THE NEW TESTAMENT
First Epistle from Peter #4
Chapter Four and Five
Peter is pretty straight-forward in the first number of
verses, to admonish Christians to put away sin. The NKJV
"Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm
yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in
the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the
rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the
will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in
doing the will of the Gentiles - when we walked in lewdness,
lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable
idolatries. In regards to these, they think it strange that you
do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking
evil of you. They will five an account to Him who is ready to
judge the living and the dead. For this reason the gospel was
preached to those who are dead, that they might be judged
according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the
Jesus died to save sinners, to forgive sin, and to be raised
to sinless immortal life. And those who belong to Christ are then
to not live as they did before, in any manner they wanted to, but
should now live according to the will of God. And the will of God
is found in reading His word, as written in the Holy Bible. The
world at large may think your new life and way of living is
crazy, and speak of you with evil intent. But God will eventually
judge all, those still living and those who have died.
The Gospel was preached to those now dead, so they could
change their way of life to be in accord with God. The
unconverted world judged them as religious nuts when they
accepted Christ as their personal Savior, but that did not
matter, for they knew God judged them as His children, and
eternal life through the Holy Spirit will belong to them when it
is all said and done.
Anyone reading the New Testament should be able to see quite
easily that being with God, being on God's team, means putting
away the conduct of life that is not approved by God, that is
unrighteousness, that is sin. And the books of the apostles John
and James make it clear to see that sin or unrighteousness is
that which is breaking the laws, commands, and teachings of the
Those on God's side know that they do not have to be
concerned with what and how man judges them. They know they need
to be concerned about how God judged, for eternal life can only
come from Him (verses 1-6).
Peter at this time of the first century believed the end of
all things, the prophecies of old and the new age to come, was AT
HAND. So his warning that Christians should be serious and
watchful in prayer (verse 7). I suppose this is a living verses
for all ages, as the end of all things is as close as our death.
Most of us never know when our time is up on this earth in the
physical flesh, so indeed we need to be sober, serious in our
faith, and watchful in our prayers.
Peter now relates some nuts and bolts of what our active
faith should consist of.
"Above all things have fervent love for one another, for
love will cover a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another
without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it
to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If
anyone speaks let him speak as the oracles (margin - utterances)
of God. If anyone ministers (serves) let him do it as the 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 (margin - sovereignty) forever and ever. Amen" (verses
Love will overlook wrongs and sins of people that may be
done to us. There are some sins that people do to us that just
need to slide off us like water off a ducks back. Yes there maybe
times also that we need to apply the instruction of Jesus as in
Matthew 18:15-17. Then there are times that the wrong or sins
done towards us need to be ignored, they are not going to hurt
anyone else, they are not going to effect anyone else, they will
just effect our ego, and we need to cover our ego with love. Of
course we need to have wisdom (and we have seen James cover the
topic of asking for wisdom) as to when to apply Matthew 18:15,
and when to let love cover sins.
Also, if we are a merciful person, willing at times, to let
love cover sins, we shall also be shown mercy from our Heavenly
Father. The love and mercy we show others will be in measure the
love and mercy God will show us. It is as Jesus taught, "If you
do not forgive men their sins, neither will God forgive you your
sins." It is the principle that we receive what we give, we reap
what we sow, we harvest what we plant.
We are to be a hospitable, kind, giving, people to each
other, and to do it all without grumbling, the attitude of mind
is important to God. We can have an outwards conduct of being
hospitable, kind, a serving person to others, but inside our mind
and heart we are doing it all with resentment, a "gritting our
teeth" in a wrong attitude while we are trying to be hospitable.
God sees the heart and mind, we may fool others, but the Lord can
never be fooled.
If we have a gift, an ability, a talent, we are to use it to
serve others, as being a good steward of the grace of God who
gave us that gift. If could be a "natural" gift, one that we were
born with, or an ability that we acquired sometime during our
life time. Either way, we need to be using that gift to help and
serve others. I acquired the skill and ability to be an
Orthopaedic Shoemaker and Orthotic maker (Arch-support maker in
common language) as a young man in my early 20s. I have used that
skill to serve people with foot problems. I was musically
inclined from birth, and started to learn to play the Guitar from
age 11. I went on to play the Steel Guitar, the Banjo, Mandolin,
Bass guitar, Classical guitar, and have been using that skill now
for 32 years (as I write this in May 2007) to teach others to
play those instruments. I have a natural ability with horses,
training and riding, both English and Western style, so I have
used (still am at this point in my life) that ability to serve
others (young and old) in their quest to enjoy horses and ponies.
