“Time For Judgment to Begin In The House of God”—1 Peter 4:12-19.

Peter speaks here of suffering for the Gospel’s sake. Vs. 12 says, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.

These Christians at Asia (to whom Peter writes) were already undergoing severe persecution. Peter calls it “fiery trial,” referring to intense suffering. The same word “fiery” is translated as “burning” in Revelation 18:9 & 18 (“purósis” in the Greek).

This kind of treatment is not unusual for the Christian. Jesus already foretold that we would face persecution, so it should be expected (Matt 10:16-26).

In Acts 14:22, the disciples of Jesus are strengthened with these words, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” In 2 Timothy 3:12, Paul says, “…all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

Persecution/trials is often described as refining fire in the Scriptures.

Isaiah 48:10 (NKJV)


It is to test the purity of our faith; how much we can withstand for the Lord, without compromising. We are strengthened/refined as the end-result of this process (Rom 5:3-4). Persecution is to the Christian what fire is to gold.

Christians are therefore to rejoice in persecutions, Peter continues in vs. 13, “But rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.

The cause for our joy is that we are identified with Christ. We “partake of His sufferings,” just like Paul said, in Philippians 3:10, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, BEING CONFORMED TO HIS DEATH.

We are appointed to this suffering, for Christ’s sake. 1 Thessalonians 3:3-4 says, “That NO ONE SHOULD BE SHAKEN BY THESE AFFLICTIONS; for you yourselves know that WE ARE APPOINTED TO THIS. For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know.

To be identified with Christ is to anticipate suffering. This is the “cup” Jesus refers to in Mark 10, which the sons of Zebedee must drink from.

Mark 10:35-39 (NKJV)

35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.” 36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” 37 They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. ARE YOU ABLE TO DRINK THE CUP THAT I DRINK, and BE BAPTIZED WITH THE BAPTISM THAT I AM BAPTIZED WITH?” 39 They said to Him, “We are able.” So Jesus said to them, “YOU WILL INDEED DRINK THE CUP THAT I DRINK, and with the baptism I am baptized with YOU WILL BE BAPTIZED.

The “cup” and “baptism” refer to persecution and suffering. Jesus often referred to the suffering He would face as His “cup” (see Matt 26:39, 42, Mark 14:36, Luke 22:42, John 18:11). The Jews usually spoke of one’s destiny (allotted to him by God) as his “cup.” This imagery of a cup (as allotted suffering) was probably borrowed from the custom of ancient times in which malefactors were made to drink from poisoned cups.

The baptism here is a baptism (or covering) in one’s own blood—it refers to death! James, one of the two brothers, later experienced this baptism (see Acts 12:1-2). According to Ecclesiastical tradition, the other brother (John) is immersed into boiling oil for his testimony of Jesus (although he is said to have miraculously escaped unscathed). This is the cup and baptism Jesus referred to. To suffer is a natural consequence of leading a life that witnesses of Jesus; those of this world hate us and our testimony of Him (John 15:18-25, 17:14). This hatred is often expressed in overt acts of oppression.

As Christians, we are to bear the reproach of Christ. Hebrews 13:12-13 says, “Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, BEARING HIS REPROACH.

We endure now knowing that all Christian suffering would cease on the last day, when Jesus appears in all His glory.

1 Peter 1:7 (NKJV)

7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, THOUGH IT IS TESTED BY FIRE, may be found to praise, honor, and glory AT THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST.

Colossians 3:4 (NKJV)

4 When Christ who is our life APPEARS, then YOU ALSO WILL APPEAR WITH HIM in glory.

2 Thessalonians 1:7 (NKJV)

7 and TO GIVE YOU WHO ARE TROUBLED REST with us WHEN the Lord Jesus IS REVEALED FROM HEAVEN with His mighty angels.

Those who have endured suffering without compromise will be rewarded. James says, “Blessed is the man who ENDURES TEMPTATION; for when he has been approved, HE WILL RECEIVE THE CROWN OF LIFE which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).

Peter’s discourse continues into vs. 14, “If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, FOR THE SPIRIT OF GLORY AND OF GOD RESTS UPON YOU. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.

The one who suffers for the Gospel’s sake has the spirit of glory upon him. This brings to mind the messianic passage of Isaiah 11:1-2.

Isaiah 11:1-2 (NKJV)

1 There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. 2 The SPIRIT OF THE LORD SHALL REST UPON HIM, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.

That Spirit empowers to evangelize. This Spirit was upon Jesus (the “Rod” and the “Branch“) in His earthly ministry.

Luke 4:17-19 (NKJV)

17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to PROCLAIM LIBERTY to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 TO PROCLAIM the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Because Christ has now transferred His title as Ebed Yahweh (God’s Suffering Servant) to His Church, we too have that same Spirit upon us, as we preach Christ and are persecuted for the same (you may get the “God Wants The World” sermon-series 1-3 for more on this).

