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8.10.14..joyful.faith.1.peter.4.revised.final.commentary

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1 Peter 4. Suffering.Continued.Commentary

1 Peter 4. Suffering.Continued.Commentary

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  • 1. JOHN R. WIBLE IS THE EDITOR OF THIS MATERIAL WHICH IS DERIVED FROM CONVENTION SERIES LITERATURE OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, THE HERSHEL HOBBS COMMENTARY, ADVANCED BIBLE STUDY, BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR AND ADDITIONAL MATERIALS FROM THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION. COMMENTARY FROM THE DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES BY DR. WILLIAM BARCLAY AND COMMENTARY BY DR. E. I. SCOFIELD MAY ALSO BE INCLUDED. NO ORIGINAL WORK IS CLAIMED BY THE EDITOR EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED. Page 1 Session 10— Joyful Faith August 10, 2014 1 Peter 4:12-19 Commentary Introduction: How do you respond to difficulties? We may respond to difficulties and suffering in a variety of ways. Some of us respond with anger, dogged determination to fight it, or passive resignation. Others may respond with introspection or by asking in the words of the Chris Christopherson song, “Why Me, Lord?” But who among us responds with joy? Yet joy is the very attitude the Bible calls us to embrace. Even in the face of unjust suffering we can rejoice in Christ. Honestly, I must confess that I probably respond first with panic, then guilt, then fatalistic resignation, then determination to overcome it on my own. It probably doesn’t occur to me to just respond with joy. I hope that’s not your story. However, when we don’t respond with joy, we deprive ourselves of some of the greatest Earthly blessings God has for us. Oh, may I add that since we are commanded to respond with joy – not to so respond constitutes sin. The Point: God provides joy even in life’s difficulties. The Bible Meets Life: We respond to difficulties and suffering in a variety of ways. Some of us respond with anger, dogged determination to fight it, or passive resignation. Others respond with introspection or by asking, “Why me?” But who responds with joy? Yet joy is the very attitude the Bible calls us to embrace. Even in the face of unjust suffering, we can rejoice in Christ. The Passage: 1 Peter 4:12-19 The Setting: Many early believers faced local persecution. Rather than allowing such treatment to take them by surprise or to seem unusual to them, Peter emphasized for these Christians that suffering for their faith in Christ presented them an opportunity for rejoicing. It also presented them with reason and opportunity to glorify God that they could bear the name “Christian.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. 13 Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory. KEY WORDS: Fiery ordeal (v. 12)—literally, this references something that was burning. Figuratively it was used here of the trials that purified the readers of 1 Peter.
  • 2. JOHN R. WIBLE IS THE EDITOR OF THIS MATERIAL WHICH IS DERIVED FROM CONVENTION SERIES LITERATURE OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, THE HERSHEL HOBBS COMMENTARY, ADVANCED BIBLE STUDY, BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR AND ADDITIONAL MATERIALS FROM THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION. COMMENTARY FROM THE DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES BY DR. WILLIAM BARCLAY AND COMMENTARY BY DR. E. I. SCOFIELD MAY ALSO BE INCLUDED. NO ORIGINAL WORK IS CLAIMED BY THE EDITOR EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED. Page 2 The previous session ended with the revelation that suffering can help Christians draw closer to the Lord by reminding them that Christ’s death dealt with the power of sin. This led to a discussion of how the knowledge of Christ’s return should help the sufferer maintain discipline in life (1 Peter 4:3-11). Knowing the final outcome of history would allow the believer to have joy even in the context of suffering. Peter referred to the suffering Christians as dear friends. Few things bind people together as tightly as common pain. He encouraged readers not to be surprised by their suffering. Peter cautioned his readers not to embrace the mindset that suffering could never come to anyone who followed Christ. Suffering comes to test the Christian. This idea resides in the Old Testament also. Moses reminded the Israelites God had led them 40 years in the wilderness to humble and test them to determine whether or not they would keep His commands (Deut. 8:2) . With fiery ordeal, Peter referenced the suffering his readers were enduring. This most likely was a reference to the connection between suffering and the purifying presence of God. Certainly the Bible speaks of the fire of judgment upon those who do not believe, but that is not the purpose of the fiery ordeal Peter’s readers endured. The purpose was not to hurt and harm but to purify the one who was suffering. Because Christians should not be surprised by trials, they should not see them as something unusual they have to endure. Peter suggested an alternative response. Instead, Christians should rejoice. Peter believed it was a privilege to share in the sufferings of the Messiah. Sharing in the sufferings of Christ was a prominent theme in Paul’s writings also. Paul stressed that since we suffer with Christ, we shall also share in His future glory (Rom. 8:17). He emphasized that those who share in Christ’s sufferings also share in His comfort (2 Cor. 1:5-7), and he expressed his desire to share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings (Phil. 3:10). By rejoicing in their suffering, Christians anticipated the rejoicing that would accompany the revelation of His glory. It was not ordinary joy but great joy. The Greek word for revelation is the root word for apocalypse in English. This is the same word that occurs in 1 Peter 1:7,13 in reference to the return of Jesus. Suffering creates a longing for Jesus to consummate everything He promised concerning the end of time, heaven, and eternal life. Christians can take joy in knowing their suffering is temporary in light of Jesus’ promises about the future. Peter did not mean believers will enjoy suffering. However, undeserved suffering for Christ in the present is an indicator of future deliverance by Jesus at the end of time. By standing strong in suffering, the Christian is standing by faith to demonstrate that a time is coming when the wrongs will be made right. They are not under the terror of the present time but do live for a better day. In this sense, joy is a supreme confidence Jesus will fulfill His promises and God will establish in heaven everything He promised.
  • 3. JOHN R. WIBLE IS THE EDITOR OF THIS MATERIAL WHICH IS DERIVED FROM CONVENTION SERIES LITERATURE OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, THE HERSHEL HOBBS COMMENTARY, ADVANCED BIBLE STUDY, BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR AND ADDITIONAL MATERIALS FROM THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION. COMMENTARY FROM THE DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES BY DR. WILLIAM BARCLAY AND COMMENTARY BY DR. E. I. SCOFIELD MAY ALSO BE INCLUDED. NO ORIGINAL WORK IS CLAIMED BY THE EDITOR EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED. Page 3 When people suffer for righteousness, they can rejoice knowing the end of the story. Though Christians suffer in this life at times, the outcome is secure for eternity. This can allow joy to shine through the Christian’s life even through times of difficulty. 1 Peter 4:14 14 If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Though suffering for Christians would soon reach the point of physical torture and death, as it did for the apostle Peter, this verse indicates persecution was still in its initial stages in the empire. Peter spoke of Christians being ridiculed. Whatever else their suffering included, the Christians to whom Peter wrote were abused or slandered with words. Jesus had taught His followers, “You are blessed when they insult and persecute you… . Be glad and rejoice… . For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:11-12). Maybe you have heard that sticks and stones can break bones but words can never hurt. Though it sounds cavalier, it is not true. Sometimes words wound much deeper than physical scars. Early Christians had a deluge of lies told about them. Some called them cannibals, believing they ate the flesh of Jesus in the Lord’s Supper. Others called them immoral because they participated in love feasts. Some called them atheists because they had no visible god to worship as many other religions did. The lies accumulated and the ridicule grew stronger. As criticism mounted for Christians, Peter reminded them why they were suffering. The early Christians were ridiculed for the name of Christ. Peter did not promise blessing to those who caused their own suffering. Rather, he promised that those who suffered for their faith in Christ were blessed. In a world that perceives material blessings as the only real type of blessings, people may have difficulty understanding Peter’s logic. He was not saying Christians should enjoy suffering, but rather that they should live in a state of blessed peace in the middle of the trials. Blessed is the same word as the one Jesus used in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5, and it means a state of happiness or to be congratulated. The blessing comes not in the suffering itself but in what accompanies the suffering. Because signals that Peter was about to reveal the reason for the blessing. Believers are blessed in their suffering because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on them. God does not abandon sufferers. As Christians suffering for the cause of Christ, we can rely on God’s presence to abide with us as we suffer. A person’s choice to suffer rather than deny faith in Jesus reflects the presence of the Holy Spirit already at work. But not only is He present when the suffering begins, He is powerfully present throughout the suffering as the indwelling Spirit of God.
