1 Peter 4:4
Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:
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(4) Wherein they think it strange.—The word “wherein” is used in exactly the same sense as in 1Peter 2:12; that is to say, it does not directly point back to the list of sins just named, but the grammatical antecedent is to be supplied in the participial clause which follows, thus: “In a particular where they cannot imagine your not being as bad as themselves, slanderously affirming that you are.” The only difficulty involved in this view is one which does not show in the English, viz., that the participle is attracted into the nominative case by the influence of the finite verb, instead of being (as it strictly should) in the genitive, agreeing with “of the Gentiles.” But we have seen before that St. Peter deals very freely with participles in the nominative case. (See 1Peter 2:12, where “having” is nominative, though in strictness it should be accusative, agreeing with “you, as strangers and pilgrims;” comp. also 1Peter 2:18; 1Peter 3:1; 1Peter 3:7; 1Peter 3:9; 1Peter 3:15-16.) Like instances are not wanting in classical Greek.

4:1-6 The strongest and best arguments against sin, are taken from the sufferings of Christ. He died to destroy sin; and though he cheerfully submitted to the worst sufferings, yet he never gave way to the least sin. Temptations could not prevail, were it not for man's own corruption; but true Christians make the will of God, not their own lust or desires, the rule of their lives and actions. And true conversion makes a marvellous change in the heart and life. It alters the mind, judgment, affections, and conversation. When a man is truly converted, it is very grievous to him to think how the time past of his life has been spent. One sin draws on another. Six sins are here mentioned which have dependence one upon another. It is a Christian's duty, not only to keep from gross wickedness, but also from things that lead to sin, or appear evil. The gospel had been preached to those since dead, who by the proud and carnal judgment of wicked men were condemned as evil-doers, some even suffering death. But being quickened to Divine life by the Holy Spirit, they lived to God as his devoted servants. Let not believers care, though the world scorns and reproaches them.Wherein they think it strange - In respect to which vices, they who were once your partners and accomplices now think it strange that you no longer unite with them. They do not understand the reasons why you have left them. They regard you as abandoning a course of life which has much to attract and to make life merry, for a severe and gloomy superstition. This is a true account of the feelings which the people of the world have when their companions and friends leave them and become Christians. It is to them a strange and unaccountable thing, that they give up the pleasures of the world for a course of life which to them seems to promise anything but happiness. Even the kindred of the Saviour regarded him as" beside himself," Mark 3:21, and Festus supposed that Paul was mad, Acts 26:24. There is almost nothing which the people of the world so little comprehend as the reasons which influence those with ample means of worldly enjoyment to leave the circles of gaiety and vanity, and to give themselves to the serious employments of religion. The epithets of fool, enthusiast, fanatic, are terms which frequently occur to the heart to denote this, if they are not always allowed to escape from the lips. The reasons why they esteem this so strange, are something like the following:

(1) They do not appreciate the motives which influence those who leave them. They feel that it is proper to enjoy the world, and to make life cheerful, and they do not understand what it is to act under a deep sense of responsibility to God, and with reference to eternity. They live for themselves. They seek happiness as the end and aim of life. They have never been accustomed to direct the mind onward to another world, and to the account which they must soon render at the bar of God. Unaccustomed to act from any higher motives than those which pertain to the present world, they cannot appreciate the conduct of those who begin to live and act for eternity.

(2) they do not yet see the guilt and folly of sinful pleasures. They are not convinced of the deep sinfulness of the human soul, and they think it strange that ethers should abandon a course of life which seems to them so innocent. They do not see why those who have been so long accustomed to these indulgences should have changed their opinions, and why they now regard those tilings as sinful which they once considered to be harmless.

(3) they do not see the force of the argument for religion. Not having the views of the unspeakable importance of religious truth and duty which Christians now have, they wonder that they should break off from the course of life which they formerly pursued, and separate from the mass of their fellow-men. Hence, they sometimes regard the conduct of Christians as amiable weakness; sometimes as superstition; sometimes as sheer folly; sometimes as madness; and sometimes as sourness and misanthropy. In all respects they esteem it strange:

"Lions and beasts of savage name.

Put on the nature of the lamb,

While the wide world esteems it strange,

Gaze, and admire, and hate the change."

That ye run not with them - There may be an allusion here to the well-known orgies of Bacchus, in which his votaries ran as if excited by the furies, and were urged on as if transported with madness. See Ovid, Metam. iii. 529, thus translated by Addison:

"For now, through prostrate Greece, young Bacchus rode,

Whilst howling matrons celebrate the god;

All ranks and sexes to his orgies ran,

To mingle in the pomp and fill the train,"

The language, however, will well describe revels of any sort, and at any period of the world.


