This post contains Fr. MacEvilly’s summary analysis of the entire chapter, followed by his commentary on the reading. Text in purple represents his paraphrase.
A Summary of 1 Peter 4~In this chapter, the Apostle, after having digressed from the subject of the death of Christ (1 Pet 3:18), now returns to point out the lesson of instruction, which they should all derive from It, viz.: that they should no longer live in sin, but that their wole lives should be employed in performifig the will of God ( 1 Pet 4:1, 2). For, they had already devoted too much time to the gratification of the corrupt passions, to which the unconverted Gentiles are prone (1 Pet 4:3), who, on seeing the Christian converts, now refuse to join them in the perpetration of their former crimes, execrate and blaspheme both them and their holy religion, as the enemies of all social and friendly intercourse among men (1 Pet 4:4). For these blasphemies, they shall one day have to render a most strict account to Christ, the judge of the living and the dead (1 Pet 4:5).
Against the Epicurians and other sects, who held, that, at death, man ceases to exist, and hence, no judgment or accountability, he proves from the fact of Christ having preached In the prison of Limbo, to those who had been long since dead, that Christ was to be judge of the dead as well as of the living (1 Pet 4:6). Not only have these been judged; but, in a short time, all things are to come to their final close; and hence, those whom he addresses, as well as all future generations, should be very circumspect and tvaichful duly to discharge the great duty ofprayer (1 Pet 4:7).
He exhorts them to the practice of uninterrupted charity towards one another, and particularly of that branch of it, which consists in affording lodging and support to poor indigent stangers (1 Pet 4:8, 9).
He next prescribes the proper mode of exercising the spiritual gifts with which they might have been endowed for the good of others (1 Pet 4:10). These gifts he reduces to two heads, viz.: the gift of speaking, and the gift of action or administration; and both one and the other, should be exercised so as to promote, as indeed all our actions should, the glory of God through Jesus Christ (1 Pet 4:11).
He then renews his former exhortatlon to patience, on several grounds: because, by suffering they only submit to what all the elect before them had to undergo (1 Pet 4:12).Because, patient sufferings cause us to share in the sufferings of Christ, and lead to unalloyed joy and transport (1 Pet 4:13). Because, these sufferings and reproaches arc the source ofpeculiar blessedness (1 Pet 4:14). From this peculiar blessedness, he excludes sufferings, undergone for the commission of crime (1 Pet 4:15, 16). He exhorts them to patience, because they are thus submitting to the general will of God, in saving his elect (1 Pet 4:17). Finally he encourages them to commit their souls to God (1 Pet 4:19).
1Pe 4:13 But if you partake of the sufferings of Christ, rejoice that, when his glory shall be revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
But since by thus suffering patiently for justice sake, you share and take a part in the sufferings of Christ, you should now rejoice, in order that, at the revelation of his glory hereafter, you may become partakers of unmixed joy and ineffable transport.
This is an additional motive to suffer patiently, because, by so doing, they share in the sufferings of Christ, their sufferings are united with his (2 Cor 1:5), “as the sufferings of Christ abound in us.”—(Heb 13:13, 11:26; 2 Cor 4:10; Rom 8:17; Gal 6:17). Christ is our head—we his members; we are also incorporated with him by baptism. Rejoice, then, as you know that these sufferings are united with those of Christ. “That when his glory shall be revealed,” on the day of judgment, you may also be glad with exceeding joy; and the present joy which you now feel, although embittered by pains and crosses, will then be exchanged for ineffable, unalloyed joy, which will manifest itself in transport and the rapturous joy of your glorified bodies.
1Pe 4:14 If you be reproached for the name of Christ, you shall be blessed: for that which is of the honour, glory and power of God, and that which is his Spirit resteth upon you.
And if you suffer reproach for bearing the name of Christian and professing the doctrine of Christ, you are blessed here in firm hope, and shall be blessed, hereafter, in the enjoyment of never ending happmess; for, far from its being dishonourable; inglorious, or cowardly in you to bear silently such reproaches; on the contrary, you alone are possessed of real honour, glory and fortitude abidingly conferred on you by the power of God and of his Holy Spirit, the only source of good gifts.
And if you be reproached for the name of Christ. The profession of Christianity had been to the first Christians a subject of reproach and disgrace. You shall be blessed. This is a subject of peculiar blessedness rather than of reproach. For that which is of honour, &c., that is, far from its being either dishonourable, or inglorious, or cowardly, to profess Christianity, and to bear such reproaches silently, as probably had been charged upon the faithful by their enemies; on the contrary, they alone were possessed of real honour, and glory, and fortitude, which God only can confer, and which comes from his Holy Spirit, the giver of every good gift. In the Greek we have not ” honour or power;” it runs thus: οτι το της δοξης και το του θεου πνευμα, because what is of glory, and the Spirit of God, rests upon you. But in some Greek copies are added the following words: indeed in them it (the Spirit of God) is blasphemed, but in you it is glorified. These words are not found in any Latin copies, nor in the Syriac version, nor in the chief manuscripts.
1Pe 4:15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or a railer or coveter of other men’s things.
But in pointing out the merit of patient suffering, I speak not of suffering in a bad cause, on account of outraging the laws of society; for none of you should draw down upon himself merited punishment, due to a homicide, or a thief, or a slanderer, or to such as curiously pry into other persons affairs, in order to circumvent and rob them.
The Apostle excludes from all merit suffering in a bad cause; for, to suffer the penalties due to human justice, in consequence of outraging the laws of society, far from being honourable, is a disgrace to religion. Or railer; for this the Greek has κακοποιος, an evil doer, one who maliciously injures his neighbour in person or property. Or a coveter of other men’s things. The Greek word for this, αλλοτριεπισκοπος, means, one who pries into the concerns of others. The Vulgate has, however, fairly given the meaning, because the words mean, one who pries into other men’s concerns, for the purpose of circumventing them, and rapaciously depriving them of their property, taking advantage of the knowledge thus unwarrantably acquired.
1Pe 4:16 But, if as a Christian, let him not be ashamed: but let him glorify God in that name.
But if anyone of you suffer for being a Christian, and for practicing Christian virtue, far from feeling ashamed, he should give glory to God on this account.
But if any one among you be subjected to suffering for bearing the name of Christ and for practising the virtues which Christianity prescribes, far from feeling ashamed, he should glory in this name, that is, on this account, or, as in some Greek copies, in this part. The Alexandrian and Vatican MSS. support the Vulgate, εν τω ονοματι τουτω. Such was the conduct of the Apostles, who ”went rejoicing from the presence of the council, because they were judged worthy to suffer reproach for Christ” (Acts 5:41).