1 Peter 4:16
“Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter”
(1 Peter 4:16 NKJV)
suffering because one is a Christian is expected
The word “Christian” occurs three times in the New Testament. “And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts 11:26). “Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You almost persuade me to become a Christian’” (Acts 26:28). Peter records the third reference.
- The apostle expects his readers to suffer for their faith. They must not think it strange when fiery trials come (1 Pet. 4:12). They must expect them, and even rejoice in them (1 Pet. 4:13). They can expect reproaches for His name (1 Pet. 4:14). Since His teaching is as unpopular in their day as it was in His time on earth, sufferings give them the privilege of sharing in His mistreatment.
- They must be careful, however, not to deserve their suffering: “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters” (1 Pet. 4:15). Verse 16 (1 Pet. 4::16) contrasts with verse 15 (1 Pet. 4::15) – saints suffer because of the sins of their tormentors, not because of their own sins (1 Pet. 4:16).
- Suffering as a Christian is suffering because one is a Christian. Just as the world rejected Jesus, it rejects His disciples (John 15:18). Sinners strike out against those who try to teach them, though the source of this teaching comes from the Lord’s own mouth. Those who love darkness despise those who shine a light on their deeds. “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).
- The name “Christian” is formed after the Roman style, “signifying an adherent of Jesus” (Vine). Deissmann compares Christian with Caesarian, used of an imperial slave. The ending -iani means belonging to Caesar’s party. Christian means belonging to Christ.
- Some assert that the name “Christian” was first given as an insult, referring to “these Christ folks.” Even if this were true, Peter encourages his readers to glorify God in this matter (or as other versions put it: in this name). Let us never be ashamed to wear the name of our Lord.
- Finally, we honor the Lord by wearing His name. We cannot honor Him by wearing the name of mere men (1 Corinthians 1:10-13) – even if the men were outstanding leaders in the first century church. Many churches honor the names of popular but misguided religious leaders instead of Christ. Let us drop all denominational titles and call ourselves after the name of Him into whom we were baptized and who was crucified for us (1 Corinthians 1:13). This is the very least we can do.
– Rick Duggin