I Peter 4:7-11

(A Bible Study Led by Dr. Larry Reynolds)

October 24, 2013

                                                        

1.      I want to begin this study by asking you a question.  It is one of the most important questions you will ever answer.  The question is, “What is your basic philosophy of life?”...

--by what premise do you operate?...

--how do you make decisions?...

--what criteria do you use in determining how to spend your life?...

2.      When you reduce it to the lowest possible common denominator, there are, in reality, only two primary life philosophies...two opposing ways to view life...

--one view says,  "This life is all there is.  What you see is what you get and there is no higher power beyond ourselves...no ultimate purpose for our existence.  We might as well eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die and there is nothing beyond that."

--other view is much more optimistic…it says, "We are God's creation...have been placed here by Him...live in His world and everything in world, including us, ultimately belongs to Him...we are responsible to God for how we manage our lives..."

4.   Can't live by both those views at same time...we must live by one or the other, but really can't subscribe to both simultaneously...must believe either--

--that we are here as result of chance or we are here as result of choice of some higher being...

--that this life is all there is or there is an existence for us beyond our time in this world...

--responsible for how live in this world or we are not responsible...

And how we manage our lives depends on which of these two philosophies of life to which we subscribe...

5.   Of course, the Bible argues for the second philosophy...the one that asserts we are God's creation, we are destined for eternity, and we are responsible to God...in our study of I Peter, have come to a beautiful Scripture passage which says since we are God's creation and since we are destined for eternity, we should live a certain way in this world...look at I Peter 4:7‑11...

 

If you are even remotely familiar with professional football, you know what a two minute warning is...when only two minutes are left in the half, the official stops the game and warns both teams that only two minutes remain to be played...every team has in its play book what is called a “two minute drill” which allows it to get the very most from those last two minutes...in this passage Peter gives us sort of a two minute warning...

 


Notice v.7 begins with phrase "the end of all things is at hand..."...point of that statement is that time is running out...we must make the most of every moment we have...Christians should live in the awareness that this world is not all there is...there is an eternity awaiting us after our stay in this world, and that eternity could begin at any time...in light of that, Peter tells us we should do three specific things:

 

Be good stewards/managers of our lives

1.   Life is gift...not something deserved...earned...necessarily have right to...something God, in His grace, has chosen give to us...

2.   Life precious and life, in this world, certainly  limited...all know intellectually time in this world limited, but have difficulty accepting that fact emotionally...know only have short time in this world, but tend live as if have forever...

3.   Sobering thought that at end each day have one less day live that had 24 hours before...true for people of all ages...no guarantees about length life in this world...because of that should approach each day as if last and live best we can according to God's plan for us...

 

1.   Basically what Peter says last part v.7...there told to "be of sound judgment and sober spirit for purpose of prayer"...like way NEB translates...says, "so you must lead an ordered and sober life, given to prayer.."

·         The word translated "sound judgement" (NASB) and "ordered" (NEB) is sophronein, which means live life in proper perspective...to have right priorities...

·         The word translated “sober spirit” (NASB) and “sober life” (NEB) is nespsate, which means self-controlled…

2.      Other words, saying to manage your life well means determining those things really important and focusing on them...

 

Be characterized by genuine love for others


1.   While life is the greatest gift we've received, love is the greatest gift we have to give...in this passage Peter places special emphasis on our being characterized by love...notice how v.8 begins..."above  all"...look vv.8‑9 ‑ "Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.  Be hospitable to one another without complaint."...

2.   If look carefully will notice these verses tell us several things about the way we are to love...

--We are to love fervently - Word translated "fervent" means sincere, earnest, and consistent...doesn't waver...never fails...always willing sacrifice for sake of one being loved...kind love that never dies...loving with every fiber of our beings...word was used to describe an athlete in a race stretching toward the finish line...there should be an energy, an enthusiasm about our love which is apparent to those who come into contact with us....

 

--We are to love graciously - Notice v.8 says "...love covers a multitude of sins"...that is, love is ready forgive time and time again...if really love someone, easy have forgiving spirit toward that person...not that love is blind to faults and shortcomings...but genuine love accepts people as they are, faults and all...how God loves us and how we're to love each other... There are several theories concerning this phrase: (1) it is an OT quote from Prov. 10:12 (from the MT not the LXX) where love does not remember wrongs done to it; (2) it is related to James 5:20 where love helps another believer reverse the spiritual consequences of back sliding; (3) it is related to Matt. 6:14–15 and Mark 11:25 where our forgiveness of others is an evidence of our being forgiven (i.e. Origen and Tertullian); or (4) it relates to the ability of love not to see the obvious weaknesses of fellow Christians under persecution (cf. I Cor. 13:7).[1]

 

--We are to love generously - Command to "be hospitable without complaint" in v.9 is command to share basic necessities life with those who need them...in 1st century church were two specific occasions when this was especially important--

--Christian missionaries who traveled across first century world to make gospel known needed shelter and support...

--Sometimes new Christians completely cut‑off from family/jobs and had no means support...these people needed help from other Christians...

