The Reason and Attitude for Suffering
Comments for Study 4
1 Peter 4:1-19
Memory Verse: 2:13
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I. Live For God (4:1-6)
>1. Why did Jesus suffered in his body?
* 1 Peter 4:1 "Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin."
* "Therefore" -Peter is moving on to a new point backed-up by the fact he just stated in verse 18. Peter had just wrote about Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension as our hope and salvation.
* "since Christ suffered in his body" -Peter is recaping his former subject. Jesus' suffered during his entire life, while in the body. Even as an infant evil men tried to kill him. Jesus suffered greatly during his ministry. At one point he said, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." (Luke 9:58) Several times people tried to kill him. The religious leaders constantly harassed him and tried to destroy his ministry.
* As stated in the previous chapter Jesus died to save us. Jesus suffered in his body for us. This is an encouragement to us as we undergo suffering. Those Peter was writing would certainly be encouraged because they we suffering even though all they did was good.
* 1 Corinthians 15:2-4 "By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,"
* Titus 3:5-6 "he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,"
* Acts 10:37-38 "You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached-- how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him."
>What does this mean personally to you?
* Jesus gives me hope for the future even when I am in the mist of trouble, danger, persecution, poverty, and rejection. When I receive persecution (and I have endured a lot) even though I did nothing wrong to those who have persecuted me I am encouraged knowing my Lord endured and overcame.
* Psalm 34:17-22 "The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the heartbroken and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken. Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned. The LORD redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him."
>What does it mean to "arm yourselves also with the same attitude"?
* "arm yourselves also with the same attitude" -Jesus suffered with nobility and inner strength not only on the cross, but during his entire earthly ministry. Jesus' earthly ministry was one good act after another. Yet he was constantly harassed by the religious leaders. Even his hometown piers gave him a hard time, even trying to kill him. (Luke 4:29-30) Through all his suffering Jesus did not sin. We can follow his example.
* "arm yourselves" -Peter must have been thinking about a Roman soldier again. (See 1 Peter 1:5) The point here is as a soldier prepares himself for the coming physical battle, so a Christian is to prepare himself for the spiritual battle waged within especially when trouble comes from without.
* Jesus said that all of his followers will experience troubles, even and especially when they do good. (John 16:33) Those Peter was writing to were experience great troubles. Are you prepared? How? Peter says see how Jesus prepared himself and how he endured trouble.
* "because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin" -Jesus suffered so that our sin can be taken away. However, Peter is writing about Jesus' suffering during all of his ministry. He uses it as an example for us during our suffering, our time of trouble and trials. We have put a sinful life behind us and now live for God doing good as Jesus did. We will suffer as we fight the good fight and overcome the temptations ahead of us.
* Such suffering enables one to straighten out priorities. Sinful desires and practices that once seemed important now seem insignificant when one's life is in jeopardy. Serious suffering for Christ advances the progress of sanctification. (Some see a parallel between this passage and Romans 6:1-14, but Peter is not referring to being dead to sin in Paul's sense.) (NIV Study Bible)
* For a similar principle in Paul's writing see Philippians 2:5-11.
* Romans 5:1-5 "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."
>2. What are some evil human desires we no longer live for? (2-3; Gal. 5:19-21)
* 1 Peter 4:2-3 "As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do--living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry."
* Galatians 5:19-21 "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God."
* "As a result" -Death has results. Jesus' death has results. Dying with Jesus has results.
* "he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires" -A common statement in the New Testament.
* "for the will of God"
* "living in debauchery"
* "detestable idolatry"
* Everyday as we do good we are also to die to the sinful desires at work within our bodies.
>How did God make it possible for us to live for his will? (Gal. 5:16-18, 22-25)
* Galatians 5:16-18 "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law."
* Galatians 5:22-25 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."
* God has given all believers in Jesus the Holy Spirit. Peter at the end of the previous chapter makes it very clear that the same Holy Spirit that was at work in Jesus during his earthly ministry is also within us.
>When we accept God's will and no longer live for evil human desires what will others think of our changed lifestyle? (4; Mark 13:12-13)
* 1 Peter 4:4 "They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you."
* Mark 13:12-13 "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved."
* "They think it strange that you do not plunge with them" -The people who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus eagerly engage in sin. They can't and don't want to know why someone wouldn't engage in sin. Since humans are social and want acceptance from others, they see us as a threat to their lifestyle. So they are brutal to anyone who is not like them while at the same time saying they are all inclusive. Sinners will do anything to quiet the voice of truth, even to the point of murder.
* "flood of dissipation" -"Flood" in the original Greek is "anachysis" and "dissipation" is "asotia". The KJV translates these words as "excess of riot".
