1 Peter 4 Bible Commentary

B. W. Johnson’s Bible Commentary

(Read all of 1 Peter 4)
Counsels to Suffering Saints.

SUMMARY.--Christ Having Died for Us, We Should Live for Christ. Watchfulness in View of the Speedy End. The Trials of the Saints. Suffering as Christians.

      1-6. Arm yourselves. The saints must be equipped for warfare and suffering. With the same mind. The mind that was in Christ when he suffered, a willingness to suffer to do the will of God. Hath ceased from sin. The idea seems to be that of Rom. 6:7, "He that is dead is freed from sin." Suffering with Christ puts an end to (or ceases) our connection with sin. 2. That ye no longer should live. Hence, because we have "ceased from sin," we should live, henceforth, to the will of God. 3. The time past. That was enough time for sin. Have wrought the will of the Gentiles. Lived the unholy lives common among the heathen. To have walked. Peter describes the common sins, sins of the Gentile world, sins in which too many Jews imitated them. The first two are sins of uncleanness. Excess of wine. Drunkenness. Revellings. See Rom. 13:13, and Gal. 5:21. Riotous merry making is meant. Banquetings. Carousings, as in Revision. 4. Wherein they. The outside world think it strange that you do not engage in these sins longer. Their enjoyment is in them, and they cannot understand how one can enjoy life without them. Speaking evil of you. Because you refuse to rush into their riotous sins. 5. Who shall give account. Those sinners, who not only persist in their unholy lives, but persecute the saints because they will not sin with them. Christ shall judge living and the dead. 6. For to this end was the gospel preached even to dead. This passage has been explained as meaning those spiritually dead. But the dead must be the same as in verse 5, and there they are opposed to the living. Meyer holds that this is an expansion of 3:20, 21. There he supposes Christ, in the Spirit, preached to the antediluvians. Here, he holds, that Peter affirms that all the dead who lived before Christ came had the opportunity to hear; hence when the living and dead are judged, none can plead that they had no chance of life. Others hold that the meaning may be freely given as follows: "Whether you die or live Christ is your judge. For this cause the gospel was preached to your brethren who have died," etc. This view avoids some difficulties but does not seem to harmonize fully with the context. Others hold that Peter means all the dead who have died from the time the gospel began to be preached. These had heard and gone, but would be judged as well as the living. This interpretation has the advantage of giving "the dead" the apparent meaning of that phrase. That they might be judged. Without some opportunity to know of the gospel they could not be judged for its rejection. According to men in the flesh. These dead, who had heard, and received the gospel, though experiencing the judgment of physical death that rested on all men, were called to live according to God in the spirit; that is, live on, an immortal life.

      7-11. The end of all things is at hand. The end of Jerusalem was not far off, and it does not seem that it was given to Peter to distinguish clearly between that and the end of all things, which truly draweth near. Watch unto prayer. Compare 1 Thess. 5:6, 8, and Matt. 24:42. 8. Love covereth a multitude of sins. Compare Prov. 10:12; 1 Cor. 13:7. Love is a mantle which seeks to condone sin rather than exaggerate it. 9. Using hospitality. A duty very needful in that age of persecution when Christians were so often driven from home. See notes on Rom. 12:13; 1 Tim. 3:2. 10. Even as each hath received a gift. All these are to be freely used for others. Spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:4, 28) are primarily meant, but the principle is of general application. As good stewards. Those to whom God has given gifts must use them, not as their own, but as God's. 11. If any man speaketh. Through a gift of the Spirit. He must speak not his own words, but speak as though they were God's oracles, speakers of a divine message. Ministereth. Let him act as one of God's ministers and act in his strength. That God may be glorified. Since all is of God.

      12-14. The fiery trials. Persecution. As though a strange thing. Christians, with the world against them, must expect to endure such things. 13. Rejoice. Because thus you are made partakers of Christ's sufferings. See notes on Rom. 8:17, and 2 Cor. 1:7. At the revelation of his glory. All who suffer with him will be glorified. 14. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ. Because you are a Christian. Because the spirit of glory. Spirit is not found in the Greek. The idea is, that the sufferer for Christ is happy because the glory of Christ awaits him, and God's spirit is with him.

      15-19. Let none of you suffer as a murderer. As an evil doer. 16. If any man suffer as a Christian. This name was now widely known, and good men suffered only because they were Christians. 17. The time for judgment is come. it begins at the house of God, the church. In Matt., chapter 25, the righteous are judged first. If it begin first at us. If even the righteous are called to judgment, what shall be the fate of the disobedient? 18. And if the righteous. A passage quoted from Prov. 11:31. The idea is that if sufferings and judgments (chastenings) come upon good people, what hope is there for the wicked? 19. Wherefore let them also that suffer. Let all who suffer, not for evil doing but for righteousness sake, keep on in well doing and commit their souls to the care of the all seeing and faithful God.