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The Security of the Faithful in the Approaching Judgment
C (ii). 1 Peter 4:1-6. ’This is your faith: live then in accordance with it. Arm yourselves against your troubles by resolving to be like Christ in suffering. Suffering gives rest from sin, and the results of what you have already endured should be a life henceforth in accordance with God’s will. You have lived the heathen life long enough in the past to have learnt its wretchedness. The heathen are surprised now at your estrangement from them, and speak evil of you and of God. But think not that it is as they say, and that no one cares how a man lives. They shall give account to Him who is judging promptly and certainly as each man makes his choice, whether he be living or dead. For even the dead have had their chance. That was why the gospel was preached even to the dead, that they might be able through judgment to enjoy life.’
1. Hath ceased from sin] cp. Romans 6:2, Romans 6:11. Suffering braces a man’s mind, so that temptation loses its power over him, and the opposition of the heathen compelled Christians to be strangers to their mode of life: cp. Sirach 17:3.
3. Will] RV ’desire,’ contrasted with the will of God.
4. Speaking evil of you] ’Of you,’ as RV shows, is not in the Gk. These men spoke the same kind of blasphemy as the mockers in 2 Peter 3:8.
6. This V. refers back to 1 Peter 3:19. The dead are the same persons in each place. Judgment does not mean punishment, but separation, and man, by choosing His side, cooperates with God’s judgment. This choice and separation could not, St. Peter considers, be made until the gospel had been heard. Thus the judgment of these dead men did not take place till Christ preached in the spirit to them. Then they could choose their side, for or against Him. St. Peter, however, does not claim to penetrate the depths of the mystery of judgment, and leaves the subject with a statement containing, like that of St. Paul in Philippians 2:12., two parts which we cannot reconcile, but which he assures us will be reconciled—they must be judged as all men must, in the flesh, i.e. by what they did in their earthly life, and yet they may live, as God lives, in the spirit, i.e. by the choice they make in their disembodied state.
D. 1 Peter 4:7-11. ’But all these present judgments are about to be completed by that great judgment which is the end of the whole present order of things. Be then sober, diligent, devout, aiming in all things at God’s glory through Jesus Christ.’ With this paragraph cp. Romans 12:3-21.
7. Prayer] RM ’Gr. prayers.’ Neither the sensible conduct of affairs nor the regular course of the Church’s devotions is to be changed.
8. Have fervent charity] RV ’being fervent in your love,’ lit. ’intense’; perseverance and vigour, not excitement, is implied.
Shall cover the multitude of sins] ’covereth a multitude of sins,’ from Proverbs 10:12, which is also quoted James 5:20. St. Peter gives, following our Lord’s teaching (cp. Luke 7:47, a deeper meaning to the OT. words. If the Christians have love, they are not likely to have much sin among them: cp. Hebrews 6:9.
11. Let him speak as the oracles of God] RV ’speaking as it were oracles of God,’ i.e. God’s solemn utterances, such as the prophets used to introduce by ’thus saith the Lord.’ God’s oracles had always been entrusted to His people to minister to others: cp. Acts 7:38; Romans 3:2; Hebrews 5:12.
Amen] a Heb. word used by our Lord (and translated ’verily’) when He wished to assert anything with special emphasis: cp. Matthew 26:34; Luke 23:43. Such sayings might be called His ’oracles.’ 4:12- 5:14. With this second ’Beloved’ the last section of the Epistle begins. In it the Apostle encourages the readers to meet with courage and trust the severer persecution which is threatening them. As good discipline in their community will help them to do this, he gives precepts for rulers and ruled, and then brings their thoughts back to God the Father, in. whose keeping their lives and the course of the whole world are secure. He adds a prayer to God for His support, and ends with greetings and a blessing.
The section falls into five parts: A, 1 Peter 4:12-19, the fiery trial; B. 1 Peter 5:1-5, discipline; C, 1 Peter 5:6-11, trust and hope in God; D, 1 Peter 5:12-14, greetings; E, 1 Peter 5:14, blessing.
A. 1 Peter 4:12-19. ’Beloved, the trial that is coming is not a strange one for Christians to endure, for it will prove you as God’s gold must be proved, and will enable you to share Christ’s sufferings and glory—that glory which is surrounding you even now, though you cannot see it yet. Suffering and reproach for the name of Christ are blessings: like Israel of old you thus partake in the lot and in the spirit of God’s Anointed One. If they call you Christians in mockery, be worthy of that holy name, and give them no more real cause of offence. Judgment is about to begin, as it did at the fall of Jerusalem, from the house of God. You are that house, do not risk by disobedience the more fearful fate of those outside it. Those who suffer according to the will of God may do what their Lord did when He suffered, and commit their souls unto God, confident that He who created will also support: but, I insist, let it be in well-doing.’
14. If ye be reproached] RV ’are reproached.’ This part of their trial had already come. Cp. Psalms 89:51. The spirit of glory and of God] RV ’the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God,’ double title of the one Spirit.
16. Christian] a name which the heathen first gave the disciples: see Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28. On this behalf] RV ’in this name’
17. Cp. Ezekiel 9:6..
18. Cp. Proverbs 11:31.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on 1 Peter 4". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany