1 Peter 4:15 MEANING

1 Peter 4:15
(15) But let none of you.--The Greek takes exactly the opposite turn: "for let none of you suffer." The connection is a little difficult, but it seems to be this: "I say advisedly that you are happy, and that the Spirit of glory reposes on you who die for the faith; for I am sure that you will not try to deceive yourselves and others by pretending to die as martyrs, when in reality you are dying as criminals." In order to understand this caution, we must recollect how largely the first converts were drawn from actually criminal classes, and how easily they were admitted. In the persecution of Diocletian, Mensurius of Carthage found it necessary to expose those who drew persecution upon themselves to cloke their crimes under pretence of Christian faith. "Some," he says, "are criminals, some debtors, who take the opportunity of persecution to be rid of so burdensome a life, thinking to atone for and wash off their misdeeds thereby." It is conceivable that St. Peter may have had some such danger in view.

As a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer.--The insertion of "as" in the two latter cases obliterates the distinction between the class composed of those three words, and that which follows. It should be, as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer. When Pliny came to govern these men, a little later, he found that on a fixed day they met together before daylight, "and bound themselves by a sacramental oath, not to any crime, but that they would not do or see done any thefts, any robberies, any adulteries; that they would break no promises, and would repudiate no liabilities when called upon." These words will partly explain the general term "evildoer." (See also 1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 2:14; 1 Peter 3:16.)

Or as a busybody in other men's matters.--M. Renan writes (Antechrist, p. 42):--"Others, through excess of zeal, declaimed aloud against the pagans, and cast their vices in their teeth. Their more sensible brethren humorously called them 'bishops,' or 'overseers of those who are without.'" Such is, indeed, the meaning of the droll word which St. Peter here gives: except that, instead of "bishops of those without," it means "bishops of other men's matters." It denotes those prying and self-important people who fancy they can set everything to rights, and that everybody they come across is under their personal jurisdiction. Such persons would tend to make Christianity unpopular among the unbelievers, and, in case of persecution, would be the first to "suffer" (i.e., to be picked out for martyrdom; see Note on 1 Peter 3:14); and while flattering themselves for the boldness with which they had spoken out, they would incur St. Peter's censure, and their martyrdom would be reckoned no martyrdom by the Church. "Cruel mishaps," continues M. Renan, "befell them; and the wise directors of the community, so far from extolling them, told them pretty plainly that it did but serve them right."

Verse 15. - But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evil-doer; literally, for let none of you, etc. They are blessed who suffer in the Name of Christ, because they belong to Christ: for it is not the suffering which brings the blessedness, but the cause, the faith and patience with which the suffering is borne. The word for "evil-doer," κακοποιός, is used by St. Peter in two other places (1 Peter 2:12 and 14). Christians were spoken against as evil-doers; they must be very careful to preserve their purity, and to suffer, if need be, not for evil-doing, but for well-doing (1 Peter 3:17). Or as a busybody in other men's matters. This clause represents one Greek word, ἀλλοτριοεπίσκοπος; it means an ἐπίσκοπος, ill-specter, overseer ("bishop" is the modern form of the word), of other men's matters - of things that do not concern him. St. Peter uses the word ἐπίσκοπος only once (1 Peter 2:25), where he describes Christ as the Bishop of our souls. It cannot be taken here in its ecclesiastical sense, "let no man suffer as a bishop in matters which do not concern him; but if as a Christian (bishop), let him not be ashamed." The Jews were often accused of constituting themselves judges and meddling in other men's matters; it may be that the consciousness of spiritual knowledge and high spiritual dignity exposed Christians to the same temptation. Hilgenfeld sees here an allusion to Trajan's laws against informers, and uses it as an argument for his theory of the late date of this Epistle.

4:12-19 By patience and fortitude in suffering, by dependence on the promises of God, and keeping to the word the Holy Spirit hath revealed, the Holy Spirit is glorified; but by the contempt and reproaches cast upon believers, he is evil spoken of, and is blasphemed. One would think such cautions as these were needless to Christians. But their enemies falsely charged them with foul crimes. And even the best of men need to be warned against the worst of sins. There is no comfort in sufferings, when we bring them upon ourselves by our own sin and folly. A time of universal calamity was at hand, as foretold by our Saviour, Mt 24:9,10. And if such things befall in this life, how awful will the day of judgment be! It is true that the righteous are scarcely saved; even those who endeavour to walk uprightly in the ways of God. This does not mean that the purpose and performance of God are uncertain, but only the great difficulties and hard encounters in the way; that they go through so many temptations and tribulations, so many fightings without and fears within. Yet all outward difficulties would be as nothing, were it not for lusts and corruptions within. These are the worst clogs and troubles. And if the way of the righteous be so hard, then how hard shall be the end of the ungodly sinner, who walks in sin with delight, and thinks the righteous is a fool for all his pains! The only way to keep the soul well, is, to commit it to God by prayer, and patient perseverance in well-doing. He will overrule all to the final advantage of the believer.But let none of you suffer as a murderer,.... The punishment for murder was death by the law of God, Genesis 9:6

or as a thief; whose fine or mulct, according to the Jewish law, was a fivefold or fourfold restitution, according to the nature of the thing that was stolen, Exodus 22:1

or as an evildoer; a breaker of any of the laws of God or men, which are of a moral nature, and for the good of civil society:

or as a busybody in other men's matters; "or as a bishop in another man's diocese"; that concerns himself in things he has nothing to do with, and neglects his own affairs, and lives in idleness, and upon the spoil of others; or takes upon him to manage, direct, order, and command other men's servants, or persons that do not belong to him, to do his business, or whatsoever he pleases. The Vulgate Latin version renders it, "a desirer of other's goods"; and the Ethiopic version, "a covetous desirer of other's things"; and so is led on by an insatiable thirst for them, to obtain them in an evil way, either by secret fraud, or open violence and oppression. To suffer in any such cases is scandalous and dishonourable, and unbecoming the character of a Christian. This last clause is left out in the Syriac version.

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