1 Peter 1:6
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
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(6) Wherein ye greatly rejoice.—“His scope,” says Leighton, “is to stir up and strengthen spiritual joy in his afflicted brethren; and therefore having set the matter of it before them in the preceding verses, he now applies it, and expressly opposes it to their distresses.” There is a little doubt as to the antecedent of the word “wherein.” At first sight it would seem to be “in the last time,” and the thought would then be that this “last time,” with all its predicted afflictions, was already begun, and that the Pontine Hebrews were fulfilling the injunction of our Lord in Luke 21:28, and “rejoicing” (the word is one of enthusiastic and demonstrative joy) in the near approach of their redemption. This makes good sense, but it is better to see the antecedent in “the whole complex sense of the preceding verses, concerning the hope of glory. In this thing ye rejoice, that ye are begotten again; that there is such an inheritance, and that you are made heirs of it; that it is kept for you, and you for it; that nothing can come betwixt you and it, and disappoint you of possessing and enjoying it, though there be many deserts and mountains and seas in the way, yet you are ascertained that you shall come safe thither.” (Leighton.)

Though now for a season.—Literally, after having been grieved in the present (if it must be so) for a little while in the midst of manifold temptations. The Apostle takes his stand at the moment of the revelation and looks back upon the fast-passing present and its griefs. What the temptations were we cannot tell; but the word “manifold” shows that it was not only one type of temptation under which all lay alike. The chief was probably the unkind attitude of Gentile neighbours (1Peter 2:12; 1Peter 2:15; 1Peter 3:14-17; 1Peter 4:4; 1Peter 4:12-19), which was the most searching “test of faith.” Identical words (in the Greek) occur in James 1:2-3, so as almost to suggest a common origin—possibly to be found in Romans 5:3.

If need be.—Or, if it must be so. To encourage them to bear up St. Peter throws in this phrase, so as not to take it for granted that they will have to suffer; he hopes it may not be so. (Comp. 1Peter 3:17.)

1 Peter


1 Peter 1:6You will remember the great saying of our Lord’s in the Sermon on the Mount, in which He makes the last of the beatitudes, that which He pronounces upon His disciples, when men shall revile them and persecute them, and speak all manner of evil falsely against them for His sake, and bids them rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is their reward in Heaven.

Now it seems to me that in the words of my text there is a distinct echo of that saying of Christ’s. For not only is the whole context the same, but a somewhat unusual and very strong word which our Lord employs is also employed here by Peter. ‘Rejoice and be exceeding glad,’ said Christ. ‘Ye rejoice greatly,’ said the Apostle, and he is echoing his Master’s word. Then with regard to the context; Christ proposes to His followers this exceeding gladness as evoked in their hearts by the very thing that might seem to militate against it--viz., men’s antagonism. Similarly, Peter, throughout this whole letter, and in my text, is heartening the disciples against impending persecution, and, like his Lord, he bids them face it, if not ‘with frolic welcome’ at all events with undiminished and undimmed serenity and cheerfulness. Christ based the exhortation on the thought that great would be their reward in Heaven. Peter points to the salvation ready to be revealed as being the ground of the joy that he enjoined. So in the words and in the whole strain and structure of the exhortation the servant is copying his Master.

But, of course, although the immediate application of these words is to Churches fronting the possibility and probability of actual persecution and affliction for the sake of Jesus Christ, the principle involved applies to us all. And the worries and the sorrows of our daily life need the exhortation here, quite as much as did the martyr’s pains. White ants will pick a carcass clean as soon as a lion will, and there is quite as much wear and tear of Christian gladness arising from the small frictions of our daily life as from the great strain and stress of persecution.

So our Apostle has a word for us all. Now it seems to me that in this text there are three things to be noticed: a paradox, a possibility, a duty. ‘In which ye rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations.’ Look at these three points.

I. This paradox.

Two emotions diametrically opposed are to be contained within the narrow room of one disposition and temper. ‘Ye greatly rejoice.... Ye are in heaviness.’ Can such a thing be? Well! let us think for a moment. The sources of the two conflicting emotions are laid out before us; they may be constantly operative in every life. On the one hand, ‘in which ye greatly rejoice.’ Now that ‘in which’ does not point back only to the words that immediately precede, but to the whole complex clause that goes before. And what is the ‘which’ that is there? These things; the possession of a new life--’Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who hath begotten us again!’--the springing up in a man’s heart of a strange new hope, like a new star that swims into the sky, and sheds a radiance all about it--’Begotten unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’; a new wealth--an ‘inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away; a new security--guarded by the power of God through faith unto salvation.’ These things belong, ipso facto, and in the measure of his faith, to every Christian man, a new life, a new hope, a new wealth, and a new security; and in their conjoint action, all four of them brought to bear upon a man’s temper and spirit, will, if he is realising them, make him glad.

Then, on the other hand, we have other fountains pouring their streams into the same reservoir. And just as the deep fountains which are open to us by faith will, if we continue to exercise that faith, flood our spirits with sweet waters, so these other fountains will pour their bitter floods over every heart more or less abundantly and continually. ‘Now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations.’ There are confluent streams that one has sometimes seen, where a clear river joins, and flows in the same bed with, one all foul with half-melted ice, and the two run side by side for a space, scarcely mingling their waters. Thus the paradox of the Christian life is that within the same narrow banks may flow the sunny and the turbid, the clear and the dark, the sorrow that springs from earthly fountains, the joy that pours from the heavenly heights.