  • 4. JOHN R. WIBLE IS THE EDITOR OF THIS MATERIAL WHICH IS DERIVED FROM CONVENTION SERIES LITERATURE OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, THE HERSHEL HOBBS COMMENTARY, ADVANCED BIBLE STUDY, BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR AND ADDITIONAL MATERIALS FROM THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION. COMMENTARY FROM THE DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES BY DR. WILLIAM BARCLAY AND COMMENTARY BY DR. E. I. SCOFIELD MAY ALSO BE INCLUDED. NO ORIGINAL WORK IS CLAIMED BY THE EDITOR EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED. Page 4 Perhaps Peter had in mind Isaiah 11:1-2, a messianic prophecy promising the Spirit of God would rest upon the suffering Messiah. Isaiah said “the Spirit of the Lord” would rest on the One who came “from the stump of Jesse.” The same Spirit who upheld Jesus through His suffering will also dwell with Christians who suffer. Indeed one of the true marks of a Christian is the presence of the indwelling Spirit. Those who do not have the Spirit of God do not belong to Christ (Rom. 8:9). Those who have genuinely trusted in Christ have the Holy Spirit as a deposit that God will finish what He started in them (Eph. 1:13-14). Spirit … of God is not surprising in this verse, but Spirit of glory is not a common expression. In fact, this is the only occurrence of the phrase in the New Testament. Certainly Peter did not suggest that two Spirits rest on believers who are suffering. The Spirit … of God and the Spirit of glory are one and the same. Spirit … of God identifies who rests with the sufferer, and Spirit of glory describes the rationale for the blessing mentioned in the verse. Unlike the ridicule directed toward the sufferers, the gift of the Spirit was glorious and allowed the believer to experience peace based on the knowledge history is headed to the conclusion God has already determined for the end of time. In spite of suffering intended to discourage and harm Christians, Peter promised they would be blessed in the midst of their suffering because they suffered for the name of Christ. This blessing would include the fact that the Spirit of God rests on the sufferer. Peter could not have chosen a better word to describe the experience of the Spirit. While their lives may have been in chaos and turmoil, the Spirit patiently rested on their lives so the believer could experience now a foretaste of the glory to come through the ministry and promise of the Spirit. 1 Peter 4:15-19 15 None of you, however, should suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or a meddler. 16 But if anyone suffers as a “Christian,” he should not be ashamed but should glorify God in having that name. 17 For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household, and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God? 18 And if a righteous person is saved with difficulty, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner? 19 So those who suffer according to God’s will should, while doing what is good, entrust themselves to a faithful Creator. KEY WORD: Christian (v. 16)—Outsiders first used the designation to refer to Jesus’ followers as a term of derision rather than as a term of endearment. The account of this designation is found in Acts 11:26. Throughout the letter, Peter distinguished between those who suffered for their own careless actions and those who suffered for the cause of Jesus Christ. He qualified his words about the blessings of suffering by again reminding readers that they only had the promise of rest if they suffered for the right reason. The promise of joy and the Spirit’s presence was for those suffering for Jesus.
  • 5. JOHN R. WIBLE IS THE EDITOR OF THIS MATERIAL WHICH IS DERIVED FROM CONVENTION SERIES LITERATURE OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, THE HERSHEL HOBBS COMMENTARY, ADVANCED BIBLE STUDY, BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR AND ADDITIONAL MATERIALS FROM THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION. COMMENTARY FROM THE DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES BY DR. WILLIAM BARCLAY AND COMMENTARY BY DR. E. I. SCOFIELD MAY ALSO BE INCLUDED. NO ORIGINAL WORK IS CLAIMED BY THE EDITOR EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED. Page 5 Peter listed four examples of people who suffer for their own actions. Peter first mentioned the murderer. Those who willfully take another person’s life cannot sit in jail and bemoan the fact that they are suffering. Their actions warrant the punishment. The New Testament continually decried murder (Matt. 5:21; 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; Rom. 1:29; 13:9; James 2:11; 4:2; Rev. 9:21; 21:8; 22:15). This harkened back to the beginning, when God prohibited murder because people were created in His image (Gen. 9:6). Peter also refused to sympathize with a person who was suffering because he was a thief. Stealing, like murder, is consistently denounced in the New Testament (Matt. 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; Rom. 2:21; 13:9; 1 Cor. 6:10; Eph. 4:28). Those suffering because of their thievery receive the due consequences of their actions. Peter’s third example of those who suffer for their own actions is the evildoer. Broader than the previous two terms, Peter used the term twice before to refer to those who did wrong in general (1 Peter 2:12,14). Anyone who does wrong and brings suffering upon himself does not have the same promise of blessing as those suffering for their Christian faith. The final example Peter used was of the meddler. The word meddler does not occur anywhere else in the New Testament or, for that matter, in any literature prior to 1 Peter. An examination of the Greek word leads one to conclude that this word has to do with someone who watches over someone else’s business, a busybody. Peter was descending from sins that people considered more serious to less serious. Yet, suffering for any of them did not qualify a person for the same comfort as those who suffered for the name of Christ. [Barclay says that the term translated as “meddler” or often translated “busybody,” is commonly thought of to refer to one who meddles in other people’s business, our modern-day usage of the word. However, Barclay suggests two things about the word. First, it never appears anywhere else in the Bible nor prior to Peter in secular koine Greek, thus he concludes that Peter coined the word. Second, Barclay suggests that it was meant by Peter to refer to a Christian who was “messing around” into something that he ought not, IE, sinful things.]1 Peter returned to the reason for their suffering in verse 16. Those who suffered for being a Christian had a legitimate reason to suffer. Early Christians did not usually call themselves Christians—the name was given to them in Antioch as a term of derision (Acts 11:26). By using this term, Peter echoed the ridicule of those who verbally attacked his readers. However, instead of wearing this as a badge of shame, 11 Author’s comment citing Barclay, supra.
  • 6. JOHN R. WIBLE IS THE EDITOR OF THIS MATERIAL WHICH IS DERIVED FROM CONVENTION SERIES LITERATURE OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, THE HERSHEL HOBBS COMMENTARY, ADVANCED BIBLE STUDY, BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR AND ADDITIONAL MATERIALS FROM THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION. COMMENTARY FROM THE DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES BY DR. WILLIAM BARCLAY AND COMMENTARY BY DR. E. I. SCOFIELD MAY ALSO BE INCLUDED. NO ORIGINAL WORK IS CLAIMED BY THE EDITOR EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED. Page 6 He encouraged the sufferers not to be ashamed. Peter knew about shame. He denied Jesus three times before His crucifixion (Mark 14:66-72). Instead, Peter encouraged his readers to wear the name of Christ proudly and in doing so to glorify God. The peace and rest that accompanied those who were suffering certainly would speak to those who were without faith in Christ. In verse 17 Peter acknowledged that suffering was part of God’s judgment upon His own household. The reference to the people of God as a household picks up on the image of Christians as the “living stones” that are “built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5). However, this judgment spoken of by Peter is not meant to condemn but to cleanse. Previously in the letter, he reminded believers that suffering helps them to draw closer to Christ. By initiating His judgment through suffering, Jesus was really working for good in the lives of His followers. The same could not be said for those outside the faith. Those who disobey the gospel have a much different outcome. By asking what their outcome would be, the apostle emphasized that God would judge them for their rejection of the gospel, the good news that Jesus Christ died and rose to make sinners right with God. Quoting Proverbs 11:31, Peter reminded his readers that a righteous person is saved with difficulty. Certainly he may have had in mind the price that it took for Christ to make sinners righteous. However, he also may have had in mind how it took trials and difficulties to point them to Christ. But the main purpose of the statement was to highlight the utter futility of those who do not know Christ. He asked for a second time in the passage, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner? Great disaster awaits them as they will be eternally separated from God and in eternal torment in hell. So both the sinner and the saint face suffering. Why not suffer for righteousness rather than for evil? The former leads to a better future, while the latter leads to damnation. Peter summarized the whole discussion on suffering in verse 19. Those who suffer according to God’s will place themselves in the hands of God. They are not suffering for evil but for what is good. So, since God tests His people (as judgment that begins within His own household), Christians must learn to entrust themselves to a faithful Creator. This is what Jesus did on the cross when He entrusted His spirit to the Father, stating, “Into Your hands I entrust my spirit” (Luke 23:46). The reference to God as Creator is important. It emphasizes His sovereignty over everything since He is the Creator of all. Any suffering believers endure for the cause of Christ, God can use to further His purposes. We can bring glory to God as we suffer, knowing that a day is coming when no suffering will be required ever again. By expressing joyful faith in the midst of suffering, Christians point others to Christ and receive the peace the Holy Spirit provides for them in their suffering.