* "they heap abuse on you" -When Adam and Eve sinned the Lord God dispensed justice. To the serpent he said, "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." (Genesis 3:15) Since then there has been deep seated hatred and hostility between those who love God and those who hate God.
* 2 Timothy 4:3-4 "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths."
* "plunge... flood" -Imagine an Olympic diver jumping off a cliff into the worldwide flood in Noah's day. The water is full of sin which is like a shark waiting to devour the diver. The diver dies and sinks into hell.
See a wood engraving by Gustave Dore (1832-1883) to the right. Dore's drawings were in Bibles that are now in public domain. This one was scanned in by creationism.org.
>Who will judge those who persecute us? (5; John 5:22)
* 1 Peter 4:5 "But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead."
* John 5:22 "Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son"
* "they will have to give account" -A day of judgement is coming. Everyone who has ever lived and is living will have to give an account to God.
* "to him" -Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God, the Word of God In the Flesh, the Almighty Lord God.
* "who is ready to judge the living and the dead" -Jesus is the only one is able to and given authority to judge. He will judge all.
* Revelation 11:18 "The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great-- and for destroying those who destroy the earth."
* Revelation 19:11-14 "I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean."
* Revelation 20:11-15 "Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."
* God has decreed that Jesus will conduct three kinds of judgements; one each for Jesus' bride, the unrighteous, and the nations. (John 5:22) These judgements will not happen at the same time or with the same result.
First, as already mentioned, Jesus bride will be judged at the mercy (Bema) seat, but not in the sense that we will be condemned. Instead Jesus will hand out rewards to those who believed in him. The saved believers acts committed in this life will be reviewed at the judgment seat of Jesus at the beginning of the Millennium. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Cor. 5:10) As stated many times, people are forgiven of sin and saved from death by faith in the blood, death, and resurrection of Jesus. (Eph. 2:9, Tim. 3:5) They are Jesus' bride and will stand before him to give an account of their life works at the beginning of the Millennium. (1 Cor. 3:11-15)
Second, there is a judgment of the nations. This is when Jesus comes when the seventh trumpet is sounded. Matthew 25:31-34 records Jesus saying, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’” Matthew 25:41 continues, “Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’” This is also in Isaiah 24.
Third, those who are not Jesus' bride will be judged and condemned. (Pro. 1:20-31) Jesus will be the judge and he will know what is truly in their hearts. (Rom. 2:16) If they did not accept Jesus as their King and Bridegroom, that is accept him into their hearts, then they will be condemned. (Mark 3:28-29) This judgment is after the Millennium and after Satan is released and deceives the nations for a short time. This judgment will not be conducted on the earth.
* The above was taken from "The Believer's Future - Hope that Inspires" found on this web site.
>3. What is the gospel? (6; 1 Cor. 15:1-8)
* 1 Peter 4:6 "For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit."
* "For this is the reason... so that" -The reason is in the ending of the sentence, not in the previous sentence. The gospel is preached so that people can hear the truth and make a decision on their eternal destination.
* "the gospel" -Gospel in the original Greek is "euangelizo" meaning "to preach and declare good news (tidings)".
* 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 "Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born."
* "was preached" -The gospel was already preached to the people that Peter is writing about. The verb is past tense. Then they died.
* Peter and all the apostles preached the gospel. Jesus told all his disciples to preach the good news. If we love as Jesus told us to love, then we wouldn't hold back news that will save them from death, sin, and hell. Are you preaching the good news? (Mark 16:15)
>Who is it preached to?
* "even to those who are now dead" -The gospel is to be proclaimed to everyone. The "dead" here are those who remain dead in their sin. They heard the gospel, rejected it, and then died before Peter wrote this letter. After physical death there is no chance to be saved. Each person has only one lifetime to accept the gospel.
* Have you decided to follow Jesus? Have you accepted the gospel? If not, what are you waiting for. You do not know when you will die. Do not put off such an important decision. You might say, "Well, if I accept the gospel my life will be no fun, dull and boring. Life is Chirst is surely not like a life of sin, its better. Don't resist the work of the Holy Spirit as the gospel is preached to you.
>Why is it preached to them?
