Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
As the end is near, cultivate self-restraint, watchful
prayerfulness, charity, hospitality, scriptural speech, ministering to
one another according to your several gifts to the glory of God:
Rejoicing patience under suffering.
1. for us--supported by some oldest manuscripts and versions,
omitted by others.
in the flesh--in His mortal body of humiliation.
(Eph 6:11, 13).
the same mind--of suffering with patient willingness what God
wills you to suffer.
he that hath suffered--for instance, Christ first, and in His
person the believer: a general proposition.
hath ceased--literally, "has been made to cease," has
obtained by the very fact of His having suffered once for all, a
cessation from sin, which had heretofore lain on Him
The Christian is by faith one with Christ: as then Christ by death is
judicially freed from sin; so the Christian who has in the person of
Christ died, has no more to do with it judicially, and ought to have no
more to do with it actually. "The flesh" is the sphere in which sin has
2. That he, &c.--"That he (the believer, who has once for all
obtained cessation from sin by suffering, in the person of Christ,
namely, in virtue of his union with the crucified Christ) should no
longer live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but
to the will of God" as his rule. "Rest of his time in the flesh"
(the Greek has the preposition "in" here, not in
as to Christ) proves that the reference is here not to Christ, but to
the believer, whose remaining time for glorifying God is short
"Live" in the truest sense, for heretofore he was dead. Not as
ALFORD, "Arm yourselves . . .
with a view no longer to live the rest of your time."
3. may suffice--Greek, "is sufficient." Peter takes the
lowest ground: for not even the past time ought to have been wasted in
lust; but since you cannot recall it, at least lay out the future to
us--omitted in oldest manuscripts.
wrought--Greek, "wrought out."
Gentiles--heathen: which many of you were.
when, &c.--"walking as ye have done
[ALFORD] in lasciviousness"; the
Greek means petulant, immodest, wantonness, unbridled
conduct: not so much filthy lust.
excess of wine--"wine-bibbings" [ALFORD].
abominable--"nefarious," "lawless idolatries," violating God's
most sacred law; not that all Peter's readers (see on
walked in these, but many, namely, the Gentile portion of
4. Wherein--In respect to which abandonment of your former
run not with them--eagerly, in troops
excess--literally, "profusion"; a sink: stagnant water remaining
after an inundation.
speaking evil--charging you with pride, singularity, hypocrisy,
and secret crimes
However, there is no "of you" in the Greek, but simply
"blaspheming." It seems to me always to be used, either directly or
indirectly, in the sense of impious reviling against God, Christ, or
the Holy Spirit, and the Christian religion, not merely against men
as such; Greek,
5. They who now call you to account falsely, shall have to give
account themselves for this very evil-speaking
and be condemned justly.
Christ's coming is to the believer always near.
6. For--giving the reason for
"judge the dead."
gospel preached also to . . . dead--as well as to them
now living, and to them that shall be found alive at the coming of the
Judge. "Dead" must be taken in the same literal sense as in
which refutes the explanation "dead" in sins. Moreover, the
absence of the Greek article does not necessarily restrict the
sense of "dead" to particular dead persons, for there is no
Greek article in
also, where "the dead" is universal in meaning. The sense seems to be,
Peter, as representing the true attitude of the Church in every age,
expecting Christ at any moment, says, The Judge is ready to judge the
quick and dead--the dead, I say, for they, too, in their
lifetime, have had the Gospel preached to them, that so they might be
judged at last in the same way as those living now (and those who shall
be so when Christ shall come), namely, "men in the flesh," and that
they might, having escaped condemnation by embracing the Gospel so
preached, live unto God in the spirit (though death has passed over
thus being made like Christ in death and in life (see on
He says, "live," not "made alive" or quickened; for they are supposed
to have been already "quickened together with Christ"
This verse is parallel to
compare Note, see on
The Gospel, substantially, was "preached" to the Old Testament Church;
though not so fully as to the New Testament Church. It is no valid
objection that the Gospel has not been preached to all that
shall be found dead at Christ's coming. For Peter is plainly referring
only to those within reach of the Gospel, or who might have known God
through His ministers in Old and New Testament times. Peter, like
Paul, argues that those found living at Christ's coming shall
have no advantage above the dead who shall then be raised,
inasmuch as the latter live unto, or "according to," God,
even already in His purpose. ALFORD'S explanation
is wrong, "that they might be judged according to men as regards the
flesh," that is, be in the state of the completed sentence on
sin, which is death after the flesh. For "judged" cannot
have a different meaning in this verse from what "judge" bears in
"Live according to God" means, live a life with God, such as God
lives, divine; as contrasted with "according to men in the flesh,"
that is, a life such as men live in the flesh.