  • 7. JOHN R. WIBLE IS THE EDITOR OF THIS MATERIAL WHICH IS DERIVED FROM CONVENTION SERIES LITERATURE OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, THE HERSHEL HOBBS COMMENTARY, ADVANCED BIBLE STUDY, BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR AND ADDITIONAL MATERIALS FROM THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION. COMMENTARY FROM THE DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES BY DR. WILLIAM BARCLAY AND COMMENTARY BY DR. E. I. SCOFIELD MAY ALSO BE INCLUDED. NO ORIGINAL WORK IS CLAIMED BY THE EDITOR EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED. Page 7 LIVE IT OUT God wants to be your source of joy. Will you turn to Him and accept His gift? How will you respond? Examine your attitude. If you are going through a difficult time, take a few moments today to evaluate your attitude related to your experience. Be honest with yourself. Write down any negative attitudes that are feeding despair, anger, or bitterness. Ask God to help you let go of anything that displeases Him. Choose joy. As you let go of destructive attitudes that drain your spiritual vitality, grab on to the joy God provides. Memorize this verse: “The joy of the Lord is your stronghold” (Neh. 8:10). Say these words as you wake up each day and before you go to bed each night. Trust the Lord who is the source of joy. Choose joy anyway. You may be in the midst of sorrow and brokenness. Realize that joy is different from happiness. Joy and sorrow can coexist. In your time of sorrow, choose joy—the confidence that you are loved and cared for by God. Your attitude of trust will give God praise and glory and draw others to Christ. Stick with God even when you feel like your heart is breaking or the world is crashing down. You will grow nearer to Him and begin to understand how He ministers to His children through this world of evil— and that’s always a pleasant surprise.
  • 8. JOHN R. WIBLE IS THE EDITOR OF THIS MATERIAL WHICH IS DERIVED FROM CONVENTION SERIES LITERATURE OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, THE HERSHEL HOBBS COMMENTARY, ADVANCED BIBLE STUDY, BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR AND ADDITIONAL MATERIALS FROM THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION. COMMENTARY FROM THE DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES BY DR. WILLIAM BARCLAY AND COMMENTARY BY DR. E. I. SCOFIELD MAY ALSO BE INCLUDED. NO ORIGINAL WORK IS CLAIMED BY THE EDITOR EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED. Page 8 DIGGING DEEPER: Christian—The earliest believers usually referred to one another as “saints,” or “brethren,” or sometimes as followers of “the Way” (Acts 9:2). It was actually non-believers in Antioch who first called Christ-followers “Christians” (11:26), and it was probably intended as a term of contemptuous ridicule. In Acts 26:28, 'Agrippa said to Paul, “Are you going to persuade me to become a Christian so easily?’” Agrippa’s use of the word Christian reinforces the impression that it was mostly used by those outside the faith to label those inside the faith. But it became the most common and beloved way to describe those who belonged to Christ, as is seen in 1 Peter 4:16. Christian: A Christian (v. 16; Christianos) is “a follower of Christ” or “little Christ.” The word may have been coined originally as a term of derision by opponents of those who followed Christ. According to Acts 11:26, it was first used in Antioch during a period when Barnabas and Saul ministered there. In time, however, followers of Christ embraced the term as a fitting description of what they were dedicated to becoming—like Christ. CHRISTIAN (khrihs' tyan): The Greek Christianos originally applied to the slaves belonging to a great household. It came to denote the adherents of an individual or party. A Christian is an adherent of Christ; one committed to Christ; a follower of Christ. The word is used three times in the New Testament. 1. Believers “were called Christians first in Antioch” because their behavior, activity, and speech were like Christ (Acts 11:26). 2. Agrippa responded to Paul’s witness, “Almost thou persuade me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:28). He spoke of becoming an adherent of Christ. 3. Peter stated that believers who “suffer as a Christian” are to do so for the glory of God (1 Pet. 4:16). A Christian is one who becomes an adherent of Christ, whose daily life and behavior facing adversity is like Christ. ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND READING: Hope For Persecuted Believers—The Lord Is Good By Mark A. Rathel, associate professor of theology at The Baptist College of Florida, Graceville, Florida. SIMON PETER WROTE his first epistle to Christians in Asia Minor experiencing persecution. He encouraged believers by reminding them of the nature of salvation, then hope Christians experience in Christ, and the heavenly inheritance belonging to those who follow Christ. In response to their sufferings and persecution, Peter challenged his readers to a lifestyle of personal and corporate holiness. In 1 Peter 2:1-10, the apostle challenged his readers to a new understanding of the church. The church is God’s chosen people, a spiritual temple, and priests in His service. Before proclaiming a radical understanding of God’s people, Peter commanded his readers to mature in relation to salvation (1 Pet. 2:2). He focused on the vital importance of the entire Christian community growing spiritually together. All the verbs in 1 Peter 2:1-3 are plural, addressing the entire Christian community. Peter detailed two specific matters in the spiritual growth of the community.
  • 9. JOHN R. WIBLE IS THE EDITOR OF THIS MATERIAL WHICH IS DERIVED FROM CONVENTION SERIES LITERATURE OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, THE HERSHEL HOBBS COMMENTARY, ADVANCED BIBLE STUDY, BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR AND ADDITIONAL MATERIALS FROM THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION. COMMENTARY FROM THE DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES BY DR. WILLIAM BARCLAY AND COMMENTARY BY DR. E. I. SCOFIELD MAY ALSO BE INCLUDED. NO ORIGINAL WORK IS CLAIMED BY THE EDITOR EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED. Page 9 First, together believers must decisively put away attitudes destructive to the development of the community, namely, wickedness, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. Second, like the strong cravings of babies for milk, believers must eagerly desire the spiritual nourishment of the Word of God. The Word of God is “pure” (uncontaminated) and “spiritual.” The term “spiritual” means “reasonable.” The encourage Christians to spiritual growth, Peter reminded believers “the Lord is good” (v. 3). What is the meaning of the adjective “good,” the Greek word chrestos? What is the background of the concept “good” in ancient Greek? What is the meaning of “good” in Hebrew, particularly Psalm 34:8 that Peter quotes? What does the adjective “good” mean as a description of God? The Greek Term People used the ancient Greek term chrestos (good) to describe things, people, and occasionally gods. The corresponding verb chresteuomai, which does not occur in secular Greek, means “to be good, kind, or benevolent.”1 The adjective functions as a relational term to describe either the standing of a person or thing in relation to others or the purpose to the person or thing.2 Applied to things, the term described what was “useful, good of its kind, serviceable.”3 In particular, the term denoted something “superior for a particular purpose.”4 The term occasionally denoted the good as opposed to evil. As applied to people, the term described people as “honest,” “upright,” or “conforming to the rules” or simply a “good person.” Yet, even as a descriptive moral term for people, chrestos retained the concept of usefulness or fulfillment of purpose. Hellenistic culture uplifted the ideal of morality as that which was useful in society