1 Peter 4:16 MEANING

1 Peter 4:16
(16) Yet if any man suffer as a Christian.--St. Peter purposely uses the name which was a name of derision among the heathens. It is not, as yet, one by which the believers would usually describe themselves. It only occurs twice besides in the New Testament--in Acts 11:26, where we are told of the invention of the nickname (see Note there), and in Acts 26:28, where Agrippa catches it up with the insolent scorn with which a brutal justice would have used the word "Methodist" a century ago. So contemptible was the name that, as M. Renan says (p. 37), "Well-bred people avoided pronouncing the name, or, when forced to do so, made a kind of apology." Tacitus, for instance, says: "Those who were vulgarly known by the name of Christians." In fact, it is quite an open question whether we ought not here (as well as in the two places of Acts above cited) to read the nickname in its barbarous form: Chrestian. The Sinaitic manuscript has that form, and the Vatican has the form Chreistian; and it is much harder to suppose that a scribe who commonly called himself a Christian would intentionally alter it into this strange form than to suppose that one who did not understand the irony of saying a Chrestian should have written the word with which he was so familiar.

Let him not be ashamed.--Although the name sounds worse to the world than "murderer," or "thief," or "malefactor."

On this behalf.--This is a possible rendering, but it is more pointed to translate literally, but let him glorify God in this name--i.e., make even this name of ridicule the ground of an act of glory to God.

Verse 16. - Yet if any man suffer as a Christian. The word "Christian" occurs only three times in the New Testament - twice in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28), and here. "The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." They were originally described amongst themselves as "the disciples," "the brethren," "the believers," "the elect," or" the saints;" by the Jews they were called "the Nazarenes" (Acts 24:5), as still in Mohammedan countries. The name was probably invented by the heathen, and used at first as a term of derision; there is something of scorn in Agrippa's use of it. It did not at once become common among the disciples of the Lord. St. Peter (who preached at Antioch (Galatians 2:11), and is said to have been Bishop of Antioch) is the only sacred writer who adopts it instead of the older names, and that only ones, and in connection with threatened persecution. St. James may possibly allude to it in James 2:7. But it was not commonly used among' believers till after New Testament times. Then they began to discern its admirable suitableness. It reminded them that the center of their religion was not a system of doctrines, but a Person, and that Person the Messiah, the Anointed of God. The Hebrew origin of the word, the Greek dress, the Latin termination, seemed to point, like the threefold inscription on the cross, to the universality of Christ's religion to its empire, first over all the civilized nations, and through them, by continually increasing triumphs, over the whole world. It reminded them that they too were anointed, that they had an unction from the Holy One. Its very corruption through heathen ignorance, Christian from χρηστός, good (the Sinaitic Manuscript has χρηστιανός in this place) had its lesson - it spoke of sweetness and of goodness. See the oft-quoted passage from Tertullian: "Sed quum et perperam Chres-tiani nuncupamur a vobis (nam nec nominis certa est notitia penes yes) de suavitate et benignitate compositum est." Let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. The best-supported reading is ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τούτῳ. This may be understood as an idiom, in the same sense as the reading of the Authorized Version; but it is better to translate it literally, in this name, i.e. either the name of Christ, or (more probably, perhaps) that of Christian. The heathen blasphemed that worthy Name; suffering Christians must not be ashamed of it, but, as the holy martyrs did, utter their "Christianus sum" with inward peace and thanksgiving, glorifying God that he had given them grace to bear that honored Name and to suffer for Christ. Bengel says here, "Poterat Petrus dicere, honori sibi ducat: sed honorem Dee resignandum esse docet."

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.Yet if any man suffer as a Christian,.... Because he is one, and professes himself to be one. This name was first given to the disciples at Antioch, either by themselves, or by the Gentiles; however, it being agreeable to them, was retained; it is only mentioned here, and in Acts 11:26,

let him not be ashamed; neither of Christ, and his Gospel, for which he suffers, nor of the name he bears, nor of the punishment he endures, however ignominious and shameful it may be among men; but let him, as his Lord and master did, endure the cross, and despise the shame, Hebrews 12:2

but let him glorify God on this behalf: that he bestows this gift upon him to suffer for Christ, as well as to believe in him; and that he does him so much honour to call him to such service, and to strengthen him in it, so as to take it joyfully, and endure it patiently and cheerfully. The Alexandrian copy, and some others, and also the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions, instead of "in this behalf", read "in this name"; that is, of a Christian.

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