The Pulpit Commentary

1 Peter 4:2 (1 Peter 4:2)

That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh. On the whole, it seems better to connect this clause with the imperative: "Arm yourselves with the same mind, that ye no longer should live the rest of your time;" rather than with the clause immediately preceding: "He that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live," etc.; though both connections give a good sense. The Greek word for "live" ( βιῶσαι ) occurs only here in the New Testament. Bengel says, "Aptum verbum, non die fur de brutis.' "In the flesh " here means simply "in the body," in this mortal life. " The rest of your time" suggests the solemn thought of the shortness of our earthly pilgrimage: bye for eternity. To the lusts of men, but to the will of God. The datives are normal; they express the pattern or rule according to which our life ought to be fashioned. God's will is our sanctification ( 1 Thessalonians 4:3 ). That will is ever the same, a fixed, unchanging rule; the lusts of men are shifting, uncertain, restless.

- The Pulpit Commentary

1 Peter 4:1-6 (1 Peter 4:1-6)

I. BY UNION WITH CHRIST .

1. Through suffering. Suffering is the appointed discipline of the Christian soul. Gold is tried by fire, the Christian's faith by suffering. Christ himself suffered in the flesh, and while we are in the flesh we must also suffer. "In that he died, he died unto sin once;" his death separated him from sin, from the sight and hearing of sin, from that mysterious contact with human sin which he endured when "he was made sin for us, though he was without sin." Our suffering ought to have the like power—it ought to remove us out of the dominion of those sins which have hitherto ruled over us. This is the end, the blessedness, of suffering. God sends it in love; he chastens us for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness. But suffering doth not always save. "The sorrow of the world worketh death;" it produces discontent and murmuring, and hardens the heart. To gain the blessed fruit of suffering, the eye of the suffering Christian must be fixed upon the suffering Lord. We must "arm ourselves with the same mind." "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." It must be our effort to think the same holy thoughts, to be animated by the same high resolve, which filled the sacred heart of Christ. Those thoughts, that resolve, are our spiritual amour. If we let our thoughts dwell on our troubles, if we fret ourselves, we are defenseless, we are exposed to the temptations which swarm around us. But we must look away from our own sufferings and keep the earnest gaze of faith fixed upon the cross. Thus by an act of faith we may unite our sufferings with the Savior's sufferings, and then suffering sanctified by faith in Christ will have its blessed work in destroying the power of sin.

2. Through the change of heart wrought by suffering. "He that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin." Suffering meekly borne is a great help in the daily conflict against sin; it shows us our own weakness and the emptiness of earthly comforts; it humbles us, and makes us less unwilling to submit ourselves to the holy will of God; it points our thoughts to the transitoriness of human life; it is miserable folly to waste that little life in following the wretched lusts of the flesh, when we ought to be doing the will of God. As the blessed angels do God's holy will in heaven, so we must strive to do it in earth; we shall never dwell with the angels unless we are really trying to learn that deep and holy lesson.

II. BY FORSAKING OLD SINS AND OLD COMPANIONS IN SIN .

1. What we must forsake. The will of the Gentiles. The Gentile world was very evil when the Lord Jesus came; sin reigned everywhere, open, rampant, unblushing. It was a shame for the heathen thus to live, for they had the light of conscience; it is a shame of far deeper guilt for us Christians, who have the full light of the gospel, to live as did the Gentiles. Converted men must cast off those old sins; the sins of the flesh, uncleanness, drunkenness, and such like, ruin body and soul. Men set up idols in their hearts—money, station, honor; they fall down and worship these things. Christians must forsake these unlawful idolatries. "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God; him only shalt thou serve." Him only; Satan stands behind these idols—it is he whom men really worship when they give their hearts to this or that earthly idol. We have given too much time, far too much, to these idolatries. Let the time past suffice which we have miserably wasted; the residue may be very short. There is much to be done, let us take heed that we waste our time no more.

2. Whom we must forsake. Our old companions, it may be, think it strange that we no longer live as once, perhaps, we did; we were as bad as themselves once, they say. It may be so, but we are changed, and they, alas! are not; we have, we humbly trust, put on the new man; we are

He must exercise self-restraint. The etymology of the Greek word points to the safeguard of the mind; the mind, with all its thoughts, must be kept safe, restrained within due limits. Tim fancies, aspirations, desires, must not be allowed to wander unrestrained. For "the end of all things is at hand," and the Christian must school himself into thoughtful preparation for that solemn hour. His mind should be filled, not with castles in the air, not with visions of earthly prosperity (a mischievous and enervating habit), but with thoughts of death, judgment, eternity. To keep the end steadily in view requires much self-restraint; it implies a well-ordered mind, a life guided by the eternal law of God, not frittered away in trifles and idle pleasures, not spent in pursuits and ambitions which do not rise above the atmosphere of earth. This self-restraint is the sobriety, the soundness of mind which the apostle here inculcates upon us; it extends over all the relations and circumstances of life; in all his desires and actions the Christian must be thoughtful, calm, composed; for he lives in the anticipation of the coming end, and his aim is the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

II. THE NECESSITY OF CHARITY IN ITS VARIOUS MANIFESTATIONS .

1. In forgiveness. In view of the coming judgment charity is necessary above all things; for it is they who love the brethren in Christ and for Christ who shall hear the joyful welcome, "Come, ye blessed of my Father." They see Christ in his people, and for the love of Christ love and care for those whom Christ loved. But "he that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love;" he cannot enter into heaven, which is the home of love: there is no room there for the selfish, unloving heart. Love is necessary above all other graces; it is the exceeding great love of our Master and only Savior Jesus Christ which draws the hearts of men unto the cross; and those who come to the cross, which is the school of love, must learn of him who loved them even unto death to love all the brethren; for love is the very badge of our profession: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." Love was the character of the Master; it must be the mark of the disciple. They must not only love one another; but that love, St. Peter says, must be earnest, intense; for it needs the strength of great love to forgive perfectly, and they who do not forgive cannot hope for forgiveness. True charity covers sins; it "believeth all things, hopeth all things;" it puts the fairest construction on the actions of others; it considers all possible extenuations of their errors—antecedents, circumstances, temptations; it does not willingly speak of faults and shortcomings; it hides them as far as may be. And if it is necessary for the good of the sinner, or of society, to uncover sins, charity does it with gentle, loving tact, seeking to win the sinner, to save his soul, forgiving him and seeking God's forgiveness for him. He who thus covers the sins of others, who forgives in the faith of Christ and in the love of the brethren, shall be himself forgiven; his sin shall be covered through the atonement once made upon the cross.

