1 Peter Class 5 - Themes of Love and Christ's Sufferings

1 Peter Class 5 - Themes of Love and Christ's Sufferings

There are many themes or repeated words throughout 1 Peter as you’ll see on Chart 8 of your handouts.

  • Trials and sufferings (1:6-7; 2:12; 2:18-23; 3:13-17; 4:1-4; 4:12-19; 5:8-10)
  • Speaking evil (2:1; 2:12; 3:10, 16; 4:4, 14; 2 Pet. 2:2, 10, 12)
  • God’s will (2:15; 3:17; 4:2; 4:19)
  • Lust (1:14, 2:11; 4:2, 3; 2 Pet. 1:4; 2:10, 18; 3:3).
  • Submission, Humility, Obedience (1:2, 14, 22; 2:7, 8, 13, 18; 3:1, 5, 6, 20, 22; 4:17; 5:5)
  • Conversation (anastrophe G391) that is behavior or manner of life (1:15, 18; 3:1, 2, 16; 2 Pet. 2:7; 3:11) or the verb (1 Pet. 1:17; 2 Pet. 2:18)
  • Called (1:15; 2:9, 21; 3:9; 5:10)
  • Fear (1:17; 2:18; 3:2, 15)
  • Precious (1:7, 19; 2:4, 6, 7; 3:7)

We’ve all ready talked about most of these. This morning we are going to look at what I would consider to be two of the most prominent and exhortaton rich themes in 1 Peter. They are the “love of the brethren” and the “sufferings of Christ”.

Love the Brethren

While Peter followed the Lord during his ministry it was clear to Jesus that he had not yet been converted. His life had not been totally given over to his Master. Jesus says to him in Luke 21:31-32,

"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: {32} But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."

Peter’s reply is the seeming gallant admission that he would die for Jesus yet Jesus knew that there was nothing in that statement, not yet at least. Sadly Jesus would have to prophecy Peter’s three fold denial. When it came to pass Peter was completely crushed. His intentions had been good yet his flesh was weak. Everything though was working out for God’s will and Peter was now in an excellent position for God to work with him. Yes, he had been crushed but the Lord knew that for such an important assignment as establishing his ecclesia that a humiliated man like Peter was the only man for the job.

It was on the banks of the sea of Galilee, walking along the shore with Jesus, that we realize the depths of Peter’s humiliation and how he was not yet a converted Peter. Jesus is seemingly probing, trying to see if any of the old Peter is left.

(John 21:15-17) "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (agape) thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love (phileo) thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. {16} He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (agape) thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love (phileo) thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. {17} He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (phileo) thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love (phileo) thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep."

The play between the different kinds of love expressed here shows that Peter is not yet ready to strengthen his brethren. He is not quite ready to dedicate himself to the needful agape love which has to be shown most of all in the ecclesia. It is not until the epistle of Peter that we really see into the mind of the apostle and see how converted he has become. We see what a rock he is to the ecclesia. We will see that this morning by looking at his exhortations to love in his first letter.

The time of the writing of this letter (approx. AD 60) was quite terrifying. The Roman Emperor Nero was in command and had found a new scapegoat in this sect called the Christians. Never had the ecclesia known such persecutions as that leveled on them by Nero. These innocent brethren were either thrown to the lions or burned as human torches. So here is Peter trying to strengthen them through their many trials and sufferings. That’s the main import of this letter yet sprinkled throughout is the simple message of “love the brotherhood”. It’s almost as if Peter couldn’t help himself to keep reminding them of what was so important in his life and that is to have agape love for Jesus and the brotherhood.

Peter doesn’t use the word love as much as John or Paul does. In the epistles of John love seems to be every other word. But here in Peter’s letter it is not his main message but it still plays an important underlying role. The verses where he does mention love. either agape or phileo, are,

(1 Pet 1:22) "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:"

(1 Pet 2:17) "Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king."

