1 Peter 4:7, 8
But the end of all things is at hand: be you therefore sober, and watch to prayer.…
But the end of all things is at hand, etc. These words, which are part of the paragraph that ends with the eleventh verse, naturally follow the exhortation on vers. 3-6 - an exhortation to pure living, and this because our past life is long enough for sin and its vanities; notwithstanding that sinful men think your separation from them in spirit and conduct strange; and to pure living, because Christ's judgment and Christ's gospel are for all. The exact point in the argument is this - that even to the dead was the gospel preached; and this is a deep fathomless mystery of justice and of grace. But however that may be, you are to remember and to realize, that "the end of all things is at hand," etc. Here we note -
I. THE PREDICTION OF A SOLEMN FACT. "The end of all things is at hand." There are, as every student of the New Testament Epistles knows, great diversities of opinion as to the aspect of the transitoriness of all things on which Peter was now dwelling, and from which he was enforcing great lessons. It is clear that not only here, but all through his Epistles, he was deeply impressed with the transitoriness of all things. Glance back at the first chapter, and on: Sojourners - " a little while;" "time of your sojourning;' "All flesh is grass," etc. "Sojourners and pilgrims in the day of visitation." Peter seems to have expected now a termination of human history - at least an approaching end of the age. He was old now, nearly seventy. He came to Rome on the eve of the conflagration of the city by Nero. He felt himself growing old - a prisoner hounded on to the death of martyrdom like the Master who preceded him; and, getting to the end of all things, discerns in the corruptions of the Roman empire indications of ruin - "the end of all things." He discerns, too, the end of Judaism, of ceremonial, of institutions; germs perishing; and the scattering of Christians; the end of all things to the Church - personally, in the empire, in systems. Whether "the end" be "the end of the world" or "the end of the age, that is approaching, so far as we and all with whom we daily have to do are concerned, "the end of all things is at hand." In our persons, homes, institutions, in the world itself, are elements of decay, indications of transitoriness. Yesterday, honors, old age, are carried to the grave; tomorrow, youth and hope - one shadow on all households; one and another and another join the majority. "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?"
II. THE CONSEQUENT CALL TO THE HIGHEST PERSONAL AND SOCIAL DUTY. The thought of the termination of our connection with all things produces different impressions on different minds. Epicureans both ancient and modern, as represented by Athens and England, have said, "Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die!" "A short life, and a merry one," is the maxim some formulate from their impression of all things passing away. Wiser, deeper, Heaven-taught natures draw an altogether other lesson. Here it is:
1. Personal. "Be of sound mind and sober," etc. - an echo (especially as the old version puts it of what Peter had heard from his Lord on the last evening of his life, and in discourses in which he portrays the great days of judgment. A memory which saddened him; for he had not watched "one hour" which he would give worlds to have back. The bitter experience of his fall had taught him his deepest need. "Sound mind;" not volatile and fickle, and perhaps impulsive and fanatic. "Sober Another word than that which clears gluttony and drunkenness from the experiences of the Christian life; all temperance, all self-control, free from the intoxication of all inordinate excitement, whether the cause be alcohol or gold, appetite or ambition. Unto prayer. This is the point to be touched, the focus through which life shall pass - the concert-pitch note of prayerfulness. Prayer is both a means and an end. Here it is an end. Such nearness to Heaven is the secret of confidence in and submission to God.
2. Social. Above all things." This is all-comprehending and crowning social duty. Love alone - all alone. John, Paul, Peter, James.
(1) The character of love. Fervent or ardent. The cordial grasp of the hand; the tried and steady gaze of the eye; the eager step. of the foot. Unservile, unremitting; to mix and mingle with men whose vices jar, tastes annoy, cannot watch, nor yet love.
(2) The effect of love. "Covereth." Some thought the text "justification by love," covers a man's own sin - atones for it. Forgo such teaching; though "forgive as we forgive" shows that the condition of enjoying forgiveness is a true test of forgiveness - covers the sins of others.
(2) puts best interpretation upon;
(4) prevails by not provoking, not differing; -
a better, truer spirit. As you have seen ivy covering twisted gnarled oak, defaced and scarred ruins, so let love be ever green, covering the multitude of sins that defame and deface and scar human nature on every side of you. - U.R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.