Exhortations to Elders, Part 4.

“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:” (I Peter 5:1).

We have thus far seen that the word elder comes from the Greek word πρεσβύτερος; presbyteros. Our English word Presbyterian comes from this Greek noun. The word’s root meaning is an old, or an older man. Elder also means a person of responsibility and authority in matters of religious concerns. This was not only the case among the Jewish nation, but also the New Testament Church, which consisted of both Jews and Gentiles.

I Peter 5:1 begins with the statement, “So I exhort the elders among you…” The Apostle Peter wants to exhort (παρακαλέω; parakaleo) or continuously and actively appeal to and encourage the elders who were among the people to whom he was writing.

Peter identified himself as a fellow elder (συμπρεσβύτερος; sympresbyteros). It is obvious I’m sure to most people that if you want to encourage or motivate someone, it helps when you and they can relate to similar issues and problems. Peter could understand the pressures and challenges facing these church leaders. Peter was a church leader himself, Many would say that along with the Apostle Paul, he was “the” church leader.

Along with being a fellow-elder, Peter indicated that he was a witness (μάρτυς; martys) or one who testified to the truth of the painful sufferings (πάθημα; pathema) Jesus Christ experienced while on earth. Peter could motivate these elders because of his authority in having been an eyewitness of the person and work of Christ.

Peter also motivated the elders because of the anticipation of the glorious return of Christ. Peter referenced this glory of Christ in I Peter 4:13. See also Matthew 17:1-8 and 2 Peter 1:16. Realizing that church leaders will one day receive rewards for faithful service, Peter is saying that this should stimulate a leader to want to serve with a fervent heart.

You may, or may not, serve as an elder within your local church. If you do, let me exhort you to continue in your faithful service. If you are not an elder, then take the time today to personally encourage those who serve in that capacity in your church. Let them know their labor is not in vain in the Lord. At the same time, resolve within your own heart to serve God with a holy fervency. Your work for God matters.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

Exhortations to Elders, Part 3.

“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:” (I Peter 5:1).

What are the biblical qualifications for a man holding the office of elder? Two particular passages referring to an elder’s qualifications are I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. We have already looked at I Timothy 3. Let’s now examine Titus 1:5-9.

“5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”

 First of all, we notice that where the Apostle Paul exclusively used the word “overseer” in I Timothy 3, he adds the word “elder” in Titus 1. We therefore conclude that these two words are interchangeable and refer to the same office. What are the requirements of church elders in Titus 1? While there many similarities to I Timothy 3, there are some notable additions. The list is as follows.

  • Above reproach. Without accusation or blameless.
  • The husband of one wife. A one-woman man.
  • His children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.
  • For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. A responsible manager of the church.
  • He must not be arrogant. Not self-willed and stubborn.
  • Not quick-tempered. Inclined to anger.
  • Not a drunkard. One who habitually drinks too much.
  • Not violent. Not a bully.
  • Not greedy for gain. Greedy for material gain.
  • Willing to perform humble duties.
  • A lover of good.
  • Self-controlled. Sensible and moderate.
  • A righteous man.
  • Devout and dedicated to God.
  • Exercising self-control.
  • He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

The prerequisites needed to be an elder found in Titus 1 do not detract, even with those qualities unique to the text, from the previous list given in I Timothy 3. Both lists point to a person and a position within the church that is limited by design to a select few. The Apostle Paul is not calling for a perfect man, but rather a consistent and godly man in word, faith and practice.

Pray for the elders and pastors in your church today. Their task is important, but their consistent, godly character is even more important. Pray that God would protect them as they serve.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Exhortations to Elders, Part 2.

“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:” (I Peter 5:1).

We have thus far seen that the word elder comes from the Greek word πρεσβύτερος; presbyteros. Our English word Presbyterian comes from this Greek noun. The word’s root meaning is an old, or an older man. Elder also means a person of responsibility and authority in matters of religious concerns. This was not only the case among the Jewish nation, but also the New Testament Church, which consisted of both Jews and Gentiles.