at large.5 Because a “good” person reached the condition in which he or she possessed a genuine goodness of heart, the individual possessed of heart, the individual possessed the capacity to show or demonstrate kindness to others. In secular Greek the term rarely described the gods because the ancients regarded the concept of a “good king god” with disdain and not a concept worthy of a deity.6 On the rare occasions in ancient literature in which the term “good” (cherstos) was applied to a god, it described the benevolence of a god who had supposedly provided wealth or healing.7 Hebrew and the Septuagint In 1 Peter 2:3, Peter quoted Psalm 34:8 from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. Cherstos serves as the translation of the Hebrew noun tov. The usages of the Hebrew term parallel the usages outlined for the Greek term as descriptive of moral goodness, practical good, and quality.8 The term most frequently described a person, especially in the ethical sense. The most characteristic usage of cherstos (good) in the Septuagint occurred in the context of worship and praise of God.9 In contrast to the hesitancy at which Greeks applied the concept “good” to a god, the Hebrew Bible frequently described God as “good,” particularly in the Psalms. Rather than “good” describing only an attribute of God, the Psalms primarily use the word to highlight God’s actions on behalf of His people’s welfare.10
  • 10. JOHN R. WIBLE IS THE EDITOR OF THIS MATERIAL WHICH IS DERIVED FROM CONVENTION SERIES LITERATURE OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, THE HERSHEL HOBBS COMMENTARY, ADVANCED BIBLE STUDY, BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR AND ADDITIONAL MATERIALS FROM THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION. COMMENTARY FROM THE DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES BY DR. WILLIAM BARCLAY AND COMMENTARY BY DR. E. I. SCOFIELD MAY ALSO BE INCLUDED. NO ORIGINAL WORK IS CLAIMED BY THE EDITOR EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED. Page 10 Peter focused on Psalm 34:8. The psalm celebrates God’s deliverance of the afflicted and highlights God’s greatness, answered prayer, divine presence, and abundant provision. The psalmist commanded his readers to “taste,” “see,” and “fear.” To “taste” required one to “examine by sampling.”11 Believers “taste” God by seeking shelter in Him (Ps. 34:8) and submitting to God in fearful respect (v. 9).12 The New Testament The Greek term chrestos (good) occurs seven times in the New Testament. The term describes Jesus’ easy yoke (Matt. 11:30), better wine (Luke 5:39), God being good to the ungrateful (6:35), Him showing kindness that leads to repentance (Rom. 2:4), good morals (1 Cor. 15:33), and the act of being kind (Eph. 4:32). Peter used chrestos to describe God succinctly: “the Lord is good” (1 Pet. 2:3, emphasis added). The central message of Psalm 34 correlates with four aspects of the message of 1 Peter to believing sufferers. First, the psalm highlights God’s delivering the afflicted. Second, the psalmist encouraged believers to hope (trust) only in God. The noun or verb “hope” occurs five times in 1 Peter (1:3,13,21; 3:5,15). Third, David praised God for deliverance from all his “sojourning,” a term the Septuagint used (or “fears” in HCSB; Ps. 34:4), again a term describing the pilgrims Peter was addressing (1 Pet. 1:17; 2:11). Fourth, both Psalm 34 and 1 Peter highlight the importance of the “fear” of the Lord (Ps. 34:9,11; 1 Pet. 1:17; 2:17-18; 3:2,14-15).13 Peter appealed to the readers’ past experience of God’s goodness in salvation in encourage them to further growth “unto salvation.” The verb “taste” in a metaphor describing personal experience and involvement in the past.14 In their Christian experiences, the readers had experienced the “goodness” of God in His mighty actions on behalf of His people. What action did Peter urge from his readers? In 2:4, he encouraged them to come continually (proserchomai) to God, a term the Septuagint used to describe priests approaching God (here Jesus) to worship.15 Simon Peter’s was a reminder that, even in the face of persecution, the Lord is worthy of worship. Persecution and Tribulation for Early Believers By Dale “Geno” Robinson Dale “Geno” Robinson is pastor of Madison Avenue Baptist Church, North Highlands, California. IN ROMANS 8:35, near the end of his life,1 Paul put forth a song of victory over persecution and tribulation: Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? (HCSB) Paul saw those difficulties as natural consequences of his faith, causing him pain, but received with joy. Persecution was the religious and legal punishment he and other believers received from Jews and Gentiles because of their Christian faith.
  • 11. JOHN R. WIBLE IS THE EDITOR OF THIS MATERIAL WHICH IS DERIVED FROM CONVENTION SERIES LITERATURE OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, THE HERSHEL HOBBS COMMENTARY, ADVANCED BIBLE STUDY, BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR AND ADDITIONAL MATERIALS FROM THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION. COMMENTARY FROM THE DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES BY DR. WILLIAM BARCLAY AND COMMENTARY BY DR. E. I. SCOFIELD MAY ALSO BE INCLUDED. NO ORIGINAL WORK IS CLAIMED BY THE EDITOR EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED. Page 11 Tribulation was their experience of persecution. It was as the cost of doing missionary business, the ongoing hardship they experienced because they proclaimed the gospel. It was the pain and anxiety they suffered at the hands of their Jewish or pagan neighbors because they were believers. The Jews saw them as heretics. The pagan on the street saw them as suspicious disturbers of society.2 Opposition at the Outset The early believers were not surprised when they were persecuted. Christ warned His disciples they would be arrested, arraigned, and physically punished for being His followers. He endured resistance, hatred, persecution, and death. He taught that His disciples could expect nothing less (Mark 13:9-13; Luke 21:12; John 15:20-21). Jewish Persecution Pilate, as Roman governor of Judea, limited Jewish persecution of dissidents like Christians. When Lucius Vitellius became Roman governor of Syria in AD 36, he deposed Pilate. A period of benign Roman neglect allowed the Jews to exert a greater police power than before.3 They imprisoned Peter and John. A jealous conspiracy by Hellenistic Jews resulted in Stephen’s stoning death, an action that would have been impossible under Pilate. The Sanhedrin felt empowered enough to license Saul of Tarsus to harass Christians as far away as Damascus (Acts 4:1-22; 7:54-60; 9:1-2; 1 Cor. 1:23). Diaspora Jews regularly disturbed the common peace with rioting and violence. Their public protesters were so disruptive in Rome that in AD 49, the emperor Claudius expelled them all from the city. Suetonius, the Roman historian, suggested that reaction against the teaching of someone named “Chrestus” caused it all. Many scholars assume this referred to the teaching of Christ. 4 Believers bore the brunt of Jewish anti-Christian rage. In Thessalonica zealous Jews rioted because Paul’s preaching led many to Christ. When they could not locate Paul, they turned on his host, Jason. They forcibly entered Jason’s home, beat him, and dragged him before the magistrate. Though Jews had caused the riots, Jason had to post the bail (Acts 17:9). Pagan Persecution Pagans persecuted Christians because they, as Christ’s followers, rejected the veneer of false religion that covered the economic, cultural, and political life of that society. The rioters in Thessalonica were correct: “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.”5 Economic Persecution Christian preaching was always a threat to some group’s livelihood. In Philippi Paul and Silas cast a “spirit or prediction” out of a slave girl (16:16-19, HCSB), they seized Paul and Silas and marched them to the authorities for punishment.