(1 Pet 3:8) "Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:"

(1 Pet 4:8) "And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins."

(1 Pet 5:14) "Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen."

Here then we have 5 of the 7 verses where Peter uses the word love. They are equally spread out across the epistle. From this we can see his emphasis was on the aspect of brother love that was needed in the ecclesia. It seems so simple of an exhortation, “love the brotherhood.” Simple to say yet hard to live. It’s an exhortation that uses three words but it takes a life time to perfect it.

1 Peter 1:22

Let us then turn our focus to the first passage in 1 Peter 1:22,

"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren (philadelphia), see that ye love (agape) one another with a pure heart fervently:"

First of all it is important to point out that this type of love has a foundation in obeying the truth. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13 that “love rejoices in truth”. We cannot say that we are loving someone when we are breaking the commandments of God.

Interestingly enough the two words for love used here are different just like in the conversation he had with Jesus in John 21. The first word for love is actually connected with the word brethren in the Greek into the word “philadelphia”. The second word for love is agape. So then we see the same progression of developing natural affection which grows into a sacrificial love for the brethren.

More then once the word “unfeigned” is married to the word love. Unfeigned means without hypocrisy, genuine and sincere. Sometimes we can deceive ourselves into thinking that we have a true love for the brothers and sisters when after all it finds its self grumbling and mumbling over the inconveniences of having to take care or love someone else. That is not unfeigned love. If you find yourself complaining about the doing things for the brothers and sisters then it is not true love. A true phileo love will demonstrate itself in a willingness and happiness to go out of the way for our brothers and sisters without any regret or feeling of being put out.

This phileo love then progresses onto agape love which knows no bounds. It is a love which seeks not only the physical well being but for the spiritual well being of the person. It is the highest form of love which concerns itself with seeing that each one of your brothers and sisters will find an abundant entrance into the kingdom of God. Agape then motivates us to make sure that the ecclesia is prepared and watching for the coming of the Lord. Peter says that this must be done with a pure heart. The word pure means cleansed and there is only one thing that cleanses us, the word of God. Jesus said in John 15:3,

"Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you."

That word is not only instructive for just knowing things but it gives us the power to overcome the world. The only way we become impure is the corrosive atmosphere of the world enticing our lusts. The Psalmist says,

(Psa. 24:3-4) "Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? {4} He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully."

The world is full of vanity and deceit. If we want to follow the Lord and have agape love then we must keep ourselves unspotted from the world.

It is not an easy process but one which Peter says must be done “fervently”. The word fervently means intently. It comes from a root meaning to extend or stretch out. We have to stretch ourselves to do this because it just doesn’t come naturally. It is not supposed to be a stagnant process but one which grows and grows like a plant. See how wonderfully Paul, through the Spirit, echoes the words of Peter in 1 Thess. 4:9-10,

"But as touching brotherly love (philadelphia) ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love (agape) one another. {10} And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase (super abound) more and more;"

And so we too beseech you brethren to increase more and more. Stretch yourselves to fulfill the commandment of Christ which is to love one another. If we can do this then will everybody know that we are Christ’s disciples.

1 Peter 2:17

The next place Peter mentions love is in 1 Peter 2:17,

"Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king."

Here we have four short statements which are actually organized in a poetical structure.

A. “Honour all men.” The world - men.

     B. “Love the brotherhood.” Spiritual - men.

     B. “Fear God.” Spiritual - magistrates.

A. “Honour the king.” The world - magistrates.

Isn’t it interesting that an exhortation to “love the brotherhood” is one that needs repeating. So many think it just comes naturally once your baptized that we’ll all just get along great. The opposite is so often the case though, isn’t it? The saying is true that if you can’t love your brother then who can you love? We all share the same ideals, the same hopes the same dreams and all the rest is just details. We hold together and share the greatest principles and hopes that this world has which should surpass all other desires in our lives and spur us onto love

The word brotherhood that only Peter uses has a much greater sense then the immediate ecclesia which extends to the brotherhood world wide. The only other place the word is used is in 1 Peter 5:9,

"Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world."

