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1 Peter Chapter Four


1 Peter 4

From the beginning of this chapter to the end of verse, the apostle continues to speak of the general principles of God's government, exhorting, the Christian to act on the principles of Christ Him elf, which would cause him to avoid the walk condemned by that government, while waiting for the judgment of the world by the Christ whom he served. Christ glorified, as we saw at the close of the previous chapter, was ready to judge; and they who were exasperated against the Christians, and who were led by their own passions, without caring for the coming judgment, would have to give account to that Judge whom they refused to own as Saviour.

Here, it will be observed, it is suffering for righteousness' sake (chap 2:19; 3:17) in connection with the government and judgment of God. The principle was this: they accepted, they followed the Saviour whom the world and the nation rejected; they walked in His holy footsteps in righteousness, as pilgrims and strangers, abandoning the corruption that reigned in the world. Walking in peace and following after good, they avoided to a certain extent the attacks of others; and the eyes of Him, who watches from on high over all things, rested upon the righteous. Nevertheless, in the relations of ordinary life (chap. 2:18), and in their intercourse with men, they might have to suffer, and to bear flagrant injustice. Now the time of God's judgment was not yet come. Christ was in heaven; He had been rejected on the earth, and the Christian's part was to follow Him. The time of the manifestation of the government of God would be at the judgment which Christ should execute. Meanwhile His walk on earth had furnished the pattern of that which the God of judgment approved. (Chap. 2:21-23, 4:1 and following verses.)

They were to do good, to suffer for it, and to be patient. This is well-pleasing to God; this is what Christ did. It was better that they should suffer for doing well, if God saw fit, than for doing ill. Christ (chap.2:24) had borne our sins, had suffered for our sins, the Just for the unjust, in order that we, being dead to sins, should live for righteousness, and in order to bring us unto God Himself. Christ is now on high; He is ready to judge. When the judgment shall come, the principles of God's government will be manifested and shall prevail.

The beginning of chapter 4 requires some rather more detailed remarks. The death of Christ is there applied to practical death unto sins; a state presented in contrast with the life of the Gentiles.

Christ on the cross (the apostle alludes to verse 18 of the preceding chapter) suffered in the flesh for us. He died in fact as regards His human life. We must arm ourselves with the same mind, and allow of no activity of life or passions according to the will of the old man, but suffer as to the flesh, never yielding to its will. Sin is the action in us of the will of the flesh, the will of the man as alive in this world. When this will acts, the principle of sin is there; for we ought to obey. The will of God ought to be the spring of our moral life; and so much the more, because now that we have the knowledge of good and evil-now that the will of the flesh, unsubject to God, is in us, we must either take the will of God as our only motive, or act according to the will of the flesh, for the latter is always present in us.

Christ came to obey, He chose to die, to suffer all things rather than not obey. He thus died to sin, which never for a moment found an entrance into His heart. With Him, tempted to the uttermost, death was preferred rather than disobedience, even when death had the character of wrath against sin and judgment. Bitter as the cup was, He drank it rather than not fulfill to the uttermost His Father's will, and glorify Him. Tried to the uttermost and perfect in it, the temptation which ever assailed Him from without and sought entrance (for He had none within) was always kept outside; was never entered into, nor found a movement of His will towards it; drew out obedience, or the perfection of the divine thoughts in man; and by dying, by suffering in the flesh, He had done with it all, done with sin for ever, and entered for ever into rest, after having been tried to the uttermost, [1] as regards the trial of faith, the conflict of the spiritual life.

Now it is the same thing with respect to ourselves in daily life. If I suffer in the flesh, the will of the flesh is assuredly not in action; and the flesh, in that I suffer, is practically dead-I have nothing more to do with sins. [2] We then are freed from it, have done with it, and are at rest. If we are content to suffer, the will does not act; sin is not there, as to fact; for to suffer is not will, it is grace acting in accordance with the image and the mind of Christ in the new man; and we are freed from the action of the old man. It does not act; we rest from it; we have done with it, no longer to live, for the remainder of our life here below in the flesh, according to the lusts of man, but according to the will of God, which the new man follows.

It is enough to have spent the past time of our lives in doing the will of the Gentiles (he still speaks to Christians of the circumcision), and in committing the excesses to which they addicted themselves, while they wondered at Christians for refusing to do the same; speaking evil of them for this reason. But they would have to give account to Him, who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

The Jews were accustomed to the judgment of the living, for they were the centre of God's government on the earth. The judgment of the dead, with which we are more familiar, had not been definitely revealed to them. They were liable nevertheless to this judgment; for it was with this object that the promises of God were presented to them while living, in order that they might either live according to God in the spirit, or be judged as men responsible for what they had done in the flesh. For the one or other of these results would be produced in every one who heard the promises. Thus, in regard to the Jews, the judgment of the dead would take place in connection with the promises that had been set before them. For this testimony from God placed all who heard it under responsibility, so that they would be judged as men who had to give account to God of their conduct in the flesh, unless they came out of this position of life in the flesh by being quickened through the power of the word addressed to them, applied by the energy of the Spirit; so that they escaped from the flesh through the spiritual life which they received.

Now the end of all things was at hand. The apostle, while speaking of the great principle of responsibility in connection with the testimony of God, draws the attention of believers to the solemn thought of the end of all these things on which the flesh rested. This end drew near.

Here, observe, Peter presents, not the coming of the Lord to receive His own, nor His manifestation with them, but that moment of the solemn sanction of the ways of God, when every refuge of the flesh shall disappear, and all the thoughts of man perish forever.

As regards the relations of God with the world in government, the destruction of Jerusalem, although it was not "the end," was of immense importance because it destroyed the very seat of that government on the earth in which the Messiah ought to have reigned, and shall yet reign.

God watches over all things, takes care of His own, counts the hairs of their heads, makes everything contribute to their highest good, but this is in the midst of a world which He no longer owns. For not only is, the earthly and direct government of God set aside, which took place in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, and, in a certain sense, in those of Saul; but the Messiah, who ought to reign in it, has been rejected, and has taken the heavenly place in resurrection which forms the subject of this epistle.