4. Wherein—In respect to which abandonment of your former walk (1Pe 4:3).

run not with them—eagerly, in troops [Bengel].

excess—literally, "profusion"; a sink: stagnant water remaining after an inundation.


speaking evil—charging you with pride, singularity, hypocrisy, and secret crimes (1Pe 4:14; 2Pe 2:2). However, there is no "of you" in the Greek, but simply "blaspheming." It seems to me always to be used, either directly or indirectly, in the sense of impious reviling against God, Christ, or the Holy Spirit, and the Christian religion, not merely against men as such; Greek, 1Pe 4:14, below.

Wherein they think it strange: Greek, are strangers, i.e. carry themselves as strangers, wondering (as at some new thing) at the change the gospel hath made in you, and your no more conforming yourselves to their wicked courses; they seem to be in another world when among you.

That ye run not with them: this seems to signify the eagerness and vehemency of these Gentiles in pursuing their lusts, and may perhaps have some respect to the feasts of Bacchus, to which they were wont madly to run, and there commit the abominations mentioned 1 Peter 4:3.

To the same excess of riot; or, profuseness, or confusion, of riot or luxury, and then it suits well with that heap of sins before mentioned, whereof this seems to be comprehensive.

Speaking evil; Greek, blaspheming, or speaking evil;

of you is added by the translators: this may therefore be understood not only of their speaking evil of believers, as void of humanity and enemies to civil society, but of God and the Christian religion, as a dull, morose, sour way, and which they could not embrace without renouncing all mirth and cheerfulness.

Wherein they think it strange,.... Here the apostle points out what the saints must expect from the men of the world, by living a different life; and he chooses to mention it, to prevent discouragements, and that they might not be uneasy and distressed when they observed it; as that they would wonder at the change in their conversations, and look on it as something unusual, new, and unheard of, and treat them as strangers, yea, as enemies, on account of it:

that you run not with them into the same excess of riot; to their luxurious entertainments, their Bacchanalian feasts, and that profusion of lasciviousness, luxury, intemperance, and wickedness of all sorts, which, with so much eagerness of mind, and bodily haste, they rushed into; being amazed that they should not have the same taste for these things as before, and as themselves now had; and wondering how it was possible for them to abstain from them, and what that should be that should give them a different cast of mind, and turn of action:

speaking evil of you; and so the Syriac and Arabic versions supply "you" as we do; but in the Greek text it is only, "speaking evil of, or blaspheming"; God, Christ, religion, the Gospel, and the truths of it, and all good men; hating them because different from them, and because their lives reprove and condemn them; charging them with incivility, unsociableness, preciseness, and hypocrisy.

{3} Wherein they think it {c} strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:

(3) That we be not moved with the enemies perverse and slanderous judgments of us, we have to set against them that last judgment of God which remains for them: for none, whether they be then found living or were dead before, shall escape it.

(c) They think it a new and strange matter.

1 Peter 4:4. ἐν ᾧ ξενίζονται] Many interpreters apply ἐν ᾧ directly to the thought contained in the following clause: μὴ συντρεχόντωνἀνάχυσιν; Pott: ἐν τούτῳ δὲ ξενίζ., ὅτι μὴ συντρέχετε; incorrectly; ἐν ᾧ is connected rather with what precedes. Still it can hardly be right to explain, that as the perfects κατειργάσθαι and πεπορευμένους point to the fact, that they no longer live as they had lived, this was the matter of wonderment (de Wette, Wiesinger, Schott,[236] and in this commentary). It is more natural to take it thus

ἐν ᾧ equivalent to: “on the ground of this” (that is, because ye have thus lived), and the absolute genitive following as equal to: “inasmuch as ye run not with them,” so that the sense is: “on account of this, that ye thus walked in time past, your countrymen think it strange when ye do so no longer” (Hofm.); with ἐν ᾧ, comp. John 16:30 and Meyer in loc. The genitive absolute assigns, as it frequently does, the occasioning cause (Winer, p. 195 [E. T. 259]). The word ξενίζεσθαι (in its common meaning is equivalent to: “to be a guest;” thus it is used frequently in the N. T.) here means: “to be amazed,” “to feel astonishment;” comp. 1 Peter 4:12; Acts 17:20.[237]

μὴ συντρεχόντων ὑμῶν] “μή refers the matter to the amazement of the heathen.” συντρέχειν, Mark 6:33 and Acts 3:11 : to run together, confluere; here: “to run in company with any one.”

