May 9 – Trials’ Lessons: We See Greater Reward

“And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace … will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”

1 Peter 5:10

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Successful endurance of present trials leads to greater focus on glorifying God in the future.

Sufferings and trials teach us patience. However, in Heaven we won’t need to have patience, and therefore it is not the major long–term lesson God wants us to learn from trials. He is far more pleased if we grasp the truth that what we suffer now is directly related to our ability to glorify Him in eternity. Worshiping God will be our role in Heaven (Rev. 4–5), and Paul reminds us that “if we endure, we shall also reign with Him” (2 Tim. 2:12). In other words, if we learn to endure trials and tribulations now, we can expect to receive great reward in eternity. I believe that reward is primarily the capacity to glorify God; and therefore the greater our present endurance, the greater will be our capability to glorify Him in the future.

At one point during Jesus’ ministry with the disciples, two of them—brothers James and John—desired that He appoint them to the two positions of greatest prestige in His kingdom—seats at His right and left hands (see Matt. 20:20–23). James and John recognized the concept of eternal rewards, but they did not understand how it works. Thus Jesus asked them if they were ready to endure the cup of suffering and death (as He was) prior to occupying such powerful positions in His kingdom (v. 22). This implies again that endurance in trials and advancement in future glory are correlated. (Jesus endured the greatest suffering on the cross, and He was raised to the highest position, at the Father’s right hand.)

The application for us from all this is clear: the Lord wants us to realize that the end of every trial contains much satisfaction and joy because we are building up our future capacity to glorify Him. At the same time, we are comprehending more and more about the value of persevering through all sorts of pain and tribulation (see Rev. 2:10).

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Suggestions for Prayer: Ask God to give you the desire to see the benefits of trials from an eternal perspective.

For Further Study: Read Revelation 4–5. What attributes of God do you see, directly or indirectly, that are worthy of eternal praise?[1]


Hope

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. (5:10)

Hope provides believers with the settling confidence that after the trouble and difficulty of this life, they can count on God glorifying them in heaven. And during this life, they can count on His continued work of sanctifying them through their suffering (cf. Ps. 33:18; Prov. 10:28; Rom. 4:18–21; 5:5; Gal. 5:5; Titus 1:2; 2:13; Heb. 3:6; 6:19; see also the discussion of 1:3, 13, 21 concerning hope, in chapters 2, 5, and 6 of this volume). For them to fully appreciate that future purpose, believers must realize that it may come only after they have suffered for a little while (cf. Rom. 8:18; see also the discussion of 1:6 in chapter 3 of this volume). Christians need not fear suffering, knowing that nothing can separate them from the love of Christ (Rom. 8:31–39).

Peter calls God the God of all grace, which is reminiscent of Paul’s title the “God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3). God has already promised grace for eternity; here grace is provided for the present (cf. 4:10; 5:5; Rom. 12:3; 16:20; 1 Cor. 3:10; 15:10; 2 Cor. 1:12; 9:8; 12:9; Eph. 3:7; 4:7; Phil. 1:7; 2 Tim. 2:1; Heb. 4:16; 12:15; 13:9; James 4:6; 2 Peter 3:18), to strengthen believers and make their Christian character what it ought to be.

The apostle further notes that God has called believers (a reference to His effectual, saving call; cf. 1:15; 2:9, 21; 3:9) to His eternal glory in Christ (1:4–7; 4:13; 5:1, 4). The glory to which saints are called is described by Paul in Philippians 3:11–14,

In order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

The apostle John also describes it in 1 John 3:2–3,

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

The saints’ glory will be to be made like Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:20–21). Because of that objective, God will Himself (personally), in the meantime while they are still here—and even when the devil attacks them—use believers’ suffering to mold them into Christ’s image (cf. 2 Thess. 3:3). Peter concisely describes the promise of that earthly, sanctifying process of spiritual maturation by God with four nearly synonymous words: perfect (to bring to wholeness; cf. Phil. 1:6; Heb. 2:10; 10:1; James 1:4); confirm (to set fast; cf. Pss. 90:17; 119:106; Rom. 15:8; 1 Cor. 1:8); strengthen (to make sturdy; cf. Luke 22:32; 1 Thess. 3:2; 2 Thess. 2:17; 3:3; James 5:8); and establish (to lay as a foundation; cf. Pss. 7:9; 89:2; Isa. 9:7; Rom. 16:25; 1 Thess. 3:13). These terms all connote strength and immovability, which God wants for all believers as they face the spiritual battle (1 Cor. 15:58; 16:13; Eph. 6:10; 2 Tim. 2:1). He sets them firmly on the truth of divine revelation, where they stand in faith and confidence until they realize their eternal glory.

Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians is consistent with Peter’s promise here:

So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:17–19)[2]


5:10 True victory in persecution is to see God behind the scenes working out His wonderful purposes. No matter what our trials, we should remember first of all that He is the God of all grace. This lovely title of our God reminds us that His dealings with us are not based on what we deserve, but on His thoughts of love to us. No matter how fierce our testing, we can always be thankful we are not in hell where we ought to be.

A second strong consolation is that He has called us to His eternal glory. This enables us to look beyond the sufferings of this life to the time when we shall be with the Savior and be like Him forever. Just think of it! We have been picked up from the scrap heap and called to His eternal glory!

A third comfort is that suffering is just for a while. When contrasted with the eternal glory, life’s afflictions are less than momentary.

The final encouragement is that God uses suffering to educate us and mold our Christian character. He is training us for reigning. Four aspects of this training process are listed.

