Here as in 1 Peter 2:24, our apostle urges death to sins in its practical reality. It is not (as the apostle Paul, in Rom. 6: and elsewhere, teaches) the Christian privilege of having died with Christ to sin, but the duty which flows from His death as a fact in the spiritual realm, that we should no longer serve sin but walk as righteous men after Christ’s example. Both speak to the same end.
“Since Christ then suffered [for us25] in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind; because he that suffered in flesh hath ceased from sin, no longer to live the rest of time in flesh to men’s lusts but to God’s will. For the past time [is] sufficient to have wrought out [or, purposed] the will26 of the Gentiles, walking as ye had done in lasciviousness, lusts, wine-bibbings, revels, carousings, and unhallowed idolatries; wherein they think it strange that ye run not with [them] into the same excess of profligacy, speaking injuriously, who shall render account to him that is ready to judge living and dead. For to this end was the gospel preached to dead men also, that they might be judged according to man in flesh, and live according to God in spirit” (1 Peter 4:1-6).
To Messiah, the greatest of all sufferers, the apostle turns the hearts of his brethren. It was all the more impressive that of Him it had been verified to perfection, and in the cross above all. For till the veil was taken from the heart of the righteous remnant, the Jew saw nothing but triumph and glory for Him, as wolf as for His people. And what a large part of Holy Writ bore witness to it! Yet His death was the simplest, plainest, and the most irrefragable proof, that unbelief had hidden from their eyes the divine testimony to His suffering throughout the O.T., Law, Psalms, and Prophets. Risen from the dead He opened the understanding of His disciples to understand the scriptures and thus to judge their own dark onesidedness. As He said to two of them on the resurrection day, “O senseless and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets spoke! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” Long before His crucifixion He had told His disciples of the Son of man being in His day as the lightning shines from under heaven to under heaven to the surprise of a guilty world; “but first he must suffer many things and be rejected of this generation” (Luke 17:24, 25).
There was revealed an unequalled Sufferer, not Job, not Joseph, not Moses, nor David, nor Jeremiah, nor any other of the prophets; but all these perhaps in some stage foreshadowing the suffering One to come. But all this is infinitely short of the wondrous truth of the cross. For He, the Holy One of God who knew no sin, was made sin for us, and suffered, not for righteousness as saints might and did, but from God for our sins, as He alone could. And hence, when rejected of the people, betrayed by one apostle, denied by another, forsaken by all (we may say), God forsook Him, as His own lips declared. So it must be if sin was to be adequately judged, and a perfect ground laid in His death to reconcile the foulest sinner to God, cleansing him from every sin by His blood. As the apostle testified to His blood in 1:18-21, so does he now to the practical power of His suffering to give power against sin: “Arm yourselves with the same mind.” Never had He pleased Himself, though in Him was no sin. Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God. Such was His life in every detail; it was a. pure meal-offering, a holy oblation, to God His Father, whose glory He sought in the least thing as in the greatest, and in the humblest, truest, and deepest of all ways — in obedience. And so it was in that with which nothing can compare, in His atoning death, where God had all His nature glorified even as to sin, and made Him sin for us that we might become His righteousness in Christ.
Great, and varied, and infinite are the results of His suffering; yet here the apostle speaks, not of its being the efficacious means of bringing us to God as blameless and spotless as Himself, but of its practical power against sin day by day. “Since Christ then suffered in flesh, arm yourselves with the same mind.” Christ never yielded, but suffered being tempted; holy Himself, He kept sin outside. He had no sin in the human nature which He took. But how were we to be met who had it within and were guilty without? He died for us, yea for our sins; He was forsaken of God that this judgment might be complete; and in this judgment the apostle Paul adds that God condemned the root of all, sin in the flesh, in Him a sacrifice for sin, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to flesh but according to Spirit.
Peter here draws from Christ for the Christian the great abstract principle, “because he that suffered in flesh hath ceased from sin, no longer to live the rest of time in flesh to men’s lusts but to God’s will.” Allowing all the difference between the Saviour and the saved, this truly applies to His followers. When we sin, it is our own will that is active to His dishonour. One suffers in refusing to sin; one judges and hates and thwarts the will of flesh, and suffers, but does not sin. If by grace our mind is set on God’s will at all cost, sin does not enter. It is suffering in flesh, and therein is separation from sin. And this is the simple normal state of the Christian with the heart resting on Him that went down below all depths for him. When the heart loses sight of Him, one shirks suffering, and the will asserts fleshly activity, and actual sin follows. But we are sanctified by the Spirit to the obedience of Jesus, no less than to the sprinkling of His blood. We are left here to do the will of God, now that we are Christ’s.