I Peter 5:1 begins with the statement, “So I exhort the elders among you…” The Apostle Peter wanted to exhort (παρακαλέω; parakaleo) or continuously and actively appeal to and encourage the elders who were among the people to whom he was writing. Remember, these were difficult days for these Christians. Times were tough, persecution was rampant and death was near.

It is likely people had died for their faith. The church perhaps had become discouraged and most likely the elders or church leaders also. Therefore, Peter is wanting to encourage these leaders so they in turn would encourage the church.

What are the biblical qualifications for a man holding the office of elder? Two particular passages referring to an elder’s qualifications are I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. Let’s begin by looking  at I Timothy 3.

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.”

 The Apostle Paul uses the word “overseer” in referring to the office of elder. Overseer is from the Greek word ἐπίσκοπος; episkopos. We derive the English word Episcopalian from this. It literally means “guardian.” This word identifies men who are qualified and responsible to lead and protect the church (I Timothy 5:17; I Thessalonians 5:12; Hebrews 13:7). In the New Testament the words “bishop.” “elder,” “overseer,” and “pastor” are used interchangeably to describe the same men.

What are their qualifications for elders according to I Timothy 3? Let’s briefly look at each one.

  • Above reproach. Above criticism.
  • The husband of one wife. A one woman man.
  • Sober-minded. Possessing a sober and restrained manner. A person who is self-controlled and disciplined.
  • Self-controlled. Thoughtful, prudent and sensible in his behavior and decisions.
  • Modest and well-ordered.
  • A person willing to perform humble duties.
  • Able to teach. Skilled at teaching God’s Word.
  • Not a drunkard. Not a person who habitually drinks too much.
  • Not violent but gentle. Not a bully but rather gracious and forbearing.
  • Not quarrelsome. Lacking a spirit which pursues conflict.
  • Not a lover of money. Not greedy.
  • He must manage his own household well. Guiding and leading well in his home.
  • With all dignity keeping his children submissive, (for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?).
  • He must not be a recent convert, (or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil).
  • Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.”

Aside from being skilled at teaching, the preceding qualifications focus more on the character of the man rather than his job performance. What does Titus 1:5-9 say about elder qualifications and how does it compare with I Timothy 3? We’ll find out when next we meet.

Even a superficial examination of an elder’s qualifications should be sufficient for anyone to see that not everyone is qualified to be a church elder. Therefore, take time to seriously pray for those who presently serve as elders in your church and those who are asked to serve. Ask God to help these leaders consistently embody the qualifications found in Scripture regarding the office of elder.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Exhortations to Elders.

“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:” (I Peter 5:1).

For the next several days we are going to examine the biblical doctrine concerning the church office of elder. We are going see what the word “elder” means in relationship to the church. We will also identify the biblical qualifications of elders with not only what are the elder’s responsibilities, but also what are the church’s responsibilities to its elder leadership? Are full-time pastors the only ones who may hold the office of elder or may qualified men who are not pastors serve as church lay elders? We will not only seek to identify what church elders are to do, but also what they are not to do?

I Peter 5:1 begins with the statement, “So I exhort the elders among you…” The Apostle Peter wants to exhort (παρακαλέω; parakaleo) or continuously and actively appeal to and encourage the elders who were among the people to whom the apostle was writing. This was an earnest request by Peter to the elders in particular.

Notice that the elders were among the church. They were part of the church. It could even be said that the elders belonged to the church. They were not detached from the local church but actively involved in leading it.

What does the word “elder” mean? First of all, notice that the noun elder in I Peter 5:1 is in the plural form. This means that there was more than one elder to the group of Christians receiving Peter’s letter.

The word elder comes from the Greek word πρεσβύτερος; presbyteros. It is probably obvious to you that our English word Presbyterian comes from this Greek noun. The word’s root meaning is an old, or an older man. We observe that the word is in the masculine gender, meaning that Peter was referring to a man or men.

