A Study Of 1 Peter 4:17

A study of 1 Peter 4:17

1 Peter 4:17
For the time (is come) that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

This verse seems to lay down the principle that before the end of time comes, before the final judgment of all the unsaved in the world occurs, the House of God will be judged first.

“Judgment Must Begin at the House of God” (1 Peter 4:17, Matthew 24:21,24,15,29,37-39, Romans 11:7)

And we can find many verses, which support this principle.

What is the House of God?

The House of God is the New Testament Church.

You realize that we are now talking about the Final Tribulation Period.

What is the Final Tribulation Period?

“A tribulation period” means it is a “time of great trouble”.

The Final Tribulation Period is the last period of great trouble.

What kind of trouble?

What is the nature of the Final Tribulation Period?

Will there be mass persecution and killing of Christians?

What is this judgment that is to occur in the Final Tribulation Period?

The Lord Jesus told us about the Final Tribulation Period in Matthew 24:21,

Matthew 24:21
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

And then the Lord Jesus explained the nature of that tribulation in verse 24,

Matthew 24:24
For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

In other words, the Lord Jesus said that this tribulation is a period of great trouble, because false prophets will bring false gospels that are so close to the true Gospel that even the elect would be deceived, if that were possible.

Who are the elect?

Is the nation of Israel the elect people of God?

The Bible says: NO!
God says in Romans 11:

Romans 11:7
What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.

The election refers to the group of people whom God chose from all the nations of the world, including the nation of Israel. It is called the remnant chosen by grace, because they have been chosen unto salvation not based on any work that they have done, not based on any decision or action to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, but they have been saved entirely by the grace of God. God saved them, and God is going to preserve them so that they will not be led astray by other gospels that are so close to the true Gospel. These elect, these chosen of God cannot be deceived. But the rest of the Church will be led astray, and that is the Judgment on the House of God.

The Church in the Last Days (Revelation11:3,4,7,8, Revelation 13:1,5-9)

People in the Church can be led astray because not everyone in the Church is a saved individual. The Church is an externally visible organization. Both saved and unsaved people are joining the Church. But the elect are those whom God chose unto salvation, and they form the nucleus of Born Again believers in the Church. According to Revelation 1, every Church is symbolically represented by a candlestick in heaven. When the elect have left the Church, or when they have been driven out of the Church, then the Church has become a dead church. That Church has come under the Judgment of God, and God removes the candlestick of that church out of its place.

Is that something that can happen to a Church?

Yes! God says in Revelation 11:3-4,

Revelation 11:3
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.

Revelation 11:4
These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.

Who do these two witnesses represent?

They represent the faithful Church who preaches the true Gospel into all the world. In Romans 11 God represents the Church by an olive tree, and in Revelation 1 God represents the Church by a candlestick in heaven. This faithful Church proclaims the Gospel 1260 days, which is 3½ years, which is symbolic for the entire New Testament. history of the world.
But then, in verses 7 and 8we read,

Revelation 11:7
And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.

Revelation 11:8
And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

These verses say that near the end of time Satan, who is the beast that ascendeth out of the Bottomless Pit, shall make war against the two witnesses, and shall overcome them and kill them.

How will Satan accomplish that?

Will he persecute the Christians and kill them?

Throughout the history of the world that has never worked. The result of persecution has always been a vibrant growth of the Church. The blood of the martyrs has always been the seed of the Church. Every time in the past that Satan tried this methodology, he has always lost.

How will Satan accomplish this?

Notice where the two witnesses are killed: The great city, which is representing the kingdom of Satan, which is spiritually called Sodom, the wicked city doomed for destruction, and it is spiritually called Egypt, which is a picture of the kingdom of Satan, and where also our Lord was crucified. The Lord Jesus was crucified outside Jerusalem, which means in the kingdom of Satan. In other words, we read in Revelation 11:7-8 that the kingdom of Satan will silence the Gospel by overrunning the faithful Churches in the world with gospels that are so close to the true Gospel. Now, this is an altogether unpopular idea, but there is an abundance of Scripture that supports this scenario. Let’s look at:

Nebuchadnezzar, My Servant (Jeremiah 25:9,15,18,26,29, Jeremiah 27:5-7)

In Jeremiah 25 God makes it abundantly clear that He is not just speaking about the destruction of Jerusalem. In this chapter God makes it plain that the conquest of the Babylonian armies was a picture of the armies of Satan conquering the whole world. Historically, Babylon did not conquer the whole world. Not even close. But God used this historical event to paint the picture as if Babylon did conquer the whole world. God used Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, as His servant to carry out this task, which totally fit within God’s plan. Nebuchadnezzar is representing Satan. In the end of time God uses Satan to carry out this task of conquering the whole world, so that God can bring Judgment on the Church. God said:

Jeremiah 25:9
Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the LORD, and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations.