The destruction of Jerusalem (which was to take place in those days) was the final abolition of even the traces of that government, until the Lord shall return. The relations of an earthly people with God, on the ground of man's responsibility, were ended. The general government of God took the place of the former; a government always the same in principle, but which, Jesus having suffered on the earth, still allowed His members to suffer here below. And until the time of judgment, the wicked will persecute the righteous, and the righteous must have patience. With regard to the nation, those relations only subsisted till the destruction of Jerusalem; the unbelieving hopes of the Jews, as a nation, were judicially overthrown. The apostle speaks here in a general way, and in view of the effect of the solemn truth of the end of all things, for Christ is still "ready to judge;" and if there is delay, it is because God wills not the death of the sinner, and that He prolongs the time of grace.

In view of this end of all that we see, we ought to be sober, and watch in order to pray. We ought to have the heart thus exercised towards God, who changes not, who will never pass away, and who preserves us through all the difficulties and temptations of this passing scene until the day of deliverance which is coming. Instead of allowing ourselves to be carried away by present and visible things, we must bridle self and will, and commune with God. This leads the apostle to the inner position of Christians, their relations among themselves, not with God's general government of the world. They follow because they are Christians, Christ Himself. The first thing that he enforces on them is fervent charity; not merely long-suffering, which would prevent any outbreak of the anger of the flesh, but an energy of love, which by stamping its character on all the ways of Christians towards each other, would practically set aside the action of the flesh, and make manifest the divine presence and action.

Now this love covered a multitude of sins. He is not speaking here with a view to ultimate pardon, but of the present notice which God takes-His present relations of government with His people; for we have present relationships with God. If the assembly is at variance, if there is little love, if the intercourse among Christians is with straightened hearts and difficult, the existing evil, the mutual wrongs, subsist before God: but if there is love, which neither commits nor resents any wrongs, but pardons such things, and only finds in them occasion for its own exercise, it is then the love which the eye of God rests upon, and not the evil. Even if there are misdeeds--sins-love occupies itself about them, the offender is brought back, is restored, by the charity of the assembly; the sins are removed from the eye of God, they are covered. It is a quotation from the Book of Proverbs 10:12": Hatred stirreth up strife, but love covereth all sins." We have a right to forgive them--to wash the feet of our brother. (Compare James 5:15, and 1 John 5:16.) We not only forgive, but love maintains the assembly before God according to His own nature so that He can bless it.

Christians ought to exercise hospitality towards each other with all liberality. It is the expression of love, and tends much to maintain it: we are no longer strangers to each other. Gifts come next after the exercise of grace. All comes from God. As every one had received the gift, he was to serve in the gift, as a steward of the varied grace of God. It is God who gives; the Christian is a servant, and under responsibility as a steward, on God's part. He is to ascribe all to God, in a direct way to God. If he speaks, he is to speak as an oracle of God, that is, as speaking on God's part, and not from himself. If any one serves in things temporal, let him do it as in a power and an ability that come from God, so that, whether one speaks or serves, God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To Him, the apostle adds, be praise and dominion. Amen.

After these exhortations he comes to suffering for the name of Christ. They were not to view the fiery persecutions that came to try them, as some strange thing that had befallen them. On the contrary, they were connected with a suffering and rejected Christ; they partook therefore in His sufferings, and were to rejoice in it. He would soon appear, and these sufferings for His sake should turn to their exceeding joy at the revelation of His glory. They were therefore to rejoice at sharing His sufferings, in order to be filled with abounding joy when His glory should be revealed. If they were reproached for the name of Christ, it was happy for them. The Spirit of God rested on them. It was the name of Christ that brought reproach on them. He was in the glory with God; the Spirit, who came from that glory and that God, filled them with joy in bearing the reproach. It was Christ who was reproached-Christ who was glorified- reproached by the enemies of the gospel, while Christians had the joy of glorifying Him. It will be observed, that in this passage, it is for Christ Himself (as it has been said) that the believer suffers; and, therefore, the apostle speaks of glory and joy at the appearing of Jesus Christ, which he does not mention in chapters 2:20; 3:17. (Compare Matt. 5:10, and ver. 11,12 of the same chapter.)

As an evil-doer then the Christian ought never to suffer; but if he suffered as a Christian, he was not to be ashamed, but to glorify God for it. The apostle then returns to the government of God; for these sufferings of believers had also another character. To the individual who suffered, it was a glory: he shared the sufferings of Christ, and the Spirit of glory and of God rested on him; and all this should turn to abounding joy when the glory was revealed. But God had no pleasure in allowing His people to suffer. He permitted it; and if Christ had to suffer for us when He who knew no sin did not need it for Himself, the people of God have often need on their own account to be exercised with suffering. God uses the wicked, the enemies of the name of Christ, for this purpose. Job is the book that explains this, independently of all dispensations. But in every form of God's dealings, He exercises His judgments according to the order He has established. He did so with Israel, He does so with the assembly. The latter has a heavenly portion; and if she attaches herself to the earth, God allows the enemy to trouble her. Perhaps the individual who suffers is full of faith and devoted love to the Lord; but, under persecution, the heart feels that the world is not its rest, that it must have its portion elsewhere, its strength elsewhere. We are not of the world which persecutes us. If the faithful servant of God is cut off from this world by persecution, it strengthens faith, for God is in it; but they from the midst of whom he is cut off; suffer and feel that the hand of God was in it: His dealings take the form of judgment, always in perfect love, but in discipline.