Elder also means a person of responsibility and authority in matters of religious concerns. This was not only the case among the Jewish nation, but also the New Testament Church, which consisted of both Jews and Gentiles.

One commentary explains that, “Elders, older and wiser men skilled in judging cases, ruled in most Israelite towns in the Old Testament. In the New Testament period, “elders” held a respected place in the synagogues, from which the churches took over this form of leadership.”

The Book of Acts, along with several New Testament Epistles, consistently refer to the presence of elders within the early church.

  • And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.” Acts 14:23
  • “And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question.” Acts 15:2
  • When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them.” Acts 15:4
  • “The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter.” Acts 15:6
  • As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem.” Acts 16:4
  • “Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him.” Acts 20:17.
  • “On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present.” Acts 21:18.
  • Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.” I Timothy 5:17-19.
  • “This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—“ Titus 1:5.
  • “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” James 5:17.
  • “The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth,” 2 John 1.
  • “The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.” 3 John 1.

We see that the existence and presence of elders is conspicuous in the New Testament church. We see that they occupied positions of spiritual leadership within the church. We also conclude that these men were older and wise leaders who God used within various local congregations.

When next we meet, we’ll begin to see what else the Scriptures say regarding the qualifications of church elders. Until then, encourage the elders, pastors and or church leaders that are within your local church. Let them know you are praying for them and appreciate them. Do so today!

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

Trust God.

“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (I Peter 4:15-19).

Peter says that there are four attitudes believers must have when experiencing trials. First, Christians should not be surprised when trials come into their lives (I Peter 4:12). Second, we are to rejoice in our trials (I Peter 4:13). Thirdly, Christians are to evaluate their trials (I Peter 4:15-18). Fourthly, Christians are to trust God regarding His purpose(s) in their trials (I Peter 4:19).

I had a conversation once with a friend of mine who rejected the notion that God has anything to do with the trials in our lives. He didn’t deny that trials were real and that they do occur, but he vehemently argued that God in no way at all is responsible, or has a purpose, for our trials.

What my friend didn’t understand was that he was denying a fundamental truth found in the Scriptures regarding the person of God. That truth is that God is sovereignly providential. The word providence, meaning to see before, is the biblical doctrine that God not only knows what is going to occur in our lives before it happens, but also that He is in total control of what occurs in our lives before, during and after it happens. Acts 17:28 says, “In him we live and move and have our being.” See also Job 12:10; Daniel 5:23.

Genesis 50:20 records Joseph’s words to his brothers who years before had sold him into slavery. He said, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

Exodus 4:10-12 says, “10 But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” 11 Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

I Peter 4:19 supports the biblical doctrine of God’s providence when Peter writes, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “Therefore, let those who suffer according to God’s will…” I Peter 4:19 reflects a sentence structure of cause and effect. For every cause, there is a corresponding effect or result because of the preceding cause. The statement, “Therefore, let those who suffer according to God’s will” is the causal statement of I Peter 4:19.

Peter is concluding this extended section on suffering in general, and evaluating our suffering in particular, by stating that behind, or underneath, our pain and suffering for Christ is the providential will (θέλημα; thelema), purpose and desire of God. God has a sovereign and providential plan for each believer. This plan includes not just the possibility, but the probability if not the certainty, of trials.

The effect of understanding this truth of God’s purpose in bringing trials into our lives, is that we will continually entrust, remain committed to, depend upon and worship God in our souls, or our entire being. To entrust (παρατίθημι; paratithemi) is God’s command that with one’s entire being the believer will commit themselves to the care of God. God is not the great clock watcher who created this world and then leaves it alone. Rather, He not only created the world, but He also sustains it. We therefore are to entrust our very lives to Him. Why should we? Because God loves us.

In writing of the love of God, Dr. J.I. Packer writes, “God’s love is stern, for it expresses holiness in the lover and seeks holiness for the beloved. Scripture does not allow us to suppose that because God is love we may look to him to confer happiness on people who will not seek holiness, or to shield his loved ones from trouble when he knows that they need trouble to further their sanctification.”