2. In Christian hospitality. It is not costly display and sumptuous entertainments that St. Peter recommends; these things are often sinful waste; men spend their money in selfish ostentation instead of holy and religious works. The Lord had said to his disciples, "He that receiveth you, receiveth me;" and again, "Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward." St. Peter re-echoes his Master's words. Christians must show hospitality to one another, and that freely, liberally; murmuring destroys the beauty of the gift. Christ hath received us into the kingdom of God; he feeds us with heavenly food, the Bread that came down from heaven; we must receive our brethren, and that gladly, for his sake.

3. In the use of spiritual gifts. They are given to individual Christians for the benefit of the whole Church. Whatever gifts we may possess, they are but what we once received; they were entrusted to us to be used in our Master's service; that service is the edification of his people. Christians are stewards of these spiritual gifts; they should be good stewards, not like the unjust steward, who wasted his master's goods, and showed foresight and worldly prudence only in providing for himself. They should discharge their stewardship with unblemished honor, with a diligence and zeal which are beautiful in the sight of the truly good. The grace of God varies in its manifestations, in the diversities of gifts which issue from it, according to the needs of the Church, according to the capacity of the individual servant; it is like a piece of beautiful embroidery, various in color and design, but combined in one harmonious whole. Every Christian, even the humblest, has some gift; each should contribute his part, however small, to the general welfare; charity will guide him in the use of his particular gift. The apostle proceeds to give instances.

LESSONS.

1. "The end of all things is at hand." "Prepare to meet thy God."

2. Be self-restrained; be sober. Much prayer is needful for preparation against the hour of death; the self-indulgent cannot pray aright.

3. Above all things, follow after charity.

4. Make proof of your love in the forgiveness of injuries, in hospitality, in the use of spiritual gifts for the welfare of others.

5. Seek first the glory of God, and that through Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Peter 4:12-19 - Suffering.

I. THE PORTION OF CHRISTIANS .

1. Therefore they must not think it strange. The Lord had foretold it; it must come; it was coming when St. Peter was writing. It was a burning furnace, a fiery trial, the beginning of the cruel persecutions through which believers were to pass; the prison and the torture, the sword, the stake, the lion, were threatening the infant Church; the savage shout, " Christianos ad leones!" would soon be heard in the towns of Asia Minor. Hitherto the Roman magistrates had generally been on the side of justice; they had often protected the Christians from the violence of the Jews. But Christianity was about to be regarded as a religio illicita; the giant power of Rome was to be arrayed against it; emperors would attempt to blot out the very name of Christian. This frenzy of persecution was strange, unheard of; there had never been the like before; the rulers of the earth had never before banded together to root out a religion by fire and sword; conquered nations had been allowed to worship their own gods and to retain their ancient rites. But the Son of God had come to be the Savior of the world; the malice of Satan was stirred to the utmost; he would make a mighty effort to crush the Church of Christ. St. Peter shows a deep sympathy with his suffering brethren; he speaks to them in the language of tenderness; he calls them "beloved." He does not depreciate the severity of the coming persecution; he calls it a fiery trial; he teaches us by his example how to deal with the afflicted. But he encourages them. It was to try them, to prove their faith. They must not think it strange. Indeed, this bitterness of persecution was a new thing now; but suffering would be the portion of Christians; they must regard it as belonging to their profession, and accustom themselves to patient endurance.

2. They must even rejoice in it. For it brings them near to Christ. He bore the cross; the cross is the badge of his chosen. The cross of knightly orders is reckoned a high honor now; but there is no cross of gold to be compared for true honor and for preciousness with that spiritual cross which makes the faithful Christian partake in the sufferings of Christ. For Christ is our King, and to be made like unto the King is of all honors the highest—far above all earthly distinctions. Leighton reminds us that Godfrey of Bouillon refused the royal crown when it was offered to him at Jerusalem: "Nolo auream, ubi Christus spineam"—"No crown of gold where Christ Jesus was crowned with thorns." But suffering does not only make the faithful Christian like unto his Lord; it does more, it brings him into communion with the sufferings of Christ. Suffering borne in faith helps the Christian to realize the sufferings of the Lord; it brings the cross into nearer view; it enables him to approach, to grasp, to cling to it, to take it into his heart. And suffering thus endured in the faith of Christ crucified is united by faith with his sufferings and becomes part of them, and by that mystical union is sanctified and blessed to the soul's salvation ( Colossians 1:25 ).

3. It is the preparation for heaven. Suffering weans the Christian from earthly enjoyments; it helps him to lift up his eyes from earth and to see by faith the glory which shall be revealed. Those who now suffer with Christ shall then rejoice, and that with a joy which the heart of man cannot conceive. Even now they are blessed; the blessedness of the eighth Beatitude is theirs; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon them. Men may revile them; they will do so; when other persecutions cease, these persecutions of the tongue continue; "when all other fires of martyrdom are put out, these burn still" (Leighton). But the spirit of glory resteth on those who for Christ's sake patiently endure. His presence is the foretaste and the pledge of the everlasting glory. He comes from the throne of glory; he brings with him the glory of holiness; he sheds the glory of a saintly life around the followers of Christ. And he resteth upon them; he came down from heaven on the great Day of Pentecost, not for a passing visit, but to abide forever with the Church. He abode upon Christ ( John 1:32 ); he abideth with his true disciples ( John 14:16 ). Christ was anointed with the Holy Ghost ( Acts 10:38 ). Christians too partake in that Divine anointing; it abideth in them ( 1 John 2:27 ). The Holy Dove resteth on the meek and patient Christian, preparing him by its sanctifying influences for the everlasting glory of heaven. Such men are truly blessed. Men may revile them, and, reviling them, revile the Holy Spirit who abideth in them; but they glorify him by the light which shines around from their holy lives—the light which was kindled by the sacred fire of his presence.

II. NOT ALL SUFFERING IS BLESSED .

1. Let Christians not suffer for evil-doing. They must be very careful to set a good example, and to give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. They must not suffer as evil-doers; nor even as busybodies. They must imitate the Lord Jesus, who said, "Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?" ( Luke 12:14 ). "Be much at home," says Leighton, "setting things at rights within your own breast, where there is so much work, and such daily need of diligence, and then you will find no leisure for unnecessary idle prying into the ways and affairs of others; and further than your calling and the rules of Christian charity engage you, you will not interpose in any matters without you, nor be found proud and censorious, as the world is ready to call you."