There is another consideration the apostle sets before us, and truly humbling it is. “For the past time is sufficient to have wrought out the purpose [or, will] of the Gentiles, walking as ye have done in lasciviousness, lusts, wine-bibbings, revels, carousings, end unhallowed idolatries; wherein they think it strange that ye run not together into the same excess of profligacy, speaking injuriously; who shall render account to him that is ready to judge living and dead” (3-5).
There is no doubt that these wicked ways were characteristic of the Gentiles, not of the Jews; but those of the dispersion, living among the heathen, were apt to be corrupted by their environment. Like their fathers of old, the descendants, especially outside the sharp supervision of Palestinian eyes, were too easily drawn into gross lusts and passions, and thence, with a bad conscience shutting out God and His judgment, adopted unhallowed idolatries, such as amulets, charms, and the like. This is what the apostle charges as a fact in former days, on those who now bore the Lord’s name. It was natural for the heathen so to live; it was shocking that such of them as owned Jehovah had so walked: they now knew that they were no better than others. The apostle, while exhorting to consistency with that holy name, reminds the saints that their Gentile neighbours counted it strange that they do not run the same common race of impure and selfish indulgence, so generally linked with idolatrous customs. Instead of approving the change, they indulged injurious imputations, as the world still does in its form of Christendom. In this they but follow the prince of the world, who is a liar and murderer, the marked contrast of Him who is the Truth and the Life-giver, to whom they “shall render account.” But he puts it with all impressive force, when He is described here as “having it in readiness to judge quick and dead.” Can any believer name a single visible event that hinders His coming?
It is indeed a certain, solemn, yet simple truth, that the Lord Jesus Christ is ordained, or determinately appointed, to this office by God. As Peter preached at Caesarea, Paul at Athens declared that God now enjoins men that they shall all everywhere repent, because He has set a day in which He will judge the inhabited earth by the appointed Man, having as pledge to all afforded His raising Him from the dead. To the believer Peter taught in 1 Peter 1:21 that His resurrection is to give him faith and hope toward God, delivered from all fear of judgment. To unbelievers, Paul at the Areopagus preached it to be God’s assurance that the day hastens when Christ will judge living men as well as dead: the first when He comes in Hs kingdom, the second just before He gives it up for the eternal state (Rev. 20). For He who bore our sine in His body on the tree is the same that is now raised from the dead; because God was glorified for the putting away of sin in that sacrifice of Himself, Who is the fore-runner for us entered into that within the veil; as He will come to receive us to Himself, that where He is, there we may be also.
But He is ready to judge, not those even now associated with Him, but “living and dead” who disbelieved and despised Him. He brings salvation to those, judgment to these. How the word of God sweeps away, not doubt only, but delay! “My lord delayeth” is the heart’s language of mere professors. How sad that believers should plead excuses for the unbelief which our Lord stigmatises! True hearts love His appearing and would rather hasten the day, solemn as it is.
It is His judging that is linked with verse 6, and helps to rid it of the difficulties with which superstition loads and darkens it. “For to this end the glad tidings went to dead persons also, that they might be judged according to men in flesh, and live according to God in spirit.” From the hour that man fell by sin under death and judgment, God had in His grace a gospel to shelter and give life according to God; which is therefore in the last book of scripture called “an everlasting gospel.” To this clung faith from the first; and it was added to and cleared gradually throughout the O.T. till the death, resurrection, and glory of Christ gave it fulness. And those who now dead heard it in the course of ages had their responsibility so much the more increased. If they abode in their sins through unbelief, they will be judged by the coming Lord according to men in flesh. Grace exempts from that sorrowful condition by the faith of the glad tidings, and life is in Christ for all who believe, who therefore live to God in spirit. For Christ gives life no less than pardon. Those who feel their need of God’s grace do also submit to the humbling sense that they deserve judgment. Thus it is that repentance and faith ever go together.
We may add that the passage similarly mistaken in 1 Peter 3:19, 20 does not speak of “glad tidings” like this, and has thus another bearing. It was simply Noah’s proclaiming the coming deluge as “a preacher of righteousness” and affected those who perished for their disobedience and are kept for judgment. But we hear of “glad tidings” here; and therefore as the context proves, it applies to all in the past who have heard the gospel. This if refused left them in their natural state as men in flesh, fallen men, to be judged; while those who by grace heard the good news that was sent live according to God in spirit by virtue of that word which quickens by the faith of Christ, and produces the good fruit proper to that life practically. Any one acquainted with the language must own the strict accuracy with which the apostle Peter, certainly not a man of letters or learning, was led to the precisely accurate
κήρυξ on the one hand, and to the appropriate
εὐαγγελίζω on the other.