Dr. Don Carson writes, “We follow Christ’s example, by committing the out-come of our life into God’s hands. Commit, or entrust, is the word used by Jesus in Luke 23:46 (citing Psalm 31:5). Every faithful Jew used this as a final prayer at night and this may be the thought here. Paul used the noun derived from this root in 2 Tim. 1:12 to express his confidence in God’s safe keeping. Creator is used here probably to remind the readers of God’s power (cf. 1:5 and Paul’s thought in Philippians 1:6).”

The reason God commands us to trust Him in our trials, as we evaluate our behavior to ensure we have not done anything to warrant righteous punishment, is partly because God in no way is under obligation to explain His reasons for not only allowing trials, but also purposing trials in our lives. This truth is that we are the creation and God is the creator, not the other way around. He understands the value of the trials He brings into our lives, even when we do not.

Not only is God our creator and sustainer, He is a faithful (πιστός; pistos) creator and sustainer. This means that God is trustworthy, dependable, committable and worthy of worship. There is no shadow of turning with God.

While preparing for, while in the midst of, and even in the aftermath of trials, we must continue to do good. We seek to honor God in our lives in everything we do and what we do not do. We pursue holiness (I Peter 1:16) even while we are in the midst of pain.

The friend I spoke of earlier, at the time of the conversation I related, had recently lost a loved one to an unexpected death. My friend would not agree with me that God had a purpose in this pain and loss. I don’t know if my friend now accepts this biblical truth even though it has been several years after the incidence in question.

Are you expecting trials? You should! Are you praising God when you experience trials? You should! Are you evaluating the reasons for your trials? You should! Are you trusting God in your trials? You should!

Make it a priority of your prayers that you will ask God to help you obey the commandments found in this text from I Peter. It may not be easy at first to not be taken by surprise or to rejoice, to evaluate, or to trust God when trials eventually come, but continue to ask, seek and knock (Luke 11:5-13) for God’s strength to be faithful to His Word. Do so boldly and shamelessly. God will answer your persistent prayer.

Soli deo Gloria!

A Proper Judgement, Part 2.

But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For 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? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”(I Peter 4:15-18).

Peter says that there are four attitudes believers must have when experiencing trials. First, Christians should not be surprised when trials come into their lives (I Peter 4:12). Second, we are to rejoice in our trials (I Peter 4:13). Thirdly, Christians are to evaluate their trials (I Peter 4:15-18).

If judgement and a proper evaluation of the church’s sins is necessary, how much more so for the unbeliever? The Apostle Peter now adds that God providentially brings persecutions in order to discipline and to purify the church. If the church needs such purifying judgment, how much more for those who are disobedient to the gospel and face eternal judgment.

Peter quotes from Proverbs 11:31 to support his contention. Trials are never easy. However, the believer in Christ evaluates his trials to examine whether they are because of his sin, realizing that God’s judgment of the Christian is temporary while they remain on this earth, while God’s judgment of the unsaved is eternal.

The Puritan pastor and theologian Matthew Henry writes, “What shall the end be of those who obey not the gospel of God?” First, the best of God’s servants, his own household, have so much amiss in them as renders it fit and necessary that God should sometimes correct and punish them with his judgments: Judgment begins at the house of God. Secondly, those who are the family of God have their worst things in this life. Their worst condition is tolerable, and will soon be over. Thirdly, such persons or societies of men as disobey the gospel of God are not of his church and household, though possibly they may make the loudest pretensions. The apostle distinguishes the disobedient from the house of God. Fourthly, the sufferings of good people in this life are demonstrations of the unspeakable torments that are coming upon the disobedient and unbelieving: What shall the end be of those that obey not the gospel? Who can express or say how dreadful their end will be?

Are you evaluating the reasons for your trials? Did you do something wrong? If so, repent and ask forgiveness and prepare to face the consequences. However, if you suffer unjustly when someone else has violated God’s law, you are not permitted to also violate God’s law as payback to those who have hurt you. On the contrary, we are to glorify God by obeying His commandments.

