I Peter 4

 

 

1 “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh,” - Peter returns,

after the digression of ch.3:19-22, to the great subject of CHRIST’S EXAMPLE.

 The words “for us” are omitted in some ancient manuscripts; they express a great

truth already dwelt upon in chapters  2 and 3. Here the apostle is insisting upon the

example of Christ, not on the atoning efficacy of his death – “arm yourselves

likewise with the same mind. The word rendered “mind” (ἔννοια ennoiain

mind, thought) is more exactly  “thought” (compare Hebrews 4:12, the only other

place where it occurs in the New Testament); but it certainly has sometimes the

force of “intention, resolve.” The Christian must be like his Master (compare Isaiah

50:7; Luke 9:51), he must arm himself with the great thought, the holy resolve, which

was in the mind of Christ — the thought that suffering borne in faith frees us from the

power of sin, the resolve to suffer patiently according to the will of God. That thought,

which can be made our own only by faith, is the Christian’s shield; we are to arm

ourselves with it against the assaults of the evil one (compare Romans 13:12;

II Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 6:11) – “for he that hath suffered in

the flesh hath ceased from sin;” The thought is that of Romans 6:6-11.

Some translate the conjunction ὅτιhotithat – and understand it as giving

the content of the ἔννοια:Arm yourselves with the thought that,” - but this

does not give so good a sense, and would seem to require ταύτηνtautaen

rather than τὴν αὐτήν taen autaen - this thought – rather than “the same

 thought.” Some, again, understand this clause of Christ; but this seems a mistake.

The apostle spoke first of the Master; now he turns to the disciple. Take, he says,

for your armor the thoughts which filled the sacred heart of Christ — the thought

that suffering in the flesh is not, as the world counts it, an unmixed evil, but often

a deep blessing; for, or because, he that suffered in the flesh hath ceased from

 sin.  If, when we are called to suffer, we offer up our sufferings to Christ who

suffered for us, and unite our sufferings with His by faith in Him, then those

sufferings, thus sanctified, destroy the power of sin, and make us cease from sin

(compare Romans 6:10).

 

2 “That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh” -  On the

whole, it seems better to connect this clause with the imperative: “Arm yourselves

with the same mind, that ye no longer should live the rest of your time;”

rather than with the clause immediately preceding: “He that hath suffered in

 the flesh hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live,” though both

connections give a good sense. The Greek word for “live” (βιῶσαιbiosai

to spend life) occurs only here in the New Testament. In the flesh here means

simply “in the body,” in this mortal life. “The rest of your time” suggests the

solemn thought of the shortness of our earthly pilgrimage: live for eternity –

to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.”  The datives are normal; they

express the pattern or rule according to which our life ought to be fashioned.

God’s will is our sanctification (I Thessalonians 4:3). That will is ever the same,

a fixed, unchanging rule; the lusts of men are shifting, uncertain, restless.

 

3 “For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will

of the Gentiles,” -  rather, as in the Revised Version, the time past

may suffice. The words, “of our life” and “us,” are not found in the best

manuscripts. Peter could not include himself among those who wrought

the will of the Gentiles. The Greek word for “will” here is, according to the

best manuscripts, βούλημαboulaema; in v. 2 “the will of God” is

θέλημα - thelaema. The general distinction is that θέλωthelo - implies

choice and purpose, βούλομαι merely inclination (compare, in the Greek,

Philemon 1:13-14). The change of word seems to point to such a distinction here.

GOD’S WILL  is a fixed, holy purpose; the will, or rather WISH OF

THE GENTILES WAS UNCERTAIN, turned this way or that way by

CHANGEFUL LUSTS!   The perfect infinitive, “to have wrought,” implies

that that part of life ought to be regarded as a thing wholly past and gone!

The whole sentence has a tone of solemn irony; compare Romans 6:21. Peter is

here addressing Gentile Christians.  They had done the will of the Gentiles; they

were now, as Christians, to do THE WILL OF GOD!  - “when we walked

in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and

abominable idolatries:” - better, as in the Revised Version, and to have

walked. There is no pronoun. Lusts are the hidden sins of unclean thought,

which lead to outbreaks of lasciviousness. The Greek word for revellings

(κῶμοι - komoi) is one often used of drunken youths parading the streets, or

of festal processions in honor of Bacchus. The word translated banquetings

means rather “drinking-bouts.” The word for “abominable” is ἀθεμίτοις

athemitois -  unlawful, nefarious, contrary to the eternal principles of the

Divine Law.   Peter is probably referring, not only to the sin of idolatry in itself,

but also to the many licentious practices connected with it.  After the persecution

of Nero, in which Peter perished, Christianity was regarded by the state as a

religio illicita (unapproved religoin. Christianity was condemned by the law of

Rome; idolatry is opposed to the eternal Law of God. This verse could not have

been addressed to Hebrew Christians.

 

4 “Wherein they think it strange” - Wherein, in which course of

life, in the fact that the Christians once lived like the Gentiles, but now are

so wholly changed. The word ξενίζεσθαι xenizesthai - means commonly

to be a guest, to live as a stranger in another’s house (Acts 10:6,18; 21:16);

here the word is ξενίζεσθιος - xenizotiosthey are thinking it strange –

 it means to be astonished, as at  some strange sight, as such guests would no

doubt sometimes be (compare v.12 and Acts 17:20) -  “that ye run not with

them to the same excess of riot,” - The Greek words are very strong,

“while ye run not with them,” as if the Gentiles were running greedily in

troops to riot and ruin. The word for “excess” (ἀνάχυσιςanachusin) is

found here only in the New Testament; it means “an overflowing.”  The word

rendered “riot” (ἀδωτία asotias - profligacy) occurs also in Ephesians 5:18

and Titus 1:6, and is used in the adverbial form in describing the recklessness of

the prodigal son (Luke 15:13). It means that LOST STATE  in which a man

 is given up to SELF-INDULGENCE and saves neither reputation, earthly

 position, NOR HIS IMMORTAL SOUL! -  “speaking evil of you:” - better,

perhaps, translated literally, blaspheming. The words “of you” are not in the original;

they who revile Christians for well-doing are blasphemers, THEY REALLY

SPEAK AGAINST GOD!

 

5 “Who shall give account to Him that is ready to judge the quick and

the dead.” The judgment is at hand; the Judge standeth before the door; all men,

quick and dead alike, must give account to Him. (I have always been aware

of the judgment of the dead, but God will also JUDGE THEM THAT ARE

ALIVE WHEN HE COMES!  - CY – 2012)  It is better to suffer now for

well-doing than then for evil-doing. Men call you to give account now (ch3:15);

THEY THEMSELVES MUST GIVE ACCOUNT TO GOD!

 

6 “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are

dead,” - The conjunction “for” seems to link this verse closely to v. 5,

while the καὶ - kai - also or even) gives an emphasis to “them that are dead”

(καὶ νεκροῖςkai nekroisand the dead ones). We naturally refer these

last words to the καὶ νεκρούς kai nekrousthe dead – of the preceding verse.

The apostle seems to be meeting an objection. The Thessalonian Christians feared

lest believers who fell asleep before the second advent should lose something of the

blessedness of those who should be alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord

(I Thessalonians 4:13-18).  On the other hand, some of Peter’s readers may, perhaps,

have thought that those who had passed away before the gospel times could not be

justly judged in the same way as those who then were living. The two classes, the

living and the dead, were separated by a great difference: the living had heard the

gospel, the dead had not; the living had opportunities and privileges which

 

 

 

 

 

had not been granted to the dead. But, Peter says, the gospel was preached also

to the dead; they too heard the glad tidings of salvation (καὶ νεκροῖς εὐηγγελίσθη)

kai nekrois euaeggelisthaethe gospel preached. Some have thought that the word

dead” is used metaphorically for the dead in trespasses and sins. But it seems scarcely

possible to give the word a literal sense in v. 5 and a metaphorical sense in v. 6. Some

understand the apostle as meaning that the gospel had been preached to those who

then were dead, before their death; but it seems unnatural to assign different times to

the verb and the substantive. The aorist εὐηγγελίσθη directs our thoughts to some

definite occasion. The absence of the article (καὶ νεκροῖς) should also be noticed;

the words assert that the gospel was preached to dead persons — to some that

were dead. These considerations lead us to connect the passage with ch.3:19-20.

There Peter tells us that Christ Himself went and preached in the spirit “to the spirits

in prison;” then the gospel was preached, the good news of salvation was announced,

to some that were dead. The article is absent both here and in v. 5 (ζῶντας καὶ

νεκρούςzontas kai nekrous – quick and dead; living ones and ones dead).

All men, quick and dead alike, must appear before THE JUDGMENT

SEAT OF CHRIST  (a Divine imperative); so Peter may not have intended to

limit the area of the Lord’s preaching in Hades here, as he had done in ch.3. There

he mentioned one section only of the departed; partly because the Deluge furnished

a conspicuous example of men who suffered for evil-doing, partly because he regarded

it as a striking type of Christian baptism. Here, perhaps, he asserts the general

fact — the gospel was preached to the dead; perhaps (we may not presume

to dogmatize in a matter so mysterious, about which so little is revealed) to

all the vast population of the underworld, who had passed away before the

gospel times. Like the men of Tyre and Sidon, of Sodom and Gomorrah,

they had not seen the works or heard the words of Christ during their life

on the earth; now they heard from the Lord Himself what he had done for

the salvation of mankind. Therefore God was ready to judge the quick and

the dead, for to both was the gospel preached - “that they might be judged

according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.”

The gospel was preached to the dead for this end (εἰς τοῦτοeis touto

for this cause), that they might be judged indeed (ἵνα κριθῶσι μένhina

krithosi men –that they may be judged ), but nevertheless live (ζῶσι δέ -

zosi de – may be living yet. The last clause expresses the end and purpose of

the preaching; the former clause, though grammatically dependent upon the

conjunction ἵνα, states a necessity antecedent to the preaching (compare Romans

6:17, “God be thanked that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed

from the heart;” and 8:10, “If Christ be in you, the body indeed is dead

because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness.” The meaning

seems to be — the gospel was preached to the dead, that, though they

were judged, yet they might live. They had suffered the judgment of death,

the punishment of human sin. Christ had been put to death in the flesh

(ch.3:18) for the sins of others; the dead had suffered death in the

flesh for their own sins. They had died before the manifestation of the Son

of God, before the great work of atonement wrought by His death; but that

atonement was retrospective — He taketh away the sin of the world; its

saving influences extended even to the realm of the dead. The gospel was

preached to the dead, that, though they were judged according to men

(that is, after the fashion of men, as all men are judged), yet they might live

in the spirit (compare I Corinthians 5:5, “To deliver such a one unto

Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the

day of the Lord Jesus”). The verb κριθῶσι, “might be judged,” is aorist,

as describing a single fact; the verb ζῶσι, “might live,” is present, as

describing a continual state. According to God. God is Spirit; and as they

that worship Him must worship in spirit, so they who believe in Him shall

live in spirit. The future life is a spiritual life; the resurrection-bodies of the

saints will be spiritual bodies, for “flesh and blood cannot inherit the

kingdom of God(I Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 5:21).  But κατὰ Θεόν

kata Theonaccording to God - may also mean “according to the will

of God” (as in Romans 8:27), according to His gracious purpose, and in

that life which He giveth to His chosen, that eternal life which lieth

 in the knowledge of God, and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent.