Founded on the Lord’s readiness to judge, in all its solemnity for man, is the reminder of the approaching end of all things which now subsist. This is supposed in such an intervention.
“But the end of all things hath drawn nigh. Be discreet therefore and watch (or, be sober) unto prayers,27 and before all things having your love toward each other fervent, for love covereth28 a multitude of sins; hospitable toward one another without murmuring;29 according as each received a gift, ministering it toward each other as good stewards of God’s various grace: if one speak, [let it be] as oracles of God; if one ministereth, as of strength which God supplieth; that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, whose is the glory and the might unto the ages of the ages. Amen” (vers. 7-11).
The Holy Spirit keeps as constant and proximate, not only the bright hope of the Lord’s coming for the saints, but the close of man’s day for the earth. The world refuses or ridicules the warning. Even saints forget it as a living word from God for every day; and when mingling with human interests and men’s thoughts, get weary, are ashamed of the truth, apologise for or gloss over the words of the Lord and the apostles, so as in effect to say, like the evil bondman in his heart, “My Lord delayeth:” alike the cause and the consequence of growing worldliness. Even watching for executive providence in the meantime undermines and destroys the separating and heart-elevating power of waiting for Christ.
But the word here flowing out of faith in the impending end of all things is, “Be discreet therefore,” that is of sound mind spiritually; “and watch,” or be sober, “unto prayers:” a very different attitude from absorption in the newspaper, and in each exciting movement west or east, so often to fade and disappoint the superficial readers of prophecy. Hope like faith looks to God, expects in patience, and does not make ashamed. The Christian ought never to forget that he is a Christian, and follows the crucified but glorified One, content — yea rejoicing — to endure till we reign together with Him at His appearing and kingdom. It is not our place to thunder and lighten, as those under the law were bound to do, at the revolt of Israel and at the passing enormities of the Gentile powers. When we are translated, it will be for the godly remnant on earth to take up the cry once more, “How long, Sovereign Master the holy and true, dost not thou judge and avenge our blood on those that dwell upon the earth?” Blessed saints will they be, but no more Christians in the full sense than the O.T. saints before us.
The saints now are exhorted to watch unto prayers; as another apostle bade his dear Philippians, with the Lord at hand, be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let their requests be made known unto God. Thus should the peace of God that surpasses all understanding guard their hearts and their thoughts in Christ Jesus. Such is true Christian experience. Still more wide and deep is the word in Eph. 6 where the apostle says “with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching “hereunto with all perseverance and supplication.”
“But before all things” (for it ought in practice to take precedence of all), he adds, “having your love toward each other fervent, because love covereth a multitude of sins” (ver. 8): this last clause an application of Prov. 10:12. As hatred makes the worst of everything, love is entitled to bury things out of sight; and God endorses it as answering to His own nature. Needless to say that holy discipline retains its needed but sorrowful action.
Next (ver. 9) the apostle would have them, as another form of love, “hospitable unto one another, without murmuring.” Surely grumbling and grudging did not become a holy and a royal priesthood Practical outgoing of heart in this way promotes fellowship, and strengthens the bonds of grace. It yields a fine contrast to man’s selfishness, which seeks its own things, and complains of all else.
Gift too (vers. 10, 11), used according to God, subserves the same end as well as much greater ones, even the perfecting of the saints, for ministerial work, and for building up the body of Christ. But our apostle as usual is eminently direct and practical “As each received a gift,” they were to minister it toward each other, “as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” This is just what human organising hinders. How sad for saints to sanction any meddling with God’s will and ways! It is not the right of each that is pleaded, but the obligation from gifts of God to use whatever it be in responsibility to Him. “It is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2) from the greatest to the least: else God’s rights are infringed, and His grace is thus far suppressed.