Make it a priority of your prayers that you will ask God to help you obey the commandments found in this text from I Peter. It may not be easy at first to not be taken by surprise or to rejoice, or to glorify God when trials eventually come, but continue to ask, seek and knock (Luke 11:5-13) for God’s strength to be faithful to His Word. Do so boldly and shamelessly. God will answer your persistent prayer.

Soli deo Gloria!

A Proper Judgement.

But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For 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?” (I Peter 4:15-17).

Peter says that there are four attitudes believers must have when experiencing trials. First, Christians should not be surprised when trials come into their lives (I Peter 4:12). Second, we are to rejoice in our trials (I Peter 4:13). Thirdly, Christians are to evaluate their trials (I Peter 4:15-18).

One commentator writes, “As second-century apologists, or defenders of Christianity, pointed out, the only charge on which true Christians were ever convicted was the charge of being a Christian.” This is what Peter refers to in I Peter 4:16. Peter now says in I Peter 4:17 that believers need to begin evaluating the trying circumstances they are facing. It is time for judgment to begin with the church.

The word judgment (κρίμα; krima) means to evaluate and to render a decision as to a person’s guilt or innocence. The apostle says such judgement must begin with the household (οἶκος; oikos) or sanctuary belonging to God alone. In other words, believers in particular, along with the church in general, must begin evaluating whether they are experiencing suffering because they are, or have, broken God’s law.

This is not an easy, or common, discipline for the church. More than likely the church tends to think they are being unfairly victimized. However, the apostle warns and instructs the church that a proper diagnosis of one’s ailments, spiritually speaking, will lead to a prescription for healing and a prognosis for future spiritual health.

One commentator writes, “The image of judgment beginning at God’s household is an Old Testament one (Ezekiel 9:6; cf. Jeremiah 25:18–29; Amos 3:2), as is the ominous expression, “the time has come” (Ezekiel 7:7, 12). Peter probably sees suffering also as God’s discipline, as Jewish teachers did. Throughout history, persecution has refined and strengthened the church.”

Are you evaluating the reasons for your trials? Did you do something wrong? If so, repent and ask forgiveness and prepare to face the consequences. However, if you suffer unjustly when someone else has violated God’s law, you are not permitted to also violate God’s law as payback to those who have hurt you. On the contrary, we are glorify God by obeying His commandments.

Make it a priority of your prayers that you will ask God to help you obey the commandments found in this text from I Peter. It may not be easy at first to not be taken by surprise or to rejoice, or to glorify God when trials eventually come, but continue to ask, seek and knock (Luke 11:5-13) for God’s strength to be faithful to His Word. Do so boldly and shamelessly. God will answer your persistent prayer.

Soli deo Gloria!

Let us Glorify God.

But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name” (I Peter 4:15-16).

Peter says that there are four attitudes believers must have when experiencing trials. First, Christians should not be surprised when trials come into their lives (I Peter 4:12). Second, we are to rejoice in our trials (I Peter 4:13). Thirdly, Christians are to evaluate their trials (I Peter 4:15-18). As has been clearly stated, trials are a part of the Christian life. Again, we read Jesus’ words from John 16:33. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Therefore, God wants us to assess the trials which should not take us by surprise and in which we are to rejoice. Are the trials we face due to our own sinful choices, or are they caused by something or someone else? The Apostle Peter says that no Christian should suffer because they have committed murder, theft, other criminal acts or by being meddlesome (I Peter 4:15). Peter is not saying Christians should not be punished if they commit sin, but rather that no Christian should commit such sin and thereby face the righteous and inevitable consequences for having sinned.

The word suffer (πάσχω; pascho) means to experience pain. Peter says that believers will suffer, but that suffering should never occur because a believer has premeditatedly taken another person’s life. What would propel a believer in Christ to commit murder? Perhaps in this context there were believers whose family members or friends had been abused in some way by the Roman government. Peter was saying that persecution was no excuse for lawlessness and retaliation.