God judges everything according to His own nature. He desires that all should be in accordance with His nature. No upright and honourable man would like to have the wicked near him, and always before him; God assuredly would not. And in that which is nearest to Him, He must above all desire that every thing should correspond to His nature and His holiness -to all that He is. I would have everything around me clean enough not to disgrace me; but in my own house I must have such cleanness as I personally desire. Thus judgment must begin at the house of God: the apostle alludes to Ezekiel 9:6. It is a solemn principle. No grace, no privilege, changes the nature of God; and everything must be conformed to that nature, or, in the end, must be banished from His presence. Grace can conform us, and it does. It bestows thedivine nature, so that there is a principle of absolute conformity to God. But as to practical conformity in thought and deed, the heart and the conscience must be exercised, in order that the understanding of the heart, and the habitual desires and aspirations of the will, should be formed upon the revelation of God, and continually directed towards Him.

Now if this conformity should so fail that the testimony of God is injured by its absence, God, who judges His people, and who will judge evil every where, does so by means of the chastisements which He inflicts. Judgment begins at the house of God. The righteous are saved with difficulty. It is evidently not redemption or justification that is here intended, nor the communication of life: those whom the apostle addresses were in possession of them. To our apostle "salvation" is not only the present enjoyment of the salvation of the soul, but the full deliverance of the faithful, which will take place at the coming of Christ in glory. All the temptations are contemplated, all the trials, all the dangers, through which the Christian will pass in reaching the end of his career. All the power of God is requisite, directed by divine wisdom, guiding and sustaining faith, to carry the Christian safely through the wilderness where Satan employs all the resources of his subtlety to make him perish. The power of God will accomplish it; but, from the human point of view, the difficulties are almost His judgment conformable to the principles of good and evil in His government; and who will in nowise deny Himself in dealing with the enemy of our souls-if the righteous were saved with difficulty, what would become of the sinner and the ungodly? To join them would not be the way to escape these difficulties. In suffering as a Christian, there was but one thing to do-to commit oneself to Him who watched over the judgment that He was executing. For, as it was His hand, one suffered according to His will. It was this that Christ did.

Observe here, that it is not only the government of God, but there is the expression, "as unto a faithful Creator." The Spirit of God moves here in this sphere. It is the relationship of God with this world, and the soul knows Him as the One who created it, and who does not forsake the work of His hands. This is Jewish ground-God known in His connection with the first creation. Trust in Him is founded on Christ; but God is known in His ways with this world, and with us in our pilgrimage here below, where He governs, and where He judges Christians, as He will judge all others.


[1] It is not, as in the Authorised Version, " yet without sin," true as that may be, but "choris hamartia", "sin apart." We are tempted, being led away by our own lusts. Christ had all our difficulties, all our temptations, on the way, but had nothing in Himself which could lead Him wrong-far surely from it- nothing which answered to the temptation.

[2] Peter rests on the effect; Paul, as ever, goes to the root, Romans 6.

── John DarbySynopsis of 1 Peter


1 Peter 4

Chapter Contents

The consideration of Christ's sufferings is urged for purity and holiness. (1-6) And the approaching end of the Jewish state, as a reason for sobriety, watchfulness, and prayer. (7-11) Believers encouraged to rejoice and glory in reproaches and sufferings for Christ, and to commit their souls to the care of a faithful God. (12-19)

Commentary on 1 Peter 4:1-6

(Read 1 Peter 4:1-6)

The strongest and best arguments against sin, are taken from the sufferings of Christ. He died to destroy sin; and though he cheerfully submitted to the worst sufferings, yet he never gave way to the least sin. Temptations could not prevail, were it not for man's own corruption; but true Christians make the will of God, not their own lust or desires, the rule of their lives and actions. And true conversion makes a marvellous change in the heart and life. It alters the mind, judgment, affections, and conversation. When a man is truly converted, it is very grievous to him to think how the time past of his life has been spent. One sin draws on another. Six sins are here mentioned which have dependence one upon another. It is a Christian's duty, not only to keep from gross wickedness, but also from things that lead to sin, or appear evil. The gospel had been preached to those since dead, who by the proud and carnal judgment of wicked men were condemned as evil-doers, some even suffering death. But being quickened to Divine life by the Holy Spirit, they lived to God as his devoted servants. Let not believers care, though the world scorns and reproaches them.

Commentary on 1 Peter 4:7-11

(Read 1 Peter 4:7-11)

The destruction of the Jewish church and nation, foretold by our Saviour, was very near. And the speedy approach of death and judgment concerns all, to which these words naturally lead our minds. Our approaching end, is a powerful argument to make us sober in all worldly matters, and earnest in religion. There are so many things amiss in all, that unless love covers, excuses, and forgives in others, the mistakes and faults for which every one needs the forbearance of others, Satan will prevail to stir up divisions and discords. But we are not to suppose that charity will cover or make amends for the sins of those who exercise it, so as to induce God to forgive them. The nature of a Christian's work, which is high work and hard work, the goodness of the Master, and the excellence of the reward, all require that our endeavours should be serious and earnest. And in all the duties and services of life, we should aim at the glory of God as our chief end. He is a miserable, unsettled wretch, who cleaves to himself, and forgets God; is only perplexed about his credit, and gain, and base ends, which are often broken, and which, when he attains, both he and they must shortly perish together. But he who has given up himself and his all to God, may say confidently that the Lord is his portion; and nothing but glory through Christ Jesus, is solid and lasting; that abideth for ever.

Commentary on 1 Peter 4:12-19

(Read 1 Peter 4:12-19)

By patience and fortitude in suffering, by dependence on the promises of God, and keeping to the word the Holy Spirit hath revealed, the Holy Spirit is glorified; but by the contempt and reproaches cast upon believers, he is evil spoken of, and is blasphemed. One would think such cautions as these were needless to Christians. But their enemies falsely charged them with foul crimes. And even the best of men need to be warned against the worst of sins. There is no comfort in sufferings, when we bring them upon ourselves by our own sin and folly. A time of universal calamity was at hand, as foretold by our Saviour, Matthew 24:9,10. And if such things befall in this life, how awful will the day of judgment be! It is true that the righteous are scarcely saved; even those who endeavour to walk uprightly in the ways of God. This does not mean that the purpose and performance of God are uncertain, but only the great difficulties and hard encounters in the way; that they go through so many temptations and tribulations, so many fightings without and fears within. Yet all outward difficulties would be as nothing, were it not for lusts and corruptions within. These are the worst clogs and troubles. And if the way of the righteous be so hard, then how hard shall be the end of the ungodly sinner, who walks in sin with delight, and thinks the righteous is a fool for all his pains! The only way to keep the soul well, is, to commit it to God by prayer, and patient perseverance in well-doing. He will overrule all to the final advantage of the believer.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on 1 Peter


1 Peter 4

Verse 1

[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;

Arm yourselves with the same mind — Which will be armour of proof against all your enemies.

