1 Peter Chapter 4:1-11 Antique Commentary Quotes

John Calvin
1 Peter 4:1
1Forasmuch then as Christ When he had before set forth Christ before us, he only spoke of the suffering of the cross; for sometimes the cross means mortification, because the outward man is wasted by afflictions, and our flesh is also subdued. But he now ascends higher; for he speaks of the reformation of the whole man. The Scripture recommends to us a twofold likeness to the death of Christ, that we are to be conformed to him in reproaches and troubles, and also that the old man being dead and extinct in us, we are to be renewed to a spiritual life. (Phi_3:10; Rom_6:4.) Yet Christ is not simply to be viewed as our example, when we speak of the mortificaion of the flesh; but it is by his Spirit that we are really made conformable to his death, so that it becomes effectual to the crucifying of our flesh. In short, as Peter at the end of the last chapter exhorted us to patience after the example of Christ, because death was to him a passage to life; so now from the same death he deduces a higher doctrine, that we ought to die to the flesh and to the world, as Paul teaches us more at large in Rom_6:1. He therefore says, arm yourselves, or be ye armed, intimating that we are really and effectually supplied with invincible weapons to subdue the flesh, if we partake as we ought of the efficacy of Christ’s death.

For he that hath suffered The particle ὅτι does not, I think, denote here the cause, but is to be taken as explanatory; for Peter sets forth what that thought or mind is with which Christ’s death arms us, even that the dominion of sin ought to be abolished in us, so that God may reign in our life. Erasmus has incorrectly, as I think, rendered the word “he who did suffer,” (patiebatur ) applying it to Christ. For it is an indefinite sentence, which generally extends to all the godly, and has the same meaning with the words of Paul in Rom_6:7, “He who is dead is justified or freed from sin;” for both the Apostles intimate, that when we become dead to the flesh, we have no more to do with sin, that it should reign in us, and exercise its power in our life.

It may, however, be objected, that Peter here speaks unsuitably in making us to be conformable to Christ in this respect, that we suffer in the flesh; for it is certain that there was nothing sinful in Christ which required to be corrected. But the answer is obvious, that it is not necessary that a comparison should correspond in all its parts. It is then enough that we should in a measure be made conformable to the death of Christ. In the same way is also explained, not unfitly, what Paul says, that we are planted in the likeness of his death, (Rom_6:5;) for the manner is not altogether the same, but that his death is become in a manner the type and pattern of our mortification.

We must also notice that the word flesh is put here twice, but in a different sense; for when he says that Christ suffered in the flesh, he means that the human nature which Christ had taken from us was made subject to death, that is, that Christ as a man naturally died. In the second clause, which refers to us, flesh means the corruption, and the sinfulness of our nature; and thus suffering in the flesh signifies the denying of ourselves. We now see what is the likeness between Christ and us, and what is the difference; that as he suffered in the flesh taken from us, so the whole of our flesh ought to be crucified.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
1 Pet 4:1. Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered … in the flesh] The thoughts of the Apostle go back, somewhat after the manner of St Paul after a dogmatic digression, to the point from which he had started. Christ had suffered in the flesh. If those who had been baptized in His name were called so to suffer, they, looking to the glory that had followed on His sufferings, were to follow His example. They were, it might be, engaged in a tremendous conflict, but they needed no other armour than “the mind of Christ,” the temper of patient submission and unwavering trust in the wisdom and love of the Father.

for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin] If this had been the close of the sentence we might have looked on the “suffering” of which the Apostle speaks, as including death, as it had included it in the case of Christ. So taken, the words might seem to express the familiar thought that “Death only can from sin release,” as in the Rabbinic maxim “He that is dead is freed from sin” (Rom_6:7), that men were to welcome the sufferings that brought death near to them, as working out their complete emancipation. The words that follow, however, make this interpretation impossible, and the “ceasing from sin” must therefore be understood of that “deadness to sin,” “sin no longer having dominion over us,” of which St Paul speaks in Rom_6:7-11. That Apostle, it may be noted, though he quotes the Rabbinic proverb, transfers its application from literal to spiritual death, and St Peter, following a like train of thought, affirms as a general law of the spiritual life that the very act of suffering in the mind of Christ and for Him so strengthens the powers of will and faith that the sufferer is ipso facto delivered from the life in which sin is dominant. It is hard to think of a martyr in the hour of death, or of a confessor patiently bearing his cross, as malignant or fraudulent or impure.

Pulpit Commentary
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh. St. Peter returns, after the digression of 1Pe_3:19-22, to the great subject of Christ’s example. The words “for us” are omitted in some ancient manuscripts; they express a great truth already dwelt upon in 1Pe_2:1-25. and 3. Here the apostle is insisting upon the example of Christ, not on the atoning efficacy of his death.

Arm yourselves likewise with the same mind. The word rendered “mind” (ἔννοια) is more exactly “thought” (comp. Heb_4:12, the only other place where it occurs in the New Testament); but it certainly has sometimes the force of “intention, resolve.” The Christian must be like his Mustier; he must arm himself with the great thought, the holy resolve, which was in the mind of Christ—the thought that suffering borne in faith frees us from the power of sin, the resolve to suffer patiently according to the will of God. That thought, which can be made our own only by faith, is the Christian’s shield; we are to arm ourselves with it against the assaults of the evil one (comp. Rom_13:12; 2Co_10:4; Eph_6:11). For he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin. The thought is that of Rom_6:6-11. Some translate the conjunction ὅτι, “that,” and understand it as giving the content of the ἔννοια: “Arm yourselves with the thought that,” etc.; but this does not give so good a sense, and would seem to require ταύτην rather than τὴν αὐτήν—” this thought,” rather than “the same thought.” Some, again, understand this clause of Christ; but this seems a mistake. The apostle spoke first of the Master; now he turns to the disciple. Take, he says, for your armour the thoughts which filled the sacred heart of Christ—the thought that suffering in the flesh is not, as the world counts it, an unmixed evil, but often a deep blessing; for, or because, he that suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin. If, when we are called to suffer, we offer up our sufferings to Christ who suffered for us, and unite our sufferings with his by faith in him, then those sufferings, thus sanctified, destroy the power of sin, and make us cease from sin (comp. Rom_6:10).

1 Peter 4:1
TEXT: “Christ suffered in the flesh”
EVIDENCE: p72 B C Psi 1739 1881 lat vg cop(south)

NOTES: “Christ suffered in the flesh for us”
EVIDENCE: Sc A K P 33 81 104 614 630 945 1241 Byz Lect syr(h) cop(north)

NOTES: “Christ suffered in the flesh for plyou”
EVIDENCE: S* (“died”) 2495 syr(p)

COMMENTS: The phrases “for us” and “for us” (both of which were pronounced alike in later Greek) were natural expansions of the kind copyists were likely to make after “Christ suffered.” They are absent from early manuscripts of both the Alexandrian and Western kinds of ancient text.

R.B. Terry
1 Peter 4:1
TEXT: “the one who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin”
EVIDENCE: p72 S* A C K P 81 104 614 630 945 1241 1739 {1881} 2495 Byz Lect {syr(h)} most cop {some cop(north)}

NOTES: “the one who has suffered in the flesh has ceased with sins”
EVIDENCE: Sc B Psi lat vg syr(p)

COMMENTS: The preposition “from” in only implied in the text reading. It is found explicitly in the evidence that is listed in braces. Perhaps the change from the singular genitive “from sin” to the plural dative “with sins” was influenced by the plural dative “by desires” in the next verse.

Albert Barnes
1 Peter 4:1
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh – Since he as a man has died for us. See the notes at 1Pe_3:18. The design was to set the suffering Redeemer before them as an example in their trials.

Arm yourselves likewise with the same mind – That is, evidently, the same mind that he evinced – a readiness to suffer in the cause of religion, a readiness to die as he had done. This readiness to suffer and die, the apostle speaks of as armour, and having this is represented as being armed. Armour is put on for offensive or defensive purposes in war; and the idea of the apostle here is, that that state of mind when we are ready to meet with persecution and trial, and when we are ready to die, will answer the purpose of armour in engaging in the conflicts and strifes which pertain to us as Christians, and especially in meeting with persecutions and trials. We are to put on the same fortitude which the Lord Jesus had, and this will be the best defense against our foes, and the best security of victory.

For he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin – Compare the notes at Rom_6:7. To “suffer in the flesh” is to die. The expression here has a proverbial aspect, and seems to have meant something like this: “when a man is dead, he will sin no more;” referring of course to the present life. So if a Christian becomes dead in a moral sense – dead to this world, dead by being crucified with Christ (see the notes at Gal_2:20) – he may be expected to cease from sin. The reasoning is based on the idea that there is such a union between Christ and the believer that his death on the cross secured the death of the believer to the world. Compare 2Ti_2:11; Col_2:20; Col_3:3.

John Calvin
1 Peter 4:2
2That he no longer Here he sets forth the way of ceasing from sin, that renouncing the covetings of men we should study to form our life according to the will of God. And thus he includes here the two things in which renovation consists, the destruction of the flesh and the vivification of the spirit. The course of good living is thus to begin with the former, but we are to advance to the latter.

Moreover, Peter defines here what is the rule of right living, even when man depends on the will of God. It hence follows, that nothing is right and well ordered in man’s life as soon as he wanders from this rule. We ought further to notice the contrast between God’s will and the covetings or lusts of men We hence understand how great is our depravity, and how we ought to strive to become obedient to God. When he says, the rest of time in the flesh, the word flesh means the present life, as in Heb_5:7

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
1 Peter 4:2
That he, etc. — “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 1Pe_4:1 as to Christ) proves that the reference is here not to Christ, but to the believer, whose remaining time for glorifying God is short (1Pe_4:3). “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.”

Pulpit Commentary
That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh. On the whole, it seems better to connect this clause with the imperative: “Arm yourselves with the same mind, that ye no longer should live the rest of your time;” rather than with the clause immediately preceding: “He that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live,” etc.; though both connections give a good sense. The Greek word for “live” (βιῶσαι) occurs only here in the New Testament. Bengel says, “Aptum verbum, non die fur de brutis.’ “In the flesh “here means simply “in the body,” in this mortal life. “The rest of your time” suggests the solemn thought of the shortness of our earthly pilgrimage: bye for eternity. To the lusts of men, but to the will of God. The datives are normal; they express the pattern or rule according to which our life ought to be fashioned. God’s will is our sanctification (1Th_4:3). That will is ever the same, a fixed, unchanging rule; the lusts of men are shifting, uncertain, restless.