  • 12. JOHN R. WIBLE IS THE EDITOR OF THIS MATERIAL WHICH IS DERIVED FROM CONVENTION SERIES LITERATURE OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, THE HERSHEL HOBBS COMMENTARY, ADVANCED BIBLE STUDY, BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR AND ADDITIONAL MATERIALS FROM THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION. COMMENTARY FROM THE DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES BY DR. WILLIAM BARCLAY AND COMMENTARY BY DR. E. I. SCOFIELD MAY ALSO BE INCLUDED. NO ORIGINAL WORK IS CLAIMED BY THE EDITOR EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED. Page 12 Ephesus, which was the center of worship of the goddess Diana, attracted thousands of tourists and worshipers. The local merchants had a thriving trade in tourist trinkets and silver replicas of the Temple of Diana (also called Artemis). A problem arose because Paul was too successful in gaining converts (19:1-41). The silversmiths and other craftsmen feared that the growth of this new imageless faith was a threat both to their livelihood and their religion. They rioted; caused great public disturbance; and almost lynched Paul’s helpers, Gaius and Aristarchus. Finally, the magistrate was able to calm and then dismiss the disorderly crowd. Paul wisely heeded the advice not to appear in public, and later quietly left town. These Christians were persecuted because their faith threatened the economic well-being of certain interest groups.6 Cultural Persecution By AD 64, government officials and pagan men on the street alike recognized Christianity as a separate, yet suspect religion. Christians had become numerous enough that some people saw them as being a subversive threat. Everything Christians did was counter-cultural to almost everything in pagan society. By rejecting idol worship and denying the reality of local deities, believers excluded themselves from the civic life of their cities. They would not attend public festivals that honored these gods nor would they participate as local magistrates and priests—each of which was as much a religious as a civic responsibility. Their practices of sharing their goods and of remaining celibate ran against common mores. A “tolerant” society that expected everyone to live according to the cultural norms was repulsed by the Christians’ adamant refusal to do so.7 Christian religious practice also seemed antisocial. Their secret meetings in secluded places at odd hours caused some to think they were plotting against society. Because they spoke figuratively about drinking Christ’s blood and eating His flesh, literal-minded pagans thought they were cannibals. The practice of sharing a holy kiss between Christian brothers and sisters at communion gave rise to whispers of incest.8 Pastor Clement of Rome writing about AD 94 remembered this anti-Christian anger as “envy and jealousy.” This jealousy led to the torture and death of Christians of all stations. Persons carrying out vigilante “justice” persecuted believers like the Danaids and Dircae (figurative terms for certain women who were martyred because of their faith). Clement tells us that “after they had suffered terrible and unspeakable torments, [they] finished their course of faith with steadfastness.”9 Roman historians disliked Christians. Tacitus (AD 55-120) reported they were “hated for their abominations.”10 Suetonius (ca. 70-140) said they were “a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition.”11 Much later, church father Tertullian (ca. 150-222) recalled that in times of national anxiety, catastrophe, or raging inflation the mob would make Christians the scapegoats. Inevitably someone would raise the city, “Throw the Christians to the lions!”, as if that would cure everything.12
  • 13. JOHN R. WIBLE IS THE EDITOR OF THIS MATERIAL WHICH IS DERIVED FROM CONVENTION SERIES LITERATURE OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, THE HERSHEL HOBBS COMMENTARY, ADVANCED BIBLE STUDY, BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR AND ADDITIONAL MATERIALS FROM THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION. COMMENTARY FROM THE DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES BY DR. WILLIAM BARCLAY AND COMMENTARY BY DR. E. I. SCOFIELD MAY ALSO BE INCLUDED. NO ORIGINAL WORK IS CLAIMED BY THE EDITOR EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED. Page 13 Roman Persecution The Roman government was at first indifferent to Christians, but over time came to see them as atheistic threats to the essential fabric of the Roman state. Nero was the first emperor to persecute them. He blamed them for the great Roman fire of AD 64, and punished them with ferocity for the trumped-up charge of “hatred of mankind.” He had them draped with animal skins and thrown to fierce dogs to be torn apart. He crucified them or coated them in tar and lit them to illuminate his garden at night. Both Peter and Paul were martyred at this time. This first imperial persecution was limited to Rome and lasted only a short while.13 Official persecutions receded into the background because of Roman political upheavals and civil wars for the next 30 years or so. The next such persecution occurred from 91-96 specifically in Rome and Asia Minor. The emperor Domitian declared himself a god equal to other Roman gods. He had large statues of himself set up all over the empire and demanded that each citizen offer obeisance to him at least once a year. People who failed to honor his deity, including close relatives, were killed outright. Christians, of course, flatly refused to worship anyone other than Christ and thus faced persecution.14 Following Christ in those first days of belief was no easy adventure. It was a choice many made with the full knowledge of its difficulty. The discomfort and pain were real, as both the neighbors and the government persecuted believers. Because Paul had set the example, however, all could sing, “We are more than victorious through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37, HCSB). Peter’s Eschatological Understanding By Mark R. Dunn, pastor of Crestview Baptist Church and adjunct professor at Dallas Baptist University, both in Dallas, Texas. “THE END OF THE INTERNET - Congratulations! This is the last page. Thank you for visiting The End of the Internet. There are no more links. You must now turn off your computer and go do something productive . . . Go read a book, for Pete’s sake.” I FOUND THAT POSTING while browsing online recently. Though meant to produce a chuckle, these words, if true, would be devastating to many Internet addicts. The suggestion to do something productive, like reading a book, is intriguing. The essential book to read is, of course, the Bible. Its message regarding the end of time is far too important to ignore. Innocently the suggestion above refers to “Pete;” ironically the Apostle wrote: “Now the end of all things is near” (1 Pet. 4:7)1 and had some productive suggestions to do before the end. Eschatology is the theological study of “the end of all things.” Eschatology presents the last category of theological inquiry, following the grand doctrines of God, man, Christ, salvation, and the church. As a discipline, eschatology points to a future time when history will be changed so radically that a new state of reality must be described.2
  • 14. JOHN R. WIBLE IS THE EDITOR OF THIS MATERIAL WHICH IS DERIVED FROM CONVENTION SERIES LITERATURE OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, THE HERSHEL HOBBS COMMENTARY, ADVANCED BIBLE STUDY, BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR AND ADDITIONAL MATERIALS FROM THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION. COMMENTARY FROM THE DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES BY DR. WILLIAM BARCLAY AND COMMENTARY BY DR. E. I. SCOFIELD MAY ALSO BE INCLUDED. NO ORIGINAL WORK IS CLAIMED BY THE EDITOR EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED. Page 14 Eschatology includes individual concerns such as death, judgment, resurrection, and afterlife, as well as cosmic concerns such as the end of history and the transformation of the world.3 Among these issues, judgment is the central biblical concern. Judgment looms as God’s final act in this era. Peter taught that God’s pending judgment has grand implications for life prior to the end of time. God’s judgment will be serious for all and devastating for many. From a biblical perspective, the impact of God’s judgment on one’s life cannot be overstated. Thus judgment is the most compelling reason to have godly productivity in one’s earthly life. This expresses the core of Peter’s eschatological message. Peter’s coverage of eschatological concerns is not exhaustive, yet both Petrine Letters are saturated by an eschatological outlook.4 Peter crafted his epistles to encourage readers to pursue the lofty goal of persistent righteous living despite suffering persecution and enduring the scornful pressure of false brethren. To encourage his readers, Peter appealed to eschatological hope. Peter showed that a basic eschatological understanding answers present challenges—to the pursuit of righteousness and faith. In his letters Paul affirmed that things will not always be as they are. Though the promised end of the age seems distant, 1 Peter 4:7 declares its nearness—vindication and judgment approach. God’s people must anticipate the arrival of the end. In his first epistle, Peter lightly referenced this teaching. But responding to continued suffering, Peter’s Second Letter vividly explains more about the approaching end of the world. Peter’s declaration “the end of all things is near” appears amid his discussion of Christian suffering in a world saturated with immorality. His remarkable statement implies that Christian suffering will soon disappear. It follows the announcement in 1 Peter 4:5 that the abusers of Peter’s readers will answer to the judge of the living and the dead. Thus judgment, the core eschatological theme, prompted Peter’s declaration that the end of all things is near. That any biblical promise can be thought of as “near” is a troublesome concept for many. Peter stated that scoffers brazenly declare that life continues as it has since creation (2 Pet. 3:3-4). How does one handle the concept of time when discussing its ending? Peter asserted that God does not evaluate timing as humans do: one day has the significance of 1,000 years and vice versa (v. 8; see Ps. 90:4). This is hardly a concession to the skeptics. God does not watch the clock and neither must His followers. Far more important to God is human development. Peter’s eschatological emphasis rests on how his readers should productively use their earthly lifetimes and the end approaches. Jesus declared the nearness of God’s kingdom in His ministry (Matt. 4:17; 10:7; Mark 1:15; Luke 10:9-11; 21:28-31). John the Baptist made the same declaration (Matt. 3:2). Paul asserted that salvation was now nearer (Rom. 13:11). James proclaimed that the Lord’s coming is near (5:8). John twice stated that the prophesied events in Revelation were near (Rev. 1:3; 22:10). Each of these authors used the same wording as 1 Peter 4:7, showing the pervasive New Testament witness that the end is eschatologically near.
