That God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion.

1 Peter 4:11

Basic beliefs about the Person and the nature of God have changed so much that there are among us now men and women who find it easy to brag about the benefits they receive from God—without ever a thought or a desire to know the true meaning of worship!

I have immediate reactions to such an extreme misunderstanding of the true nature of a holy and sovereign God, for I believe that the very last thing God desires is to have shallow-minded and worldly Christians bragging about Him.

Beyond that, it does not seem to be very well recognized that God’s highest desire is that every one of His believing children should so love and so adore Him that we are continually in His presence, in spirit and in truth.

Something wonderful and miraculous and life changing takes place within the human soul when Jesus Christ is invited in to take His rightful place. That is what God anticipated when He wrought the plan of salvation. He intended to make worshipers out of rebels; to restore the place of worship which our first parents knew when they were created!

Lord, this morning I want to give You first place in my life all over again. It’s all about You, Lord. You deserve all my worship.[1]

4:11 Even if a man is gifted to preach or teach, he must be sure that the words he speaks are the very words God would have him say on that particular occasion. This is what is meant by the oracles of God. It is not enough for a man simply to preach from the Bible. He should also have the assurance that he is presenting the particular message intended by God for that audience at that time.

Anyone who performs any kind of service should do it with the humble recognition that it is God who empowers him. Then the glory will go to God—to whom it belongs.

A man should not become proud no matter how highly gifted he is in Christian service. The gift did not originate by his own effort, but was given to him from above. In fact, he has nothing which he did not receive. All service should be performed so that God gets the credit.

As Peter points out, this honor is presented to the Father through Jesus Christ as Mediator, and also because of what God has done for us through Him. To this blessed Savior belongs praise and power forever and ever. Amen.[2]

11a. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.

  • Speaking

How are God’s gifts to the believer put to use? Peter singles out an example to which everyone who has witnessed for the Lord can relate. The pastor, teacher, evangelist, instructor, and anyone who has communicated the gospel can testify to the words Jesus spoke to disciples who would even risk arrest: “But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matt. 10:19–20; also see Luke 12:11–12).

The power of the Holy Spirit is at work in anyone who speaks the very words of God to edify others. Any preacher or teacher of God’s Word can testify to this indwelling power of the Spirit that is at work when he speaks. That is, a spokesman for God cannot substitute his own thoughts and opinions for the “very words of God.” He must faithfully deliver the “living words” he has received from God (see Acts 7:38; Rom. 3:2; 1 Thess. 2:4; 1 Tim. 1:11). When he faithfully administers God’s grace in preaching or teaching the Word, he experiences a miracle taking place: God is speaking through him.

11b. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.

  • Serving

Here is the second example. Peter encourages the believer to put his God-given talents to work. The clause if anyone serves denotes the activities of the deacons (see the requisites listed in 1 Tim. 3:8–13). But it includes any Christian who works in the context of the church and who willingly and cheerfully serves the Lord.

The worker is completely dependent, however, on “the strength God provides.” In the Greek, the verb provide points to someone who defrays the expenses of something, for example, the training of a choir. The verb has the meaning to supply lavishly. God, then, abundantly supplies the Christian worker with the necessary strength to accomplish the task.

Because God supplies every need, his name receives the praise in all things. Yet all this is done through Jesus Christ. Paul teaches this doctrine when he concludes his doxology in praise of God with these words:

For from him and through him and to him are all things.

To him be the glory forever! Amen. [Rom. 11:36]

11c. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

  • Praise

This doxology is part of our early Christian heritage. With variations it appears in other New Testament writings (e.g., see Rom. 16:27; Phil. 4:20; 1 Tim. 6:16; Jude 25; Rev. 1:6; 5:13).

Does the phrase to him relate to Christ or to God? This is not difficult to determine, because its immediate antecedent is “Jesus Christ.” In 5:11, however, where Peter with a slight variation repeats these words, the reference is to God. This explanation is of little help, because in another passage (Rev. 1:6) Peter’s doxology is used verbatim but the words apply to Christ. E. G. Selwyn observes, “It is then the only example in [the] N[ew] T[estament] (if we except Rom. 16:27) of glory being ascribed to Christ and through Christ in the same doxology.”