 

 

Exhortation to Entire Separation from Sin (vs. 1-6)

 

  • BY UNION WITH CHRIST.

 

Ø      Through suffering. Suffering is the appointed discipline of the

Christian soul. Gold is tried by fire, the Christian’s faith by suffering.

Christ Himself suffered in the flesh, and while we are in the flesh we

must also suffer. “In that He died, He died unto sin once”

(Romans 6:10);  His death separated Him from sin, from the sight

and hearing of sin, from that mysterious contact with human sin

which He endured when “He was made sin for us, though he was

 without sin” (II Corinthians 5:21).  Our suffering ought to have the

like power — it ought to remove us out of the dominion of those

sins which have hitherto ruled over us. This is the end, the

blessedness, of suffering. God sends it in love; He chastens us

for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness (Hebrews

12:10).  But suffering doth not always save. “The sorrow of the

 world worketh death” (II Corinthians 7:10); it produces

discontent and murmuring, and hardens the heart. To gain the blessed

fruit of suffering, the eye of the suffering Christian must be fixed upon

the suffering Lord. We must “arm ourselves with the same mind.”

(v.1).  “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus”

(Philippians 2:5).   It must be our effort to think the same holy

thoughts, to be animated by the same high resolve, which

 filled the sacred heart of Christ. Those thoughts, that resolve,

are our spiritual amor. If we let our thoughts dwell on our troubles,

if we fret ourselves, we are defenseless, we are exposed to the

temptations which swarm around us. But we must look away from

our own sufferings and keep the earnest gaze of faith fixed upon

the cross. Thus by an act of faith we may unite our sufferings with

the Savior’s sufferings, and then suffering sanctified by faith in

Christ will have its blessed work in destroying the power of sin.

 

Ø      Through the change of heart wrought by suffering. “He that

hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin” (v.1).  Suffering

meekly borne is a great help in the daily conflict against sin; it shows

us our own weakness and the emptiness of earthly comforts; it humbles

us, and makes us less unwilling to submit ourselves to the holy will

of God; it points our thoughts to the transitoriness of human life; it is

miserable folly to waste that little life in following the wretched

 lusts of the flesh, when we ought to be doing the will of God.

As the blessed angels do God’s holy will in heaven, so we must strive

to do it in earth; we shall never dwell with the angels unless we are really

trying to learn that deep and holy lesson.  (Remember that through

Christ all things are to be united both in heaven and in earth!  - Ephesians

1:10).

 

  • BY FORSAKING OLD SINS AND OLD COMPANIONS IN SIN.

 

Ø      What we must forsake. The will of the Gentiles. The Gentile world

Was very evil when the Lord Jesus came; sin reigned everywhere,

open, rampant, unblushing. (The rate we are going, the same will

be characteristic of man when Jesus comes again! – C – 2012).

It was a shame for the heathen thus to live, for they

had the light of conscience; it is a shame of far deeper guilt for us

Christians, who have the full light of the gospel, to live as did the

Gentiles.  Converted men must cast off those old sins; the sins of

 the flesh, uncleanness, drunkenness, and such like, RUIN

BODY AND SOUL!   Men set up idols in their hearts — money,

station, honor; they fall down and worship these things. Christians

must forsake these unlawful idolatries. “Thou shalt worship the

 Lord thy God; HIM ONLY SHALT THOU SERVE!”

(Matthew 4:10)   Him only; Satan stands behind these idols —

it is he whom men really worship when they give their hearts to this

or that earthly idol. We have given too much time, far too much, to

these idolatries. Let the time past suffice which we have

miserably wasted; the residue may be very short. There is much to

be done, let us take heed that we waste our time no more.

 

Ø      Whom we must forsake. Our old companions, it may be, think it

Strange that we no longer live as once, perhaps, we did (v.4);

we were as bad as themselves once, they say. It may be so, BUT

WE ARE CHANGED and they, alas! are not; we have, we

humbly trust, put on the new man; we are (God grant that it be so

so in Christ, abiding in vital union with Him, as living

branches in the true Vine (John 15);  and old things must pass

away — old desires, old pursuits, old hopes and fears; all things

must become new (II Corinthians 5:17, for we are new creatures

in Christ. Men think us strange; they speak evil of us, perhaps;

they call us hypocritical, sanctimonious; they exaggerate the

inconsistencies which they see in us, and invent and eagerly

propagate falsehoods (because they are of their father,

Satan, who is a liar from the beginning – John 8:44 – CY –

2012). They cannot understand the Christian life; they cannot feel its

hidden sweetness; it seems to them strange, hard, unattractive. We

must not heed the vain talk of men; we must seek the praise that

cometh from God; we must take patiently the accusations of evil

tongues; in some degree, probably, we have deserved them; only let

us labor more and more to please God in all things.

 

  • BY LOOKING FORWARD TO THE JUDGMENT.

 

Ø      All must be judged. All, believers and unbelievers, saints and sinners,

persecuted and persecutors, slandered and slanderers, — all must give

account of their deeds (II Corinthians 5:10); for the Lord is at hand,

ready to judge the quick and the dead; as soon as the number of His

elect is complete, the judgment will be set, the books will be opened

(Romans 13:12, Revelation 20:12).  This thought gives an AWFUL

SOLEMNITY TO HUMAN LIFE; the record of each day as it

 passes is entered in those MYSTERIOUS BOOKS!  Sufferings,

slanders, can be patiently endured when we think of the coming

judgment. The persecutors, the evil-speakers, must give account to

the great Judge; the Christian should pity them, should pray for them.

It seems sad now to be persecuted; then it will be sadder far to have

been persecutors.

 

Ø      For all will have heard the gospel. Quick and dead alike will have

heard it. It was preached in Hades by the Lord Himself to the dead

who in life had not heard the glad tidings. It is a sweet and comforting

thought that they were not left to perish uncared for. We know not the

result of the Savior’s preaching; it is hidden from us; conjecture is vain,

perhaps irreverent. But we have the fact — the gospel was preached to

them, and the object was that they might live according to God in the

spirit. Is it now preached to the dead who in life have had scanty

opportunities and scanty knowledge?  We are not told; but we know

that God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all

should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9); we know that the

Lord Jesus Christ “tasted death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9);

we know that the true Light  lighteth every man” (John 1:9);

and we feel sure that none can be left to perish without the means

of grace; we feel sure that, in some way, and at some time, the

gracious offer of salvation comes to every man in life or in death,

in ways known or unknown.  “For the grace of God that

bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.”  (Titus 2:11)

 

o       We must contemplate the suffering Lord, and arm

ourselves with His holy resolve.

o       The time is short. Live a godly, righteous, and sober life.

o       Shun evil companions; when they would tempt you to sin,

think of the coming judgment; take heed to yourselves, and

pray for others!.

 

7 “But the end of all things is at hand:” - The mention of the

judgment turns Peter’s thoughts into another channel. The end is at

hand, not only the judgment of persecutors and slanderers, but the end of

persecutions and sufferings, the end of our great conflict with sin, the end

of our earthly probation: THEREFORE PREPARE TO MEET YOUR

GOD!  (There used to be, and maybe still is, on Old 68-80, before the new

four land road,  a sign from Amos 4:12 – “Prepare to meet thy God” put

up by some soul who believed God’s Holy Word and had a concern for the

souls of his fellow man! – CY – 2012)  The end is at hand: it hath drawn near.

Peter probably, like the other apostles, looked for the speedy coming of the

Lord. It was not for him, as it is not for us, “to know the times or the seasons”

(Acts 1:7). It is enough to know that OUR OWN TIME IS SHORT!   When

Peter wrote these words, the end of the holy city, the center of the ancient

dispensation, was very near at hand; and behind that awful catastrophe lay the

incomparably more tremendous judgment, of which the fall OF JERUSALEM

WAS A FIGURE!  That judgment, we know now, was to be separated by a

wide interval from the date of Peter’s Epistle. But that interval is measured, in

the prophetic outlook, not by months and years. We are now living in “the

 last times” (I Timothy 4:1; I John 2:18). The coming of our Lord was the

beginning of the last period in the development of God’s dealings with

mankind; THERE IS NO FURTHER DISPENSATION TO BE

LOOKED FOR.   “Not only is there nothing more between the Christian’s

present state of salvation and the end, but the former is itself already the end,

i.e. the beginning of the end” (Schott, quoted by Huther) - “be ye therefore

sober,” – rather, self-restrained, calm, thoughtful. The thought of the

nearness of the end should not lead to excitement and neglect of

 common duties, as it did in the case of the Thessalonian Christians, and again

at the approach of the thousandth year of our era. (Written a couple of

centuries ago and now has come to pass – CY – 2012) - “and watch unto

prayer.” - rather, be sober unto prayers. The word translated “watch” in

the Authorized Version is not that which we read in our Lord’s exhortation to

watch and pray” (Matthew 26:41) where it is γρηγορεῖτε graegoreite

be ye watching..  The word used here (νήψατεnaepsatebe ye sober)

rather points to temperance, abstinence from strong drinks, though it suggests also

that wariness and cool thoughtfulness which are destroyed by EXCESS.

 The Christian must be self-restrained and sober, and that with a view to

PERSERVERANCE IN PRAYER!   The aorist imperatives, perhaps,

imply that Peter’s readers needed to be stirred up (II Peter 1:13; 3:1), to be

aroused from that indifference into which men are so apt to fall. The exhortation

to persevere in watchfulness would be expressed by the present.

 

8 “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves:” – more

literally, before all things, having your love towards one another intense.

The existence of charity is taken for granted. Christians must love one another;

love is the very badge of their profession. The apostle urges his readers to keep

that love intense, and that before all things; for charity is the first of Christian

graces. (On the word “intense” (ἐκτενήςektenaesfervent; earnest; out-

stretched), see note on ch.1:22.) “for charity shall cover the multitude of

sins.” Read and translate, with the Revised Version, for love covereth a

 multitude of sins. If Peter is directly quoting Proverbs 10:12, he is not using

the Septuagint, as he commonly does, but translating from the Hebrew. The

Septuagint rendering is “love covers all wrongs.”  But it may be that the

words had become proverbial. We find them also in James 5:20, “He

which converteth the sinner… shall hide a multitude of sins.”  James

means that he will obtain God’s forgiveness for the converted sinner; but in

Proverbs 10:12 the meaning (as is plain from the context) is that love

covers the sins of others; does not stir up strifes, as hatred does, but

promotes concord by concealing and forgiving sins. This is probably

Peter’s meaning here: “Take care that your charity is intense, for only thus

can you forgive as you are bidden to forgive, as you hope to be forgiven.”

Perhaps he was thinking of the “seventy times seven”  (Matthew 18:22) to

which the Lord had told him that forgiveness was to extend. But His words may

well be understood as implying more than this. Love shown in forgiving others will

win forgiveness for yourselves: “Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” Love

manifested in converting others will cover their sins, and obtain God’s

forgiveness for them. In the deepest sense, it is only the love of Christ

energizing in His atoning work which can cover sin; but true charity,

Christian love, flows from that holiest love. “Love is of God, and every one

that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God” (I John 4:7).  Therefore

in some sense Christian love, flowing from the love of Christ, and bringing the

Christian very near to Christ, covers sins; for it keeps the Christian close to the

cross, within the immediate sphere of the blessed influences of the

atonement, so that he becomes a center of grace, a light kindled from the

true Light, a well of living waters fed by the one fountain which is opened

for sin and for uncleanness  (Zechariah 13:1).  The mutual love of Christians,

their kindly words and deeds, check the work of sin; their prayers, their

intercessions, call down the forgiveness of God. Therefore, in the view of the

approaching end, charity is before all things precious for our own souls and

for the souls of others.

