1 Peter 4:12-19
Open your mind and heart as you read the passage of Scripture aloud and then again quietly to yourself. Listen for God’s word to you.
This is the third of the four Servant Songs that are recorded in Isaiah. (The other three can be found in 42:1-4; 491-6 and 52:13-53:12). Each song describes the suffering of the ‘Servant’. Matthew links the first song with Christ (12:8-21). In this third song, the Servant describes how he is instructed, disciplined and strengthened for his mission. The message he speaks is directly from God. He demonstrates what it means to be a humble disciple of God, willing to be taught and to pass on the message without taking any honour on himself. The cruel practices described were normal for the time. The usual punishment for any criminal at this time
was beating; it was a sign of disrespect and contempt to pull out a man’s beard; and when a
person spat at someone it indicated hatred. (See Matthew 27:30-31). Even in the face of such
humiliation and pain, Christ has an unshakable faith in the Father’s presence, care and love.
1 Peter 4:12-19
Suffering is a reality of life. When Peter wrote these words those who followed Christ were
suffering because of their faith and persecution was common. Peter tells his readers that such
suffering is a privilege. This is the one kind of suffering those who follow Christ will experience through which they can glorify God.
Having once tried to persuade Jesus to avoid the suffering that lay ahead of Him, Peter now
encourages the early church to take on the suffering they are experiencing by rejoicing in it as it
is a prelude to God’s glory and joy. Jesus knows what it means to suffer for God’s sake and in
God’s name. God is glorified in the suffering of His people for what He will accomplish in and
through those who suffer. Suffering does not punish those who follow Christ but rather purifies
them. The suffering any Christ-follower experiences here on earth is the worst they will ever
experience. However there is a warning that for those who reject Christ. For them, this life is the
best experience they will ever have.
When a man was put out of the synagogue it was believed it excluded him from the place where God spoke to His people and it did exclude him from contact with his fellow Jews. Jesus warned the disciples that this would happen to them because He did not want them to be taken by surprise and so be distracted from their faith.
But even greater suffering lay ahead for them, for many of them were executed for their faith by people who considered such an act honoured God. This warning was not intended to make the disciples more afraid, but to strengthen them. Knowing such things would happen would help them to stand firm when the time came. They had not needed to know earlier because He was still with them, but now He was on the verge of leaving them, they needed to be prepared.
Both Peter (John 13:36) and Thomas (John 14:5) had asked Jesus where He was going, but it was
as if they were more worried about what would happen to them if He left them, than about what would happen to Him when He left. Neither man followed their question through, seeking an answer.
The disciples did not know exactly what lay ahead for Jesus. But Jesus did, and in spite of this
He wanted to tell them that His leaving them was to their advantage. The coming of the Holy
Spirit would bless them even more than His own physical presence did. The ministry of the Holy
Spirit would reach the whole world, enabling Jesus to be with every believer constantly. It meant
His followers would need to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). When Jesus left
His disciples they were confused, slow to understand, selfish and worried about what their future held. When the Holy Spirit, the Helper, came, they became wise, fully committed to God, bold and generous.
The Holy Spirit (the Counsellor) convinces the world about the truth in regard to sin (humanity).
People would realise their guilt and shame because of their rejection of God and so turn to Him. Then the Holy Spirit defines righteousness (the truth about God). Many people accept the
righteousness of Jesus, even though they reject Him as God.
Finally, for those who continue to reject Jesus there will be judgment (the coming together of
these two truths). Anyone who is against God is on the side of evil – and Satan will be judged
together with his followers when the God-ordained time comes.
John goes on to write (in verses 12-13) that the Holy Spirit’s role in regard to those who followed
Christ is very different. He will guide them in truth; He can be trusted because He only speaks
God’s word; His message reveals what is yet to come.
What do you enjoy doing to help other people? How has God used this in the past? How
is He using it now?
• What ministry were you involved in that Covid has made difficult/impossible to continue
today? How do you feel about your inability to be so involved? Or perhaps you are able
to continue with it. How does that make you feel?
• Given the current circumstances, what would you like to do for God? What do you feel
you should be doing? Are you making progress with this longing or have things stalled
for you? What would you like to say to God about this situation?
• ‘…We don’t come here to relax, but to see sharply, as we talk together about what the
agenda is as the people of God who give flavour to the world.’ What does this mean to
you personally? How do you give flavour? What role are you playing in the discussions
about change at the Gracepoint?
• What makes your spirit burn in indignation? What are you doing about improving things?
What are you waiting for (if anything)?
• What impact can you make on situations that are ‘too big’ in your eyes for you to handle?
Where does the Holy Spirit come into the picture?
• ‘You have the capacity to heal, teach, feed, make a difference. There is no excuse. You can
make a difference.’ What will you do to make Gracepoint a place of hope, healing and a
• How can the group help you with the struggles you have mentioned during this session?
Abba, Father, take our hands and use them; let us make a difference. Give us boldness to speak
with authority. We pray for those in authority. Guide them and lead them in the right way. Give
them a passion for the truth and the humility to serve as You desire. We pray for the persecuted church for strength to withstand; for the broken for healing; for the grieving for a sense of your comfort and love and the assurance that we will meet again. Be with each one of us as we embrace the ministry You are calling us to do to make a difference in the world around us. Then pray for one another in regard to the issues that have been raised during your discussion time, and in regard to other needs of the group.
Look for ways you can make a difference this week. Tell someone what you have done and invite them to join you so you can pray and work together to expand your ministry. Report back to the group next week.
Adeyomo, Tokunhoh, et al. Africa Bible Commentary. WordAlive Publishers, Nairoi, Kenya, 2006
Kaiser, Walter C., et al. NIV Archaeological Study Bible. Zondervan Corporation, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1984