One commentator writes, “As second-century apologists, or defenders of Christianity, pointed out, the only charge on which true Christians were ever convicted was the charge of being a Christian.” This is what Peter refers to in I Peter 4:16.

If any believer in Christ suffers, as indicated in vs. 13-15, because they are Christians (Χριστιανός; Christianos) or ones identified with and following the person and teachings of Jesus Christ, let them not be ashamed (αἰσχύνω; aischyno) or feel disgrace. Rather, to suffer for Christ is a glorious thing.

If we should so suffer for Christ because we are so closely identified with Christ, God commands us to then glorify Him because of the name of Jesus. We are not to complain about our circumstances, but rather we are to glorify God. We are not to criticize those who have hurt us, but rather we are to glorify God. We are not to seek revenge against those who have sinned against us, but rather we are to glorify God.

How do you view your trials? Are you surprised by suffering? Honestly, I think most of us are, in spite of the commandment in I Peter 4:12 to not be shocked and dismayed.

Are you rejoicing in your trials? Again, I think many of us don’t in spite of the commandment in I Peter 4:13. We become anxious, fearful and despondent when tough times come. Rather, we should realize that God promises to bless us when we are in the midst of misery.

Are you evaluating the reasons for your trials? Did you do something wrong? If so, repent and ask forgiveness and prepare to face the consequences. However, if you suffer unjustly when someone else has violated God’s law, you are not permitted to also violate God’s law as payback to those who have hurt you. On the contrary, we are glorify God by obeying His commandments.

Make it a priority of your prayers that you will ask God to help you obey the commandments found in this text from I Peter. It may not be easy at first to not be taken by surprise or to rejoice, or to glorify God when trials eventually come, but continue to ask, seek and knock (Luke 11:5-13) for God’s strength to be faithful to His Word. Do so boldly and shamelessly. God will answer your persistent prayer.

Soli deo Gloria!

Evaluate your Trials.

But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler” (I Peter 4:15).

Peter says that there are four attitudes believers must have when experiencing trials. First, Christians should not be surprised when trials come into their lives (I Peter 4:12). Second, we are to rejoice in our trials. We are to rejoice and be glad in how we think about our trials, along with how we feel about them and the decision to rejoice while in the midst of them (I Peter 4:13).

Thirdly, Christians are to evaluate their trials (I Peter 4:15-18). As has been clearly stated, trials are a part of the Christian life. Again, we read Jesus’ words from John 16:33. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Therefore, God wants us to assess the trials which should not take us by surprise and in which we are to rejoice. Are the trials we face due to our own sinful choices, or are they caused by something or someone else?

The Apostle Peter says that no Christian should suffer because they have committed murder. Peter is not saying Christians should not be punished if they commit murder, but rather that no Christian should commit murder and thereby face the righteous and inevitable consequences for having committed such a sin.

The word suffer (πάσχω; pascho) means to experience pain. Peter says that believers will suffer, but that suffering should never occur because a believer has premeditatedly taken another person’s life. What would propel a believer in Christ to commit murder? Perhaps in this context there were believers whose family members or friends had been executed by the Roman government. Peter was saying that persecution was no excuse for lawlessness and retaliation.

Peter then mentions other sins such as theft. No believer should be guilty of theft, which is taking something which belongs to someone else. Confiscation of one’s property by the government or by someone else was not an excuse to compensate the loss by stealing someone else’s property.

An evildoer (κακοποιός; kakopoios) is a criminal, or one who engages in doing what is bad or wrong. Being wronged by a criminal does not mean believers are to become criminals in order to right the initial wrong. We are not to break the law because we have suffered due to someone hurting us when they broke the law.

A meddler (ἀλλοτριεπίσκοπος; allotriepiskopos) is a person who busies themselves in other people’s business. These are they who give unwanted and ill-timed advice. In other words, they stick their noses into other people’s business. Christians are not to participate in such behavior.