Now notice that this is only one case of the paradox of the whole Christian life. For the peculiarity of it is that it owns two;--it belongs to, and is exposed to, all the influences of the forces and things of time, whilst in regard to its depths, it belongs to, and is under the influence of, ‘the things that are unseen and eternal’; so that you have the external life common to the Christian and to all other people, and then you have the life ‘hid with Christ in God,’ the roots of it going down through all the superficial soil, and grappling the central rock of all things. Thus a series of paradoxes and perennial contradictions describes the twofold life that every believing spirit lives, ‘as unknown and yet well known, as dying and, behold we live, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making rich, as having nothing and yet possessing all things.’

Remember, too, that according to Peter’s conception neither of these two sources pours out a flood which obliterates or dams back the other. They are to co-exist. The joy is not to deprive the heaviness of its weight, nor the sorrow of its sting. There is no artificial stoicism about Christianity, no attempt to sophisticate one’s self out of believing in the reality of the evils that assail us, or to forbid that we shall feel their pain and their burden. Many good people fail to get the good of life’s discipline, because they have somehow come to think that it is wrong to weep when Christ sends sorrows, and wrong to feel, as other men feel, the grip and bite of the manifold trials of our earthly lives. ‘Weep for yourselves,’ for the feeling of the sorrow is the precedent condition to the benefit from the sorrow, and it yields ‘the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby.’

But, on the other hand, the black stream is not to bank up the sunny one, or prevent it from flowing into the heart, ay! and flowing over, the other. And so the co-existence of the joys that come from above, and the sorrows that spring from around, and some of them from beneath, is the very secret of the Christian life.

II. Further, consider the blessed possibility of this paradox.

Can two conflicting emotions live in a man’s heart at once? Rather, we might ask, are there ever emotions in a man’s heart that are not hemmed in by conflicting ones? Is there ever such a thing in the world’s experience as a pure joy, or as a confidence which has no trace of fear in it? Are there any pictures without shadows? They are only daubs if they are. Instead of wondering at this co-existence of joy and sorrow, we must recognise that it is in full accord with all our experience, which never brings a joy, but, like the old story of the magic palace, there is one window unlighted, and which never brings a sorrow so black and over-arching so completely the whole sky, but that somewhere, if the eye would look for it, there is a bit of blue. The possibility of the paradox is in accordance with all human experience.

But then, you say, ‘my feelings of joy or sorrow are very largely a matter of temperament, and still more largely a matter of responding to the facts round about me. And I cannot pump up emotions to order; and if I could they would be factitious, artificial, insincere, and do me more harm than good.’ Perfectly true. There are a great many ugly names for manufactured emotions, and none of them a bit too ugly. Peter does not wish you to try to get up feeling to order. It is the bane of some type of Christianity that that is done. You cannot thus manufacture emotion. No; but I will tell you what you can do. You can determine what you will think about most, and what you will look at most, and if you settle that, that will settle what you feel. And so, though it is by a roundabout way, we can regulate our emotions. A man travelling in a railway train can choose which side of the carriage he will look out at, either the one where the sunshine is falling full on the front of each grass-blade and tree, or the side where it is the shadowed side of each that is turned to him. If he will look out of the one window, he will see everything verdant and bright, and if he will look out at the other, there will be a certain sobriety and dulness over the landscape. You can settle which window you are going to look out at. If the one--’in which ye greatly rejoice.’ If the other--’ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations.’ You have seen patterns wrought in black and white, you may focus your eye so as to get white on a black ground, or black on a white ground, just as you like. You can do that with your life, and either fix upon the temptations and the heaviness as the main thing, or you can fix upon the new life, and the new wealth, and the new hope, and the new security as the main things. If you do the one, down you will go into the depths of gloom, and if you do the other, up you will spring into the ethereal heights of sober and Christian gladness.

So then, brethren, this possibility depends on these things, the choice of our main object of contemplation, and that breaks up into two thoughts about which I wish to say a word. The reason why so many Christian people have only religion enough to make them gloomy, or to weight them with a sense of burdens and unfulfilled aspirations and broken resolutions, and have not enough to make them glad, is mainly because they do not think enough about the four things in which they might ‘greatly rejoice.’ I believe that most of us would be altogether different people, as professing Christians, if we honestly tried to keep the mightiest things uppermost, and to fill heart and mind far more than we do with the contemplation of these great facts and truths which, when once they are beheld and cleaved to, are certain to minister gladness to men’s souls. These great truths which you and I say we believe, and which we profess to live by, will only work their effect upon us, so long as they are present to our minds and hearts. You can no more expect Christian verities to keep you from falling, or to strengthen you in weakness, or to gladden you in sorrow, if you are not thinking about them, than you can expect the most succulent or most nutritive food to nourish you if you do not eat it. As long as Christ and His grace are present in our hearts and minds by thought, so long, and not one moment longer, do they minister to us the joy of the Lord. You switch off from the main current, and out go all the lights, and when you switch off from Christ out goes the gladness.

