Summary: It seems that in the first half of chapter four Peter is talking about the attitudes the believer should have in the midst of those occasional times of suffering.
Attitudes in Times of Suffering (Part 2)
Preached by Pastor Tony Miano
at Lake Hills Community Church
Introduction: Last week we looked at some of the attitudes we should have in times of suffering, specifically, on those occasions when we suffer for doing good. We looked at the possibility that some of our hardships, which we might consider times of suffering, might actually be times of testing allowed by God to produce endurance in our faith. The way we look at suffering was challenged when Peter wrote that suffering in the life of the believer who is doing the right thing for Christ is only a possibility. It is not inevitable.
Hopefully some of you were encouraged last week when you heard that suffering is not inevitable if you make a stand for Christ. But what if you are being persecuted for your faith?
It appears that the attitudes, which Peter talked about in the second half of chapter three, dealt primarily with those which helped the believer prepare for times of suffering. It seems that in the first half of chapter four Peter is talking about the attitudes the believer should have in the midst of those occasional times of suffering. So let’s dig in.
Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, (v. 1a).
The word “therefore” connects what Peter is saying with verse eighteen of chapter three. Let’s look at the two verses together (read verses). Peter is about to explain the main lesson he wants his readers to learn. It is the fact that Christ suffered for us. “Suffered in the flesh” can literally be translated “suffered death.”
Since Christ suffered for us, just as He suffered for those persecuted Christians to whom Peter wrote this letter, there are certain things we should do and certain attitudes we should have if we are faced with suffering. The wording of this first phrase tells us that Peter chose words that would cause his readers to be moved to action.
arm yourselves also with the same purpose, (v. 1b).
The first course of action Peter commands the reader to take is to arm himself. The verb used here for “arm” is used nowhere else in the New Testament. It comes from the Greek word hoplon. The word was first used for any implement or instrument used to prepare something. It later came to be used in the plural, “arms,” for weapons of warfare (Vine, p. 67). The verb form means “make ready or equip” (Abbott-Smith, p. 320).
Peter called the readers to equip themselves “with the same purpose.” Some have looked at this phrase and made the assumption that Peter was calling his readers to suffer martyrdom for Christ. But that’s not what Peter is saying here.
The NIV is closer to the original text in this phrase, with the word “attitude.” Peter is calling believers to have the same attitude as Christ when He suffered death on the cross. They were to have the same attitude as Christ in thought, principle, and resolve. Just as Jesus was “willing to suffer for righteousness in doing God’s will” (Hiebert, p. 256), so too should the believer be willing to suffer.