The apostle divides gifts into two general classes, speaking or service otherwise. “If one speak [let it be] as oracles of God.” This does not merely mean according to scripture; which might be misdirected, and thus even do harm; as e.g. encouraging, when reproof was due, or the inverse. Not even a gifted man ought to speak without the assurance of God’s mind for the moment and case in hand. How much would be spared, were this divine rule truly felt! Then again, “If one ministereth, as of the strength which God supplieth.” Creature advantages might be a snare on both sides. Even in temporal service, which is thus distinguished from the word, the right strength is that which comes from God, and not human ability, attainment, rank, or wealth. We may compare with this latter “ministry,” “giving,” and “showing mercy” in Rom. 12, and “helps” in 1 Cor. 12. It is remarkable how scripture in this differs, as usual, from the thoughts and language of Christendom. For so ignored is scripture, even by men zealous in dispensing it in all possible versions throughout the world, that they confine “ministry” to public speaking, and never consider that God thus dignifies all real service which is not of that oral character.
But “gifts” in either way are so designated by inspiration; and their free and holy exercise claimed as coming from such a donor; “that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, whose is (not merely “be”) the glory and the might unto the ages of the ages. Amen.” For thus the fervent spirit of the apostle poured itself out, as he wrote these things to the saints in Asia Minor; and God has kept them for us also.
The apostle next turns definitely to suffering of the severest kind which they were called to endure, not as a question of right or wrong, which any upright brother might and does face, but for Christ’s name which in a greater degree draws on faith.
“Beloved, be not surprised at (count not strange) the fire among you that cometh for your trial, as though a strange thing were happening to you; but inasmuch as ye share in the sufferings of Christ, rejoice, that in the revelation of his glory also ye may rejoice exultingly. If ye are reproached in Christ’s name, blessed [are ye], because the [Spirit] of glory and the Spirit of God resteth upon you: [on their part he is blasphemed, but on your part he is glorified]” (vers. 12-14).
Blessed is a man that endureth temptation or trial, and the more fiery it may be, the more blessed he that endures; because when thus proved he shall receive the crown of life which the Lord promised to those that love Him. The danger is of entering into temptation, as even the apostle knew too sadly, when he forgot the Lord’s warning in the confidence of his own love, and denied Him thrice. But grace began to restore him, when the Lord re-called to His poor servant His admonitory words, and never stops till he could be so re-instated before his brethren, as to have His sheep and lambs entrusted to his care. Nor was this all. For the redeeming work of Christ so completely purged him, as it does every worshipper (Heb. 10:2), that he could boldly charge the men of Israel with their denying the Holy and Just One. Once for all purified, he had no longer any conscience of sins: that sin and every other were effaced for ever. Such is the Christian’s initiatory privilege.
Who then was more fitted than this apostle of the circumcision to strengthen the hearts of his brethren at the fire among them coming for their trial? They should not count it strange but an honour from God, especially as they had, what the apostle had not when he was tried, the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, as the fruit of Christ’s accomplished work. Had not the Lord said to His disciples, “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from them, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as wicked, for the Son of man’s sake”? Had He not bidden them to “rejoice in that day and leap for joy; for, behold, your reward is great in heaven, for according to the same things did their fathers to the prophets”?
The apostle had already exhorted them (in 1 Peter 2:20, 21) to endure as a grace and honour if one for conscience toward God endured griefs, suffering wrongfully. For as he admirably argued, what honour is there, if when sinning and buffeted ye shall endure? But if doing good and suffering ye shall endure, this is grace, or acceptable, with God. There too he points to Christ’s suffering for us, as the great model to follow. This he followed up more briefly but with sharp pungency (in 1 Peter 3:17, 18), as better, if God’s will should will it, to suffer as doing good rather than doing evil, with the same One before our hearts in His once for all suffering for sins, as He alone could. Here he goes beyond suffering for righteousness and as well-doers; and in accordance with the fiery persecution in view, he reminds them that inasmuch as ye share, or have fellowship in, the sufferings of Christ, it was theirs to rejoice, that in the revelation of His glory also they may rejoice with exultation. The Spirit was afresh applying what the Lord at the beginning laid down on the mount, the surpassing excellence in His eyes (and who such a judge?) of being reviled and persecuted with every wicked thing lyingly said against them for His sake. Blessed they that were persecuted for righteousness’ sake, because theirs is the kingdom of the heavens (Matt. 5:10); but in the next verses 11, 12, He rises higher, and addresses personally, and no longer as before in the abstract, “ye” that suffer for His sake. These were to rejoice and exult, because their reward was great in the heavens.