Then another thing I would point out is that the possibility of this co-existence of joy and of heaviness depends further on our taking the right point of view from which to look at the sources of the heaviness. Notice how beautifully, although entirely incidentally, and without calling attention to it, Peter here minimises the ‘manifold temptations’ which he does expect, however minimised, will make men heavy. He calls them ‘temptations.’ Now that is rather an unfortunate word, because it suggests the idea of something that desires to drag a man into sin. But suppose, instead of ‘temptations,’ with its unfortunate associations, you were to substitute a word that means the same thing, and is free from that association--viz.,’trial,’--you would get the right point of view. As long as I look at my sorrows mainly in regard to their power to sadden me, I have not got to the right point of view for them. They are meant to sadden me, they are meant to pain, they are meant to bring the tears, they are meant to weight the heart and press down the spirits, but what for? To test what I am made of, and by testing to bring out and strengthen what is good, and to cast out and destroy what is evil. We shall never understand, even so much as it is possible for us to understand, and that is not very much, of the mystery of pain until we come to recognise that its main purpose is to help in making character. And when you think of your sorrows, disappointments, losses, when you think of your pains and sickness, and all the ills that flesh is heir to, principally as being ‘trials,’ in the deep sense of that word--viz., a means of testing you, and thereby helping you, bettering you, and building up character--then it is more possible to blend the sorrow that they produce with the joy to which they may lead. The Apostle adds the other thought of the transitoriness of sorrow, and yet further, the other of its necessity for the growth of humanity. So they are not only to be felt, not only to be wept over, not only to make us sad, but they are to be accepted, and used as means by which we may be perfected. And when once you get occupied in trying to get all the good that is in it out of a grief, you will be astonished to find how the bitterness that was in it was diminished.

We may have the oil on the water, calming, though not ending, its agitation. We may carry our own atmosphere with us, and like the diver that goes down into depths of the sea, and cannot be reached by the hungry water around his crystal bell, and has communication with the upper air, where the light of the sun is, so you and I, down at the slimy bottom, and with the waste of water all around us, which if it could get at us would choke us, may walk at liberty, in peace and gladness. And so, ‘though the labour of the olive shall fail and the fig tree not blossom, though the flocks be cut off from the folds and the herd from the stalls,’ we may joy in the Lord, and ‘rejoice in the God of our salvation.’

III. Now lastly, we have here a duty.

Peter takes it for granted that these good people, who had persecution hanging over them, were still rejoicing greatly in the Lord. He does not feel it necessary to enjoin it upon them. It is a matter of course in their Christian life. And you will find that all through the New Testament this same tone is adopted which recognises gladness as being, on the one hand, an inseparable characteristic of the Christian experience, and on the other hand as being a thing that is a Christian man’s duty to cultivate. Now I do not believe that the most of Christian people have ever looked at the thing in that light at all. If joy has come to them, they have been thankful for it, but they have very, very seldom felt that, if they are not glad, there is something wrong. And a great many of us, I am sure, have never recognised the fact that it is our duty to ‘rejoice in the Lord always.’ Have you realised it? I do not mean have you tried to get up, as I have been saying, factitious emotions, but have you felt that if you are doing what, as Christian men or women, it is your plain duty to do, there will come into your hearts this joy of the Lord. I have told you why you are not happier Christians, why so many of us have, as I said, only got religion enough to make you gloomy and burdened. It is because you do not think enough about Jesus Christ, and what He has given you, and what He is doing for you and in you. It is because you have not the new life in strong experience and possession, and because you have not the new hope springing in your hearts, and because you have not the new wealth realised often in present possession, and because you have not the new security which He is ready to give you. It is your duty, Christian man and woman, to be a joyful Christian, and if you are not, then the negligence is sin.

It is a hard duty. It is not easy to turn away from that which is torturing flesh or sense or natural desires or human affections, and to realise the unseen. It is not easy, but it is possible. And, like all other difficult things, it is worth doing. For there is nothing more helpful, more recommendatory, of our Christianity to other people, and more certain to tell on the vigour and efficiency of our Christian service, than that we should be rejoicing in the Lord, and living in the possession of the experience of Christ’s joy which He has left for us.

There is one other thing I must say. I have been talking about the co-existence of joy and sorrows. In one form or another that co-existence is universal. The difference is this. A Christian man has superficial sorrows and central gladness, and other men have superficial gladness and central sorrow. ‘Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful.’ Many of you know what that means--the black aching centre, full of unrest, grimly unparticipant of the dancing delights going on about it, like some black rock that stands up in the midst of a field flooded with sunshine, and gay with flowers. ‘The end of that mirth is heaviness.’ Better a surface sadness and a core of joy than the opposite, a skin of verdure over the scarcely cold lava. Better a transient sorrow with an eternal joy than the opposite, mirth, ‘like the crackling of thorns under a pot,’ which dies down into a doleful ring of black ashes in the pathless desert. Choose whether you will have joy dwelling with and conquering sorrow, or unrest and sorrow, darkening and finally shattering your partial and fleeting joys.

