4:7-11 The destruction of the Jewish church and nation, foretold by our Saviour, was very near. And the speedy approach of death and judgment concerns all, to which these words naturally lead our minds. Our approaching end, is a powerful argument to make us sober in all worldly matters, and earnest in religion. There are so many things amiss in all, that unless love covers, excuses, and forgives in others, the mistakes and faults for which every one needs the forbearance of others, Satan will prevail to stir up divisions and discords. But we are not to suppose that charity will cover or make amends for the sins of those who exercise it, so as to induce God to forgive them. The nature of a Christian's work, which is high work and hard work, the goodness of the Master, and the excellence of the reward, all require that our endeavours should be serious and earnest. And in all the duties and services of life, we should aim at the glory of God as our chief end. He is a miserable, unsettled wretch, who cleaves to himself, and forgets God; is only perplexed about his credit, and gain, and base ends, which are often broken, and which, when he attains, both he and they must shortly perish together. But he who has given up himself and his all to God, may say confidently that the Lord is his portion; and nothing but glory through Christ Jesus, is solid and lasting; that abideth for ever.
7. Resuming the idea in 1Pe 4:5.
the end of all things—and therefore also of the wantonness (1Pe 4:3, 4) of the wicked, and of the sufferings of the righteous [Bengel]. The nearness meant is not that of mere "time," but that before the Lord; as he explains to guard against misapprehension, and defends God from the charge of procrastination: We live in the last dispensation, not like the Jews under the Old Testament. The Lord will come as a thief; He is "ready" (1Pe 4:5) to judge the world at any moment; it is only God's long-suffering and His will that the Gospel should be preached as a witness to all nations, that induces Him to lengthen out the time which is with Him still as nothing.
sober—"self-restrained." The opposite duties to the sins in 1Pe 4:3 are here inculcated. Thus "sober" is the opposite of "lasciviousness" (1Pe 4:3).
watch—Greek, "be soberly vigilant"; not intoxicated with worldly cares and pleasures. Temperance promotes wakefulness or watchfulness, and both promote prayer. Drink makes drowsy, and drowsiness prevents prayer.
prayer—Greek, "prayers"; the end for which we should exercise vigilance.