Albert Barnes
1 Peter 4:2
That he no longer should live – That is, he has become, through the death of Christ, dead to the world and to the former things which influenced him, in order that he should hereafter live not to the lusts of the flesh. See the notes at 2Co_5:15.

The rest of his time in the flesh – The remainder of the time that he is to continue in the flesh; that is, that he is to live on the earth.

To the lusts of men – Such lusts as people commonly live for and indulge in. Some of these are enumerated in the following verse.

But to the will of God – In such a manner as God commands. The object of redemption is to rescue us from being swayed by wicked lusts, and to bring us to be conformed wholly to the will of God.

John Calvin
1 Peter 4:3
3For the time past of our life may suffice Peter does not mean that we ought to be wearied with pleasures, as those are wont to be who are filled with them to satiety; but that on the contrary the memory of our past life ought to stimulate us to repentance. And doubtless it ought to be the sharpest goad to make us run on well, when we recollect that we have been wandering from the right way the greatest part of our life. And Peter reminds us, that it would be most unreasonable were we not to change the course of our life after having been enlightened by Christ. For he makes a distinction here between the time of ignorance and the time of faith, as though he had said that it was but right that they should become new and different men from the time that Christ had called them. But instead of the lusts or covetings of men, he now mentions the will of the Gentiles, by which he reproves the Jews for having mixed with the Gentiles in all their pollutions, though the Lord had separated them from the Gentiles.

In what follows he shews that those vices ought to be put off which prove men to be blind and ignorant of God. And there is a peculiar emphasis in the words, the time past of our life, for he intimates that we ought to persevere to the end, as when Paul says, that Christ was raised from the dead, to die no more. (Rom_6:6.) For we have been redeemed by the Lord for this end, that we may serve him all the days of our life.

In lasciviousness He does not give the whole catalogue of sins, but only mentions some of them, by which we may briefly learn what those things are which men, not renewed by God’s Spirit, desire and seek, and to which they are inclined. And he names the grosser vices, as it is usually done when examples are adduced. I shall not stop to explain the words, for there is no difficulty in them.

But here a question arises, that Peter seems to have done wrong to many, in making all men guilty of lasciviousness, dissipation, lusts, drunkenness, and revellings; for it is certain that all were not involved in these vices; nay, we know that some among the Gentiles lived honourably and without a spot of infamy. To this I reply, that Peter does not so ascribe these vices to the Gentiles, as though he charged every individual with all these, but that we are by nature inclined to all these evils, and not only so, but that we are so much under the power of depravity, that these fruits which he mentions necessarily proceed from it as from an evil root. There is indeed no one who has not within him the seed of all vices, but all do not germinate and grow up in every individual. Yet the contagion is so spread and diffused through the whole human race, that the whole community appears infected with innumerable evils, and that no member is free or pure from the common corruption.

The last clause may also suggest another question, for Peter addressed the Jews, and yet he says that they had been immersed in abominable idolatries; but the Jews then living in every part of the world carefully abstained from idols. A twofold answer may be adduced here, either that by mentioning the whole for a part, he declares of all what belonged to a few, (for there is no doubt but the Churches to which he wrote were made up of Gentiles as well as of Jews,) or that he calls those superstitions in which the Jews were then involved, idolatries; for though they professed to worship the God of Israel, yet we know that no part of divine worship was genuine among them. And how great must have been the confusion in barbarous countries and among a scattered people, when Jerusalem itself, from whose rays they borrowed their light, had fallen into extreme impiety! for we know that dotages of every kind prevailed with impunity, so that the high-priesthood, and the whole government of the Church, were in the power of the Sadducees.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
1 Pet4:3. For the time past of our life may suffice] The language is that of grave irony. Enough time, and more than enough, had been already given to the world. Was it not well to give some time now to God? The general line of thought runs parallel to that of Rom_13:11, Rom_13:12.

to have wrought the will of the Gentiles] The question meets us whether these words imply that the writer was, here at least, contemplating converts from heathenism, or still thinking only of the Jews of the dispersion. On the one hand, it may be said that it was more natural for a Jew writing to Jews to speak of “the heathen” or “the Gentiles.” If the reading “may suffice us” be the right one, the fact that the Apostle joins himself with those to whom he writes strengthens that conclusion. The better MSS., however, omit the pronoun. The “abominable idolatries,” on the other hand, may seem decisive in favour of the supposition that this part of the Epistle was intended for Gentile readers: but here also the word of warning would be as applicable to lax and licentious Jews, or to those who had been proselytes to Judaism, and who had not given up their attendance at idol-feasts or eating things sacrificed to idols (comp. 1Co_8:10, Rev_2:14, Rev_2:20).
lasciviousness] The Greek word is in the plural as expressing the manifold forms or acts of impurity. The word is always applied to the darker forms of evil (Mar_7:22; Rom_13:13; 2Pe_2:2, 2Pe_2:7, 2Pe_2:18).

excess of wine] The Greek word is found in the LXX. of Deu_21:20, Isa_56:12, but not elsewhere in the New Testament.

banquetings] Literally, drinking-parties. The word went naturally as in other Greek writers with “revellings.”

abominable idolatries] The Greek adjective means, as in Act_10:28, simply “unlawful:” but as in the Latin nefas, nefanda, nefarius, the idea of that which is at variance not merely with human but with natural law tends to pass into that of a guilt which makes men shudder. It has been suggested above that even here the Apostle may have present to his thoughts the lives of licentious Jews falling into heathen ways rather than of Gentiles pure and simple. The Books of Maccabees (1Ma_1:13-14; 2Ma_4:13-14) shew that there had been a strong drift to apostasy of this kind under the Syrian Monarchy. The Temples, Gymnasia and Theatres built by the Herods had recently shewed a like tendency. At the very time when St Peter wrote there were Jews hanging about the court of Nero and Poppæa, taking part as actors in the imperial orgies (Joseph. Life, c. 3). It has been suggested that St Peter may have meant to refer to the old worship of Baal and Moloch and Ashtoreth and the groves and the calves which had prevailed in the history of Israel and Judah, so that the words “the time past may suffice” call on them to turn over a new leaf in their national existence, but the explanation of the words just given seems more natural and adequate.

Pulpit Commentary
For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles; rather, as in the Revised Version, the time past may suffice. The words, “of our life” and “us,” are not found in the best manuscripts. St. Peter could not include himself among those who wrought the will of the Gentiles. The Greek word for “will” here is, according to the best manuscripts, βούλημα; in 1Pe_4:2 “the will of God” is θέλημα. The general distinction is that θέλω implies choice and purpose, βούλομαι merely inclination (compare, in the Greek, Php_1:13, Php_1:14). The change of word seems to point to such a distinction here. God’s will is a fixed, holy purpose; the will, or rather wish, of the Gentiles was uncertain inclination, turned this way or that way by changeful lusts. The perfect infinitive, “to have wrought,” implies that that part of life ought to be regarded as a thing wholly past and gone. The whole sentence has a tone of solemn irony. “Fastidium peccati apud resipiscentes” (Bengel); comp. Rom_6:21. St. Peter is here addressing Gentile Christians. Fronmüller’s objection is peculiar: “Suppose that the readers of Peter’s Epistle had formerly been heathens, his reproaching them with having formerly done the will of the Gentiles would surely be singular.” They had done the will of the Gentiles; they were now, as Christians, to do the will of God.

When we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries; better, as in the Revised Version, and to have walked. There is no pronoun. Lusts are the hidden sins of unclean thought, which lead to outbreaks of lasciviousness. The Greek word for “revellings” (κῶμοι) is one often used of drunken youths parading the streets, or of festal processions in honor of Bacchus. The word translated “banquetings” means rather “drinking-bouts.” The word for “abominable” is ἀθεμίτοις, unlawful, nefarious, contrary to the eternal principles of the Divine Law; “quibus sanctissimum Dei jus violatur” (Bengel). St. Peter is probably referring, not only to the sin of idolatry in itself, but also to the many licentious practices connected with it. After the persecution of Nero, in which St. Peter perished, Christianity was regarded by the state as a religio illicita. Christianity was condemned by the law of Rome; idolatry is opposed to the eternal Law of God. This verse could not have been addressed to Hebrew Christians.

Albert Barnes
1 Peter 4:3
For the time past of our life may suffice us – “We have spent sufficient time in indulging ourselves, and following our wicked propensities, and we should hereafter live in a different manner.” This does not mean that it was ever proper thus to live, but that, as we would say, “we have had enough of these things; we have tried them; there is no reason why we should indulge in them any more.” An expression quite similar to this occurs in Horace – Lusisti satis, edisti satis, atque bibisti. Tempus abire tibi est, etc. Epis. ii. 213.

To have wrought the will of the Gentiles – This does not mean to be subservient to their will, but to have done what they willed to do; that is, to live as they did. That the Gentiles or pagan lived in the manner immediately specified, see demonstrated in the notes at Rom_1:21-32.

When we walked in lasciviousness – When we lived in the indulgence of corrupt passions – the word walk being often used in the Scriptures to denote the manner of life. On the word “lasciviousness,” see the notes at Rom_13:13. The apostle says we, not as meaning that he himself had been addicted to these vices, but as speaking of those who were Christians in general. It is common to say that we lived so and so, when speaking of a collection of persons, without meaning that each one was guilty of all the practices enumerated. See the notes at 1Th_4:17, for a similar use of the word we. The use of the word we in this place would show that the apostle did not mean to set himself up as better than they were, but was willing to be identified with them.

Lusts – The indulgence of unlawful desires. See the notes at Rom_1:24.

Excess of wine – The word used here (οἰνοφλυγία oinophlugia) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly means “overflowing of wine,” (οἶνος oinos, “wine,” and φλύω phluō, “to overflow”;) then wine-drinking; drunkenness. That this was a common vice need not be proved. Multitudes of those who became Christians had been drunkards, for intemperance abounded in all the pagan world. Compare 1Co_6:9-11. It should not be inferred here from the English translation, “excess of wine,” that wine is improper only when used to excess, or that the moderate use of wine is proper. Whatever may be true on that point, nothing can be determined in regard to it from the use of this word. The apostle had his eye on one thing – on such a use of wine as led to intoxication; such as they had indulged in before their conversion. About the impropriety of that, there could be no doubt. Whether any use of wine, by Christians or other persons, was lawful, was another question. It should be added, moreover, that the phrase “excess of wine” does not precisely convey the meaning of the original. The word excess would naturally imply something more than was needful; or something beyond the proper limit or measure; but no such idea is in the original word. That refers merely to the abundance of wine, without any reference to the inquiry whether there was more than was proper or not. Tyndale renders it, somewhat better: “drunkenness.” So Luther, “Trunkenheit.”