One commentator writes, “As second-century apologists, or defenders of Christianity, pointed out, the only charge on which true Christians were ever convicted was the charge of being a Christian.” May it be so today.

How do you view your trials? Are you surprised by suffering? Honestly, I think most of us are, in spite of the commandment in I Peter 4:12 to not be shocked and dismayed.

Are you rejoicing in your trials? Again, I think many of us don’t in spite of the commandment in I Peter 4:13. We become anxious, fearful and despondent when tough times come. Rather, we should realize that God promises to bless us when we are in the midst of misery.

Are you evaluating the reasons for your trials? Did you do something wrong? If so, repent and ask forgiveness and prepare to face the consequences. However, if you suffer unjustly when someone else has violated God’s law, you are not permitted to also violate God’s law as payback to those who have hurt you.

Make it a priority of your prayers that you will ask God to help you obey the commandments found in this text from I Peter. It may not be easy at first to not be taken by surprise or to rejoice, or to not seek revenge when trials eventually come, but continue to ask, seek and knock (Luke 11:5-13) for God’s strength to be faithful to His Word. Do so boldly and shamelessly. God will answer your persistent prayer.

Soli deo Gloria!

Blessed, when Insulted.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (I Peter 4:12-14).

For the fourth time in his letter Peter speaks to Christians about the reality of trials in their lives, specifically because of their testimony for Jesus Christ. Peter has acknowledged that trials may grieve the believer (I Peter 1:7), but he has also encouraged the faithful to look at the example of Jesus Christ and how He handled the trials and persecutions He encountered (I Peter 2:18-25; 3:13-17).

Some commentators believe that Peter wrote this letter shortly before, or after, the burning of Rome by the Emperor Nero in A.D. 64. Nero’s act of blaming Christians for a fire he was responsible for marked the beginning of 200 years of Christian persecution by Rome.

Peter says that there are four attitudes believers must have when experiencing trials. First, Christians should not be surprised when trials come into their lives. The phrase “do not be surprised (μή ξενίζω; me xenizo) is a commandment. We are never to be taken by surprise when trials come, unlike a person who answers the door and is surprised by a friend who has come to visit. The word surprise means to experience a sudden feeling of unexpected wonder. This is not a problem when opening presents on one’s birthday, but it should not be our response when difficulties occur in our walk with Christ.

Second, we are to rejoice in our trials. Let me repeat that; we are to rejoice in our trials. The word rejoice (χαίρω; chairo) means to be glad in your soul. We are to rejoice and be glad in how we think about our trials, along with how we feel about them and the decision to rejoice while in the midst of them. This is also a commandment which we are to continually obey.

Another reason we can rejoice in our trials is that God promises that He will bless us when we are insulted for the name of Christ. The word insulted (ὀνειδίζω; oneidizo) means in the context to be persistently reprimanded, reproached and reviled for one’s identification with the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Peter says that when this happens, you are blessed (μακάριος; makarios) or fortunate. Why? Because the Holy Spirit, who is called the Spirit of glory or praise and who is God, rests (ἀναπαύω; anapauo) or continues to abide upon you. This refers to the Holy Spirit’s indwelling in all who are in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:9; I Corinthians 6:19-20) and because of this they are therefore persecuted.

How do you view your trials? Are you surprised by suffering? Honestly, I think most of us are, in spite of the commandment in I Peter 4:12 to not be shocked and dismayed. Are you rejoicing in your trials? Again, I think many of us don’t in spite of the commandment in I Peter 4:13. We become anxious, fearful and despondent when tough times come. Rather, we should realize that God promises to bless us when we are in the midst of misery.

Make it a priority of your prayers that you will ask God to help you obey the commandments found in this text from I Peter. It may not be easy at first to not be taken by surprise or to rejoice when trials eventually come, but continue to ask, seek and knock (Luke 11:5-13) for God’s strength to be faithful to His Word. Do so boldly and shamelessly. God will answer your persistent prayer.

Soli deo Gloria!