Continuing on from his discourse of Ch. 3:18-22, Peter reminds his readers of the actual sufferings of Christ, which serve as motivation for the believer to model his life, both thoughts and actions, after the example of the One who died in our place. We may still make mistakes (see Messages to Young People 338), but we have turned our hearts away from our previous life of rebellion against God.
Former friends or secular people may express anger and hatred toward Christians who no longer engage in the party life, but the only opinion that matters is that of Jesus Christ. His gospel was not preached to the souls of the dead, but the gospel was (past tense) preached to people who were formerly living, but are (present tense) now dead. Those who have died will be judged on the basis of how they lived through Christ. They will not be presented with a “second chance” to hear the gospel.
Because “the end of all things is at hand” (v. 7), Peter counsels believers to be sober (self-controlled), vigilant, and above all, charitable. Rather than magnifying each other’s faults and failings, Peter encourages a spirit of forgiveness and brotherly love. Maybe he encourages hospitality in the next verse (v.9) as one means to achieve a sweet spirit of fellowship with church members as well as guests and strangers!
After a last appeal to be steadfast to Jesus in the midst of persecution and trial, Peter reminds us that our eternal security is in our faithful Creator, the “Shepherd of our souls.”
Cindy Tutsch, DMin
Associate Director (retired), Ellen G. White Estate