1 Peter 1:6. Wherein — In which living hope of such a glorious inheritance, and in being so kept to the enjoyment of it, ye, even now, greatly rejoiceΑγαλλιασθε, ye are exceeding glad, or leap for joy, though for a season, ολιγον αρτε, now — A little while: such is our whole life compared to eternity! if need be — When God sees it needful, and the best means for your spiritual profit; ye are in heaviness Λυπηθεντες, grieved, or in sorrow; but not in darkness: for they still retained both faith and hope, 1 Peter 1:3; 1 Peter 1:5; yea, and love, 1 Peter 1:8. From this we learn that the people of God are never afflicted except when it is either necessary for, or conducive to, their spiritual improvement. What a consolation is this to the afflicted! That the trial of your faith — The trying whether it be genuine, or the proof of it upon trial; being much more precious — Or much more important, or of greater consequence, than the trial of gold — Or that your faith, being tried, and proved to be genuine upon trial, which is more precious than gold, (for gold, though it bear the fire, will yet perish with the world,) may be found, though it doth not yet appear, unto praise — From God himself; or may be approved and commended by him; and honour — From men and angels; and glory — Assigned by the great Judge; at the appearing of Jesus Christ — At the time of the restitution of all things, when he shall appear for the perfect and final salvation of his followers. One reason why the Christians, in the first age, were subject to persecution and death was, as Macknight observes, “that their faith being put to the severest trial, mankind might have, in their tried and persevering faith, what is infinitely more profitable to them than all the gold and silver in the world; namely, such an irrefragable demonstration of the truth of the facts on which the Christian religion is built, as will bring praise, and honour, and glory, to God, and to the martyrs themselves, at the last day. For what can be more honourable to God, than that the persons, whom he appointed to bear witness to the resurrection of Christ, and to the other miracles by which the gospel was established, sealed their testimony with their blood? Or what greater evidence of the truth of these miracles can the world require, than that the persons who were eye-witnesses of them, lost their estates, endured extreme tortures, and parted with their lives, for bearing testimony to them? Or what greater felicity can these magnanimous heroes wish to receive than that which shall be bestowed on them at the revelation of Jesus Christ, when their testimony shall be put beyond all doubt, their persecutors shall be punished, and themselves rewarded with the everlasting possession of heaven?”

1:1-9 This epistle is addressed to believers in general, who are strangers in every city or country where they live, and are scattered through the nations. These are to ascribe their salvation to the electing love of the Father, the redemption of the Son, and the sanctification of the Holy Ghost; and so to give glory to one God in three Persons, into whose name they had been baptized. Hope, in the world's phrase, refers only to an uncertain good, for all worldly hopes are tottering, built upon sand, and the worldling's hopes of heaven are blind and groundless conjectures. But the hope of the sons of the living God is a living hope; not only as to its object, but as to its effect also. It enlivens and comforts in all distresses, enables to meet and get over all difficulties. Mercy is the spring of all this; yea, great mercy and manifold mercy. And this well-grounded hope of salvation, is an active and living principle of obedience in the soul of the believer. The matter of a Christian's joy, is the remembrance of the happiness laid up for him. It is incorruptible, it cannot come to nothing, it is an estate that cannot be spent. Also undefiled; this signifies its purity and perfection. And it fadeth not; is not sometimes more or less pleasant, but ever the same, still like itself. All possessions here are stained with defects and failings; still something is wanting: fair houses have sad cares flying about the gilded and ceiled roofs; soft beds and full tables, are often with sick bodies and uneasy stomachs. All possessions are stained with sin, either in getting or in using them. How ready we are to turn the things we possess into occasions and instruments of sin, and to think there is no liberty or delight in their use, without abusing them! Worldly possessions are uncertain and soon pass away, like the flowers and plants of the field. That must be of the greatest worth, which is laid up in the highest and best place, in heaven. Happy are those whose hearts the Holy Spirit sets on this inheritance. God not only gives his people grace, but preserves them unto glory. Every believer has always something wherein he may greatly rejoice; it should show itself in the countenance and conduct. The Lord does not willingly afflict, yet his wise love often appoints sharp trials, to show his people their hearts, and to do them good at the latter end. Gold does not increase by trial in the fire, it becomes less; but faith is made firm, and multiplied, by troubles and afflictions. Gold must perish at last, and can only purchase perishing things, while the trial of faith will be found to praise, and honour, and glory. Let this reconcile us to present afflictions. Seek then to believe Christ's excellence in himself, and his love to us; this will kindle such a fire in the heart as will make it rise up in a sacrifice of love to him. And the glory of God and our own happiness are so united, that if we sincerely seek the one now, we shall attain the other when the soul shall no more be subject to evil. The certainty of this hope is as if believers had already received it.Wherein ye greatly rejoice - In which hope of salvation. The idea is, that the prospect which they had of the future inheritance was to them a source of the highest joy, even in the midst of their many sufferings and trials. On the general grounds for rejoicing, see the Romans 5:1-2 notes; Philippians 3:1; Philippians 4:4 notes; 1 Thessalonians 5:16 note. See also the notes at 1 Peter 1:8. The particular meaning here is, that the hope which they had of their future inheritance enabled them to rejoice even in the midst of persecutions and trials. It not only sustained them, but it made them happy. That must be a valuable religion which will make people happy in the midst of persecutions and heavy calamities.

Though now for a season - A short period - ὀλίγον oligon. It would be in fact only for a brief period, even if it should continue through the whole of life. Compare the notes at 2 Corinthians 4:17; "Our light affliction which is but for a moment." It is possible, however, that Peter supposed that the trials which they then experienced would soon pass over. They may have been suffering persecutions which he hoped would not long continue.