Whatever your gift or gifts are, God through the apostle
Peter, says you are to minister or serve others with that gift.
You hear about skilled doctors or surgeons donating their time
and talent to go and help people in poor nations, who could never
afford to buy their service. That type of giving is very pleasing
in God's sight. Maybe not all of are in the position to give ex
number of weeks or months to serve as those doctors can, but in
one way or another we can all figure out how to serve with our
gifts and acquired abilities.
If we speak, as most of us can and do, we should speak all
things as with the mind-set that we speak words that are pleasing
to God, as if God is giving the utterances. We are back to what
James wrote about the tongue, which we have studied when going
through the book of James. We need to watch what comes out of our
mouth in the words we speak. We need to put our mind in gear
before our tongue rattles off, going at a mile a minute down the
Whatever way we can minister or serve in, we need to be
doing it harnessed with the power and mind of God, that in all of
our serving, it is God, through Jesus Christ, that is getting the
Peter now shifts back to the subject of the Christian doing
through various sufferings (verses 12-19).
We Christians are not to thinks it a strange things that we
may have to suffer or go through trials and hardships, as even
through fire at times. We are to rejoice, knowing that Christ
also suffered. Living and doing that which is right and is the
way and will of God, sometimes will bring hardships, trials, and
persecutions from the world at large. Some of us suffer these
things more than others. We really do not fully know how the deck
of cards will be handed out to us. It is only a relatively few,
like the apostle Paul, who are told in advance the hardships and
sufferings they will go through as they serve the Lord and preach
and teach the Gospel. Very few of us are called to be an apostle
Paul. But if fiery trials do come upon us for being a Christian
and doing God's will, we are to remember our Lord and Savior also
went through fiery trials, so it should not be that strange to us
that we may also face such trails.
We are to remember that Jesus stuck with it and was
glorified with immortal life, and if we also stick with it, we
shall also share in glorified immortal life.
If we are insulted or reviled (margin of NKJV) for being a
Christian, we are to count it a blessing, for the Spirit of glory
rests upon us. They may blaspheme God, but He is glorified
through us remaining faithful to His calling and way of life.
We are certainly not to suffer as evil doers, as murderers,
as a thief, as a busybody in other people's matters. There is no
glory in suffering for the wrongs, sins, evils, that our human
nature can possibly do. On the other hand, if we suffer for
simply being a Christian, and doing God's will, we are not to be
ashamed, but we should glorify God that we can suffer for Him.
We, the children of God, are being watched all the time by
our Father in heaven. We are then in that sense, being judged how
we are living as a Christian, as a child of God. We are expected
to live and act and think differently than the rest of the
un-called world. The standard is held very high, you cannot have
a standard any higher than the Most High One.
Peter say the same claim Jesus made in the Gospels. When one
came to Him and asked if many would be saved, Jesus said, the way
was straight and narrow to eternal life, but broad was the way to
destruction, and few there would be that would keep on the
straight and narrow. Jesus said that many would say "Have we not
done this in your name, have we not worked miracles in your name,
were you not preached in our local community?" Jesus will say to
them, "I never knew you, depart from me, you that work
Notice the sobering words, "If the righteous one is scarcely
saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear" (NKJV).
It does not mean that sin cannot be forgiven, of course not.
It is written, "God so loved the world that He sent His only
begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him, should not perish,
but have eternal life." All can be forgiven their sins through
Jesus Christ. What Peter is bringing out is the other side of the
coin, the side Jesus also brought out during His ministry. Being
saved means living the way and will of God, having the mind-set
to OBEY God, having the mind that will be teachable, be
corrected, be willing to grow in grace and knowledge. It is the
willingness to STAY on the straight and narrow RIGHT TO THE END!
Being a true child of God, does not mean you can now fall asleep,
coast along, put up your feet and snooze away, saying, "Oh
hummmm, it's all done for me, I can rest and sail along, live as
I please, think as I like, speak as I want .... Oh hummmmm, I'll
sigh .... oh hummmm."
No, remaining faithful to God's calling, takes some effort,
it really is the straight and narrow, it really is obeying God to
the end, and for Peter to get this across to his readers (and as
Peter was inspired, it is really God getting it across to His
children) he put it as "If the RIGHTEOUS one is SCARCELY SAVED,
where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?"
These words should be sobering to all Christians. Remaining
faithful as a true follower of Christ takes some effort, some
fortitude. Now God gives us all the power of the Holy Spirit to
serve us in remaining faithful to the end. He gives us all the
armor (Ephesians 6) 10-18) we need to fight the good fight, but
we have our part to do, we must take the armor and make use of
it. Paul said to Timothy (as we have seen going through those
epistles) "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the
race, I have kept the faith. Finally there is laid up for me the
crown of righteousness ..."