εἰς τὴν αὐτὴν τῆς ἀσωτίας ἀνάχυσιν] states the aim of the συντρ. With ἀσωτία, comp. Ephesians 5:18; Titus 1:6 : “lewd and dissolute conduct.” The word ἀνάχυσις is to be found in Aelian, de an. xvi. 15, used synonymously with ἐπίκλυσις, and Script, graec. ap. Luper. in Harpocr. with ὑπέρκλυσις; it means, accordingly: the overflowing. This sense is to be kept hold of, and τρέχειν εἰς ἀσωτίας to be explained of the haste with which dissoluteness is allowed to break forth and to overflow. According to Hofm., it denotes the doings of those who are in haste to pour out from them their indwelling lasciviousness, so that it overflows and spreads in all directions. From the explanation of Strabo, iii. p. 206 A: λέγονται ἀναχύσεις αἱ πληρούμεναι τῇ θαλάττῃ κοίλαδες ἐν πλημμυρίσι, it is unjustifiable to derive the meaning “sentina, mire” (2d ed. of this commentary), or “flood” (3d ed.), or “stream” (Schott).[238]

βλασφημοῦντες] characterizes their amazement more nearly as one which prompts them to speak evil of those whose conduct causes them astonishment (not “Christianity,” as Hofmann thinks). Schott justly remarks that “it is not the being struck with amazement in itself which is, strictly speaking, of significance here, but that definite form of it expressed by βλασφημοῦντες, placed last for the sake of emphasis.”

[236] It is true that “a surprise calling forth displeasure” (Schott) is meant; but this does not lie in the word itself.

[237] The object. to ξενίζεσθαι is either in the dative, as ver. 12 (Polyb. iii. 68. 9: ἐξενίζοντο τῷ τὶ συμβεβηκὸς εἶναι παρὰ τὴν προσδοκίαν), or is subjoined by means of διά τι or ἐπί τινι.

[238] Hesych. and Suidas interpret ἀνάχυσις also by βλακεία, ἔκλυσις; thus Gerhard: virium exolutio, mollities; according to de Wette it means: profusio, wantonness; but it is better to keep to the above signification.

1 Peter 4:4. ἐν ᾧ, whereat, i.e. (i.) at your change of life (1 Peter 4:2 f.) explained below by μὴ συντρεχ.… or (ii.) on which ground, because you lived as they did.—ξενίζονται, are surprised, as in 1 Peter 4:12, where this use of ξ. (elsewhere in N.T. entertain, except Acts 17:20, ξενίζοντα) is explained by ὡς ξένουσυμβαίνοντος. Polybius has it in the same sense followed by dative, acc., διά with acc. and ἐπί with dative. So in Josephus Adam was surprised (ξενιζόμενον) that the animals had mates and he none, Ant., i. 1, 2) and the making of garments surprised God (Acts 17:4).—συντρεχόντων, from Psalm 50:18, LXX, if thou sawest a thief, συνέτρεχες αὐτῷ, and with adulterers thou didst set thy portion; where תרץ consent has been rendered as if from רוץ run. It thus corresponds to St. Paul’s συνευδοκεῖν (Romans 1:32).—ἀσωτίας, profligacy. According to Aristotle . is the excess of liberality, but is applied in complex sense to τοὺς ἀκρατεῖς καὶ εἰς ἀκολασίαν δαπανηρούς. Prodigality is in fact a destruction of oneself as well as one’s property (Eth. Nic., iv. 13).—ἀσελγείαιπότοις. Violence and lust are classed with drunkenness, which breeds and fosters them. . is wanton violence as well as licentiousness. So the classic Christian example of the word is exactly justified; see Luke 15:13, the Prodigal Son squandered his substance, living ἀσώτως.—ἀνάχυσιν, excess, overflow, properly of water (Philo ii. 508 f., description of evolution of air from fire, water from air, land from water). In Strabo (iii. 1, 4, etc.) = estuary. St. Peter is still thinking of the narrative of the Deluge, which was the fit punishment of an inundation of prodigality.—βλασφημοῦντες, put last for emphasis and to pave the way for 1 Peter 4:5 in accordance with the saying, for every idle word (cf. Romans 3:8). The abuse is directed against the apostate heathens and implies blasphemy in its technical sense as opposed to the giving glory to God (1 Peter 2:12).