If need be - This phrase seems to have been thrown in here to intimate that there was a necessity for their afflictions, or that there was "need" that they should pass through these trials. There was some good to be accomplished by them, which made it desirable and proper that they should be thus afflicted. The sense is, "since there is need;" though the apostle expresses it more delicately by suggesting the possibility that there might be need of it, instead of saying absolutely that there was need. It is the kind of language which we would use in respect to one who was greatly afflicted, by suggesting to him, in the most tender manner, that there might be things in his character which God designed to correct by trials, instead of saying roughly and bluntly that such was undoubtedly the fact. We would not say to such a person, "you certainly needed this affliction to lead you to amend your life;" but, "it may be that there is something in your character which makes it desirable, or that God intends that some good results shall come from it which will show that it is wisely ordered."

Ye are in heaviness - Greek, "Ye are sorrowing," (λυπηθέντες lupēthentes;) you are sad, or grieved, Matthew 14:9; Matthew 17:23.

Through manifold temptations - Through many kinds of trials, for so the word rendered "temptation" (πειρασμος peirasmos) means, James 1:2, James 1:12. See the notes at Matthew 4:1; Matthew 6:13. The meaning here is, that they now endured many things which were suited to try or test their faith. These might have consisted of poverty, persecution, sickness, or the efforts of ethers to lead them to renounce their religion, and to go back to their former state of unbelief. Anyone or all of these would try them, and would show whether their religion was genuine. On the various ways which God has of trying his people, compare the notes at Isaiah 28:23-29.

6. Wherein—in which prospect of final salvation.

greatly rejoice—"exult with joy": "are exuberantly glad." Salvation is realized by faith (1Pe 1:9) as a thing so actually present as to cause exulting joy in spite of existing afflictions.

for a season—Greek, "for a little time."

if need be—"if it be God's will that it should be so" [Alford], for not all believers are afflicted. One need not invite or lay a cross on himself, but only "take up" the cross which God imposes ("his cross"); 2Ti 3:12 is not to be pressed too far. Not every believer, nor every sinner, is tried with afflictions [Theophylact]. Some falsely think that notwithstanding our forgiveness in Christ, a kind of atonement, or expiation by suffering, is needed.

ye are in heaviness—Greek, "ye were grieved." The "grieved" is regarded as past, the "exulting joy" present. Because the realized joy of the coming salvation makes the present grief seem as a thing of the past. At the first shock of affliction ye were grieved, but now by anticipation ye rejoice, regarding the present grief as past.

through—Greek, "IN": the element in which the grief has place.

manifold—many and of various kinds (1Pe 4:12, 13).

temptations—"trials" testing your faith.

Wherein; this refers to the whole foregoing sentence; Ye rejoice in your being kept by the power of God unto salvation.

Ye greatly rejoice: the Greek word signifies something more than a bare rejoicing, and therefore is added to a word that signifies to rejoice, Matthew 5:12, and implies an outward expression of the inward gladness of the heart, by looks, words, gestures, &c. Some read the word in the imperative mood, by way of exhortation; but the indicative, according to our translation, seems most agreeable to the context, in which, as yet, he commends the saints, to whom he writes, for the grace of God in them; descending to his exhortation afterward, 1 Peter 1:13.

Though now for a season; viz. while this life lasts, which is but a little time, 2 Corinthians 4:17.

If need be; if God see it fit, needful for your good, and conducing to his glory; intimating, that God doth not always afflict believers, but when he sees just cause, and never doth it without cause.

Ye are in heaviness:

Question. How could they be in heaviness, and yet rejoice?

Answer. Their grief and joy were about different objects; they might be in heaviness by reason of present afflictions, and rejoice in hope of future glory; they might grieve as men, and rejoice as saints; sense of suffering might affect them, and yet the faith of better things coming relieve them. If their heaviness did in any degree abate their joy, yet it did not wholly hinder it; and though their joy did overcome their heaviness, yet it did not wholly exclude it.

Through manifold temptations; he so calls afflictions, from the end and effect of them, the trial of their faith, Luke 22:28 Acts 20:19 Galatians 4:14 Jam 1:2 2 Peter 2:9: he calls them manifold, as being not only numerous, but various, and of divers kinds.

Wherein ye greatly rejoice,.... The Vulgate Latin version reads, "in which ye shall rejoice": and so the Syriac version, adding, "for ever"; and refer these words to the "last time"; or, times spoken of in the preceding verse; when the saints will greatly rejoice, being in full possession of eternal salvation; in distinction from the present time, in which they are in heaviness; but it is better to read the words in the present tense, and as expressive of the saints in this life, who are blessed with that fruit of the Spirit, joy, and have always reason to rejoice, and greatly rejoice. The connection is with the whole that goes before; and the sense is this, that regenerated persons rejoice, in that they are the elect of God, according to his everlasting love towards them, and free grace, and good will; in their regeneration, which is an evidence of their election of God; in the abundant mercy of God displayed in their regeneration; and in that lively hope of eternal life which is the effect of it; and in the resurrection of Christ from the dead, which secures their justification of life, and their resurrection from the dead; and in the inheritance they are born heirs unto; and in their preservation to it by the power of God through faith; and in that complete salvation which is ready for them, and in a short time will be revealed, to which they are kept:

