for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin. 1 Pet 4:1
We are back to simply exegeting scripture as a catalyst for our weekly Acts 17:11 Bereans Bible study discussion. It is a place where the Holy Spirit alone is the teacher. Everyone brings a piece to the puzzle that they’ve gleaned from their own time with the Holy Spirit in God’s Word. No single person has an expert grasp of the entire picture. There are no soap boxes, stages, pedestals, or podiums for Bereans. We come together because the love of God compels us to love each other and we have found that we see better when we see together. That said, those who follow and or join us regularly have come to understand just how much might be contained in a word.
Having covered 1 Pet 4:1-2 last week. This week we are parsing out verses 3-7
For the past time suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. Concerning this, they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 1 Pet 4:3-4
On first examination, I regarded this as just another reminder of my sinful life before Christ. Yet the debauchery of which Peter speaks is specific to the pagan culture in Asia Minor where the exiles to whom he was writing lived. This debauchery was in the context of Bacchus worship. Bacchus is the God of wine. While I previously drank alcohol just to have fun, drinking in Bacchus worship was a pathway to the Dionysian mysteries from which many satanic practices have their origins. Bacchus worshippers would consume wine specifically to numb their consciences so they could participate in even the most disturbing rituals without inhibition. In a word, they were intentionally opening themselves for demonic possession.
Peter reassures them and us that those who practice these evils would and will persecute us. Perhaps you’ve had the experience of being heckled and rejected by friends, family, and acquaintances because of your allegedly ridiculous faith and especially your insistence on obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We know it’s only going to get worse. Peter is reiterating what every mature believer should expect.
All who live Godly will be persecuted. 2 Tim 3:12
For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does. 1Pet 4:6
If we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive… 1 John 1:5-10
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit… Rom 8:1-8
Not everyone agrees.
Some have said that The gospel was preached even to those who are dead…refers to fallen Angels (Spirits in Prison) from the previous chapter. My guess is that it does not. Dead is nekrós and refers to literally dead as well as figuratively dead a.k.a “spiritually dead”. If indeed, as many claim, Jesus preached to the fallen angels in prison, then they are alive. 1 Pet 3:19 They are not dead. My take is that spiritually dead as described in Eph 2:1-3 is the more likely context for 1Pet 4:6.
According to Roman Catholics those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does implies a final opportunity to repent after the fleshly body dies. Catholics refer to this as purgatory. Of course, the existence of purgatory implies the insufficiency of what Jesus did on the cross as it requires a second death if the person still refuses to repent.
Hebrews 9:27-28 puts this particular heresey to rest.
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him, He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 1 Pet 4:7
On the surface, this looks like an eschatological reference to the end times and the final fulfillment of the Gospel of the Kingdom as described in the Olivet Discourse Mathew 24-25 and Revelation chapters 19 -21.
The end of all things is at hand has been used by preterists as a proof text for their claim that everything mentioned in the Olivet Discourse was fulfilled in the first century AD. Yet the destruction of the temple prophesied by Jesus at Jerusalem in Mat 24:1-2 is a separate conversation from the description of the real end of all things described on The Mount of Olives beginning in verse 3. This is abundantly clear if you consider that the Mount of Olives is at least a three-mile walk from the Temple Mount. Hence the first three verses do not represent a steady stream of thought. The Temple was indeed destroyed in 70 AD. But the events that will culminate with the return of Jesus Mat 24:4-31 have yet to play out.
The end of all things is at hand contributed to the liberalization and demythologization of Christianity by theologians like Rudolf Butmann. Demythologization removes everything mystical, supernatural, and historical from the Bible to glean its sociological and ethical truths. In this case, Jesus becomes a mere moral teacher like Confucius. Demythologization is also a root of what is known as the Woke or the social justice gospel.
The end of all things is at hand is a popular proof text for deconstructionism that produces atheism. The argument is that the end of all things was clearly not at hand hence any claim regarding the inerancy of scripture violates the Truth Laws of Coherence and Congruence. Simply put, Christians can not claim that all scripture is God-breathed and inerrant 2 Tim 3:16 if Peter was wrong.
We couldn’t agree more!
As it turns out the end in The end of all things is at hand is télos. Télos does not refer to a point in time. Rather it is the point, the goal, or the ultimate purpose of something. Peter was not declaring the imminent arrival of the end times and Jesus’ second coming. He was declaring that God’s ultimate purpose and plan were unveiled!
People perish for lack of knowledge and vision. Hosea 4:6, Prov 29:18.
Hence, 1 Pet 4:7 remains part of Peter’s initial exhortation to arm ourselves with the resolve of Jesus and prepare our minds to endure like Jesus. It’s not a popular idea in today’s feel-good church culture. Yet the Bible says that suffering, affliction, persecution, and tribulation (thlîpsis) produce the hope that does not disappoint. Rom 5:3-5 We understand this because the end of all things is at hand. It is no longer I who live but Christ in me…Gal 2:20 We now have the required knowledge and vision of God’s endgame. Just as Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him. Rom 12:2 The end of all things is the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel that compels us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling… Phil 2:12-13 It is with fear and trembling that we soberly consider what may be required of us. It is with this same resolve that produced the blessed hope that we arm ourselves. Titus 2:11-15 That’s not to say that we should seek to suffer to the same extent as Jesus did. We pursue Jesus not suffering. Arming ourselves with the same mind as Jesus involves the process of counting the cost Luke 14:28 and resolving to suffer if necessary. This in turn informs and empowers our obedience for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin. 1 Pet 4:1 It compels us to
…therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.
As Bachus worshipers would probably attest. It’s hard to sin when you’re sober.
Sober in this verse is sōphronéō – to be of sound mind, to be in one’s right mind, to exercise self-control, to put a moderate estimate upon one’s self, to think of one’s self soberly, to curb one’s passions. For the sake of our prayers. The KJV says and watch unto prayer. In this case, the distinction between the KJV and some other translations is important because “watch” is the all-familiar (to our regular readers) nḗphō – to watch soberly, to be calm and collected in spirit, temperate, dispassionate, and circumspect.
Nḗphō in practice looks like
Be still and know I am God. Psalm 46:10
Therefore, since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves with the same resolve…