The word has much more the sense of the world ecclesia of which we are a part. It is a shame and a detriment if we do not look forward to meeting the various brethren and sisters from different parts of the world. We have a huge family which we’ve never met. A family in which we can instantly have a bond with, being the bond of the truth.

1 Peter 3:8

We now turn to the next verse found in 1 Peter 3:8,

"Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:"

Again, the Greek here is one word “philadelphos”, love as brethren, a root of phileo. The words around this exhortation to love as brethren are instructive and helpful.

“Be ye all of one mind” is like Paul’s words to the Philippians that each one of them would be of the same mind to put on humility. Peter’s exhortations is the same here. Nobody is excluded from these basic principles which when everybody does them it gives glory to God and shows us forth as the body of Christ.

First of all, have compassion or be sympathetic. Share in the feelings of others. When there are problems it can often be because somebody is not willing to try and understand why a person is doing the things they are doing. A true brother will try to understand and feel the sufferings of the other person in need. Sometimes it’s very difficult to be sympathetic when we cannot begin to understand another person’s pain but we can be full of pity or compassion. At least we all share in common the knowledge of pain and we can share in the feelings of pain with another person which can sometimes be a great comfort to them.

Finally he says be courteous. This is an interesting word which literally means “be friendly of mind.” Again this shows that it is not to be a show or something done of unwilling compunction but an act which is truly a part of the person, one done willingly out of love. How does one develop this mind? Peter gives great instruction in the next verse,

(1 Pet 3:9) "Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing."

I was given a book awhile ago called “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff . . . and it’s all small stuff” by Richard Carlson. It’s full of short little chapters on how to do away with stress in our lives. As I read it I find it interesting that he, maybe unknowingly, is drawing off scriptural principles. He has a section called “Avoid Weatherproofing” which is similar to Peter’s instruction to bless rather then rail or insult. Carlson says,

“Just as we can weatherproof a home for the winter by looking for cracks, leaks, and imperfections, we can also weatherproof our relationships, even our lives, by doing the very same thing. Essentially, weatherproofing means that you are on the careful lookout for what needs to be fixed or repaired. It’s finding the cracks and flaws of life, and either trying to fix them, or at least point them out to others. Not only does this tendency alienate you from other people, it makes you feel bad, too. It encourages you to think about what’s wrong with everything and everyone---what you don’t like. So, rather than appreciating our relationships and our lives, weatherproofing encourages us to end up thinking that life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Nothing is ever good enough the way it is.”

It is so easy to get caught in the trap of looking for the negative and not rejoicing in the positive. It can be so easy to feel put out by other peoples, to moan and grumble about the situation and never move in a positive way to resolve the conflict. It almost seems like sometimes we enjoy to dwell on the negative destroying principles rather then the positive loving up building ones.

1 Peter 4:8-10

The last verses we’ll talk about this morning are found in 1 Peter 4:8-10,

"And above all things have fervent charity (agape) among yourselves: for charity (agape) shall cover the multitude of sins. {9} Use hospitality (philoxenos) one to another without grudging."

As we study this passage we can see again the slow repetitious teaching of Peter which is driving the point home. Love the brotherhood, fervently, without grudging. The interesting addition here is the quotation from Proverbs 10:12,

"Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins."

or Prov. 17:9,

"He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends."

To cover a transgression does not mean to conceal it in secret for the Proverbs state again and again that sins have to be openly confessed to be forgiven. The true meaning of the proverb is found in the principles of Matthew 18:15,

"Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother."

This is how love handles transgressions. Hate would broadcast your brothers sins to others who do not need to be involved. Love covers them over. It’s between you, them and God. The only parties that really need to know. Many bad feelings and unnecessary hurts are caused when we do not follow this pattern set out by Christ in Matthew 18.


