1 Peter 3:17
For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) For it is better.—There is a kind of ironical suppression in this comparison.

If the will of God be so.—A strikingly reverent phrase in the original, If the will of God should will it. This is, of course, to be taken only with the word “suffer,” which itself means, as in 1Peter 3:14, to suffer capitally. St. Peter is thinking of the legal process of 1Peter 3:15-16, coming to a verdict of “guilty.” He was himself daily expecting such a death.

For well doing.—Better, perhaps, as well doers. It does not necessarily mean, in the Greek, that the well doing was the reason of the suffering, but simply that it accompanied it.

1 Peter 3:17-18. For it is infinitely better, if the will of God be so — That you should suffer; and his permissive will in this respect appears from his providence; that ye suffer for well-doing, rather than for evil-doing — The testimony of a good conscience, and the sense of the divine favour, affording the no blest supports in the former case; whereas, in the latter, the severest torments that can be endured are those which the guilty mind inflicts upon itself; to which may be added, that while we suffer for the truth, we have the comfort of reflecting that we follow our blessed Redeemer, which is another most powerful source of consolation. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins — Not his own, but for ours, to make an atonement for them; the just for the unjust — Or the holy for the unholy; for the word just here denotes a person who has fulfilled not barely social duties, but every branch of righteousness; and the word unjust signifies not only those who have wronged their neighbours, but those who have transgressed any of the commands of God; that he might bring us to God — Might reconcile God to us, and us to God; and might obtain for us his gracious favour here, his Holy Spirit, to renew us after his image, and might bring us to his blissful presence hereafter; by the same steps of suffering and of glory. It is justly observed by Macknight, that in the sufferings of Christ we have a clear proof that sufferings are no evidence of the wickedness of the sufferer, nor of the badness of the cause for which he suffers; and that the power of God, visible in Christ’s resurrection, affords to all, who lose their lives for the gospel, a sure ground of consolation and hope that God will raise them up at the last day. Being put to death in the flesh — In the human nature; or in respect of that frail, mortal life he had on earth; but quickened Ζωοποιηθεις, made alive; by the Spirit — The Spirit of God and of Christ. “As Christ was conceived in the womb of his mother by the Holy Spirit, (Luke 1:35,) so he was raised from the dead by the same Spirit; on which account he is said (1 Timothy 3:16) to have been justified by the Spirit; and (Hebrews 9:14) to have offered himself without spot to God, through the eternal Spirit. It is true the resurrection of Christ is ascribed to the Father, 1 Corinthians 6:14; 2 Corinthians 4:14; Ephesians 1:20; but that is not inconsistent with Peter’s affirmation in this verse;” for the Father may, with the strictest propriety, be said to have done what his Spirit did, especially as it was done to show that God acknowledged Jesus to be his Son. And our Lord’s words, (John 2:19,) Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up, are to be understood in the same manner. He raised it up by that Spirit which proceeded from him as well as from the Father.

3:14-22 We sanctify God before others, when our conduct invites and encourages them to glorify and honour him. What was the ground and reason of their hope? We should be able to defend our religion with meekness, in the fear of God. There is no room for any other fears where this great fear is; it disturbs not. The conscience is good, when it does its office well. That person is in a sad condition on whom sin and suffering meet: sin makes suffering extreme, comfortless, and destructive. Surely it is better to suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing, whatever our natural impatience at times may suggest. The example of Christ is an argument for patience under sufferings. In the case of our Lord's suffering, he that knew no sin, suffered instead of those who knew no righteousness. The blessed end and design of our Lord's sufferings were, to reconcile us to God, and to bring us to eternal glory. He was put to death in respect of his human nature, but was quickened and raised by the power of the Holy Spirit. If Christ could not be freed from sufferings, why should Christians think to be so? God takes exact notice of the means and advantages people in all ages have had. As to the old world, Christ sent his Spirit; gave warning by Noah. But though the patience of God waits long, it will cease at last. And the spirits of disobedient sinners, as soon as they are out of their bodies, are committed to the prison of hell, where those that despised Noah's warning now are, and from whence there is no redemption. Noah's salvation in the ark upon the water, which carried him above the floods, set forth the salvation of all true believers. That temporal salvation by the ark was a type of the eternal salvation of believers by baptism of the Holy Spirit. To prevent mistakes, the apostle declares what he means by saving baptism; not the outward ceremony of washing with water, which, in itself, does no more than put away the filth of the flesh, but that baptism, of which the baptismal water formed the sign. Not the outward ordinance, but when a man, by the regeneration of the Spirit, was enabled to repent and profess faith, and purpose a new life, uprightly, and as in the presence of God. Let us beware that we rest not upon outward forms. Let us learn to look on the ordinances of God spiritually, and to inquire after the spiritual effect and working of them on our consciences. We would willingly have all religion reduced to outward things. But many who were baptized, and constantly attended the ordinances, have remained without Christ, died in their sins, and are now past recovery. Rest not then till thou art cleansed by the Spirit of Christ and the blood of Christ. His resurrection from the dead is that whereby we are assured of purifying and peace.For it is better, if the will of God be so - That is, if God sees it to be necessary for your good that you should suffer, it is better that you should suffer for doing well than for crime. God often sees it to be necessary that his people should suffer. There are effects to be accomplished by affliction which can be secured in no other way; and some of the happiest results on the soul of a Christian, some of the brightest traits of character, are the effect of trials. But it should be our care that our sufferings should not be brought upon us for our own crimes or follies. No man can promote his own highest good by doing wrong, and then enduring the penalty which his sin incurs; and no one should do wrong with any expectation that it may be overruled for his own good. If we are to suffer, let it be by the direct hand of God, and not by any fault of our own. If we suffer then, we shall have the testimony of our own conscience in our favor, and the feeling that we may go to God for support. If we suffer for our faults, in addition to the outward pain of body, we shall endure the severest pangs which man can suffer - those which the guilty mind inflicts on itself. 17. better—One may object, I would not bear it so ill if I had deserved it. Peter replies, it is better that you did not deserve it, in order that doing well and yet being spoken against, you may prove yourself a true Christian [Gerhard].