7. Resuming the idea in
the end of all things--and therefore also of the wantonness
(1Pe 4:3, 4)
of the wicked, and of the sufferings of the righteous
[BENGEL]. The nearness meant is not that of mere
"time," but that before the Lord; as he explains to guard
against misapprehension, and defends God from the charge of
procrastination: We live in the last dispensation, not like the Jews
under the Old Testament. The Lord will come as a thief; He is "ready"
to judge the world at any moment; it is only God's long-suffering and
His will that the Gospel should be preached as a witness to all
nations, that induces Him to lengthen out the time which is with Him
still as nothing.
sober--"self-restrained." The opposite duties to the sins in
are here inculcated. Thus "sober" is the opposite of "lasciviousness"
watch--Greek, "be soberly vigilant"; not intoxicated with
worldly cares and pleasures. Temperance promotes wakefulness or
watchfulness, and both promote prayer. Drink makes drowsy, and
drowsiness prevents prayer.
prayer--Greek, "prayers"; the end for which we should
8. above all things--not that "charity" or love is placed
above "prayer," but because love is the animating spirit,
without which all other duties are dead. Translate as Greek,
"Having your mutual (literally, 'towards yourselves') charity intense."
He presupposes its existence among them; he urges them to make it more
charity shall cover the multitude, &c.--The oldest manuscripts
have "covereth." Quoted from
"Covereth" so as not harshly to condemn or expose faults; but
forbearingly to bear the other's burdens, forgiving and forgetting past
offenses. Perhaps the additional idea is included, By prayer for
them, love tries to have them covered by God; and so being the
instrument of converting the sinner from his error, "covereth a (not
'the,' as English Version) multitude of sins"; but the former
idea from Proverbs is the prominent one. It is not, as Rome
teaches, "covereth" his own sins; for then the Greek
middle voice would be used; and
Pr 10:12; 17:9
support the Protestant view. "As God with His love covers my sins if I
believe, so must I also cover the sins of my neighbor"
[LUTHER]. Compare the conduct of Shem and Japheth
in contrast to Ham's exposure of his father's shame. We ought to cover
others' sins only where love itself does not require the contrary.
Not the spurious hospitality which passes current in the world, but the
entertaining of those needing it, especially those exiled for
the faith, as the representatives of Christ, and all hospitality to
whomsoever exercised from genuine Christian love.
without grudging--Greek, "murmuring." "He that giveth,
let him do it with simplicity," that is open-hearted sincerity; with
cordiality. Not secretly speaking against the person whom we
entertain, or upbraiding him with the favor we have conferred in
10. every--"even as each man hath received," in whatever
degree, and of whatever kind. The Spirit's gifts (literally,
"gift of grace," that is, gratuitously bestowed) are the
common property of the Christian community, each Christian being but a
steward for the edifying of the whole, not receiving the gift merely
for his own use.
minister the same--not discontentedly envying or disparaging
the gift of another.
one to another--Greek as in
"towards yourselves"; implying that all form but one body, and in
seeking the good of other members they are promoting the good of
&c.; Lu 19:13-26.
