Articles / Daily Devotion

1 Peter 4:12-19 on “Christian Suffering” (commentary)

12  4:12 the fiery ordeal. Peter probably wrote this letter shortly before or after the burning of Rome (see Introduction: Background and Setting), and at the beginning of the horrors of a 200 year period of Christian persecution. Peter explains that 4 attitudes are necessary in order to be triumphant in persecution: 1) expect it (1 Pt 4:12); 2) rejoice in it (1 Pt 4:13-14); 3) evaluate its cause (1 Pt 4:15-18); and 4) entrust it to God (1 Pt 4:19).
some strange thing were happening.
“Happening” means “to fall by chance.” A Christian must not think that his persecution is something that happened accidentally. God allowed it and designed it for the believer’s testing, purging, and cleansing.
13  4:13 to the degree . . . sufferings.
The Christian who is persecuted for his faith is a partner in the same kind of suffering Jesus endured-suffering for doing what is right (cf. Mt 5:10-12Gal 6:17Php 1:29Php 3:10Col 1:24).
at the revelation of His glory.
That is, at Christ’s second coming (cf. Mt 24:30Mt 25:31Lk 17:30). While Jesus is presently glorified in heaven, His glory is not yet fully revealed on earth.
rejoice with exultation.
That is, exult and rejoice with a rapturous joy (cf. Jas 1:2). A Christian who is persecuted for righteousness in this life will have overflowing joy in the future because of his reward (see notes on Mt 20:20-23 ). Such an awareness of future joy enables him also to “rejoice” (1 Pt 4:13) at the present time (cf. Lk 6:22;
see note on Ro 8:17 ).
14  4:14 reviled for the name of Christ.
Insulted and treated unfairly for being a representative of all that Christ is, and for the public proclamation of the name of Christ (cf. Ac 4:12Ac 5:41Ac 9:15Ac 9:16Ac 15:26).
Not a general, nondescript happiness so much as a specific benefit, in that suffering triumphantly for Christ shows God’s approval.
Spirit of glory.
That is, the Spirit who has glory, or who is glorious. In the OT, the glory of God was represented by the Shekinah light, that luminous glow which signified the presence of God (see Ex 33:15-34:9).
rests on you.
When a believer suffers, God’s presence specially rests and lifts him to strength and endurance beyond the physical dimension (cf. Ac 6:8-7:602Co 12:7-10).
15  4:15 troublesome meddler.
Someone who intrudes into matters that belong to someone else. Peter is dealing with matters that would lead to persecution, such as getting involved in revolutionary, disruptive activity, or interfering in the function and flow of government. It might also refer to being a troublesome meddler in the workplace. As a general rule, a Christian living in a non-Christian culture is to do his work faithfully, exalt Jesus Christ, and live a virtuous life, rather than try to overturn or disrupt his culture (1 Pt 2:13-16; cf. 1Th 4:112Th 3:11;
see notes on 1Ti 2:1-3 ).
16  4:16 Christian.
In the earliest days of the church, “Christian” was a derisive term given to those followers of Christ (cf. Ac 11:26Ac 26:28). Eventually, followers of Christ came to love and adopt this name.
17  4:17 judgment . . . household of God.
Not condemnation, but the purging, chastening, and purifying of the church by the loving hand of God. It is far better and more important to kingdom work to endure suffering as the Lord purges and strengthens the church, than to endure the eternal sufferings of the unbeliever in the lake of fire. And, if God so strongly and painfully judges His church which He loves, what will be His fury on the ungodly?
18  4:18
Quoted from the LXX of Pr 11:31, and reinforces the point that if the justified sinner is saved only with great difficulty, suffering, pain, and loss-what will be the end of the ungodly? Cf. 2Th 1:4-10.
19  4:19 entrust their souls.
“Entrust” is a banking term meaning “to deposit for safe keeping.”
faithful Creator.
Peter uses the word “Creator,” to remind the readers of this letter that when they committed their lives to God, they were simply giving back to God what He had created. As Creator, God knows best the needs of His beloved creatures (1 Pt 2:23; cf. 2Ti 1:12).