Perfect—Trials make the believer fit; they supply needed elements in his character to make him spiritually mature.

Establish—Suffering makes Christians more stable, able to maintain a good confession, and to bear up under pressure. This is the same word the Lord Jesus used with Peter: “… strengthen [or establish] your brethren” (Luke 22:32).

Strengthen—Persecution is intended by Satan to weaken and wear out believers, but it has the opposite effect. It strengthens them to endure.

Settle—This verb is related to the word “foundation” in the original. God wants every believer to be firmly planted in a secure place in His Son and in His word.

Lacey says:

The inevitable suffering of the Christian life always yields the same blessed result in the character of believers; it will refine the faith, adjust the character, establish, strengthen and settle the people of God.[3]


10 Peter understands well the bonds of koinonia that encourage perseverance in the faith. And the end of the matter, after the saints “have suffered a little while,” is that the Lord, “the God of all grace,” the one “who called [kaleō, GK 2813, also in 1:15; 2:9, 21; 3:6, 9] you to his eternal glory in Christ,” will respond in four ways: he will “restore” (katartizō, GK 2936), he will “make firm” or establish (stērizō, GK 5114), he will “make strong” (sthenoō, GK 4964), and he will “make steadfast [like a foundation]” (themelioō, GK 2530). That is, the Lord himself will make things right, he will place them squarely on their feet, he will impart new strength and firmness, and he will settle their hearts and lives, freeing them from anxiety and allowing them to persevere. This is his promise.[4]


10. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

What a beautiful benediction! It sparkles in its simplicity, yet in depth it is profound. Every word is significant in this prayer.

  1. “And the God of all grace.” The connective particle and, which some translators understand as but to show contrast with the immediately preceding verse, introduces a fitting prayer at the conclusion to the epilogue. In this prayer Peter calls upon “the God of all grace.” The wording occurs only here in the New Testament, with the exception of a parallel in 2 Corinthians 1:3, where Paul writes, “the God of all comfort.” Peter intimates that God is the source, the possessor, and the giver of all grace. He mentions the concept grace repeatedly in his epistle. The apostle teaches that God’s grace is rich and varied (4:10) and is given to those who are humble (5:5).
  2. “Who called you to his eternal glory in Christ.” The term call is not merely an invitation which a person can accept or reject as he pleases. “It is a divine summons.” It is a royal command which the recipient must obey and cannot ignore.

Moreover, Peter reveals that God calls us to holiness (1:15), to his wonderful light (2:9), to serve (2:21; 3:9), and to eternal glory (5:10). This calling is effectual and is the consequence of election, by which God chooses, sanctifies, and summons us to obedience (1:2).

Notice that Peter adds the name of Christ when he says that God called the recipients of his letter “to his eternal glory.” That is, God called them effectively in Christ. God has chosen them in Christ “before the creation of the world” (Eph. 1:4) and has called them in him in this present age (Rom. 8:30). The good news is that they will share in God’s eternal glory (see 4:13; 5:1, 4).

  1. “After you have suffered a little while.” Peter specifies that entering God’s eternal glory takes place after the believers have experienced a short period of suffering. The contrast between the brevity of human suffering and the eternity of God’s glory is clear. For the moment the intensity of suffering seems severe, but it is both little and of short duration compared to the glory of eternity (1:6; Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:17).
  2. “[God] will himself restore you.” The basic meaning of the Greek word for “restore” is to repair that which has been broken so as to make it complete. Paul urges Christian brothers and sisters to restore gently a person who has fallen into a sin (Gal. 6:1). In his mercy, God takes the fallen sinner and perfects him; that is, makes him what he ought to be. A commendable translation is this: “[God] will see that all is well again” (JB).
  3. “And make you strong, firm and steadfast.” The New International Version has a series of three adjectives, but the Greek has three verbs: “confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (NASB).37 God continues the work of restoring man. Says Peter, God makes the believers strong in their faith. The apostle remembers the words Jesus spoke to him on the night of the betrayal: “I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32, italics added). In the Greek, Peter uses the same word that Jesus spoke to him.

The next verb, translated “make you firm” (NIV), occurs only here in the New Testament and all of Greek literature. The last verb, “to make steadfast,” literally means “to lay a foundation,” and figuratively, “to establish.”38 These verbs are synonymous and serve to emphasize the significance of God’s work in us. With this prayer Peter encourages the believers, who experience untold suffering for Christ, and gives them the assurance that God stands next to them.

  1. “To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” This is the conclusion of Peter’s prayer. Except for the omission of the word glory and in the Greek the deletion of the verb to be, this doxology is a repetition of an earlier passage (4:11). In a few passages the expression power occurs (1 Tim. 6:16; 1 Peter 4:11; 5:11; Jude 25; Rev. 1:6; 5:13). Along with other terms it describes majesty and grandeur. It is a term used as an attribute or title for rulers (kings and emperors) and for God.

A verb must be supplied in this doxology. Thus most translators insert the optative of wish: “To him be power.” Others choose the indicative mood and write either “is” (“dominion is his” [Moffatt]), “holds” (“he holds dominion” [NEB]), “belongs” (“power belongs to him” [SEB]), or “lasts” (“his power lasts” [JB]).

The last word in this doxology is “Amen.” That is, so let it be! With this concluding term Peter has ended his formal letter. In the rest of his epistle he writes final greetings and the benediction.[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 286–288). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 2281–2282). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Charles, D. J. (2006). 1 Peter. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 355). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Epistles of Peter and the Epistle of Jude (Vol. 16, pp. 204–206). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

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