Suffering As A Christian (1 Peter 4:12-16)

Suffering As A Christian (1 Peter 4:12-16)


  • Last week we saw the characteristics of the Christian community serve to promote God’s glory and dominion.
  • Peter exhorted his readers to pray soberly, love earnestly, show hospitality, and serve generously.
  • Now he shows them that their obedience will lead to suffering.

Read 1 Peter 4:12-16

  • We automatically assume a defensive/offensive posture when suffering. We fight it or flee it. The point in either response is to end our suffering ASAP. Suffering is bad.
  • But Peter doesn’t see suffering as bad. Suffering is to be expected because it leads to God’s glory and our joy.
  • The chief end of your suffering is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
  • Of course, that’s not true of all suffering (v.15). But when you suffer “as a Christian” you should count it a privilege.
    1. Rejoice In Your Suffering (12-14)
    2. Glorify God In Your Suffering (15-16)

I. Rejoice In Your Suffering (12-14)

  • v.12 Don’t be surprised by trials (see 1:6-7). Trials test, purify, and strengthen faith.
  • When the expected happens we might be offended or hurt, but it won’t shake our faith.
  • Someone surprised by trials might feel depressed, isolated, or self-pity. Maybe even pride, arrogance, and stubbornness.
  • However, the one who expects trials is reminded of Christ’s suffering and clings to him all the more…
  • v.13 The Christian who expects trials can rejoice.
  • But let’s be honest, that’s rarely our perspective. At best, we think of enduring suffering like enduring the dentist. There’s no joy in it whatsoever. We need a new perspective.
  • Rejoice in your sufferings because:
    1. You presently share in Christ’s suffering.
      1. You will have joy at his return.
  • Joy should characterize Christian suffering.
  • We think proper preparation means suppressing our emotions.
    • Protection from being negatively affected.
    • But Peter contends that we should be positively affected.
  • Only those enthralled by Christ’s glory can rejoice in trials. Your joy is derived from the recognition that his glory will be even more evident as you rejoice in the midst of your trial.
  • v.14 Ridicule for Christ assures you that his Spirit rests upon you. An allusion to Isaiah 11:2, a Messianic reference. In Acts 9:4 Jesus identifies with his suffering Church.

Beale Peter’s application of Isaiah 11:2 to believers is not some metaphorical extension, still less an argument by analogy, but an application to believers grounded in their real participation in the end-time prophetic fulfillment inaugurated by Christ.

  • This promise applies to us because of our union with Christ.
  • The Holy Spirit enables the proper response. The Spirit’s assurance, enables us to receive insults as blessings.
  • That is incredibly difficult in the moment. Our instinct is to return insult for insult. But the only way you can properly respond to your suffering for Christ is if the Holy Spirit transforms the way you see and interpret your suffering.

Not only can you rejoice in your suffering, but you should also…

II. Glorify God In Your Suffering (15-16)

  • v.15 Peter clarifies that he is NOT talking about suffering that is the result of sin.
  • List of disobedience from greatest to least egregious. “Meddling” may seem out of place next to murder. Probably something Christians were often accused/guilty of.
  • When you face trials because of your own sin, it will not be a joyful blessing. Trials of this kind should humble us and lead us to repentance.
  • Peter is not talking about that, so he clarifies without elaborating.
  • v.16 There is no reason to feel shame when we suffer for being associated with Christ. (Imp: Suffering because of our sin should lead to shame.)
  • You can glorify God because he has given you the privilege to suffer with the name “Christian”. A name your persecutors find derogatory and associated with failure, you find precious and associated with glory.
  • Jesus Christ so identifies with us that we share in his suffering. And if we share in his suffering we will also share in his glory.
    • Therefore we can rejoice in all circumstances.
    • We can respond to insult by glorifying God rather than feeling shame. God is glorified when his children are not ashamed by the insults of man (Rom. 1:16).
  • The world also wants to get rid of shame, but it sees religious guilt as the source for their shame. Rather than it leading them to repentance, it leads them to retaliation.
  • It’s easy to glorify God when we think of Christ’s suffering for us. But rarely do we see our suffering as an opportunity to glorify God. I focus on my discomfort and seek to end it by whatever means necessary (fight/flight).
  • Peter isn’t simply exhorting you to endure Christian suffering, but to rejoice in it and glorify God because of it.
  • The enemy is not suffering, but it’s my faithless response to suffering.

If I’m going to rejoice and glorify God in my suffering, I need a radical change of perspective.


  • This change of perspective not only brings you peace in situations where you might normally feel shame or fear – but it testifies that you no longer live for yourself. Your joy is wrapped up in magnifying God’s glory.
  • It would be impossible to rejoice in our suffering if we didn’t see its connection to Christ’s suffering.
    • Our joy in suffering is derived from a faith that we share in Christ’s suffering.
    • Do we trust that God is being glorified when we are being chastised by others? If not, we will never rejoice in it. Rather, we will learn to despise it.