Strangers And Aliens (21b): Be Not Surprised By Fiery Trials (1 Peter 4:12–19)




12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (1 Peter 4:12–19; ESV)
v.14 The Spirit of God Rests On Us

Christians in the West are gradually learning what Christians in other parts of the world (e.g., Nigeria, China, and Turkey) have long known: it can be very painful to be a Christian in a hostile culture. The Christians of Asia Minor c. 65 AD were facing informal pressure to abandon the faith. Their brothers and sisters in Rome, at this very time, were facing a violent persecution as part of the the emperor’s attempt to cover up a botched urban redevelopment plan. Gauging by the tenor and language that we have already seen in 1 Peter, when Peter says “if” (εἰ) he is not imaging a remote, unlikely condition or possibility. The verb Peter uses here (ὀνειδίζεσθε) is the sane verb used by Matthew and Luke in their accounts of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:11; Luke 6:22): ” “Blessed are you when (ὅταν) others revile (ὀνειδίσωσιν) you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” 1 Peter 4:14 is a commentary upon or application of our Lord’s words. If so, then perhaps we should understand the conditional (εἰ) to mean something more like when than if. It is true that Peter could have used the same particle that Matthew and Luke used (ὅταν), thus eliminating ambiguity so perhaps it is best to say that the most likely sense here is “when.”

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