* "so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body" -The first reason that the gospel was preached to those now dead. Some say that this judgment is that to which all people must submit, either in this life (John 5:24) or in the life to come (5). The gospel is preached to people in this life so that in Christ's death they may receive judgment now and avoid judgment to come. Others hold that these people are judged according to human standards by the pagan world, which does not understand why God's people no longer follow its sinful way to life (3-4). So also the world misunderstood Christ (Acts 2:22-24, 36, 3:13-15, 5:30-32, 7:51-53) (NIV Study Bible)
* "but live according to God in regard to the spirit" -The second reason that the gospel was preached to those now dead. Some believe this means that all gospel preaching has as its goal that the hearers may live as God lives -eternally- and that this life is given by the Holy Spirit. Others maintain that it means that the ultimate reason for the preaching of the gospel is that God's people, even though the wicked world may abuse them and put them to death, will have eternal life, which the Holy Spirit imparts. (NIV Study Bible)
* Although some commentators regard those who are dead as souls of the dead, they seem to be Christians “judged” by earthly courts and executed, who would nevertheless be raised by the Spirit, as in 1 Peter 3:18. (The IVP Bible Background Commentary – New Testament)
* William Blackstone wrote in his book Jesus is Coming, "The true church is a persecuted, suffering, cross-bearing people. This is its calling, as the Scripture says, 'all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.' (2 Tim. 3:12) And this will continue until Christ comes, which precludes any Millennium until after His coming."
And Blackstone wrote, "While Christ was on earth He said, 'it is expedient for you that I go away,' and He went away. He said,' I go to prepare a place for you.' But 'if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.' (John 14:2-3) He gave us this promise as our hope and comfort while He is away. He said: 'In the world ye shall have tribulation.' (John 16:33) 'ye shall weep and lament, and... be sorrowful... but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice.' (20, 22)"
And Blackstone wrote, "The church is to be the bride of Christ, which He is going to present to Himself (Eph. 5:23-32). But now she is a virgin of sorrow and affliction, a companion in suffering with her espoused Husband - the Lord Jesus Christ."
And Blackstone wrote, "But, do you say, 'The church is not persecuted, and does, even now enjoy relative peace'? I answer, it is because the professing church (and by this we include Roman Catholics, Greeks, and all nominal Christians) has conformed so largely to the world that the world has little, if any, controversy with her. Of what benefit to God are nominal, cold-hearted, world-conforming Christians? He wants a separate and holy people, and the command is, 'Come out and be ye separate.' (2 Cor. 6:14-18) I believe the birds of the air and the leaven in the parable of Matthew 13 represents the children of the wicked one, or hypocrites which have lodged in the church, as well as false doctrines which have crept in and have so pervaded the professing church that it has, in general, become merely formal and nominal. God wants zealous Christians, in whom the Word of Life burns as it did in Jeremiah's bones. And are not the number of those few today?"
Blackstone goes on speaking of the true church within the church and the bride of Christ. Blackstone published this originally in 1908 before WWI and WWII. What he saw in the world around him over one hundred years ago is true in this day in ever increasing measure
* The last word someone speaks to his loved ones before he leaves for a long journey are often the most important. They are words he wants his loved ones to remember and follow while he is gone. This truth is most important with our King and Bridegroom.
Matthew 28:18-20 states that just before he ascended into heaven, “Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” Believers call this Jesus great commission to his bride. The great commission is also recorded in Mark 16:15 and Acts 1:7. John records that Jesus spoke of the commission a few days before Jesus ascended. “Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’" (John 20:21)
* The above two points were taken from "The Believer's Future - Hope that Inspires" found on this web site.
II. Love Each Other Deeply (4:7-11)
>4. What does it mean by "the end of all things is near"? (7a; Matt. 13:37-43)
* 1 Peter 4:7a "The end of all things is near."
* Matthew 13:37-43 "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear."
* James 5:9 "Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!"
* "The end of all things is near." -The end of this age where men rule unjustly and selfishly.
* The Old Testament prophets often spoke of "The day of the Lord" as the time when God reveals His sovereignty over human powers and human existence. For example "The day of the Lord" is the dominant theme of Joel. Besides Joel six other Old Testament prophets (Isaiah 13:6,9; Ezekiel 13:5, 30:3; Amos 5:18,20; Obadiah 1:15; Zephaniah 1:7,14; Malachi 4:5; perhaps Zechariah 14:1 too) uses the term "the day of the Lord". Sometimes the prophets of Israel and Judah abbreviated it to "that day". It was familiar to their audience, a term by which the audience expected light and salvation (Amos 5:18), but the prophets painted it as a day of darkness and judgment (Isaiah 2:10-22; 13:6,9; Joel 1:15; 2:1-11,31; 3:14-15; Amos 5:20; Zephaniah 1:7-8,14-18; Malachi 4:5). The Old Testament language of the day of the Lord is aimed at warning sinners among God's people of the danger of trusting in traditional religion without commitment to God and to His way of life. It is language that could be aimed at judging Israel or that could be used to promise deliverance from evil enemies (Isaiah 13:6,9; Ezekiel 30:3; Obadiah 15). The day of the Lord is thus a point in time in which God displays His sovereign initiative to reveal His control of history, of time, of His people, and of all people.
