Partner with as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

1 Peter 4

Verses 1-19

1 Peter 4:3-4 . The will of the gentiles. Augustine in his city of God, should be read to see the excess and abominable idolatries of the gentiles. See the notes on Ephesians 5:12. Romans 1:0.

1 Peter 4:6 . For this cause was the gospel preached to them that are dead, that in the day of judgment every mouth may be stopped, as to privilege and dispensation; for the gospel was preached to the old world in the shadows of sacrifice, and in promises. And St. Paul says, that the Israelites who fell in the wilderness had the gospel preached to them. In Biblia Magna, Menobius and Tyrinus suggest that the patriarchs, the prophets, and other righteous men were in limbo or purgatory till the time that Christ went down into the abyss, and brought them forth to eternal blessedness and joy, but they can bring no vouchers for this notion from any of the primitive fathers.

1 Peter 4:7 . The end of all things is at hand. The church was apprised by the prophecies of the old testament, that an end would be put to the jewish economy, when all its shadows should flee away, and when the unbelieving portion of that nation should be consumed as stubble fully dry, and Jerusalem itself be burnt up, by a nation from afar whose language the jews understood not. Joel 2:28; Joel 2:32. Daniel 9:27. Malachi 4:1. Deuteronomy 28:49-64. These prophecies were now about to receive their consummation, as was apparent from the signs of the times. The Sun of righteousness had risen with gospel beams, and the Hebrew nation were preparing to revolt against the Romans. St. Peter therefore repeats the words of Christ, and bids the scattered flock pray that they might escape all those things, and be able to stand before the Son of man. Luke 21:36.

1 Peter 4:8 . Charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Not by atoning for them; for St. Peter ascribes that wholly to the lamb of God: St. Peter 1 Peter 1:19. But our neighbour, whom we may have often offended, is moved by our charity or love to forgive all that is past: so the fathers expound this text. Yea, and he who considers the poor and the needy hath the promise that God will deliver him in the time of trouble. Psalms 41:1. James 5:23.

1 Peter 4:11 . If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God. The words of the living oracle are not to be altered. The canon of the sacred text has been scrutinized. The version of the law, in Greek, by the LXX, was collated with the severity of precision, and only thirteen variations were found, some of which, one would think, were too slight to be noticed. The first age of christian ministers, however poor and obscure, became men of letters, and learned in the sacred text. Augustine, writing against Faustus, admits that the writings of that age were innumerable. By consequence all men in the sanctuary should have learning to illustrate and defend the truth. But to speak as the oracles of God, implies not only that our doctrine and teaching should correspond with them as the only standard of truth, but also that we should speak with the wisdom, the love, the sweetness and power of God, that our speech may distil as the rain and the dew, and as the small rain upon the tender herb.

1 Peter 4:17 . The time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God. At the church, the family of God, so called from the house of Levi, the house of David, &c. The Lord said to the Chaldeans, Begin at my sanctuary. Ezekiel 9:6. Otherwise, how can God judge the world? The christians were the first sufferers from judaical persecutions, and from the storms and tempests of the gentile world. And if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of those that obey not the gospel? If God so treat his own children, what will he do with his enemies? The interrogation is here properly introduced, as being the strongest possible form of words. Mark 8:36. Hebrews 2:3. Revelation 6:17.


The idea that the church is God’s house, and great family, both in heaven and in earth, is a most consoling thought to the suffering saints. Then the chastenings of providence are marks of adoption; for what son is there whom his father chasteneth not. Judgment therefore must begin at the house of God. So it did in the time when the Chaldeans destroyed Jerusalem. God bade the destroyers begin at his sanctuary. The priests should have preserved the purity of their religion; therefore they perished with the severest reproach. The case differed indeed from the suffering christians, but the principle of equity is the same; and it marks that we should suffer as saints, and not as sinners.

The double inference is the most awful: if God so punish his friends, what will he do with his foes? If he punish his children first, that the wicked may not impeach his equity, and be disobedient to the gospel, the wicked and the ungodly must be drenched with the dregs of the cup. And the two interrogations mark the strongest power of language in arguing the miseries which wait the carnal world. See on Mark 8:36. Thus when the church is in trouble, the wicked may be assured that their day is just at hand.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Peter 4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.