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God’s Word for You

1 Peter 4:14-16 Defrocked bishops other meddlers

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, May 16, 2022

14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

The world hates Christ and tries to play dominoes with the church. They don’t want to listen, of course, but to line up all of the things that they think are wrong with religion in general and then knock them all down nice and neat with some false logic, like a child playing with dominoes. If the world wants to accuse you of the sins of another generation or another denomination, and if they’re brave enough to say it directly to you so that you can respond, then they’ve held out a chair. Consider it a pulpit, like when Paul had the chance to speak to the Sanhedrin (Acts 23:1), and even to Caesar about his faith (Acts 25:25). Some of our pulpits are strange, but these strange pulpits have served many people before us. If we are insulted, we can still respond with Christ. The Holy Spirit will let our words work according to his plan. You don’t need to stick around to see the results, nor do you need to lose any sleep over those results. Share the message of Christ, and sleep peacefully, for the Spirit of God is resting upon you.

15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.

Most of this verse has a clear and obvious sense: If you suffer, it should be for Christ and not for crimes, the sort of thing that even the world condemns as sinful. The final word of the verse is not easy, and not entirely clear to us. The Greek term is allotri-episkopos (ἀλλοτριεπίσκοπος), which is unique to this verse is the Bible, Apocrypha, and earliest Church fathers. One fourth-century writer (Epiphanius) used it in an explanation of 1 Corinthians 10:2 as “one who meddles in affairs not his own” (busybody, meddler). The word itself seems to imply a strange or estranged bishop or overseer. So either a defrocked bishop (struck from the ministry because of sins) or an alienated bishop (that is, a leader among false teachers and preachers) is a meaning we might consider. In a letter to his colleague Philip Melanchthon, Luther translates this word “pseudo-bishop” based on his understanding of the Greek term (Letter 225; see LW 49:385 and note). If a false teacher suffers on account of his false teaching, we know that God himself is behind his suffering in order to call him to repentance.

16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.  (NIV)

Here again is comfort from the Apostle. Suffering on account of one’s faith is a special honor. Not that we should seek it out like a monk who misunderstands Matthew 19:21, but in the way that poor honest folk bear up when armies rip through their villages and fields because of the whim of a madman in his armchair trying to make the whole map turn pink. The devil may rage, and his misled bride, the sinful world, may gnash its teeth, but our Lord is Jesus Christ. It is far better to bear up under the Savior’s testing than endure for one moment a smile from Satan. I would rather have my Lord’s love than have the devil like me even one little bit. Bear up, O Christian! You do the work of the Lord, even if nobody knows it except the Holy Spirit. For you are his temple.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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