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1 PETER CHAPTER 4
1 Peter 4:1-6 The apostle exhorteth to cease from sin, in regard of Christ’s having suffered for it, and of a future judgment.
1 Peter 4:7 From the approaching end of all things, he urgeth to sobriety, watchfulness, a prayer,
1 Peter 4:8 to charity,
1 Peter 4:9 hospitality,
1 Peter 4:10,1 Peter 4:11 and a right use of spiritual gifts.
1 Peter 4:12-19 Sundry motives of comfort under persecution.
The apostle having in the former chapter exhorted believers to patient bearing of afflictions by the example of Christ, 1 Peter 4:18, proceeds in this to persuade them to improve the crosses they bore outwardly to inward mortification. Christ’s death is proposed to us in Scripture as an exemplar both of external mortification in bearing reproaches, persecutions, &c., (this the apostle prosecutes in the former chapter), and of internal, in the destroying the body of sin; this he exhorts to in this chapter, and indeed draws his argument from Christ’s death, not only as the exemplary, but efficient and meritorious, cause of our mortification, and which hath a real influence upon it, in that Christ by his death did not only merit the pardon of sin, but the giving the Spirit, whereby corruption might be destroyed, and our natures renewed.
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us; viz. not only as an exemplar of patience and submission to the will of God, but for the taking away of sin, both in the guilt and power of it, and that he might be the procurer as well as pattern of our mortification.
In the flesh; in his human nature, as 1 Peter 3:18.
Arm yourselves likewise with the same mind; strengthen and fortify yourselves against all temptations, and unto the mortification of your lusts, with the consideration of these ends, and the mighty efficacy of Christ’s death, he suffering in his flesh, i.e. in his human nature, that you might suffer in your flesh, i.e. in your sinful, corrupt nature; or, (which comes to the same), with the same mind which Christ had, who, in his death, aimed not only at the pardon of your sin, but the destruction of it, and the renovation of your natures: or, arm yourselves with the same mind, viz. a purpose of suffering in the flesh, i.e. of dying spiritually with Christ in the mortification of your flesh, Romans 6:6,Romans 6:7; as Christ died, and suffered in the flesh, so reckon that you, by the virtue of his death, must die to sin. and crucify your flesh, with its affections and lusts, Galatians 5:24; or else, what the same mind is, he declares in the following clause.
For; or rather, that, the Greek word here seems rather to be explicative than causal.
He that hath suffered in the flesh; i.e. the old man, his corrupt flesh, (flesh being taken here in a different sense from what it was in the former part of the verse), he that is spiritually dead with Christ, whose old man is crucified with him.
Hath ceased from sin; from sinning willingly and delightfully, and yielding himself up to the power of sin; compare Romans 6:1-23, which explains this: what Peter here calls suffering in the flesh, Paul there calls a being dead to sin, Romans 6:2,Romans 6:11; and what Peter calls a ceasing from sin, Paul calls a living no longer in sin, Romans 6:2, and a being freed from it, Romans 6:7. And this may be the mind, or thought, with which they were to be armed, that they being dead with Christ to sin, should not live any longer in it; having their flesh crucified, should not indulge its affections and lusts.
In the flesh; i.e. in the body, meaning his natural life: flesh is here taken in a third sense, different from the two former: so Galatians 2:20; Philippians 1:22. By the lusts of men, he means the corrupt desires and sinful ways of carnal men, to which they were not to conform themselves, or make them the rule of their living, Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 3:3; Colossians 2:8; Titus 1:14.
But to the will of God; the holy will of God revealed to us in his law, (which is the rule by which we are to walk), in opposition to the lusts of men; we are to live not as men would have us, but as God commands us.
For the time past of our be may see: the apostle doth not mean by this expression merely that they should forbear their former lusts out of a satiety and weariness, as having had their fill of them, but to stir them up to holiness by minding them of their former sinful life; q.d. Ye are concerned to run well now, when ye have for so great a part of your time run wrong. It is a figure whereby he mitigates and lenifies the sharpness of his reproof for their former sinful life: see the like, Ezekiel 44:6; Ezekiel 45:9; Mark 14:41.
Us; some copies read, ye, and that agrees with the following verse, where the second person is made use of: or if we read, according to our translation, us, it is a figure called anacoenosis, whereby Peter assumes to himself in common with them what yet, in his own person, he was never guilty of, as Isaiah 64:6,Isaiah 64:7; Daniel 9:5, &c.; or else it may be an analogy of the person, whereby the first is put for the second.
To have wrought the will of the Gentiles; viz. those that were profane and ignorant of God and Christ, and so it is the same as the lusts of men, 1 Peter 4:2.