2. It is suffering for well-doing that is blessed. Suffering in itself has no spiritual value; it softens some, it hardens others; it saves some, to others it worketh death. But suffering for Christ's sake is always blessed. If any man is called to suffer as a Christian, he must not be ashamed; for the Son of man will be ashamed in the last day of those who now are ashamed of him before men. We must confess him openly in the world; and if in any way we are called to suffer because we belong to Christ and own him as our Master, we must glorify God because we are counted worthy to suffer shame for his Name.

III. THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRISTIANS POINT ONWARDS TO THE JUDGMENT .

1. Judgment must begin at the house of God. God hates sin; he hates it most in those who are nearest to him; he would have those on whom his love rests clean from its defiling touch. Therefore "whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth;" therefore he says, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities" ( Amos 3:2 ). Sometimes the Church passes through seasons of great affliction; one such season was at hand when St. Peter wrote. It would be a fiery trial, but the fire was a refining fire. It was kindled in a sense by the malice of Satan and the wickedness of evil men; but in a true and higher sense it came by the overruling will of God. Therefore it must be sent in love, in fatherly care for their souls. This thought sweetens suffering to the believer; it is our Father who sends it, and he sends it in mercy. "Judgment must begin at the house of God;" partly, indeed, because the sins of Christians, committed against light and against knowledge, are more grievous than the sins of those who know not the gospel; but mainly because the love of God is a wise and holy love, and though "he doth not willingly afflict nor grieve the children of men," yet he chastens us for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness. Judgment begins with the house of God; even the righter, us are "scarcely saved." Not that their salvation is for a moment doubtful; Christ is able to save even to the uttermost all who come to God by him. But salvation is a great and difficult work; we are bidden to work out our salvation with fear and trembling; and, work as we may, we could not work it out for ourselves, were it not that God worketh in us "both to will and to do of his good pleasure." The righteous is scarcely saved, because his enemies are so many and so strong, and he so weak and sinful; temptations swarm around him, and there are sinful lusts within his heart to which those temptations address themselves. He needs all the armour of light—the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit; he must fight the good fight of faith; he must watch and pray; he must quit himself like a man, "enduring hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." But if the righteous is scarcely saved, what hope of salvation have the careless and the slothful? If men are indifferent, listless in their religious exercises, without zeal, without enthusiasm, without self-denial, can they be walking in the narrow way? And there is no other way that leads to heaven.

2. It ends with the disobedient. When God's people are judged, they are chastened of the Lord, that they should not be condemned with the world. Judgment in their case is transitory; it soon makes room for mercy; it was sent in mercy, and it issues in mercy. But it rests upon the disobedient. They' will not listen to the gospel of God, the good news of salvation sent from heaven. God is not willing that any should perish; he sought to save them; they would not accept the terms of salvation. He gave his blessed Son to die for them; they "counted the blood of the covenant an unholy thing." Where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear in the awful day?

3. Believers have no cause for terror. They are judged now that they should be saved at the last. Their sufferings are according to the will of God, and that will is their sanctification now, their salvation hereafter. He is their Creator; he will not despise the work of his own hands. He hath begotten them again to a lively hope; his saints are right dear to him; he is faithful; his truth abideth; his promise is sure. Let his chosen live in obedience, in well-doing, and then let them commit their souls to him. "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit," were the dying words of Christ. Let these words be our daily prayer; let us commit our souls to him in life and in death. We need his gracious keeping every day to keep those souls of ours safe from the evil one and pure from sin; and oh, how shall we need that holy keeping in the hour of our death! May we have grace, then, to trust ourselves to him in humble confidence and Christian hope, learning of our blessed Lord, not only how to live, but also how to die!

LESSONS .

1. The Christian should not count suffering strange; it must come sooner or later: " Ye must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God."

2. He should rejoice, for suffering brings him nearer to the cross.

3. After the cross cometh the crown; even now the Holy Spirit of God rests upon his suffering children.

4. The judgment is at hand: prepare for it.

5. The righteous are "scarcely saved;" "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."

6. "Where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" "Flee from the wrath to come."

- The Pulpit Commentary

1 Peter 4:1-7 (1 Peter 4:1-7)

This passage is the most difficult in the entire Epistle. We can see a meaning in each of its sentences taken separately, but when we take them together their meaning, as a whole, is obscure. As far, however, as I can understand it, I would entitle the paragraph, The persecuted Christian reminded of the necessity of suffering for righteousness. Peter here states the fact that suffering for righteousness is no strange thing, but what Christians must reasonably look for.

I. CHRIST 'S SUFFERING BIDS HIS PEOPLE BE READY TO SUFFER . The sufferings of our Lord alluded to here are not his substitutionary sufferings—they are referred to in the eighteenth verse; of them, to the world's last moment, it will be true, "I have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the people there was none with me." But there is another class of our Lord's sufferings in which his people can, and according to their likeness to him must, shape—the suffering he bore in the maintenance of holiness in an evil world; of this he could say, "The disciple is not above his Master." There is sometimes confusion in Christian minds, in finding that Christ is said to suffer for us, and yet that in many places we are called to suffer with him. Let us be clear on this point, we are "redeemed by the precious blood of Christ;" God requires nothing from us for our redemption, but, when thus redeemed, much of Christ's suffering becomes the pattern of ours; and of that he says, "He that taketh not up his cross and cometh after me cannot be my disciple."

1. Christ ' s experience would lead us to expect that holiness must suffer on earth. For three and thirty years he, the Embodiment of perfect love to God and man, lived and moved upon this earth, and what was the result? He was "despised and rejected of men;" the longer he lived, the more he wrought, the wider he was known, the wilder and louder and fiercer became the cry, "Away with him! Crucify him!" Goodness condemns wickedness when the lips say nothing; the very presence of a good man in an ungodly circle is a protest against evil. On one side at least there will always be enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman; and the nearer his people approach conformity to their Lord's character, the more may they be sure of conformity to their Lord's death.

2. What Christ ' s sufferings have made possible to us should lead us to be willing to suffer for its attainment. Our Lord's sufferings had no other end than our sanctification, to secure God-likeness in us. How great a boon must this be, when it could be purchased at no less a price than what comes to mind, when we speak of our Lord as "the Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;" and for which he did not regard that Drice as too great to pay! And if we find, when we try to secure and maintain this great blessing, that it can only be done at much cost to ourselves, how impossible it is for us to shrink from it, when we remember the greater cost of this to him ] It were a solemn thing to refuse through cowardice to "fill up that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ."