though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness, through manifold temptations. This seems to be a contrast, but is no real contradiction; for the character of the saints in this world is, that they are as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing, 2 Corinthians 6:10 rejoicing even in their tribulations and temptations; yea, for them, and on account of them, in some respects, which in others make them sorrowful, and heavy, or "heavy" with sorrow: the cause of this heaviness is not only indwelling corruptions, the hidings of God's face, and the temptations of Satan, but afflictions and persecutions, which are here meant by "manifold temptations"; for not the temptations or to sin, are here intended, but the temptations with which God tempts and tries his people: so he sometimes does, by calling them to hard service, to do things difficult and disagreeable to flesh and blood, in which way he tempted Abraham; and by laying afflictions, or suffering afflictions to come upon them, by which he tried Job; and by permitting wicked men to reproach and persecute them, and to injure them in their characters, persons, and properties; and which was the case of the primitive Christians, and has been more or less the case of the saints ever since: now such exercises are called, from the quality of them, temptations, or trials; because they try the hearts, principles, and graces of them that believe, and particularly their faith hereafter mentioned; and from the quantity of them, they are said to be various; they are of different sorts; as reproach, imprisonment, loss of goods, and death itself in divers shapes; and are more or less at different times and ages; and are exercised on various persons: and are sometimes very heavy, and grievous to be borne, and cause great heaviness and sorrow of heart; and yet there are things, and circumstances, and which are here hinted at, that greatly mitigate the heaviness occasioned by them; as, that these afflictions, and the heaviness that comes by them, are but little, and light, in comparison of the eternal weight of glory; though they are great tribulations in themselves, through and out of which the people of God come to the kingdom; and so the Syriac version renders it, "though at this time" "ye are a little made sorrowful"; and then it is only "now", for the present time, and but for a short time; for a little season, even for a moment, comparatively speaking; and also, "if need be", which the Syriac version omits, though by all means to be retained: afflictive dispensations, in whatsoever form, are necessary, by the will of God, who has appointed them, and therefore must be, and ought to be, quietly submitted to, and patiently borne, on that consideration; and are also necessary, on account of Christ the head, to whom there must be a conformity of his members; and likewise on their own account; for the humbling of their souls; for the weaning of them from the things of this world; for the restraining, subduing, and keeping under the corruptions of their nature; and for the trial of grace: and it is only "if", and when there is a necessity for them, that they are in heaviness by them; otherwise God does not delight to afflict and grieve the children of men, and much less his own; see Lamentations 3:33 so the Jews say (y), that "there was a necessity" of God's tempting Abraham as he did, to humble and purify him,

(y) Tzeror Hammor, fol. 22. 1.

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
1 Peter 1:6. ἐν ᾧ ἀγαλλιᾶσθε] The verb expresses the liveliness of the Christian joy, equivalent to: exult; it is stronger than χαίρειν, with which it is sometimes connected (chap. 1 Peter 4:13; Matthew 5:12; Revelation 19:7[59]).

ἐν ᾧ refers either to the preceding thought, that the salvation is ready to be revealed (Calvin: articulus “in quo” refert totum illud complexum de spe salutis in coelo repositae; so also Estius, Grotius, Calov, Steiger, Jachmann, de Wette, Brückner, Steinmeyer, Schott; similarly Gerhard, who, however, applies it to all that precedes: ἀναγεννήσας, etc.), or to καιρῷ ἐσχάτῳ (Oecum., Erasmus, Luther, Wiesinger, etc.). In the first construction ἀγαλλ.—in form as in meaning—is praesens, and denotes the present joy of the Christians over their future salvation (ἐν ᾧ: over which, cf. chap. 1 Peter 4:4[60]). In the second construction a double interpretation is possible, inasmuch as ἐν ᾧ may denote either the object or the time of the joy; in the first case the sense is: the καιρὸς ἔσχατος is for you an object of joy, because in it the salvation will be revealed; in the second case the sense is: in that last time ye shall rejoice (so Wiesinger and Hofmann); here the object of joy is doubtless not named, but it may be easily supplied, and the want of it therefore cannot be urged against this view (as opposed to Brückner). The last of these different views deserves the preference, both on account of the subsequent ὀλίγον ἄρτιλυπηθέντες, which forms a distinct antithesis to ἀγαλλιᾶσθε, and of the idea peculiar to the epistle, that in the present time the Christian has to suffer rather than to exult, and only in the future can he expect the full joy;—and the prevalent manner of conjunction, too, precisely in this section of the epistle, by which what follows is linked directly on to the word immediately preceding, cf. 1 Peter 1:5; 1 Peter 1:8; 1 Peter 1:10, shows that ἐν ᾧ applies to καιρῷ ἐσχάτῳ. In this combination, however, it is more natural to take ἐν in the same sense as in that which it has before καιρῷ, rather than in another.[61]

Doubtless the present ἀγαλλιᾶσθε will then have a future force; but this occasions no difficulty, there being nothing uncommon in such a use of the present (cf. also Winer, p. 249 [E. T. 331 f.]).