When we walked; had our conversation, as Ephesians 2:3, walking being taken for the course of man’s life; and sometimes in an evil way, as 2 Peter 2:10; 2 Peter 3:3; Jude 1:16,Jude 1:18; and sometimes in a good, as Luke 1:6.
In lasciviousness; especially outward acts, here set in distinction from lusts, which implies those inward motions from which those outward defilements proceed.
Excess of wine, revellings; unseasonable and luxurious feasting, Romans 13:13; Galatians 5:21.
Banquetings: compotations, or meetings for drinking, Proverbs 23:30; Isaiah 5:11,Isaiah 5:12.
And abominable idolatries:
Question. Why doth Peter charge the Jews with idolatry, who generally kept themselves from it after the Babylonish captivity?
1. Though most did, yet all might not.
2. It is a sort of idolatry to eat things sacrificed to idols, which many of the Jews, being dispersed among the idolatrous Gentiles, and being invited by them to their idol feasts, might possibly do; and, being under the temptation of poverty, might too far conform themselves to the customs of the nations among which they were.
3. Probably this idolatry might be the worship of angels, frequent among the Gentiles, particularly the Colossians, inhabiting a city of Phrygia, which was a part of Asia where many Jews were, 1 Peter 1:1.
4. The churches to which he wrote might be made up of Jews and Gentiles, and the apostle may, by a synecdoche, ascribe that to all in common, which yet is to be understood only of a part.
Wherein they think it strange: Greek, are strangers, i.e. carry themselves as strangers, wondering (as at some new thing) at the change the gospel hath made in you, and your no more conforming yourselves to their wicked courses; they seem to be in another world when among you.
That ye run not with them: this seems to signify the eagerness and vehemency of these Gentiles in pursuing their lusts, and may perhaps have some respect to the feasts of Bacchus, to which they were wont madly to run, and there commit the abominations mentioned 1 Peter 4:3.
To the same excess of riot; or, profuseness, or confusion, of riot or luxury, and then it suits well with that heap of sins before mentioned, whereof this seems to be comprehensive.
Speaking evil; Greek, blaspheming, or speaking evil;
of you is added by the translators: this may therefore be understood not only of their speaking evil of believers, as void of humanity and enemies to civil society, but of God and the Christian religion, as a dull, morose, sour way, and which they could not embrace without renouncing all mirth and cheerfulness.
Who shall give account to him; of their evil speaking as well as of other sins, Jude 1:15; it is a metaphor taken from stewards giving account to their masters, Matthew 18:23; Luke 16:2.
That is ready; not only prepared for it, but at hand to do it, James 5:9.
To judge the quick and the dead; those that shall be alive at Christ’s coming, and those that died before, but then shall be raised, and brought to judgment. Hereby he intimates, for their comfort, that though their enemies and ill-willers might outlive them, yet they shall not escape God’s judgment.
To them that are dead; either:
1. Spiritually dead, i.e. dead in sin, viz. then when the gospel was preached to them; or:
2. Naturally dead, viz. when the apostle wrote this Epistle. The verb are not being in the Greek, the words may be understood either way, by supplying were, according to the former exposition, or are, according to the latter, which our translators favour. See the like, Ruth 1:8.
That they might be judged according to men in the flesh: either:
1. That they might be judged or condemned in the flesh, i.e. that their old man and carnal conversation, according to men walking in their carnal lusts, might be destroyed and abolished; and then, to be judged in the flesh, is of the same import as to suffer in the flesh, 1 Peter 4:1; to be dead to sin, Romans 6:2; or:
2. That they might be judged or condemned in the flesh, according to men, and so far as they could reach, not only by censures, reproaches, and evil speeches, but even death itself, as it had fallen out already to Stephen, James, &c.
But live according to God in the spirit; that they might live a spiritual life in their souls according to the will of God, and an eternal life with him. To live in the spirit, to the will of God, to
walk in newness of life, & c., are phrases of a like import in the language of the apostles. According to the latter exposition of the former clause, the apostle seems in the whole to remove the scandal of these Christians, being reproached and condemned by unbelievers for their strictness in religion, and nonconformity to the world, by telling them, that their condition was not singular, but so it had fared with others before them, (though now dead), to whom the gospel was preached, with the same event as to the judgment of worldly men who censured and condemned them, and yet with the same hope of fruit and benefit, viz. that though they were condemned by men in the flesh, or as to their outward man, yet as to their souls, (meant here by spirits), they might live a holy, spiritual life, a life to God in this world, ending in a life with him in the other.
But the end of all things: the last judgment, which will put an end to all the evils as well as good things of this world.
Is at hand: see James 5:8,James 5:9.
Be ye therefore sober; both in mind, prudent, moderate, 2 Corinthians 5:13; Titus 2:6; and in body, temperate in meats and drinks, &c.
