Bible Text: 1 Peter 4:7 | Pastor: Daniel Stertz | Series: A Study of 1st Peter
What did Peter mean?
Was he claiming to know and teach that Jesus would come back in a few months or years and end this age and establish the kingdom—so that he made a mistake in his prediction?
Or was he teaching that Jesus could come back at any moment because everything that needs to happen before he comes had happened—and so his coming is near in the sense of being imminent?
He Wasn’t Simply Mistaken
Not if “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” In Peter’s second letter he says the writers were “moved” or “born along” by the Spirit. Did the Spirit make a mistake?
Not Imminence Either
When the disciples were showing Jesus the beautiful Temple He told them not one stone would be on top another (Luke 21:6) so they asked Him when and He gave a series of things that would happen.
Since Peter died about 65 AD, the destruction of Jerusalem didn’t happen until 10 years after his death. So that event alone was not “at hand”.
You will note that Jesus didn’t really answer “when”. He was very vague pointing to lots of events that will take place, as if to say, “Don’t be caught up with knowing when the end is for sure.”
Recall Acts 1:6, when the apostles asked when the Kingdom was to be established.
Acts 1:6-9 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? (7) And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. (8) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (9) And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
Jesus didn’t reveal the time to Peter, so how could he be saying, “The end is near”?
So, what did Peter mean?
We go back to the context of Jesus’ message in Luke 21 and Jesus concluded it with these words:
Luke 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
Notice what Peter says here:
“Be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.”
The real emphasis is praying to “escape”, not the to escape the trouble, but not to fall into the trap of worldliness as things get worse. (Note what we’ve already seen in 1 Peter.)
Note what Jesus said, “that ye may be counted worthy to escape all these things …and to stand before the Son of Man.” Peter’s address has been to escape going the way of the “will of the Gentiles”.
Why does Peter refer to the “end” if we don’t know if it’s the “end?”
Go back to Luke 21 and follow the message of Jesus:
8 – false Messiahs
9 – Wars & commotions, but the end is not all at once
10 – Nations & Kingdoms against each other
11 – Great earthquakes, famines, plagues & signs from heaven
12 – “Before all these” – note the indefinite time
What follows is persecution (12-17)
He will go on to speak of more signs and events. Again, Peter can’t be speaking about the imminent return because there clearly had not been things that happened Jesus said would happen. But …. PERSECUTION HAD BEGUN.
So Peter admonished his hearers as Jesus did. Seeing things associated with the end times, WATCH & PRAY!
What do we pray for?
The greatest danger is that we fall in love with this world and become spiritually dull—that the day should come upon us like a thief and we are caught off guard.
The greatest danger is a spiritual apathy.
The greatest danger is to believe we can mess with sin and the world and think, “I have lots of time,” when the Ready Judge is at the door.