3. Encouraging suffering churches 3:13-5:11
iii] Standing firm in the face of sufferingArgument
Pressing on with the theme of a believer's survival in a hostile secular / pagan environment, Peter encourages his readers to resist the temptation to lower their ethical standards in order to escape suffering; synchronism must be resisted, v1-6. Reminding his readers that the day of judgment is at hand and that therefore believers need to practice discipline in the Christian life, Peter goes on to present a series of positive exhortations, all listed under the heading of love, v7-11.
i] Context: See 3:13-17.
ii] Background: See 1:1-2.
iii] Structure: Standing firm in the face of suffering:
The evil of synchronism:
Suffer rather than comply, v1-2;
Abuse for non-compliance, v3-4;
God will set everything right, v5-6.
The bounty of love:
The necessity for discipline, given the coming day of the Lord, v7;
Love covers all, v8;
The exercise of spiritual gifts, v10;
Gracious speech, v11a;
Powerful service, v11b.
Peter continues to encourage his readers in the face of unjust hostility. To aid in this struggle, Peter reminds his readers of the example of Christ. "His final victory and authority over all powers provide an example for conduct and the basis for encouragement. Given the example of Christ, who chose to suffer rather than disobey, Christians are to put behind them the way of life that is antithetical to God's purposes, even though it may mean suffering the pain of self-denial as well as ridicule and persecution from others", Jobes.
In v1-6 Kelly states that "the whole aim of the paragraph, with its four times repeated 'in the flesh', is to reinforce the Asian Christians confidence by impressing on them that, as a result of the baptismal mystery, they can obtain a victory over their persecutors parallel to that which, as already described, Christ has won over the malefic powers which control them." Best nicely packages the remaining verses: "the recollection of judgment, v5, leads to a recollection of the eschatological situation in which the church stands; this in turn issues in a series of exhortations linked together by the theme of love."
v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.
Text - 4:1
Standing firm in the face of suffering, v1-11: i] The evil of synchronism, v1-6; a) Dead to sin and alive to Christ, v1-2. Peter, at this point, seems to reflect the teachings of Paul in Romans 6:1-11, particularly v10-11, "in dying as he died, he dies to sin, once for all, and in living as he lives, he lives to God. In the same way you must regard yourselves as dead to sin and alive to God, in union with Christ Jesus." Christ suffered bodily on our behalf on the cross; he conquered sin on our behalf, did away with it. We need to arm ourselves with the same thought, the truth that in his suffering Christ was victorious over sin, so that in our earthy struggle we too might be victorious over sin rather than be ruled by our own desires. Peter doesn't want his readers to compromise their ethics for self-preservation.
oun "therefore" - Inferential; drawing a logical conclusion. Beare sees Peter returning to the thought expressed in v18, of Jesus suffering, "the righteous for the unrighteous."
paqontoV (pascw) gen. aor. part. "since [Christ] suffered" - [christ] having suffered. The genitive participle, with its subject "Christ", forms a genitive absolute construction, here probably causal, as NIV, although temporal is possible, "when he was here in the body Christ accepted suffering, and you must arm yourself with the same resolution", Barclay. The reference to Christ's suffering is presumably to his suffering on the cross rather than the troubles he endured throughout his life.
sarki (x sarkoV) dat. "in his body" - in the = his flesh. The dative is adverbial, reference / respect, "with respect to the flesh", Elliott; "since Christ endured bodily suffering", Cassirer.
kai "-" - and = also [you, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking]. Adjunctive; "you also put on, arm yourselves with the same intent" = "get ready by having the same understanding", LN. Arming oneself is a military idea and refers to preparing oneself for conflict. We prepare ourselves by adopting a certain attitude, a way of thinking. This is usually referred back to Christ's suffering, his willingness to suffer, but it seems more likely that it refers forward to the hoti clause that follows.
oJti "because" - because. Usually taken to introduce a causal clause explaining why we must be ready to suffer as Christ did; "for in this earthly life the way to be done with sin lies through suffering", Barclay. Yet, it seems best to follow Achtemeier who suggests that it is epexegetic / appositional; "arm yourselves with the same thought, namely, that the one who suffered in the flesh ceased from sin."
oJ paqwn (pascw) aor. part. "whoever suffers" - the one suffering. The participle serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb "to cease." The one who suffers is often taken to be the believer, but it seems better to take it as a reference to Christ. "The intent is to say that as Christ by his suffering conquered the power of sin, so the Christian may now similarly share in that victory", Achtemeier.
