1 Peter 4:7-9

In 1 Peter 4:7, Peter writes, "The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound
judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer."

What is "The end of all things" referring to?

There are different views taken on this. Some believe it to be pertaining to the
second coming of Christ and the Judgment Day; but, if that be so, then how can it
really be said to be "near," since it has already been almost a couple thousand
years since that was written?

Of course, we might also think of the duration of an individual's life as being a brief
period, which James likens to a vapor (Jms. 4:13,14). And at death, our eternal
destiny will be forever sealed. So even though the Judgment Day might still be
many years away, it is only through this short while of one's earthly existence that
one has the opportunity to make his soul right with God; and just knowing that
should spur an individual into righteous living.

Something else to consider, however, is to realize that Peter's epistle was written
about A.D. 64 to 65 -- so that put it very near to the destruction of Jerusalem, which
occurred in A.D. 70. Though, by His death at Calvary, Jesus brought an end to the
Old Covenant (cf. Col. 2:14), which included its Jewish laws and system of worship,
many unbelieving Jews (who rejected Christ and the gospel) continued to observe
it; and even some of the early Christians had to learn that the Law of Moses wasn't
to be mingled with the Gospel (Acts 15). For doing so would cause one to fall from
grace and cut oneself off from Christ (Gal. 5:1-4). And just as the cataclysmic flood
of Noah's day greatly changed the appearance of the earth, even so the
superseding of the Old Law with the Gospel is figuratively referred to as resulting in
a "new heavens and a new earth" (Isa. 65:17-25), to metaphorically express that
change. But for those unbelieving Jews who rejected Christ and continued in
Judaism, A.D. 70 would lead to the destruction of Jerusalem, which included the
temple being burned, laid to rubble, and never rebuilt (cf. Mark 13:2); also, the
destroying of the genealogical records that were necessary for the priesthood to
continue (cf. Ezra 2:62); and, therefore, no more priesthood; no more sacrifices
offered (which had previously been done daily); and no more Sanhedrin.

It was the Romans who had besieged Jerusalem for two years and brought this
destruction upon it. In which about 1 million Jews perished, according to the Jewish
historian Flavius Josephus (who lived about A.D. 37 to 100).

It had been necessary for the Christians who dwelt there to be on the alert and flee
from the city when they saw the signs that Jesus had given in Matthew 24.

In addition, the persecution that was being brought upon the non-Christian Jews is
said to have also involved those who were Christians. For the persecutors would
not be making a distinction between Judaizers and Christians -- since Rome viewed
Christianity as having a Jewish origin through Jesus. So many of the Christians
became caught up in the persecution against Jews in general, which would involve
even fiery trials, as Peter had also warned in 1 Peter 4:12.

So in view of these difficult times coming, Peter exhorts the brethren in 1 Peter 4:7
to "be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer." Our prayers,
therefore, should be a time of reverence to the Lord. The NKJV renders this as,
"...therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers."

In this verse, "sound judgment" is actually from one word -- "sophroneo." Thayer
shows this Greek word to mean not only "to be of sound mind" or "to be in one's
right mind," but also "to exercise self control" and "to put a moderate estimate upon
one's self, think of one's self soberly."

When we think of the Pharisee's prayer -- in contrast to that of the publican's -- in
the parable Jesus gave in Luke 18:9-14, we have an example in that Pharisee of
one whose mind wasn't "sound," in the sense of his having an exaggerated
estimation of himself. We note that the Pharisee's fault was in justifying himself
through his own exaltation -- rather, than humbly accepting God's way of salvation.

Compare this to Romans 12:3, where we also find the same Greek word and
translated as "have sound judgment": "For through the grace given to me I say to
every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but
to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of

Do you think the Pharisee in the Lord's parable had thought more highly of himself
then he ought to have? Undoubtedly!

The word "sober" in 1 Peter 4:7 is from the Greek word "nepho," which Thayer
defines as "1) to be sober, to be calm and collected in spirit 2) to be temperate,
dispassionate, circumspect." It, therefore, refers to more than merely being sober
with regard to alcohol. This can certainly be seen in 2 Timothy 4:5, where Paul
uses this same Greek word -- and notice what he uses it in conjunction with: "But
you, be sober IN ALL THINGS, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill
your ministry." Since one of its definitions is "circumspect" (which means "watchful
and discreet," "cautious," and "prudent"), we can better understand why the NKJV
uses the phrase in 1 Peter 4:7, to "be...watchful in your prayers." Therefore, being
sober also means being watchful; and one of the ways that can be done is through
prayer, as also seen in Matthew 26:38-41, where the Lord exhorted Peter, James,
and John to watch and pray, while they were in the Garden of Gethsemane on the
night of the Lord's betrayal. Another example of this can be seen in Ephesians 6,
where after exhorting the brethren to put on the full armor of God -- which involved
loins girded with truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet shod with the gospel of
peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit -- Paul
then exhorts them in verse 18, by saying, "praying always with all prayer and
supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and
supplication for all the saints." The NASB renders "being watchful" in this verse as
"be on the alert."