 

9 “Use hospitality one to another” - literally, being hospitable

(compare Romans 12:13; I Timothy 3:2; Hebrews 13:2; III John 1:5).

Hospitality must have been a necessary, and often a costly, duty in the

early ages of the Church. There was no public provision for the poor.

Christians traveling from place to place would find no suitable shelter

except in the houses of Christians. They would be obliged to avoid the

public houses of entertainment, where they would be exposed often to

danger, always to temptation; only the private houses of Christians would

be safe for them. Hence the use of the “letters of commendation,”

mentioned by Paul (II Corinthians 3:1). Those who brought such

letters were to be received in Christian homes. The well-known ‘Teaching

of the Twelve Apostles’ speaks of this right of hospitality, and gives

cautions against its abuse. The apostle is not speaking of ordinary social

gatherings; they have their place and their utility in the Christian life, but

they do not, as a rule, afford scope for the higher self-denials of Christian

charity (compare Luke 14:12-14) -  “without grudging.”  Such hospitality

would be always costly, often inconvenient, sometimes attended with

danger, but it was to be without murmuring. Murmuring would take from the

hospitality all its beauty; it should be offered as a gift of love, and Christian

love can never murmur (compare II Corinthians 9:7).

 

10 “As every man hath received the gift,” - rather, according as

each received a gift. The aorist ἔλαβενelaben received; obtained;

 seems to point to a definite time, as baptism, or the laying on of hands (compare

Acts 8:17; 19:6; I Timothy 4:14). For the gift (χάρισμα – charisma), compare

Romans 12:6; I Corinthians 12:4, “There are diversities of gifts” -  “even so

minister the same one to another,” - literally, ministering it towards one

another. The gifts of grace, whatever they may be, are talents entrusted to

individual Christians for the good of the whole Church; those who have

them must use them to minister to the wants of others (compare ch.1:12, where the

same word, διακονεῖνdiakonein -  to minister, is used of the gift of

prophecy) -  “as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”  We seem to

see here a reference to the parable of the talents (compare also I Corinthians 4:1;

Titus 1:7). Christians must be “good stewards (καλοὶ οἰκονόμοιkaloi

oikonomoi).” There should be not only exactness, but also grace and

beauty in their stewardship — the beauty which belongs to holy love, and

flows from the imitation of Hm who is “the good Shepherd (ποιμὴνκαλός

ho poimaen ho kalos).” The gifts (χαρίσματα – charismata)

are the manifestations of the grace (χάρις - charis) of God; that grace from

which all gifts issue is called manifold (ποικίληpoikilaedivers; varied),

because of the diversities of its gifts, the variety of its manifestations.

The power of rendering simple hospitality is as truly a gift of God’s grace for the

use of which a man is responsible as is the loftiest endowment of eloquent speech

or eminent service. The large principles embodied in these simple words would

revolutionize the Church, and go far to regenerate the world, if they were

 honestly carried out.  

 

  • THE UNIVERSALITY OF GIFTS.  All these poor ignorant Asiatics,

picked from the filth of idolatry, slaves and outcasts as some of them had been,

 rude and uncultured and lowly of station and imperfectly Christianized as many

of them were, — they each had some Divine gift which needed only to be

burnished and shown to shine afar  with heavenly brightness. Every

Christian man today, in like manner, is endowed with some gift; for every

Christian has the Spirit of God dwelling in him, and that Spirit never comes

empty-handed.  In the Church the aspiration of Moses has  been fulfilled

(Numbers 11:29), “All the Lord’s people” areprophets,and “the

Lord” has “put His Spirit upon them.” Miraculous powers were widely

diffused in the early Church, and, with the gift of tongues, constituted the

most conspicuous tokens of the gift of the Pentecostal Spirit. But even

then these were not “the best gifts.” The graces of faith, hope, and charity,

those fruits of the Spirit which consist of a holy character and a heart

transparent for the heavenly light which burns within it, as a light fed by

perfumed oil in an alabaster lamp, — these are better gifts of an indwelling

Spirit than all supernatural endowments. The natural faculties, of course,

are gifts. To each man the question may be addressed concerning these,

“What hast thou which thou hast not received?” (I Corinthians 4:7)

But the natural faculties of the Christian, reinforced, quickened, directed by

the indwelling Spirit, are still more emphatically gifts. The power of brain or

tongue, the spirit of counsel or of might, which he received from the creative

breath of God, is intensified by the Spirit, which brings the breath of a new

Divine life, as a lamp burns brighter when plunged into a jar of oxygen. And

besides the new graces and heightened action of native power, all ability or

opportunity dependent on outward circumstances is gift. Health, any skill

of hand or eye, wealth, position, — everything must come into this

category. All which we have is gift. In that sense the gift is universal. And

we all have the gift. In that sense, too, it is universal.

 

  • THE VARIETY OF GIFTS. The apostle speaks here of the “manifold”

— literally, the “variegated” or “many-colored” grace; and exhorts to

variety of service based upon dissimilarity of gifts. It cannot but be that the

fullness of God passing into the limits of created minds should manifest

itself in an infinite variety. The light flashed at different angles from a

million dewdrops twinkles and glitters from their tiny spheres in all

differing tints of green and purple and gold. (I saw my wife’s wedding

rings glittering in the light at church today – CY – October 14, 2012)

The unlimited variety of innumerable recipients growing in the measure

of their possessions THROUGH ETERNITY is the only adequate

MANIFESTATION OF AN INFINITE GOD!   Such variety

is essential, too, to the existence of a community. “If the whole were an

eye, where were the body?” (I Corinthians 12:12-24)  The homely proverb

says, “It takes all sorts to make a world.” With diversity comes room for

mutual help and mutual tolerance. Every man has some gift; no man has

 all!  Therefore they are bound together by reciprocal wants and supplies,

and convexities here and concavities there fit in to one another and make

a solid whole. The same life works, but variously, in the different organs

of the one body, so that there should be no schism in the body (Ibid v.25).

This variety constitutes an imperative call to service. Each man has something

which some of his brethren want.

 

The least flower with a brimming cup may stand,

And share its dewdrop with another near.”

 

The concert will not be complete, though the roll of the great ocean of

praise that surges round the throne be as the noise of many waters, without

the tinkle of the little rill of my praise. And some poor soul, which God

meant to go shares with me, will have to starve if I do not part my portion

among the needy. It constitutes, too, an authoritative prescription of the

manner of service. “As every one hath received, so minister the same

(v.10).  Do not minister anything else, but that very thing which you have

received. God shows you what He intends you to do by what He gives you.

Do not copy other people; do not try to be anybody else. Be true to yourself.

If your gifts impel you to a special mode of service, follow them. Find out

what you are fit for, and do it in your own fashion. Take your directions at

first hand from God, and don’t spoil your own little gift by TRYING

TO BEND IT INTO THE SHAPE OF SOMEBODY ELSE’S! 

(Bloom where you are planted!)  Flutes cannot be made to sound like drums.

Be content to give out your own note, and leave the care of the harmony to

God. And, on the other hand, beware of interfering with your brother’s

equal liberty. Do not hastily condemn modes of action because they are not

yours. A Salvation Army captain and a philosophical theologian may not

understand each other’s dialect; but there is room for them both, and they

should not hinder each other. There are many vessels of different materials

and shapes for different uses in Christ’s great house.  The widest tolerance

of the diversities of operation is the truest recognition of the one Spirit which

worketh all in all.

 

  • THE RESPONSIBILITY OF GIFTS. “As good stewards.”  (see

I Corinthians 3:6-15).  No Christian gets his natural endowments, nor

his material possessions, and still less his spiritual graces, for himself alone. 

Christian men do not sufficiently consider that God gives them even

salvation for the sake of others as well as for their own. No creature is so

small but that its well-being is a worthy end for God’s gifts and care. No

being is so great that its well-being is worthy to be an exclusive end of God’s

gifts and care. We are saved “that we may show forth the praises of Him

 who has called us out of  darkness into His marvelous light” (ch. 2:9). 

 

Ø      The joy of forgiveness,

Ø      the peace of conscience,

Ø      the blessed assurance of the Father’s love,

Ø      the hopes of an immortal heaven,

 

 these are not given us for self-absorbed and solitary enjoyment,

but that, saved, we may glorify and proclaim the Savior, and bring to

others THE UNSPEAKABLE GIFT!   So with all the lesser gifts which

flow from that greatest — all spiritual endowments, natural capacities

heightened by the Spirit’s indwelling, or outward endowments and possessions –

they are our Lord’s goods put into our hands to administer for Him. They were

His before they became ours. They are His while they are called ours. They

are ours that we may have the joy of bringing Him somewhat, and may not

only know the blessedness of receiving, but the greater blessedness of

giving, even though we have to say, while we bring our gifts, “Of thine

own have we given thee” (I Chronicles 29:14).  If Christian men really

believed what they say they do, that they are stewards, not owners, trustees

and not possessors, the whole face of Christianity would be altered. There

would be men and money for all noble service, and the world would be bright

with unselfish and various ministries, worthily representing “THE

MANIFOLD GRACE OF GOD!” 

 

11 “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God;” - Peter proceeds

to give examples of the proper use of gifts. One of those gifts is utterance. The apostle

means all Christian utterance, whether public in the Church, or private in Christian

conversation or ministrations to the sick. The second clause may be also rendered,

as in the Revised Version,“speaking as it were oracles of God.” It is more natural

to supply the participle “speaking” than “let him speak,” after the analogy of

διακονοῦντες - diakonountes - ministering) in v.10. For the word λόγια,

logia - oracles, see Acts 7:38; Romans 3:2; also Hebrews 5:12, in which last

place the Scriptures of the New Testament seem to be intended. The

apostle’s meaning may be either that the Christian teacher was to speak as

do the oracles of God, that is, the Scriptures, or (and the absence of the

article rather favors this view) that he was so to YIELD HIMSELF TO

THE GUIDANCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, THAT HIS TEACHING

SHOULD BE THE TEACHING OF GOD!  HE WAS TO SEEK NO

PRAISE OR REWARD FOR HIMSELF, BUT ONLY THE GLORY

OF GOD!   Those who with single-hearted zeal seek God’s glory do speak as it

were oracles of God, for He speaketh by them (compare Mark 13:11).  “if any

man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth:  (Again it

is better to supply the participle “ministering.” Whatever a man’s gifts may

be, he must minister them for the good of the whole Church (see v. 9;

also Romans 12:8; I Corinthians 12:28). - And this he must do as of

the strength which God supplieth; the strength is not his — God giveth

it. The verb χορηγεῖ - choraegei -  rendered giveth,” is used in classical

Greek first of supplying the expenses of a chorus, then of liberal giving generally;

It occurs in II Corinthians 9:10. The compound, ἐπιχορηγεῖνepichoraegein

supply; shall be supplied -  is more common; Peter has it in the Second Epistle

(ch.1:5,11).  ).  that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ,”

THE GLORY OF GOD SHOULD BE THE ONE END OF ALL

CHRISTIAN WORK!   The Lord Himself had said so in the sermon on the

mount, in words doubtless well remembered by the apostle “Let your light

so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify

your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16; compare I Corinthians

10:31) – “to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

rather, as in the Revised Version, whose is the glory and dominion for the

ages of ages. It is thought by some that Peter is here quoting from some ancient

form of prayer; the use of the “Amen,” and the resemblance to Rev. 1:6 and 5:13,

seem to favor this supposition. It is uncertain whether this doxology is addressed to

God the Father or to the Lord Jesus Christ; the order of the words is in favor of the

latter view, and the doxology closely resembles that in Revelation 1:6.