sarki (x koV) dat. "in the body" - in the flesh. Adverbial, reference / respect; "if a person be ready to face bodily suffering", Cassirer.
aJmartiaV (a) gen. "[is done with] sin" - [has stopped, ceased] of sin. Genitive of direct object / genitive of the thing when the verb pauw, "to stop, cease", takes the sense "has ceased from, has done with." Wallace classifies this genitive as ablative, of separation. Achtemeier argues that "sin" here is not referring "to a power that controls human beings, but acts that go counter to God's will", ie., a believer in Christ, sharing in his victory over sin, is inclined not to sin. Every day we fail to live up to the perfection we possess in Christ, but at the same time, every day we strive toward that perfection.
eiV to + inf. "as a result" - into the = that [no longer to live the remaining time in the flesh in/by lusts of men (human lusts), but in/by will of god]. This construction usually serves to introduce a purpose clause, "in order that [........ he may live]", although it is often treated here as a consecutive clause expressing result, "with the result that / so that." The clause presumably modifies the imperative oJplisasqe, "arm yourself with", contra Dubis who suggests "cease from sin." So, we are to arm ourselves with the truth that in his suffering Christ was victorious over sin and that therefore we, united to Christ, share in that victory. We assimilate this thinking in order that we may be able to live our days free to pursue what God wants, rather than be tyrannised by what we want. Peter is running the Pauline line that grace makes us gracious, that by focusing on what Christ has done for us we start to become Christ-like, eg., by recognising our own forgiveness in the sight of God we become more forgiving, as against striving to obey the instruction "forgive your brother", which instruction tends to make us unforgiving (although in a very pious way!).
en + dat. "the rest of their [earthly lives]" - [the remaining time] in [flesh]. Here most likely adverbial, temporal, as NIV; "while in the mortal body" = "for the rest of your time on earth", Phillips.
epiqumiaiV (a) dat. "for evil [human] desires" - in = by lusts. The NIV opts for a dative of interest, advantage, but better instrumental, expressing means, "by human desires", NRSV. Dubis suggests a dative of rule, "in conformity with"; "according to what human's crave." "Not to be at the mercy of vagrant desires, of mere human passion and impulse, but to be subject to the will of God", Beare.
anqrwpwn (oV) gen. "human" - of men. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, but often classified as verbal, subjective.
alla "but rather" - but. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction; "not ....., but ....".
qelhmati (a atoV) dat. "for the will" - in = by will. The dative as for epiqumiaiV above.
qeou (oV) gen. "of God" - The genitive as for anqrwpwn above.
b) Give wanton abandon a rest, v3-4. Peter now provides a reason why we should arm ourselves with the mind of Christ, arm ourselves with the knowledge that we who are united with Christ in his victory over sin, and so can claim victory over sin in our day-to-day life. The reason Peter provides is that we have spent more than enough time pursuing "human desires", v2 - a kind of "Aren't you tired? Surely its time to give wonton abandon a rest." Peter lists some of these "human desires": unrestrained desire for sex, food, and drink ..... along with wanton acts commonly practiced within the religious ritual of pagan worship. "Because of this" pagan neighbours are amazed - put off, offended.
gar "for" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Peter's readers should arm themselves "with the same attitude", although Dubis suggests "explaining why the recipients should live the rest of their lives according to God's will and not human lusts", noting the repetition of cronoV.
parelhluqwV (parercomai) perf. part. "in the past" - [sufficient is the time] having passed by. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting oJ .. cronoV, "the time." "In your past life you had ample time to follow the heathen way of life", Barclay.
kateirgasqai (katergazomai) perf. mid./pas. part. "doing" - to have participated in. The infinitive is adverbial, final, expressing purpose, "in order to do", or possibly epexegetic, specifying arketoV, "sufficient", so Dubis.
twn eqnwn (oV) gen. "what Pagans choose to do" - [the intent, will, desire] of the pagans. The genitive may be classified as adjectival, possessive, "the ways of the Gentiles", Berkeley, attributive, "a Gentile lifestyle", or as NIV, verbal, subjective.
peporeumenouV (popeuomai) perf. mid./pas. part. "living" - having gone, proceeded [in licentiousness, lusts, drunkenness, orgies, drinking and unlawful idolatry]. Here with the Hebrew sense of "to conduct ones life", Selwyn. Accusative in agreement with the implied uJmaV, "you", subject of the infinitive, "to do." The participle is adverbial, possibly temporal, "when you lived", "as you went along with them in acts of immorality, ...", Michaels, possibly causal, "because you have engaged in ..", Dubis.