And watch: the word signifies both sobriety, in opposition to drunkenness, 1 Thessalonians 5:6,1 Thessalonians 5:8, and watchfulness, 2 Timothy 4:5, and this signification agrees best with this place, the former being implied in the word sober.
Unto prayer; the end for which they should be sober and vigilant, viz. that they might observe every season fit for prayer, and might still keep themselves in a praying frame.
And above all things: see the like expression, James 5:12, and on the same occasion, Colossians 3:14.
Have fervent charity; not only labour after charity diligently and carefully, but let it be fervent, intense, strong.
For charity shall cover the multitude of sins; partly by preventing anger, railings, revilings, contentions, that they break not out, and partly by repressing, concealing, pardoning them when they do break out, 1 Corinthians 13:7; see James 5:20.
Use hospitality; Christian hospitality in entertaining strangers, those especially that are brought to need your kindness by suffering for the gospel.
Without grudging; or murmuring, either at the expense you make, or the carriage of those ye entertain; q.d. Use hospitality willingly, freely, cheerfully, Romans 12:8; 2 Corinthians 9:7.
As every man hath received the gift; any gift, office, faculty, or ability, whereby he may be serviceable to the good of others, all which are received of God, 1 Corinthians 12:11; Ephesians 4:7.
Minister the same one to another; dispense and communicate modestly and humbly, not lifting himself up above others upon the account of his gifts, but remembering he hath received them, and is a steward to dispense them.
As good stewards; and therefore faithful in distributing his Lord’s goods.
Of the manifold grace of God: by grace he means the same as by gift before; and so by manifold grace, the various gifts given to them of God, 1 Corinthians 12:4-6.
If any man speak; viz. authoritatively, and by way of office, as a public teacher in the church; though this may be accommodated to private Christians in their charitative instructions of others, yet it seems especially meant of teaching officers.
Let him speak as the oracles of God: this relates not only to the manner of speaking, that it be with faith in that word the preacher speaketh, and a due reverence of it, but to the matter likewise, that he preach nothing but the pure word of God, and do not obtrude upon the hearers the fancies, figments, or traditions of men, instead of the oracles of God.
If any man minister: this may be understood either:
1. More particularly of the work of deacons, Acts 6:1-15, who were to serve tables, Acts 6:2, distribute the alms of the church, and take care of the poor; or:
2. More generally of any ministry in the church, distinct from that of teaching, (of which he spake before), as the dispensing of sacraments, exercise of discipline, &c.
Let him do it as of the ability which God giveth; i.e. not remissly and coldly, but diligently and strenuously, and with his might, as far as God enables him; this being to do it faithfully, which is especially required in a steward, 1 Corinthians 4:2.
That God in all things may be glorified; in all your gifts, and the communications of them: q.d. God doth not adorn you with his gifts so as to bereave himself of his glory, but that you should give him the honour of them.
Through Jesus Christ; from whom ye have received the gifts, Ephesians 4:8, and by whom you are enabled to glorify God; and by whom alone what ye do can be accepted of God. See Ephesians 3:21.
Think it not strange; be not offended or troubled at persecution, as at a thing unusual or never heard of; it implies that they should reckon upon it beforehand, that they might not be surprised with it when it comes. The same word is used, 1 Peter 4:4.
Concerning the fiery trial; the heat or burning, whereby he means great afflictions, especially those that are for rightesusness’ sake, as appears, 1 Peter 4:14, which are often compared to fire, as being alike painful and grievous to them as fire is to men’s bodies; and because men are tried by them as metals are by fire, Psalms 66:10; Isaiah 48:10.
Which is to try you: this he adds as the reason why they should not think strange of persecutions, viz. because they were sent by God, not for their destruction, but for the trial and exercise of their graces.
But rejoice; be so far from being offended at your sufferings, as rather to reckon that there is great matter of rejoicing in them; their being trials makes them tolerable, but your being in them partakers of Christ’s sufferings makes them comfortable.
Inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; i.e. ye suffer:
1. As Christ did, for the confession of the truth, and so ye are such kind of sufferers as Christ was.
2. As members of Christ, ye suffer those evils which are laid out for those that belong to Christ, 1 Thessalonians 3:3.
3. Ye are hereby conformed to Christ your Head.
4. Ye partake of the influence of what Christ suffered, for the sanctification of your sufferings: see Philippians 3:10.
That, when his glory shall be revealed; viz. at his second coming, 1 Peter 1:7; Colossians 3:4; 2 Thessalonians 1:7.
Ye may be glad also with exceeding joy; a joy without any the least mixture of pain or grief. The rejoicing of the saints here is mixed with pain and heaviness, but shall be pure hereafter; they rejoice in hope now, but in enjoyment then.
Happy are ye; viz. because of the Spirit’s dwelling in you, which is both the means and evidence of your happiness.