Peter says love means sharing with such people without grumbling or complaint... Believers’ attitudes are crucial. Believers realize they are owners of nothing and stewards of everything.[2]

3.      Nothing says more about our relationship with Lord than how treat people...if abusive, manipulative, unforgiving, calloused toward people, indication not really disciple of the One who said, "A new commandment I give unto you, that  you love one another as I have loved you...by this all  men will know that you are my disciples, if you have  love for one another..." [John 13:34-35]

4.      And it’s not enough merely to profess love for others...we must demonstrate our love by what we do...as the Apostle John wrote, “...let us not love with word or tongue, but in deed and truth...” [I John 3:18]

 

Use gifts God has given us for the benefit of others

1.      Verse 10 makes point every Christian has received some gift from God...gift received to be used in ministry for good of others..."As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another..." The term gift (charisma) is from the root for “grace” (charis). These gifts are undeserved, unmerited love gifts for ministry. Every believer has a spiritual gift, given by God at salvation, for the purpose of ministry to and for the Church (cf. Rom. 12:6–8; I Cor. 12:7, 11, 18; Eph. 4:7). [3]

“in serving one another” This is a PRESENT ACTIVE PARTICIPLE used as an IMPERATIVE. It is from the Greek term for servant (diakonos). This later becomes the title for deacons (cf. Phil. 1:1). In Christianity leaders are servants, not bosses. Spiritual gifts are for others, not ourselves (cf. I Cor. 12:7). Spiritual gifts are not “merit badges” but “service towels.”

“as good stewards” This is literally “household managers.” The church is the household of God (cf. v. 17). Believers will give an account to God in Christ for their stewardship of spiritual gifts (cf. I Cor. 3:10–17; II Cor. 5:10).

“the manifold grace of God” This passage balances I Pet. 1:6. For every trial (cf. James 1:2) there is a commensurate grace of God and God has chosen to make it available through other believers. No believer is an island.

4:11 “whoever … whoever” These are two FIRST CLASS CONDITIONAL SENTENCES. God’s gifted servants are expected to speak and serve through His power. If we speak it is His utterances. If we serve it is by His strength.

“which God supplies” This is a PRESENT ACTIVE INDICATIVE of a word used of one who financially supported a “chorus” (chorēgēo, which is a compound of choros and hēgeomai). God continues to richly supply His gifted ones (cf. II Cor. 9:10, the same word with epi prefixed, occurs in II Pet. 1:5, 11).

It is interesting that Paul seems to attribute spiritual gifts to the Spirit (cf. Rom. 12) or to Christ (cf. Eph. 4:11), but Peter attributes them to God the Father. This is another example of all the persons of the Godhead being involved in kingdom activities (cf. I Cor. 12:4–6).

“so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” This is a purpose (hina) clause. Spiritual gifts should glorify God, not the human agent. Our giftedness points to Him (cf. Matt. 5:16; I Cor. 10:31; I Pet. 2:12).

“to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever” This refers to Jesus in this context (cf. II Tim. 4:18; II Pet. 3:18; Rev. 1:6). In Rev. 5:13 it is used of both the Father and the Son. Usually this phrase refers to the Father (cf. I Pet. 5:11; Rom. 11:36; 16:27; Eph. 3:21; Phil 4:20; I Tim. 1:17; I Pet. 5:11; Jude 25; Rev. 7:12). For note on “glory” see 1:21.

Doxologies are common in the NT. The NT authors often break out in praise to God (cf. Rom. 11:33–36; Eph. 3:20–21; I Pet. 5:11).[4]

 

2.   What gift may have not really important...in this passage Peter mentions two broad categories of gifts...

--gifts of speaking which could include such things as preaching and teaching and encouraging...

--gifts of service which could include such things as practical kindness and helping someone in need and practicing hospitality...

And there are numerous other spiritual gifts mentioned in various parts of the Scripture...what is important is not what particular gift you may have...what is important is how you use your gift for benefit of others and glory of God...

 

CONCLUSION

1.   In Lawrencburg, TN there is a cemetery...in that cemetery are two tombstones, not very far apart, with contrasting inscriptions written on them...one of the tombstones says, "He made his life the best he could.  No fear of gods ... no thought of future punishment or reward controlled his life.  His mind was free from religious or other superstitions."...the other tombstone was inscribed with this simple Bible verse, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

2.   Which of those two inscriptions most accurately reflects your philosophy of life?...want to remind you today that we all live in the shadow of eternity...because of that we should--

--manage our lives well...

--be characterized by fervent, gracious, generous love...

--use the gifts God has given us for the benefit of others...



[1] Utley, R. J. D. (2000). Vol. Volume 2: The Gospel according to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter. Study Guide Commentary Series (256). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[2] Utley, R. J. D. (2000). Vol. Volume 2: The Gospel according to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter. Study Guide Commentary Series (256). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[3] Utley, R. J. D. (2000). Vol. Volume 2: The Gospel according to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter. Study Guide Commentary Series (256). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[4] Utley, R. J. D. (2000). Vol. Volume 2: The Gospel according to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter. Study Guide Commentary Series (256–257). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

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