Summary: In chapter 4, Peter urges Christians to be fiercely committed to fulfilling the purpose of our lives in Christ. Prior chapters made the case that we are a “holy people.” We have been rescued from meaningless lives and set apart from the world to be used for God’s purpose.
And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? —1 Peter 4:18
Text: 1 Peter 4:1-19 (KJV)
Living for God’s Glory
1Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 3For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, retellings, banqueting, and abominable idolatries: 4Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: 5Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. 6For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
7But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 8And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 9Use hospitality one to another without grudging. 10As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Suffering as Christians
12Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God trusteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. 15But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. 16Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. 17For 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? 18And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? 19Wherefore 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.
Some 30 years after the resurrection of Jesus, Christians are facing greater persecution for their faith. How should they respond? How should we respond to suffering today? The apostle Peter writes this letter both to comfort believers and to encourage them to stay strong. He urges them to put all their hope in their perfect future with Christ and obey and trust Him in the present, even in their suffering. Christ suffered greatly; now, the Christ-followers can follow Him even in this, showing His grace and power in their hopefulness, obedience, and faith.
Peter’s letter to Christians is about living in the world while suffering for faith in Christ. Thus far, he has assured Christians that their future is secure with God. We are His holy people, set apart for His purposes. Christians are called to live in submission to every human authority. In chapter 4, Peter writes that we should take Jesus’ attitude toward suffering and expect it in this life, avoiding mind-numbing sin while loving each other earnestly. God may use suffering in this life to refine our faith, but the end of all things is near.
In chapter 4, Peter urges Christians to be fiercely committed to fulfilling the purpose of our lives in Christ. Prior chapters made the case that we are a “holy people.” We have been rescued from meaningless lives and set apart from the world to be used for God’s purpose. Since believers have these new, eternal lives in Christ, we must begin to think like Jesus, including Jesus’ way of thinking about suffering.
Jesus expected persecution along the way to fulfilling His mission on earth. Peter is clear that we should expect to suffer, as well. This is part of completing the mission God has given us. We should be ready and willing to suffer for Christ, as He did for us. In doing so, we will set the course of our lives away from sin, especially the mind-numbing sins of endless pleasure-seeking.