1 Peter 4:1-11
ENDURE SUFFERING FOR A WHILE
1 Peter 4:1-6
Christians are to view suffering the same way Jesus did (4:1). Peter continues his discussion of the implications of Christ’s suffering for suffering Christians. Since Christ suffered, Christians should follow in his footsteps which lead to suffering. Suffering is a promise for those who choose Christ. Jesus’ invited people to deny themselves, “take up their cross” and follow after him (Matthew 16:24). The first Christians suffered because of their allegiance to and proclamation of the faith (Acts 4; Acts 8:1-4). Peter has already discussed the blessedness of those who suffer as a Christian (1 Peter 4:16).
Since Christians are to live in such a way as to encounter suffering, it is fitting that they should imitate the mind of Christ during their trial. The word “suffer” παθόντος is defined as the one to whom something happened. It speaks of the events immediately preceding Christ’s death. This was a one time suffering for sin (1 Peter 3:18). Christians are “to arm yourselves (prepare) with the same way of thinking (mind)”. Paul has also exhorted Christians to “have the mind of Christ” in Philippians 2:5-10. The words of suffering in Philippians 2 and the exhortation in 1 Peter 3:18-22 both conclude with the glorification of Christ with God (Hebrews 12:2). This is the way Christians should view their suffering—a prerequisite to glorification with God. Romans 8:18 says, “for I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward.”
Suffering for righteousness helps one to cease from sin (4:1-6). Peter said, “he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” Bigg explains this to mean “he that in meekness and fear hath endured persecutions, rather than join in the wicked ways of the heathen, can be trusted to do right; temptation has manifestly no power over him.”
In view of the numerous coincidences with Romans in other parts of the Epistle, and a careful comparison shews that St Peter is following the same line of thought as Paul (in Romans). Paul’s argument is that in Baptism the Christian professes to have shared in Christ’s death and resurrection. Now Christ died to sin once and for all (ἐφάπαξ). He is no longer under the dominion of death. He lives unto God. So the baptized Christian is ideally dead to the regime of sin. Death has cancelled the old bonds of slavery. If sin tries to reclaim him as his slave, sin will lose his suit on the ground that the slave is dead. He is acquitted against the claims of sin and is therefore bound to live unto God and not revert to the old life of sin.
It should be understood that being saved does not mean one will never sin. It does mean that those who are saved have an increased responsibility to live in holiness before God (Romans 6:1).
The time invested in sin before salvation should suffice for the enjoyment of the pleasures of sin. Since one has been born again, that individual should live for God and not for self (1 Peter 4:2-3). This time of sin is described generally as “the desire of the Gentiles” and specifically as to:
1. *Have walked in lasciviousness– In the NT ἀσέλγεια normally has a sensual meaning and refers esp. to sexual debauchery:
2. *Lusts—1 John 2:15-17
3. *Winebibbings– isolated outbreaks of excessive drinking
4. *Revellings– A feasting, used in the pl. only in the NT meaning riotous conduct (Rom. 13:13); revellings (Gal. 5:21; 1 Pet. 4:3); festivities in honor of several gods, especially Bacchus, the god of wine, hence feastings and drunkenness with impurity and obscenity of the grossest kind. Therefore, it always presupposes a festive company and drunken revellers
5. *Carousing– drinking parties involving unrestrained indulgence in alcoholic beverages and accompanying immoral behavior—‘orgy, revelling, carousing.’
6. *Abominable idolatries—1 Corinthians 10:14
Those who practice such things will despise those who reject ungodliness, yet God will be the final Judge of all (4:4-6). We can’t afford to live for the approval of worldly minded people and unspiritual brethren (Galatians 1:10). All people are bound to stand before the Judge of all the earth, therefore we must live to please Him. With the day of Judgment in mind, Peter reminds the readers of the Christian mission. They have received the Gospel which, though it often incurs persecution, will ultimately free its followers from death and deliver them over to everlasting life with God. Because they have accepted the Gospel and obeyed it, they are expected to continue the Christian mission of evangelism. Preaching to those who are “dead” is to preach to those who are lost. Those who are lost are spiritually “dead” (Ephesians 2:1etc).
LIVE IN GLORY FOREVER
1 Peter 4:7-11
The end of suffering and service will come rapidly, so there are some important things to do before that time comes. Since the end is at hand and all people will stand before God for judgment, the Christians are given a list of things to achieve.
1. *Be sober
2. *Watch unto prayer
3. *Above all have fervent charity (keep loving one another earnestly” ESV).
4. *Allow love to cover a multitude of sins
5. *Show hospitality without grumbling
6. *Be good stewards of the opportunities God has given you
The end of suffering and service will be rewarded with the glorification of God among his people. The purpose of life “so that in all things” is that “God may be glorified.” This should be our main concern. Daniel’s three friends trusted God and walked into the fiery furnace with their lives at his disposal. The apostles surrendered their lives to God’s purpose and care. We do this by:
1. *making heavenly investments (Matthew 6:20),
2. *being compelled by God’s love (2 Corinthians 5:14),
3. *pouring out our lives for his service (Philippians 2:17, 30; Philippians 3:7-15