1 Peter 3:13 – 4:19
Christian Suffering. Having introduced the subject of suffering in ch.2, Peter returns to the subject for a broader treatment throughout this section of the epistle. Suffering is one of the themes of the first epistle of Peter. First of all, Peter speaks of the sufferings of Christ in every chapter (1 Peter 1:11; 2:21; 3:18; 4:1, 13; 5:1). But in addition to the sufferings of Christ, Peter looks on the “the glory that should follow” (1 Pet. 1:11). This is a pattern for us, although there are some aspects of Christ’s sufferings that we cannot follow. In ch.1, Peter speaks about the trial of our faith, suffering that God allows in our lives for our blessing (1 Pet. 1:7), in ch.2 he speaks about suffering for wrongdoing and welldoing (1 Pet. 2:19-20), in ch.3 he speaks of of suffering for righteousness’ sake (1 Peter 3:14, 17), in ch.4 of suffering in obedience (1 Pet. 4:1) and as a Christian (1 Pet. 4:16), and in ch.5 of suffering in resisting the devil (1 Pet. 5:10). But if suffering is a normal part of the Christian experience, the hope of glory is constantly before the believer (1 Peter 1:7; 4:13; 5:1; 5:4).
Suffering for Righteousness’ Sake (3:13-22)
“I do not believe that a single thought of God ever enters into man’s mind by intellect. It is always by conscience, not by intellect.”
Following the Thought. The thought in vv.18-22 is that Christ has suffered to put away sin and bring us to God, therefore we should live righteously. He suffered infinitely far more to deal with the issue of sin than we will ever suffer for righteousness’ sake. Christ has completed the work through His death, and our baptism is a figure of this. Through baptism we are disassociated from the sphere of sin, therefore outwardly saved from an evil world tracking toward judgment. Christ’s resurrection and glorification is the proof of a completed work. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, has in the past and continues in the present a work of urging men to turn from their sin. All of this is is presented by the Spirit of God to motivate us as Christians to live righteously, in spite of the fact that we may suffer persecution for it.
Conduct in Light of the End Drawing Near (4:7-11)
Every believer has been given a special gift to aid them in their service for the Lord, and to benefit the whole body of Christ. These spiritual gifts are special abilities, and they are supernatural, although they do not always appear to be "miraculous" in the conventional sense of the word. Spiritual gifts are "spiritual", in that they do not come from man, although they could be given by apostolic power as in the case of Timothy (2 Tim. 1:6). People are not born with spiritual gifts, nor can they be gained by study or theological training. They are conveyed to a believer by the Holy Spirit upon salvation; hence they are "gifts". You cannot purchase a gift of God with money (Acts 8:20). God can use “unlearned and ignorant men” like Peter and John the fishermen, or He can use a well-educated man like the Apostle Paul, who learned at Gamaliel's feet. The Spirit uses "whom He will" (1 Cor. 12:11). I do not believe the lists of gifts in scripture are exhaustive, but they do give us generally the spheres of Christian ministry.Read more… We find that our gift is not to be squandered by selfishness, but rather ministered “to one another”. Finally, we are to acts as “good stewards of the various grace of God”, realizing that God is the giver of gifts, and we are responsible to Him as stewards. The parable of the talents takes up this very issue, of usefulness to the Master (25:14-30). Notice that gifts are referred to as “grace”, because they are a gift of His love to His people.
Suffering for the Name of Christ (4:12-19)
The House of God. The term ‘House of God’ basically means the "dwelling-place" of God. In a greater sense, the universe is the house of God (Heb. 3:4; Acts 7:48-50; Isa. 66:1). But on earth, God had a physical house in the Old Testament, and He has a spiritual house in the New Testament where He does "in very deed dwell with men on the earth" (2 Chron. 6:18). In the Old Testament, the house of God was first the Tabernacle, then the Temple. When Israel rejected their Messiah, the presence of Jehovah departed from that Temple, and has not returned. That house is "desolate" to this day (Matt. 23:38). In the Millennium, a new Temple will be built, and the glory cloud will return; once again, the presence of God will be on earth in a physical temple (Ezek. 43:4-7). Today there is no physical house, but instead God dwells on earth in His heavenly people, the Church; "the house of God, which is the church of the living God" (1 Tim. 3:15). The house is composed of individual believers ("living stones"; 1 Pet. 2:7) who are built up together into a "spiritual house". God actually indwells the House, "through the Spirit" (Eph. 2:22). The House of God is a figure of the Church that carries the thoughts of internal order, conduct suited to the character of God, and testimony before this world.Read more…
- It may be that God may see it good that we should suffer. If so, it is better that we should suffer for well doing than for evil doing. The apostle gives a touching motive for this: Christ has suffered for sins once for all; let that suffice; let us suffer only for righteousness. To suffer for sin was His task; He accomplished it, and that for ever; put to death, as to His life in the flesh, but quickened according to the power of the divine Spirit. – Darby, J.N. Synopsis of the Books of the Bible.
- The Greek preposition ἐν is here required in order to accurately express “in” or “by” what power Christ went and preached to the spirits in prison. It was not in person but by virtue of the Spirit. This is remarkably confirmed by the language of Gen. 6:3: “And Jehovah said, My Spirit shall not always strive (or, plead) with man, for he indeed is flesh, but his days shall be a hundred and twenty years.” – Kelly, W. The First Epistle of Peter.
- There is no room in doctrine any more than in fact or in the phraseology of Peter, for the strange notion of ancients or moderns that Christ in person went to Hades after His death for the purpose of preaching to the spirits there. – Kelly, W. The First Epistle of Peter.
- The definite article “the” is absent, indicating the use of “flesh” to refer to the physical body.
- If by grace our mind is set on God’s will at all cost, sin does not enter. It is suffering in flesh, and therein is separation from sin. – Kelly, W. The First Epistle of Peter.
- Now this love covered a multitude of sins. He is not speaking here with a view to ultimate pardon, but of the present notice which God takes-His present relations of government with His people; for we have present relationships with God. If the assembly is at variance, if there is little love, if the fellowship among Christians is with straitened hearts and difficult, the existing evil, the mutual wrongs, subsist before God: but if there is love, which neither commits nor resents any wrongs, but pardons such things, and only finds in them occasion for its own exercise, it is then the love which the eye of God rests upon, and not the evil. – Darby, J.N. Synopsis of the Books of the Bible.
- Charity in the assembly suppresses, so to speak, the sins which otherwise would destroy union and overcome that charity in the assembly, and appear in all their deformity and all their malignancy before God. Whereas, being met by love in the assembly, they go no farther, are, as it were (as regards the state of things before God in this world), dissolved and put away by the charity which they could not vanquish. The sin is vanquished by the love which dealt with it, disappears, is swallowed up by it. Thus love covers a multitude of sins. – Darby, J.N. Synopsis of the Books of the Bible.
- The latter part of the verse in brackets is quite true, and said in substance elsewhere; but as the words are omitted by the best MSS. and most ancient versions and looking like a gloss, they are here bracketed as of doubtful authority. – W. Kelly Translation Notes