Revellings – Rendered rioting in Rom_13:13. See the notes at that verse. The Greek word (κῶμος kōmos) occurs only here, and in Rom_13:13, and Gal_5:21. It means feasting, revel; “a carousing or merrymaking after supper, the guests often sallying into the streets, and going through the city with torches, music, and songs in honor of Bacchus,” etc. Robinson, Lexicon. The word would apply to all such noisy and boisterous processions now – scenes wholly inappropriate to the Christian.

Banquetings – The word used here (πότος potos) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means properly drinking; an act of drinking; then a drinking bout; drinking together. The thing forbidden by it is an assembling together for the purpose of drinking. There is nothing in this word referring to eating, or to banqueting, as the term is now commonly employed. The idea in the passage is, that it is improper for Christians to meet together for the purpose of drinking – as wine, toasts, etc. The prohibition would apply to all those assemblages where this is understood to be the main object. It would forbid, therefore, an attendance on all those celebrations in which drinking toasts is understood to be an essential part of the festivities, and all those where hilarity and joyfulness are sought to be produced by the intoxicating bowl Such are not proper places for Christians.

And abominable idolatries – Literally, unlawful idolatries; that is, unlawful to the Jews, or forbidden by their laws. Then the expression is used in the sense of wicked, impious, since what is unlawful is impious and wrong. That the vices here referred to were practiced by the pagan world is well known. See the notes at Rom_1:26-31. That many who became Christians were guilty of them before their conversion is clear from this passage. The fact that they were thus converted shows the power of the gospel, and also that we should not despair in regard to those who are indulging in these vices now. They seem indeed almost to be hopeless, but we should remember that many who became Christians when the gospel was first preached, as well as since, were of this character. If they were reclaimed; if those who had been addicted to the gross and debasing vices referred to here, were brought into the kingdom of God, we should believe that those who are living in the same manner now may also be recovered. From the statement made in this verse, that “the time past of our lives may suffice to have worked the will of the Gentiles,” we may remark that the same may be said by all Christians of themselves; the same thing is true of all who are living in sin:

(1) It is true of all who are Christians, and they feel it, that they lived long enough in sin:

(a) They made a fair trial – many of them with ample opportunities; with abundant wealth; with all that the fashionable world can furnish; with all that can be derived from low and gross indulgences. Many who are now Christians had opportunities of living in splendor and ease; many moved in joyful and brilliant circles; many occupied stations of influence, or had brilliant prospects of distinction; many gave indulgence to gross propensities; many were the companions of the vile and the abandoned. Those who are now Christians, take the church at large, have had ample opportunity of making the fullest trial of what sin and the world can furnish.

(b) They all feel that the past is enough for this manner of living. It is “sufficient” to satisfy them that the world cannot furnish what the soul demands. They need a better portion; and they can now see that there is no reason why they should desire to continue the experiment in regard to what the world can furnish. On that unwise and wicked experiment they have expended time enough; and satisfied with that, they desire to return to it no more.

(2) The same thing is true of the wicked – of all who are living for the world. The time past should be regarded as sufficient to make an experiment in sinful indulgences; for:

(a) The experiment has been made by millions before them, and has always failed; and they can hope to find in sin only what has always been found – disappointment, mortification, and despair.

(b) They have made a sufficient experiment. They have never found in those indulgences what they flattered themselves they would find, and they have seen enough to satisfy them that what the immortal soul needs can never be obtained there.

(c) They have spent sufficient time in this hopeless experiment. Life is short. Man has no time to waste. He may soon die – and at whatever period of life anyone may be who is living in sin, we may say to him that he has already wasted enough of life; he has thrown away enough of probation in a fruitless attempt to find happiness where it can never be found.

For any purpose whatever for which anyone could ever suppose it to be desirable to live in sin, the past should suffice. But why should it ever be deemed desirable at all? The fruits of sin are always disappointment, tears, death, despair.

John Calvin
1 Peter 4:4
4Wherein they think it strange The words of Peter literally are these, “In which they are strangers, you not running with them into the same excess of riot, blaspheming.” But the word, to be strangers, means to stop at a thing as new and unusual. This is a way of speaking which the Latins also sometimes use, as when Cicero says that he was a stranger in the city, because he knew not what was carried on there. But in this place, Peter fortifies the faithful, lest they should suffer themselves to be disturbed or corrupted by the perverse judgments or words of the ungodly. For it is no light temptation, when they among whom we live, charge us that our life is different from that of mankind in general. “These,” they say, “must form for themselves a new world, for they differ from all mankind.” Thus they accuse the children of God, as though they attempted a separation from the whole world.

Then the Apostle anticipated this, and forbade the faithful to be discouraged by such reproaches and calumnies; and he proposed to them, as a support, the judgment of God: for this it is that can sustain us against all assaults, that is, when we patiently wait for that day, in which Christ will punish all those who now presumptuously condemn us, and will shew that we and our cause are approved by Him. And he expressly mentions the living and the dead, lest we should think that we shall suffer any loss, if they remain alive when we are dead; for they shall not, for this reason, escape the hand of God. And in what sense he calls them the living and the dead, we may learn from 1Co_15:12

Cammbridge Bible Plumptre
1 Peter 4:4. wherein they think it strange] It may be worth noting that the same word is used to express (1) coming as a stranger (Act_10:6, Act_10:18, Act_10:21:16) and (2) as here, in verse 12 and Act_17:20, counting a person or thing strange. The “wherein” points to the change of life implied in the previous verse. “In which matter, in regard to which.” The words imply a change like that of 1Co_6:9-11. The heathen found that his old companions, even his Jewish companions, had acquired, when they became Christians, a new way of looking at things. Conscience was more sensitive. The standard of honesty, purity, and temperance was higher than before. It is not hard, even from our own experience, to picture to ourselves the surprise of the heathen when he found his friend refusing an invitation to a banquet, shrinking from contact with the prostitutes of Greek cities, or when there, passing the wine-cup untasted.

to the same excess of riot] The Greek words are singularly forcible. That for “excess,” not found elsewhere in the New Testament, means primarily the “confluence” of waters—then the cistern, sink, or cesspool into which waters have flowed. The underlying metaphor implied in the words reminds us of Juvenal’s (Sat. iii. 62)“Jam pridem Syrus in Tiberim defluxit Orontes” (Syria’s Orontes into Tiber flows), when he wishes to paint Rome as the meeting-point of the world’s vices. That for “riot” is used, in the adverbial form, of the life of the prodigal in Luk_15:13, and as a noun here and in Eph_5:18; Tit_1:6. Compounded as it is of the negative particle and of the root of the verb “to save,” it may mean either (1) the state in which a man no longer thinks of saving anything, health, money, character, in the indulgence of his passions, or (2) one in which there is no longer any hope of his being saved himself from utter ruin. The former is probably the dominant meaning of the word. In either case it indicates the basest form of profligacy.

speaking evil of you] More accurately, reviling. The word is that which is more commonly translated “blaspheming” in direct reference to God. Even here, and in Act_13:45, Act_18:6, where it is used in reference to men, the other or darker sense can scarcely be thought of as altogether absent. Men blasphemed God when they reviled His servants.

Pulpit Commentary
Wherein they think it strange. Wherein, in which course of life, in the fact that the Christians once lived like the Gentiles, but now are so wholly changed. The word ξενίζεσθαι means commonly to be a guest, to live as a stranger in another’s house (Act_10:6, Act_10:18; Act_21:16); here it means to be astonished, as at some strange sight, as such guests would no doubt sometimes be. That ye run not with them to the same excess of riot. The Greek words are very strong, “while ye run not with them,” as if the Gentiles were running greedily in troops to riot and ruin.

The word for “excess” (ἀνάχυσις) is found here only in the New Testament; it means” an overflowing;” the rendering sentina (“a sewer” or “cesspool”) is doubtful. The word rendered “riot” (ἀδωτία) occurs also in Eph_5:18 and Tit_1:6, and is used in the adverbial form in describing the recklessness of the prodigal son (Luk_15:13). It means that lost state in which a man is given up to self-indulgence, and saves neither reputation, earthly position, nor his immortal soul. Speaking evil of you; better, perhaps, translated literally, blaspheming. The words “of you” are not in the original; they who revile Christians for well-doing are blasphemers, they speak really against God.

Albert Barnes
1 Peter 4:4
Wherein they think it strange – In respect to which vices, they who were once your partners and accomplices now think it strange that you no longer unite with them. They do not understand the reasons why you have left them. They regard you as abandoning a course of life which has much to attract and to make life merry, for a severe and gloomy superstition. This is a true account of the feelings which the people of the world have when their companions and friends leave them and become Christians. It is to them a strange and unaccountable thing, that they give up the pleasures of the world for a course of life which to them seems to promise anything but happiness. Even the kindred of the Saviour regarded him as” beside himself,” Mar_3:21, and Festus supposed that Paul was mad, Act_26:24. There is almost nothing which the people of the world so little comprehend as the reasons which influence those with ample means of worldly enjoyment to leave the circles of gaiety and vanity, and to give themselves to the serious employments of religion. The epithets of fool, enthusiast, fanatic, are terms which frequently occur to the heart to denote this, if they are not always allowed to escape from the lips. The reasons why they esteem this so strange, are something like the following:

(1) They do not appreciate the motives which influence those who leave them. They feel that it is proper to enjoy the world, and to make life cheerful, and they do not understand what it is to act under a deep sense of responsibility to God, and with reference to eternity. They live for themselves. They seek happiness as the end and aim of life. They have never been accustomed to direct the mind onward to another world, and to the account which they must soon render at the bar of God. Unaccustomed to act from any higher motives than those which pertain to the present world, they cannot appreciate the conduct of those who begin to live and act for eternity.

(2) They do not yet see the guilt and folly of sinful pleasures. They are not convinced of the deep sinfulness of the human soul, and they think it strange that ethers should abandon a course of life which seems to them so innocent. They do not see why those who have been so long accustomed to these indulgences should have changed their opinions, and why they now regard those tilings as sinful which they once considered to be harmless.

(3) They do not see the force of the argument for religion. Not having the views of the unspeakable importance of religious truth and duty which Christians now have, they wonder that they should break off from the course of life which they formerly pursued, and separate from the mass of their fellow-men. Hence, they sometimes regard the conduct of Christians as amiable weakness; sometimes as superstition; sometimes as sheer folly; sometimes as madness; and sometimes as sourness and misanthropy. In all respects they esteem it strange: “Lions and beasts of savage name. Put on the nature of the lamb, While the wide world esteems it strange, Gaze, and admire, and hate the change.”