For he that hath suffered in the flesh — That hath so suffered as to he thereby made inwardly and truly conformable to the sufferings of Christ.

Hath ceased from sin — Is delivered from it.

Verse 2

[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.

That ye may no longer live in the flesh — Even in this mortal body.

To the desires of men — Either your own or those of others. These are various; but the will of God is one.

Verse 3

[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:

Revellings, banquetings — Have these words any meaning now? They had, seventeen hundred years ago. Then the former meant, meetings to eat; meetings, the direct end of which was, to please the taste: the latter, meetings to drink: both of which Christians then ranked with abominable idolatries.

Verse 4

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

The same — As ye did once.

Speaking evil of you — As proud, singular, silly, wicked and the like.

Verse 5

[5] Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.

Who shall give account — Of this, as well as all their other ways.

To him who is ready — So faith represents him now.

Verse 6

[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 to this end was the gospel preached — Ever since it was given to Adam.

To them that are now dead — In their several generations.

That they might be judged — That though they were judged. In the flesh according to the manner of men - With rash, unrighteous judgment. They might live according to the will and word of God, in the Spirit; the soul renewed after his image.

Verse 7

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

But the end of all things — And so of their wrongs, and your sufferings.

Is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer — Temperance helps watchfulness, and both of them help prayer. Watch, that ye may pray; and pray, that ye may watch.

Verse 8

[8] And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

Love covereth a multitude of sins — Yea, "love covereth all things." He that loves another, covers his faults, how many soever they be. He turns away his own eyes from them; and, as far as is possible, hides them from others. And he continually prays that all the sinner's iniquities may be forgiven and his sins covered. Meantime the God of love measures to him with the same measure into his bosom.

Verse 9

[9] Use hospitality one to another without grudging.

One to another — Ye that are of different towns or countries.

Without murmuring — With all cheerfulness. Proverbs 10:12.

Verse 10

[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.

As every one hath received a gift — Spiritual or temporal, ordinary or extraordinary, although the latter seems primarily intended.

So minister it one to another — Employ it for the common good.

As good stewards of the manifold grace of God — The talents wherewith his free love has intrusted you.

Verse 11

[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.

If any man speak, let him — In his whole conversation, public and private.

Speak as the oracles of God — Let all his words be according to this pattern, both as to matter and manner, more especially in public. By this mark we may always know who are, so far, the true or false prophets. The oracles of God teach that men should repent, believe, obey. He that treats of faith and leaves out repentance, or does not enjoin practical holiness to believers, does not speak as the oracles of God: he does not preach Christ, let him think as highly of himself as he will.

If any man minister — Serve his brother in love, whether in spintuals or temporals.

Let him minister as of the ability which God giveth — That is, humbly and diligently, ascribing all his power to God, and using it with his might.

Whose is the glory — of his wisdom, which teaches us to speak.

And the might — Which enables us to act.

Verse 12

[12] Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

Wonder not at the burning which is among you — This is the literal meaning of the expression. It seems to include both martyrdom itself, which so frequently was by fire, and all the other sufferings joined with, or previous to, it; which is permitted by the wisdom of God for your trial. Be not surprised at this.

Verse 13

[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.

But as ye partake of the sufferings of Christ1 Peter 4:1, while ye suffer for his sake, rejoice in hope of more abundant glory. For the measure of glory answers the measure of suffering; and much more abundantly.

Verse 14

[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.

If ye are reproached for Christ — Reproaches and cruel mockings were always one part of their sufferings.

The Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you — The same Spirit which was upon Christ, Luke 4:18. He is here termed, the Spirit of glory, conquering all reproach and shame, and the Spirit of God, whose Son, Jesus Christ is.

On their part he is blasphemed, but on your part he is glorified — That is, while they are blaspheming Christ, you glorify him in the midst of your sufferings, 1 Peter 4:16.

Verse 15

[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.

Let none of you deservedly suffer, as an evildoer - In any kind.

Verse 16

[16] Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

Let him glorify God — Who giveth him the honour so to suffer, and so great a reward for suffering.

Verse 17

[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 for judgment to begin at the house of God — God first visits his church, and that both in justice and mercy.

What shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel — How terribly will he visit them! The judgments which are milder at the beginning, grow more and more severe. But good men, having already sustained their part, are only spectators of the miseries of the wicked.

Verse 18

[18] And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

If the righteous scarcely be saved — Escape with the utmost difficulty.

Where shall the ungodly — The man who knows not God. And the open sinner appear - In that day of vengeance. The salvation here primarily spoken of is of a temporal nature. But we may apply the words to eternal things, and then they are still more awful. Proverbs 11:31.

Verse 19

[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.

Let them that suffer according to the will of God — Both for a good cause, and in a right spirit.

Commit to him their souls — (Whatever becomes of the body) as a sacred depositum.

In well doing — Be this your care, to do and suffer well: He will take care of the rest.