 

 

Exhortations Based on the Impending Judgment (vs. 7-11)

 

  • THE NEED OF PREPARATION.

 

Ø      The nearness of the end. The end seemed near when Peter wrote,

Nearly two thousand years ago; by that great interval it is the nearer

now (“now is our salvation nearer than when we believed”

Romans 13:11).  That LONG-EXPECTED END will be THE

END OF ALL THINGSof sorrows, trials, suffering; of

pleasures, pomps, and vanities; of all the pursuits of this life,

 the restless struggle after wealth, or fame, or earthly comforts.

The end is at hand (v.7) - how near, we cannot tell; but we know

that to the Lord “a thousand years are as one day” (II Peter

3:8); and to ourselves, when we look back, the years that are

passed are as a watch in the night (Psalm 90:4). All will be over

then, all that men have toiled to build up the empires,

the civilizations, the philosophies; all will be over, save only the

results of human action, the moral and spiritual consequences of

human lives. Who can tell what will be the grand result of the many

millions of lives that will then have been lived? Now each generation,

as it passes, leaves its mark upon its successors (see Acts 13:36):

what will be the CHARACTER OF THAT GREAT

SOCIETY, A VAST MULTITUDE OF SOULS, that will

live on when the end of the world is come? To each individual

the hour of death is the end, and that end is very near; each day,

as it comes, ushers in the end of many lives. The time of that end,

like the time of the end of all things, is unknown. God has hidden

both from us in His wisdom and love. But certainly it is near; the end

of this busy, toiling life, with all its hopes and fears, all its schemes and

ambitions, all its disappointments and successes; THE END

AND YET NOT THE END for, IF IT WERE THE END THERE

WOULD BE NO NEED OF THE CAREFUL PREPARATION

of which Peter speaks.  The motto of the worldling would be sufficient

for us all, “Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die.” The nearness

of the end gives the Christian a motive, not for self-indulgence, but for

self-denial, not for neglect of duty, but for increasing zeal; for he has a

work to do for his Master, and oh! whatever is left undone, whatever

calls of earthly pleasure or ambition are disregarded, that work must at

all costs be done. For he trusts in his poor humble way, by the help

of God’s Holy Spirit, to be able at the last to echo in some sense his

Savior’s words, “I have finished the work which thou gavest

me to do” (John 17:4); he hopes through the Lord’s atonement to

hear at last the joyful welcome, “Well done, good and faithful

servant!”  (Matthew 25:21,23) Therefore the thought of the nearness

of  the end must stimulate him continually to new energy, to active

work for Christ.

 

Ø      How the Christian should prepare himself.

 

o       He must exercise self-restraint. The etymology of the Greek

word for sober, points to the safeguard of the mind; the mind,

with all its thoughts, must be kept safe, restrained within due limits.

The fancies, aspirations, desires, must not be allowed to wander

unrestrained. For “the end of all things is at hand,” and the

Christian must school himself into thoughtful preparation for that

solemn hour. His mind should be filled, not with castles in the air,

not with visions of earthly prosperity (a mischievous and enervating

habit), but with thoughts of death, judgment, eternity. To keep

the end steadily in view requires much self-restraint; it implies a

well-ordered mind, a life guided by the eternal law of God,

not frittered away in trifles and idle pleasures, not spent in

pursuits and ambitions which do not rise above the atmosphere

of earth. This self-restraint is the sobriety, the soundness of

mind which the apostle here inculcates upon us; it extends over

all the relations and circumstances of life; in all his desires and

actions the Christian must be thoughtful, calm, composed; for

he lives in the anticipation of the coming end, and his aim

is the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

 

Ø      He must be sober unto prayer. Excess in meat or drink or other

pleasures of life unnerves the mind; excess weakens the body, brings

misery into families, is the cause of poverty and squalor and

wretchedness, fills our jails, our asylums, our prisons. And IT

RUINS THE SOUL;  the drunkard, the glutton, the man of pleasure,

cannot pray; HIS VICES BURDEN HIS SOUL AND WEIGH

IT DOWN TO THE EARTH;  he cannot lift up his heart in

prayer to God. For, indeed, prayer demands the exercise of all

our highest powers; it requires concentration of thought,

 energy of desire, devout yearnings after God; it needs the

gracious help of God the Holy Ghost, who maketh intercession

in and for those who earnestly seek that sacred gift. He who lives in

expectation of the end of all things, must live in prayer; for only by

constant and faithful prayer can he prepare himself for that awful

day; and he cannot pray aright unless he lives a godly, righteous,

and sober life.

 

  • THE NECESSITY OF CHARITY IN ITS VARIOUS

MANIFESTATIONS.

 

Ø      In forgiveness. In view of the coming judgment charity is necessary

above all things; for it is they who love the brethren in Christ and for

Christ who shall hear the joyful welcome, “Come, ye blessed of my

Father:  inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the

foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34). They see Christ in His

people, and for the love of Christ love and care for those whom

Christ loved. But “he that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is

love”  (I John 4:8); he cannot enter into heaven, which is the home of

love: there is no room there for the selfish, unloving heart. Love is

necessary above all other graces; it is the exceeding great love of our

Master and only Savior Jesus Christ which draws the hearts of men

unto the cross; and those who come to the cross, which is the school

of love, must learn of Him who loved them even unto death to love

all the brethren; for love is the very badge of our profession: “By this

shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one

to another.” (John 13:35).  Love was the character of the Master; it

must be the mark of the disciple. They must not only love one another;

but that love, Peter says, must be earnest, intense; for it needs the strength

of great love to forgive perfectly, and they who do not forgive cannot

hope for forgiveness. True charity covers sins; it “believeth all things,

hopeth all things” (I Corinthians 13:7); it puts the fairest construction

on the actions of others; it considers all possible extenuations of their

errors — antecedents, circumstances, temptations (“The way to

peace is often by giving the other persono the benefit of the doubt!” –

Dr. Charles Stanley); it does not willingly speak of faults and

shortcomings; it hides them as far as may be. And if it is necessary

for the good of the sinner, or of society, to uncover sins, charity

does it with gentle, loving tact, seeking to win the sinner, to save

his soul, forgiving him and seeking God’s forgiveness for him.

He who thus covers the sins of others, who forgives in the faith of

Christ and in the love of the brethren, shall be himself forgiven; his sin

shall be covered through the atonement once made upon the cross.

 

Ø      In Christian hospitality. It is not costly display and sumptuous

entertainments that Peter recommends; these things are often sinful

waste; men spend their money in selfish ostentation instead of holy

and religious works. The Lord had said to His disciples, “He that

 receiveth you, receiveth me” (Matthew 10:40); and again,

“Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these

little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple,

verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”

(Ibid. v.42).  Peter re-echoes his Master’s words. Christians

must show hospitality to one another, and that freely, liberally;

murmuring destroys the beauty of the gift. Christ hath received

us into the kingdom of God; He feeds us with heavenly food, the

Bread that came down from heaven; we must receive our brethren,

and that gladly, for His sake.

 

  • In the use of spiritual gifts. They are given to individual Christians for

the benefit of the whole Church. Whatever gifts we may possess, they are

but what we once received; they were entrusted to us to be used in our

Master’s service; that service is the edification of His people. Christians

Are stewards of these spiritual gifts; they should be good stewards, not like

The unjust steward, who wasted his master’s goods, and showed foresight

and worldly prudence only in providing for himself. They should discharge

their stewardship with unblemished honor, with a diligence and zeal which are

beautiful in the sight of the truly good. The grace of God varies in its

manifestations, in the diversities of gifts which issue from it, according to

the needs of the Church, according to the capacity of the individual

servant; it is like a piece of beautiful embroidery, various in color and

design, but combined in one harmonious whole. Every Christian, even the

humblest, has some gift; each should contribute his part, however small, to

the general welfare; charity will guide him in the use of his particular gift.

The apostle proceeds to give instances:

 

Ø      The gift of utterance. Paul asks for the prayers of his converts, that

utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly,

to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19). It is a

great gift, often a powerful means of winning souls to Christ. The

utterances of spiritual experience must flow out of a sanctified life.

Words without heart have little power; they soon betray their unreality.

The words of a real Christian must be as oracles of God; if they issue

out of a heart cleansed by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, then they

are His utterances. It is not ye that speak,” said our Lord to His

apostles, but the Spirit of my Father which speaketh in you”

(Matthew 10:20).  This should be our aim and constant desire — to

live so near to God that we may be FILLED WITH THE

HOLY GHOST and so speak the words which the Spirit

teacheth; ONLY HE can give the spiritual tact, the ready sympathy,

the loving persuasiveness, which are so remarkable in some of His

saints. But if our words are to be as oracles of God, we must be

deeply versed in the oracles of God; our memories must be stored

with precious words of Holy Scripture (Psalm 119:11).  The lessons

which the blessed Spirit teaches now are in all things accordant with

the sacred truths which holy men of old spake as they were moved

BY THE HOLY GHOST!  (II Peter 1:21)

 

Ø      Gifts of ministering. Peter combines under one word all other

ministrations, such as the gift of government, of teaching the little

children; services to be rendered to the poor, the sick, the afflicted.

All these are necessary for the well-being of the Church, and ALL

must be performed in THE STRENGTH WHICH GOD

GIVETH!  All these ministrations require love, zeal, energy,

self-denial; and these holy tempers come of God. We are weak, but

His strength is made perfect in weakness (II Corithians 12:9); we are

selfish, but His Spirit can kindle the fire of holy love in the heart that

once was cold and dead! He supplies the strength which we need for

the work which He has given us to do; He has appointed to every man

his work, and will enable every man to do the work appointed

 him, if he seeks for that strength in faith and prayer;

“I can do all things,” said Paul, “through Him that

strengtheneth me”  (Philippians 4:13).  Then let us work in the

strength of God, and let us ascribe any measure of success which

may be granted to us wholly to that strength which God giveth.

“Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents; behold, I have

 Gained beside them five talents more”  (Matthew 25:20).

The faithful servant ascribes his gains to his Lord’s original gift.

 

Ø      All gifts to be exercised to the glory of God. The Savior said,

“I have glorified thee on the earth” (John 17:4).  His disciples

should imitate Him, learning of Him to seek the glory of God

in all things and above all things. The love, the zeal, the energy,

which true Christians exhibit in the use of the gifts given them by God

show forth the glory of God; for that love and zeal can only come

 from His grace; weak, selfish creatures such as we are could not

live holy, self-denying lives save BY THE HELP OF GOD’S

PRESENCE!  Every act of Christian self-denial, every labor of love,

is an additional proof of the reality of God’s power and grace. Then

GOD IS GLORIFIED in His saints, and that THROUGH

JESUS CHRIST  for it is the Lord Jesus who by HIS

ATONEMENT hath brought us near to God, and enabled His true

disciples to know and love and glorify their Father which is in heaven.