Whether to attribute glory and power to either God or Jesus Christ is not an insurmountable problem. Both interpretations are acceptable. Furthermore, we see that with this wording Peter acknowledges Jesus Christ as God. And last, the phrase “glory and power for ever and ever” are the words every creature in God’s creation sings “to him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb” (Rev. 5:13).

Is Peter’s doxology put at the correct place in this epistle? We would have expected him to conclude his letter with a doxology; instead he places it here. Indeed, some letters in the New Testament end in a doxology (Rom. 16:27; 2 Peter 3:18; Jude 25). On the other hand, writers commonly express their feelings by inserting a doxology in the midst of their document (see, for instance, Rom. 9:5; 11:36). The sum of the matter is that Peter adheres to literary practices that were customary in his day.

Practical Considerations in 4:10–11

Persons who have the gift of speaking are always in great demand. Their schedules for speaking engagements in numerous places are constantly filled. Frequently they are unable to meet every request for their services. Often we look at these people with a tinge of envy.

However, we should never permit envy to control our thinking. As we express our love to God and our fellow man, we should instead communicate to God a desire for greater gifts (1 Cor. 12:31). Because we belong to the body of Christ, every one of us has some kind of gift (vv. 27–30). In faith we should ask God for additional talents. And God who takes delight in granting us gifts dispenses his grace in various forms.

God owns all gifts even while they are in our possession. He does not grant us his gifts for our personal enjoyment; he gives them for the benefit of the body of Christ. Talented possessors—and that includes all of us—must be faithful stewards who, by continually extending the benefit of these gifts to others, function as channels of God’s grace. Moreover, we as talented possessors ought to be humble; we should realize that we possess only some talents, while God has given gifts that we lack to others. All of us in the Christian church, therefore, ought to serve one another so that we can mutually benefit from the variety of riches God has granted his people.[3]

The Intention of Our Duty

so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (4:11b)

As is the goal of everything for believers, the purpose of their fulfilling the obligations of Christian duty in the midst of a hostile world is that God may be glorified. These final clauses of the passage constitute a doxology—an expression of praise and glory to God (cf. Rom. 11:36; 16:27; Eph. 3:20–21; 1 Tim. 1:17; Jude 25), which Christians can correctly utter only through Jesus Christ. In all things refers to all matters of Christian responsibility.

Commentators have long discussed whether to whom refers to God or Jesus Christ. It is best to view the designation as a blessed and inspired ambiguity—the glory and dominion belong to both God in Christ and Christ in God, forever and ever (cf. Pss. 104:31; 113:4; 138:5; Hab. 2:14; Matt. 17:2; John 1:14; 10:30; 2 Cor. 4:6; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3; 2 Peter 1:16–18).

Believers should want to glorify God in all they think, say, and do. The apostle Paul said, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). They will more readily obey Paul’s exhortation if they are motivated by the certainty and nearness of the Second Coming, resulting in personal holiness, mutual love, and spiritual service within the church.

Peter closed this passage with the familiar amen, a term of affirmation that means “so let it be.”

J. C. Ryle’s observations on holy living still apply to all believers living in a world hostile to Christianity:

A holy man will follow after spiritual-mindedness. He will endeavor to set his affections entirely on things above, and to hold things on earth with a very loose hand. He will not neglect the business of the life that now is; but the first place in his mind and thoughts will be given to the life to come. He will aim to live like one whose treasure is in heaven, and to pass through this world like a stranger and pilgrim travelling to his home. (Holiness [reprint; Hertfordshire: Evangelical Press, 1987], 37)[4]

[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2278). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Epistles of Peter and the Epistle of Jude (Vol. 16, pp. 170–171). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 245–246). Chicago: Moody Publishers.


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