It is in that sense that the righteous one is scarcely
Peter ends chapter 4 with, "Therefore let those who suffer
according to the will of God, commit their lives to Him in doing
good, as to a faithful Creator."
I want you to notice a very important phrase here. It is
"suffer according to the WILL of God."
Some mistakingly believe and teach that suffering for a
Christian is AUTOMATIC. And if you never suffer or never have
persecution, and whatever else people may think is suffering, you
are not really a true Christian. That is NOT TRUE! It is
according to the WILL of God. There are and have been, many a
true Christian down through the ages who have gone through living
a godly life, who have had VERY LITTLE, some would even say, NO
suffering (sure the word "suffering" can have different meanings
for different people). The apostle Paul went through many
sufferings as the book of Acts brings out, but the apostle John
it would seem had little "sufferings" as the like of Paul, and
lived to a ripe old age, falling asleep in death, from what we
can gather from history, of natural causes.
Suffering for the sake of Christ is for the WILL of God to
decide, IF and WHEN and WHAT it will be.
Peter now talks to the Elders of the Church of God, as one
himself, and also one of those who were witness to the sufferings
of Christ, and one who will partake in the glory to be revealed.
Elders are to SHEPHERD the flock of God, as an OVERSEER. A
shepherd loves his sheep, he cares for them, serves and protects
them, he guides them into good pasture, lets them feed by still
waters. Elders are to do this work for the flock of God, not
because they feel forced to, not because of the wages they may
get paid, but they are to do it, because they know it is their
calling from God, to guide and care for and love the Church of
God. Elders are not to be acting like little (or big) BULLIES or
TYRANT or HITLERS. They are not to be a domineering hard-nosed
price-fighter who is going to show he is the world champion in
the boxing ring of the Church of God. They are to be EXAMPLES to
the flock of God. Examples of HOW a Christian should live and act
and speak. And when THE CHIEF SHEPHERD appears they will receive
their crown of gory that fades not away. They should not be
trying in this life time to acquire some sort of crown of glory
from people in the body of Christ. The praise of men they should
not seek. The praise of God is all they need. In glorious eternal
life they will have their crown, and all will see then, at that
time, how well they did their job as an Elder in the Church of
The younger Elders are to respect and submit to the older
Elder. Those who have served long and well in the Eldership,
should be respected by those who have served for much less time
in the Eldership. Then on the other hand Peter says, all should
be submissive one to the other. All should be clothed with
HUMILITY. The key to every persons praise from God is HUMILITY.
You may have all kinds of gifts, all kinds of knowledge, all
sorts of power over words and oratory, all kinds of good works,
great righteousness as Job had, you may spend long hours in
prayer, long hours in Bible study, you may fast often, BUT if you
do not have HUMILITY, it will be of no avail.
I cannot over-state this aspect of what makes a true child
and true Elder in the body of Christ - HUMILITY, HUMILITY. I have
written an in-depth article on humility called "Humility - the
precious Gem of the Christian crown." You can find it on this
God will RESIST the PROUD! He will fight against the proud,
the vain, those who will not be humble. All Elders and all
children of the Lord are to be humble under the mighty hand of
God, and He in due time, will exact you. We are to cast all our
care on Him, not on men. We are to care for the things of God,
and not worry or care about what men think. As we care for God
and His way of living and working as His child or His Elder in
the body of Christ, then He will care for us. He does care for
us, and wants us to be the very best we can be in the Church of
God, whatever our function is.
Elders (and of course all members in the Church of Christ)
are to be SOBER (margin - self-controlled), VIGILANT (margin -
watchful), because the adversary, the Devil, is walking about
like a roaring lion, trying to destroy whoever he can. We are to
RESIST him, be steadfast in the faith, knowing the same spiritual
battle is being experienced by the whole brotherhood of saints
everywhere in the world. We are all in the same army of the Lord
waging war on the Devil, human nature and the pulls of this world
in all of its varying ways.
Peter ends his first epistle with:
"May the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal
glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered for a while,
perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the
glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen"
It was through Silvanus that Peter wrote, he being the
scribe, testifying and exhorting that this was the true grace of
God in which they all stood. The church (she) in Babylon sent
greetings, as did Mark. They were to greet each other with
affection - in their custom of the day, it was a kiss of love.
Peter's last words in this epistle are: "Peace to you all
who are in Christ Jesus. Amen"
Written May 2007