The glory and the dominion are His, for all power is given to Him in

heaven and in earth (Matthew 28:18); and with that gift of power He

strengthens His chosen, enduing them with power from on high,

enabling them to glorify God by a holy life and by a blessed death.

 

Much prayer is needful for preparation against the hour of death; the self-indulgent

cannot pray aright.  Seek first the glory of God, and that through Jesus Christ our

Lord (Matthew 6:33)

 

12 “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to

try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:” - literally,

be not astonished at the burning among you, which is coming to you for a trial,

as though a strange thing were happening to you. Peter returns to the sufferings

of his readers. The address, “beloved,” as in ch.2:11, shows the depth of his

sympathy with them. He resumes the thought of ch.1:7; the persecution is a

burning, a fiery furnace, which is being kindled among them for a trial, to try

the strength of their faith. The present participles imply that the persecution

was already beginning; the word πύρωσιςpurosei -  a refining or trial by

fire, a burning (see Revelation 18:9,18), shows the severity. Peter tells them its

meaning: it was to prove them; it would turn to their good. Persecution was not

to be regarded as a strange thing. The Lord had foretold its coming. Paul, in his

first visit to Asia Minor, had warned them that we must through much

tribulation enter into the kingdom of God (Acts  14:22).  (On the word

ξενίζεσθεxenizesthethinking something strange; astonished –  for ξένιζεσθαι,

xenizesthai - means commonly to be a guest, to live as a stranger in another’s

house see note on v.4.) The thing was not strange; they were not to count

it as strange; they must learn, so to speak, to acclimatize themselves to it;

 it would brace their energies and strengthen their faith.

 

The sorrows that Christians endure in persecution because they are

Christians are not strange. Persecution is not to be wondered at. It is:

 

o       an instinct of evil men;

o       in harmony with all history.

 

The flippant dislike the real, the unclean are angry with the pure, the votaries

of error are irritated with the teachers of truth, the wicked hate the good

(I John 3:12); hence the pains and penalties of persecution are not strange.

 

The fire makes us feel the reality of life. It tends to make us thoughtful, earnest,

humble. There is a knowledge of God, of Divine things, of the Divine promises,

which enters only by the door of suffering.  It is as sufferers that we obtain

the richest experience, even of THE TENDERNESS OF GOD and that

our love in its greatest tenderness is drawn out towards Him. Let us not,

then, think the fire strange, even as though a strange thing were happening unto us.

It is not strange when it works toward such an end. And we may trust the

All-wise God to proportion the intensity of the fire to what our spiritual

requirements are.

 

The fiery trial a rejoicing. “But insomuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s

sufferings, rejoice; that at the revelation of his glory also ye may rejoice

with exceeding joy.” The apostle rises here to jubilation. Not merely is the

fiery trial not a reason for bewilderment; it is even a reason for rejoicing.

We are to rejoice in that we are partners with Christ; we are to rejoice in

that we are partners with Christ even in His sufferings, i.e. those which He

personally endured on earth. He endured the sharpness of persecution,

ending in “the sharpness of death;” and what made His death so difficult to

endure was not the fire of persecution, but the penal fire of God. There

was a solitariness in Christ’s sufferings; and yet our sufferings can be

joined to His sufferings, and it is an honor to have them so joined. We are

to look even at the degree or measure in which our sufferings can be

placed along with Christ’s sufferings. For there is the quantitative word

used — meaning “in proportion as.”  What does the world, by its hatred

and persecutions and railings for Christ, but make us more like Him, give

us a greater share with Him in that which He did so willingly undergo for us?

The persecuting world thus in a way defeats itself; it makes the Christian suffer,

but only to add to his joy in making him a greater sharer with Christ in

what He suffered. “Rejoice,” then, is the word of command to the

persecuted; but now the end of the present rejoicing is seized on. “Rejoice;

that at the revelation of his glory also ye may rejoice with exceeding joy.”

There is a present rejoicing; there is also a future rejoicing; and the one is

with a view to the other. Both, it seems to be implied here, and is certainly

elsewhere taught, go upon partnership, and in this order — first partners

with Christ in His sufferings, and then partners with Christ in His glory. The

future rejoicing is to be at the revelation of Christ’s glory. There is a glory

of Christ which is at present concealed CONCEALED FROM

THE WORLD!  There is even a glory of Christ which is not yet possessed —

the glory expressive of the final vindication of His mission, the final triumph of

His cause. Then He is to get glory from the saints; but then, also, He is to be

in a position to bless His saints, without any hindrance, according to His heart’s

desire, according also to the thought of the Father from all eternity; and He is to

bless them by making them partners with Him in His glory. Their very

bodies raised are to take after His glorified body: how can it, then, be aught

but Christ’s glory that is to shine forth in their spirits? The word for the

present is “rejoice,” but at the REVELATION OF CHRIST’S GLORY

 it is to be rejoicing with exceeding joy, rejoicing beyond the measure

of the present, rejoicing far beyond our present power of CONCEPTION!

 Now it is rejoicing in the midst of persecutions; then it will be rejoicing when

the persecutions are all over for ever and sublimated, and the glorious realities

are in actual possession.  “For I reckon that the sufferings of this

present time are not worthy to be compared with THE GLORY THAT

SHALL BE REVEALED IN US.”  (Romans 8:18)

 

13  But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings;” -

Peter speaks in stronger language; he repeats the Lord’s words in Matthew 5:12.

Christians should learn to rejoice in persecution; they must rejoice in so far as,

in proportion as (καθό - katho in proportion), they are partakers of Christ’s

sufferings (see IICorinthians 9:10; Philippians 3:10; Hebrews 13:13). Suffering

meekly borne draws the Christian nearer to Christ, lifts him, as on a cross, nearer

to the crucified Lord; but this it does only when he looks to Jesus in His suffering,

when the eye of faith is fixed upon the cross of Christ. Then faith unites the

sufferings of the disciple with the sufferings of his Lord; he is made a

partaker of Christ’s sufferings; and so far as suffering has that blessed

result, in such measure he must rejoice in his sufferings - “that, when His glory

shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” -  literally,

that in the revelation of His glory also ye may rejoice exulting. The word

for “exulting,” ἀγαλλιώμενοιagalliomenoito rejoice greatly, to

exult -corresponds with that used in ch. 1:6 and in Matthew 5:12 (χαίρετε καὶ

ἀγαλλιᾶσθεchairete kai agalliastherejoice and be exceedingly

glad).  Joy in suffering now is the earnest of the great joy of the redeemed at

the revelation of that glory which they now see through a glass darkly.

 

“At the revelation of His glory.” These words speak of unspeakable future joy.

To rejoice in the revelation of His glory, which will be the triumph of pity, of purity,

of the mission to bless others, we must be partakers of His sufferings. Blessed

now with reproach for His sake, we shall, by growing resemblance to Him

and gracious reward from Him, be blessed then.

 

 

Trials (vs.12-13)

 

The word “trials” is one which is often upon the lips of persons who

apparently give little heed to the spiritual meaning which is implied in it.

People use the term as equivalent to “sufferings,” “calamities,” losing sight

of the fact that it suggests great truths concerning our moral discipline and

probation. In this passage the Apostle Peter, who was doubtless by Divine

inspiration writing out of his own experience, expounds the Christian

doctrine of earthly “trials.”

 

  • THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH TRIALS ARE PERMITTED.

To many minds the trials which befall the good and the bad alike seem

hardly consistent with the benevolent character of God (“but time

and chance happeneth to them all” – Ecclesiastes 9:11).  But it is

forgotten that the end of the Divine government is not to secure to

all men the greatest possible amount of enjoyment, but to place every

man in a position of moral discipline, to give him an opportunity to resist

temptation, to cultivate virtuous habits, to live an obedient and submissive

and truly religious life. Not as if God were indifferent to the issue of such

probation; on the contrary, He watches its process with interest, and delights

to see the gold purified in the furnace, the wheat winnowed from the chaff.

The hearer of the Word is put upon his trial, and events prove whether he

will hear or forbear (Ezekiel 2:5, 3:11).  The believer in Christ is put upon

his probation, and it is seen whether his faith is strong and his love sincere.

TIME TRIES ALL!

 

Ø      THE SPIRIT IN WHICH TRIALS ARE TO BE ENDURED

BY THE CHRISTIAN.  Peter shows us that the true Christian

temper under trials is that which regards all such afflictions as

participation in the Master’s sufferings. He who is one with Christ

finds his satisfaction in being “as his Master, his Lord” (Matthew

10:24).  He does not ask to be exempt from the experiences

Jesus submitted to pass through before Him. And he is sustained

and cheered to know that, even in the heated furnace, there is

One with him whose form is as the Son of God. Here is the true

remedy for human restlessness and for human discontent. What

we share with Christ we may accept with submission and

gratitude.

 

Ø      THE ISSUE TO WHICH TRIALS ARE TO TEND. We are

not left without light upon the future. As our Lord Himself’,

even in His humiliation and woe, saw of the travail of His soul,

and was satisfied (Isaiah 53:11); so are His followers justified in

anticipating, not merely deliverance, but exaltation.  The glory of

the triumphant Redeemer shall be revealed, and they who

have shared His cross shall then with joy sit down with Him

upon His throne. (Revelation 3:21)

 

14 “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye;” - rather, if

ye are reviled in the -Name of Christ, blessed are ye. There is, again, a manifest

quotation of our Lord’s words in Matthew 5:11. The

conjunction “if” does not imply any doubt: the words mean “when ye are

reviled.” For “in the Name of Christ,” (compare Mark 9:41, “Whosoever

shall give you a cup of water to drink in my Name, because ye belong to

Christ.” So here the meaning is, “When ye are reviled because ye belong to

Christ, because ye bear His Name, because ye are Christians” (compare Acts 5:41) –

for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you:” -  The form of the

sentence in the Greek is unusual. Some regard the first clause, τὸ τῆς δόξης

 to taes doxaesof the glory, as a periphrasis for δόξα - doxaglory,                 

and translate, “For glory and the Spirit of God resteth upon you.” But there

is no other instance of such a periphrasis in the New Testament; it is better to

supply πνεῦμαpneumaspirit.  Men revile them, but God glorifieth them.

The Spirit of glory, the Spirit which hath the glorious attributes of God,

the Spirit which proceedeth from the Father who dwelleth in the glory,

in the Shechinah, — that Spirit resteth upon them, and sheds on them

the glory of holy suffering, the glory which hung around the cross of

Christ. Two of the most ancient manuscripts, with some others, insert the words

καὶ δυνάμεωςkai dunamueos – and power, “the Spirit of glory, and of

 power, and of God.” The Spirit is power from on high (Luke 24:49). (For

resteth,” compare Isaiah 11:2.) Ἐπί  - epi -with the accusative suggests the

thought of the Spirit descending upon them and resting there (compare John 1:

32-33). The Spirit abides upon those who patiently suffer for Christ “on their

part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified.”  These words

are not found in the most ancient manuscripts, and are probably a gloss, but a true

one. Those who reviled the suffering Christians really blasphemed the Holy

Spirit of God, by whom they were strengthened; the Holy Spirit was

glorified by their patient endurance.