  • 15. JOHN R. WIBLE IS THE EDITOR OF THIS MATERIAL WHICH IS DERIVED FROM CONVENTION SERIES LITERATURE OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, THE HERSHEL HOBBS COMMENTARY, ADVANCED BIBLE STUDY, BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR AND ADDITIONAL MATERIALS FROM THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION. COMMENTARY FROM THE DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES BY DR. WILLIAM BARCLAY AND COMMENTARY BY DR. E. I. SCOFIELD MAY ALSO BE INCLUDED. NO ORIGINAL WORK IS CLAIMED BY THE EDITOR EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED. Page 15 Old Testament prophecy also refers to the proximity of eschatological events that are distant in human terms.5 The end of time, with its dreadful events, influences present living because of its certainty. Though still future, its uncertain timing simply makes it too close for comfort. Thus the prophets called people to repentance and holy living. Both of these emphases appear among Peter’s eschatological remarks. First, Peter, a master at preaching repentance (Acts 2:38; 3:19-20), gave the clearest biblical explanation in 2 Peter 3:9 of the seeming delay in the end of time: God has paused so people will have an opportunity to repent. The final judgment will destroy ungodly people (v. 7). People will have no chance for repentance after judgment. Therefore, God delays. Second, Peter saturated his epistles with the word “holy,”6 quoting Moses’ command to be holy (Lev. 11:44-45) and appealing for holy living at the climax of his description of events at the end of time (2 Pet. 3:11).7 Peter discussed the timing of the end. He asserted it would come as a thief (v. 10)—sudden and unexpected.8 He acknowledged that its coming is both near and delayed. His insistence on the unexpected nature of its arrival emphasizes the biblical concern for human progress toward repentance and life transformation. Heaven refuses to subject its spiritual objectives to the human demand for time tables. Thus Peter seriously taught that although the end is delayed, it is near and thus could happen any time. To warn against complacency, Peter vividly painted “the end of all things” in 2 Peter 3:10-12. Fierce judgment is portrayed by apocalyptic conflagration. The heavens disappear with a “loud noise”—the “whizzing sound of rapid motion through the air like the flight of a bird, thunder, fierce flame”9—resulting from the countless elements of the universe exploding into nothingness. Some think the word “heavens” refers to the sky and outer space;10 others see a reference to the unseen spiritual realm,11 governing human life in this world. The word “elements” is also vague, referring to the physical universe beyond the earth in verse 10, but including the earth in verse 12 because a new earth is needed in verse 13. The apocalyptic vision is meant to be both vague and vivid to enhance the emphasis on judgment: Earth has lost its covering—it is now exposed to the judgment that has drawn near12—nothing hides its occupants from the searching eyes of the judge. Fire is the tool of God’s judgment. Jesus often spoke of fiery judgment (Matt. 13:40; 25:41; Mark 9:43-48; John 15:6). The Old Testament had portrayed fire as a tool God used to bring judgment and to purify sinfulness and uncleanness (Lev. 10:1-3; Isa. 6:5-7; 66:24). The cosmic conflagration first burns away all elements to disclose the works of humankind. Thus in an apocalyptic flash, judgment faces humankind. Simon Peter revealed two important signs of the approach of the end (2 Pet. 3:1-9). First, scoffers will challenge the truthfulness of Christ’s promised return as Judge. Another sign is people would ignore the significance of God’s Word. By God’s spoken word, this world was created. All who live benefit from God’s creative word. By God’s word, the world was judged in Noah’s day. God’s tool of judgment was water, an element of creation. Now God’s Word promises the end of all things by fiery judgment. Those who scoff at and ignore God’s Word will be unprepared when the final day comes.
  • 16. JOHN R. WIBLE IS THE EDITOR OF THIS MATERIAL WHICH IS DERIVED FROM CONVENTION SERIES LITERATURE OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, THE HERSHEL HOBBS COMMENTARY, ADVANCED BIBLE STUDY, BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR AND ADDITIONAL MATERIALS FROM THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION. COMMENTARY FROM THE DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES BY DR. WILLIAM BARCLAY AND COMMENTARY BY DR. E. I. SCOFIELD MAY ALSO BE INCLUDED. NO ORIGINAL WORK IS CLAIMED BY THE EDITOR EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED. Page 16 Peter’s greatest contribution to eschatological study was his discussion of eschatological ethics. First Peter 4:7- 11 provides four exhortations about how to live as God’s people in light of the approaching end. Prayer tops the list, keeping open the vital link with the Lord and providing wisdom for facing suffering and preparing for judgment. Next, Peter told his readers to love others. Christian love encourages the saints and answers worldly hostility. Peter then commanded hospitality, echoing Jesus’ command to go the extra mile even in the face of persecution. Finally, Peter encouraged the use of spiritual gifts to serve others. Instead of their watching the clock until the end of the age, Peter wanted his readers to live for Christ among people whose empty lives were getting alarmingly short.13 After describing the end, Peter discussed essential actions dictated by the approach of the end (2 Pet. 3:14-18). Believers must live in peace with God and pursue pure living. The believer’s objective is to be found spotless on the day the Lord returns. Peter also warned his readers to be on guard to avoid being carried away by immorality into spiritual uncertainty. Above all, believers must grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter’s final eschatological teaching was to glorify Christ. The purpose of all eschatological activity is God’s glory. God’s followers must reflect the character of the coming final events. The gospel message, Christ’s followers, and eschatological passages have one goal: to glorify the risen Lord who has promised to return to receive His children and judge the living and the dead. Early Christian Eschatology By Lynn Jones, pastor, Highland Baptist Church, Shreveport, LA. ONE OLD CHRISTIAN WAS asked by a friend, “What is your position on the second coming of Christ?” The elderly Christian replied with a twinkle in his eye, “I’m all for it.” Most Christians are in favor of the second coming of Christ, but not all have agreed on exactly how it will happen. They have taken different positions on the matter. Questions concerning the second coming of Christ are part of a larger category of Christian doctrine called “eschatology” [es-cah-TAHL-oh-gee]. The word eschatology is mad up o two Greek words, eschatos [ESS- cah-toss] and logos [LAH-gahs]. Eschatos means “last.” Logos, in this case, means a “doctrine” or “teaching.” The two words are combined to form the word eschatology, which means “the doctrine of last things.” The study of eschatology generally involves the last things of one’s personal life, such as death, judgment, heaven, and hell. Eschatology also includes the last things of the world, such as the second coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, and the judgment. A survey of the New Testament and church history shows that from the beginning of the church, Christians always have been intensely interested in such things. References to death, resurrection, and the second coming of Christ abound in the New Testament. Early Christians had a keen sense of anticipation as they thought about the future.