* The apostles Peter and Paul also used the term "day of the Lord" (in place of "Lord" they also put "God" and "Lord Jesus"). (Acts 2:20; and 1 Corinthians 1:8, 5:5; and 2 Corinthians 1:14; and 1 Thessalonians 5:2; and 2 Thessalonians 2:2; and 2 Peter 3:10-12)
* The apostles used the terms "last times" and "last days" referring to the whole period introduced by Jesus' first coming. (John 11:24; Jude 1:17-18; Acts 15:16-18; Hebrews 9:36; and 2 Peter 3:3) These days are last in comparison to Old Testament days, which were preliminary and preparatory. (Romans 16:25-26; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:26) Also, the Christian era is the time of the beginnings of prophetic fulfillment. (1 Corinthians 10:11) The "days" can be interpreted as "ages" (Matthew 12:39, 13:39-40, 49, 24:3, 28:20; Ephesians 1:21, 2:7; and 1 Timothy 6:19; Titus 2:12; Jude 1:25) (periods of time) that reflect the six days of creation with the seventh day as a day of rest. Indeed the apostles very clearly call the one thousand year reign of Jesus as "the Lord's Sabbath" and "the day of rest". (Hebrews 4:1-11, 6:5; Revelation 14:13) Jesus himself invited us to his day of rest (Matthew 11:19; Luke 18:30, 20:34-36) and to work now and rest in the future (John 9:4). Since this is the time just before the Sabbath rest, then we are in the sixth day, the time when man and woman (Adam and Eve) were created. The Lord God Almighty is called the "King of the ages". (Revelation 15:3)
* Blackstone wrote in his book Jesus is Coming “The division of time into sevens, or weeks, permeates the Scriptures. A fundamental enactment of the Mosaic Law was the keeping of the Sabbath (Ex. 20:8). This was based upon God's great rest day in Genesis 2. Upon this is founded not only the week of days, but also the week of weeks leading to Pentecost (Lev. 23:15-16); the week of months, with the Atonement and seven days feast of Tabernacles in the seventh month (Lev. 23:27-28); the week of years, ending with the Sabbatic year (Lev. 25:4); and the week of weeks of years, ending with the seventh Sabbatic year, and followed by the year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:8-12).” He continues with more and quotes 2 Peter 3:8 then continues, “…so we also have the great week of Millenniums. Six thousand-year days of labor and then the Millennium, or blessed seventh thousand-year of rest.” He is not the first to see the significance.
* Imminence is about being ready even though we don't know when Jesus will come, more than what most understand as the Christian meaning of the word.
* Habakkuk 2:2-3 "Then the LORD replied: "Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay."
* Jesus often told us the same thing in parables about his return; the nobleman who went to a far country, the servants given talents while thier master is away, the ten virgins, etc. The letters of the apostles also address the timing of Jesus' return. Many who call themselves Christians believe in imminence, that is, that Jesus can return at any time since his accent ion. Is this in line with Jesus' parables? And what of claim that the gospel must be preached in the whole world before he came again? This did not happen until recent years. Below is a quote from "The Church and the Tribulation" by Robert H. Gundry in chapter 3 under the heading "Expectation and Imminence".
* If the second coming could not have been imminent for those originally commanded to watch at the time they were so commanded, then the commanded expectancy could not have implied imminence of the event looked for. It then becomes unnecessary for us to regard Jesus' coming as imminent, for we have received no further and no different exhortations. In other words, if a delay in the Parousia of at least several years was compatible with expectancy in apostolic times, a delay for the several years of the tribulation is compatible with expectancy in current times. Jesus clearly indicates to the early disciples that His coming will be delayed for some time. The express purpose of the parable concerning the nobleman who went to a "far country" is that the disciples should not think "the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately" (Luke 19: 11-27). "While the bridegroom was delaying" also intimates delay (Matt. 25:5). In the parable of the talents, Jesus likens His return to the lord who "after a long time" came back from a far country (Matt. 25:19).
Jesus bases the parable of the servants on the presupposition of a delay in His coming, for without the delay no interval would have provided opportunity for the servants to display their true colors (Luke 12:41-48; Matt. 24:45-51). And when Jesus has the wicked servant say, "My master will be a long time in coming," He tacitly admits that there will be a delay. As the wicked servant's eternal judgment "with the unbelievers (or hypocrites)" shows, the contrast in servants distinguishes true disciples, whose characteristic it is to watch, from false disciples, whose characteristic it is not to watch. The necessary delay made no difference to the expectant attitude of the true servant, but it revealed the falsity of the wicked servant. Jesus does not condemn recognition of delay, but the attitude which takes selfish advantage of the delay. Moreover, readiness denotes not so much tiptoe anticipation as faithful service day by day: "Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants to give them their rations at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes" (Luke's version).
