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

By Dr. R. Scott Clark - Posted at The Heidelblog:

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.15–16: Suffering For Christ But Not For Lawlessness

In our time and culture(s) we use the word “suffer” very loosely. Perhaps most often we use it to refer to medical, emotional, or psychiatric conditions. To be sure these are forms of suffering. Christians are not Gnostics (e.g., The Church of Christ Science, “Christian Science”). We affirm the reality of our shared humanity and the reality of physical, emotional, psychological suffering (e.g., Matt 8:6) but when the Apostle Peter speaks of suffering here his paradigm is Christ. To be sure, Christians affirm whole-heartedly the true humanity of Jesus. He suffered emotionally and physically. His true humanity is both body and soul nevertheless, when Peter thinks about Christ’s suffering he is not thinking of medical conditions. He is thinking of Christ’s suffering under “the elders and chief priests and scribes” (Mark 8:31), his being treated with contempt (Mark 9:12). It was with these sufferings that Peter began his epistle: “Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories” (1 Pet 1:10–11). Peter has already contrasted suffering like Christ for his sake (because of our identity with him), with suffering for wrong-doing (1 Pet 2:19–21). Christ, however, was reviled because he was righteous. When he suffered he did not threaten (1 Pet 2:23). When we live in a way that is appropriate to our identity with Christ we may suffer for righteousness’ sake (1 Pet 3:14, 17). It is a testimony to our identity with Christ. He suffered in the flesh (1 Pet 4:1) and so may we.


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