Doing Good (3:13-17)
Living for God’s
Love, and Service (4:7-11)
Good, suffer, sanctify
the Lord God, conscience, the will of God, being put to death in the flesh,
made alive by the Spirit, Christ, saves, the end of all things is at hand,
serious, watchful in your prayers, love, minister, glory.
The fear of punishment for
wrongdoing (13). The fear of suffering for righteousness’ sake (14).
If we do what is good, we do
not need to fear punishment. But even if we are persecuted for doing good, we have a clear conscience towards God and know that
He will judge everyone justly. If we commit ourselves to God, we will not be
afraid of the persecution of men (cf. 2:23).
To sanctify the Lord God in our
hearts means acknowledging and honoring Christ as Lord in our hearts. Even
though unbelievers may refuse to listen to our witnessing or persecute us, we
should not become discouraged and lose the hope within us. Instead, we need to
always hold fast to our faith in the Lord in our hearts.
“We must always be ready to
give a defense to everyone who asks us a reason for the hope that is in us,
with meekness and fear” (15).
We must always be ready to give a defense when
others question our beliefs. This requires thorough knowledge and conviction of
our own beliefs. When we defend the faith, we should do so with meekness and
fear. Rather than disputing with unbelievers about our differences in view, we
should present our beliefs with gentleness and reverence so that God’s name can
be glorified through our behavior.
Through His suffering in the
flesh, Christ accomplished the work of salvation. Although He was put to death
in the flesh, He was made alive by the Spirit and received power and authority.
In the same way, it is good for us to suffer for righteousness’ sake, for
through our suffering God’s will is accomplished. We will also be “made alive
by the Spirit” to live a life that pleases God (cf
If we understand the spirits to
be unbelievers who were alive when they heard the preaching, then “the spirits
in prison” would refer to unbelievers who were in spiritual bondage. If the
spirits were those who had already died when Christ “preached” to them, then
the preaching of Christ may be interpreted as Christ’s proclamation of
condemnation on the unbelievers.
Through the resurrection of
Jesus Christ, baptism allows us to have a clear conscience towards God (21).
Baptism in Jesus’ name washes away our sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). God, who raised Jesus from the dead for our
justification, also raises us up to life through baptism (Col 2:12; Rom 6:4; Tit 3:5).
“He who has suffered in the
flesh has ceased from sin.” (1). The lusts of the
flesh can cripple us and make us unable to submit to God’s will (Rom 8:7). But
suffering trains us to depend on the Spirit to put to death the deeds of the
body. Consequently, we will no longer be controlled by sinful desires but have
the strength to carry out God’s will.
When unbelievers see that we do
not indulge in fleshly desires with them, they will think it strange and
slander or ridicule us (4).
We know that we all have to
give an account to God at the judgment (5). Regardless of how others may insult
us, whether God is pleased with us is ultimately what matters.
For the salvation of the soul
from divine judgment, the gospel was preached to those believers who are now
dead. These believers were condemned to physical death by the world but are
alive to God spiritually.
The word “but” tells us that
even though we may suffer for our faith in the present (the theme of the
previous paragraph), the end of all things is at hand and the just Judge will
soon come with punishment and reward.
We must be serious and watchful
in our prayers. This means that we must be spiritually alert and not be
deceived by the pleasures and anxieties of life (Lk
21:34-36; Rom 13:11-14; 1Thess 5:4-8). With our mind focused on God, we need to
devote ourselves to constant prayer, repenting of our sins and seeking
spiritual growth so we may be ready to meet the Lord.
Love will cover a multitude of
sins. This does not mean that love condones or conceals sins, but that love
enables Christians to forgive one another and bear with one another. Such
attitude, which removes grumblings and arguments, is most important in light of
the coming judgment (cf. Jas 5:9).
The evidence of loving our
brethren deeply is to show hospitality to one another (9). It is easy to love
our brethren when we share common interests or opinions. The test occurs when
there are misunderstandings and grievances. Yet love, covering a multitude of
sins, should unite brethren together in this situation. If both parties
remember the love of Christ, who laid down His life for us and loved us to the
end (Jn 13:1), we will embrace our brethren with the
Further evidence of deep love
for one another is in serving one another (10). Christ “did not come to be
served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45). He
devoted His life to meeting the needs of others and bringing the lost back to
God. If we love our brethren, we will likewise dedicate our lives to serving
The goal of our ministry is
that “in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (11).
Be guided by the Spirit of God
to speak the words of God
(Jn 16:13). We must minister for the
Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit (Lk 4:14), which
is what Jesus did during His ministry.
Do not make ourselves stand out
in reputation, but imitate Christ’s example of humility (Phil 2:7).
Remind ourselves that God has
supplied us with a measure of faith, and as a result should not think ourselves
too highly than we ought to think (Rom 12:3).
Be determined to obey the will
of the Father (Phil 2:8).