Translations: Chinese GB Big5

1Peter 4:12-19 (web)

Suffering Persecution III

The Blessedness of Suffering for Christ

4:12 Beloved, don't be astonished at the fiery trial which has come upon you,
to test you, as though a strange thing happened to you.
4:13 But because you are partakers of Christ's sufferings, rejoice;
that at the revelation of his glory also you may rejoice with exceeding joy.

4:14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you;
because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
On their part he is blasphemed, but on your part he is glorified.

4:15 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.

4:16 But if one of you suffers for being a Christian, let him not be ashamed;
but let him glorify God in this matter.

4:17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God.
If it begins first with us, what will happen to those
who don't obey the gospel of God?

4:18 "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will happen to the ungodly and the sinner?"
(Prov 11:31)

4:19 Therefore let them also who suffer according to the will of God
in doing good entrust their souls to him, as to a faithful Creator.

Discussion Questions

vs 12,13 What similarities are there between the sufferings we face and those of Christ?
vs 14 Why is it considered blessed to suffer in Christ's name?
What constitutes suffering for Christ?
vs 15 Does all suffering count as suffering for Christ?
What is a meddler and why would such a person suffer?
vs 16 What makes a person worthy of the name Christian? Do we tend to use it too casually? Is a person worthy to be called a "Christian" just because he calls himself one?
vs 17,18 How is suffering as a Christian related to our salvation status? (Mark 13:13)


Suffer Persecution - no surprise!

1Peter 4:12
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.

Paul writes, "everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" 2Tim 2:12 There's a certain inevitability about it just as it was inevitable that Christ would be crucified. Jesus said to his unbelieving brothers, "The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil." John 7:7 Thus it is in the nature of those who follow Christ to be hated by the world. "Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you." 1John 3:13 So get familiar with suffering. After Jesus "was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering." Is 53:3

Fellowship with Christ's Sufferings

1Peter 4:13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

The letter of 1Peter uses the word "suffer" in various forms 17 times. It's a major theme in 1Peter. How did they participate in the sufferings of Christ? This is not merely allegorical rhetoric. The Christians actually suffered. There is of course the common suffering we experience between the flesh and the Spirit. "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." Gal 5:17 And Jesus "had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." Heb 2:17,18 Thus "we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are— yet was without sin." Heb 4:15 This is one way Christians fellowship with Christ's suffering. But as is alluded to throughout 1Peter Christians were being persecuted for their faith, just as Christ suffered persecution. For example 1Peter 2:23 "When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly."

It's a good thing to endure suffering for doing what is right. It is one way we fellowship with Christ. Paul writes, "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." Php 3:10,11 And there is reward in it. There's no comparison between the meager persecutions we suffer in this life, even if it be to death, with the glory to be revealed in us in the future. "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.  I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Rom 8:16,17 And such suffering builds character and conviction. Therefore "we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Rom 5:3,4 

Insulted for Christ

1Peter 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.

What does it mean for the Spirit of glory and of God to rest on a person? First of all it means that by suffering for Christ you are glorifying Christ and thus are in the limelight with respect to God's eternal purpose for your life. In the Old Testament it is often said the Spirit rested on the prophets when they prophesied. Likewise when we act on Christ's behalf and suffer for it, it communicates conviction just as the prophets communicated God's Word. And of the Messiah it is written, "The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD" Is 11:2 These are attributes that likewise can be imparted to those who suffer persecution for Christ's sake. Those who legitimately suffer persecution for Christ gain conviction and revelation. So don't make it your objective to avoid opposition. Opposition builds character.

Criminal Suffering

1Peter 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.

While it is good discipline and just to suffer for sinning, such is not the category of suffering appropriate for Christians, and certainly not something Christians should glory in. In fact John writes, "no murderer has eternal life in him." 1John 3:15b and Paul writes, "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." 1Cor 6:9,10

The term "meddler" is "allotriepiskopos", which is the combination of the words "stranger" and "overseer". Such a person is one who usurps supervision over other people's matters. He meddles in things which should be none of his business. So rather than meddling in other people's affairs, "make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you" 1Th 4:11 

Enduring Unjustified Suffering

1Peter 4:16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

The term "Christian" is only used three times in the Bible. "The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." Acts 11:26b While the term "saint" was what insiders called insiders, the term "Christian" was the term outsiders called insiders, and was used in a derogatory sense. But it became a term that Christians embraced. To call someone a "Christian" was meant as an insult, but here Peter turns this intended insult into an opportunity to rejoice. This is much the same kind of antithetical rhetoric Jesus used in the sermon on the mount. "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." Mt 5:10-12a

And after suffering persecution him, Peter and "the apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name." Acts 5:41

So let it also be said of you as with the church at Thessalonica, "among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering." 2Th 1:4,5

Experiencing Condemnation

1Peter 4:17,18  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?  And, "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"

The context speaks of Christians suffering persecution. The word "judgment" is krima most commonly translated "condemnation". The Church Age in which we live is a time in which the family of God experiences condemnation by the world. And this should be no surprise, as Jesus said, "The world hates me because I testify that what it does is evil." John 7:7b But "God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you ... He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power." 2Th 1:6,8,9 So the ungodly and sinners will have their time of condemnation, and that by God.

Jesus was asked, "Lord, are there few who are saved?" And He said to them,"Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able." Luke 13:23,24 Elsewhere he said, "narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." Mt 7:14 And this is particularly the case with the rich - those who experience ease in this life. Jesus said, "Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." Mt 19:23 Is it easy to be saved? Apparently not. Will many be saved? Apparently not.

By the "righteous" here he is referring to a category of people spoken of thoughout the Bible as those who characteristically do what is right. And as John said, "Do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil." 1John 3:7,8 And likewise of the ungody and sinnersl While we are all sinners yet here he is referring to those who live in sin, as Paul said, "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." 1Cor 6:9,10. In fact Peter is alluding to a verse in Proverbs which speaks of a general principle in life. "If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner!" Pr 11:31 Thus genuine Christians are identified by their behavior (which is why they were callled "Christians") "This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother." 1John 3:10

Reacting to Suffering

1Peter 4:19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

While the world condemns the righteous, causing them to experience unjustified suffering, God is faithful and will bring about the vindication he promised. This is meekness. "Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting." Online Bible Lexicon And "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1Peter 5:7 In his last breath Jesus committed himself to God saying, "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit." Lk 23:46

Let not unjustified suffering cause one to stop doing good. Christians are not to develop bitterness. If God allows it, then some good will come of it. Continue to do good. And "consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls." Heb 12:3

1Peter 4:12-19 RAP

4:12 Do not be surprised at the trials you go through
As if something strange were happening to you
13 But rejoice that you share in Christ's suffering
That when He does return, oh what joy that will bring
14 If you are insulted for Christ, you are blessed
For upon you does the Spirit of God rest
15 Don't suffer for a crime, with the shame it brings
Or even as a meddler in other people's things
16 Suffer as a Christian and in that there is no shame
But rather you should praise the Lord that you bear that name
17 For judgment starts right now with God's family
18 And if with us the judgment starts, what will the outcome be
For those who don't obey the gospel of the Lord
If we are scarcely saved, on them will wrath be poured
19 Therefore let them suffering doing as they should
Commit themselves to God and continue doing good.

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Jul 29,2015