Al the families of the North. We have already seen last week that this is a figure, which means that the emissaries of Satan, who are bringing their own false gospels into the Church, will overrun the Church. And then, these false gospels will overrun the whole world. This is how Satan will destroy, not by physical destruction, but by spiritual destruction. God says in verse 15,

Jeremiah 25:15
For thus saith the LORD God of Israel unto me; Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it.

To whom does God bring first this cup of His fury?

First to Jerusalem, the city that is called by His name, the Old Testament congregation that was a picture of the New Testament congregation. God says in verse 18,

Jeremiah 25:18
To wit, Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, and the kings thereof, and the princes thereof, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, an hissing, and a curse; as it is this day;

Then one nation after another receives the cup of God’s wrath, until all the kingdoms of the earth have received the cup of God’s wrath. God says in verse 26,

Jeremiah 25:26
And all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another, and all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth: and the king of Sheshach shall drink after them.

Why do they receive the cup of God’s wrath?

God is not unjust. But at the end of time God is angry at all the nations of the world for embracing the false gospels. That is why God ends it all, and all the nations of the world will mourn when they see Christ appearing on the clouds of glory. And if anyone objects to receiving God’s wrath, God says in verse 29,

Jeremiah 25:29
For, lo, I begin to bring evil on the city which is called by my name, and should ye be utterly unpunished? Ye shall not be unpunished: for I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith the LORD of hosts.

What is that sword?

That sword is the Word of God. They are being judged with the Word.

The Little Horn (Daniel 7:7,8,21,25, Daniel 8:8-12,23-25)

God wrote the history of the Old Testament so extensively, because it was a picture of what God was going to do with the New Testament congregation.

But will we heed the warning?

In Daniel chapters 7 and 8 we find another confirmation of what is going to happen to the New Testament church near the end of time. God gave Daniel several visions of the future in the form of parables. Here in chapter 7 God showed Daniel four beasts. We read in Daniel 7:7,

Daniel 7:7
After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.

Daniel 7:8
I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.

Who does the little horn represent?

The little horn represents Satan. A horn is a symbol of strength. Christ has all the strength. Christ is the Big Horn; therefore Satan is just a little horn. Nevertheless, Satan still has a great deal of power here on this earth. We read in verse 21,

Daniel 7:21
I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;

What does this mean that Satan will prevail against the saints?

We know that the saints can never lose their salvation. But Satan can silence the witness of the saints, and that would have the same effect as if he would have killed the saints.

Is that not equivalent to the two witnesses being killed?

Just in case we have not understood all these ramifications, God rubs it in again in verse 25,

Daniel 7:25
And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.

He shall wear out the saints of the most High, and they shall be given into his hand. This is clear language telling us that the faithful Churches, represented by the two witnesses, are killed (spiritually) and that God has used Nebuchadnezzar, representing Satan, to bring judgment on the Church worldwide because of the apostasy in the Church near the end of time.

This is not a popular doctrine. Most churches today will cling to the promise that Christ will build His Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. This promise is certainly true, but it is a promise made only to those who have been Born Again. It is a promise made only to those who are truly saved. On your outline I have included a great number of other verses, which support the teaching I have presented. Do your homework. No doubt, Judgment begins with the House of God.

But there is another aspect of the principle that Judgment begins with the House of God, which is presented in 1 Peter 4:17.

The Fiery Trials (1 Peter 4:12, Philippians 1:29)

We cannot escape the fact that verse 17 is wedged in between a whole passage on suffering. It is true that we will suffer during the Final Tribulation Period. We will suffer because of the nature of the Final Tribulation Period: The Gospel has been silenced. We will suffer because our Church is being judged by God, because of the apostasy committed by her.

We will suffer because where will our unsaved loved ones now be able to hear the true Gospel proclaimed?

And what other suffering did God write about in 1 Peter 4?

1 Peter 4:12
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial, which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

1 Peter 4:13
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

1 Peter 4:14
If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

1 Peter 4:15
But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.

1 Peter 4:16
Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

1 Peter 4:17
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

1 Peter 4:18
And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

1 Peter 4:19
Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

This entire passage speaks about suffering for Christ.

Who is God addressing in this passage?