Here too His servant was given to add, “If ye are reproached in Christ’s name, blessed [are ye]; because the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you.” Christ was not here, but in the glory of God; and thence came the Spirit, sent by the Father in His name, and by Himself from the Father to abide with them and be in them (John 14, 15). How fitting and full of comfort the reminder! He was the seal of their accomplished redemption, and the earnest of the glory coming to them. He is the Spirit of God, which is more and better than glory. Such was the Spirit that rested on them, both for energy to endure and for joy’ now and evermore. No doubt, it is generally true of all the sons of God, for He is the Spirit of sonship, which believers receive since redemption (Gal. 4:4, Eph. 1:13, 14); but it is here said with emphasis to sustain the sufferers for Christ’s name. The latter part of the verse is quite true, and said in substance elsewhere; but omitted as the words are by the best MSS. and most ancient Vv. and looking like a gloss, they are here bracketed as of doubtful authority. There is an addition also to the Spirit of glory and of God, “and of power” in AP, more than 30 cursives, some ancient versions, etc., even expanded in ; but the Vatican MS. and other good witnesses oppose; and indeed it seems still less in accord with the context.
The apostle had put forward the sufferings of the saints as fellowship with Christ’s sufferings. They could not share His grace without sharing what this entailed on Him in an evil world where God is hated quite as much as He is dreaded by a bad conscience and an unbelieving heart. They were therefore to count persecution no strange thing, but to be expected where sin pervades and prevails, where darkness is put for light and light for darkness, where good is called evil and evil good, where sweet is accounted bitter and bitter sweet. If the foundations be destroyed, what can the portion of the righteous be but the rejection which their Lord had? The disciple is not above his teacher, nor the bondman above his lord. Every one when perfected shall be as his master. It was saintly privilege and to be accepted with thanks and exultation. It was to be reproached in His name, the Spirit of glory and of God resting on them that their groans might have a divine and unselfish character, and themselves be strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory unto all patience with joy.
Now he turns to the moral side, after an earnest exhortation against the dangers for a Christian in the midst of the worst examples. Assuredly if God judges, it is for good reason; and judge He must, according to His holy nature, what is inconsistent with it, and lifts itself proudly and rebelliously against Himself. Already too men slept, and the enemy sowed darnel, and the evil could not be expelled till the consummation of the age when the Son of man takes it in hand with power and glory. The Holy Spirit was sent for the good news, the saints, the church, but not to apply remedy to the ruin. This is reserved for the Lord who will at His appearing bring in times of restoration of all things, as the prophets spoke and God through them since time began. 2 Thess. 2, one of the earliest communications to the church, is explicit that the mystery of lawlessness was already at work. This is the succession that is never interrupted, though kept in check by the Spirit of God till He departs, and the apostasy ensues, which culminates in the lawless one fully displayed in his audacious taking of his seat in God’s temple, showing himself that he is God.
Hence says our apostle, “Because the time [is] that judgment begin from the house of God; and if first from us, what [shall be] the end of those that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous is with difficulty saved, where shall the impious and sinful appear? Wherefore also let those that suffer according to the will of God commit their souls in well-doing30 to a faithful Creator” (vers. 17-19).
So it had been in the awful judgment which befell Jerusalem and the Jews as described by Ezekiel. “Begin at my sanctuary,” said Jehovah, where man assumed indefectibility, and such is the vain confidence of tradition, in the face of the plainest testimonies to the contrary in the Gospels, the Epistles, and the Revelation. The glory of Jehovah refused to dwell in His house defiled by abomination, and yet greater abominations, the last of which was that eastern attitude which has ever stamped the idolator, never the two worshipper of our God and Father. No doubt, salvation ever was of God and in sovereign grace; and this in Christianity is made more evident and indisputable than it ever had been. But God from the first maintained His title to judge every departure from Him; and none ought to be so ready and so thorough in confessing their sins as those who own that all they enjoy and boast is of His grace. Whereas the plague-spot in Christendom, as in Israel, is to claim for its most guilty and apostate state the immunity that belongs to the counsels of grace. Never was Judah loftier in its pretensions and louder in its sense of security than on the eve of unsparing judgment. And now it is still more guiltily the fact with Christendom.
Here it is where even real disciples sadly fail. Party-spirit blinds; for what is Christendom but a scattered group of parties? As another apostle taught, there were schisms even then; and there must be heresies or sects as it really means, the inevitable elect if not corrected by self-judgment; and these we now see all around and unblushing. Those that carry the head highest can hardly deny it. Their own association is of course the true one, if not quite immaculate in their eyes; but they must know of souls on earth more than themselves subject to the word and Spirit of God, devoted to Christ’s name, and separate from the world. This might pierce their conscience, and lead them by grace to discover the overwhelming ruin underneath the haughtiest prejudice. But the darkness which besets all who yield to the fatal assumption of indefectibility in the Christian profession hinders the entrance of divine light as to this into their souls.