3. The claims of Christ should lead us to resolve to suffer if need be for him. Where Christ's sacrifice is present to the mind, there is no room for self left; the "I" in us is destroyed; the blood of Christ, when rightly apprehended, not only blots out our sin, but also our self. We come now to the difficult part of this passage, but I think it brings before us this truth—

II. THE SUFFERING OF CHRIST 'S PEOPLE NECESSARILY ARISES FROM THREE CAUSES .

1. Suffering through mortification of the flesh. It seems natural to suppose that when, having said, "Christ hath suffered in the flesh," the apostle goes on to say, "For he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin," he is still referring to Christ. But it cannot be so, for of him" who did no sin" it cannot be said that he hath "ceased from sin;" it must refer to us. Yet how can it be said of them whom he has called to arm themselves with the same suffering mind as Christ, that they have "ceased from sin"? I think we have here a parallel to what we read in Romans 6:6-11 ," Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him," etc. That contains a priceless truth, which we do not half realize. It speaks of a death in us, corresponding to our Lord's death; that this is to be the sublime result of his death—the death of sin in his people; and it is this which Peter here holds up to us, "He that hath suffered in the flesh [hath put to death the flesh], hath ceased from sin," etc. But that destroying the flesh is suffering, to take our natural desires and passions and nail them to the cross is crucifixion—a slow, lingering death, which involves unutterable pain till it is complete.

2. Suffering through difference from the world. "For the time past may suffice to have wrought the desire of the Gentiles," etc. We have here a true picture of the pagan character, and it is hardly possible for us to imagine the contrast which was manifest when such a one became converted to Christ. Glaring evils had to be renounced at once, lifelong associations had to be severed at a blow. That was the case here; and what was the result? They were evil spoken of, and that is where the suffering always comes in when we break with wrong associations. We shall be thought strange by others, and shall seem to be condemning them, assuming that we are better than they. And to be misjudged, misrepresented, reviled, is suffering; but, as Christians, there is no help for it, we must sever ourselves from what is worldly.

3. Suffering through, spiritual discipline. "For unto this end was the gospel preached even to the dead" etc. The word "dead" here must be taken to mean those who are dead whilst they live. But. even with that alteration, it is difficult to see clearly what the verse means. Now it is said that the construction of the Greek allows of the insertion of the word "although;" just as in a passage in Romans 6:17 , which we never read without mentally inserting the word "although." If that be so, the meaning is evident: "For to this end was the gospel preached even to them who were dead in sins, than [although] they might be judged, condemned, persecuted, put to death according to men in the flesh, they might live according to God in the spirit." Spiritual life is God's end with us, let men do with us what they may. And the spiritual life is often developed by means of what men do to us. Every act of persecution is to be followed by a deeper peace, a holier purity, a higher power.

III. THE COMING END ASSISTS CHRIST 'S PEOPLE TO BEAR SUFFERING IN A RIGHT SPIRIT . Looking at this superficially, some might think this a hard gospel; the follower of Christ is to arm himself with the expectation of suffering. But look what comes before, and what follows after this. What comes before? "Forasmuch as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh." What follows it? "The end of all things is at hand." This hard demand stands between the cross and the crown; that makes all the difference.

1. The coming end calls us to estimate reasonably the extent of the sneering. Read it as it is in the Revised Version. "Be ye therefore of sound mind." The apostle is here calling the persecuted to regard their sufferings reasonably, in connection with the fact that "the end of all things is at hand." The earth-trials of God's people are, after all, but the momentary cloud in the day of heavenly sunshine, which shall have no evening, of which now in Christ we have the dawn.

2. The coming end calls us to vigilance lest we lose the coming blessing. That "coming end" wilt be the beginning of the glorified life—that life in which what we have sown here we shall reap; that life in which we may have "an entrance ministered to us abundantly," or in which we may be "saved yet so as by fire." Beware lest under the pressure of temptation you conform to the world, you be ashamed of Jesus, you refuse your cross, and thereby lose your crown. Suffering there must be; look to the end, anticipate the glory which it begins, and against all that would rob you of the fullness of that glory, watch unto prayer - C.N.

1 Peter 4:8-11 - The persecuted Christian reminded of the help of brotherly love.

"Above nil things have fervent love among yourselves." You will remember how this expression, "above all things," corresponds with other Scripture. Paul says, "Now abideth faith, hope, love; but the greatest of these is love." "Now the end of the commandment is love unfeigned." James calls this "the royal law;" and our Lord himself says, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." The introduction of this theme in addressing the persecuted Church is very natural. Next to the support of the sympathy and help of God in trial, is the grasp of a brother's hand of whose heart we are sure. Love sustains individual weakness; it unites the Church, and makes it impregnable to the common foe. This is one end of Church-fellowship; no life can be so strong as it might that stands alone, or, even if it would, alone it can do nothing (as it ought) to shelter the weakness of others. Strength comes with union, therefore let there be union. But the union is only a name, Church-fellowship is only a mockery, and its promise of strength a deception, unless it be the union and fellowship of sacred love.

I. THE DEMAND FOR FERVENT LOVE IN THE CHURCH . We sometimes excuse ourselves for not feeling as we should towards the brethren by saying we cannot make ourselves love. But that cannot be right, for our very text lays on us the responsibility of having fervent love, and everywhere it is the subject of command. What, then, can we do to this end? There are three duties we can fulfill which tend to it.

1. The cultivation of what would foster brotherly love. Love of the brethren springs from love to the Father. Natural love is born in us, spiritual love is not. That comes with the new birth, and is fostered and developed only by fellowship with God. Know God, dwell in God, love God, and the Scripture says brotherly love will be the result. Cherish love to God, and we shall find ourselves, without setting out to do it, loving those he loves for his sake.

2. Watchfulness against what would hinder brotherly love. If certain evils are allowed to spring up in a Church, farewell to a spirit of love then. One great danger of these evils is that they are subtle and dwell mostly out of sight. The Church as a Church, therefore, cannot deal with them; its safety depends on its individual members jealously watching their approach, and unsparingly destroying them at the moment of contact. A disputatious spirit is one of these evils. Some minds are never known to agree with anything; there is always something to criticize adversely everywhere. That spirit is contagious, and kills love. There is also a jealous spirit; half the troubles of Church-life are due to jealousy, which often has no ground but that of suspicion. There is a tale-bearing spirit. If you see a man or woman going from ear to ear with some mischief-making story, some gossip which tends to wound or discredit another, suspect that person's own character, regard him as an emissary of Satan. There is also a self assertive spirit which forgets the claims of others. We are all terribly apt to be overcome by that spirit, and love falls a speedy victim to it. Every spirit in the Church that is hostile to love we must destroy.

