The Book of I PETER
James J. Barker
SUFFERING FOR WELL DOING
- Our text this
evening deals with the subject of Christian suffering.
- Verse 13 begins
with the word, "And," indicating a connection with the preceding verses. The Lord watches over those who
are righteous, "but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil" (I Peter
- Peter has
already referred several times to Christians suffering for their faith (1:6, 7;
2:12, 15, 19-21; 3:9).
- He will deal
with this subject even more frequently from this point on. In fact, it is the main theme of this
epistle. The Scofield
Study Bible says, "The distinctive note of First Peter is preparation for
victory over suffering. The last-name word occurs about fifteen times, and is
the key-word to the Epistle" (introduction to the epistle, p. 1311).
- Peter wrote
this epistle to comfort his afflicted readers, and to strengthen them and
encourage them to stand firm despite their sufferings.
EVIL MEN CAUSE SUFFERING
- The word "evil"
occurs ten times in this epistle
(2:1; 3:9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17; 4:4, 14).
- A few years
ago, President Bush was ridiculed for referring to terrorists as "evildoers,"
but that is exactly what they are.
- It would have
been better if he would have identified these terrorists as Muslim
evildoers, but his critics certainly would not have liked that.
"evildoers" is a perfectly good Bible word (cf. I Peter 2:12, 14; 3:16; 4:15).
- Psalm 37:9
says, "For evildoers shall be cut off: but those
that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth."
- In our text
tonight, we see that suffering is inflicted by evil men because they hate God (I
Peter 3:16, 17; cf. John 15:18-27).
- FB Meyer
referred to this as a "collision with the prejudices and interests of worldly
and evil men, incurring as of old their most virulent dislike, and probably
their violent resistance" (Tried By Fire, Exposition of the First Epistle of
- The worldly
crowd resents the fact that Christians do not go along with their wickedness,
and so they speak evil of us (I Peter 4:4).
- FB Meyer also
said, "Not to be hated by the world; to be loved and flattered and caressed by
the world -- is one of the most terrible positions in which a Christian can find
- This desire to be loved and flattered and caressed by
the world is what led to the downfall of Billy Graham. And it has led to the emergence of such
odious characters as Rick Warren.
- In his new book, Decision Points, President
George W. Bush says he heard Billy Graham say that some people do not need to be
born again because they are "born Christian."
- The world loves that kind of preaching but God hates
- The words "suffer" and "suffering" are found seven times
in I Peter (2:19, 20; 3:14, 17; 4:15, 16, 19).
- The word "suffered" and "sufferings" are found
Eight out of the nine refer to our Lord's sufferings (1:11; 2:21, 23;
3:18; 4:1, 13; 5:1, 10).
- There is a connection between our Lord's sufferings and
THE HAPPINESS THAT ACCOMPANIES
- It may seem
strange, especially to the worldly-minded, but the Bible teaches, "But and if ye
suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye" (I Peter 3:14; cf. 4:13,
- Jesus said,
"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is
the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are
ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of
evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for
so persecuted they the prophets which were before you" (Matt.
- Foxe's Book of
Martyrs gives many accounts of Christian martyrs burned at the
stake who rejoiced in the flames.
- When Hugh
Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were burnt at the stake by the command of Bloody
Mary, the Roman Catholic queen of England, outside Balliol College, Oxford on
October 16, 1555, Latimer said to his friend Ridley, "Be of good comfort, Master
Ridley, play the man; We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in
England, as I trust shall never be put out." Those were his last
- When Stephen
was being stoned to death by the angry mob, he saw "the heavens opened, and the
Son of man standing on the right hand of God" (Acts
- And his last
words were, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge" (Acts 7:60).
THE MEEKNESS THAT ACCOMPANIES SUFFERING
- "But sanctify
the Lord God in your hearts" (3:15), means God is to be set apart, enthroned and
worshiped in our hearts.
- From this
sanctification comes a readiness to witness for Christ
- The Greek word translated "witness" is
martyria (where we get our
English word "martyr").
- The apostle John said in Revelation 20:4,
"And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the
witness of Jesus, and for the word of God..."
- First Peter
3:16 refers to "a good conscience" and our "good conversation." The apostle Paul said, "And herein do I
exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and
toward men" (Acts 24:16).
- Maintaining a
good conscience means having a good conversation (behaviour).
- If we suffer
for well-doing, God gets the glory and we get the blessing. But there is no virtue in suffering for
our own misdeeds (3:16, 17).
- I read a story
about a pagan king who demanded that a Christian recant his faith in
- The Christian
refused to deny Christ, and so the king started threatening
"If you do not give up your
faith in Christ, I will banish you!"
"But you cannot banish me
from Christ, for He said, 'I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.'"
"Then I will confiscate
"My treasure is laid up in
heaven. It is safe
"Then I will kill
"Then I will go straight to
heaven to be with my Lord. 'We are
confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent
from the body, and to be present with the Lord.'"
- By this time
the king was exasperated, and he threw his hands up in the air and gave