The Doctrine of the Church.

There are many sources of pressure in our lives. Job, school, deadlines, finances, expectations, marriage, family, singleness, success, athletics – all these can exert pressure on us in ordinary life. Cultural circumstances and social situations can add more pressure on top of that. What do God's people focus on prioritizing when living under intense pressure?

Stress often reveals what's inside us. Under pressure, many negative things are often squeezed out of us – anxiety, fear, impatience, laziness, jealousy, selfishness, apathy, and more. The Bible teaches us how to persevere with joy.

Outline of 1 Peter

The book of 1 Peter can be outlined as follows:

  • 1 Peter 1:1-2:10 lays out the glorious analogy of salvation and why we live holy lives.
  • 1 Peter 2:11-4:6 tells us how to live as holy witnesses at work, in relation to the government, and in our homes. (See a parallel passage in Colossians 3:1-4:6.)
  • 1 Peter 4:7-5:11 exhorts us to endure under pressure until Jesus' return. We have a great salvation, great message, great mission, and a great expectation.

Peter's recipients were under the greatest pressure in Christian history. Peter himself would later be crucified upside-down. 2 Corinthians 4 describes the god of this world who is behind such demonic oppression of God's people. But God promises always to provide a way out.

Live Expectantly (1 Peter 4:7)

"The end is near" is a common phrase in the New Testament. This is a positive reality for the Christian that should produce hope and joy, not doom and gloom. Our Lord is coming again for us! Many passages highlight our opportunity to grow in light of His return and urge us to be prepared for His coming.

The "end" in this verse doesn't indicate the ending of one thing but of all things, an entire age. The Greek word telos carries the meaning of purpose, design, fulfillment, achieving a goal, or result. This period of time may seem long and arduous to us, but God has it under control (2 Peter 3). He promises to love us to the end and give us grace to persevere.

"At hand" means something has come near; the process is almost completed. The book of 1 Thessalonians repeatedly calls us to hope in Christ's return with a joyful disposition. As coaches have said, "You don't have to get ready if you stay ready."

Pray Fervently (1 Peter 4:7)

Believers living under pressure need the release valve of prayer at all times, at any occasion or venue. Thomas Watson wrote, "Christ went more willingly to the cross than many of us do to the throne of grace in prayer." In prayer, we affirm that God is much bigger than our understanding, and we humble ourselves under His mighty hand. As expectant people embrace progressive sanctification, they will show two characteristics. "Sound judgement" is shown by remaining calm and applying God's Word. A "sober spirit" is sensible and wise. It is an influence of Gospel light and love.

The word for "prayer" in this verse is actually plural. This should be a natural shift when we are under pressure but expecting our Lord's return. These in turn will produce a habit of love and forgiveness, which we will see in the next verse.

Application Points

  • Our cultural moment can create a lot of pressure in our lives. What has been revealed in your heart when you are squeezed?
  • Do you live expectantly of Christ's return? How can you look around less and look up more?
  • Is your natural response when under pressure to pray? How can you train yourself to turn this way more often? How can you practice this with others in the body of Christ?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • 1 John 4 – Test the spirits.
  • Romans 13:12, Philippians 4:5, Hebrews 10:25, James 5:7-11, Revelation 1:3, Matthew 24:44, 2 Corinthians 5:9, 1 John 2:27-29, 1 John 3 – Preparing for Christ's coming.
  • 2 Timothy 3 – Perilous times before Christ's return.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5 – More urging to prayer.
Quotes to Ponder

The Day of the Lord stands ready to break in at any moment, so allow the pressure that we're enduring to cause us to see others more compassionately, ourselves more realistically, the Scriptures more fully, Heaven more closely, and Christ's appearing more sweetly.