1 Peter 4:7-11
7. But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober,
and watch unto prayer.
7. Porro omnium finis propinquus est: sobrii itaque estote, et vigilantes
8. And above all things, have fervent charity among yourselves:
for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
8. Ante onmia vero charitatem inter vos intentam habentes; quia
charitas operiet multitudinem peccatorum.
9. Use hospitality one to another without grudging.
9. Invicem hospitales sine murmurationibus.
10. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same
one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
10. Ut quisque aecepit donurn, ministrantes illud inter vos, tanquam
boni dispensatores multiplicis gratiae Dei.
11. If any speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man
minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth; that God in
all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ: to whom be praise and
dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
11. Siquis loquitur, loquatur tanquam eloquia Dei; siquis ministrat,
tanquam ex virtute quam suppeditat Deus; ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus
per Jesum Christurn; cui est gloria et imperium in secula seculorum. Amen.
7. But, or, moreover, the end of all things is at hand. Though
the faithful hear that their felicity is elsewhere than in the world, yet,
as they think that they should live long, this false thought renders them
careless, and even slothful, so that they direct not their thoughts to
the kingdom of God. Hence the Apostle, that he might rouse them from the
drowsiness of the flesh, reminds them that the end of all things was nigh;
by which he intimates that we ought not to sit still in the world, from
which we must soon remove. He does not, at the same time, speak only of
the end of individuals, but of the universal renovation of the world; as
though he had said, “Christ will shortly come, who will put an end to all
It is, then, no wonder that the cares of this world overwhelm us, and
make us drowsy, if the view of present things dazzles our eyes: for we
promise, almost all of us, an eternity to ourselves in this world; at least,
the end never comes to our mind. But were the trumpet of Christ to sound
in our ears, it would powerfully rouse us and not suffer us to lie torpid.
But it may be objected and said, that a long series of ages has passed
away since Peter wrote this, and yet that the end is not come. My reply
to this is, that the time seems long to us, because we measure its length
by the spaces of this fleeting life; but if we could understand the perpetuity
of future life, many ages would appear to us like a moment, as Peter will
also tell us in his second epistle. Besides, we must remember this principle,
that from the time when Christ once appeared, there is nothing left for
the faithful, but with suspended minds ever to look forward to his second
The watchfulness and the sobriety to which he exhorted them, belong,
as I think, to the mind rather than to the body. The words are similar
to those of Christ:
“Watch ye, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son
of Man cometh.” (Matthew 25:13.)
For as an indulgence in surfeiting and sleep renders the body unfit
for its duties, so the vain cares and pleasures of the world inebriate
the mind and render it drowsy.
By adding prayer, he points out an exercise especially necessary, in
which the faithful ought to be particularly occupied, since their whole
strength depends on the Lord; as though he had said, “Since ye are in yourselves
extremely weak, seek of the Lord to strengthen you.” He yet reminds them
that they were to pray earnestly, not formally.
8. And above all things. He commends charity or love as the first
thing, for it is the bond of perfection. And he bids it to be fervent,
or intense, or vehement, which is the same thing; for whosoever is immoderately
fervent in self-love, loves others coldly. And he commends it on account
of its fruit, because it buries innumerable sins, than which nothing is
more desirable. But the sentence is taken from Solomon, whose words are
found in Proverbs 10:12,
“Hatred discovers reproaches, but love covers a multitude of sins.”
What Solomon meant is sufficiently clear, for the two clauses contain
things which are set in contrast the one with the other. As then he says
in the first clause that hatred is the cause why men traduce and defame
one another, and spread whatever is reproachful and dishonorable; so it
follows that a contrary effect is ascribed to love, that is, that men who
love one another, kindly and courteously forgive one another; hence it
comes that, willingly burying each other’s vices, one seeks to preserve
the honor of another. Thus Peter confirms his exhortation, that nothing
is more necessary than to cherish mutual love. For who is there that has
not many faults? Therefore all stand in need of forgiveness, and there
is no one who does not wish to be forgiven.
This singular benefit love brings to us when it exists among us, so
that innumerable evils are covered in oblivion. On the other hand, where
loose reins are given to hatred, men by mutual biting and tearing must
necessarily consume one another, as Paul says (Galatians 5:15.)
And it ought to be noticed that Solomon does not say that only a few
sins are covered, but a multitude of sins, according to what Christ declares,
when he bids us to forgive our brethren seventy times seven, (Matthew 18:22.)
But the more sins love covers, the more evident appears its usefulness
for the wellbeing of mankind.
This is the plain meaning of the words. It hence appears how absurd
are the Papists, who seek to elicit from this passage their own satisfactions,
as though almsgiving and other duties of charity were a sort of a compensation
to God for blotting out their sins. It is enough to point out by the way
their gross ignorance, for in a matter so clear it would be superfluous
to add many words.
9. Use hospitality, or, Be hospitable. After having generally
exhorted them to love one another, he specially mentions one of the duties
of love. At that time hospitality was commonly used, and it was deemed
in a manner a sacred kind of humanity, as we have stated elsewhere. He
then bids them mutually to exercise it, so that no one might require more
from others than what he himself was prepared to render. He adds, without
murmurings, for it is a rare example that one spends himself and his own
on his neighbor without any disparaging reflection. Then the Apostle would
have us to show kindness willingly and with a cheerful mind.
