â€œFor the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?â€Â Â (1 Peter 4:17)
As Peter wrote his first epistle, foremost in his mind was a desire to encourage the believers to stand firm in the face of suffering and trial. On four occasions he used the term â€œthe end,â€ focusing his readersâ€™ attention on the final resolution of all things. A study of these occurrences gives us a glimpse of the tenor of the entire book.
The first use followed an explanation of the nature and benefits of the various trials in a believerâ€™s life. The result would be a pure, effective faith now, as well as â€œreceiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your soulsâ€ (1:9), the final ultimate deliverance of our whole person.
Meanwhile, â€œgird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christâ€ (1:13). Our minds should be completely (â€œto the endâ€) ready for action, sober and expectant, focused on the ultimate resolution of all trials.
This ultimate resolution could come at any time: â€œThe end of all things is at handâ€ (4:7). Our responses should be to â€œbe ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.â€ To be sober is to be of sound judgment, making careful decisions, not based on emotion; especially watchful as we pray, with eternity in mind.
Our text gives us the last occurrence of â€œthe end.â€ The time of final judgment on both Christian and non-Christian looms nearer and nearer. But Godâ€™s cleansing of His people has already begun, and it at times is not pleasant, although beneficial. His judgment on those outside â€œthe house of Godâ€ will be much more severe, with no opportunity for reconciliation. This warning should motivate us in our ministry to the unsaved. JDM