 

“The Spirit of glory and of God resteth on you.” This token of the Divine

presence not simply indicates the continuance of God with you, but the

satisfaction of God in you. His spirit resteth upon you. The teaching is:

 

o       God is near those who are partakers of Christ’s sufferings.

The Spirit of God is with them.

 

o       God is near them to glorify them, and Himself to rejoice in them.

“The Spirit of glory resteth. The music of the Beatitudes is

ringing through Peter’s soul, and he flings out their consoling,

inspiriting tones to all who were or ever shall be in the “fiery trial”

through which all Christians pass.  “Blessed are they that are

persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom

of heaven.”  (Matthew 5:10)

 

15  But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an

evildoer,” - literally, for let none of you, etc. They are blessed who

suffer in the Name of Christ, because they belong to Christ: for it is not the

suffering which brings the blessedness, but the cause, the faith and patience

with which the suffering is borne. The word κακοποιόςkakopoios - evil-doer

is used by Peter in two other places (ch. 2:12 and 14). Christians

were spoken against as evil-doers; they must be very careful to preserve

their purity, and to suffer, if need be, not for evil-doing, but for well-doing

(Ibid. ch.3:17) - “or as a busybody in other men’s matters.”   This clause

represents one Greek word, ἀλλοτριοεπίσκοποςallotriepiskoposbusybody,

interferer in others affairs - it means an ἐπίσκοποςepiskopos -  inspector,

overseer (“bishop” is the modern form of the word), of other men’s matters —

of things that do not concern him.  Peter uses the word ἐπίσκοπος only once 

(ch.2:25), where he describes Christ as the Bishop of our souls. It cannot be

taken here in its ecclesiastical sense, “let no man suffer as a bishop in matters

which do not concern him; but if as a Christian (bishop), let him not be ashamed.”

The Jews were often accused of constituting themselves judges and meddling in

other men’s matters; it may be that the consciousness of spiritual knowledge

and high spiritual dignity exposed Christians to the same temptation.

 

16 “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian,” - The word “Christian”

occurs only three times in the New Testament — twice in the Acts of the

Apostles (chps. 11:26; 26:28), and here. “The disciples were called

Christians first in Antioch.” They were originally described amongst

themselves as “the disciples,” “the brethren,” “the believers,” “the elect,”

or” the saints;” by the Jews they were called “the Nazarenes” (Ibid. ch.

24:5), as still in Mohammedan countries. The name was probably invented

by the heathen, and used at first as a term of derision; there is something of

scorn in Agrippa’s use of it. It did not at once become common among the

disciples of the Lord. Peter (who preached at Antioch (Galatians

2:11), and is said to have been Bishop of Antioch) is the only sacred writer

who adopts it instead of the older names, and that only ones, and in

connection with threatened persecution. James may possibly allude to it

in James 2:7. But it was not commonly used among believers till after

New Testament times. Then they began to discern its admirable

suitableness. It reminded them that the center of their religion was not a

system of doctrines, but A PERSON, AND THAT PERSON THE

 MESSIAH, THE ANOINTED OF GOD!   The Hebrew origin of the

word, the Greek dress, the Latin termination, seemed to point, like the

threefold inscription on the cross (John 19:19-20), to the universality of

Christ’s religion to its empire, first over all the civilized nations, and through

them, by continually increasing triumphs, over the whole world. It reminded

them that they too were anointed, that they had an unction from the Holy One.

Its very corruption through heathen ignorance, Christian from χρηστός

 chraestos -  pleasant, kindly, gracious, good -  (the Sinaitic Manuscript

has χρηστιανόςchraestianos -  Christian - in this place) had its lesson —

it spoke of sweetness and of goodness -   “let him not be ashamed; but let

him glorify God on this behalf.” The best supported reading is ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι

τούτῳ | - en to onomati toutoon this behalf.  This may be understood as an

idiom, in the same sense as the reading of the Authorized Version; but it is

better to translate it literally, in this name, i.e. either the name of Christ, or

(more probably, perhaps) that of Christian. The heathen blasphemed that

worthy Name; suffering Christians must not be ashamed of it, but, as the

holy martyrs did, utter their “Christianus sum” (I am a Christian) - with inward

peace and thanksgiving, glorifying God that He had given them grace to bear

that honored Name and to suffer for Christ

 

17 “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God:” -

The house of God is the Church (see I Timothy 3:15; I Corinthians 3:16; and

ch. 2:5). The judgment must begin at the sanctuary (Ezekiel 9:6; see also Jeremiah

25:15-29). The beginning of judgment is the persecution of the Christians, as our

Lord had taught (Matthew 24:8, 9, and following verses); but that judgment is

not unto condemnation: “When we are judged, we are chastened of the

Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” (I Corinthians

11:32); it is the fiery trial, “which is much more precious than of gold that

perisheth (ch. 1:7),  the refining fire of affliction - “and if it first begin at us,

what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?”

Compare the passage in Jeremiah already referred to: “Behold, I begin to

bring evil on the city which is called by my Name, and should ye be

utterly unpunished?”  Compare also our Lord’s question, “If they do these

things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” (Luke 23:31) 

The question suggests answers too awful for words.

 

  • UNHAPPINESS CONNECTED WITH DISOBEDIENCE.

 

Ø      The order of judgment. “For the time is come for judgment to

 begin at the house of God: and if it begin first at us, what

 shall be the end of them that obey not the gospel of God?”

This follows up not being ashamed, but glorifying God. There is to

be, in accordance with v. 7, which is not yet lost sight of, A

SPEEDY RECTIFICATION OF THINGS.   There is the

actual arrival of the time for judgment to begin (“the day of

the Lord will come” – II Peter 3:10).  With this there is a

passing on to the order of judgment. The object of judgment

is first the house of God, i.e. believers collectively. The language

is taken from the temple at Jerusalem, which was probably still

standing.  The objects of judgment are next — they that obey not

 the gospel  of God. We are not to think of those with whom the

gospel has not been brought into contact. We are rather to think

of men refusing the gospel when presented to them. We are

especially to think of men showing active hostility to the gospel as

persecutors. There is judgment upon the house of God. We are

not to think of condemnatory judgment, but rather of the corrective

judgment referred to in I Corinthians 11:32, But when we are

 judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be

condemned with the world.” The judgment was to be regarded

as taking place in the persecutions to which they were subjected as

belonging to the house of God. These were fitted to remind them

of their sins, their shortcomings.  Because they were not pure enough,

the fiery trial was sent upon them to act as a refiners fire, separating

the unworthy, and also from the genuine all unworthy elements. There

is also to be judgment upon them that obey not the gospel of God.

This is of the nature of condemnatory judgment.  There is to be final

judicial dealing with them for their ungodly deeds, for their hard

speeches (Jude 1:15).  There is especially to be final judicial dealing

with them for the treatment they have given the gospel, the preachers

of the gospel, the Christian communities, the Christian members. Stress

is laid on the order of the judgment. The starting-point is noted. It

begins at, or from, the house of God. The language is used in Ezekiel

9:6, “Begin at my sanctuary.” Upon this an argument is founded. It is

similar to what is found in Jeremiah 25:29, “For, lo, I begin to bring

evil on the city which is called by my Name, and should ye be utterly

 unpunished?” The argument has a consolatory side to them that

belong to the house of God. “If it begin first at us,” says Peter,

referring to himself and the persecuted to whom he wrote. It was

only to begin first at them; it was not to stay with them. It was to

pass on to them that obeyed not the gospel of God — and how?

We may understand, with increasing severity; for the question is

Ominously asked, What shall be the end of them that obey

                        not the gospel of God?” 

 

Ø      Old Testament reference. “And if the righteous is scarcely

saved, where shall the ungodly and sinner appear?” The

reference is to Proverbs 11:31, “Behold the righteous shall be

 recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the

 sinner.” The language is properly from the imperfect Septuagint

rendering. The singular individualizes. The righteous is he who

stands in a right relation to God. The New Testament bearing is he

who stands in right relation to God in view of the revelation made

in the gospel.  The Old Testament equivalent to “obeying not the

gospel of God,” is “the ungodly and sinner,” i.e. he who has

not the fear of God on him, and therefore acts presumptuously.

It is said of the righteous that he is scarcely saved. God has assigned

to all, as He has a right to assign, a task; this task is THE

SALVATION OF THE SOUL!   By failing in this task,

where shall the  ungodly man and sinner appear? The question is

ominously left unanswered; but we may take the answer as given in

Psalm 1:4-6 - “The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff

which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not

stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the

righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous:

but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”

 

18 “And if the righteous scarcely be saved,” - Peter is quoting

the Septuagint Version of Proverbs 11:31. That version departs

considerably from the Hebrew, which is accurately represented by the

Authorized Version, “Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the

earth; much more the wicked and the sinner.” Probably the word rendered

recompensed,” which is neutral in its meaning, is best understood here, not

of the good deeds of the righteous, but of the sin which still cleaves to all

human righteousness. The righteous shall be requited in the earth, that is,

chastised for his transgressions. So it would be now, Peter says;

JUDGMENT MUST BEGIN AT THE HOUSE OF GOD!   He adopts

the inexact Septuagint translation for its substantial truth, as we now sometimes

use versions which are sufficient for practical purposes, though we know them

to be critically inaccurate. We observe again the absence of marks of

quotation, as often in Peter. Bengel well remarks that the awful

scarcely” (μόλις σώζεται –-  molis sozetaiscarcely, hardly being

saved ) is softened by II Peter 1:11 - “where shall the ungodly and

the sinner appear?” -  The “ungodly” are the impious, scoffers, and

blasphemers; the “sinners” are men of profligate and dissolute

lives. But the words are (probably) included under one article in the Greek;

the men were the same; ONE FORM OF EVIL LED TO THE

OTHER (compare Psalm 1:5; see also Matthew 19:25).

 

19 “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God” –

 rather, let them also that  suffer.  Peter sums up his exhortation; he

returns to the thought of ch. 3:17, “It is better, if the will of God be

so, that ye suffer for well-doing, than for evil-doing.” In the hour of

suffering, as well as in times of prosperity, we are in the hands of a merciful

and loving Father; we are to learn submission, not because the suffering is

inevitable, but because it is according to His will, and HIS WILL IS OUR

SALVATION and SANCTIFICATION!   -  By the will of

God we are to understand, not so much the Divine appointment, as the

Divine requirement. It is the will of God that we should suffer even as

confessors and martyrs rather than deny Christ. Let them that thus suffer

according to the will of God follow this course. Let them commit their

souls to God.  Let them commit their souls in well-doing unto a faithful

Creator. There can be a falling back, not only on Fatherhood, but even on

Creatorship. In creating us God constituted us so that in a course of well-doing

we should be happy. Let us do well, and we may be assured that God wilt be

faithful to His part of the covenant. “All the days of my appointed time will

I wait, till my change come. Thou shall call, and I will answer thee;

thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands (Job 14:14-15).

 commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful

Creator.”  Commit  the keeping of their souls to Him in well-doing, as unto a

faithful Creator; rather, as in the Revised Version, commit their souls in well-doing

 unto a faithful Creator. The conjunction “as” must be omitted, not being found in

any of the best manuscripts. The word rendered “Creator” (κτίστηςktistae )

occurs nowhere else in the Greek Testament.   GOD IS OUR CREATOR, THE

 FATHER OF SPIRITS!  He gave the spirit; to Him it returneth  

(Ecclesiastes 12:7).  We must imitate our dying Lord, and, like Him, commit

our souls to the keeping of our heavenly Father as a deposit which may be

left with perfect confidence in the hands of a faithful Creator (see II Timothy

1:12). There is an evident reference here to our Lord’s words upon the cross

(Luke 23:46; Psalm 31:5). Peter adds, “in well-doing.” The Christian’s faith

 must bring forth the fruits of holy living; even in the midst of suffering he must

be careful to maintain good works.”

