1 Peter 4:7–19 (NKJV)
Peter continues his theme of suffering for the sake of Christ in this passage. In the previous passages, he basically told the readers and believers that they should have the right mind to deal with problems and trials in life. In this passage, he steps it up a bit, pointing out the nearness of the end of times and the escalation of the persecution that may come.
7 But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. 8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” 9 Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. 10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.1 Peter 4:7-11
Peter opens up this passage with the somber warning, “7 But the end of all things is at hand….” Peter had a sense that time would not last long. The New Testament is full of suggestions that the coming of the Lord would not be long from the time of its writing. However, time is relative in the Bible. The classic passage reads, “for a day with the Lord is as a thousand years.” This does not necessarily mean that a thousand years on earth equals exactly a day in heaven. What it does suggest is that time is irrelevant in heaven, unneeded and unnecessary. We will live in a place where “time shall be no more.” What this passage does portend for us is that life itself on earth is brief, no matter how long it lasts, and that there is no time to waste!
With this urgency in mind, Christians should be serious and watchful in prayer. Christians should have fervent love for one another, to the end that the fervent love in the body for one another will bring those erring to repentance and cover the multitude of sins. Additionally, Christians should be hospitable, should not grumble, and should minister as good stewards of the gifts they have received from God. If you speak, then speak the word of God. If you minister, do so with supernatural ability. Whatever you do, though, do it so that God may be glorified through Christ, the One worthy of glory and dominion forever and ever.
12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now
“If the righteous one is scarcely saved,
Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”
19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.1 Peter 4:12-19
Peter continues his spiral into the counterintuitive in this section of the passage by saying that Christians (here called “beloved”) should not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try them. He wants them to understand the times and the course of the Christian walk as being full of twists and turns, including trials which may be intense at times. He then calls upon the believers to rejoice when they partake of Christ’s sufferings, because when He appears, they will be able to partake also of His exceeding great joy.
With this promise in mind, it may make some sense, then, to rejoice over trials and tribulations, knowing that the brief trials experienced here on earth will lead to a joy that will never end in heaven. If you do suffer reproach for the name of Christ, you are blessed, and the Holy Spirit rests on you. Although they may blaspheme Him, you glorify Him. Do not do ungodly things that will lead to your suffering, such as murder, theft, nosiness, or other forms of evil. If you do suffer at the hands of others, let it be because you suffer for Christ and His kingdom, and do so proudly, glorifying God.
Peter adds another layer to this teaching by announcing that judgment is coming to the house of God, therefore Christians should be found doing good in the name of the Lord. If judgment does begin with us, then, what will be the end of those who have not accepted and obeyed the gospel? Peter then quotes Proverbs 11:31, further inquiring, “If the righteous one is scarcely saved,
Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” This ominous warning is to Christian and sinner alike. Christians must be found faithful and holy when the Lord comes. Sinners will have no hope at His appearing, so we must call them to repentance and salvation while there is time. If you do have to suffer as a Christian, then simply commit your soul to God and suffer if you must, doing good, as if you answer to a powerful and faithful Creator. Don’t whine. Don’t complain. Don’t quit. Keep on working, for the reward is just ahead.