That ye run not with them – There may be an allusion here to the well-known orgies of Bacchus, in which his votaries ran as if excited by the furies, and were urged on as if transported with madness. See Ovid, Metam. iii. 529, thus translated by Addison: “For now, through prostrate Greece, young Bacchus rode,
Whilst howling matrons celebrate the god; All ranks and sexes to his orgies ran,
To mingle in the pomp and fill the train,” The language, however, will well describe revels of any sort, and at any period of the world.

To the same excess of riot – The word rendered “excess” (ἀνάχυσις anachusis) means, properly, a pouring out, an affusion; and the idea here is, that all the sources and forms of riot and disorder were poured out together. There was no withholding, no restraint. The most unlimited indulgence was given to the passions. This was the case in the disorder referred to among the ancients, as it is the case now in scenes of midnight revelry. On the meaning of the word riot, see the Eph_5:18 note; Tit_1:6 note.

Speaking evil of you – Greek, blaspheming. See the notes at Mat_9:3. The meaning here is, that they used harsh and reproachful epithets of those who would not unite with them in their revelry. They called them fools, fanatics, hypocrites, etc. The idea is not that they blasphemed God, or that they charged Christians with crime, but that they used language suited to injure the feelings, the character, the reputation of those who would no longer unite with them in the ways of vice and folly.

Albert Barnes
1 Peter 4:5
Who shall give account – That is, they shall not do this with impunity. They are guilty in this of a groat wrong and they must answer for it to God.

That is ready to judge – That is, “who is prepared to judge” – τῷ ἑτοίμως ἔχοντι tō hetoimōs echonti. See the phrase used in Act_21:13; “I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem.” 2Co_12:14; “the third time I am ready to come to you.” Compare the word “ready” – ἑτοιμος hetoimos – in Mat_22:4, Mat_22:8; Mat_24:44; Mat_25:10; Luk_12:40; Luk_22:33; 1Pe_1:5. The meaning is, not that he was about to do it, or that the day of judgment was near at hand – whatever the apostle may have supposed to be true on that point – but that he was prepared for it; all the arrangements were made with reference to it; there was nothing to hinder it.

To judge the quick and the dead – The living and the dead; that is, those who shall be alive when he comes, and those in their graves. This is a common phrase to denote all who shall be brought before the bar of God for judgment. See the Act_10:42 note; 1Th_4:16-17 notes; 2Ti_4:1 note. The meaning in this connection seems to be, that they should bear their trials and the opposition which they would meet with patiently, not feeling that they were forgotten, nor attempting to avenge themselves; for the Lord would vindicate them when he should come to judgment, and call those who had injured them to an account for all the wrongs which they had done to the children of God.

John Calvin
1 Peter 4:6
6For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, or, He has been evangelized to the dead. We see in what sense he takes the former passage in the third chapter, even that death does not hinder Christ from being always our defender. It is then a remarkable consolation to the godly, that death itself brings no loss to their salvation. Though Christ, then, may not appear a deliverer in this life, yet his redemption is not void, or without effect; for his power extends to the dead. But as the Greek word is doubtful, it may be rendered in the masculine, or in the neuter gender; but the meaning is almost the same, that is, that Christ had been made known as a redeemer to the dead, or that salvation had been made known to them by the gospel. But if the grace of Christ once penetrated to the dead, there is no doubt but that we shall partake of it when dead. We then set for it limits much too narrow, if we confine it to the present life.

That they might be judged I omit the explanations of others, for they seem to me to be very remote from the Apostle’s meaning. This has been said, as I think, by way of anticipation, for it might have been objected, that the gospel is of no benefit to the dead, as it does not restore them to life. Peter concedes a part of this objection, and yet in such a way, that they are not deprived of the salvation obtained by Christ. Therefore, in the first clause, when he says, “that they might be judged in the flesh, according to men,” it is a concession; and “judged” means here, as often elsewhere, condemned; and flesh is the outward man. So that the meaning is, that though according to the estimation of the world the dead suffer destruction in their flesh, and are deemed condemned as to the outward man, yet they cease not to live with God, and that in their spirit, because Christ quickens them by his Spirit.

But we ought to add what Paul teaches us in Rom_8:10, that the Spirit is life; and hence it will be, that he will at length absorb the relics of death which still cleave to us. The sum of what he says is, that though the condition of the dead in the flesh is worse, according to man, yet it is enough that the Spirit of Christ revives them, and will eventually lead them to the perfection of life.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
1 Pet 4:6. For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead] The thought that Christ was ready to judge the great company of the dead, as well as those who were living when the Gospel was preached by His messengers, leads the Apostle back to the truth which had been partially uttered when he had spoken of the work of Christ in preaching to “the spirits in prison.” The question might be asked, How were the dead to be judged by their acceptance or rejection of the Gospel when they had passed away without any opportunity of hearing it? He finds the answer in the fact that to them also the Gospel-message had been brought. Those who were disobedient in the days of Noah are now seen by him as representatives of mankind at large. Of some of these his Lord Himself had taught him that if they had seen the wonderful works which attested His ministry and mission, “they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes” (Mat_11:21). Was it not a natural inference from those words, confirmed by what had been revealed to him as to the descent into Hades, that that opportunity had been given?

that they might be judged according to men in the flesh] The contrast between “flesh” and “spirit” stands parallel to that in chap. 3:18. The “dead” had the Gospel preached to them that they might be judged by a judgment, which was remedial as well as penal, in that lower sensuous nature in which they had sinned. They were judged “according to men,” or better, after the manner of men, by the laws by which all men are judged according to their works, but the purpose of that judgment, like that of the judgments that come upon men in this life, was to rescue them from a final condemnation. The whole passage presents a striking parallelism to St Paul’s “delivering men to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1Co_5:5), to his words “when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” (1Co_11:32). Following what we have learnt to call the ideas of analogy and continuity, the Apostle teaches that death does not change altogether the nature and the purpose of the Divine Judgments, and that purpose is that they “according to God,” in a manner determined by His will and wisdom, should live, in the highest sense of life (Joh_17:3), in that element of their nature which was capable of knowing God and therefore of eternal life. Such seems the simple natural interpretation of the words. It is not to be wondered at, perhaps, that the same dogmatic prepossessions which led men to explain away the true meaning of Christ’s preaching to “the spirits in prison,” should have biassed them here also, and that the same school of interpreters should have taken the “dead” as meaning “dead in trespasses and sins,” and referred the “preaching of the Gospel” to the work of the Apostles, and the “judgment according to men” to their sufferings on earth.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
1 Peter 4:6
For — giving the reason for 1Pe_4:5, “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 1Pe_4:5, 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 1Pe_4:5 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 their flesh), Luk_20:38, thus being made like Christ in death and in life (see on 1Pe_3:18). He says, “live,” not “made alive” or quickened; for they are supposed to have been already “quickened together with Christ” (Eph_2:5). This verse is parallel to 1Pe_3:18; compare Note, see on 1Pe_3:18. 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 1Pe_4:5. “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.

Pulpit Commentary
For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead. The conjunction “for” seems to link this verse closely to 1Pe_4:5, while the καί (“also” or “even”) gives an emphasis to” them that are dead” (καὶ νεκροῖς). We naturally refer these last words to the καὶ νεκρούς of the preceding verse. The apostle seems to be meeting an objection. The Thessalonian Christians feared lest believers who fell asleep before the second advent should lose something of the blessedness of those who should be alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord. On the other hand, some of St. Peter’s readers may, perhaps, have thought that those who had passed away before the gospel times could not be justly judged in the same way as those who then were living. The two classes, the living and the dead, were separated by a great difference: the living had heard the gospel, the dead had not; the living had opportunities and privileges which had not been granted to the dead. But, St. Peter says, the gospel was preached also to the dead; they too heard the glad tidings of salvation (καὶ νεκροῖς εὐηγγελίσθη). Some have thought that the word “dead” is used metaphorically for the dead in trespasses and sins. But it seems scarcely possible to give the word a literal sense in 1Pe_4:5 and a metaphorical sense in 1Pe_4:6. Some understand the apostle as meaning that the gospel had been preached to those who then were dead, before their death; but it seems unnatural to assign different times to the verb and the substantive. The aorist εὐηγγελίσθη directs our thoughts to some definite occasion. The absence of the article (καὶ νεκροῖς) should also be noticed; the words assert that the gospel was preached to dead persons—to some that were (lead. These considerations lead us to connect the passage with 1Pe_3:19, 1Pe_3:20. There St. Peter tells us that Christ himself went and preached in the spirit “to the spirits in prison;” then the gospel was preached, the good news of salvation was announced, to some that were dead. The article is absent both here and in 1Pe_3:5 (ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς). All men, quick and dead alike, must appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; so St. Peter may not have intended to limit the area of the Lord’s preaching in Hades here, as he had done in 1Pe_3:1-22. There he mentioned one section only of the departed; partly because the Deluge furnished a conspicuous example of men who suffered for evil-doing, partly because he regarded it as a striking type of Christian baptism. Here, perhaps, he asserts the general fact—the gospel was preached to the dead; perhaps to all the vast population of the underworld, who had passed away before the gospel times. Like the men of Tyre and Sidon, of Sodom and Gomorrah, they had not seen the works or heard the words of Christ during their life on the earth; now they heard from the Lord himself what he had done for the salvation of mankind. Therefore God was ready to judge the quick and the dead, for to both was the gospel preached. That they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. The gospel was preached to the dead for this end (εἰς τοῦτο), that they might be judged indeed (ἵνκριθῶσι μέν), but nevertheless live (ζῶσι δέ). The last clause expresses the end and purpose of the preaching; the former clause, though grammatically dependent upon the conjunction ἵνα, states a necessity antecedent to the preaching (comp. Rom_6:17, “God be thanked that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart;” and Rom_8:10, “If Christ be in you, the body indeed is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness.” The meaning seems to be—the gospel was preached to the dead, that, though they were judged, yet they might live. They had suffered the judgment of death, the punishment of human sin. Christ had been put to death in the flesh (1Pe_3:18) for the sins of others; the dead had suffered death in the flesh for their own sins. They had died before the manifestation of the Son of God, before the great work of atonement wrought by his death; but that atonement was retrospective—he “taketh away the sin of the world;” its saving influences extended even to the realm of the dead.

The gospel was preached to the dead, that, though they were judged according to men (that is, after the fashion of men, as all men are judged), yet they might live in the spirit. The verb κριθῶσι, “might he judged,” is aorist, as describing a single fact; the verb ζῶσι, “might live,” is present, as describing a continual state. According to God. God is Spirit; and as they that worship him must worship in spirit, so they who believe in him shall live in spirit. The future life is a spiritual life; the resurrection-bodies of the saints will be spiritual bodies, for” flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” But κατὰ Θεόν may also mean “according to the will of God” (as in Rom_8:27), according to his gracious purpose, and in that life which he giveth to his chosen, that eternal life which lieth in the knowledge of God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent.