4. wherein they think it strange] It may be worth noting that the same word is used to express (1) coming as a stranger (Acts 10:6; Acts 10:18; Acts 21:16) and (2) as here, in 1 Peter 4:12 and Acts 17:20, counting a person or thing strange. The “wherein” points to the change of life implied in the previous verse. “In which matter, in regard to which.” The words imply a change like that of 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. The heathen found that his old companions, even his Jewish companions, had acquired, when they became Christians, a new way of looking at things. Conscience was more sensitive. The standard of honesty, purity, and temperance was higher than before. It is not hard, even from our own experience, to picture to ourselves the surprise of the heathen when he found his friend refusing an invitation to a banquet, shrinking from contact with the prostitutes of Greek cities, or when there, passing the wine-cup untasted.

to the same excess of riot] The Greek words are singularly forcible. That for “excess,” not found elsewhere in the New Testament, means primarily the “confluence” of waters—then the cistern, sink, or cesspool into which waters have flowed. The underlying metaphor implied in the words reminds us of Juvenal’s (Sat. iii. 62)

“Jam pridem Syrus in Tiberim defluxit Orontes”

(Syria’s Orontes into Tiber flows),

when he wishes to paint Rome as the meeting-point of the world’s vices. That for “riot” is used, in the adverbial form, of the life of the prodigal in Luke 15:13, and as a noun here and in Ephesians 5:18; Titus 1:6. Compounded as it is of the negative particle and of the root of the verb “to save,” it may mean either (1) the state in which a man no longer thinks of saving anything, health, money, character, in the indulgence of his passions, or (2) one in which there is no longer any hope of his being saved himself from utter ruin. The former is probably the dominant meaning of the word. In either case it indicates the basest form of profligacy.

speaking evil of you] More accurately, reviling. The word is that which is more commonly translated “blaspheming” in direct reference to God. Even here, and in Acts 13:45; Acts 18:6, where it is used in reference to men, the other or darker sense can scarcely be thought of as altogether absent. Men blasphemed God when they reviled His servants.

1 Peter 4:4. Ἐν ᾧ, in which) while you determine that it is sufficient to have lived badly [in past time].—συντρεχόντων, running together with them) in a troop, eagerly.—τὴν αὐτὴν) the same as they do up to this day, and as you did formerly with them.—ἀνάχυσιν, confusion) This is described in 1 Peter 4:3.—βλασφημοῦντες, speaking evil of you) uttering against you reproaches, of pride, singularity, secret impiety, etc.

Verse 4. - Wherein they think it strange. Wherein, in which course of life, in the fact that the Christians once lived like the Gentiles, but now are so wholly changed. The word ξενίζεσθαι means commonly to be a guest, to live as a stranger in another's house (Acts 10:6, 18; Acts 21:16); here it means to be astonished, as at some strange sight, as such guests would no doubt sometimes be (comp. ver. 12 and Acts 17:20). That ye run not with them to the same excess of riot. The Greek words are very strong, "while ye run not with them," as if the Gentiles were running greedily in troops to riot and ruin. The word for "excess" (ἀνάχυσις) is found here only in the New Testament; it means" an overflowing;" the rendering sentina ("a sewer" or "cesspool") is doubtful. The word rendered "riot" (ἀδωτία) occurs also in Ephesians 5:18 and Titus 1:6, and is used in the adverbial form in describing the recklessness of the prodigal son (Luke 15:13). It means that lost state in which a man is given up to self-indulgence, and saves neither reputation, earthly position, nor his immortal soul. Speaking evil of you; better, perhaps, translated literally, blaspheming. The words "of you" are not in the original; they who revile Christians for well-doing are blasphemers, they speak really against God. 1 Peter 4:4Run not with them

"In a troop" (Bengel); like a band of revellers. See above. Compare Ovid's description of the Bacchic rites:

"Lo, Bacchus comes! and with the festive cries

Resound the fields; and mixed in headlong rout,

Men, matrons, maids, paupers, and nobles proud,

To the mysterious rites are borne along."

Metamorphoses, iii., 528-530.

Excess (ἀνάχυσιν)

Only here in New Testament. Lit., pouring forth. Rev. has flood in margin. The word is used in classical Greek of the tides which fill the hollows.

Riot (ἀσωτιάς)

From ἀ, not, and σώζω, to same. Lit., unsavingness, prodigality, wastefulness; and thence of squandering on one's own debased appetites, whence it takes the sense of dissoluteness profligacy. In Luke 15:13, the kindred adverb ἀσώτως, is used. The prodigal is described as scattering his substance, to which is added, living wastefully (ζῶν ἀσώτως). Compare Ephesians 5:18; Titus 1:6.

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