The spirit of glory and of God; i.e. the glorious Spirit of God, or that Spirit of God which is likewise a Spirit of glory, as being not only glorious in himself, but a glory to them in whom he dwells, and the cause of their future glorification. This he adds in counterbalance to the reproaches they suffered for the name of Christ; q.d. It is a greater glory to you to have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in you, (whereof your patient bearing reproaches and persecutions is an argument), than all the calumnies and obloquies wherewith your enemies load you can be a shame to you.
Resteth upon you: in allusion to Isaiah 11:2; dwells in you, and shall abide with you for ever, John 14:16, not leaving you in your sufferings.
On their part he; either Christ, or rather the Spirit.
Is evil spoken of; the reproaches your enemies cast upon you, reach that Spirit himself that dwells in you, when they revile that good confession into which the Spirit led you, deride the consolations he gives you, and speak evil of your persons, who are the temples in which he dwells.
But on your part he is glorified; viz. by your patience and constancy in your sufferings, which shows forth the power of that Spirit which resteth upon you, in that he works so mightily in you, as to enable you to bear what without the assistance of his grace were intolerable.
But let noise of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief: keep clear of those crimes which may expose you to suffering by the hand of justice, and carry yourselves so innocently, that you may never suffer from men but unjustly.
Or as an evil-doer; either this is a general term, denoting them that offend against any public law; or, it may signify those that are guilty of any offence against the laws, though less than murder or theft.
Or as a busy-body in other men’s matters; either a covetous person, that looks with an evil eye upon what others have, and is ready to catch it as he can; or rather, one that goes beyond the bounds of his own calling, and invades the callings of others, pragmatically intruding into their business, and making himself a judge of those things which belong not to him. Some nations are said to have punished those that were busy through idleness, impertinently diligent in other men’s matters, and negligent of their own. However, if this pragmaticalness did not expose the Christians to the laws of the Gentiles, yet it might make them odious, and expose them to their reproaches.
Yet if any man suffer as a Christian; if his Christianity be his only crime, and the cause of his sufferings.
Let him not be ashamed: see 2 Timothy 2:12.
But let him glorify God on this behalf; i.e. on the account of his sufferings; let him bless God for keeping him from suffering as an evil-doer, and for counting him worthy to suffer for Christ’s sake, Acts 5:41, as well as for giving him patience, and courage under sufferings.
For the time is come; or season, viz. that which is fixed by God: the afflictions that befall God’s people come in the time appointed, and so are never unseasonable. Or this may imply, that what the prophets spoke in their time, Isaiah 10:12; Jeremiah 25:29, doth especially agree to gospel times, viz. that judgment begins at the house of God.
Judgment; viz. temporary, and for good, in opposition to the destructive judgment he implies in the latter part of the verse; he means all those afflictions God brings upon his children for their correction, trial, instruction, mortification, 1 Corinthians 11:31,1 Corinthians 11:32.
Must begin at the house of God; the church of God, and the members of it, called here his house, as 1 Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 3:6, and typified by the material house or temple of God under the Old Testament.
What shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? How miserable, how dreadful will be the end of all those that would not obey the gospel! Implying, that they shall be in a much worse condition if God take them in hand. If he spare not his children, much less will he his enemies. If the one sip of the cup of God’s wrath, the other shall wring out the dregs, and drink them, Psalms 75:8.
Scarcely be saved; with much labour and difficulty, through many tribulations, Acts 14:22, as going in the narrow way, and entering in at the strait gate, Matthew 7:13,Matthew 7:14.
The ungodly and the sinner; unbelievers and impenitent sinners of all sorts; both words signify the same, in opposition to the righteous before mentioned.
Appear; he shall not be able to stand in God’s judgment against the sentence of condemnation then to be pronounced, Psalms 1:5; q.d. If the righteous scarcely be saved, the wicked shall certainly perish.
Let them that suffer; viz. any manner of affliction or persecution for righteousness’ sake.
According to the will of God; according to that will of God, whereby he hath appointed them to suffer such things, 1 Peter 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 3:3.
Commit; commend into his hands, or lay up, or intrust with him as a depositum, Psalms 31:5; 2 Timothy 1:12.
The keeping of their souls; as the most precious things while they live, and most to be cared for when they die; that they may be kept from sin under afflictions, and from perishing in death: or rather, their souls here includes their bodies, and so committing their souls is committing their whole selves to God.
In well-doing; not being deterred from well-doing by the evils they suffer, but by persevering in holiness notwithstanding their afflictions, making it appear to the last, that they do not suffer as evil-doers.
As unto a faithful Creator; one who, as Creator, is able to keep what they commit to him; and being faithful to his promises, certainly will do it.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Peter 4". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27