We might suppose that the long period of delay required in the parables would be satisfied by "a few years." But a few years is all the delay post-tribulationism requires. Jesus could not have given in good faith the great commission with its worldwide extent -"all the nations" and "the remotest part of the earth" -without providing a considerable lapse of time in order that the "disciples might have opportunity to perform the task. The long-range missionary endeavours of Paul may not possess independent argumentative weight (Paul's journey to Rome was contingent on the Lord's will, Rom. 1:9-10). Yet as the Lord's commission for him to go "far away to the Gentiles" (Acts 22: 21) and to witness before "kings" (Acts 9:15) and as the promise in Jerusalem that he would "witness... at Rome" (Acts 23:11; cf. 27:24) link up with the great commission generally, they gain considerable weight.
It may be countered, with an appeal to Pau1's statement "the gospel... was proclaimed in all creation under heaven" (Col. 1:23), that "the extensive preaching of the gospel in the first century might . . . satisfy the program of preaching to the ends of the earth." However, Paul wrote his statement during his first Roman imprisonment, some thirty years after Jesus gave the great commission, an interval more than four times as long as the tribulation. And Paul had not fulfilled his intention of visiting Spain, where the Gospel had not yet been preached (Rom. 15:20, 24). Evidently he himself did not regard the great commission as fulfilled. Apparently, then, in Colossians 1:23 Paul is not affirming a fulfillment of the great commission, but is setting the universality of the Gospel (the good news is for all men, even though it has not reached all men) in opposition to the esotericism of the Colossian heresy.
Of corroborative value is the personal history of Peter (John 21:18, 19; 2 Pet. 1:14) . Jesus foretold that Peter, then middle-aged ("when you were younger ... "), would die at an infirm old age ("when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will gird you ..."). If we try to save the imminence of the Parousia by saying that Peter could have been martyred at any time, we forget that his infirmity and old age were not imminent. And if we say that the prediction concerning Peter was not common knowledge among Christians until long after his death, we overlook the presence of other apostles on the occasion of the prediction. Furthermore, John writes of the incident in order to correct a misimpression which had arisen concerning his own death. The whole matter, then, must have received some publicity in the early Church.
To claim that these delays were "general in nature, without specific length;" merely avoids the issue. Whether general or specific, long or short, the delays were delays and, by being stated, rendered the second coming non-imminent to the apostolic Church. Moreover, the delays were not entirely general in nature. The specificity of the great commission ("in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth"), of the promise that Paul should bear witness at Rome, and of Peter's old age as a time of infirmity to the degree of inability to dress himself make the delays much more pointed than the doctrine of imminence can allow.
Again, to claim that "the delays had been fulfilled by the time the exhortations to watch were written" runs afoul of historical facts. At least those exhortations to watch in the epistles appeared in writing before the disciples could have fulfilled the great commission, before Paul had completed his extensive missionary efforts, and before Peter had reached old age, become infirm, and died. From the very beginning, even before the written exhortations, Christians knew that they were to watch through the oral ministry of Jesus and the apostles and prophets. In one of his earliest epistles Paul already commends believers for their watchfulness (1 Thess. 1:9, 10). The point remains that if watching could not have connoted imminence in the apostolic age, it need not connote imminence now.
But should we not think that all else was contingent upon the second coming, that an "only if Christ does not return beforehand" qualified every other expectation? Possibly, but only possibly, in connection with the personal circumstances of Peter and Paul. It is very hard to think, however, that an imminent return of Christ might have taken away sufficient opportunity to fulfill the great commission. Moreover, when imminence becomes the ruling principle by which all else was and is rendered contingent, even the events of the tribulation do not have to take place; they might "die on the vine" just as the great commission and the predictions concerning Paul and Peter would have done had Jesus returned beforehand.
* This ends the quote from "The Church and the Tribulation" by Robert H. Gundry.
>How does understanding this affect our life? (7b)
* 1 Peter 4:7b "Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray."
* "Therefore" -Peter is moving on to a new point backed-up by the fact he just stated in the first part of the verse. Jesus coming should influence anyone and everyone.
* "be clear minded and self-controlled" -The whole phrase in the original Greek is one word, "sophroneo".