Yet the Lord in Matt. 13 had given ample warning that the kingdom of the heavens, which He was about to set up, would be characterised by ruin through the enemy’s craft, as the earthly kingdom of old entrusted to Israel had broken down. Only judgment at the Son of man’s appearing could duly rid the field of the darnel here below, But the wheat, taken up to the heavenly granary, should shine forth as the sun in a higher sphere.
The testimony of Paul has been alleged; here before us is that of Peter. Jude is in prophetic vision as distinct and pregnant, as he is brief. “Woe to them, because they went in the way of Cain, and gave themselves up to the misleading of Balaam for hire, and perished in the gainsaying of Korah.” John penetrates deeper than all when he calls it “the last hour” of many antichrists come, the heralds of the antichrist.
But where is this felt by saints generally and confessed with grief before God and with shame before men? If they go so far as to protest against this evil or that, they are satisfied with their part, even though they in fact join in with what they own as deplorable, or alas! seek to explain away.
Let them heed the way of the godly in Israel, though surely the Christian is bound to go farther still and judge more profoundly through far more light. From Moses to Samuel how much is there to learn in presence of the people fighting against God I From Jeremiah and Daniel, from Ezra and Nehemiah, what agony over the remnant’s short-coming, what bearing the burden of all Israel’s sins, of people, priests, and kings! Is the church to have no such sense of responsibility? Is the Christian, because he has eternal life and is justified, to have no sorrow because of the beautiful flock of Christ harried and scattered, and of the rashness, heats, and self-will which oft caused it?
Undoubtedly scripture provides to faith and fidelity a clean path outside corporate as well as individual defilement. But if there be not a spirit mourning and broken that precedes recourse to it and that is kept up ever after, a hard and cold self-righteousness will rush in there, the sure proof of failure that only adds sin to sin, and that forebodes worse evil still. If we are of the church, Christ’s body, it is a heartless thing that we are only to feel what wrong we have personally done. The true principle is that, if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; and of this suffering the spiritual are deeply sensible. But the self-satisfied is quite indifferent. He has his party, and is content. In Christ we see the perfection of His love in this respect as in all others. He bore on His spirit the burden of every woe He relieved by His power: how much more did He feel all the unworthy selfishness which impeded and weighed down His beloved ones! We are entitled and bound by grace to share this divine affection with Him. The faith which refuses sin works by love to warn the saints who yield to it, but also to intercede on their behalf. Christ would have us wash one another’s feet; but what lowliness and love we need to do it aright!
Now if judgment begin from the house of God, as it does and ought (compare Amos 3:2), what must be the end of those that obey not the gospel of God? This is the only obedience to which the unforgiven is called. What a proof of blind wickedness that any sinners should refuse! For the gospel of God is the glad news of full remission of his sins in the blood of Jesus. Yet what thousands and millions dare hell-fire rather than believe on Him. What shall their end be?
No wonder that the apostle speaks of the righteous saved with difficulty. Yes, the obstacles are many and immense; and there is no good thing in them, that is, in all naturally theirs, while even as saints, what weakness and exposure! “Who then can be saved’“ said the disciples, when they heard of special difficulty for the rich, who, as they thought, had such advantage over all others. But Jesus looking on them with His unfailing love replied, “With men this is,” not difficult, but “impossible”; but ( thanks for ever to His name!) “with God all things are possible.” Salvation is of God, as His is the gospel which proclaims it to everyone, poor or rich, that believes. But all the more appalling is the lot of those who not only violate His law but scorn or neglect His gospel. Where shall the impious and sinful appear?
God is not only the One that raises the dead, as already shown us in Christ for the deliverance of our souls; He does not cease to prove Himself “a faithful Creator” to such as suffer on earth. “Wherefore also let them that suffer according to the will of God commit their souls” to Him thus “in well-doing.” He is fonder to His creatures; how much more to His children, suffering wrongfully for a little while I The sentiment is closely in keeping with the testimony to such Jews as were now Christians.
25 31 and a few other cursives with Syr. Pesch., read
ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν, “for you,” as e A K L P and many more, Memph. and other ancients give
ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, “for us.” B C etc. omit either, and this most critics prefer.
26 †The more ancient MSS. omit
τοῦ βίου, “of life,” and have
θέλημα as in ver. 2.
27 The true reading is the plural, and without the article as in Text. Rec. Also “covereth” is right, not “shall cover”; and the singular “murmuring” rather than the plural.
30 The most ancient authorities omit