en "in" - Local, space, as in the sense of "walked in the way of .....", Elliott; "following a course of debauchery and of inordinate desires, being given over to drunken bouts, to revels, to carousals and to wanton idolatries", Cassirer.
en w|/ "-" - in which. Probably causal, "because of this"; Michaels, the referent being the abandonment of an immoral pagan lifestyle; "because of which behaviour they think it's strange that you don't join them." It is possible that en is adverbial, reference / respect, "with respect to this they are surprised ...", ESV; "by/at which", Zerwick.
xenizontai (xenizomai) "they are surprised" - they think it strange. The mid./pas. form takes the sense "to be surprised, caught unawares." The subject "they" is obviously those who denounce believers for their anti-social attitudes and behaviour of not joining in with the wanton abandon of their neighbours.
mh suntrecontwn (suntrecw) gen. pres. part. "that you do not join [them]" - [you are] not running together with [them]. The genitive participle with the genitive pronoun "them" forms a genitive absolute construction, either temporal, "when you do not join them", ESV, or causal, "because you do not join them ...."
eiV "in [their reckless, wild living]" - into [the same excess debauchery, dissipation]. Spacial, metaphorical; "in their headlong rush into the maelstrom of debauchery", Barclay.
blasfhmounteV (blasfhmew) pres. part. "and they heap abuse on you" - blaspheming, slandering, vilifying. The participle may be taken as attendant on the verb "to be surprised"; "they are surprised ...... and they malign you", ESV. Probably better adverbial, consecutive, expressing result, "people are greatly surprised ............ and so it comes about that they take to vilifying you", Cassirer; "their surprise makes them abusive", Barclay.
c) God will set all things right, v5-6. In the end, those who violate God's people and God's law will face judgment, a judgment covering those already deceased as well as those who are alive at the coming of Christ, v5. The judge is presumably Christ, given that the role of judge has been allocated to the risen Christ. Peter goes on in v6 to explain how this judgment relates to those believers presently facing the hostility of their pagan neighbours; those suffering, v1, facing abuse, v4. Believers are indeed facing troubled times, but having heard and responded to the gospel, both deceased and alive will be awarded eternal life at the return of Christ.
oi}rel. pro. "but they" - who. Nominative subject of the verb "to give back." The antecedent is persecuting Gentiles / pagans, twn eqnwn, v3.
logon (oV) "account" - [will give] a word. Here in the sense of given an account of. "But you don't have to give an account to them. They're the ones who will be called on the carpet - and before God himself", Peterson.
tw/ ... econti (ecw) dat. "is [ready]" - to the one having = being [ready]. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of indirect object. As noted above, the subject is most likely Christ.
krinai (krinw) aor. inf. "to judge" - to judge. Complementary infinitive, completing the sense of the verbal aspect of the participial construction "being ready."
zwntaV (zaw) pres. part. "the living" - the living [and dead]. Although anarthrous, the participle serves as a substantive, "the ones living." The creedal sense; "the quick and the dead" - all humanity inevitably faces divine judgment.
gar "for" - More reason than cause, explanatory; See above.
eiV + acc. "[this] is the reason" - to, into [this was preached]. Here expressing purpose / end-view, with touto, "this", being cataphoric / referring forward to the epexegetic iJna clause; "for to this purpose was the gospel preached, including those already deceased (nekroiV, "to dead"), namely that ...."
kai "even" - and. Here either ascensive, "even to the dead", as NIV, or possibly better adjunctive, "also to the dead", Dubis.
nekroiV dat. adj. "to those who are now dead" - to the dead. The adjective serves as a substantive, dative of indirect object. Referring to believers who are now deceased, who when alive heard and responded to the gospel. This sense is brought out by the NIV, they are "now dead", as against those who propose that the gospel was preached by the risen Christ to those in Hades; a misunderstanding of 1Pet3:18-22.
iJna + subj. "so that" - that. Epexegetic, specifying touto, "this"; "namely that ...,". The subject is now believers, not unbelievers; Peter is referring to those who have responded to the gospel in repentance and faith, either now living or deceased.
men .... de "-" - on the one hand [they may be judged as men in flesh] but on the other hand [they may live as god in spirit]. An adversative comparative construction. On the one hand, believers are "judged", or better "condemned", by their unbelieving neighbours, but on the other hand, they are awarded eternal life by God.
kata + acc. "according to" - Here expressing a standard; "according to, in accordance with, corresponding to."