  • 17. JOHN R. WIBLE IS THE EDITOR OF THIS MATERIAL WHICH IS DERIVED FROM CONVENTION SERIES LITERATURE OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, THE HERSHEL HOBBS COMMENTARY, ADVANCED BIBLE STUDY, BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR AND ADDITIONAL MATERIALS FROM THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION. COMMENTARY FROM THE DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES BY DR. WILLIAM BARCLAY AND COMMENTARY BY DR. E. I. SCOFIELD MAY ALSO BE INCLUDED. NO ORIGINAL WORK IS CLAIMED BY THE EDITOR EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED. Page 17 While that sense of anticipation is seen throughout the New Testament it especially is intense and vivid in the writings of Peter. Peter wrote, “But the end of all things is at hand” (1 Pet. 4:7). This was a reference to the end of the present world order. Peter expected that to occur at any moment. This expectation of the “end of all things” provided a sense of urgency to the early Christians to “be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer” (1 Pet. 4:7). Not everyone shared that sense of anticipation concerning Christ’s return. In his second letter, Peter warned the believers about those who did not believe Christ would come again. Peter said, “Knowing this first, there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts” (2 Pet. 3:3). The early Christians had a deep conviction that Christ soon would return. Some skeptics did not believe, but those who refused to believe did not dim the confidence of the early church that Jesus Christ would come again. While there is general agreement that eschatology always has been a basic part of Christian teaching, there is less agreement on exactly what that eschatology is. This lack of agreement is produced, in part, by the fact that the Bible is not a book of systematic theology. The Bible is not divided into major sections with each division treating one particular doctrine. For instance, you do not find one section devoted to the doctrine of the church, another devoted to the doctrine of salvation, and another devoted to the doctrine of eschatology. Teachings on these various subjects are scattered and intermingled throughout the Bible. Our task as students of the Bible and committed Christians is to study all of the teachings of the Bible and put them together into a meaningful whole. We are to do this with Christian eschatology as well as with all the major doctrines of the Bible. References to last things occur frequently in the New Testament. One cannot read far in the first Gospel account without being confronted with the challenge of Scripture concerning future events. One event that all must face is death. What happens when one dies? Jesus gave one of the clearest teachings on the subject when He told about the death of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). When Lazarus died, he went to “Abraham’s bosom.” In this way Jesus pictured blessing and rest in the presence of God. On the other hand, when the rich man died, he went to a place of torment and separation from God. This shows that death comes for all, both the righteous and the wicked, and that there is existence for both beyond death. For the righteous, like Lazarus, there is reward and peace with God. For the wicked, there is awful punishment and separation from God. For the wicked, there is awful punishment and separation from God. As he considered his own death, Paul affirmed that the saved go to be with God at the time of death. He said that he had “a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (Phil. 1:23). Peter stated that the unrighteous undergo punishment from the time of death until the time of the final judgment. He said, “The Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment” (2 Pet. 2:9, NIV).1
  • 18. JOHN R. WIBLE IS THE EDITOR OF THIS MATERIAL WHICH IS DERIVED FROM CONVENTION SERIES LITERATURE OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, THE HERSHEL HOBBS COMMENTARY, ADVANCED BIBLE STUDY, BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR AND ADDITIONAL MATERIALS FROM THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION. COMMENTARY FROM THE DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES BY DR. WILLIAM BARCLAY AND COMMENTARY BY DR. E. I. SCOFIELD MAY ALSO BE INCLUDED. NO ORIGINAL WORK IS CLAIMED BY THE EDITOR EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED. Page 18 While the early Christians believed in the reality of death, they also believed in the certainty of a bodily resurrection. They looked back to the resurrection of Jesus Christ and forward to their own resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul wrote a stirring defense of the resurrection in the face of some who questioned the reality of the resurrection. We also can know that Jesus Christ is coming again. As Jesus was ascending into heaven, the angels said to His disciples, “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Paul emphasized the same fact when he wrote to the Thessalonians, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout” (1 Thess. 4:16). Early Christians also believed in the judgment of all people. Judgment is pictured in Jesus’ teaching about the separation of the sheep from the goats (Matt. 25:31-46). Paul’s teaching about the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10), and John’s revelation concerning the great white throne of judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). Committed Christian scholars differ in their view about various aspects of judgment, but they are agreed on one fact—all persons must face the judgment of God on their lives. The New Testament also teaches that there are two eternal destinies. The destiny of the wicked is hell and the destiny of the righteous is heaven. Hell is described as a place of torment, separation from God, and punishment (Luke 16:19-31; Matt. 18:8-9). Heaven is described in exactly the opposite terms. It is described as a home (John 14:1-2), a place of rest (Heb. 3:11-18), a beautiful city (Rev. 21:9-27), and a lovely garden (Rev. 22:1-5). While early Christians and present-day Christians affirm these facts, questions still remain about exactly what happens at the end of history. How will the final events unfold? Answers to these questions are related to “millennialism.” In Revelation 20 there are five references to a “thousand years” (vv. 2-6). The Bible says that during this thousand years certain individuals will live and reign with Christ. Theologians refer to this period as the “millennium.” The word is built on two Latin words, mille, meaning “thousand,” and annus, meaning “year.” The term millennium thus means “a thousand years.” While this thousand years, the millennium, is mentioned specifically only in Revelation 20:2-6, this passage has served as the key to formulating many systematic eschatologies. How persons view the millennium determines how they see the events at the end of history and how they arrange the order of those events. In dealing with the millennium, persons must wrestle with many questions. It is a literal thousand-year period? Will Christ come before or after the millennium? What is the relationship of the tribulation to the millennium? Interpretations on these and many other questions have evolved into several rather clearly defined millennial views. The basic views among Southern Baptists are amillennialism, historic(al) premillennialism, and dispensational premillennialism. Amillennialism interprets the reference to a thousand years in Revelation 20 as a symbolic period rather than a literal period of time. Proponents of this interpretation believe that Christians now are living in this symbolic period. The present world order will continue until the second coming of Christ.
  • 19. JOHN R. WIBLE IS THE EDITOR OF THIS MATERIAL WHICH IS DERIVED FROM CONVENTION SERIES LITERATURE OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, THE HERSHEL HOBBS COMMENTARY, ADVANCED BIBLE STUDY, BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR AND ADDITIONAL MATERIALS FROM THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION. COMMENTARY FROM THE DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES BY DR. WILLIAM BARCLAY AND COMMENTARY BY DR. E. I. SCOFIELD MAY ALSO BE INCLUDED. NO ORIGINAL WORK IS CLAIMED BY THE EDITOR EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED. Page 19 When Christ comes, all the dead will be raised, everyone will be judged, the wicked will be consigned to hell for eternity, and the righteous will enter their eternal home in heaven. Earthly existence will cease. Historic(al) premillennialists (also called posttribulation-rapture premillennialists) believe in a literal thousand- year reign of Christ on earth. Most who hold this view teach that preceding the millennium the church will go through a seven-year tribulation. At the end of the tribulation Christ will come to institute the millennium. The righteous will be resurrected at the beginning of the millennium, and the unrighteous at the end of the millennium. The judgment and eternal states will follow the millennium. A third view of the millennium is dispensational premillennialism (also called pretribulation-rapture premillennialism). This view also sees the millennium as being a literal thousand-year reign of Christ on earth, but arranges other events differently. This millennial view holds that there will be two comings of Christ. The first, called the rapture, will be for the church. The redeemed will escape the suffering of the tribulation period. At this return of Christ, the righteous dead will be raised to meet the Lord, and the living Christians will be transfigured. The next coming will be at the end of the seven-year tribulation. At this coming, Christ will lead His forces to victory over the forces of antichrist in the Battle of Armageddon. This will be followed by Christ’s millennial reign on earth. Satan will lead his allies in a final assault. Christ will win a final victory. The wicked will be raised, and the final judgment will be rendered. The wicked will be in hell forever, while the righteous will be with God forever. Peculiar to this view is the dual eternal reign of the church in heaven (spiritual) and the nation of Israel on earth (literal). These are the main emphases of each view. Some details of these views have been omitted, and no attempt has been make to describe various minor differences of opinion among advocates of these different views. While there obviously is a great range of opinion concerning the order of events related to the end of history, the things that are agreed on are even more striking than the differences. The present Christian church, just like the early Christian church, believes that Jesus Christ is coming again. Regardless of the variations of views about the order of events surrounding Christ’s second coming, all of the millennial views wind up at the same point. All affirm that those who have rejected Jesus Christ as Savior are separated from Him forever. Those who have accepted Him as Savior and Lord share eternity with Him. You and I have no control over the order of events at the end of history. However, we do have great input at one point. We can share Jesus Christ with as many people as possible. As people accept Christ as Savior, they can spend eternity with Him. As one Christian said concerning the second coming of Christ, “I am not on the time and place committee, but I am on the preparation committee.” May God help us to be prepared for His coming.