10. As every one hath received. He reminds us what we ought to
bear in mind when we do good to our neighbors; for nothing is more fitted
to correct our murmurings than to remember that we do not give our own,
but only dispense what God has committed to us. When therefore he says,
“Minister the gift which every one has received,” he intimates that to
each had been distributed what they had, on this condition, that in helping
their brethren they might be the ministers of God. And thus the second
clause is an explanation of the first, for instead of ministry he mentions
stewardship; and for what he had said, “as every one hath received the
gift,” he mentions the manifold graces which God variously distributes
to us, so that each might confer in common his own portion. If then we
excel others in any gift, let us remember that we are as to this the stewards
of God, in order that we may kindly impart it to our neighbors as their
necessity or benefit may require. Thus we ought to be disposed and ready
But this consideration is also very important, that the Lord hath so
divided his manifold graces, that no one is to be content with one thing
and with his own gifts, but every one has need of the help and aid of his
brother. This, I say, is a bond which God hath appointed for retaining
friendship among men, for they cannot live without mutual assistance. Thus
it happens, that he who in many things seeks the aid of his brethren, ought
to communicate to them more freely what he has received. This bond of unity
has been observed and noticed by heathens. But Peter teaches us here that
God had designedly done this, that he might bind men one to another.
11. If any man speak. As he had spoken of the right and faithful
use of gifts, he specifies two things as examples, and he has chosen those
which are the most excellent or the most renowned. The office of teaching
in the Church is a remarkable instance of God’s favor. He then expressly
commands those called to this office to act faithfully; though he does
not speak here only of what we owe to men, but also of what we owe to God,
so that we may not deprive him of his glory.
He who speaks, then, that is, who is rightly appointed by public authority,
let him speak as the oracles of God; that is, let him reverently in God’s
fear and in sincerity perform the charge committed to him, regarding himself
as engaged in God’s work, and as ministering God’s word and not his own.
For he still refers to the doctrine, that when we confer any thing on the
brethren, we minister to them by God’s command what he has bestowed on
us for that purpose. And truly, were all those who profess to be teachers
in the Church duly to consider this one thing, there would be in them much
more fidelity and devotedness. For how great a thing is this, that in teaching
the oracles of God, they are representatives of Christ! Hence then comes
so much carelessness and rashness, because the sacred majesty of God’s
word is not borne in mind but by a few; and so they indulge themselves
as in a worldly stewardship.
In the meantime, we learn from these words of Peter, that it is not
lawful for those who are engaged in teaching to do anything else, but faithfully
to deliver to others, as from hand to hand, the doctrine received from
God; for he forbids any one to go forth, except he who is instructed in
God’s word, and who proclaims infallible oracles as it were from his mouth.
He, therefore, leaves no room for human inventions; for he briefly defines
the doctrine which ought to be taught in the Church. Nor is the particle
of similitude introduced here for the purpose of modifying the sentence,
as though it were sufficient to profess that it is God’s word that is taught.
This was, indeed, commonly the case formerly with false prophets; and we
see at this day how arrogantly the Pope and his followers cover with this
pretense all their impious traditions. But Peter did not intend to teach
pastors such hypocrisy as this, to pretend that they had from God whatever
doctrine it pleased them to announce, but, he took an argument from the
subject itself, that he might exhort them to sobriety and meekness, to
a reverence for God, and to an earnest attention to their work.
If any man minister. This second clause extends wider, it includes
the office of teaching. But as it would have been too long to enumerate
each of the ministerial works, he preferred summarily to speak of them
all together, as though he had said, “Whatever part of the burden thou
bearest in the Church, know that thou canst do nothing but what has been
given time by the Lord, and that thou art nothing else but an instrument
of God: take heed, then, not to abuse the grace of God by exalting thyself;
take heed not to suppress the power of God, which puts forth and manifests
itself in the ministry for the salvation of the brethren.” Let him then
minister as by God’s power, that is, let him regard nothing as his own,
but let him humbly render service to God and his Church.
That God in all things may be glorified. When he says, In all,
the word may be in the masculine or in the neuter gender; and thus men
or gifts may be meant, and both meanings are equally suitable. The sense
is, that God does not adorn us with his gifts, that he may rob himself
and make himself as it were an empty idol by transferring to us his own
glory, but that, on the contrary, his own glory may everywhere shine forth;
and that it is therefore a sacrilegious profanation of God’s gifts when
men propose to themselves any other object than to glorify God. He says
through Jesus Christ, because whatever power we have to minister, he alone
bestows it on us; for he is the head, with which the whole body is connected
by joints and bindings, and maketh increase in the Lord, according as he
supplieth strength to every member.
To whom be praise, or glory. Some refer this to Christ; but the
context requires that it should be rather applied to God; for he confirms
the last exhortation, because God justly claims all the glory; and, therefore,
men wickedly take away from him what is his own, when they obscure in anything,
or in any part, his glory.