As unto a faithful Creator — In whose truth, love, and power, ye may safely trust.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on 1 Peter


1 Pet. 4:8

In the middle of one of may parents’ more memorable disagreements, my father jumped up from the table, grabbed two sheets of paper, and said to my mother, “Let’s make a list of everything we don’t like about each other.” Mom started writing. Dad glowered at her for a few minutes, and then wrote on his paper. She wrote again. He watched her, and every time she stopped, he would start writing again. They finally finished. “Let’s exchange complaints,” Dad said. They gave each other their lists. “Give mine back,” Mom pleaded when she glanced at his sheet. All down the page Dad had written: “I love you, I love you, I love you.”―― Robert L. Thornton


Chapter 4. Fortitude to Suffer

Clear-minded and Self-controlled
Alert in Prayer

I. Live for the Will of God

  1. Arms to Prevail Over Suffering
  2. Deal with Human Desires
  3. Done with Sin

II. Administer God's Grace in Various Forms

  1. Gift Received
  2. Serve Each Other
  3. Glory Be to God

III. Judgment Begin with the Family of God

  1. Painful Trial
  2. But Rejoice
  3. Continue to Do Good

── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament

Chapter Four General Review
1) To notice the attitudes one should have in suffering for
   righteousness' sake
2) To review how we should serve God as we live in the "end times"
The theme of suffering for righteousness' sake continues.  Just as
Christ was willing to suffer for us in the flesh, we should have the
same attitude and strive to live for the will of God instead of the
lusts of men.  When we give up sins like lewdness, drunkenness,
revelries, drinking parties, etc., those in the world make think it
strange.  Yet they themselves will give an account to Him who will judge
both the living and the dead by the gospel preached to those who are
dead (1-6).
Living in the end times, Peter admonishes Christians to be serious and
watchful in their prayers, fervent in their love for one another, and
hospitable to one another without grumbling.  They are to make use of
their gifts as good stewards of God's manifold grace, whether it be in
speaking or serving, using such abilities to glorify God through Christ
who has all authority and power (7-11).
Suffering for Christ should not be considered a strange thing, but an
occasion to rejoice.  Those who partake of Christ's sufferings will be
exceedingly glad when His glory is revealed.  In the meantime, they are
blessed because the Spirit of God rests upon those who glorify Christ by
their suffering.  While they should not suffer for doing evil, there is
nothing shameful about suffering for Christ.  As God's judgment draws
near, those who do not obey the gospel have no hope, whereas those who
suffer according to God's will can commit their souls in doing good to
Him who is a faithful Creator (12-19).
      1. Who suffered for us in the flesh
         a. Therefore we should arm ourselves with the same mind
         b. For he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin
         c. That he should no longer live in the flesh
            1) For the lusts of men
            2) But for will of God
      2. No longer doing the will of the Gentiles
         a. Which we have done enough in our past
         b. Walking in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking
            parties, and abominable idolatries
      1. They may think us strange
         a. That you do not run with them in the same flood of
         b. Speaking evil of you
      2. They will give an account
         a. To Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead
         b. For which reason the gospel was preached to those who are
            1) That they might be judged according to men in the flesh
            2) But live according to God in the spirit
      1. Because the end of all things is at hand...
         a. Be serious and watchful in your prayers
         b. Above all things, have fervent love for one another, which
            covers a multitude of sins
         c. Be hospitable to one another without grumbling
         d. Minister your gifts to one another as good stewards of God's
            manifold grace
            1) Those who speak should do so as the oracles of God
            2) Those who serve should do so with the ability God
            3) That in all things God may be glorified through Jesus, to
               whom belongs the glory and dominion forever
      1. Rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings
         a. Don't think the fiery trial to come as some strange thing
         b. When His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with
            exceeding joy
         c. You are blessed if reproached for the name of Christ
            1) For the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you
            2) On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is
      2. Glorify God through such suffering
         a. Do not suffer as a murderer, thief, evildoer, or busybody
         b. Do not be ashamed for suffering as a Christian
      1. The time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God
         a. If it begins with us first, what will be the end of those
            who do not obey the gospel of God?
         b. If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the
            ungodly and sinner appear?
      2. Let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their
         souls to Him
         a. In doing good
         b. As to a faithful Creator
1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - Our duties as sufferers for righteousness' sake (1-6)
   - Our duties as those waiting for coming of Christ (7-19)
2) What two reasons are given for us to have the "mind of Christ"
   regarding suffering? (1)
   - Christ suffered for us in the flesh
   - He who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin
3) How should one live in whatever time they have left in the flesh? (2)
   - For the will of God, not the lusts of the flesh
4) What sins are mentioned as being "the will of the Gentiles"? (3)
   - Lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties,
     abominable idolatries
5) How do people in the world react when you no longer do such things?
   - They think it strange
   - They speak evil of you
6) To whom shall they have to answer? (5)
   - He who is ready to judge the living and the dead
7) Why was the gospel preached to those who are dead? (6)
   - That they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live
     according to God in the spirit
8) In view of the end of all things being at hand, how should we live?
   - Serious and watchful in our prayers
   - With fervent love for one another
   - Hospitable to one another without grumbling
   - Ministering our gifts to one another, as good stewards of God's
     manifold grace
9) How should one speak?  How should one serve?  Why? (11)
   - As the oracles of God
   - With the ability God supplies
   - That in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ
10) What should be our reactions to any fiery trial that may come our
    way? (12-13)
   - Don't think it strange
   - Rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's suffering
11) What do those who suffer for Christ have to look forward to? (13)
   - Exceeding joy when Christ's glory is revealed
12) Why is one who suffers for Christ blessed? (14)
   - The Spirit of God rests upon them
   - On their part Christ is glorified
13) For what reasons should a Christian not suffer? (15)
   - As a murderer, thief, evildoer, busybody in other people's matters
14) How should one react if they suffer as a Christian? (16)
   - Do not be ashamed; glorify God in this matter
15) Upon whom does the judgment of God begin?  Who will face the
    greater judgment? (17)
   - The house of God
   - Those who obey not the gospel of Christ
16) Who will be "scarcely saved"? (18)
   - The righteous
17) What should those who suffer according to the will of God do? (19)
   - Commit their souls to God in doing good
   - Commit their souls to God as to a faithful Creator