In review, we’ve seen that Peter’s exhortations to love have been short yet very effective. They come from somebody who has been totally converted to love Christ and to strengthen the love of his brethren. This epistle then shows forth the lessons he has learned in his life. Here then are the main points about love.

  1. Truth is the basis of love
  2. Love must be unfeigned or without hypocrisy and grudging
  3. Love comes from a pure heart
  4. Love does not come naturally and must be striven for fervently
  5. Love also incorporates the ideas of sympathy, compassion, pity and being courteous (friendly mind).
  6. Finally love will seek to cover sins, following the positive steps of Christ in Matthew 18, rather then to spread strife and gossip.

How many of us like Peter have not yet been converted? Just because you’re baptized does not mean that you have been converted. If Jesus were here would he tell us the same thing that he said to Peter, “When you are converted, strengthen your brethren.”

Christ died for us to show forth this pattern of love. This is what he said in John 15:12-14,

"This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. {13} Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

This segues nicely into our final section.

The Sufferings of Christ

It may not be surprising that the word “suffering” has more occurrences in 1 Peter then any other book. In fact in proportion to the size of the epistle it really stands out as the major topic. At the heart of Peter’s letter is the example of the sufferings of Christ. Let’s just review the verses and I would have you notice that the sufferings of Christ are mentioned in every chapter. Also I would like you to notice the nature of the suffering that in one case it is verbal and/or physical but Peter also brings out the mental sufferings of striving against sin.

(1 Pet 1:11) "Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow."

(1 Pet 2:21-25) "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: {22} Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: {23} Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: {24} Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. {25} For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls."

(1 Pet 3:17-18) "For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. {18} For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:"

(1 Pet 4:1-2) "Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; {2} That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God."

(1 Pet 4:12-13) "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: {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 Pet 5:1) "The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:"

There is then a reference both to the physical sufferings of our Lord as in 2:21-25 but there is also the aspect of the mental anguish as a type of suffering highlighted in 4:1-2. There is the external and the internal. There was fighting without and fears within. It is of the body and of the mind. One is influenced by external circumstances while the other is self-imposed. So this morning we will focus first of all on the physical sufferings of our Lord and then we shall look at his internal sufferings.

External Sufferings

Time and time again Jesus told his disciples of how he must suffer but they never understood it.

(Mat 16:21) "From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day."

(Mark 9:12) "And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought."

(Luke 22:15) "And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:"

So he was not sent just to die, as important as that was, but also to suffer. So he was smitten on the face, spat upon, scourged, lashed, struck in the head with a reed, a crown of thorns pressed onto his head, his clothes taken from him and crucified. Verbal lashings came as well in mocking, reviling and insults.

Even after his resurrection on the road to Emmaus he reprimanded his disciples,

(Luke 24:25-26, NIV) “He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”

Wouldn’t it have been something to be part of that Bible class? Of all times to be transplanted back to, this one would be appealing to me. Imagine having the Lord Jesus Christ plainly going through the Old Testament and laying out in order how he saw his sufferings and glory all ready written there in Scripture. It’s the same thing said of Peter in 1 Peter 1:11,

"Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow."

The obvious points would be Abraham sacrificing Isaac, Joseph and his brethren, the Day of Atonement, Psalm 22, Isaiah 53 but what else did he use that are possibly hidden from our eyes? We can see so much now but, Lord willing, in the future we will have our minds opened even more to better understand the Scriptures.

Now God’s plan and purpose for his Son to suffer, be killed and then raised on the third day can be amazingly simple yet it has many lessons to portray. It’s like looking at a multifaceted jewel and depending upon how you look at it you see beauty from every angle. There is the atonement, the condemnation of sin in the flesh and our justification by faith yet when Peter picks it up he uses it first of all for a lesson on submission.