Albert Barnes
1 Peter 4:6
For, for this cause – The expression, “For, for this cause,” refers to an end to be reached, or an object to be gained, or a reason why anything referred to is done. The end or reason why the thing referred to here, to wit, that “the gospel was preached to the dead,” was done, is stated in the subsequent part of the verse to have been “that they might be judged,” etc. It was with reference to this, or in order that this might be, that the gospel was preached to them.

Was the gospel preached also to them that are dead – Many, as Doddridge, Whitby, and others, understand this of those who are spiritually dead, that is, the Gentiles, and suppose that the object for which this was done was that “they might be brought to such a state of life as their carnal neighbors would look upon as a kind of condemnation and death” – Doddridge. Others have supposed that it refers to those who had suffered martyrdom in the cause of Christianity; others, that it refers to the sinners of the old world (Saurin), expressing a hope that some of them might be saved; and others, that it means that the Saviour went down and preached to those who are dead, in accordance with one of the interpretations given of 1Pe_3:19. It seems to me that the most natural and obvious interpretation is to refer it to those who were then dead, to whom the gospel had been preached when living, and who had become true Christians. This is the interpretation proposed by Wetstein, Rosenmuller, Bloomfield, and others. In support of this it may be said:

(1) That this is the natural and obvious meaning of the word dead, which should be understood literally, unless there is some good reason in the connection for departing from the common meaning of the word.

(2) The apostle had just used the word in that sense in the previous verse.

(3) This will suit the connection, and accord with the design of the apostle. He was addressing those who were suffering persecution. It was natural, in such a connection, to refer to those who had died in the faith, and to show, for their encouragement, that though they had been put to death, yet they still lived to God. He therefore says, that the design in publishing the gospel to them was, that though they might be judged by people in the usual manner, and put to death, yet that in respect to their higher and nobler nature, the spirit, they might live unto God. It was not uncommon nor unnatural for the apostles, in writing to those who were suffering persecution, to refer to those who had been removed by death, and to make their condition and example an argument for fidelity and perseverance. Compare 1Th_4:13; Rev_14:13.

That they might be judged according to men in the flesh – That is, so far as people are concerned, (κατὰ ἀνθρώπους kata anthrōpous,) or in respect to the treatment which they received from people in the flesh, they were judged and condemned; in respect to God, and the treatment which they received from him, (κατὰ Θεὸν kata Theon,) they would live in spirit. People judged them severely, and put them to death for their religion; God gave them life, and saved them. By the one they were condemned in the flesh – so far as pain, and sorrow, and death could be inflicted on the body; by the other they were made to live in spirit – to be his, to live with him. The word “judged” here, I suppose, therefore, to refer to a sentence passed on them for their religion, consigning them to death for it. There is a particle in the original – μὲν men, “indeed” – which has not been retained in the common translation, but which is quite important to the sense: “that they might indeed be judged in the flesh, but live,” etc. The direct object or design of preaching the gospel to them was not that they might be condemned and put to death by man, but this was indeed or in fact one of the results in the way to a higher object.

But live according to God – In respect to God, or so far as he was concerned. By him they would not be condemned. By him they would be made to live – to have the true life. The gospel was preached to them in order that so far as God was concerned, so far as their relation to him was concerned, so far as he would deal with them, they might live. The word live here seems to refer to the whole life that was the consequence of their being brought under the power of the gospel:

(a) That they might have spiritual life imparted to them;

(b) That they might live a life of holiness in this world;

(c) That they might live hereafter in the world to come.

In one respect, and so far as people were concerned, their embracing the gospel was followed by death; in another respect, and so far as God was concerned, it was followed by life. The value and permanence of the latter, as contrasted with the former, seems to have been the thought in the mind of the apostle in encouraging those to whom he wrote to exercise patience in their trials, and to show fidelity in the service of their master.

In the spirit – In their souls, as contrasted with their body. In respect to that – to the flesh – they were put to death; in respect to their souls – their higher natures – they were made truly to live. The argument, then, in this verse is, that in the trials which we endure on account of religion, we should remember the example of those who have suffered for it, and should remember why the gospel was preached to them. It was in a subordinate sense, indeed, that they might glorify God by a martyr’s death; but in a higher sense, that in this world and the next they might truly live. The flesh might suffer in consequence of their embracing the gospel that was preached to them, but the soul would live. Animated by their example, we should be willing to suffer in the flesh, if we may for ever live with God.

John Calvin
1 Peter 4:7
7But, or, moreover, the end of all things is at hand Though the faithful hear that their felicity is elsewhere than in the world, yet, as they think that they should live long, this false thought renders them careless, and even slothful, so that they direct not their thoughts to the kingdom of God. Hence the Apostle, that he might rouse them from the drowsiness of the flesh, reminds them that the end of all things was nigh; by which he intimates that we ought not to sit still in the world, from which we must soon remove. He does not, at the same time, speak only of the end of individuals, but of the universal renovation of the world; as though he had said, “Christ will shortly come, who will put an end to all things.”

It is, then, no wonder that the cares of this world overwhelm us, and make us drowsy, if the view of present things dazzles our eyes: for we promise, almost all of us, an eternity to ourselves in this world; at least, the end never comes to our mind. But were the trumpet of Christ to sound in our ears, it would powerfully rouse us and not suffer us to lie torpid.

But it may be objected and said, that a long series of ages has passed away since Peter wrote this, and yet that the end is not come. My reply to this is, that the time seems long to us, because we measure its length by the spaces of this fleeting life; but if we could understand the perpetuity of future life, many ages would appear to us like a moment, as Peter will also tell us in his second epistle. Besides, we must remember this principle, that from the time when Christ once appeared, there is nothing left for the faithful, but with suspended minds ever to look forward to his second coming.

The watchfulness and the sobriety to which he exhorted them, belong, as I think, to the mind rather than to the body. The words are similar to those of Christ: “Watch ye, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh.” (Mat_25:13.)

For as an indulgence in surfeiting and sleep renders the body unfit for its duties, so the vain cares and pleasures of the world inebriate the mind and render it drowsy.

By adding prayer, he points out an exercise especially necessary, in which the faithful ought to be particularly occupied, since their whole strength depends on the Lord; as though he had said, “Since ye are in yourselves extremely weak, seek of the Lord to strengthen you.” He yet reminds them that they were to pray earnestly, not formally.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
1Pet4:7. But the end of all things is at hand] The words are spoken, as are nearly all the eschatological utterances of the New Testament, within the horizon of the Apostle’s knowledge, and it had not been given to him to know the “times and the seasons” (Act_1:7). His language was the natural inference from our Lord’s words, “then shall the end be” (Mat_24:6-14). The times in which the disciples lived were to them the “last times” (1Ti_4:1; 1Jn_2:18). They looked for the coming of the Lord as not far off (Rom_13:12; Jam_5:8). They expected to be among those who should be living when He came (1Co_15:51), who should be caught up to meet Him in the air (1Th_4:17). A few years—we might almost say, looking to 2Pe_3:8, a few months—sufficed to shew that the divine plan extended over a wider range than their thoughts and expectations. And yet, in one very real sense, they were not altogether mistaken. The end of all that they had known and lived in, the end of one great æon, or dispensation, was indeed nigh at hand. The old order was changing and giving place to the new. There was to be a great removal of the things that were shaken, that had decayed and waxed old, that the things that could not be shaken might remain (Heb_12:27).

be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer] The first of the two verbs is defined by Greek ethical writers (Aristotle, Eth. Nicom. ii. 2) as implying the harmony of affections and desires with reason. Of the two English words “sober” or temperate, by which it is commonly rendered, the latter, as expressing the due control of passions, is the more adequate. The Vulgate gives “Estote prudentes,” but that adjective belongs to another Greek ethical term. Mar_5:15, Rom_12:3, 2Co_5:13, may be noticed as among the other passages in which the same verb occurs. Strictly speaking, indeed, the word “sober” is wanted instead of “watch” for the second verb, which implies in the strictest sense “abstinence from wine and strong drink.” The word commonly translated “watch” (Mat_24:42, Mat_24:43, 26:Mat_24:38-41) is altogether different. It may be noticed that the tense of the two verbs in the original implies not a general precept, but a call to an immediate act. The words of St Peter present a singular contrast to the effect that has commonly been produced in later ages by the belief that the end of the world was near. Terror and alarm, the abandonment of earthly callings and social duties accompanied that belief in the tenth century, when kings left their thrones and sought the seclusion of the monastery, “appropinquante fine saeculi,” and a like agitation has accompanied it since. To the Apostle’s mind the approach of the end of all things is a motive for calmness and self-control. He seems almost to reproduce the thought of a poet of whom he had probably never heard,
[Si fractus illabatur orbis Impavidum ferient ruinae.] “Should the world’s ruins round him break His confidence it will not shake; Unmoved he bears it all.”
(Hor. Od. iii. 3. 7.)

The “calmness” of the Apostle differs, however, from that of the philosopher. It is not merely the self-command of one who has conquered. Men are to be sober with a view to prayer. Desires of all kinds, above all, those of man’s lower nature, are fatal to the energy and therefore to the efficacy of prayer.

Albert Barnes
1 Peter 4:7
But the end of all things is at hand – This declaration is also evidently designed to support and encourage them in their trials, and to excite them to lead a holy life, by the assurance that the end of all things was drawing near. The phrase, “the end of all things,” would naturally refer to the end of the world; the winding up of human affairs. It is not absolutely certain, however, that the apostle used it here in this sense. It might mean that so far as they were concerned, or in respect to them, the end of all things drew near. Death is to each one the end of all things here below; the end of his plans and of his interest in all that pertains to sublunary affairs. Even if the phrase did originally and properly refer to the end of the world, it is probable that it would soon come to denote the end of life in relation to the affairs of each individual; since, if it was believed that the end of the world was near, it must consequently be believed that the termination of the earthly career of each one also drew near to a close.