Peter also gives a good reason in 1 Peter 5:8 for why the Christian needs to be this
way: "Be sober [nepho], be watchful: your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion,
walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."

And as important as it is to be of sound judgment, of a sober spirit, to be watchful
and pray, look what Peter then shows to be even more important in 1 Peter 4:8,
"Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a
multitude of sins."

Many translations render that first part as "And above all things." The
Contemporary English Version translates it as "Most important of all...."

What is most important of all? That Christians keep their love fervent for one
another. This is what Peter had also taught in 1 Peter 1:22, "Since you have in
obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently
love one another from the heart."

The Greek word for "fervent" ("ektenes," 1 Pet. 5:8) has been defined as "intent:
without ceasing, fervent" (Strong); "earnestly," "assiduously" (Thayer).

In this same verse, Peter states that "love covers a multitude of sins." This might
remind you of Proverbs 10:12, "Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all

What does this mean? In what sense does love cover a multitude of sins?

First of all, it would not mean that love condones nor justifies sins. For that would
be wrong in itself.

Love, however, would seek for sinners to be forgiven of their sins. Compare James
5:19,20: "My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him
back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his
soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins." In this sense, those sins are
blotted out because the transgressor repented and met God's law of pardon. And
this is what spiritually-minded Christians are to do for their wayward brethren,
according to Ephesians 6:1, "Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you
who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to
yourself, so that you too will not be tempted."

We can also think of examples in which love would give others the benefit of the
doubt -- realizing that anyone can be falsely accused -- rather than spreading those
charges that might not be so or making innuendos. This is seen in part of love's
definition in 1 Corinthians 13:7, that love "believes all things." What this means is
not that love is gullible; but, rather, that love gives others the benefit of the doubt
when there is no evidence to the contrary -- and instead of harboring "evil
suspicions" (1 Tim. 6:4).

And even when the one accused does turn out to be guilty, how does love react
toward the culprit? After saying that "love believes all things," Paul then says it also
"hopes all things." So in viewing these phrases together, we can say that after an
individual gives another person the benefit of the doubt, but that person does turn
out to be guilty, then love, which "hopes all things," will be desiring the best for that
person, and praying for that one, that the individual will repent and strive to make
things right in his or her life.

Consider also another of love's definitions in 1 Corinthians 13:5, which would also
be characteristic of the heart of one whose love would cover a multitude of sins.
Paul shows that love "does not take into account a wrong suffered." In other words,
a person with this kind of love would not make a list of all the wrongs that others
had done to him or her. For what would even be the point in doing that? If it be for
revengeful purposes, that would certainly not be right (Rom. 12:19); and would
these be the type of thoughts that would be good for the heart to continually dwell
on? (Compare Phil. 4:8.)

Peter next says in 1 Peter 4:9 to "Be hospitable to one another without complaint."
The word "hospitable" comes from the Greek word "philoxenos," which is defined as
"fond of guests, that is, hospitable" (Strong). It more literally means "loving
strangers," for it is actually made up of two words: "philo" (love) and "xenos"
(strangers). "Xenos" is seen by itself in the NT in several verses and rendered
primarily as "strangers" (6 times) and "stranger" (4), and also a few other ways.

The command to show hospitality is also seen elsewhere in the Scriptures. For
instance, when Paul gives various instructions in Romans 12 as to the conduct and
duty of the Christian, he points out in verse 13, "contributing to the needs of the
saints, practicing hospitality." And the Hebrew writer exhorts in Hebrews 13:2, "Do
not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained
angels without knowing it."

Originally, an inn, during the OT period, was not even a building; but, instead,
simply a spot of ground that would be suitable for camping, such as a level area that
would have a spring nearby.

Later, when buildings were used, the innkeepers were generally known as being
infamous for their dishonesty and oppression. Rather, then setting a price for a
night's lodging, the innkeeper would wait until his customers were about to depart
and then state the fee, which is said to have led to "disagreeable dispute[s]."

Long ago, people often opened their homes to strangers; but what would it be like
for those early Christians to be staying with Judaizers or others opposed to
Christianity? The Judaizers were the first ones to bring persecution upon God's
people, soon after the establishment of the church, and which caused many of the
believers to be scattered to new locations, away from their homes (Acts 8:4).
Staying with those who were hostile toward the truth might lead to more persecution
-- even if just ridicule. The hosts would probably strive to dissuade the Christians
from believing and practicing the things they did; rather than being supportive
toward them. And maybe for some saints, it would even lead to their being
arrested, imprisoned, or even put to death. So how needful it would especially be
at that time for Christians to be able to find lodging with others of like precious faith.

By Tom Edwards via the Gospel Observer March 20, 2011

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