sarki (x koV) dat. "[human standards] in regard to the body" - [men] in flesh. Probably with a similar sense to en sarki, v2. Clearly contrasting with pneumati, "in spirit", both prepositional constructions being adverbial, expressing manner, "bodily" and "spiritually", although possibly temporal; "judged in accordance with human standards when existing bodily, but made alive in accordance with divine standards when existing spiritually (ie., as a resurrected being)."
ii] The application of Christ's victory through love, v7-11: a) The necessity for discipline, given the coming day of the Lord, v7. In the remaining verses, Peter addresses the application of Christ's victory. If the future is just more of the same, then we may as well eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. Yet, as believers, we face the dawning of the kingdom of God, of glory untold, and this reality shapes how we live today. As Jobes puts it, "Peter continues to reshape his reader's self-understanding in Christian terms by providing an eschatological perspective for living out their faith in Christ."
de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.
pantwn adj. "of all things" - [the end] of all things. The adjective serves as a substantive, so "all things", possibly better, "all time", Elliott, in which case the adjective is masculine rather than neuter. The genitive is adjectival, partitive, contra Dubis who suggests it is verbal, subjective.
hggiken (eggizw) perf. "is near" - has drawn near. The use of the perfect tense here is interesting in that it "emphasises, not so much the mere approach of the end, as its presence in the end-time events that are already under way (eg., 4:17)", Achtemeier.
oun "therefore" - Inferential; drawing a logical conclusion.
eiV "so that you may" - [be sober-minded and be self-controlled] to, into = for. The preposition here is adverbial, expressing either purpose, "for the purpose of prayers", end-view, "so that it leads to prayers", Reicke, or possibly result; "right thinking and being clear-minded are to result in prayers", Jobes. "Exercise sound judgment and be alert as an aid to praying", Elliott.
proseucaV (h) "pray" - your prayers. "Prayers" plural, which prayers are controlled by both of the imperative verbs "be sensible" and "be sober-minded." The reference to prayers is somewhat incongruous, given the context; being sensible and sober-minded are the very qualities required for survival within a hostile environment. Yet, as Elliott points out, "one urgency of the moment is a sound life of prayer."
b) Love one another, v8. The quote comes from Proverbs 10:12 - above all, let us love one another. Peter says that love covers a multitude of sins. This statement has wrongly been interpreted by some to mean that our past sins can be expunged in God's sight by a kindness done today. Sin is expunged by God's grace in Christ, and by no other means. So, what is the point of this proverb? Jobes puts it this way, "The love that covers sins is probably best understood as a forbearance that does not let wrongs done within the Christian community come to their fullest and most virulent expression."
pro + gen. "above [all]" - before [all things]. Spacial, with the sense "above", as NIV; "above everything else", Phillips.
econteV (ecw) pres. part. "[love]" - having [constant, earnest love]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the imperatival verbs "be sensible" and "be sober-minded"; "be sensible and sober-minded ...... and, above everything else, have constant love for each other." The participle is often classified as an independent imperatival participle.
eiV + acc. "-" - to, into = for [each other]. Spacial, expressing direction toward and arrival at. The "each other" indicates that Peter "continues his practice of limiting the scope of such love to other members of the Christian community", Achtemeier.
oJti "because" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why a believer should love earnestly / constantly.
aJmartiwn (a) gen. "of sins" - [love covers a multitude] of sins. The genitive is adjectival, partitive. Both Hebrews and James, along with the early church fathers, quote this proverb indicating a common proverbial use. It seems unwise to understand the covering of sin to mean the expunging of sin, either of the person doing the loving, or the one loved, or both - justification by works! Nor should we follow Leaney who suggests that love can prompt the one loved to repent and believe and thus cover their sin; a fact true enough, but probably not the point being made by the proverb. The proverb in parallel form is "hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs." So, in context, the proverb concerns the practical business of relationships - the means of undermining them; the means of building them up. As quoted above "the love that covers sins is probably best understood as a forbearance that does not let wrongs done within the Christian community come to their fullest and most virulent expression", Jobes.
b) Offer hospitality, v9. Let us offer hospitality to one another. "Keep open house for all and never grudge it", Barclay.
filoxenoi adj. "Offer hospitality" - being hospitable. The adjective serves as a substantive. Michaels' suggestion that the adjective is imperatival is a stretch. We are best to follow Achtemeier who argues for an assumed verb to-be participle, onteV, serving as an attendant participle expressing action accompanying the imperatival verbs "be sensible" and "be sober-minded", v7, so "show hospitality", ESV.