Chapter 1 verse 2 says that God is speaking “to the elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father”. God is speaking to the elect saints who have already been Born Again. God is not only addressing the saints near the end of time who have to suffer through the Final Tribulation Period, but God is addressing the saints in the First Century AD just as well as the saints in every Century. God says that we all will endure a fiery trial, which is to test us.

Who needs this?

God does not need this test. God knows our heart, and therefore God already knows the outcome of the test. God does not need the test, but we do. The Lord Jesus already told His disciples that they would endure suffering for His sake. And here we read that every believer will suffer for Christ’s sake. This is supported by many verses. God says,

Philippians 1:29
For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

As you know, the gift of faith is a gift from God. But did you know that the honor to suffer for His sake is also a gift from God? We suffer persecutions because we dare to witness for Christ. God says

2 Thessalonians 1:4
So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:

2 Thessalonians 1:5
Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:

One reason for this is because the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.

How do we take this suffering?

With Rejoicing?

We endure our earthly suffering with rejoicing, because our focus is not on the sufferings of this present earth, but on the glory of the life hereafter. That is exactly what we read here in 1 Peter 4:13-14,

1 Peter 4:13
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

1 Peter 4:14
If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified.

Here is the test for you:

If you endure ridicule, or if you are being reproached for your stand on the absolute sovereignty of God, or on salvation entirely by the grace of God, or on the sanctity of marriage, will you rejoice for being reproached?

Will you think of the glory in the life hereafter, or will you bemoan the fact that you are being treated unfairly?

The Lord Jesus had something profound to say about this subject of suffering and rejoicing in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5:10-12. There He said:

Matthew 5:10
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:11
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Matthew 5:12
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Who are these blessed ones?

They are the same group of people who are called the Poor in spirit, and They that mourn, and They who are meek, and They who hunger and thirst for righteousness, and They who are merciful, and The pure in heart, and The peacemakers. These are the characteristics of someone who has been Born Again. In other words, the Lord Jesus said: If you are persecuted for righteousness sake, consider it all joy, because your name is written in heaven. Don’t take their insult personally, because they have not insulted you, but they have insulted your Heavenly Father. Pity them, for their judgment will be great.

Why is this fiery trial happening to you?

God has ordained it:

To the Glory of God (1 Peter 4:14,16, 1 Peter 1:7, 5:10-11)

It is difficult to imagine anything that is not done for the glory of God. Even the heathen cannot escape bringing glory to God. To wicked Pharaoh, king of Egypt, God said in Romans 9:17,

Romans 9:17
Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

As you know, because of the wickedness of Pharaoh, God’s power was abundantly demonstrated throughout the land of Egypt. Likewise, if the heathen persecute us, remember the words of 1 Peter 4:14

1 Peter 4:14
If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

How are we reproached for the name of Christ?

In this country almost everyone seems to know the name of Christ. There seems to be very little chance that we will be reproached for the name of Christ. But if we look at His Name carefully then we see that Christ is called “The Word of God”. If we insist on giving all the glory to Christ, because we hold high the truth that is found in the Word of God, then we are going to be reviled, and we are being made the laughing stock of our family, and we are being ridiculed by our fellow workers, and we are told that we have joined a cult, and so on. God says:

1 Peter 4:16
Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

Because great is your reward in heaven. God speaks to this in 1 Peter 1:7. God says, take courage:

1 Peter 1:7
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

Our faith is much more precious than gold. Gold will perish in he fire to come, but our faith that was given by God will endure to the end, even though it was tested by fire. The martyrs of old have demonstrated this and they have shown us that God does not lie. We love the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ, because that will end the trials we still have to endure now. But God will support us in our trials. His grace is altogether sufficient for us. God says in 1 Peter 5:10,

1 Peter 5:10
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

1 Peter 5:11
To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Now we come to a different subject matter in 1 Peter 4:17,

Don’t Take Verses Out of Context (1 Peter 4:17, Matthew 7:1-2)

Perhaps you have seen already that 1 Peter 4:17 is a verse, which is lodged in between a passage speaking about suffering. God is addressing this as a comforting message to the saints at all times. The prophets of old have suffered at the hands of those who hated the Word of God. The New Testament saints have suffered at the hands of those who hated the Word of God. The Lord Jesus Christ has suffered at the hands of those who hated Him, who Himself is called the Word of God. And now God says:

1 Peter 4:17
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

At first blush we have to admit: This verse does not seem to belong here.

Why is God speaking now about Judgment?

It is the Greek word “Krima”, which means, “passing a condemning sentence”.