3. A refusal to be repulsed by a lack of love. An unloving Christian can only harm himself if others refuse to be influenced by him. There are two ways of treating such—either as he treats you, which makes two wrong-doers instead of one; or to refuse to be overcome of evil, and to overcome evil with good. It is impossible that fervent love can long widely exist in a community, unless there be a general individual determination, in the strength of God, first, not to provoke, then if provoked, not to "render evil for evil,… but contrariwise blessing."

II. THE MANIFESTATION OF CHRISTIAN LOVE .

1. It expresses itself in different ways. Love speaks evil of no man, and thinketh no evil. Love is the "advocate of the absent." Love gives; the homes of the persecuted were but slenderly stocked, they had often to endure the "spoiling of their goods;" but there was to be a place at the table and a room for the stranger who needed food and rest. Love speaks—not always, does not obtrude itself, but where there is an erring step or a listening ear, love speaks.

2. It is reciprocal. Each has his own gift, his own power of doing good; there is not a single member of Christ's Church who is to be receptive only; for every gift each receives from another there is another he can give. This is the law, "By love serve one another;" "Edifying one another in love;" "We being many are one body, and every one members one of another." All receiving, all bestowing, and doing both in love, that is God's ideal of the Church on earth.

3. It recognizes that it holds all as stewards for God. "As good stewards of the manifold grace of God." That raises our thoughts from the human to the Divine obligation; it calls us to the duty of love of the brethren, by reminding us of the claims of a higher love still. Sometimes our love to the brethren is not enough to constrain us to these tasks; self-love is strong within us, and sometimes our effort may be repulsed and our desire chilled by a cold response. It is unspeakably hard to get over the feeling, if one will not love he shall not be loved. But here is the antidote to that—the apostle says we are to exercise our gifts with a view to God; service we could not render to others for their own sakes we can render for him.

III. THE END OF CHRISTIAN LOVE IS THE GLORIFYING OF GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST . The possession and manifestation of Christian love glorifies God, and in so many ways.

1. In the manifestation of what most honors him amongst men. We think of 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 . as the creed of the Church; it is the creed of the world, it is what the world believes in, what the world when it sees it recognizes as Divine. It cares nothing for our doctrines or systems; what it believes in is a manly, faithful loving-kindness; where that is it feels the power of God.

2. In the power with which it supplies others to glorify him. Probably to absence of love in the Church is due, more than to anything else, the defections from the Church. It is largely in the power of love to make others what they should be, to draw them into the Church if they are not in, and when they are, the quick eye of love should detect the first signs of wandering, and the gentle power of love restrain. The atmosphere of heaven is love, and when that is the atmosphere of the Church, God will be honored in the beauty of a piety which otherwise he seeks in vain.

3. In the opportunity it gives him of glorifying himself. Discord silences his voice and grieves his Spirit, and he needs to chasten us, and his Word becomes vain, and our labor vain. Brethren, "live in peace, and the God of love and peace shall be with you."—C.N.

1 Peter 4:12-19 - The joyous aspect of suffering for Christ a help to persecuted Christians.

The apostle is writing on the eve of the dreadful persecution of the Church by Nero, which was already beginning to be felt. The increased bitterness of those around them, and probably dark intimations from their teachers that the evil times predicted by Christ were nigh, tended to awaken very gloomy forebodings in the hearts of the converts. No wonder if they thought the trial strange; even to us with our larger knowledge it always seems strange that the good should suffer, and often so severely. Yet God says, "Think it not strange, but rejoice," and that word "rejoice" is the key-word to the passage. There are three reasons here for this rejoicing.

I. THERE IS THE JOY OF FELLOWSHIP WITH CHRIST IN SUFFERING . Suffering for righteousness brings us into fellowship with Christ.

1. It is suffering for his sake. The persecuted partake of Christ's sufferings. Some of our Lord's sufferings were peculiarly his own, and could not be shared; but we participate in his sufferings when we suffer in the interests of his Church, the interests of righteousness, for the spread of his kingdom. Suffering is always suffering, but when we know it is for that for which our Lord suffered, and on which his heart is set, it is suffering glorified.

2. It is suffering by his side. We are never more conscious of his presence and sympathy than in suffering voluntarily endured for his cause. None ever suffered for Christ without loving him more.

3. It is suffering preparatory to his glory. Some of Christ's servants do not think much of his coming again. That may be due to their not having fulfilled the tasks he gave them. His servants know when they have really tried to please him, and he knows it too, and this gives them confidence towards him, and makes them eager for his appearing.

II. THERE IS THE JOY OF GLORIFYING THE SPIRIT IN SUFFERING .

1. Be sure that yours is really Christian suffering. "Let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as a busybody." (Strange company that, by the way, for busybodies!) Is it not strange that Peter should suggest that Church-members might be guilty of such things? The fact is that the early Church contained many from the criminal classes, and some of them were too easily admitted to fellowship; their adhesion to Christ being simply an endeavor to atone for a life of misdeeds while the misdeeds secretly remained. Let us see to it that we do not take to ourselves the comforts of those who suffer for Christ's sake, when we really suffer for our sins' sake. It is not the suffering that makes the martyr, but the cause of it.

2. Yours be Christian suffering , its endurance glorifies the Spirit. "If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you." The word "resteth" here is the same word our Lord uses when he says, "Come unto me and rest." On the seventh day God rested from his works, but be also rested in them: "He saw all that he had made, and behold it was very good." God in his works was satisfied. So the Spirit of God rests on the Christian martyr, for he sees his work there—the fruit of the sacred love he has inspired, of the sustaining grace he has imparted; and the gracious Spirit reposes in the glorious result of his mission.

3. Reproach becomes our glory rather than our shame. "If any man suffer as a Christian," etc. Christian was a name of scorn at first, and Peter says, " Be not ashamed, glorify God in this name; respond to the reproach of earth by praise of heaven." Why should we do this? Because in us at that moment the Spirit of God finds a resting-place. Do we not often forget the claims that gracious Spirit has on our service and our love? We owe all that Christ is to us, and all that the Father is to us, to him.

