by John D. Morris, Ph.D.
“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 4:17)
As Peter wrote his first epistle, foremost in his mind was a desire to encourage the believers to stand firm in the face of suffering and trial. On four occasions he used the term “the end,” focusing his readers’ attention on the final resolution of all things. A study of these occurrences gives us a glimpse of the tenor of the entire book.
The first use followed an explanation of the nature and benefits of the various trials in a believer’s life. The result would be a pure, effective faith now, as well as “receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (1:9), the final ultimate deliverance of our whole person.
Meanwhile, “gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:13). Our minds should be completely (“to the end”) ready for action, sober and expectant, focused on the ultimate resolution of all trials.
This ultimate resolution could come at any time: “The end of all things is at hand” (4:7). Our responses should be to “be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” To be sober is to be of sound judgment, making careful decisions, not based on emotion; especially watchful as we pray, with eternity in mind.
Our text gives us the last occurrence of “the end.” The time of final judgment on both Christian and non-Christian looms nearer and nearer. But God’s cleansing of His people has already begun, and it at times is not pleasant, although beneficial. His judgment on those outside “the house of God” will be much more severe, with no opportunity for reconciliation. This warning should motivate us in our ministry to the unsaved. JDM