The Militant Christian (4:1-6)
1. It is quite common today to pick up the newspaper and read about the
   violent actions of those referred to as "militant fundamentalists"
   a. Sometimes the phrase has reference to extremists of the Islamic 
      faith, engaged in what they call "Jihad" (holy war, or struggle)
   b. But there also times when it is applied to professing Christians,
      who resort to physical violence in support of their cause (e.g., 
      the radical pro-life movement)
2. As true followers of the "Prince of Peace"...
   a. We must remember that the Kingdom is spiritual, and therefore not
      expanded through carnal means - cf. Jn 18:36
   b. We should keep in mind the words of our Savior:  "...for all who 
      take sword will perish by the sword." - Mt 26:52
3. But this is not to say we do not have a true struggle, nor weapons 
   with which to fight...
   a. We are engaged in a spiritual struggle, both without and within 
      - Ep 6:12; 1 Pe 2:12
   b. We have in our arsenal weapons that are "mighty in God" - 2 Co 
   c. Indeed, as we enter the fourth chapter of 1st Peter, we see that
      Christians are to "arm" themselves in their service to the Lord 
      - 1 Pe 4:1
4. So in one sense, there is such a thing as "The Militant Christian";
   but it is important that we properly understand in what sense we are
   to be militant in our service to the Lord
[Using 1 Pe 4:1-6 as our text, I would first point out that "The 
Militant Christian" is to be...]
      1. This is the attitude Peter wants us to have
      2. Which was the attitude of Christ Himself - cf. 1 Pe 2:21-23; 
      1. "since Christ suffered for us"
         a. He died for us, that we might live for righteousness - 1 Pe
         b. Is it asking too much that we might be willing to endure 
            hardship for His sake?
      2. "he who suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin"
         a. One who endures hardship for Christ is not likely to allow 
            sin to have dominance in his or her life
         b. "One who has embraced the mind of Christ, and whose life is
            so influenced by him that he suffers persecution is not in 
            danger of succumbing to the weaker temptations of the 
            flesh.  To such an individual these allurements lose their
            appeal.  Martyrs, in the hour of persecution and death, do 
            not toy with temptation or surrender to the seductions of 
            the world!" - Guy N. Woods
[Armed with the mind of Christ, which includes a willingness to suffer 
for doing good, "The Militant Christian" is also to be... ]
      1. A battle between one's soul and fleshly lusts - cf. 1 Pe 2:12
      2. Unless we first win the battle for our own soul, we are not 
         likely to be of much help in winning the souls of others!
         a. Therefore we need to remove the plank out of our own eye 
            first - cf. Mt 7:3-5
         b. Only by first being "spiritual" ourselves are we prepared 
            to help others - cf. Ga 6:1
      3. Many immature Christians begin fighting a "spiritual warfare" 
         with others too soon, and lose the "spiritual warfare" within 
         themselves in the process!
      1. We have wasted enough of our lifetime doing what is called 
         "the will of the Gentiles"
         a. Briefly summarized in verse 3
         b. What Paul calls the "works of the flesh" in Ga 5:19-21
      2. Now it is time to live out the rest of our life for "the will 
         of God"
         a. Briefly summarized in verses 7-11
         b. Which will be considered more carefully in the next lesson
[As we think of ourselves "standing strong for the faith" and "fighting
the good fight", let's not forget that the battle begins within 
Unless the Christian is first militant in "crucifying the flesh" and 
"putting to death the deeds of the body", he or she is not likely to 
have the "spiritual fortitude" necessary to prevent killing one's self 
in the "battle for truth" (cf. 2 Ti 2:24-26).
When "The Militant Christian" is living out the rest of his or her life
for the will of God, we need to be prepared for the fact that we 
      1. Because we no longer join with them in their sin
      2. Unable to persuade us from our new course, they may resort to 
         "speaking evil of you"
      3. Some young Christians are troubled by this "peer pressure"
      1. We have reason to rejoice - cf. Mt 5:11-12; 1 Pe 4:13-14
      2. Our response is to be one of love and honorable conduct - cf. 
         Mt 5:44; 1 Pe 2:12
      3. Who knows?  Perhaps our conduct will lead one day to their 
         glorifying God!
[Yes, "The Militant Christian" is likely to be thought of by others as 
a "fanatic", but I believe that deep down even those who malign us the 
most have respect for our convictions when held with the proper spirit 
on our part.
Finally, taking a clue from the comments of Peter in verses 5-6, let 
me suggest that "The Militant Christian" is one who is...]
      1. Especially the phrase "the gospel was also preached to those 
         who are dead"
      2. Some think Peter is referring back to his comments in 1 Pe 3:
         a. If so, then the "spirits in prison" would be human spirits,
            not angelic spirits (as I suggested in my earlier lesson)
         b. If so, then the preaching of the gospel was:
            1) Not an offer of salvation (i.e., a second chance)
            2) But a proclamation of what Christ has done, explaining 
               how Christ has redeemed the O.T. faithful, and why 
               others remain condemned
            3) Note that they were still "judged according to men in 
               the flesh" (how they lived in the flesh), though they 
               now "live according to God in the spirit"
      3. Others believe Peter is simply referring to the preaching of 
         the gospel...
         a. To people when they were alive
         b. But who are now among the dead
      1. We must remember who is the Judge...
         a. God is the judge of those who are "outside" - 1 Co 5:12-13
         b. They will have to "give an account to Him who is ready to 
            judge..." - 1 Pe 4:5
      2. We must therefore be willing to let God be the judge...
         a. I.e., leave vengeance to God - cf. Ro 12:19
         b. God will apply the "justice" when necessary, we are called
            upon to offer His "mercy" until then...
            1) Through the preaching of the gospel
            2) Through living lives of kindness and mercy - cf. Ro 12:
1. There is a place, then, for "militancy" in the life of the
2. But it is to be found in the way we "arm" ourselves with the mind of
   a. "Fighting" the spiritual warfare that wages within
   b. "Militant" in our efforts to live the godly life, do going and
      showing mercy
Are you "fighting the good fight of faith"?  Are you even in the Lord's