There were some servants who had been buffeted by their masters while being innocent. The word buffeted has the idea to “rap with the fist” and it is the same word used during the crucifixion of Jesus, “they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands.” So immediately Peter jumps to the example of Christ’s sufferings in 1 Peter 2:21.

(1 Pet 2:21-23) "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: {22} Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: {23} Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:"

The word “example” is the Greek word “hupogrammos” which literally means “an underwriter”. It has the idea to copy for imitation. Vine’s defines it as “to write under, to trace letters for copying by scholars.” What a wonderful concept to express the representative nature of Christ’s sacrifice. We are like little kids in school who have the perfect example, we take our paper, put it on top and carefully try to copy and imitate the letters underneath.

Peter also says that we “should follow his steps.” There’s a similar phrase in 3:18 which states that “he might bring us to God.” That has the idea of “leading” us to God. So he is leading us and we are to follow in his steps. As Hebrews 13:13 says, “Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.”

Everywhere we read in the New Testament there were persecutions coming upon the believers. One, out of many examples, of this is in 1 Thess. 2:14-15,

"For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: {15} Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:"

And so Paul also tells the Philippians in 1:28-29,

"And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. {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;"

It has always been so, since Cain and Abel, that the wicked will persecute the righteous. The prophets, Jesus Christ, his apostles and many other believers throughout history have suffered and died for their faith. We really do, brothers and sisters, stand in a unique time, in a unique place to have such peace and freedom in our worship. I think I can safely say that none of us have really experienced any such persecutions. But the tides of human opinion can shift very suddenly. Who knows what things loom in the future? I believe we have to be prepared now for what so many others before have endured. We cannot go looking for it. It is not something self-inflicted as if we could do penance. It is entirely God directed and God given. We can only thank him for his grace and seize the moment to freely preach and proclaim the good news.

Sufferings from Within

So on one hand there are words of encouragement for physical sufferings and persecution yet there is another side of this to be seen in the sufferings of the inner man. By way of introduction Peter mentions in 1 Peter 5:1 that “he was a witness of the sufferings of Christ.” In what way was Peter a “witness of the sufferings of Christ?” We have no record of him being at the crucifixion. We have such prominent people as John and Mary, Jesus’ mother, but Peter is not mentioned. It is possible but I have the feeling that it is not likely.

He had been in the courtyard though where his denials took place. Luke’s record says that at that time Jesus looked upon him. Could it have been at this moment that he was “a witness of the sufferings of Christ?” Luke’s record, if taken chronologically, doesn’t fit though for he denies him and leaves weeping bitterly before the brutally against Jesus commences.

With more certainty we can turn to the garden of Gethsemane in Matthew 26:36-39 and know here that Peter witnessed what was the pinnacle of the mental suffering of our Lord. The height in his battle to overcome his fleshly will and subject it the Father’s will.

(Mat 26:36-39) "Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. {37} And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. {38} Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. {39} And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt."

They had seen his face, the sorrow, the heaviness. Yet they were full from the meal and drink of that night. They had heard the desperate prayer of Jesus as he struggles against temptation. But their eyes were heavy, they could not stay awake. Sweat beaded up and came down like great drops of blood and they slept on.

Many of a time I have felt like these three men. Tired and weak. Having the Lord Jesus Christ’s sufferings right in front of me yet I just can’t keep my eyes open. In his greatest hour of need I am asleep. Unconscious to what is happening. Oblivious to the real sufferings of Christ.

Now that struggle in Christ was a one of wills. “Not as I will but as though wilt.” Peter picks up this struggle in 1 Peter 4:1-3,

"Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; {2} That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. {3} For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles . . ."

The battle is one that pits “the will of God” against the “lusts of men” and the “will of the Gentiles.” It is a war in the mind. Peter uses another military term here with the word “arm” as in taking up a weapon. Christ then gives us the equipment to take on the battle against fleshly lusts which war against the soul (2:11). We have to see it as a battle, a battle to the death. If that war does not wage then something is wrong, the spirit has been defeated by the flesh. Hopefully it is the other way that the Spirit has mortified the deeds of the body. We will only do that to the extent that Christ lives in us.