11. If any . . . speak--namely, as a prophet, or
divinely taught teacher in the Church assembly.
as the, &c.--The Greek has no article: "as oracles of
God." This may be due to Greek: "God," having no article, it
being a principle when a governed noun omits the Greek article
that the governing noun should omit it, too. In
also, the Greek article is wanting; thus English Version,
"as the oracles of God," namely, the Old Testament, would be
"right," and the precept be similar to
"prophesy according to the analogy of the faith." But the
context suits better thus, "Let him speak as (becomes one speaking)
oracles OF GOD." His
divinely inspired words are not his own, but God's, and
as a steward
having them committed to him, he ought so to speak them. Jesus was the
pattern in this respect
Joh 12:49; 14:10;
Note, the very same term as is applied in the only other passages where
to the Old Testament inspired writings, is here predicated of
the inspired words (the substance of which was afterwards
committed to writing) of the New Testament prophets.
minister--in acts; the other sphere of spiritual activity
as of--"out of" the store of his "strength" (Greek,
physical power in relation to outward service, rather than moral
and intellectual "ability"; so in
giveth--Greek, "supplieth"; originally said of a
choragus, who supplied the chorus with all necessaries
for performing their several parts.
that God in all things may be glorified--the final end of all a
through Jesus Christ--the mediator through whom all our
blessings come down to us, and also through whom all our praises ascend
to God. Through Christ alone can God be glorified in us and our sayings
for ever and ever--Greek, "unto the ages of the
12. strange--they might think it strange that God should
allow His chosen children to be sore tried.
fiery trial--like the fire by which metals are tested and their
dross removed. The Greek adds, "in your case."
which is to try you--Greek, "which is taking place for a
trial to you." Instead of its "happening to you" as some strange
and untoward chance, it "is taking place" with the gracious
design of trying you; God has a wise design in it--a consolatory
13. inasmuch as--The oldest manuscripts read, "in proportion
as"; "in as far as" ye by suffering are partakers of Christ's
sufferings, that is, by faith enter into realizing fellowship with
them; willingly for His sake suffering as He suffered.
with exceeding joy--Greek, "exulting joy"; now ye
rejoice amidst sufferings; then ye shall
EXULT, for ever free from sufferings
(1Pe 1:6, 8).
If we will not bear suffering for Christ now, we must bear eternal
14. for--Greek, "IN the name of
Christ," namely, as Christians
(1Pe 4:16; 3:14,
above); "in My name, because ye belong to Christ." The
emphasis lies on this:
"as a murderer, thief," &c., stands in contrast. Let your suffering be
on account of Christ, not on account of evil-doing
reproached--Reproach affects noble minds more than loss
of goods, or even bodily sufferings.
the spirit . . . upon you--the same Spirit as rested
"The Spirit of glory" is His Spirit, for He is the "Lord of
Believers may well overcome the "reproach" (compare
seeing that "the Spirit of glory" rests upon them, as upon Him.
It cannot prevent the happiness of the righteous, if they are
reproached for Christ, because they retain before God their
glory entire, as having the Spirit, with whom glory is
inseparably joined [CALVIN].
and of God--Greek, "and the (Spirit) of God";
implying that the Spirit of glory (which is Christ's Spirit) is
at the same time also the Spirit of God.
on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is
glorified--omitted in the two oldest Greek manuscripts and
Syriac and Coptic versions, but supported by one very old
manuscript, Vulgate, Sahidic, CYPRIAN, &c.
"Evil spoken of," literally, "blasphemed"; not merely do they "speak
against you," as in
but blasphemously mock Christ and Christianity itself.
15. But--Greek, "For." "Reproached in the name of
Christ" I say
"FOR let none," &c.
as . . . as . . . as
. . . as--the "as" twice in italics is not in the
Greek. The second Greek, "as," distinguishes the class
"busybody in other men's matters," from the previous class of
delinquents. Christians, from mistaken zeal, under the plea of
faithfulness, might readily step out of their own calling and make
themselves judges of the acts of unbelievers. Literally, "a bishop in
what is (not his own, but) another's" province; an allusion to the
existing bishops or overseers of the Church; a self-constituted
bishop in others' concerns.
