Bible Class Notes on 1 Peter 4:12-13 | Notes on the Petrine Epistles
These Christians did not need to be surprised when persecution came. This phrase calls our attention back to 1 Peter 4:4. There Peter says that non-Christians are surprised these Christians no longer join them in their sins. Just because these Gentiles are surprised at the Christians’ behavior does not mean that the Christian can be surprised at the Gentiles’ behavior. Christians are surprised; Gentiles are surprised.
We need to remember that these Christians were Gentiles, not Jews. The Jews were used to persecution—persecution had been common throughout Jewish history. However, the Gentiles were not used to experiencing persecution. They were the mainstream of society; they were not societal “outcasts.” Now, however, they are societal outcasts, and these Gentiles were surprised.
These Christians are convinced something strange is happening to them. They became Christians expecting to receive God’s blessings, but they are being persecuted. This, of course, fulfills the prophecy of Jesus. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt 5:11-12). “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt 10:34). “You will be hated by all because of my name” (Mk 13:13). “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you” (Jn 15:20).
This persecution has a purpose. The purpose was to prove these Christians. The persecutions these Christians face allow their faith to increase. “In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Pet 1:6-7). There can really be no doubt but that trials prove who are true Christians and who are not.