Article from the NLT Study Bible
“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you. If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs. But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name! For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? And also, ‘If the righteous are barely saved, what will happen to godless sinners?’ So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.” 1 Peter 4:12-19, NLT
First Peter is focused almost exclusively on Christian suffering, especially unjust persecution at the hands of people hostile to the faith. The several themes about suffering that are woven throughout the letter find their climactic expression in 1 Peter 4:12-19. Peter makes the following points about suffering:
1.We should not be surprised when suffering comes (4:12). Christians who live a countercultural lifestyle in obedience to God should expect the culture to respond with hostility. We should expect mockery, discrimination, trumped-up charges, and even violence.
2. God has a purpose for us in suffering: It brings us into fellowship with Christ, who suffered before he was glorified (4:13; see also Rom 8:17).
3. By suffering in fellowship with Christ, we can be confident of enjoying the glory that he has already won (4:13; see Rom 8:17).
4. We need to commit ourselves to doing what is right when we face suffering (4:19). Our difficulties can always provide an excuse for sinning, but when difficulties come our way, we must live exemplary Christian lives, characterized by love for others.
5. Our loving response to enemies in the midst of trials can be a powerful opportunity to share our faith. By treating our persecutors with love and kindness, we can make our faith respectable and even attractive to them.
6. We need to remember in our trials that God is both sovereign and faithful (4:19). He controls all the circumstances of life, and we don’t need to fear that a trial will come our way apart from God’s oversight or will.