III. THERE IS THE JOY OF TRUSTING THE FATHER . "For 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? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore 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." "The time is come that judgment," etc. We understand these words when we remember that the Epistle was written before the awful judgment which terminated in the destruction of the ecclesiastical and civil polity of the Jews, which our Lord had foretold: "wars, rumors of wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes," as "the beginning of sorrows;" and added to his people, "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you, and ye shall be hated of all men for my Name's sake." "And if the righteous scarcely [with difficulty] be saved," etc. What fires of discipline, and what deep waters of sorrow, they have to go through to enter the kingdom] If this is what God's children endure, what of those who are not his? If so heavy is the hand of chastening, educating love, what will the hand of judgment and wrath be! Christian, shrinking under the one, remember that you are delivered from the other. Trustfully acquiesce in the endurance of Christian suffering. This suffering is according to God's will, the other is not, and can only be unmingled curse; but that of his people in the way of righteousness is his choice, he selects that, presides over it, tempers it, and leads it on to unmingled blessing. Here, then, is a fresh possibility of joy in suffering for Christ—the joy of resting in the will of the Father. I)o we know anything of suffering for righteousness' sake? Other sufferings we are each familiar with, but have we suffered for Christ? do we live a life of voluntary suffering for him? If not, I might say we have reason in that to wonder whether we are his followers at all. If we are strangers to Christian suffering, we are strangers to the deepest Christian joy. Christian joy is a flower which bears its fairest blossoms only when it grows on the grave where self lies buried - C.N.

- The Pulpit Commentary

1 Peter 4:1-6 (1 Peter 4:1-6)

I. THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST CARNIES WITH IT THE RESOLUTION TO SUFFER . "Forasmuch then as Christ suffered in the flesh, arm ye yourselves also with the same mind." Peter goes back to the starting-point, that from it, with practical instruction, he may go beyond the present session of Christ at the right hand of God, viz. to his coming to judgment. He does not say, "put to death in the flesh," but more generally, to suit the condition of those whom he was addressing, "suffered in the flesh." When it is said that he suffered, we are to understand that he did not avoid, but bravely faced, whatever suffering came to him in the way of righteousness. He armed himself with the resolution to suffer; and thus he was prepared for it when it came. Let us also arm ourselves with the same mind. Let us not, in the way of evil compliance, avoid suffering. Let us be resolved bravely to face whatever ordeal our God appoints; thus also shall we be prepared for it when it comes. When it is said that Christ suffered in the flesh, there may be, in the line of a former thought, a look beyond his past condition to his present condition. He is no longer in the flesh to suffer; so shall it soon be with us, that we are no longer in the flesh to suffer.

II. THE RESOLUTION TO SUFFER CARRIES WITH IT A BREAK WITH SIN . "For he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that ye no longer should live the rest of your time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God." It is better to carry the third person through the whole, the second part being simply a further definition of the first. It is wrong also not to bring out the past tense, "he that suffered," just as it was said "Christ suffered." It is, however, introducing a foreign thought to suppose the meaning to be that, when Christ suffered, the person thought of suffered. The person to be thought of is one to whom at a previous stage and a critical stage in his history there was given the choice of suffering or not suffering. When he resolved to suffer, he very distinctly broke with sin. He said that he would rather suffer than sin. tie looked forward to the rest of his time in the flesh, and said that the rule of his life would no longer be the lusts of men (a rule variable and without authority), but the will of God (a rule invariable and having the highest authority). The "no longer" of sin along with "the time past of suffering" is to be explained by the fact that suffering commenced with conversion to Christianity.

III. THE BREAK WITH SIN IS NOT TO BE REGRETTED . "For the time past may suffice to have wrought the desire of the Gentiles, and to have walked in lasciviousness, lusts, wine-bibbings, revellings, carousings, and abominable idolatries." The life according to "the desire of the Gentiles" is particularly described. It was a life in excesses, especially of impurity. It was a life in lusts, especially fleshly. It was a life in wine-swillings. It was a life in night-banquetings, after which the custom was to sally out into the streets "wakening the echoes with song and dance and noisy frolic." It was a life in drinking-bouts. It was a life in idolatries that violated what was sacred (associated with many abominations). Peter's readers were of Gentile extraction; for it is said that in time past they had wrought the desire of the Gentiles, and walked in the things mentioned, He adroitly founds on their experience, saying less than the reality in order to suggest the more. "The past may suffice; there is a figure in that, meaning much more than the words express. It is enough—oh, too much, to have so long, so miserable a life" (Leighton). We are reminded of Paul's way of dealing with the Roman Christians, "For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things, whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death."

IV. THE NEW ARE A PUZZLE AND AN OFFENSE TO THE OLD . "Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them into the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you." The heathen a,e represented as rushing over the barriers that stand in the way of vicious indulgence: and they are astonished to find their former companions not rushing with them to the same goal. They are puzzled to understand the new principles from which they act, the complete revolution that has taken place in their ways of thinking and acting. And they are more than puzzled; they are offended. They take it as an affront that their company should not be thought good enough, and so they steak evil of them.

V. ACCOUNT IS TO BE GIVEN TO CHRIST AS JUDGE . "Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead." Was it right for the Christians to withdraw? was it wrong for the heathen to resent their withdrawal? Yes; it would be as decided by Christ, to whom these evil-speakers would give account. Thus does the apostle return to his line of thought. So far from being crushed by death, Christ is to be gloriously active in the future on earth again, He is here represented as ready to judge the quick and the dead. He is to judge all without exception, He is ready to judge, as invested with all the authority and power that are necessary for judgment. At this moment, if the materials for judgment were complete, he could descend from heaven to hold the great assize.

VI. CONNECTION WITH JUDGMENT OF THE FORMERLY MENTIONED PREACHING TO THE DEAD . "For unto this end was the gospel preached even to the dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit." "Dead" is general; but we are not to think of all the dead. The word is properly limited by the connected language. The time is to be observed—the gospel was preached to the dead. And we are only to think of the dead with whom the language can be associated, that they had been judged according to men in the flesh . The reference seems to be simply to the antediluvians . They had been overtaken, not by death in the ordinary way; but, in the interests of humanity, it had been considered necessary that they should be swept from the face of the earth. This judgment according to man was not one with the final judgment on them. To them, after they had been judged thus on earth, in Hades the gospel was preached. The aim seems to be so stated as to throw the judging before the preaching. The expression of the aim as life in the spirit is very startling. This is far from being plain to us; and we have not the links that would enable us to connect it with judgment. We can only apply to Peter's own writings the words he applies to Paul's, "In which are some things hard to be understood."—R.F.

