The Attitude of Reconciliation- 1 Peter 4:1

In our previous post, we saw that our reconciliation to God, made possible by Christ on the cross, makes it possible us to live life as God intends, life united to Him just as Jesus lived. We will now see how we are to go about living out that reconciliation, and we will turn to 1 Peter in order to do so. We will begin in 1 Peter 3:18, in which we find that, “Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God”. The Greek word translated to “bring to” here is prosago, literally to “provide access to”. Peter tells us here the same thing Paul tells us in Romans 5, that the death of Christ made it possible for those who have been separated from God due to their sin to be reconciled to God and live life united with Him. After a brief interlude in verses 19-22, Peter then tells us how we can live out the reconciliation that has been made possible. He does so in chapter 4, in verses 1-12. This post will examine verse one in some detail, since it is what takes place in verse one which makes possible what Peter will describe in verses 2-11. He begins verse one with a therefore, linking this back to 3:18, and telling us that since we have been reconciled, since our reconciliation is an established fact, the following will tell us how we are to live as a result of that fact. He begins by reminding us that Jesus Christ “suffered in His body”. What he means here is that Jesus was willing to undergo physical hardship and discomfort in order to do the will of God in His life, with the primary example of this being the cross itself. We are then told by Peter to “arm ourselves with the same attitude”, in other words, the way in which we are able to live as Jesus did is by adopting the same “attitude” which He had. The Greek word translated “attitude” here is ennoia, to “think in a new way”. So we learn here that the fundamental fruit of reconciliation is a new way of thinking, a new way of seeing the world, a new way of understanding reality. As we will see in verses 2-11, this new attitude is in direct contrast to the attitude of the world, and also to the attitude which we used to have before we were reconciled. This attitude is given to us at the moment in which we accept the reconciliation provided for us by Christ. This is seen in Peter’s use of the phrase “arm yourselves” here. This phrase can be literally translated as “equip yourselves”, and we can only equip ourselves with something we already have. The equipment has been provided to us by Christ, we already possess it and must continually choose to arm ourselves with what we have been equipped with, which is how the construction in the Greek leads us to understand this phrase. This attitude is then described as “he who has suffered in his body”, and it is exactly the same attitude which Christ displayed, the attitude of being willing to undergo physical difficulty and hardship in order to do the will of God. We are then told that he who is willing to do this so “done with sin”. This translation in the NIV is a bit misleading, for the use of the word “done with” here could lead us to conclude that a life of sinless perfection is possible, and it clearly is not for us, but only for Jesus. The Greek translated “done with” is pauo, “to restrain”. This would then be better translated as is able to “restrain himself”, and we find it here in the middle voice, which tells us that we are enabled to restrain ourselves only with God’s help, we are unable to restrain ourselves on our own. The Greek word sin here is a noun, not a verb, and it tells us we are not able to restrain ourselves completely from “sinning” (an action), but from “sin”. What we find here is that God deals not first with the fruit, but with the root, that He first desires to correct our attitude, our thinking, and when the thinking is corrected, the behavior will naturally follow. God’s desire for us in reconciling us to Himself is to conform us to the image of Christ, and we find here that the first step in that process, the first thing we must “equip ourselves” with, is a new attitude. Peter tells here that this “attitude” is given by God to all who have been reconciled, and it is as we choose to embrace this attitude adjustment and think in this new way, we will gradually be “done with sin” and become conformed to the image of Christ, and we find here that this conformation begins with a change in attitude, which he will describe for us in verses 2-11.

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