aneu + gen. "without [grumbling]" - [to, into = toward one another] without [complaint]. Expressing separation / independence, as cwriV, "apart from, without, not with, independent of." "Keep open house for all and never grudge it", Barclay.
c) Exercise your spiritual gifts, v10. A Christian congregation is made up of a range of people with varying abilities, abilities which are gifts of God to his church for the upbuilding of the fellowship. Peter's exhortation is that his readers recognise this grace from God and apply it within their own congregation.
kaqwV "-" - just as, as = since [each one has received]. Obviously not as a comparative here, so most likely causal; "because each has received a gift."
carisma (a atoV) "gift" - a gift. Referring to the gifts of God's grace in a wider sense than just spiritual / ministry gifts, eg., hospitality, v9. For Peter this gift of divine grace is primarily manifested in "speaking and serving", Elliott, cf., v11.
diakonounteV (diakonew) pres. part. "to serve" - serving, ministering. Probably another attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the imperative verbs "be sensible" and "be sober minded", v7, and as such imperatival; "as = because each has received a gift, serve / minister it (let him used it) for the benefit of each other."
eiV + acc. "" - to, into = for [each other]. Here the preposition is used to express advantage, "for each other" = "for each other's benefit."
wJV "as" - as. Here expressing a characteristic quality, not "like / as if good stewards", but actually "being / as good stewards".
caritoV (oV) gen. "of [God's] grace" - [good stewards] of [the variegated] grace [of god]. The genitive may be treated adjectivally, attributive / idiomatic, limiting "good stewards", "faithful stewards who minister God's diverse grace", but it is usually treated as verbal, objective. The genitive Qeou, "God", may be treated as adjectival, possessive, as NIV, or verbal, subjective, "managers of the manifold benevolence of God", Dubis.
d) Speak graciously and serve powerfully, v11. Peter now categorises the gifts of grace. Peter wants his readers to understand the good, as well as the evil, that can be achieved by the tongue, so think with the mind of Christ and speak accordingly. And let us remember, that all that we do for the Lord, we do in the strength which he provides.
ei + ind. "if" - if, as is the case, [a certain one = someone speaks, then let him speak as one speaking the words of god]. A conditional clause 1st class where the condition is assumed to be true. "If someone" = "whoever." Note that a participle, "speaking", must be assumed, and again taken as attendant and therefore as an imperative; see above. The participle "the one speaking", or something similar, must also be assumed. "Whoever exercises a word ministry let him speak / let him do so as one who speaks God's words."
lalei (lalew) pres. "speaks" - Here obviously used in the sense of "preaching and teaching", Achtemeier; "whoever exercises a word ministry."
wJV "as" - as. Possibly a comparative here such that those who preach and teach should present a message whose content aligns with / is like / as if it were God's own message, so Achtemeier. Yet, as in v10, it seems more likely that it is used here to express a characteristic quality, ie., the message is not like God's message, but is God's message, as NIV. "Whoever exercises a word ministry let them do so as one who proclaims God's word".
qeou (oV) gen. "[the very words] of God" - [words] of god. The genitive may be treated as adjectival, possessive, "God's words", or verbal, subjective, ablative, source / origin, "words from God."
ei + ind. "if" - if [as is the case, a certain one serves, then let him serve as serving from = by strength which god supplies]. A conditional clause 1st. class where the condition is assumed to be true. Again we have another elliptical construction where the imperative "let him serve) ("he / they should do so"), again probably as an attendant participle, must be assumed. So also the participle "the one serving".
wJV "-" - as. As above, expressing a characteristic quality, ie., they are serving by the power / strength which God supplies, as NIV, not serving as if by the power / strength which God supplies.
ex (ek) "with" - from = by. Here expressing means, a means consisting of a source.
iJna + subj. "so that" - that. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose, "in order that ....."; "and the ultimate goal of it all is that God may be glorified", Cassirer.
en + dat. "in [all things]" - in [all things god may be glorified]. Probably adverbial here, reference / respect; "with respect to all things"; "all your actions must be designed to bring glory to God", Barclay.
dia + gen. "through [Jesus Christ]" - Here expressing agency.
w|/ dat. pro. "to him" - to whom [is the glory and the dominion]. Dative of possession. The antecedent is presumably "God", so Dubis.
eiV touV aiwnaV "forever" - into the ages. Idiomatic for "forever", as NIV.
twn aiwnwn (wn onoV) gen. "and ever" - of the ages. The genitive is adjectival, partitive.