Saturday, 14 December 2019
But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 1 Peter 4:15
Peter had just spoken of receiving reproach in the name of Christ, and when it occurs, as he said, “on your part He is glorified.” Now as a means of explaining that, he cites the words of this verse by saying, “But let none of you suffer.”
The Greek reads, “For let none of you suffer as a…,” which is followed by several negatives. He is expressing cause, not contrast, from the preceding verse. Peter’s words are precautionary because many Christians have come from the troubled of society. Not every believer is from a Christian home and raised in a godly atmosphere. People are brought out of all kinds of wicked lives. Further, even those who were raised in a godly home may think that they are immune from judgment because they were raised as Christians. In spite of the cause for their behavior, Peter will speak against those who do these improper things.
Believers are “in Christ,” and when they are reproached as Christians, it is “in the name of Christ,” just as he said in the previous verse. It is contrary to being “in Christ” to be one of the negatives which he will next state. If one is reproached as a Christian, God is blasphemed by them, but he is glorified by the believer. So how can God be glorified by something negative?
The suffering itself is not the thing which brings blessedness to the individual and glory to God. Rather, it is the faith and endurance of the believer which brought about the reproach, and which then brings about the blessedness and glory. This is the thought that is being presented, and it is why the Greek word gar should be translated as “for” and not “but.”
With that in mind, he begins with, “as a murderer.” The idea of murder is that of an action which is unsanctioned and which results in death. Killing in war is not murder. Executing a capital criminal is not murder. It is an act defined by the Fifth Commandment in the Old Covenant, and it is sanctioned under the New (see Galatians 5:21 and elsewhere).
Next, Peter cites being “a thief.” The word is kleptés. One can see the root of the word kleptomaniac there. It is a thief, someone who steals in secret, rather than someone who does so openly and with violence.
Peter then says as “an evildoer.” The Greek word is used in Scripture only by Peter. This is the last of three times he uses it. It is someone who makes trouble and looks for opportunities to injure others or cause unnecessary damage.
Finally, he says, “or as a busybody in other people’s matters.” This is a word found only here in Scripture. A literal translation would be an overseer in the affairs of others. In other words, he takes authority in matters which he has no right to meddle in. Thus, it speaks of a busybody, sticking his nose into the business of others and failing to mind his own business.
Life application: All of us are susceptible to doing wrong and falling back into evil patterns, and we need to be continuously on guard about how we conduct our lives. Should we fail and turn back to the things Peter mentioned, we are bound to get caught and suffer for our actions.
His point then is that we should rather suffer for Christ than for something so inappropriate.
Also, realizing the severity of the first three categories mentioned – those of murderers, thieves, and evildoers, it is notable to see the fourth item in the list, that of busybodies. Most of us would agree that being a murderer is a really bad thing. Thieves are a scourge in all societies, and there are usually strict penalties when one is caught stealing. Likewise, the term “evildoer” isn’t the type of label most people would want to be associated with. There are plenty of modern terms we use to describe a person who is a general evildoer, none of which are light and flowery.
But here Peter adds in something which carries the same weight, and yet which is as common as birds chirping in the morning – busybodies. We tend to dismiss this type of person as someone not to be trusted and to stay away from, but they don’t receive prison sentences, nor do we have colorful metaphors we direct towards them. From a biblical perspective though, this type of behavior is held on the same level as murder!
This is because being a busybody destroys the lives of those it touches. It infects and ruins congregations, and it never accomplishes anything but unhappiness and disaster. The next time you are tempted to mention a private matter, get involved in someone else’s business, or interfere in some unwanted way, remember that Jesus will hold you to account for your actions. Determine now to be the epitome of ethical behavior in all of your dealings.
Lord Jesus, we pray that you keep us from the willful desire to get involved in areas that are none of our business. Should we hear a busybody in action, please don’t let us get sucked into their poisonous trap, but rather keep us from them so that harmony may prevail. This is a tough area and we pray that You keep us safely from it. Amen.