Living In The End Times (4:7-11)
1. In 1 Pe 4:2, Peter wrote concerning the Christian that...
   "...he should no longer live the rest of his time in the flesh for
   the lusts of men, but for the will of God."
2. As an impetus to live out one's time in the flesh for the will of 
   God, one should remember that we are living in the "end times" - 
   cf. 1 Pe 4:7a ("But the end of all things is at hand;")
3. It might be that Peter actually had reference in this text to the 
   destruction of Jerusalem
   a. Which was the end of the temple, the Levitical priesthood, and of
      the Jewish economy
   b. As MacKnight points out in his commentary:  "This epistle being 
      written A.D.67, about a year after the war with the Romans began,
      which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem and of the Jewish 
      state, Peter, who had heard his Master's prophecy concerning 
      these events, and concerning the signs of their approach, had 
      good reason to say, that they had approached."
4. But whether Peter has in mind the destruction of Jerusalem, or the 
   Lord's second coming, we can still say "the end of all things is at 
   a. For even if the Lord Himself does not return for another two 
      thousand years, the time is not long when we who are alive today 
      will be "in the flesh" no more
   b. With every passing day, "our salvation is nearer than when we 
      first believed", and the "end" draws ever closer
5. How then should we live out the rest of our time, living as we do in
   the "end times"?
[Verses 7-11 provide guidance to "Living In The End Times" and we
notice right away that it should involve...]
      1. The word here is sophroneo {so-fron-eh'-o}, which means...
         a. To be in one's right mind
         b. To exercise self control
            1) to put a moderate estimate upon one's self, think of 
               one's self soberly
            2) to curb one's passions
      2. Words closely related to this are found in 1 Pe 1:13; 5:8
         (the word "sober")
      1. Otherwise we cannot pray as we ought - cf. Ep 6:18
      2. That is, with praying that is "watchful" - cf. Lk 21:34-36
[Serious, watchful praying is necessary, therefore, or we might not be
ready for that which will come.  As we continue in our text, we see 
that "Living In The End Times" also calls for a...]
      1. The first time was in 1 Pe 1:22
      2. Where we defined "fervent" as "constant" or "earnest"
      3. Here Peter tells us to make such "fervent love" the number one
         priority ("above all things have fervent love...")
         a. This is reminiscent of Paul's words in Co 3:14
         b. And perhaps a reflection of Jesus' words in Mt 22:36-40
      1. "for love will cover a multitude of sins"
      2. This appears to be a reference to Pro 10:12 ("love covers 
         all sins")
      3. To "cover sin" does not mean to ignore it, but as used by 
         James it suggests "fervent love" does what is necessary to 
         restore and forgive the sinner - cf. Ja 5:19-20
[As the "time of the end" draws near, and the Day of Judgment looms 
closer, how important it is that we have the kind of love for one 
another which will encourage us all to get rid of sin in our lives!
As a further expression of "fervent love for one another", "Living In 
The End Times" will also involve...]
      1. For the word is philoxenos {fil-ox'-en-os}
         a. It literally means "love of strangers" and is normally used
            in reference to kindness to those we don't know
         b. But here Peter applies it to our love towards brethren
      2. But if we are to show kindness to those we don't know, how 
         much more towards those who are "of the household of faith", 
         our own brethren! - cf. Ga 6:10
      1. There is always a need, as our love for one another is a sign 
         of true discipleship - cf. Jn 13:34-35
      2. But there may be a special need as "the end draws near"
         a. Several passages suggest that persecution of the saints 
            will increase before Christ returns (so I understand Re 20:
         b. In any period of persecution, when some Christians lose all
            they have, other Christians need to be ready to provide for
            their needs - cf. Mt 25:35-40
      1. If one shows kindness with a begrudging spirit, can it be said
         they truly have a love of strangers (or brethren)?
      2. Only by placing a higher premium on our brethren than we do on
         our possessions can we show hospitality without grumbling
[Finally, in keeping with our Lord's charge to "Do business till I 
come" (Lk 19:13), "Living In The End Times" requires that we 
      1. By the grace of God, which is "manifold"  (multi-faceted), 
         there are various ways one can serve God
      2. And each of us are to be "good stewards" (accountable 
         servants) of whatever gifts or abilities we may have
      3. Even as Paul wrote to the brethren at Rome in Ro 12:3-8
      1. Those that speak
         a. They should speak "as the oracles of God"
         b. Understanding that they are speaking for God:
            1) They should speak only that which God Himself has 
            2) With "sound speech that cannot be condemned" - cf. Ti 2:
      2. Those that minister (serve)
         a. With the ability or strength supplied by God Himself!
         b. Certainly not with slothfulness - cf. Ro 12:11
1. "Living In The End Times", then, is living with the recognition
   that to God (and Jesus Christ) "belong the glory and dominion 
   forever and ever"
2. With that recognition, we will be careful to develop:
   a. Prayer that is serious and alert
   b. Love that is fervent and forgiving
   c. Hospitality that is gracious
   d. Service that glorifies God
How are you living now that "the end of all things is at hand"?  Are
you glorifying God through Jesus Christ?


