not necessarily suffering for Christ. There is a distinction between self-denial and cross bearing (suffering for Christ). The latter category is higher.

Instead of “the fiery trial which is to try you,” the Diaglott has “the burning among you.” This gives a dispensational aspect at the end of the age regarding a “fiery trial” within the Church itself (in addition to a general application all down the age). “Be not surprised at the burning among you, occurring to you for a trial, as though some strange thing has befallen you.” This verse hints of a condition to come where the faithful feet members will seem to be on the outs. Regarded as problem makers, they will be ostracized, but when this happens, if we are the recipient of such treatment, we are to “rejoice,” for we will be “partakers of Christ’s sufferings.”

When Christ’s glory is later revealed, it will be apparent that the stand taken was the correct one.

1 Peter 2:20 speaks of suffering for well doing as, for example, when witnessing to the world. However, verses 12 and 13 are limited more to trials occurring in the professed Church. Verse 14 helps to verify this thought: we are to be happy if we are reproached for the name of Christ. Verse 17 also pinpoints the trial as pertaining to the professed Church: “judgment must begin at the house of God.”

1 Pet. 4:14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; 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.

When we are “reproached for the name of Christ, … the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you.” In 1 Peter 1:7, the apostle spoke about how valuable a trial is, saying the proof of our faith is more precious than gold. If we carry that thought to this chapter, it means that when one is reproached, the spirit of glory and of reward is there. We are laying up treasure in heaven if we properly receive the trial. The treasures accumulate and are laid up in reservation.

However, we must always be careful lest we are too confident of where we stand with the Lord, for anything can happen at any time and strange things do occur. Although it is a developmental process when one falls away, the deflection often appears to be sudden.

Comment: 1 Peter 1:19,20 is encouragement for one going through a persecuting experience. “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.”

The faithful will be “reproached for the name of Christ,” for his cause, for his Word. If we stand up for a principle, even among the consecrated, we can suffer just as much as if we were doing this in the world.

1 Pet. 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.

Peter is warning the Christian not to “suffer” in any of these categories. The odd thing is that people who “busybody” in other people’s affairs often have problems themselves which they do not see. It is easy to give advice, but we will be held accountable for wrong advice. Those in a teaching capacity are even more responsible than those in ordinary fellowship, but all are accountable for advice given to others. Some people seem to delight in giving instructions and admonitions, not realizing that they themselves will be inspected accordingly.

Comment: Someone said, “Free advice is the most expensive advice you will ever get.”

Reply: That could be amended to read, “Free advice is the most expensive advice you will ever give.” There is a cost attached to the giver of wrong advice. “By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matt. 12:37).

Q: If a brother was guilty of serious misconduct and we brought it to the attention of others, we could be called busybodies. How would we respond to such a charge?

A: We should analyze the particular incident involved. The warning against being a busybody in other men’s matters is a general statement, and it is true that we do not want to be a buttinsky, which could take the form of either faultfinding or sincerely believing we are helping the individual but giving the wrong advice. For example, giving advice in marital affairs can be a dangerous form of busybodying. We would be responsible for pushing the person in the wrong direction and causing more problems.

Comment: To be a busybody is different from evil speaking, for a busybody talks to the person face to face and evil speaking is talking behind the person’s back.

Comment: An example of a busybody is a sister who could not understand why we had to disfellowship a certain party. She kept butting into the situation by sending letter after letter.

Comment: Being a busybody is habitual; it is a pattern of behavior.

1 Pet. 4:16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

Suffering as a Christian requires self-analysis. In experiences where we are ostracized, we must judge what produced this “unfavorable” response. Have we brought the experience on ourselves by not doing what is Scriptural? If we have tried to obey God and conscience, then we should glorify God for the privilege of suffering as a Christian.

We need quiet time to reflect and grow and to analyze our thoughts, words, and doings. Even though during his earthly ministry Jesus predominated in the conversations and situations, he felt the need to draw aside and go to a mountain alone to pray to the Father. He sought solitude. Hence quietness is helpful for self-appraisal of our ministry, conduct, and influence.

Generally speaking, our experiences are partially due to a lack of tact. Those who have natural tact are fortunate as long as principles are not compromised.

1 Pet. 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

“The time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God.” Which “judgment” is Peter referring to? He is not talking about the judgment and inspection of our conduct throughout our Christian walk but about a future judgment and inspection.