The present tense strongly emphasizes the certainty of the future joy, rays of which fall even on the present life.[62]

ὈΛΊΓΟΝ ἌΡΤΙ] ὈΛΊΓΟΝ not of measure (Steiger), but of time, chap. 1 Peter 5:10, where it forms the antithesis to ΑἸΏΝΙΟς; cf. Revelation 17:10; ἌΡΤΙ denotes present time. The juxtaposition of the two words is explainable by the apostle’s hope that the ΚΑΙΡῸς ἜΣΧΑΤΟς would soon begin.

ΕἸ ΔΈΟΝ ἘΣΤΊ] not an affirmative (Bengel), but a hypothetical parenthesis: si res ita ferat: if it must be so, that is, according to divine decree; cf. chap. 1 Peter 3:17. Incorrectly Steinmeyer: qui per peregrinationis spatium, quamdiu necessarium est, contristati estis.[63]

ΛΥΠΗΘΈΝΤΕς ἘΝ ΠΟΙΚΊΛΟΙς ΠΕΙΡΑΣΜΟῖς] The aorist with ἌΡΤΙ has reference to the future joy: “after that ye have now for a short time been made sorrowful.” “It signifies the inward sadness, in consequence of outward experiences” (Wiesinger).

Particula ἐν non solum est ΧΡΟΝΙΚΉ, sed etiam ΑἸΤΙΟΛΟΓΙΚΉ (Gerhard). Both meanings pass over into each other, so that ἘΝ is not to be interpreted as synonymous with ΔΙΆ.

are the events by which the faith of the Christian is proved or also tempted; here, specially the persecutions which he is called upon to endure at the hands of the unbelieving world, cf. Jam 1:2; Acts 20:19. By the addition of the adjective, the manifold nature of their different kinds is pointed out.

[59] Steinmeyer, whilst combating the opinion that ἀγαλλ. has a stronger force than χαίρειν, correctly describes the ἀγαλλίασις as affectio fervidior animi hilaris, but χαρά unwarrantably as: perpetua ilia cordis laetitia, quae neque augeri queat neque imminui.

[60] Brückner explains ἐν ᾧ as above stated, but he understands ἀγαλλιᾶσθς in a future sense, “of that which shall most surely come to pass;” this interpretation is undoubtedly inappropriate, inasmuch as the present assurance of the future salvation, stated in ver. 5, may now indeed be an object of rejoicing, but will not be so then, when that future salvation itself is attained.

[61] Schott’s assertion, that, as a rule, ἀγαλλ. is connected by ἐν with its object, is erroneous. In the N. T. the passage, John 5:35, at the most, can be quoted in support of this construction; whilst in Luke 10:21, ἐν accompanies the simple indication of time. In Luke 1:47, ἀγαλλ. is construed with ἐπί c. dat.; John 8:56, with ἵνα.

[62] It is altogether inappropriate to interpret ἀγαλλιᾶσθε, with Augustine, as an imperative; the exhortations begin only in ver. 13.

[63] The older Protestant commentators, more especially, sometimes employ this passage to combat the arbitrary seeking after suffering; thus Luther says: “It is not to be our own works which we choose, but we must await what God lays upon us and sends, so that we may go and follow, therefore thou mayest not thyself run after them.”


When Schott, in opposition to the interpretation here given, maintains the purely present force of ἀγαλλ. on the ground that “it must be the apostle’s object to commend by way of exhortation the readers for their present state of mind,” it is to be remarked—(1) That the apostle here gives utterance to no exhortation; and (2) That the apostle might perfectly well direct his readers to the certainty of the future joy, in order to strengthen them for the patient endurance of their present condition of suffering. It is perfectly arbitrary to assert, with Schott, that by ἄρτι the present trials as transitory are contrasted with the present joy as enduring, as also to maintain “that by the aorist λυπηθέντες the suffering is reduced to the idea of an ever-changing variety of individual momentary incidents which, in virtue of the uniform joy, may always lie behind the Christian surmounted”(!).

Schott insists again, without reason, that εἰ δέον [ἐστι] cannot be taken as referring to the divine decree, in that it is “impossible to make the accomplished concrete fact of the λυπηθῆναι hypothetical with respect to the will of God;” for it is not clear why Peter should not characterize the λυπηθῆναι ἐν ποικ. πειρασμοῖς as something hypothetical here, where he does not as yet enter more particularly into the concrete facts. Nor can it be assumed that εἰ δέον (ἐστί) is added in order to remind the readers that the τοικιλοὶ πειρασμοί should in reality occasion no sadness,—the less so that thus the intimately connected λυπηθέντες ἐν ποικ. πειρασμοῖς are torn asunder.

1 Peter 1:6-9. Exult then. These various temptations to which you are exposed cause present grief. But they are part of God’s plan for you. Even material perishable gold is tried in the fire. So is your faith tested that it may be purged of its dross and the good metal be discovered when Jesus Christ is revealed. You love Him whom you never saw; though you see Him not you believe on Him. Exult then with joy that anticipates your future glory. You are winning the prize of your faith, the ultimate salvation of souls. St. Peter returns to the present and regards it from the point of view of those whom God is guarding—but only to advance again to the glorious future (7 fin, 9) when Jesus Christ the present object of their love and faith shall be revealed. He is the central figure of this section which is based upon two of His sayings which are appropriate to the circumstances of these His persecuted followers (Song of Solomon 4:13) v. Matthew 5:12 = Revelation 19:7 from Psalm 21:1; Psalm 118:24. Compare Jam 1:2-4 and John cited below.