1 Peter 4:7-11 - Duty in view of the nearness of the end.

I. NEARNESS OF THE END . "But the end of all things is at hand." It is presupposed that all things are to come to an end , i.e. the Divine purpose in all things is to be brought forward to its completion. What gives this solemn significance to us, is that there is to be, in view of probation, a final relating of us to the purpose. How shall we stand related to the completion of all things? Stress is laid here on the time of the end. It is not revealed when definitely it is to be—whether it is to be today or a thousand years hence. In judging of the language employed, it is to be borne in mind that with the Lord "a thousand years are as one day." Allowance is to be made for the great vividness of the language. The early Christians, taking some words of revelation too literally, thought the end of all things was to be in their day. We go to the opposite extreme, and put it far off. It is intended that the Church, in all times, should have a vivid realization of the end.

II. DUTY IN VIEW OF THE NEARNESS OF THE END .

1. Personal duty .

2. Relative duty .

1 Peter 4:12-19 - Fiery trial among the Christians.

I. HAPPINESS CONNECTED WITH THE FIERY TRIAL .

1. The fiery trial not a perplexity . "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial among you, which cometh upon you to prove you, as though a strange thing happened unto you." With an affectionate address the subject is appropriately introduced. There was a fierce trial not coming on them, as the old translation bears, but already in the midst of them, as the revised translation bears. The word used ("fieriness") expresses the sharpness of the persecution to which they were subjected. They were mercilessly attacked in their dearest earthly interests. We do not know the details of the persecution; but it was a reality as of fire carried into the midst of the Christians, laying hold upon one here and upon another there, and distressing the whole circle. By severe suffering there has often been suggestion of the way of the Divine dealing. The apostle here supposes that they might be inclined to think it strange that they had the fire of persecution in the midst of the loved circle. The word expressive of the feeling of strangeness was formerly used with regard to the miraculous change of life introduced by Christianity. Former companions thought it strange that they did not continue to overleap the bounds with them. Now, the supposition is of them that did not overleap the bounds, but put on restraints, thinking it strange that the fire should be allowed to come among them. How did this consist with their Christian standing, character, destiny? Were they not the objects of covenant love? Were they not sincerely striving to honor the Divine ordinances? Were they not looking forward to a glorious, blood-bought inheritance? Why, then, was the fire working its work among them? It was justified, Peter points out, by its probationary use it was upon them, and not yet fully spent, not to pain them simply (which would be inconsistent with covenant love), but by its very painfulness to Trove them, i . e . to bring out their sincerity, and also their greater excellence, and therewith their deliverance from remaining impurity. The fire makes us feel the reality of life. It tends to make us thoughtful, earnest, humble. There is a knowledge of God, of Divine things, of the Divine promises, which enters only by the door of suffering. "Knowledge through suffering entereth." It is as sufferers that we obtain the richest experience, even of the tenderness of God, and that our love in its greatest tenderness is drawn out towards him. Let us not, then, think the fire strange, even as though a strange thing were happening unto us. It is not strange when it works toward such an end. And we may trust the All-wise God to proportion the intensity of the fire to what our spiritual requirements are.

2. The fiery trial a rejoicing . "But insomuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings, rejoice; that at the revelation of his glory also ye may rejoice with exceeding joy." The apostle rises here to jubilation. Not merely is the fiery trial not a reason for bewilderment; it is even a reason for rejoicing . We are to rejoice in that we are partners with Christ; we are to rejoice in that we are partners with Christ even in his sufferings , i.e. those which he personally endured on earth. He endured the sharpness of persecution, ending in "the sharpness of death;" and what made his death so difficult to endure was not the fire of persecution, but the penal fire of God. There was a solitariness in Christ's sufferings; and yet our sufferings can be joined to his sufferings, and it is an honor to have them so joined. We are to look even at the degree or measure in which our sufferings can be placed along with Christ's sufferings. For there is the quantitative word used—meaning "in proportion as." There is thus exegetical value in the remark of Leighton, "What does the world, by its hatred and persecutions and railings for Christ, but make me more like him, give me a greater share with him in that which he did so willingly undergo for me?" The persecuting world thus in a way defeats itself; it makes the Christian suffer, but only to add to his joy in making him a greater sharer with Christ in what he suffered. "Rejoice," then, is the word of command to the persecuted; but now the end of the present rejoicing is seized on. "Rejoice; that at the revelation of his glory also ye may rejoice with exceeding joy." There is a present rejoicing; there is also a future rejoicing; and the one is with a view to the other. Both, it seems to be implied here, and is certainly elsewhere taught, go upon partnership , and in this order—first partners with Christ in his sufferings, and then partners with Christ in his glory. The future rejoicing is to be at the revelation of Christ's glory. There is a glory of Christ which is at present concealed—concealed from the world. There is even a glory of Christ which is not yet possessed—the glory expressive of the final vindication of his mission, the final triumph of his cause. Then he is to get glory from the saints; but then, also, he is to be in a position to bless his saints, without any hindrance, according to his heart's desire, according also to the thought of the Father from all eternity; and he is to bless them by making them partners with him in his glory. Their very bodies raised are to take after his glorified body: how can it, then, be aught but Christ's glory that is to shine forth in their spirits? The word for the present is "rejoice," but at the revelation of Christ's glory it is to be rejoicing with exceeding joy, rejoicing beyond the measure of the present, rejoicing far beyond our present power of conception . Now it is rejoicing in the midst of persecutions; then it will be rejoicing when the persecutions are all over for ever and sublimated, and the glorious realities are in actual possession.

II. THE CONDITION OF HAPPINESS EMPHASIZED .

1. Being reproached for the Name of Christ . " If ye are reproached for the Name of Christ, blessed are ye; because the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God resteth upon you." The condition which has been implied is now expressed. There are reproachful words, and there are reproachful acts. To be reproached for the Name of Christ is to be interpreted in the light of our Lord's own words, "In my Name, because ye belong to Christ." We are not, then, to understand the Beatitude as connected with what Christians suffer in the ordinary course of providence, but with suffering that they could avoid but do not avoid because the Name of Christ does not permit it. Blessed are they who are not intimidated, who are willingly reproached, when it is demanded by Christian principle, nay, by loyalty to him who has been manifested as their Savior, and entitled to be served before and above every other. Blessed are they, because the spirit resting upon them is not the reproach-avoiding spirit of the world, but the Spirit of glory , who is also the Spirit of God . When Paul prays for the Ephesian Christians that they may have a worthy conception of the future glory, he calls God "the Father of glory" ( Ephesians 1:17 ); so here Peter says that there rests upon the reproached for the Name of Christ the Spirit of glory, i . e . whose nature is glory, and who, according to his nature, imparts glory. Granted that they do not by worldly compliance avoid reproach: have they not infinite compensation in what the possessed Spirit of glory will yet make to shine forth in them?