It is possible that the latter signification may have come ultimately to predominate, and that Peter may have used it in this sense without referring to the other. Compare the notes at 2Pe_3:8-14, for his views on this subject. See also the notes at Rom_13:11-12. The word rendered “is at hand,” (ἤγγικε ēngike,) may refer either to proximity of place or time, and it always denotes that the place or the time referred to was not far off. In the former sense, as referring to nearness of place, see Mat_21:1; Mar_11:1; Luk_7:12; Luk_15:25; Luk_18:35, Luk_18:40; Luk_19:29, Luk_19:37, Luk_19:41; Luk_24:15; Act_9:3; Act_10:9; Act_21:33; in the latter sense, as referring to time as being near, see Mat_3:2; Mat_4:17; Mat_10:7; Mat_21:34; Mat_26:45; Mar_1:15; Luk_21:20, Luk_21:28; Act_7:17; Rom_13:12; Heb_10:25; 1Pe_4:7. The idea as applied to time, or to an approaching event, is undoubtedly that it is close by; it is not far off; it will soon occur. If this refers to the end of the world, it would mean that it was soon to occur; if to death, that this was an event which could not be far distant – perhaps an event that was to be hastened by their trials. The fact that it is such language as we now naturally address to people, saying that in respect to them “the end of all things is at hand,” shows that it cannot be demonstrated that Peter did not use it in the same sense, and consequently that it cannot be proved that he meant to teach that the end of the world was then soon to occur.

Be ye therefore sober – Serious; thoughtful; considerate. Let a fact of so much importance make a solemn impression on your mind, and preserve you from frivolity, levity, and vanity. See the word explained in the notes at 1Ti_3:2.

And watch unto prayer – Be looking out for the end of all things in such a manner as to lead you to embrace all proper opportunities for prayer. Compare the notes at Mat_26:39, Mat_26:41. The word rendered watch, means to be sober, temperate, abstinent, especially in respect to wine; then watchful, circumspect. The important truth, then, taught by this passage is, “that the near approach, of the end of all things should make us serious and prayerful.”

I. The end may be regarded as approaching. This is true:

(1) Of all things; of the winding up of the affairs of this world. It is constantly drawing nearer and nearer, and no one can tell how soon it will occur. The period is wisely hidden from the knowledge of all people, (see Mat_24:36; Act_1:7,) among other reasons, in order that we may be always ready. No man can tell certainly at what time it will come; no man can demonstrate that it may not come at any moment. Everywhere in the Scriptures it is represented that it will come at an unexpected hour, as a thief in the night, and when the mass of people shall be slumbering in false security, Mat_24:37-39, Mat_24:42-43; 1Th_5:2; Luk_21:34.

(2) It is near in relation to each one of us. The day of our death cannot be far distant; it may be very near. The very next thing that we may have to do, may be to lie down and die.

II. It is proper that such a nearness of the end of all things should lead us to be serious, and to pray.

(1) To be serious; for:

(a) the end of all things, in regard to us, is a most important event. It closes our probation. It fixes our character. It seals up our destiny. It makes all ever onward in character and doom unchangeable.

(b) We are so made as to be serious in view of such events. God has so constituted the mind, that when we lose property, health, or friends; when we look into a grave, or are beset with dangers; when we are in the room of the dying or the dead, we are serious and thoughtful. It is unnatural not to be so. Levity and frivolity on such occasions are as contrary to all the finer and better feelings of our nature as they are to the precepts of the Bible.

(c) There are advantages in seriousness of mind. It enables us to take better views of things, Ecc_7:2-3. A calm, sober, sedate mind is the best for a contemplation of truth, and for looking at things as they are.

(2) To be watchful unto prayer:

(a) People naturally pray when they suppose that the end of all things is coming. An earthquake induces them to pray. An eclipse, or any other supposed prodigy, leads people to pray if they suppose the end of the world is drawing near. A shipwreck, or any other sudden danger, leads them to pray, Psa_107:28. So people often pray in sickness who have never prayed in days of health.

(b) It is proper to do it. Death is an important event, and in anticipation of such an event we should pray. Who can help us then but God? Who can conduct us through the dark valley but he? Who can save us amidst the wrecks and ruins of the universe but he? Who can dissipate our fears, and make us calm amidst the convulsions of dissolving nature, but God? As that event, therefore, may come upon us at any hour, it should lead us to constant prayer; and the more so because, when it comes, we may be in no state of mind to pray. The posture in which we should feel that it would be most appropriate that the messenger of death should find us, would be that of prayer.

John Calvin
1 Peter 4:8
8And above all things He commends charity or love as the first thing, for it is the bond of perfection. And he bids it to be fervent, or intense, or vehement, which is the same thing; for whosoever is immoderately fervent in self-love, loves others coldly. And he commends it on account of its fruit, because it buries innumerable sins, than which nothing is more desirable. But the sentence is taken from Solomon, whose words are found in Pro_10:12, “Hatred discovers reproaches, but love covers a multitude of sins.”

What Solomon meant is sufficiently clear, for the two clauses contain things which are set in contrast the one with the other. As then he says in the first clause that hatred is the cause why men traduce and defame one another, and spread whatever is reproachful and dishonorable; so it follows that a contrary effect is ascribed to love, that is, that men who love one another, kindly and courteously forgive one another; hence it comes that, willingly burying each other’s vices, one seeks to preserve the honor of another. Thus Peter confirms his exhortation, that nothing is more necessary than to cherish mutual love. For who is there that has not many faults? Therefore all stand in need of forgiveness, and there is no one who does not wish to be forgiven.

This singular benefit love brings to us when it exists among us, so that innumerable evils are covered in oblivion. On the other hand, where loose reins are given to hatred, men by mutual biting and tearing must necessarily consume one another, as Paul says (Gal_5:15.)

And it ought to be noticed that Solomon does not say that only a few sins are covered, but a multitude of sins, according to what Christ declares, when he bids us to forgive our brethren seventy times seven, (Mat_18:22.) But the more sins love covers, the more evident appears its usefulness for the wellbeing of mankind.
This is the plain meaning of the words. It hence appears how absurd are the Papists, who seek to elicit from this passage their own satisfactions, as though almsgiving and other duties of charity were a sort of a compensation to God for blotting out their sins. It is enough to point out by the way their gross ignorance, for in a matter so clear it would be superfluous to add many words.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
1 Pet 4:8. And above all things have fervent charity] It is to be regretted that the unintelligent desire for variation which the translators of 1611 took almost as their guiding principle, and in this instance, perhaps, their fondness for current theological terms, should have led them to obscure the unity of Apostolic teaching by using the word “charity” instead of “love.” The use of the same word in 1Co_13. helps us indeed to perceive the agreement of St Peter and St Paul, but we lose sight of the harmony between their teaching and that of St John. On the general precept and on the word “fervent” see note on chapter 1:22.

for charity shall cover the multitude of sins] The words are probably a quotation from Pro_10:12, where our English version, following the Hebrew, gives “Hatred stirreth up strife, but love covereth all sins.” It may be noted, however, that the LXX. version gives here an entirely different rendering, “Friendship covers all those who are not lovers of contention,” and that St Peter, though he commonly uses the LXX., must, in this instance, either have translated from the Hebrew, or, as seems more probable, have quoted the maxim as a current proverb The use of the same phrase in Jam_5:20, “He that converteth the sinner.… shall hide a multitude of sins,” shews that the thought and the language were common to the two teachers. There remains the question, What is the meaning of the proverb? Whose are the sins that fervent love or charity will cover?

(1) As the words meet us in Pro_10:12, the context determines its meaning, “Love covers (i.e. forgives and does not expose) the sins of others,” and so it is contrasted with the “hatred which stirs up strife.”

(2) This may be the meaning here, “Love one another, for so only can you forgive freely as you are taught to do.” If we adopt this view, or so far as we adopt it, we can scarcely fail to connect it with the lesson which St Peter had once needed, as to the limit, or rather the non-limitation, of forgiveness His “multitude of sins” is the equivalent of the “seventy times seven” of our Lord’s teaching (Mat_18:22).

(3) It lies in the nature of the case, however, that a maxim such as this should present different aspects. In Jam_5:20, e.g., the words “hide a multitude of sins” are equivalent not to forgiving sins ourselves, but to winning God’s forgiveness for them. And looking to the connexion between loving and being forgiven in Luk_7:47, we shall not be far wrong if we include that thought also as within the scope of the Apostle’s words, “Love above all things, for that will enable you to forgive others, and in so doing ye will fulfil the condition of being forgiven yourselves.” So taken, the proverb reminds us in its width of the familiar,
“The quality of mercy … is twice blest; It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”

Pulpit Commentary
And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves; more literally, before all things, having your love towards one another intense. The existence of charity is taken for granted. Christians must love one another; love is the very badge of their profession. The apostle urges his readers to keep that love intense, and that before all things; for charity is the first of Christian graces. (On the word “intense” (ἐκτενής), see note on 1Pe_1:22.)

For charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Read and translate, with the Revised Version, for love covereth a multitude of sins. If St. Peter is directly quoting Pro_10:12, he is not using the Septuagint, as he commonly does, but translating from the Hebrew. The Septuagint rendering is quite different, Πάντας δὲ τοὺς μὴ φιλονεικοῦντας καλύπτει φιλία. But it may be that the words had become proverbial. We find them also in Jas_5:20, “He which converteth the sinner… shall hide a multitude of sins.” St. James means that he will obtain God’s forgiveness for the converted sinner; but in Pro_10:12 the meaning (as is plain from the context) is that love covers the sins of others; does not stir up strifes, as hatred does, but promotes concord by concealing and forgiving sins. This is probably St. Peter’s meaning here: “Take care that your charity is intense, for only thus can you forgive as you are bidden to forgive, as you hope to be forgiven.” Perhaps he was thinking of the “seventy times seven,” to which the Lord had told him that forgiveness was to extend. But his words may well be understood as implying more than this. Love shown in forgiving others will win forgiveness for yourselves: “Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” Love manifested in converting others will cover their sins, and obtain God’s forgiveness for them. In the deepest sense, it is only the love of Christ energizing in his atoning work which can cover sin; but true charity, Christian love, flows from that holiest love. “Love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” Therefore in some sense Christian love, flowing from the love of Christ, and bringing the Christian very near to Christ, covers sins; for it keeps the Christian close to the cross, within the immediate sphere of the blessed influences of the atonement, so that he becomes a center of grace, a light kindled from the true Light, a well of living waters fed by the one fountain which is opened for sin and for uncleanness. The mutual love of Christians, their kindly words and deeds, check the work of sin; their prayers, their intercessions, ,call down the forgiveness of God. Therefore, in the view of the approaching end, charity is before all things precious for our own souls and for the souls of others.

Albert Barnes
1 Peter 4:8
And above all things – More than all things else.

Have fervent charity among yourselves – Warm, ardent love toward each other. On the nature of charity, see the notes at 1Co_13:1. The word rendered “fervent,” means properly extended; then intent, earnest, fervent.