* "be clear minded" -Reason can be and should be used by Jesus' followers. We are to make wise and mature decisions. We are to be spiritually alert. Jesus told a parable about ten virgins waiting for the bridegroom. Five made wise decisions. Five made foolish decisions. (Matthew 25:1-13)
* "self-controlled" -Modern translations term for several Greek words indicating a sober, temperate, calm, and dispassionate approach to life, having mastered personal desires and passions. Biblical admonitions expect God's people to exercise self-control (Prov. 25:28; and 1 Cor. 7:5; and 1 Thess. 5:6; and 1 Tim. 3:2; 2 Tim. 3:3; Gal. 5:23; 2 Tim. 1:7; Titus 1:8; and 2 Pet. 1:6). Freedom in Christ does not give believers liberty to cast off all moral restraint as some members in Galatia and other churches apparently believed. Nor does it call for a withdrawal from life and its temptations. It calls for a self-disciplined life following Christ’s example of being in the world but not of the world. (Holman Bible Dictionary)
* "so that you can pray" -Prayer should not be a babbling mesh of noices, grunts, and utterances when something can be said that anyone can understand. Though at times we do not know how or what to pray, these times are rare times of personal prayers when we are in agony of spirit. I've seen people practice something they call "praying in the spirit". They deliberately make noices believing it is what God wants. They are not "sophroneo" when they could easily be. What, do they have nothing to pray that can be expressed with words that are intelligible?
* The idea of hell found in the Scriptures is so fearful that the first impulse of a loving heart is to wish it were not so. But human pity is both a beautiful and a dangerous emotion. Unless it is subjected to the sharp critique of moral judgment it may, and often does, put our sympathies on the side of the murderer instead of on the side of the dead man and the widow and children he has left behind him. Unholy sympathy moves starry-eyed ladies to send flowers to the criminal awaiting execution while the innocent child he may have raped and mutilated scarcely rates a fugitive impulse of pity.
In the same way uninformed and unreasoning sympathy tends to take sides with the fallen and rebellious race of men against the Most High God whose name is Holy. That He gave men life and intelligence, that He has been patient with them while they defied His laws, killed His only begotten Son and scorned His dying love, is overlooked completely. That men use their gift of free will to reject God, choose iniquity and with wide open eyes persistently work to prepare themselves for hell, seems not to matter to some people. In a welter of uncontrollable emotion they throw themselves on the side of God's enemies. This is unbelief masquerading as compassion. (The Tozer Topical Reader – Volume One)
* "I have read that John Wesley was asked at one time how he would react if he knew that Christ was coming that very night. His instant reply was 'I don't think I would change any of my plans.' (The Tozer Topical Reader – Volume Two.)
>5. How is practiced love more powerful than sin? (8)
* 1 Peter 4:8 "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."
* "Above all" -meaning there was many more things he could instruct, but he will stick to the most important.
* "love each other deeply" -Jesus gave us the ultimate command of love, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:12-13)
* "love covers over a multitude of sins" -Peter's famous statement here has two meanings. First, we are not perfect yet. As long as we are in the flesh we have the sinful nature to contend with. We resist and are repulsed by sin, and yet on occasion Christians sin, usually affecting those who we know and love. We have the ability to hurt others through sin. Peter says that if we repent and love them as Jesus loves us, then we can cover and hide, repair the sin we did against our neighbor. Second, if a brother or sister in Christ sins against us we can and should respond with love. Through love we can restore a damaged relationship because of sin. God did this. We offended God with sin and he responded with love in order to restore a lost love relationship with him. And consider Peter's earlier to a married couple. If an unbelieving spouse sins against a believing wife the response should be love. Peter said her love can cover and hide a multitude of his sins against her.
>What is the first practiced love mentioned? (9)
* 1 Peter 4:9 "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling."
* "hospitality" -We should show hospitality to every person who walks up to your threshold, especially to believers in Jesus.
* "without grumbling" -What kind of a witness would it be that even though we did the right thing we make it clear that we do not want to do it?
* Hebrews 13:1-2 "Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it."
* 3 John 1:8 "We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth."
* Some will take advantage of our desires to serve the work of Jesus Christ. We should pray when someone asks for help. When I started a contract job in a different state I had little time to find a place to stay. I booked a week in a hotel hoping to find an apartment by then. I also found a local church in the denomination I attend. When I arrived in the church the first day I was there I asked the congregation if they knew of any rooms available. This turned into a harder task then I expected. When the hotel stay was about to end an older couple in the congregation said I could stay in a guest room that they have for traveling missionaries and speakers until I found an apartment. Within one week of staying there someone else in the congregation said a man they worked for would have a small apartment available in a week. I am grateful for the couple who accepted a fellow brother in the Lord into their home for a couple of weeks. They have become good friends in the Lord, even like my spiritual parents. I told them they are like Gaius.
>6. Why does God in his grace give us gifts? (10)
* 1 Peter 4:10 "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms."