 

 “Wherefore.” The word carries us back to the whole series of thoughts on

persecution and sorrow in the preceding verses, and, as it were, binds them

all together, as a man might bind a bundle of twigs to make a platform

for himself and his companions on a black bog. The fagot is made

up of these truths, namely — sorrow is no extraordinary anomaly; we share

in the great Sufferer’s afflictions; the purpose of them is our participation

in the great King’s glory, and that a joy exceeding the sorrow may be ours;

that sorrow and shame will bring the Divine Spirit to overshadow us with

His peaceful, dove-like wing, and to fill our souls with the radiance of

A PRESENT GOD that by it we may glorify the God who in it glorifies us;

That the sharpest sorrows are but a light portion of the judgments which are

 To come upon all the earth, and are meant, not to destroy, but to purify and to

separate from those on whom the final and fatal judgment of condemnation

shall fall.

 

We can scarcely fail to hear in the words one more echo of the gospel story. Peter

remembers, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46), and

bids us all, in our lighter sorrows, in like manner commit our souls to God. The

word is the same, and, though our Lord spoke of the act of death, and the

apostle of the surrender in life, the temper and disposition are the same.

Absolute confidence and complete submission were exhibited on the cross.

Nothing less is our duty and privilege. When sorrow comes, and not only

in joy when it is so easy, we are to give up ourselves to God in the full

abandonment of trust, as a man who has been fighting for hours against the

storm reaches home at last, and, with muscles relieved from strain,

gratefully flings himself down to rest. We are to put ourselves in God’s

care, as people in war flock into the forts, or as a householder will deposit

his valuables in the hands of his banker, and then sleep careless of thieves

or fire. GOD WILL TAKE GOOD CARE OF ALL THAT IS DEPOSITED

INTO HIS CUSTODY.   No violence can force His safe where His jewels are

kept. If we recognize our own importance, and, abandoning all self-reliance, trust

wholly to Him, we shall suffer no harm and fear no foe; but if we will live in the

open country, and refuse the shelter of his stronghold, because we either do not

believe the peril, or think we can keep ourselves safe by our own arms, some

night or other we shall be roused from dreams to see the faces of the savage foes

all about our bed, and shall know the sharpness of their arrows and the

implacableness of their hearts. These two things, which are but the positive

and the negative sides of one — self-distrust and reliance on God — are

the secret of all tranquility as well as of all safety. That heart may well be at

rest which has shifted the responsibility of its defense from its own weak

self to God. If we once can come to feel that it is more His business than

ours to take care of us, a whole cloud of cares falls like some black

precipitate to the bottom, and leaves the heart clear. Confidence is not

enough without submission. To commit our souls to God includes “Do

what thou wilt,” as well as “Thou wilt do lovingly and well.” Only when

the will yields, and, though it may be with tears bitter as death, and lasting

as life, accepts and conforms itself to God’s will, do we really know the

blessedness of faith. That which we no longer kick against no longer pricks

us (Acts 9:5).  The cell out of which we do not wish to go ceases to be a prison,

and becomes an oratory or a study. The horse that plunges feels the restraint of

his harness, which would not gall if he went quietly. “It is the Lord, let Him

do what seemeth Him good” ( I Samuel 3:18), is a talisman which changes

bitter into sweet, darkness into light, sorrow into content, and death into life.

 

The familiar truth is suggested that our committing our souls to God

does not mean that we are to fold our hands in indolence, which we

missname trust. Neither are we to be so much engaged with cultivating the

inward graces of faith and submission as to neglect the practice of common

deeds of kindness. Our religion may become transcendental, a thing of

spiritual experiences and emotions, and may be in danger of soaring so high

as to forget the work which has to be done here. But it must have hands to

toil as well as wings to mount. Peter was foolish when he desired to stay

on the Mount of Transfiguration, for there was a poor devil-ridden boy

waiting in the plain to be healed.

 

Here is a warning against giving up work because of sorrow. Ages of

persecution have seldom been ages of service. All the strength of the

Church has been absorbed in simple endurance. And in our private sorrows

we are too apt to fling aside our tools in order to sit down, and brood, and

remember, and weep. We hold ourselves excused from tasks which

otherwise seem plain duties, because our hearts are heavy. There is no

greater mistake than to give up work because of trouble. Next to God’s

Spirit, it is the best comforter. We feel our own burdens less when we try

to help some heavy-laden brother to carry his. Our sorrow will be less and

our faith more if we honestly set ourselves to the tasks, and especially to

the tasks of doing good to others which lie at our hands.

 

All sin kills faith. “Well-doing” here may either mean beneficence or

pure moral conduct. If the former, the remarks just made apply. If the

latter, the principle is presented that such conduct must be associated with

our committing of our souls to God, because every breach of the solemn

law of right will weaken our power of faith and make a barrier between us

and God. A small grain of sin will blind us; a little sin will prevent us from

seeing God. A thin film of air hinders two bodies from uniting; a thin layer

of sin keeps the soul from touching God. Any transgression will disturb our

faith, and make it close its opening buds, as a bright cloud crossing the sun

folds together the petals of some plants. There must be pure and noble

deeds if there is to be any completeness and continuity of peaceful

confidence; for, though faith is the parent of righteousness, righteousness

reacts on faith, and a hand foul with evil is lamed thereby, so that it cannot

firmly grasp the outstretched hand of Christ.

 

God knows how much tension and strain the soul can bear, and will not

overweight it, nor test it up to the breaking-point. As Paul says, he will not

suffer us to be tempted above that we are able (I Corinthians 10:13). Where

better can some precious work be put for safe keeping than in the maker’s

hands? Where can my soul be so secure and well than confided to the care

of Him who fashioned me, and measures my sorrows, knowing my frame

and remembering that I am dust? HE IS A FAITHFUL CREATOR!

The act of creation constitutes a relation between God and us, which imposes

on Him obligations and gives us claims on Him. He has made a covenant with

His creatures in the hour when He created them, WHICH HE KEEPS

FOR EVER!  He is faithful, in that He ever remains true to Himself, to His own

past, and to His articulate promises. What He has been we can rely on, and be

sure that, as we have heard, so shall we see, and that every act of mercy and

succor in the past binds Him to extend THE SAME MERCY AND

SUCCOR TODAY AND FOR EVER!  So all the old history flashes up

into new meaning for every poor sorrowful, trusting soul. What He has spoken

He will adhere to (Romans 4:21), and there are promises enough for us to build

absolute confidence upon. No man shall ever be able to quote an assurance of

his which turned out a rotten support, a hull without a kernel. HE IS A

FAITHFUL CREATOR!  He who gave the soul its existence, and knows

its capacities and needs, is its LOVING GUARDIAN!  Therefore, if we

commit the keeping of our souls to Him in well-doing” with the ancient

prayer, “Forsake not the work of thine own hands” (Psalm 138:8), we

too shall be blessed with the answer given to a hundred generations, and

fulfilled to every soul that rested upon it, “I will not leave thee until I have

done that which I have spoken to thee of.”  (Genesis 28:15; see Joshua

21:45; 23:14; Psalm 84:11)

 

 

Suffering (vs. 12-19)

 

  • THE PORTION OF CHRISTIANS.

 

Ø      Therefore they must not think it strange. The Lord had foretold

it; it must come; it was coming when Peter was writing. It was a

burning furnace, a fiery trial, the beginning of the cruel persecutions

through which believers were to pass; the prison and the torture,

the sword, the stake, the lion, were threatening the infant Church;

the savage shout, “Christianos ad leones (Christians to the lions!)

would soon be heard in the towns of Asia Minor. Hitherto the

Roman magistrates had generally been on the side of justice; they

had often protected the Christians from the violence of the Jews.

But Christianity was about to be regarded as a religio illicitaan

impermissible or illegal religion; the giant power of Rome

was to be arrayed against it; emperors would attempt to blot out

the very name of Christian. This frenzy of persecution was strange,

unheard of; there had never been the like before; the rulers of the

earth had never before banded together to root out a religion by

fire and sword (see Psalm 2:1-3); conquered nations had been

allowed to worship their own gods and to retain their ancient rites.

But the Son of God had come to be the Savior of the world;

the malice of Satan was stirred to the utmost; he would make a

mighty effort to crush the Church of Christ. Peter shows a deep

sympathy with his suffering brethren; he speaks to them in the

language of tenderness; he calls them “beloved.” He does not

depreciate the severity of the coming persecution; he calls it a

fiery trial; he teaches us by his example how to deal with the

afflicted. But he encourages them. It was to try them, to

prove their faith. They must not think it strange. Indeed, this

bitterness of persecution was a new thing now; but suffering

would be the portion of Christians; they must regard it as

belonging to their profession, and accustom themselves to

patient endurance.

 

Ø      They must even rejoice in it. For it brings them near to Christ.

He bore the cross; the cross is the badge of His chosen. The

cross of knightly orders is reckoned a high honor now; but

there is no cross of gold to be compared for true honor and for

preciousness with that spiritual cross which makes

the faithful Christian partake in the sufferings of Christ. For

Christ is our King, and to be made like unto the King is of

all honors the highest — far above all earthly distinction. 

Godfrey of Bouillon refused the royal crown when it was

offered to him at Jerusalem: “Nolo auream, ubi Christus

spineam” — “No crown of gold where Christ Jesus

was crowned with thorns.” But suffering does not only make

the faithful Christian like unto his Lord; it does more, it brings

him into communion with the sufferings of Christ. (“That I

might know Him and the fellowship of His sufferings,

being made conformable unto His death” – Philippians 3:10).

Suffering borne in faith helps the Christian to realize the

sufferings of the Lord; it brings the cross into nearer view; it

enables him to approach, to grasp, to cling to it, to take it into

his heart.  And suffering thus endured in the faith of Christ

crucified is united by faith with His sufferings and becomes

part of them, and by that mystical union is sanctified and

blessed to the soul’s salvation (Colossians 1:24).

 

Ø      It is the preparation for heaven. Suffering weans the Christian

from earthly enjoyments; it helps him to lift up his eyes from

earth and to see by faith the glory which shall be revealed

(ch.5:1).  Those who now suffer with Christ shall then rejoice,

and that with a joy which the heart of man cannot conceive.

Even now they are blessed; the blessedness of the eighth

Beatitude is theirs; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth

upon them (v.14).  Men may revile them; they will do so;

when other persecutions cease, these persecutions of the tongue

continue; “when all other fires of martyrdom are put out, these

burn still” (Leighton). But the spirit of glory resteth on those

who for Christ’s sake patiently endure. HIS PRESENCE is the

foretaste and the pledge of the everlasting glory. He comes

from the throne of glory; He brings with Him the glory of

holiness; He sheds the glory of a saintly life around the followers

of Christ. And He resteth upon them; He came down

from heaven on the great Day of Pentecost, not for a passing visit,

but to abide forever with the Church. He abode upon Christ

(John 1:32); He abideth with His true disciples (Ibid. ch.14:16).