6. Wherein ye greatly rejoice] The English verb and adverb answer to the single Greek word which expresses, as in Matthew 5:12, Luke 1:47; Luke 10:21, the act of an exulting joy. The verb occurs three times in this Epistle, not at all in St Paul’s, and may fairly be regarded as an echo from our Lord’s use of it as recorded above in the Sermon on the Mount.

though now for a season, if need be] Literally, for a little, but as the words almost certainly refer to the duration, not to the degree, of the sufferings spoken of, the English version (or for a little while) may be accepted as correct. In the “if need be” we have an implied belief that the sufferings were not fortuitous, nor sent without a purpose. They had their necessary place in the process by which God was working out the sanctification of His children.

ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations] The sense of the Greek participle would, perhaps, be better expressed by ye were grieved, or, made sorry. He writes of what he had heard as to their sufferings. He does not actually know that they are still continuing. In the “manifold temptations” we note the use of the same phrase as in James 1:2, with which St Peter could hardly fail to have been acquainted. Here, as there and in Acts 20:19, the “temptations” are chiefly those which come to men from without, persecutions, troubles, what we call the “trials” of life.

1 Peter 1:6. Ἐν ᾧ) in which circumstance.—ἀγαλλιᾶσθε, ye rejoice) The present, 1 Peter 1:8. Augustine, gaudete, imperative: rejoice ye.[6] Comp. Jam 1:2.—ὀλίγον, for a little time) This is spoken with reference to the whole Church, ch. 1 Peter 5:10. Comp. 1 Peter 4:7.—εἰ δέον ἐστὶ, if it be needful) If (since) has here the force of an affirmation: so in 1 Peter 1:17.

[6] Vulg. “exultatis.” Other MSS. of Vulg. “exultabitis.” So Orig. 1,300b has ἀγαλλιάσεσθε. But ABC, Rec. Text, ἀγαλλιᾶσθε.—E.

Verse 6. - Wherein ye greatly rejoice. Is the word "wherein" (ἐν ῷ) to be referred to the whole sentence, and to be understood of the Christian's present privileges and hopes? or is it to be taken in a temporal sense with the words immediately preceding it, "in the last time"? Authorities are divided. Of those who take the latter view some regard "the last time" - as the object of the Christian's joyful hope - he rejoices now in the hope of the glory of God; others give the verb a quasi-future sense - " wherein ye will greatly rejoice." But the former connection seems more natural; the Christian rejoices in his present and future blessings - in the new birth, in the hope of the heavenly inheritance, in the assured protection of God. The verb (ἀγαλλιᾶσθε) is a strong expression; it means "to exult, to leap for joy." St. Peter may have had in his thoughts the well-remembered sermon on the mount, where the same word occurs (Matthew 5:12), and, as here, in connection with sorrows and persecutions. It is used of our Lord himself in Luke 10:21, of the Philippian gaoler's joy in his newborn faith (Acts 16:34), as well as of the joy of the blessed in heaven (Revelation 19:7). There is, therefore, nothing unsuitable in taking the verb in its proper present signification; the Christian's experience is often, like St. Paul's, "sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." Some commentators, following St. Augustine, regard the verb as imperative. Though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations. The word rendered "for a season" (ὀλίγον, a little) may mean that the present suffering is but little compared with the future glory; it may cover both meanings (comp. 2 Corinthians 4:17, "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment"). St. Peter, like St. Paul, enforces the lesson that that light affliction, which seems sometimes so heavy, is sent in love and wisdom; the words, "if need be," imply his belief that these trials were necessary for his readers' salvation - they would work for them "a tar more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." The words, "ye are in heaviness," represent the aorist participle λυπηθέντες, having been put to grief; it refers to definite afflictions, known to St. Peter, which had been suffered by those to whom he is writing. The words, "manifold temptations," remind us of James 1:2. 1 Peter 1:6Ye greatly rejoice (ἀγαλλιᾶσθε)

The word is always employed in the New Testament for great or lively joy. See Matthew 5:12; Luke 1:47; Luke 10:21.

For a season (ὀλίγον)

More literally and correctly, as Rev., for a little while. Compare 1 Peter 5:10. The word is used nowhere else in the New Testament in this sense.

In heaviness (λυπηθέντες)

Lit., having been grieved. Rev., ye have been put to grief.

Through (ἐν)

But Rev., better, in; the preposition not being instrumental, but indicating the sphere or environment in which the grief operates.

Manifold (ποικίλοις)

Literally the word means variegated. It is used to describe the skin of a leopard, the different-colored veinings of marble, or an embroidered robe; and thence passes into the meaning of changeful, diversified, applied to the changing months or the variations of a strain of music. Peter employs it again, 1 Peter 4:10, of the grace of God, and James of temptations, as here (James 1:2). Compare πολυποίκιλος, manifold, in Ephesians 3:10, applied to the wisdom of God. The word gives a vivid picture of the diversity of the trials, emphasizing this idea rather than that of their number, which is left to be inferred.

Temptations (πειρασμοῖς)

Better, trials, as in margin of Rev., since the word includes more than direct solicitation to evil. It embraces all that goes to furnish a test of character. Compare James 1:2.

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