Summary: Exposition of 1 Peter 4:7-11
Living in View of Eternity
The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Are we living with a view of eternity? Are we living as though Christ could come today? Having a proper view of eternity will drastically affect how we live and also prepare us to suffer.
In fact, Peter in this text is encouraging these saints to be prepared to suffer by focusing on the nearness of “the end of all things.” Look at what he said in the beginning of chapter 4: “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude (emphasis mine), because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin
(1 Peter 4:1).
He calls these believers to have the attitude of Christ in being willing to suffer. Like any good soldier, Christ was prepared to give his life and Christians should have this attitude as well. In addition, Peter says in 1 Peter 4:7-11 that having a proper eschatology, a view of the end times, would also help these believers with being prepared to suffer.
We can have no doubt, that one of the things that made Christ willing to suffer was a proper view of eternity. Christ always lived with the thought of the end in mind. In fact, throughout the gospels Christ sought to prepare Peter and the rest of the disciples for sufferings that were coming through developing this view. Look at what he said:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am (emphasis mine).
How could these disciples keep their hearts from discouragement and giving up, even though they knew their master was about to die? They needed to have a view of heaven and Christ’s second coming. Christ went to build a place for them and he is coming again. This would help keep their hearts from being troubled during the coming suffering.
It is the same for us. One of the secrets to being able to suffer in a world where we are pilgrims is to live in view of the imminent return of Christ.
When Peter says “the end is near”, he was essentially saying there is nothing keeping Christ back from returning at any moment. This was the early church’s blessed hope that helped enable them to endure the sufferings they were experiencing in the world. Christ could return at any time.
Even though it has been 2000 years since this was written, it is still as true for us today as it was then. In fact, it is truer because we are closer to Christ’s coming. When Christ resurrected we entered into the final stage of world history. It is a stage called the “last days.” Look at what the writer of Hebrews said:
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe (emphasis mine).
Similarly, Peter, when describing what was happening at Pentecost, declared that we were in the last days by citing a passage from Joel. Look at what he said:
In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams (emphasis mine).
Application Question: What are negative effects of having an unhealthy view of the end times? What are some positive effects of having a healthy view of the end times?
Now with all this said, we must be aware that living with an unhealthy view of the end times can often push people to extremes. We saw in 2 Thessalonians that some people had stopped working, as they anxiously waited for the return of Christ (3:11). A wrong view of the end times brought laziness.