For charity shall cover the multitude of sins – Love to another shall so cover or hide a great many imperfections in him, that you will not notice them. This passage is quoted from Pro_10:12; “Love covereth all sins.” For the truth of it we have only to appeal to the experience of everyone:

(a) True love to another makes us kind to his imperfections, charitable toward his faults, and often blind even to the existence of faults. We would not see the imperfections of those whom we love; and our attachment for what we esteem their real excellencies, makes us insensible to their errors.

(b) If we love them we are ready to cover over their faults, even those which we may see in them. Of love the Christian poet says: “Tis gentle, delicate, and kind,
To faults compassionate or blind.”

The passage before us is not the same in signification as that in Jam_5:20, “He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” See the notes at that passage. That passage means, that by the conversion of another the sins of him who is converted shall be covered over, or not brought to judgment for condemnation; that is, they shall be covered over so far as God is concerned: this passage means that, under the influence of love, the sins of another shall be covered over so far as we are concerned; that is, they shall be unobserved or forgiven. The language used here does not mean, as the Romanists maintain, that “charity shall procure us pardon for a multitude of sins;” for, besides that such a doctrine is contrary to the uniform teachings of the Scriptures elsewhere, it is a departure from the obvious meaning of the passage. The subject on which the apostle is treating is the advantage of love in our conduct toward others, and this he enforces by saying that it will make us kind to their imperfections, and lead us to overlook their faults. It is nowhere taught in the Scriptures that our “charity” to others will be an atonement or expiation for our own offences. If it could be so, the atonement made by Christ would have been unnecessary. Love, however, is of inestimable value in the treatment of others; and imperfect as we are, and liable to go astray, we all have occasion to cast ourselves on the charity of our brethren, and to avail ourselves much and often of that “love which covers over a multitude of sins.”

John Calvin
1 Peter 4:9
9Use hospitality, or, Be hospitable. After having generally exhorted them to love one another, he specially mentions one of the duties of love. At that time hospitality was commonly used, and it was deemed in a manner a sacred kind of humanity, as we have stated elsewhere. He then bids them mutually to exercise it, so that no one might require more from others than what he himself was prepared to render. He adds, without murmurings, for it is a rare example that one spends himself and his own on his neighbor without any disparaging reflection. Then the Apostle would have us to show kindness willingly and with a cheerful mind.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
1 Pet 4:9. Use hospitality one to another without grudging] Literally, Be hospitable. The stress laid on this virtue in the New Testament, as in 1Ti_3:2; Rom_12:13; Heb_13:2, brings before us some of the more striking features of the social life of the Christians of the first three centuries. The Christian traveller coming to a strange city was in a position of no little difficulty. The houses of heathen friends, if he had any, were likely to bring trials of one kind or another. He might be taunted and persecuted for his faith or tempted to “run to the same excess of riot with them.” Inns presented too often scenes of drunkenness and impurity, foul words and fouler acts. It was therefore an unspeakable gain for such an one to know that he could find shelter in a Christian home. The fact that he was a Christian, that he brought with him some “letter of commendation”  (2Co_3:1) as a safeguard against imposture, was to be enough to secure a welcome. It lay in the nature of things that sometimes strangers might thus present themselves with inconvenient frequency or under inconvenient conditions, and therefore St Peter adds “be hospitable … without murmurings.” Men were not to look on it as a trouble or a nuisance, or think themselves hardly treated. They might be entertaining angels unawares (Heb_13:2). Here also God loved a cheerful giver (2Co_9:7).

Pulpit Commentary
Use hospitality one to another; literally, being hospitable (comp. Rom_12:13; 1Ti_3:2; Heb_13:2; 3Jn_1:5). Hospitality must have been a necessary, and often a costly, duty in the early ages of the Church. There was no public provision for the poor. Christians traveling from place to place would find no suitable shelter except in the houses of Christians. They would be obliged to avoid the public houses of entertainment, where they would be exposed often to danger, always to temptation; only the private houses of Christians would be safe for them. Hence the use of the “letters of commendation,” mentioned by St. Paul (2Co_3:1). Those who brought such letters were to be received in Christian homes. The well-known ‘Teaching of the Twelve Apostles’ speaks of this right of hospitality, and gives cautions against its abuse. Tim apostle is not speaking of ordinary social gatherings; they have their place and their utility in the Christian life, but they do not, as a rule, afford scope for the higher self-denials of Christian charity (comp. Luk_14:12, Luk_14:13).

Without grudging. Such hospitality would be always costly, often inconvenient, sometimes attended with danger, as in the case of the first British martyr; but it was to be without murmuring. Murmuring would take from the hospitality all its beauty; it should be offered as a gift of love, and Christian love can never murmur.

Albert Barnes
1 Peter 4:9
Use hospitality one to another – On the duty of hospitality, see the Rom_12:13 note; Heb_13:2 note.

Without grudging – Greek, “without murmurs;” that is, without complaining of the hardship of doing it; of the time, and expense, and trouble required in doing it. The idea of grudging, in the common sense of that word – that is, of doing it unwillingly, or regretting the expense, and considering it as ill-bestowed, or as not producing an equivalent of any kind – is not exactly the idea here. It is that we are to do it without murmuring or complaining. It greatly enhances the value of hospitality, that it be done on our part with entire cheerfulness. One of the duties involved in it is to make a guest happy; and this can be done in no other way than by showing him that he is welcome.

John Calvin
1 Peter 4:10
10As every one hath received He reminds us what we ought to bear in mind when we do good to our neighbors; for nothing is more fitted to correct our murmurings than to remember that we do not give our own, but only dispense what God has committed to us. When therefore he says, “Minister the gift which every one has received,” he intimates that to each had been distributed what they had, on this condition, that in helping their brethren they might be the ministers of God. And thus the second clause is an explanation of the first, for instead of ministry he mentions stewardship; and for what he had said, “as every one hath received the gift,” he mentions the manifold graces which God variously distributes to us, so that each might confer in common his own portion. If then we excel others in any gift, let us remember that we are as to this the stewards of God, in order that we may kindly impart it to our neighbors as their necessity or benefit may require. Thus we ought to be disposed and ready to communicate.
But this consideration is also very important, that the Lord hath so divided his manifold graces, that no one is to be content with one thing and with his own gifts, but every one has need of the help and aid of his brother. This, I say, is a bond which God hath appointed for retaining friendship among men, for they cannot live without mutual assistance. Thus it happens, that he who in many things seeks the aid of his brethren, ought to communicate to them more freely what he has received. This bond of unity has been observed and noticed by heathens. But Peter teaches us here that God had designedly done this, that he might bind men one to another.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
1Pet 4:10. As every man hath received the gift] The two verses remind us of the like precepts in Rom_12:6; 1Co_12:4, 1Co_12:28. The tense of the Greek verb (“as every man received the gift”) implies the thought that the gift came at a definite moment, probably at that of the laying on of hands. Comp. Act_19:6; 1Ti_4:14. The words “As every man received” may be equivalent to “Let every man use his gift according to its nature or purpose,” which agrees best with Rom_12:6, or they may, more probably, be an echo of the “freely ye received, freely give” of Mat_10:8.

even so minister the same one to another] The Greek verb means something more than “use” or “administer.” It implies that men were to see in the gifts they possessed no ground for boasting, but only a call to more lowly service. They were to be, as in the next clause, “stewards” of those gifts. The thought that men are stewards, not possessors, of what God has given them in their outward or their inward life was, of course, a natural one (1Co_4:1; Tit_1:7), but here we can scarcely fail to recognise an echo of our Lord’s teaching. Peter had heard the parable of the steward who “wasted his lord’s goods” (Luk_16:1-12) and his Lord’s question, Who then is the faithful and wise steward? (Luk_12:42). In the “manifold,” or better, perhaps, varied grace of God, we have implied a much greater diversity of gifts, such as we find in 1Co_12:8-10, Eph_4:11, than those which the Apostle specifies. He confines himself, indeed, to the one broad division between the gifts that shewed themselves in speech and those that shewed themselves in act.

Pulpit Commentary
As every man hath received the gift; rather, according as each received a gift. The aorist ἔλαβεν, “received,” seems to point to a definite time, as baptism, or the laying on of hands (comp. Act_8:17; Act_19:6; 1Ti_4:14). For the gift (χάρισμα), comp. Rom_12:6; 1Co_12:4, “There are diversities of gifts.” Even so minister the same one to another; literally, ministering it towards one another. The gifts of grace, whatever they may be, are talents entrusted to individual Christians for the good of the whole Church; those who have them must use them to minister to the wants of others. As good stewards of the manifold grace of God. We seem to see here a reference to the parable of the talents (comp. also 1Co_4:1; Tit_1:7). Christians must be “good stewards (καλοὶ οἰκονόμοι).” There should be not only exactness, but also grace and beauty in their stewardship—the beauty which belongs to holy love, and flows from the imitation of him who is “the good Shepherd (ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλός).”;;The gifts (χαρίσματα) are the manifestations of the grace (χάρις) of God; that grace from which all gifts issue is called manifold (ποικίλη), because of the diversities of its gifts, the variety of its manifestations.

Albert Barnes
1 Peter 4:10
As every man hath received the gift – The word rendered “the gift” (χάρισμα charisma,) in the Greek, without the article, means “endowment” of any kind, but especially that conferred by the Holy Spirit. Here it seems to refer to every kind of endowment by which we can do good to others; especially every kind of qualification furnished by religion by which we can help others. It does not refer here particularly to the ministry of the word – though it is applicable to that, and includes that – but to all the gifts and graces by which we can contribute to the welfare of others. All this is regarded as a gift, or charisma, of God. It is not owing to ourselves, but is to be traced to him. See the word explained in the notes at 1Ti_4:14.

Even so minister the same one to another – In anything by which you can benefit another. Regard What you have and they have not as a gift bestowed upon you by God for the common good, and be ready to impart it as the needs of ethers require. The word “minister” here (διακονοῦντες diakonountes) would refer to any kind of ministering, whether by counsel, by advice, by the supply of the needs of the poor, or by preaching. It has here no reference to any one of these exclusively; but means, that in whatever God has favored us more than others, we should be ready to minister to their needs. See 2Ti_1:18; 2Co_3:8; 2Co_8:19-20.

As good stewards – Regarding yourselves as the mere stewards of God; that is, as appointed by him to do this work for him, and entrusted by him with what is needful to benefit others. He intends to do them good, but he means to do it through your instrumentality, and has entrusted to you as a steward what he designed to confer on them. This is the true idea, in respect to any special endowments of talent, property, or grace, which we may have received from God. Compare the 1Co_4:1-2 notes; Luk_16:1-2, Luk_16:8 notes.