Christ was anointed with the Holy Ghost (Acts 10:38). Christians

too partake in that Divine anointing; He abideth in them (I John

2:27).  The Holy Dove resteth on the meek and patient Christian,

preparing him by His sanctifying influences for the everlasting

glory of heaven. Such men are truly blessed. Men may revile them,

and, reviling them, revile the Holy Spirit who abideth in them;

but they glorify Him by the light which shines around from their

holy lives — the light which was kindled by the sacred fire of

His presence.

 

  • NOT ALL SUFFERING IS BLESSED.

 

Ø      Let Christians not suffer for evil-doing. They must be very

careful to set a good example, and to give none occasion to the

adversary to speak reproachfully. They must not suffer as evil-doers;

nor even as busybodies. They must imitate the Lord Jesus, who said,

“Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?” (Luke 12:14).

 Be much at home setting things at rights within your own breast, where

there is so much work, and such daily need of diligence, and then

you will find no leisure for unnecessary idle prying into the ways and

affairs of others; and further than your calling and the rules of Christian

charity engage you, you will not interpose in any matters without you,

nor be found proud and censorious, as the world is ready to call you.

 

Ø      It is suffering for well-doing that is blessed. Suffering in itself has

no spiritual value; it softens some, it hardens others; it saves some,

to others it worketh death. But suffering for Christ’s sake is always

blessed. If any man is called to suffer as a Christian, he must not be

ashamed; for the Son of man will be ashamed in the last day of those

who now are ashamed of Him before men. We must confess Him

openly in the world; and if in any way we are called to suffer because

we belong to Christ and own Him as our Master, we must glorify

God because we are counted worthy to suffer shame for His Name.

 

  • THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRISTIANS POINT ONWARDS TO

THE JUDGMENT.

 

Ø      Judgment must begin at the house of God. God hates sin; He

hates it most in those who are nearest to Him; He would have those

on whom His love rests clean from its defiling touch. Therefore

whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth (Hebrews 12:6);

therefore He says, “You only have I known of all the families of

the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities”

(Amos 3:2). Sometimes the Church passes through seasons of great

affliction; one such season was at hand when Peter wrote. It would

be a fiery trial, but the fire was a refining fire. It was kindled in a

sense by the malice of Satan and the wickedness of evil men; but in

a true and higher sense it came by the overruling will of God. Therefore

it must be sent in love, in fatherly care for their souls. This thought

sweetens suffering to the believer; it is our Father who sends it, and

He sends it in mercy. “Judgment must begin at the house of God;”

partly, indeed, because the sins of Christians, committed against light and

against knowledge, are more grievous than the sins of those who know

not the gospel; but mainly because the love of God is a wise and holy

love, and though “He doth not willingly afflict nor grieve the children

of men,” (Lamentations 3:33), yet He chastens us for our profit, that we

may be partakers of His holiness. Judgment begins with the

house of God; even the righteous are “scarcely saved.” Not that their

salvation is for a moment doubtful; Christ is able to save even to the

uttermost all who come to God by Him  (Hebrews 7:25).  But

salvation is a great and difficult work; we are bidden to work out our

salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12); and, work as

we may, we could not work it out for ourselves, were it not that

God worketh in us “both to will and to do of His good

pleasure.” The righteous is scarcely saved, because his enemies

are so many and so strong, and he so weak and sinful; temptations

swarm around him, and there are sinful lusts within his heart to

which those temptations address themselves. He needs all the armor

of light — the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation,

the shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit; he must fight the good fight

of faith; he must watch and pray (Ephesians 6:11-18), he must quit

himself like a man (I Corinthians 16:13), “enduring hardness as a

good soldier of Jesus Christ” (II Timothy 2:3).   But if the righteous

is scarcely saved, what hope of salvation have the careless and

 the slothful? If men are indifferent, listless in their religious exercises,

without zeal, without enthusiasm, without self-denial, can they be

walking in the narrow way? And there is no other way that

leads to heaven.

 

Ø      It ends with the disobedient. When God’s people are judged, they

are chastened of the Lord, that they should not be condemned with

the world.  Judgment in their case is transitory; it soon makes room

for mercy; it was sent in mercy, and it issues in mercy. But it

rests upon the disobedient. They will not listen to THE GOSPEL

OF GOD, THE  GOOD NEWS SENT FROM HEAVEN! 

God is not willing that any should perish (II Peter 3:9); He sought

to save them; they would not accept the terms of salvation. HE

GAVE HIS BLESSED SON TO DIE FOR THEM,  they “counted

 the blood of the covenant an unholy thing” (Hebrews 10:29).

WHERE SHALL THE UNGODLY AND THE SINNER

APPEAR IN THAT AWFUL DAY?

 

Ø      Believers have no cause for terror. They are judged now that they

should be saved at the last. Their sufferings are according to the will

of God, and that will is their sanctification now, their salvation hereafter.

He is their Creator; He will not despise the work of His own hands

(Job 10:3).  He hath begotten them again to a lively hope (ch.1:3);

 His saints are right dear to Him; He is faithful; His truth abideth;

His promise is sure. Let His chosen live in obedience, in well-doing,

and then let them commit their souls to Him (v.19).  “Father, into

 thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46), were the dying

words of Christ. Let these words be our daily prayer; let us commit

our souls to Him in life and in death. We need His gracious keeping

every day to keep those souls of ours safe from the evil one and pure

from sin; and oh, how shall we need that holy keeping in the

hour of our death! May we have grace, then, to trust ourselves to

Him in humble confidence and Christian hope, learning of our blessed

Lord, not only how to live, but also how to die!

 

o       Lessons

 

§         The Christian should not count suffering strange; it

must come sooner or later: Ye must through much

tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

§         He should rejoice, for suffering brings him nearer to

the cross.

§         After the cross cometh the crown; even now the

Holy Spirit of God rests upon his suffering children.

§         The judgment is at hand: prepare for it.

§         The righteous are “scarcely saved;”work out

your own salvation with fear and trembling.

§         “Where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”

 “Flee from the wrath to come.” 

 

 

 

                           The Joyous Aspect of Suffering for Christ

                     a Help to Persecuted Christians

                                     (vs.12-19)

 

The apostle is writing on the eve of the dreadful persecution of the Church

by Nero, which was already beginning to be felt. The increased bitterness

of those around them, and probably dark intimations from their teachers

that the evil times predicted by Christ were nigh, tended to awaken very

gloomy forebodings in the hearts of the converts. No wonder if they

thought the trial strange; even to us with our larger knowledge it always

seems strange that the good should suffer, and often so severely. Yet God

says, “Think it not strange, but rejoice,” and that word “rejoice” is the

keyword to the passage. There are three reasons here for this rejoicing:

 

  • THERE IS THE JOY OF FELLOWSHIP WITH CHRIST IN

SUFFERING. Suffering for righteousness brings us into fellowship

WITH CHRIST!

 

Ø      It is suffering for His sake. The persecuted partake of Christ’s

sufferings.  Some of our Lord’s sufferings were peculiarly His own,

and could not be shared; but we participate in His sufferings when

we suffer in the interests of His Church, the interests of righteousness,

for the spread of His kingdom.  Suffering is always suffering, but when

we know it is for that for which our Lord suffered, and on which His

heart is set, it is suffering glorified.

 

Ø      It is suffering by His side. We are never more conscious of His

Presence and sympathy than in suffering voluntarily endured for His

cause. None ever suffered for Christ without loving Him more.

 

Ø      It is suffering preparatory to His glory. Some of Christ’s servants

do not think much of His coming again. That may be due to their not

having fulfilled the tasks He gave them. His servants know when they

have really tried to please Him, and He knows it too, and this gives

them confidence towards Him, and makes them eager for HIS

APPEARING!

 

  • THERE IS THE JOY OF GLORIFYING THE SPIRIT IN SUFFERING.

 

Ø      Be sure that yours is really Christian suffering. Let none of you

Suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as a busybody.” (Strange

company that, by the way, for busybodies!) Is it not strange that Peter

should suggest that Church-members might be guilty of such things? The

fact is that the early Church contained many from the criminal classes,

and some of them were too easily admitted to fellowship; their adhesion

to Christ being simply an endeavor to atone for a life of misdeeds while

the misdeeds secretly remained. Let us see to it that we do not take to

ourselves the comforts of those who suffer for Christ’s sake, when we

really suffer for our sins’ sake.  It is not the suffering that makes the

martyr, but the cause of it.

 

Ø      If ours be Christian suffering, its endurance glorifies the Spirit.

“If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, the Spirit of glory

and of God resteth upon you” (v.14).  The word “resteth” here is

the same word our Lord uses when He says, “Come unto me and

 rest (Matthew 11:28).  On the seventh day God rested from His

works, but He also rested in them: “He saw all that he had made,

and behold it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).  God in His works

was satisfied. So the Spirit of God rests on the Christian martyr, for

He sees His work there — the fruit of the sacred love He has inspired,

of the sustaining grace He has imparted; and the gracious Spirit reposes

in the glorious result of His mission.

 

Ø      Reproach becomes our glory rather than our shame. “If any man

Suffer as a Christian” (v.16).  Christian was a name of scorn at first,

and Peter says, Be not ashamed, glorify God in this name; respond to

the reproach of earth by praise of heaven.” Why should we do this?

Because in us at that moment the Spirit of God finds a resting-place.

Do we not often forget the claims that gracious Spirit has on our service

and our love? We owe all that Christ is to us, and all that the

 Father is to us, TO HIM!

 

  • THERE IS THE JOY OF TRUSTING THE FATHER. “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? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the

 ungodly and the sinner appear? 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” (vs. 17-19).  We understand

these words when we remember that the Epistle was written before the

awful judgment which terminated in the destruction of the ecclesiastical and

civil polity of the Jews, which our Lord had foretold: “wars, rumors of wars,

famines, pestilences, earthquakes,” as “the beginning of sorrows;” and

added to His people, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and

shall kill you, and ye shall be hated of all men for my Name’s sake.”

(Matthew 24:7-9) What fires of discipline, and what deep waters of sorrow,

they have to go through to enter the kingdom! If this is what God’s

 children endure, WHAT OF THOSE WHO ARE NOT HIS?   If so

heavy is the hand of chastening, educating love, WHAT WILL THE

HAND OF JUDGMENT AND WRATH BE???  Christian, shrinking

under the one, remember that you are delivered from the other.

Trustfully acquiesce in the endurance of Christian suffering. This

suffering is according to God’s will, the other is not, and can only be

UNMINGLED CURSE  but that of His people in the way of righteousness

is His choice, He selects that, presides over it, tempers it, and leads it on to

UNMINGLED BLESSING!   Here, then, is a fresh possibility of joy in

suffering for Christ — the joy of resting in the will of the Father. Do we know

anything of suffering for righteousness’ sake? Other sufferings we are each

familiar with, but have we suffered for Christ? Do we live a life of voluntary

suffering for Him? If not, I might say we have reason in that to wonder

whether we are His followers at all. If we are strangers to Christian suffering,

we are strangers to the deepest Christian joy. Christian joy is a flower which

bears its fairest blossoms only when it grows on the grave WHERE

SELF LIES BURIED!

 

 

 

 

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