* "Each one should use" -God enables us so that we can serve the body of Christ. As Jesus taught is a parable, we should not bury the gift God gives us. We must use it. (Matthew 25:24-30)
* "gift he has received" -No one receives all the gifts God has ever given to his people. Rather, he gives according to his design. All the gifts we have are given, we would not have them if God wouldn't have given them to us. Pride in a gift does not recognize that God gives it and can take it away.
* "to serve others" -We are to use what God has given us for others. Jesus told a parable where a servant whom the master put in charge of the servants of his household before the master when on a long journey began to beat his fellow servants. He did not serve them, but himself. Jesus warns us, "The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 24:50-51)
* "faithfully administering God's grace" -God grace is and should be dispensed through his people.
* As Jesus taught many times we are to die to ourselves and produce fruit that will last.
>What are the two that are mentioned? (11a)
* 1 Peter 4:11a "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"
* "If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God" -This is more than in our conversation. This is for Bible teachers, evangelists, and preachers.
* "If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides" -This is more than serving our family. This is serving the local congregation
* Peter is concentrating on the gifts used to serve many in one sitting and environment. This does not mean that others gifts shouldn't be used with the same attitude.
* 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men."
>Since the gift comes from the God who should receive the praise? (11b)
* 1 Peter 4:11b "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."
* "so that in all things" -Everything we do should be for the glory and honor of God. We should not draw attention to ourselves. One temptation Paul had to deal with on his first missionary journey was demon possessed people trying to draw attention away from God, onto him. (Acts 13-14)
* "God may be praised through Jesus Christ" -Jesus brought praise from us through his actions and his words. Since we are a part of Christ we to can and should bring praise to God.
* "glory" -The original Greek is "doxa" which has in its meaning glory, glorious, honour, praise, dignity, and worship.
* "power" -The original Greek is "kratos" which has in its meaning power, dominion, strength, and might.
* John 15:8 "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."
III. Participating in the Sufferings of Christ (4:12-19)
>7. What is the nature of the trial mention in verse 12?
* 1 Peter 4:12 "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you."
* James 1:2-4 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
* "Dear friends" -Peter considered those he was writing his friends. Some were Jews and others were Gentiles. All were followers of Jesus, the Messiah.
* "do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering" -See introduction for the nature of the nature of the painful trial. Trail is an interesting and often overlooked work that the Bible, especially the New Testament uses. Trials were and still are used to determine a person's heart motive. Trials were used to bring out the truth as to determine what to do with the person. And so when the Bible uses trial to describe pains, then we should take note that they will happen and they are in God's design and will for us. We are being tried.
* "as though something strange were happening to you" -We should never ask, "Why me?" when we suffer. The answer is clear, "Because we are God's children." This sounds stranger to the nominal church attendee. It should not be as Peter points out.
* Jesus said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
>Who are some believers in Scriptures that went through trials?
* All of God's people did; Able was killed, Enoch was mocked and walked alone. Noah was harassed, Abraham said he was a stranger in a foreign land, Jacob was between a rock and a hard place, Joseph was sold as a slave by his brothers and wrongly imprisoned, prophet after prophet experienced these same things even to the point of death. The apostles and disciples of various congregations also endured hardships, trials, and troubles. Foxes Book of Martyrs is a source of some.
* Can you name one believer in the Lord in the Bible who has not going through trials?
>How is our suffering now linked to the future? (13)
* 1 Peter 4:13 "But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed."
* "participate in the sufferings of Christ" -Since each believer is a part of the body of Christ, when we suffer our Lord suffers. Not only is Jesus there when we suffer, but he suffers with us in our suffering.
* "so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed"
* Jesus said he would be ashamed of anyone when he comes if they were ashamed of him during their earthly life.
* Romans 8:17 "Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory."
* 2 Corinthians 1:3-6 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer."
* Philippians 1:29-30 "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have."
* 1 Thessalonians 2:14 "For you, brothers, became imitators of God's churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews,"
* If you are not suffering because of your belief in Jesus, then perhaps its because noone knows you are a Christians. If you suffering because of your faith in Jesus, then take heart that you belong to him.
>8. How can an insult turn into a blessing? (14)
* 1 Peter 4:14 "If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you."
* "If you are insulted because of the name of Christ" -There are reasons other than for Jesus that a Christian will suffer. One is suffering for a sin we commit. Paul wrote of such a case, "hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord." (1 Corinthians 5:5) And he wrote, "Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme." (1 Timothy 1:20)
* "blessed" -The original Greek here is "makarios" translated blessed and happy and means "fortunate and well off". Blessing and cursing are primary Biblical emphases, as reflected in the 516 uses of words such as bless (132), blessed (285), blesses (10), blessing (70), and blessings (19); and the 199 occurrences of such words as curse (97), cursed (74), curses (19), and cursing (9). The New Testament uses the Greek word "makarios" and the Old Testament uses the Hebrew "slstopd". The Mosaic Law started with a curse, but the New Testament Law starts with blessings.