  • 20. JOHN R. WIBLE IS THE EDITOR OF THIS MATERIAL WHICH IS DERIVED FROM CONVENTION SERIES LITERATURE OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, THE HERSHEL HOBBS COMMENTARY, ADVANCED BIBLE STUDY, BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR AND ADDITIONAL MATERIALS FROM THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION. COMMENTARY FROM THE DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES BY DR. WILLIAM BARCLAY AND COMMENTARY BY DR. E. I. SCOFIELD MAY ALSO BE INCLUDED. NO ORIGINAL WORK IS CLAIMED BY THE EDITOR EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED. Page 20 Daily Bible Study, 1 Peter 4:12-19 by William Barclay THE INEVITABILITY OF PERSECUTION (1 Peter 4:12-13) 4:12-13 Beloved, do not regard the fiery ordeal through which you are passing and which has happened to you to test you, as something strange, as if some alien experience were happening to you, but rejoice in so far as you share the sufferings of Christ so that you may also rejoice with rapture when his glory shall be revealed. In the nature of things persecution must have been a much more daunting experience for Gentiles than it was for Jews. The average Gentile had little experience of it; but the Jews have always been the most persecuted people upon earth. Peter was writing to Christians who were Gentiles and he had to try to help them by showing them persecution in its true terms. It is never easy to be a Christian. The Christian life brings its own loneliness, its own unpopularity, its own problems, its own sacrifices and its own persecutions. It is, therefore, well to have certain great principles in our minds. (i) It is Peter's view that persecution is inevitable. It is human nature to dislike and to regard with suspicion anyone who is different; the Christian is necessarily different from the man of the world. The particular impact of the Christian difference makes the matter more acute. To the world the Christian brings the standards of Jesus Christ. That is another way of saying that he inevitably is a kind of conscience to any society in which he moves; and many a man would gladly eliminate the troublesome twinges of conscience. The very goodness of Christianity can be an offence to a world in which goodness is regarded as a handicap. (ii) It is Peter's view that persecution is a test. It is a test in a double sense. A man's devotion to a principle can be measured by his willingness to suffer for it; therefore, any kind of persecution is a test of a man's faith. But it is equally true that it is only the real Christian who will be persecuted. The Christian who compromises with the world will not be persecuted. In a double sense persecution is the test of the reality of a man's faith. (iii) Now we come to the uplifting things. Persecution is a sharing in the sufferings of Jesus Christ. When a man has to suffer for his Christianity he is walking the way his Master walked and sharing the Cross his Master carried. This is a favourite New Testament thought. If we suffer with him, we will be glorified with him (Romans 8:17). It is Paul's desire to enter into the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ (Philippians 3:10). If we suffer with him, we shall reign with him (2 Timothy 2:12). If we remember that, anything we must suffer for the sake of Christ becomes a privilege and not a penalty. (iv) Persecution is the way to glory. The Cross is the way to the crown. Jesus Christ is no man's debtor and his joy and crown await the man who, through thick and thin, remains true to him. THE BLESSEDNESS OF SUFFERING FOR CHRIST (1 Peter 4:14-16) 4:14-16 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed because the presence of the glory and the Spirit of God rest upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or an evil-doer or a busybody. But if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him by this name bring glory to God.
  • 21. JOHN R. WIBLE IS THE EDITOR OF THIS MATERIAL WHICH IS DERIVED FROM CONVENTION SERIES LITERATURE OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, THE HERSHEL HOBBS COMMENTARY, ADVANCED BIBLE STUDY, BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR AND ADDITIONAL MATERIALS FROM THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION. COMMENTARY FROM THE DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES BY DR. WILLIAM BARCLAY AND COMMENTARY BY DR. E. I. SCOFIELD MAY ALSO BE INCLUDED. NO ORIGINAL WORK IS CLAIMED BY THE EDITOR EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED. Page 21 Here Peter says the greatest thing of all. If a man suffers for Christ, the presence of the glory rests upon him. This is a very strange phrase. We think it can mean only one thing. The Jews had the conception of the Shekinah, the luminous glow of the very presence of God. This conception constantly recurs in the Old Testament. "In the morning," said Moses, "you shall see the glory of the Lord" (Exodus 16:7). "The glory of the Lord settled upon Mount Sinai, and the cloud coverer it six days," when the law was being delivered to Moses (Exodus 24:16). In the tabernacle God was to meet with Israel and it was to be sanctified with his glory (Exodus 29:43). When the tabernacle was completed, "then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle" (Exodus 40:34). When the ark of the covenant was brought into Solomon's temple, "a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord" (1 Kings 8:10-11). Repeatedly this idea of the Shekinah, the luminous glory of God, occurs in the Old Testament. It is Peter's conviction that something of that glow of glory rests on the man who suffers for Christ. When Stephen was on trial for his life and it was certain that he would be condemned to death, to those who looked on him his face was as the face of an angel (Acts 6:15). Peter goes on to point out that it is as a Christian that a man must suffer and not as an evil-doer. The evils which he singles out are all clear enough until we come to the last. A Christian, Peter says, is not to suffer as an allotriepiskopos. The trouble is that there is no other instance of this word in Greek and Peter may well have invented it. It can have three possible meanings, all of which would be relevant. It comes from two words, allotrios, belonging to another and episkopos, looking upon or looking into. Therefore, it literally means looking upon, or into, that which belongs to another. (i) To look on that which is someone else's might well be to cast covetous eyes upon it. That is how both the Latin Bible and Calvin take this word--to mean that the Christian must not be covetous. (ii) To look upon that which belongs to another might well mean to be too interested in other people's affairs and to be a meddling busybody. That is by far the most probable meaning. There are Christians who do an infinite deal of harm with misguided interference and criticism. This would mean that the Christian must never be an interfering busybody. That gives good sense and, we believe, the best sense. (iii) There is a third possibility. Allotrios means that which belongs to someone else; that is to say, that which is foreign to oneself. Along that line allotriepiskopos will mean looking upon that which is foreign to oneself. That would mean, of a Christian, entering upon undertakings which do not befit the Christian life. This would mean that a Christian must never interest himself in things which are alien to the life that a Christian should lead. While all three meanings are possible, we think that the third is the right one.
  • 22. JOHN R. WIBLE IS THE EDITOR OF THIS MATERIAL WHICH IS DERIVED FROM CONVENTION SERIES LITERATURE OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, THE HERSHEL HOBBS COMMENTARY, ADVANCED BIBLE STUDY, BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR AND ADDITIONAL MATERIALS FROM THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION. COMMENTARY FROM THE DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES BY DR. WILLIAM BARCLAY AND COMMENTARY BY DR. E. I. SCOFIELD MAY ALSO BE INCLUDED. NO ORIGINAL WORK IS CLAIMED BY THE EDITOR EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED. Page 22 It is Peter's injunction that, if a Christian has to suffer for Christ, he must do so in such a way that his suffering brings glory to God and to the name he bears. His life and conduct must be the best argument that he does not deserve the suffering which has come upon him and his attitude to it must commend the name he bears. ENTRUSTING ALL LIFE TO GOD (1 Peter 4:17-19) 4:17-19 For the time has come for judgment to begin from the household of God. And, if it begins from us, what will be the end of those who disobey the good news which comes from God? And, if the righteous man is scarcely saved, where will the impious man and the sinner appear? So, then, let those who suffer in accordance with the will of God, entrust their souls to him who is a Creator on whom you can rely, and continue to do right. As Peter saw it, it was all the more necessary for the Christian to do right because judgment was about to begin. It was to begin with the household of God. Ezekiel hears the voice of God proclaiming judgment upon his people, "Begin at my sanctuary" (Ezekiel 9:6). Where the privilege has been greatest, there the judgment will be sternest. If judgment is to fall upon the Church of God, what will be the fate of those who have been utterly disobedient to the invitation and command of God? Peter confirms his appeal with a quotation from Proverbs 11:31 : "If the righteous is requited on earth, how much more the wicked and the sinner!" Finally, Peter exhorts his people to continue to do good and, whatever happens to them to entrust their lives to God, the Creator on whom they can rely. The word he uses for to entrust is paratithesthai, which is the technical word for depositing money with a trusted friend. In the ancient days there were no banks and few really safe places in which to deposit money. So, before a man went on a journey, he often left his money in the safe-keeping of a friend. Such a trust was regarded as one of the most sacred things in life. The friend was absolutely bound by all honour and all religion to return the money intact. Herodotus (6: 86) has a story about such a trust. A certain Milesian came to Sparta, for he had heard of the strict honour of the Spartans, and entrusted his money to a certain Glaucus. He said that in due time his sons would reclaim the money and would bring tokens which would establish their identity beyond doubt. The time passed and the sons came. Glaucus treacherously said that he had no recollection of any money being entrusted to him and said that he wished four months to think about it. The Milesians departed sad and sorry. Glaucus consulted the gods as to what he ought to do, and they warned him that he must return the money. He did so, but before long he died and all his family followed him, and in the time of Herodotus there was not a single member of his family left alive because the gods were angry that he had even contemplated breaking the trust reposed in him. Even to think of evading such a trust was a mortal sin. If a man entrusts himself to God, God will not fail him. If such a trust is sacred to men, how much more is it sacred to God? This is the very word used by Jesus, when he says "Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit" (Luke 23:46). Jesus unhesitatingly entrusted his life to God, certain that he would not fail him--and so may we. The old advice is still good advice--trust in God and do the right.