Preparing for the End - Bible Study

by Tom Bulick and Stephanie Thomas on

Bible Studies 1 document
1 Peter 4:7–11

  • Preparing for the End | The Scrolls | May 19, 2024

    Copyright Central Bible Church

The Scrolls is a weekly Bible study written by pastors and other leaders at Central Bible Church, based on that week’s sermon topic. Use The Scrolls as a personal Bible study tool, for family devotions, and for small group discussions. You can read part of it below. The downloadable PDF also includes discussion questions, more in-depth commentary, end notes, and a kids’ page designed for families to study the topic together. This lesson goes with the sermon "Preparing for the End."

Consider the following scattered thoughts regarding love. Clearly Jesus’ “new command” given on the night of his betrayal made a lasting impression on his disciples. “My children, I will be with you only a little longer . . . A new command I give you: Love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (Jn 13:34-35). The epistles of Peter and of John make this evident. Peter uses the word seven times in his first letter—five with reference to believers loving one another. He tells them to “love the family of believers” (2:17) in general, and more specifically, to “love one another deeply” (1:22; cf. 4:8). In his second letter, he makes love a capstone virtue. He writes: “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love” (1:5-7).

Not to be outdone, John uses the word twenty-seven times in his first epistle. This is quite remarkable given his letter has only five chapters and one hundred and five verses. That’s twenty-one times in each chapter and one time every four verses! While John often refers to God’s love for us or our love for God (e.g., 3:1; 4:9, 10, 11; cf. 2:5, 15; 3:17), the vast majority of times he refers to our love for “one another” (e.g., 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11, 12). The following are among his most poignant statements. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.  If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (3:16-18); “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is made complete in us” (4:11-12); and “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister” (4:20-21).

The fact that love is commanded and is the mutual responsibility of all Christians suggests something about the virtue, namely, that love is neither simply nor primarily an emotion. As one commentator observes: “Agape love is capable of being commanded because it is not primarily an emotion but a decision of the will leading to action” (Edwin A. Blum, “1 Peter,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 12, 246). In that regard, I can agape love a complete stranger—consider parable of the Good Samaritan—as well as someone I don’t particularly like—consider Jesus’ command to “love your enemies” (Lk 6:27, 35; cf. Mt 5:43-44).

Peter implies that love is more than a mere emotion by linking his command, “love each other deeply” (1Pe 4:7), to his following commands regarding the exercise of various spiritual gifts. He writes: “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1Pe 4:9-10). Another commentator makes this link explicit. He writes: “Hospitality is a specific example of loving one another—this time by receiving others into our homes, making them feel welcome, meeting their needs, and providing for them a place of fellowship and acceptance. But Peter knows that people are better at conforming externally than at doing something from the heart. Accordingly, he adds ‘without grumbling.’ Hospitality formed the foundation of the Christian movement” (Scot McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary: 1 Peter, 238).

In light of these scattered thoughts regarding the virtue, one might entertain a slight revision in our thinking about the Creed for the Core Competency Love, to wit, “I sacrificially and unconditionally love others by serving and forgiving them.”               

Central Message of the Text: 

Facing persecution from outsiders, believers, inspired by hope, must band together in loving service to insiders for the glory of God.

Family Talk:

Kids have the ability to make friends in a flash. Imagine taking your preschooler to the park. They see a kid around their age (you know, give or take 5 years). Kid is on the playground; they’ve got a truck. Boom! Instant best friend that will be talked about for months to come. Your child can’t remember to cap the toothpaste and put it where it belongs, but they’ll remember that kid at the park every single time you drive by. They’ll remember the fun time they had rolling the truck down the slide and reminisce about the goldfish and fruit snacks they shared and how they wanted to invite their new friend to the house. That the couch was broken and the house was a mess concerned them not. They just wanted to be friendly and show their new buddy their room and toys. Why aren’t we quicker to be open and welcoming like our children? Why aren’t we more hospitable? Maybe it's time for you to jump on the wagon of regularly hosting Home Group. Maybe it’s time to plan a sleepover so your kids can bring their friends to church. God has called us to love others deeply and to offer them hospitality, especially our Christian brothers and sisters. This month, let your child take the lead and help them open the doors to your home. Ask them who you should show hospitality to and extend an invitation. Get your child involved and have them help you plan the details. You just might discover your child has the spiritual gift of administration or serving in the process. We’re praying for you!