In Romans 8 we have Paul’s great chapter on the carnal mind verses the spiritual mind. In the midst of this he has those wonderfully encouraging words concerning suffering,

(Rom 8:17-18) "[we are] children, [and] heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. {18} For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."

Now these sufferings in the context relate to this enmity between the flesh and the spirit. It is that which envelopes the whole world and brings it into subjection and corruption. Jesus was so in tune with the Spirit that to see the evil state of man brought him much grief, sorrow and sufferings. We too then, in the pattern of Christ, should be seeking that same spiritual sensitivity that hurts and groans because of this bondage we are under to lusts and sin.

I’d like to quote Bro. Robert Roberts in Seasons of Comfort for he expresses these thoughts so well,

“Christ was a sufferer in a sense which perhaps few people realize. The majority of persons are apt to look at the cross, and the cross only, and to imagine that the sufferings of Christ relate only to the physical pain he experienced in being put to so cruel a death, or at most to the anguish of feeling to which he was subjected in being mocked and insulted by a crowd of soldiery. To those, however, who study Christ's life attentively, and particularly in the light of what the spirit of Christ has testified in the Psalms as to the sufferings of Christ, it becomes manifest that those sufferings were much more widely spread over his life than is popularly imagined; that they consisted largely of the mental suffering caused by the present evil state of things among men; that, in fact, he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. His sorrow and his grief were of a sort that many, and we might add, that nearly all, are unsusceptible of. Christ had a high conception---higher than ever we can hope to reach---of what men ought to be, and of the position that God ought to occupy among men, and therefore he felt a pain that none could experience who were not of the same state of mind, in mingling with men who were, on the whole, as regards God, like the brutes. We find that we come into fellowship with the sufferings of Christ in proportion as we grow up to him, and become like him, drinking in his spirit, sharing his tastes, and laying hold of his hopes. We come to find that it is no empty metaphor which likens the people of God to strangers and pilgrims, having here no continuing city.” (pg. 157)

So even though we may not experience physical persecutions we should all definitely be striving to know this type of suffering. We must develop the mind of Christ. He underwent these sufferings, tempted as we are so that he might succor us. So to we strive to learn of these things so that we might comfort others and set our hopes on the kingdom of God.

Our final passage in 1 Peter 4:13 says,

"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: {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."

The word “partakers” (koinoneo G2841) is the common word for “sharing” which it’s root word is more commonly translated as “fellowship”. These brethren and sisters through their fiery trial would experience the fellowship or sharing of Christ’s sufferings. We also must strive in our way to fellowship with the sufferings of Christ. We are crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20) and so we also suffer on behalf of Christ (Phil. 2:29).

Paul says in Philippians 2:8 that he suffered the loss of all things and counted them but dung, and why, verse 10,

"That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; {11} If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead."

Paul shows that to know part of Christ is to fellowship in his sufferings---to be made conformable unto his death. We must bear about in our bodies the dying of the Lord. In practical terms what does this mean for our everyday lives? There are no easy personal answers for us but we know how Paul did it. He "suffered the loss of all things." Everything in this world he counted as nothing. It's extremely hard but we've got to come around to that type of thinking. We’ve got to suffer like Christ.


Most of the time I feel so distant from the ideals set forth. I look back on the sufferings of my Lord and of all the persecutions of the believers and wonder how on earth I have escaped such things. I am at once pensive that such things may come but at the same time I’m so thankful for this grace that I can at the present worship freely.

We know that persecutions are not necessarily a prerequisite but to know and fellowship the sufferings of Christ, to be made conformable unto his death, is very necessary. We must do our all to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. We must strive for that high spiritual mind of Christ which becomes so acutely aware and pained at this present evil age.