By: Daniel Goepfrich
Suffering for Christ
Chapter four picks up immediately with the practical application for Christians based on Christ’s suffering: stay focused on God’s will rather than our fleshly desires. Peter’s audience had been saved long enough that their lifestyles should have reflected the life change (1 Peter 4:3-6). Another encouragement to live in a godly manner is that Jesus’ return is imminent. This lifestyle should include prayer, hospitality, and Christian service.
1 Peter 4:11 ends with a benediction leading many scholars to believe that it was the letter’s original closing. The final paragraph of chapter four and the entirety of chapter five could mean that 1) Peter came back and added it later, 2) he began closing the letter at verse 11, or 3) someone else added everything after 1 Peter 4:11. Either of the first two options are acceptable, with neither affecting the interpretation or intent of the letter.
The final paragraph, 1 Peter 4:12-19, contains an encouragement to all who were and are suffering trial of some kind because of their faith. Peter’s encouragement was three-fold: 1) his readers were not alone (1 Peter 4:12), 2) their reward will be proportionate to their suffering when Christ comes (1 Peter 4:13), and 3) suffering for Christ is proof of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling (1 Peter 4:14).
Peter’s Exhortation to Elders and Believers
Chapter five opens with an exhortation to local church elders (1 Peter 5:1-4). Although Peter called himself a “FELLOW ELDER,” there is no indication in Scripture that he served in that role in a local church. He could have meant that in a comparative meaning, because, although he may have functioned in a pastoral role in various churches, being one of the Twelve would have granted him more apostolic authority than typically granted an elder. Peter’s encouragement to elders complements what Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.
Peter closed his letter with a series of final exhortations for those not leading local churches (but they apply to all believers). First, we are to submit ourselves to church elders (1 Peter 5:5a). Second, we should act humbly toward fellow believers (1 Peter 5:5b-7). Third, we must resist the enemy by remaining strong in the faith (1 Peter 5:8-9). Fourth, we are to remember that God uses suffering to strengthen us (1 Peter 5:10-11). We explored the final greeting in detail in the introduction (1 Peter 5:12-14).
Each Thursday, DPH runs a Chapter-by-Chapter blog by Daniel Goepfrich, progressing readers chapter-by-chapter through the New Testament. This series is taken from New Testament Chapter-by-Chapter, published by Trust House Publishers, a division of DPH. Daniel serves as Pastor of Oak Tree Community Church in South Bend, Indiana, and blogs at www.TheologyIsForEveryone.com
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