Of the manifold grace of God – The grace or favor of God evinced in many ways, or by a variety of gifts. His favors are not confined to one single thing; as, for example, to talent for doing good by preaching; but are extended to a great many things by which we may do good to others – influence, property, reputation, wisdom, experience. All these are to be regarded as his gifts; all to be employed in doing good to others as we have opportunity.

John Calvin
1 Peter 4:11
11If any man speak As he had spoken of the right and faithful use of gifts, he specifies two things as examples, and he has chosen those which are the most excellent or the most renowned. The office of teaching in the Church is a remarkable instance of God’s favor. He then expressly commands those called to this office to act faithfully; though he does not speak here only of what we owe to men, but also of what we owe to God, so that we may not deprive him of his glory.
He who speaks, then, that is, who is rightly appointed by public authority, let him speak as the oracles of God; that is, let him reverently in God’s fear and in sincerity perform the charge committed to him, regarding himself as engaged in God’s work, and as ministering God’s word and not his own. For he still refers to the doctrine, that when we confer any thing on the brethren, we minister to them by God’s command what he has bestowed on us for that purpose. And truly, were all those who profess to be teachers in the Church duly to consider this one thing, there would be in them much more fidelity and devotedness. For how great a thing is this, that in teaching the oracles of God, they are representatives of Christ! Hence then comes so much carelessness and rashness, because the sacred majesty of God’s word is not borne in mind but by a few; and so they indulge themselves as in a worldly stewardship.

In the meantime, we learn from these words of Peter, that it is not lawful for those who are engaged in teaching to do anything else, but faithfully to deliver to others, as from hand to hand, the doctrine received from God; for he forbids any one to go forth, except he who is instructed in God’s word, and who proclaims infallible oracles as it were from his mouth. He, therefore, leaves no room for human inventions; for he briefly defines the doctrine which ought to be taught in the Church. Nor is the particle of similitude introduced here for the purpose of modifying the sentence, as though it were sufficient to profess that it is God’s word that is taught. This was, indeed, commonly the case formerly with false prophets; and we see at this day how arrogantly the Pope and his followers cover with this pretense all their impious traditions. But Peter did not intend to teach pastors such hypocrisy as this, to pretend that they had from God whatever doctrine it pleased them to announce, but, he took an argument from the subject itself, that he might exhort them to sobriety and meekness, to a reverence for God, and to an earnest attention to their work.

If any man minister This second clause extends wider, it includes the office of teaching. But as it would have been too long to enumerate each of the ministerial works, he preferred summarily to speak of them all together, as though he had said, “Whatever part of the burden thou bearest in the Church, know that thou canst do nothing but what has been given time by the Lord, and that thou art nothing else but an instrument of God: take heed, then, not to abuse the grace of God by exalting thyself; take heed not to suppress the power of God, which puts forth and manifests itself in the ministry for the salvation of the brethren.” Let him then minister as by God’s power, that is, let him regard nothing as his own, but let him humbly render service to God and his Church.

That God in all things may be glorified When he says, In all, the word may be in the masculine or in the neuter gender; and thus men or gifts may be meant, and both meanings are equally suitable. The sense is, that God does not adorn us with his gifts, that he may rob himself and make himself as it were an empty idol by transferring to us his own glory, but that, on the contrary, his own glory may everywhere shine forth; and that it is therefore a sacrilegious profanation of God’s gifts when men propose to themselves any other object than to glorify God. He says through Jesus Christ, because whatever power we have to minister, he alone bestows it on us; for he is the head, with which the whole body is connected by joints and bindings, and maketh increase in the Lord, according as he supplieth strength to every member.

To whom be praise, or glory. Some refer this to Christ; but the context requires that it should be rather applied to God; for he confirms the last exhortation, because God justly claims all the glory; and, therefore, men wickedly take away from him what is his own, when they obscure in anything, or in any part, his glory.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
1 Pet 4:11. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God] The words cover the gifts of tongues, prophecy, teaching, knowledge, counsel, in St Paul’s fuller classification (Rom_12:6-8; Rom_1 Cor. 12-14.). These gifts, St Peter teaches, were only used rightly when the speaker’s utterances were in harmony with what were already recognised as “oracles of God.” The word is used of Old Testament revelations in Act_7:38; Rom_3:2, but we may think of it as including also those made through the prophets and teachers of the Christian Church. The fact that Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis, who came within the circle of Apostolical teaching, wrote a book on the Oracles of the Lord Jesus (Euseb. Hist. Eccl., iii. 39), makes it probable that St Peter included our Lord’s teaching, possibly also the Epistles of St Paul, which he speaks of as “Scripture” (2Pe_3:16), under this title. The essential unity of Apostolic teaching was not to be disturbed by private eccentricities of interpretation or theoretical speculation.

if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth] The ministering here spoken of (diakonein) can hardly be limited to the special work of those who bore the name of “minister” or “deacon” as a title of office, but takes in all works of ministration in act as distinct from teaching, visiting the sick and needy, teaching children, helping those that were in trouble. Men were to set about that work also as stewards of a gift. The strength to work for others was not their own but was supplied by God. The word for “giveth,” used by St Paul in 2Co_9:10, and again in a compound form by St Peter in 2Pe_1:5, had, as its primary meaning in Classical Greek, that of defraying the expense of a chorus in the performance of a drama. As this took its place among the more munificent acts of a citizen’s social life, the verb came to be connected with the general idea of large or liberal giving, and was used in that sense long after the original association had died out of it.

that God in all things may be glorified] This is pointed out as the end to be aimed at in the use of all gifts whether of speech or action. In so teaching, St Peter was but reproducing what he had heard from his Lord’s lips, “that men may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven” (Mat_5:16), perhaps also what he had read in St Paul’s Epistles, that men should “do all to the glory of God” (1Co_10:31).

to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen] It was but natural with St Peter, as with St Paul, that the thought of “glorifying” should be followed up by the utterance of a doxology. For “praise” it would be better to read glory as expressing the sequence of thought more clearly, and instead of “for ever and ever,” for ages of ages. It may be noted, as probable evidence that the Apostle is using a liturgical formula, that precisely the same combination is used by St John in Rev_1:6, and is found also, in a fuller form, in Rev_5:13. The use of the Amen (from the Hebrew for “fixed, settled, true,” and so meaning “verily,”) as commonly in the Gospels,—confirms this view. It was as in Rom_1:25, Rom_1:9:5, 1Co_14:16, the natural close of a liturgical utterance of belief or adoration.

Pulpit Commentary
If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God. St. Peter proceeds to give examples of the proper use of gifts. One of those gifts is utterance. The apostle means all Christian utterance, whether public in the Church, or private in Christian conversation or ministrations to the sick. The second clause may be also rendered, as in the Revised Version, “speaking as it were oracles of God.” It is more natural to supply the participle” speaking” than “let him speak,” after the analogy of διακονοῦντες (“ministering”) in 1Pe_4:10. For the word λόγια, oracles, see Act_7:38; Rom_3:2; also Heb_5:12, in which last place the Scriptures of the New Testament seem to be intended. The apostle’s meaning may be either that the Christian teacher was to speak as do the oracles of God, that is, the Scriptures, or (and the absence of the article rather favors this view) that he was so to yield himself to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that his teaching should be the teaching of God; he was to seek no praise or reward for himself, but only the glory of God. Those who with single-hearted zeal seek God’s glory do speak as it were oracles of God, for he speaketh by them.

If any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth. Again it is better to supply the participle “ministering.” Whatever a man’s gifts may be, he must minister them for the good of the whole Church (see Heb_5:9; also Rom_12:1-21. S; 1Co_12:28). And this he must do as of the strength which God supplieth; the strength is not his—God giveth it. The verb χορηγεῖ, rendered “giveth,” is used in classical Greek first of supplying the expenses of a chorus, then of liberal giving generally; it occurs in 2Co_9:10. The compound, ἐπιχορηγεῖν, is more common; St. Peter has it in the Second Epistle (1. 5, 11). That God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ. The glory of God should be the one end of all Christian work. The Lord himself had said so in the sermon on the mount, in words doubtless well remembered by the apostle.

To whom be praise and dominion forever and ever. Amen; rather, as in the Revised Version, whose is the glory and dominion for the ages of ages. It is thought by some that St. Peter is here quoting from some ancient form of prayer; the use of the “Amen,” and the resemblance to Rev_1:6 and Rev_5:13, seem to favor this supposition. It is uncertain whether this doxology is addressed to God the Father or to the Lord Jesus Christ; the order of the words is in favor of the latter view, and the doxology closely resembles that in Rev_1:6.

Albert Barnes
1 Peter 4:11
If any man speak – As a preacher, referring here particularly to the office of the ministry.

Let him speak as the oracles of God – As the oracles of God speak; to wit, in accordance with the truth which God has revealed, and with an impressive sense of the responsibility of delivering a message from him. The word rendered “oracles” (λόγια logia) means, properly, something “spoken” or “uttered”; then anything uttered by God – a divine communication – a revelation. See the Rom_3:2 note; Heb_5:12 note. See the general duty here inculcated illustrated at length in the notes at Rom_12:6-8. The passage here has a strong resemblance to the one in Romans.

If any man minister – διακονεῖ diakonei. This may refer either, so far as the word is concerned, to the office of a deacon, or to any service which one renders to another. See 1Pe_4:10. The word commonly refers to service in general; to attendance on another, or to aid rendered to another; to the distribution of alms, etc. It seems probable that the word here does not refer to the office of a deacon as such, because the speciality of that office was to take charge of the poor of the church, and of the funds provided for them, (see Act_6:2-3;) but the apostle here says that they to whom he referred should “minister as of the ability which God giveth,” which seems to imply that it was rather to distribute what was their own, than what was committed to them by the church. The word may refer to any aid which we render to others in the church, as distributing alms, attending on the sick, etc. Compare the notes at Rom_12:7-8.

As of the ability which God giveth – In regard to property, talent, strength, influence, etc. This is the limit of all obligation. No one is bound to go beyond his ability; everyone is required to come up to it. Compare Mar_14:8; Luk_17:10.

That God in all things may be glorified – That he may be honored; to wit, by our doing all the good we can to others, and thus showing the power of his religion. See the notes at 1Co_10:31.

Through Jesus Christ – That is, as the medium through whom all those holy influences come by which God is honored.

To whom – That is, to God; for he is the main subject of the sentence. The apostle says that in all things he is to be glorified by us, and then adds in this doxology that he is worthy to be thus honored. Compare Rev_1:6; See the notes at 2Ti_4:18. Many, however, suppose that the reference here is to the Son of God. That it would be true of him, and appropriate, see the notes at Rom_9:5.


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