Tuesday, December 4, 2012

1 Peter 4

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Stewards of God's Grace (v. 1-11)

Jesus suffered and so should you, for if you suffer in the flesh you will cease from sin and you will live the rest of your live for the will of God rather than for human passions.

Here we go again, suffering for sufferings sake. Jesus suffered so you should too, what the hell kind of message is that? Futhermore, what does this even mean? From v1 "for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin". does suffering in the flesh not mean what it sounds like? Because I'm pretty sure that every suffers in some manner. Some people have chronic pain and suffer all the time, is it impossible for them to sin?

Guzik argues that we are talking about suffering for Jesus' sake. If you suffer persecution for the sake of Jesus, it will change your outlook on sin. He also quotes Grudem who said "Whoever has suffered for doing right, and has still gone on obeying God in spite of the suffering it involved, has made a clear break with sin." I don't see any reason to think this is true. I guess it falls back to the definition of "suffer for Jesus" and we are open to the no true Scotsman fallacy, but I find it hard to believe that suffering for Jesus would keep your from sinning forever.

We are passed the time of doing what the gentiles what to do (living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry). When you do not join them they will malign you.

So much wrong in so little space. First, he is implying that all outsiders do these things all the time. Second, he's saying that sex and alcohol are inherently bad. Taken to extreme they can cause some problems, but they can be very good things. And why would they malign you for not joining in? Sometimes people can be a bit pushy trying to get everyone in the party to have a good time, but I don't think they'd malign them. I suppose people would argue that times were different back then.

They will be judged by Jesus, who judges the living and the dead. The gospel is preached to even the dead, so that even though they have already been judged in the flesh, they might live in the spirit as God does.

This is interesting, the gospel is preached to the dead as well. They are talking about dead people who were judged, it sounds like they were judged poorly (last verse we were talking about people who died in the great flood) and yet there is the hope that they will live as spirits the way God wants. Where are these spirits? I think it's pretty obvious that the view of the afterlife from these people is much different from what we think of today. Clearly you can't be Godly if you are being tortured in hell, and if you are in heaven you are already being Godly. I'm guessing their image of the afterlife is more like Sheol.

I honestly tried really hard to find an answer to this in the Christian commentaries. Guzik said nothing useful, I looked at Gill's and came across a wall of text. If you scroll down to verse 6, there is just a huge paragraph which seems to go on and on about all of the groups of dead who this verse does not apply to. I could try reading it again to better parse it, but fuck it, this particular chapter of the bible has be doing enough of that already.

The end is near, so before that happens you should continue to love each other and be hospitable to each other. You all have gifts, use them to help one another.

This is generally a message of generosity, which is good, but it is also saying the end is near, which was obviously incorrect.

Guzik says that if you believe that you live in the last days, then it is appropriate that you should give yourself over to prayer. However, he hilariously ignores the fact that 2000 years have passed and the end has not come.

Gill talks about a few different ways to interpret this, from the perspective of a single person, the end is death. It could be various states, or the world, or the universe. He said those could be said to be "at hand" because "because that was the last time, and the last dispensation of things", so I guess he's saying that God has come down directly for the last time so any time after that counts as "at hand", seems very shaky to me. But then Gill gives everything away by saying the following:
whereas they knew not the exact time when it would be, they frequently spoke of it as near, in order to stir up the saints to the more diligent discharge of duty, and fervent exercise of grace
And that is really the whole damn point, isn't it? The religious leaders of the time were talking about the apocalypse to manipulate people, and the same thing happens even today.

Love one another earnestly, as it covers a multitude of sins.

This confuses me somewhat, I like that the message is to love one another, that's good. But reasons are important, and it seems to be saying that you should do it to cover up sins, which love is good at doing apparently. I suppose another interpretation could be that the covering of sins is the rationale for giving the instruction and keeping the idea in our heads, but we shouldn't love each other because it covers sins. I'm not really sure how much I like that explanation, but it is all I can think of, and it is the only way I can reconcile loving earnestly and "because it covers sins".

Guzik's take on this is that love will heal wounds caused by sins. For example, if I have sinned and caused a rift between us, love has the power to heal that rift. I actually like that interpretation.

Show genuine hospitality to one another and use your personal gifts to help one another.

This sounds good.

Suffering as a Christian (v. 12-19)

Rejoice if you share Christ's suffering, but none of your should suffer for doing bad things. "If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and God rests upon you"

This is the same old thing, suffering itself is talked about as a good thing. You are blessed if you suffer for Christ. I am fine with putting yourself in danger of suffering for the sake of Christ. And if those people wind up suffering they have done a great thing by risking danger for their morals. But the fact that they actually had to suffer should be seen as a bad thing. Necessary perhaps, but the actual suffering should not be a positive.

For the overview post (If you think I should add or remove stuff from this list please let me know, I think it would make good conversation)


4:8 Love has the power to repair rifts caused by sin

"Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins."

4:9-10 Help each other out

"Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another..."


4:1,13 suffering (for Christ?) makes you sin free

"...for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin"

"But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings..."

4:3 Sex is bad, drinking is bad, and all non-Christians do it

"For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry."

4:7 the end is near!

"The end of all things is at hand..."


  1. I'm not entirely sure, Hausdorff, but 1 Peter 4:6 about the Gospel being preached to dead may be more like that it had been preached to some people who are now dead, and they too suffered persecution. Though, it is an interesting twist if the Gospel is preached to dead people. Hmmm.

    1. Perhaps so, but I was also still thinking a little bit of 1 peter 3:19-20. He talked of preaching to people who died in the flood, so it sounded like he was preaching to dead people there.

  2. Doh! OK Hausdorff, now I understand where you're coming from. You mentioned the flood-dead in your post, but without a reference to where that came from. I should have known you were tying it into the previous chapter, but for some reason I couldn't do the math despite having read your previous post. I blame it on being sick. I'm still recovering. Anyway...

    Yeah, if Jesus went back to the flood-dead people, then this verse could indeed be about them. I would also ask: Why are the flood-dead people special? Why didn't He go back to all who died without knowing Him?

    Overall, I'm still not certain which way is the correct way to take 1 Peter 4:6, but I do feel warmer to your position now. :-)

    1. Now that is an excellent question, which didn't occur to me for some reason. What is so special about people who died in the flood that they deserve to be singled out and preached to? If anything, they would seem to be uniquely deserving of not being preached to, seeing as they are so evil they caused God to drown the world.


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