* "the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you" -God in us as the Holy Spirit is a blessing. This helps explains Jesus' teaching on the subject of the blessed in Matthew 5:3-12 and Luke 6:20-23.
* Matthew 5:10-12 "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
* Luke 6:22-23 "Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets."
* Jesus' concept of what it means to be blessed is opposite of the world's concept. When Jesus repeated his teaching on the nature of the blessed his disciples must have wondered what he meant. When the Spirit was sent on Pentecost, Peter and the rest realized the meaning of Jesus. We are blessed because we have God dwelling in our hearts. So no matter what happens to us, whether wanted or not, we have his comfort and peace.
>Does every reason for suffering turn into a blessing? (15)
* 1 Peter 4:15 "If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler."
* "If you suffer" -Christians can suffer for other reasons than righteousness. Peter was writing a congregation of Christians. So "you" here is them, and therefore us.
* "it should not be" -As long as we are not glorified as Jesus is, that is as long as we are in this body of death we can resist the Spirit's leading sin.
* Through God's miraculous changing of travel plans while I was writing the manuscript "The Believer's Future - Hope That Inspires," I ended up taking a two hour cab ride from Columbia, SC to Greenville, SC. The midnight cab ride led to a long discussion with the cab driver, a man of faith. I shared with him the main points of this book. When I got to this part he disagreed with the fact that believers can sin. He believed that once a person receives the Holy Spirit it is impossible to sin and he had a different take on the above verses. We agreed to consider each others words on our own, so that I could continue the discussion of the main points of this book. One thing I would like to say to him now is, “If the Holy Spirit led the apostles to write letters to Jesus' people, why did he continually encourage them not to sin in those letters if they could not sin?”
Another point is to be made on the subject that the bride of Jesus, though purified by his blood and blessed with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit can sin. Billy Graham in his book World Aflame wrote on the subject. After sections titled “Holy Spirit and “Strength to Resist Temptation is the section “The New Man Not Perfect. He writes, “There is one problem that Christians face immediately upon conversion. Some people get the idea that they become perfect right away, and then they find themselves tempted, in conflict, and even on occasion yielding to temptation It is true that the Christian possess a new nature, but the old nature is still there. It is now up to us, day by day, to yield to the reign and control of the new nature, which is dominated by Christ. Because we are a new creation for whom all old things have passed away and all things have become new, we no longer practice sin. We may fall into sin, but we hate it.”
>9. What is the wrong and the right response when suffering for Jesus' name? (16)
* 1 Peter 4:16 "However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name."
* "if you suffer as a Christian" -Many reasons exist why we can suffer as a Christian. Three main ones exisit. First, we suffer because whether others know we are a Christian because we tell them or they see it in our life style and so they act like Cain did against Able. We can also suffer as a Christian when we decide to do the right thing even though it bring us hardship. Third, it can also be that in doing the King's work we suffer because it is not the easy way.
* "do not be ashamed" -Peter's first readers were being humiliated by those who rejected a personal relationship with Jesus.
* "praise God that you bear that name" -Peter's readers and us are children of God. We are Jesus'. We bear his name. So as he suffered, we suffer.
* When we suffer for Jesus' sake we can have self pity or rejoice. The former is not in touch with reality.
>How are sufferings for Christ judgements?
* 1 Peter 4:17 "For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?"
* "judgment to begin with the family of God" -The persecutions that believers were undergoing were divinely sent judgement intended to purify God's people. This judgment, determining the nature and object of our faith, starts when we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and will end at the Bema seat of Christ.
* "what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?" -If God brings judgment on his own people, how much more serious will the judgment be that he will bring on unbelievers.
* 2 Corinthians 5:10 "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad."
* Paul wrote, "By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." (1 Corinthians 3:10-15) He concludes, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13)
>What does verse 18 mean?
* 1 Peter 4:18 "And, "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"
* "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved" -We are only saved by and through Jesus. What a price was paid! As Peter had already stated, "The righteous for the unrighteous." Then wer participate in his sufferings until our bodies are changed when he comes.
* "what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" -Their judgment will be harsh, eternity in hell. (See the previous chapter for information about hell.)
>10. What else should we do when we suffer according to God's will? (19)
* 1 Peter 4:19 "So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good."
* "So then" -Peter's concluding point.
* "commit themselves to their faithful Creator" -We need to trust in God's work in our life. The Christians in the congregations were suffering for the gospel and should accept it as God's will.
* "and continue to do good." -Though we may be experiencing hardship and trouble we still need to do good.
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