Persevering Through Persecution (4:12-19)
1. We have observed in our study of 1st Peter that the original
   recipients of this epistle were undergoing "various trials" - 1 Pe
2. In an earlier lesson, "Preparing For Persecution" (1 Pe 3:13-18),
   we saw where Peter gave instructions on how they (and we) should
   prepare themselves for hard times
3. Now in 4:12-19, Peter continues to discuss persecution, but with a
   slightly different slant
4. The slant is that he now mentions things that relate to "Persevering
   Through Persecution", not just preparing for it
[While we might not ever endure "physical" persecution, it is unlikely 
that we will escape occasional "verbal" or "social" persecution.  
Therefore, what Peter has to say can be of great benefit to help us 
persevere in such circumstances.  For example, we should...]
      1. A point Peter stresses twice in this verse
         a. "do not think it strange"
         b. "as though some strange thing happened to you"
      2. It is something other Christians were experiencing at that
         time as well - 1 Pe 5:9
      3. Jesus warned His disciples of hard times to come - Jn 15:18-21
      4. Why does God allow such things to happen?  Read on...
      1. Just as gold is tested by fire, so our faith is tested by
         persecution - cf. 1 Pe 1:6-7
      2. This is why God allows the devil to bring such persecution
         (remember Job?)
      3. But just as God blessed Job after his trials, so He will bless
         us! - cf. 1 Pe 5:10
[As someone has said, "First comes the cross, then comes the crown."
So don't be surprised if you find yourself facing ridicule,
ostracizing, even physical persecution for the cause of Christ. (cf.
Ac 14:22; 2 Ti 3:12).
Should it come, what then?]
      1. Jesus taught it in His sermon on the mount - Mt 5:11-12
      2. Paul found reason to "glory in tribulations" - Ro 5:3-5
      3. And James taught that trials ought to be an occasion for joy 
         - Ja 1:2-4
      1. As explained by Jesus...
         a. "for great is your reward in heaven"
         b. "for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you"
      2. As explained by Paul...
         a. "tribulations produces perseverance"
         b. Which in turn produces "character, and character, hope"
      3. As explained by James...
         a. "the testing of your faith produces patience"
         b. And patience can help one be "perfect and complete, lacking
      1. It means glory in the future...
         a. "when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with 
            exceeding joy"
         b. This will occur at His second coming - cf. 2 Th 1:10-12
      2. It means blessing in the present...
         a. "blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests 
            upon you"
         b. A reference to the Holy Spirit, and possibly alluding to 
            that blessing...
            1) Described by Jesus in Lk 12:11-12; 21:12-15
            2) Exemplified in the case of Stephen - Ac 7:54-60
         c. Such a blessing might have limited application to the 
            special circumstances of the first century, but God's grace
            will still provide whatever we need to endure trials - cf. 
            1 Co 10:13
      3. It means Christ is glorified...
         a. "on your part He is glorified"
         b. When we endure persecution through the strength Jesus gives
            us, we make manifest the "life" (power) of Jesus - cf. 2 Co
         c. And so by our conduct we can bring glory to Christ (God) 
            - cf. 1 Pe 2:12
[We have every reason, then, to rejoice in times of persecution.  But 
for us to make the most of such situations, we need not only to 
"rejoice", but also to "reflect".  I.e., use the time to...]
      1. Make sure it not for reasons listed by Peter...
         a. E.g., as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer
         b. Or for doing what often brings unnecessary suffering to the
            church:  "as a busybody in other people's matters"
      2. Make sure it is because we are Christians...
         a. In which have an opportunity to glorify God
         b. In which we can demonstrate the grace He gives us to endure
      1. God allows persecution of the righteous because it serves as 
         one way to judge "the house of God" (i.e., God's family, the 
         church) - 1 Pe 4:17
      2. As Paul wrote, it is "evidence of the righteous judgment of 
         God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for
         which you also suffer" - 2 Th 1:4-5
      3. If God is willing to so "judge" His own faithful children,
         what about those who are disobedient?  As Peter asks:
         a. "What will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel
            of God?"
         b. "Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?"
      4. Paul provides the answer, in 2 Th 1:6-9...
         a. Those God will "repay with tribulation"
         b. Jesus will come "in flaming fire taking vengeance on those
            who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the
            gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ"
         c. Yes, they "shall be punished with everlasting destruction"
[In view of the coming Judgment of God, of which the persecution of the
saved is only a precursor, use times of persecution to reflect and make
sure of our standing before God.
Finally, you can be successful in "Persevering Through Persecution" if
you will...]
      1. By doing good, no matter the circumstances
         a. Whatever evil is done to you, respond by doing good - cf. 
            Lk 6:27-28
         b. Remember the example of Jesus (Lk 23:34) and Stephen (Ac
      2. Don't let persecution be an excuse for misconduct
      1. Because God is a "faithful Creator"
      2. As "Creator", He has the power to do what is right in the end
      3. As "faithful" (trustworthy), He can be trusted to do what is 
         right in the end
1. Certainly we should hope and pray that we never have to endure the
   sort of persecution experienced by the early Christians
2. But if we do, will we be prepared?  We can be, if we take to heart
   the words of the apostle Peter as found in his epistle!
As for being prepared, have you yet "obeyed" the gospel?
Some may think it odd that the gospel is to be "obeyed", and not just
"believed"; but both Peter and Paul warn of the end of those "who do
not obey the gospel" (1 Pe 4:19; 2 Th 1:8).
How does one obey the gospel? - cf. Mk 16:15-16

--《Executable Outlines


Fortitude to suffer

Clear-minded and self-controlled

Alert in prayer


I.  Live for the will of God

1.    Arms to prevail over suffering

2.    Deal with human desires

3.    Done with sin

II.Administer God’s grace in various forms

1.    Gift received

2.    Serve each other

3.    Glory be to God

III.       Judgment begin with the family of God

1.    Painful trial

2.    But rejoice

3.    Continue to do good

-- Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament


Faith, Hope and Love

The Order here is Faith, Love and Hope

I. A Living Faith—

   1. Condemns the Past life of sin in light of Christ’s Sufferings (v.1~3)

   2. Considers the Future life in light of coming judgment (v.5~6)

   3. Conditions the Present life in terms of vigilance and prayer (v.7)

II. A Fervent Love—

   1. In a Forging attitude to Erring ones (v.8)

   2. In a Hospitable attitude to Every one (v.9)

   3. In a Helpful attitude to Each one (v.10~11)

III. A Joyful Hope—

   1. Based on a Privileged partnership in Christ’s sufferings (v.12~13)

   2. Based on a Present Participation in Christ’s reproach (v.14~16)

   3. Based on a Placid Presentation of ourselves to Christ (v.17~19)

── Archibald NaismithOutlines for Sermons