16. a Christian--the name given in contempt first at Antioch.
Ac 11:26; 26:28;
the only three places where the term occurs. At first believers had no
distinctive name, but were called among themselves "brethren,"
"those of the way,"
by the Jews (who denied that Jesus was the CHRIST,
and so would never originate the name Christian), in contempt,
"Nazarenes." At Antioch, where first idolatrous Gentiles
Ac 10:1, 2,
was not an idolater, but a proselyte) were converted, and wide
missionary work began, they could be no longer looked on as a Jewish
sect, and so the Gentiles designated them by the new name
"Christians." The rise of the new name marked a new epoch in the
Church's life, a new stage of its development, namely, its missions to
the Gentiles. The idle and witty people of Antioch, we know from
heathen writers, were famous for inventing nicknames. The date of this
Epistle must have been when this had become the generally recognized
designation among Gentiles (it is never applied by Christians
to each other, as it was in after ages--an undesigned proof that
the New Testament was composed when it professes), and when the name
exposed one to reproach and suffering, though not seemingly as yet to
let him not be ashamed--though the world is ashamed of shame. To
suffer for one's own faults is no honor
--for Christ, is no shame
but let him glorify God--not merely glory in persecution; Peter
might have said as the contrast, "but let him esteem it an honor to
himself"; but the honor is to be given to God, who counts him
worthy of such an honor, involving exemption from the coming judgments
on the ungodly.
on this behalf--The oldest manuscripts and Vulgate read,
"in this name," that is, in respect of suffering for such a
17. Another ground of consolation to Christians. All must pass
under the judgment of God; God's own household first, their
chastisement being here, for which they should glorify Him as a proof
of their membership in His family, and a pledge of their escape from
the end of those whom the last judgment shall find disobedient to the
the time--Greek, "season," "fit time."
judgment must begin at the house of God--the Church of living
believers. Peter has in mind
Judgment is already begun, the Gospel word, as a "two-edged sword,"
having the double effect of saving some and condemning others, and
shall be consummated at the last judgment. "When power is given to the
destroyer, he observes no distinction between the righteous and the
wicked; not only so, but he begins first at the righteous"
[WETSTEIN from Rabbins]. But God limits the
destroyer's power over His people.
if . . . at us, what shall the end be of them,
&c.--If even the godly have chastening judgments now, how much more
shall the ungodly be doomed to damnatory judgments at last.
gospel of God--the very God who is to judge them.
18. scarcely--Compare "so as by fire,"
having to pass through trying chastisements, as David did for his sin.
"The righteous" man has always more or less of trial, but the issue is
certain, and the entrance into the kingdom abundant at last. The
"scarcely" marks the severity of the ordeal, and the unlikelihood (in a
mere human point of view) of the righteous sustaining it; but the
righteousness of Christ and God's everlasting covenant make it all
ungodly--having no regard for God; negative description.
sinner--loving sin; positive; the same man is at once
God-forgetting and sin-loving.
19. General conclusion from
1Pe 4:17, 18.
Seeing that the godly know that their sufferings are by God's
will, to chasten them that they may not perish with the world, they
have good reason to trust God cheerfully amidst sufferings, persevering
let them--Greek, "let them also," "let even
them," as well as those not suffering. Not only under ordinary
circumstances, but also in time of suffering, let
believers commit. (Compare Note, see on
according to the will of God--(See on
God's will that the believer should suffer
is for his good. One oldest manuscript and Vulgate read, "in
well-doings"; contrast ill-doings,
Our committing of ourselves to God is to be, not in indolent and
passive quietism, but accompanied with active well-doings.
faithful--to His covenant promises.
Creator--who is therefore also our Almighty Preserver. He, not
we, must keep our souls. Sin destroyed the original spiritual
relation between creature and Creator, leaving that only of government.
Faith restores it; so that the believer, living to the will of
rests implicitly on his Creator's faithfulness.