At first blush we thought that the meaning of 1 Peter 4:17 was that this was speaking about the Final Tribulation Period, meaning that “Judgment begins at the House of God”. I have shown from Revelation 11 & 13, and from Jeremiah 25 & 27, and from Daniel 7 & 8 that near the end time indeed the Church will be overrun by false gospels instigated by Satan, and therefore indeed “Judgment begins at the House of God”. There is enough evidence of that. But the context of 1 Peter 4:17 dictates that the subject matter is suffering and persecution at all times. In other words, 1 Peter 4:17 is not speaking specifically about the time of the end. If we want to discuss the end time we can use Revelation 11,12, Jeremiah 25, 27, Daniel 7 and 8, but we do not need to drag 1 Peter 4:17 into it. That is not necessary. We must not take this verse out of context.

Now, what then does 1 Peter 4:17 mean?

Who is judging here?

Who is passing the condemning sentence?

There are only three possibilities:

#1. God,
#2. Believers,
#3. Unbelievers.

There are no other parties.

Could it be that God is passing judgment over a long period of time as this one fails the test, and as that one passes the test, and so on?

Absolutely not! God made that decision at the cross. God is not the one waiting to pass judgment when we are being tried.

Second possibility:
Are believers passing judgment on themselves here?

But that is not possible. The common theme in this passage is that of persecution because of our witness for Christ, as stated in verse 14. The common theme is that we have become partakers of Christ’s sufferings, as stated in verse 13. The common theme is that the persecution takes on the form of burning, as stated in verse 12. This is not carried out by believers, but by unbelievers. Therefore, those who persecute us in verse 12 also do the judgment in verse 17.

But can we point to another verse where this Greek word Judgment (Krima) is used by unbelievers who are judging others?

Yes! We read in Matthew 7:1-2,

Matthew 7:1
Judge not, that ye be not judged.

Matthew 7:2
For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

The unbelievers have engaged in judging other people, and Jesus warned them that they should abstain from judging because they themselves are subject to the Judgment of God.

What are they judging?

They are judging your actions, your motives, the way you live, and so on. They have already passed sentence before all the facts are in. Let’s go back to 1 Peter 4:17.

1 Peter 4:17
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

If this verse is to be understood within its context, then it simply is saying that the unbelievers pass judgment first on the Church. They have judged us already and that is why fiery trials await us. But our lot is not so bad. Wait until you see what shall be the end of them that obey not the Gospel of God

Everything Happens According to God’s Will (1 Peter 4:18-19, 1 Peter 2:9)

God has a purpose for our suffering. Sometimes it is chastening, which is for our own instruction. Sometimes it is for the purpose of teaching others what it means to live for God’s glory. Whatever purpose God has in mind, the life of a believer is not smooth sailing. That is why God wrote in 1 Peter 4:

1 Peter 4:18
And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

What does God mean that the righteous scarcely be saved?

Does God mean that we got saved by the skin of our teeth?

Did we just barely get saved?

Definitely God does not mean that. When Christ saved us He saved us by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm. He saved us with great power and with an absolute certainty. He saved us by engraving our names with a nail in the palm of His hand. There is no uncertainty in the cross of Christ. Our sins have not been barely paid, but they have been paid in full.

The word “scarcely” is really an unfortunate translation. It should have stated: “And if the righteous with difficulty, or not easily, be saved,………” That is absolutely true. We did not easily become saved, but with great difficulty. It cost Christ everything He had, because we loved our sins too much.

We are like a brand plucked out of the fire! We were on our way to the fires of Hell, and we were bound and determined to go our own way until God the Holy Spirit cast us down and rubbed our face in the mud. God made us hear the Gospel. God made us believe His Word. Then God sent us out as His ambassadors, and that is when the suffering started. But it was all according to the Will of God.

1 Peter 4:19
Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls (to him) in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

Commit your souls in well doing, not in evil doing. Keep doing those things that are well pleasing in His sight, because He is the faithful creator of our new soul. He owns us. He has glorified us:

1 Peter 2:9
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:

If you suffer, let it be that you suffer unjustly, for the sake of Christ,

But Not as an Evildoer (1 Peter 4:15, 1 Peter 3:16-17)

1 Peter 4:15
But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as “a busybody in other men’s matters”. (allotriepiskopos)

If someone suffers, let it not be because of some suffering we put on ourselves. Let it not be that we suffer because of a bad attitude we develop in our mind. Let it not be that we suffer because we like to play the victim. Some people develop a martyr attitude; they are unhappy because they think that they are treated unjustly. If we suffer let it be that we suffer unjustly, for the sake of Christ.

1 Peter 3:17
For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

AMEN.

By Alfred Chompff

~ by Test All Things on January 1, 2009.

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