2. The condition in what it excludes . "For let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or an evil-doer, or as a meddler in other men's matters." "For" is explanatory. Let the characterization of the condition be noted; for there is a suffering with which the Beatitude is not connected. "Let none of you [Peter is here directly personal] suffer for his own faults." "Let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or [generally] an evil-doer." By the second "as" a fourth class is marked off by itself. "Let none of you suffer as a meddler in other men ' s matters; " literally, "a bishop or overseer within what belongs to another." The word, which may have been of Peter's own coining, is sufficiently expressive. The Christian, with his superior knowledge, saw many things around him which needed to be rectified. Let him not thereby be betrayed into stepping beyond his proper sphere. Thus meddling, he was not to be classed with the evil-doer; but for his interference he might suffer heavily enough.

3. The condition further elucidated . "But if a man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name." This verse is remarkable for the introduction of a name which occurs in only two other places in the New Testament. At first the followers of Christ were confounded with the Jews; when the distinction could be made, they were very naturally named Christians. This was the name current when Peter wrote. It was a name which exposed its bearer to suffering. But if he suffered in this name, let him not consider himself disgraced. He was disgraced if he suffered as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evil-doer, or even as a meddler; but not if he suffered as a Christian. On the contrary, says Peter, "let him glorify God in this name." He might have said, "Let him consider himself honored," but, going beyond that, his thought is, "Let him render the honor of such suffering to God."

III. UNHAPPINESS CONNECTED WITH DISOBEDIENCE .

1. The order of judgment . "For the time is come for judgment to begin at the house of God: and if it begin first at us, what shall be the end of them that obey not the gospel of God?" This follows up not being ashamed, but glorifying God. There is to be, in accordance with 1 Peter 4:7 , which is not yet lost sight of, a speedy rectification of things. There is the actual arrival of the time for judgment to begin . With this there is a passing on to the order of judgment . The object of judgment is first the house of God , i.e. believers collectively. The language is taken from the temple at Jerusalem, which was probably still standing. The objects of judgment are next—they that obey not the gospel of God . We are not to think of those with whom the gospel has not been brought into contact. We are rather to think of men refusing the gospel when presented to them. We are especially to think of men showing active hostility to the gospel as persecutors. The gospel is here called "the gospel of God," not as coming from the heart of God, but rather as that with which God has to do in judgment in respect of the treatment it receives. There is judgment upon the house of God . We are not to think of condemnatory judgment, but rather of the corrective judgment referred to in 1 Corinthians 11:32 , " But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." The judgment was to be regarded as taking place in the persecutions to which they were subjected as belonging to the house of God. These were fitted to remind them of their sins, their shortcomings. Because they were not pure enough, the fiery trial was sent upon them to act as a refiner ' s fire , separating the unworthy, and also from the genuine all unworthy elements. There is also to be judgment upon them that obey not the gospel of God . This is of the nature of condemnatory judgment. There is to be final judicial dealing with them for their ungodly deeds, for their hard speeches. There is especially to be final judicial dealing with them for the treatment they have given the gospel, the preachers of the gospel, the Christian communities, the Christian members. Stress is laid on the order of the judgment. The starting-point is noted. It begins at, or from, the house of God. The language is used in Ezekiel 9:6 , "Begin at my sanctuary." Upon this an argument is founded. It is similar to what is found in Jeremiah 25:29 , "For, lo, I begin to bring evil on the city which is called by my Name, and should ye be utterly unpunished?" The argument has a consolatory side to them that belong to the house of God. "If it begin first at us ," says Peter, referring to himself and the persecuted to whom he wrote. It was only to begin first at them; it was not to stay with them. It was to pass on to them that obeyed not the gospel of God—and how? We may understand, with increasing severity; for the question is ominously asked, " What shall be the end of them that obey not the gospel of God?" They experienced the beginnings of the storm: what would be their experience upon whom the storm, gathering volume as it proceeded, at last burst in all its fury?

2. Old Testament reference . "And if the righteous is scarcely saved, where shall the ungodly and sinner appear?" The reference is to Proverbs 11:31 , "Behold the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner." The language is properly from the imperfect Septuagint rendering. The singular individualizes. The righteous is he who stands in a right relation to God. The New Testament bearing is he who stands in right relation to God in view of the revelation made in the gospel. The Old Testament equivalent to "obeying not the gospel of God," is "the ungodly and sinner," i . e . he who has not the fear of God on him, and therefore acts presumptuously. It is said of the righteous that he is scarcely saved . Two men have a task assigned to them—climbing a hill; the task to be accomplished in a given time. It would require of both all their might to reach the top in the given time. One sets himself to it, and when the time expires he has scarcely reached the top What is to be said of the other, who all the time has gone after his own pleasure? God has assigned to all, as he has a right to assign, a task; this task is the salvation of the soul. To accomplish it in the time appointed requires working with all the might. Here is one who sets himself to the task. He works while it is day; and when the night of death comes down on him the task is scarcely accomplished, there is still purification that needs to be done. It is not said of him that he shall not appear before God in the issue of judgment; rather may we understand that he shall appear, though there may be withheld from him the highest reward in the presence of God. Here is another who misjudges life, who spends the day of grace in idleness and pleasure, who has not fear for the God who is to judge him, who throws off restraints. This ungodly man and sinner, where shall he appear? The question is ominously left unanswered; but we may take the answer as given in the first psalm, "The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish."

IV. CONCLUSION SHOWING HOW THEY WERE TO DO UNDER THE FIERY TRIAL . "Wherefore let them also that suffer according to the will of God commit their souls in well-doing unto a faithful Creator." "Also" is to be connected with "wherefore," and is to be taken as indicating something additional in the way of conclusion. By the will of God we are to understand, not so much the Divine appointment, as the Divine requirement. It is the will of God that we should suffer even as confessors and martyrs rather than deny Christ. Let them that thus suffer according to the will of God follow this course. Let them commit their souls to God. Thus it was with him who pre-eminently suffered according to the will of God. In dying he said, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." Let them commit their souls in well-doing unto a faithful Creator . There can be a falling back, not only on Fatherhood, but even on Creatorship. In creating us he constituted us so that in a course of well-doing we should be happy. Let us do well, and we may be assured that God wilt be faithful to his part of the covenant. "All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shall call, and I will answer thee; thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands " ( Job 14:14 , Job 14:15 ) - R.F.

- The Pulpit Commentary