Though they speak evil of Him, He is glorified in the lives of the saints who continue to preach His name, and continue to endure by His Spirit, giving all glory to His Name.

There is suffering that is disgraceful, however. Christians should not suffer for doing evil. Vs. 15 says, “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.

If Christians suffer, it should not be for criminal acts, or meddling. Such suffering does not glorify God. Vs. 16 says, “Yet if anyone suffers AS A CHRISTIAN, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.

To suffer “as a Christian” is to suffer for proclaiming the Gospel, in context, i.e. to be persecuted for the faith and its practice.

Note that the word “Christian” was actually a term of contempt bestowed on the saints by UNBELIEVERS. Acts 11 records this, “And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. AND THE DISCIPLES WERE FIRST CALLED CHRISTIANS IN ANTIOCH” (vs. 26).

The ancient people of Antioch were witty and known for inventing derogatory nicknames. The word “Christian” simply means “follower of Christ” (“Christianos” in the Greek, from “Christos” meaning “Christ“).

King Agrippa also used this term when addressing Paul, in Acts 26, “Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You almost persuade me to become a Christian’” (vs. 28).

Before the invention of this terminology, believers called themselves “brethren” (Acts 6:3), “disciples” (Acts 6:1), “those of the way” (Acts 9:2) and “saints” (Rom 1:7). But after the second century, believers accepted the terminology “Christian” as a title of honour, although it was originally meant to be a term of mockery. The one who suffers for being a follower of Christ must see that suffering as great honour and privilege.

Hence, in Acts 5, the disciples rejoiced, having been persecuted. The reason for their joy was that they were “counted worthy” to suffer for Christ’s name.

Acts 5:40-41 (NKJV)

40 And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 So they departed from the presence of the council, REJOICING THAT THEY WERE COUNTED WORTHY TO SUFFER SHAME FOR HIS NAME. 

In vs. 17, Peter then speaks of judgment at the house of God. He says, “For THE TIME HAS COME FOR JUDGMENT TO BEGIN AT THE HOUSE OF GOD; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?

The judgment here is good, not destructive. It refers to those things which correct, build up and mature believers. The Apostle Paul speaks of this kind of judgment, in 1 Corinthians 11, “But WHEN WE ARE JUDGED, we are chastened by the Lord, THAT WE MAY NOT BE CONDEMNED WITH THE WORLD” (vs. 32). This judgment is separate/distinct from that which those of this world will face. It refers to God’s dealings with His children—believers in Christ (cf. Heb 12:3-11). It is persecution (in context of 1 Peter 4), which tests the strength of our faith. This is the judgment which begins in the house of God, which is the Church (1 Tim 3:15, Heb 3:6).

Peter’s point is this: if even God’s own house (the Church) face suffering (persecution) now, how much more those who are not a part of His house? He says, “…what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” Theirs will be greater judgment—they will drink of the full cup of His wrath!

Psalm 75:8 (NKJV)

8 For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is fully mixed, and He pours it out; surely ITS DREGS SHALL ALL THE WICKED OF THE EARTH DRAIN AND DRINK DOWN.

Peter then appeals to Scripture, in vs. 18, “Now ‘if the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?’” He quotes from the Septuagint (LXX) version of Proverbs 11:31. The word “scarcely” is to imply through much difficulty and trial. True Christians would, through much suffering, enter into their final rest on the last day (Acts 14:22).

If Christians are going through this much suffering, how much more those who are UNGODLY (sinners). Theirs is a GREATER condemnation, on the last day.

Psalm 1:4-5 (NKJV)

4 The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the ungodly SHALL NOT STAND IN THE JUDGMENT, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

If the righteous are rarely saved from persecution, i.e. they are allowed (by God) to pass through it, how much more will the unsaved be allowed to perish, who refuse the Gospel? If God allows even His own children to undergo a certain degree of suffering on the Earth (persecution), how worse would it be for those who are not members of His family, and who set themselves as His enemies (the unsaved)?

Vs. 19 then concludes the chapter, “Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.

To suffer “according to the will of God” is persecution for the faith, contextually. This is the judgment which “begins at God’s house.” This is the only suffering God allows His children to go through, for the testing and strengthening of their faith. The Early Christians understood this. This is why they never prayed that persecution cease. Rather, they prayed to be strengthened (Acts 4:23-31, Eph 6:18-20) and delivered (2 Thess 3:1-2), in the midst of the same.

Persecuted Christians are to leave everything (their lives and the trial they face) in God’s hands, trusting His faithfulness, while continuing in doing good.


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2022.


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