Comment: The word “begin” indicates a progression in judgment starting with the true Church, then the nominal Church, the Great Company, Israel, and the world of mankind.

Reply: Dispensational judgment is broken up into sequential segments, as discussed at the Future Events Conference. This epistle applies to the Christian Church, which is composed of both Jews and Gentiles. At the end of the age, the judgment begins with the Little Flock. When Babylon falls, the Great Company will be released. Then Jacob’s Trouble will occur.

In regard to Jewish Christians in Asia Minor at the beginning of the Gospel Age, Peter was hinting that they would go into the pressure cooker. He wanted them to be prepared and not think it strange as these experiences came on them with more and more severity, for God deemed the trials necessary for proving and developing them. Jewish Christians, among whom were Aquila and Priscilla, left Rome when Nero issued a certain decree.

To us, living dispensationally at this end of the age, the proof of our faith will be in proportion to the severity of the trial. If harsh decrees are made, we will be affected as a group as well as individually. How we react to the hour of power will have a bearing on our destiny.

Comment: The individual aspect of judgment is treated in Revelation 22:11, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.”

Verses 17–19 are dispensational. “Judgment must begin at the house of God [at the end of the age].” And if judgment first begins with us, “what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God [after hearing and understanding it]?” This contrast will occur within the Church itself. A consecrated class will not be obedient and thus will not be saved. (Verse 18 continues this thought.) The disobedient consecrated are compared with the obedient consecrated. The phrase “them that obey not the gospel” does not refer to the world, for if it did, the world would be put on the same level with the Church. Many in the nominal system mistakenly use this text to try to prove that those who do not believe now, in the present life, are doomed.

However, the context shows that Peter is talking only to the consecrated. The world does not have the standard of the Great Company or the Little Flock.

Therefore, verse 17 refers to those who are consecrated to obey but do not and thus go into Second Death. They are eternally lost, and the “righteous” are eternally saved (from eternal death). Verse 17 is saying, “If judgment begins with us, what shall the end be of those of us who obey not the gospel?” Tares are not included in this verse, just the consecrated or Spiritbegotten.

1 Pet. 4:18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

This verse is very sobering, but how many think along this line? Brethren are generally so enthralled with the love of God that they do not consider this aspect. We criticize those in the nominal Church who feel so confident they are “saved,” but the same attitude can exist among us. Instead of comparing ourselves with one another, we must compare ourselves with Christ.

The two righteous classes are the Little Flock and the Great Company. However, since the same Apostle Peter says that the Little Flock will be given an abundant entrance into the Kingdom, he is not speaking of them in verse 18 (2 Pet. 1:11). It is the Great Company who will “scarcely be saved.” Likened to righteous Lot, the Great Company are a virgin class but a foolish class. For the righteous Great Company to be scarcely saved, it means they will have a hard experience in the great tribulation (Rev. 7:14). They must wash their robes and be finished as a class before the Ransom merit can be released and the Kingdom can start.

Then who would “the ungodly and the sinner” be? The ungodly of the consecrated are the Second Death class. Of course the world of mankind are ungodly and are in their trespasses and sins, but that is not the emphasis here, for their trial is in the Kingdom Age. They are not specially on trial now.

1 Pet. 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 key phrase is “according to the will of God.” Many suffer many things in the present life, but meritorious suffering is according to the will of God. Those who suffer thus are to “commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing.” Jesus did this on the Cross when he said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). At the time of death, Christians sometimes question their relationship with God as Jesus did when he cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). To have this doubt is no proof of unfaithfulness, for Christians often have checkered experiences, that is, ups and downs. One minute they feel providentially blessed because of something favorable that has happened, and a short while later they feel low.

Comment: The end of verse 13 tells us that if we are faithful partakers of Christ’s sufferings, we will make our calling and election sure and thus “be glad … with exceeding joy.” The Little Flock will have exceeding joy, whereas the Great Company will just have joy. And Peter is talking of the Little Flock in 2 Peter 1:4 when he says, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.” In contrast, the Great Company will just get promises. Over and over Peter dispensationally urges the consecrated to more and more faithfulness, stressing the excelling joy and glory of those who can make the grade versus those who just squeak in as Great Company.

1981, 1996

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