if the will of God be so—rather as the optative is in the oldest manuscripts, "if the will of God should will it so." Those who honor God's will as their highest law (1Pe 2:15) have the comfort to know that suffering is God's appointment (1Pe 4:19). So Christ Himself; our inclination does not wish it.

If the will of God be so; viz. that ye must suffer; intimating that this is an argument for their patience and submission in their sufferings, and a ground of comfort to them, that they are led into them by the providence of God, (not by their own folly or rashness), and have him for a witness and judge both of their cause and deportment.

For it is better, if the will of God be so,.... For all things are ordered by the will of God, even all the sufferings and afflictions of the saints; and which is a reason why they ought to be patiently submitted to, and bore: and "better" it is, more honourable and profitable,

that ye suffer for well doing; for believing in Christ, professing him and his Gospel, giving a free and open reason for so doing, and for exercising a good conscience, and living godly in Christ Jesus:

than for evil doing; as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or a busy body in other men's matters, 1 Peter 4:15.

{17} For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

(17) A reason which stands upon two general rules of Christianity, which nonetheless all men do not allow. The one is, if we must suffer afflictions, it is better to suffer wrongfully than rightfully: the other is this, because we are so afflicted not by accident, but by the will of our God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Peter 3:17. κρεῖττον γάρ] γάρ gives the ground of the exhortation contained in συνείδ. ἔχ. ἀγ.; the explanation of this κρεῖττον is contained in chap. 1 Peter 2:19 ff.

ἀγαθοποιοῦνταςπάσχειν] The connection between these two ideas is the same as that between ἀγαθοποιοῦντες καὶ πάσχοντες, chap. 1 Peter 2:20, the participles giving not simply the special circumstances, as Hofmann asserts, but the reason of the suffering; this Schott denies as regards the first member: ἀγαθοποιοῦντας.[192]

The parenthetical clause: ΕἸ ΘΈΛΟΙ ΤῸ ΘΈΛΗΜΑ ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ, belongs to ΠΆΣΧΕΙΝ; the optative denotes the possibility: “if such should be the will of God

On the pleonasm: θέλοι τὸ ΘΈΛΗΜΑ, see Winer, p. 562 [E. T. 755]. The thought here is not quite the same as that of chap. 1 Peter 2:20. There, chief stress is laid on ὙΜΟΜΈΝΕΙΝ, to which no special prominence is here given. But, as in the former case the exhortation is enforced by reference to Christ, i.e. to His sufferings, so is it here also, in the following paragraph on to the end of the chapter, only that in this passage the typical character of His sufferings is less emphasized, whilst the exaltation which followed them is brought specially forward.

[192] It must, indeed, be noted that those sufferings which the believers, as such, have to endure from the unbelieving world, overtake them because of their ἀγαθοποιεῖν; Christians who, though confessing Christ, at the same time live entirely like the children of the world, are well liked by the world.

1 Peter 3:17. κρεῖττον, cf. 1 Peter 2:19 f., where χάρις κλέος correspond to μισθὸν περισσόν of the sources.—εἰ θέλοι τὸ θέλημα θεοῦ. Again optative implies that it is a purely hypothetical case (cf. 1 Peter 3:14). For the semi-personification of the will of God compare Ephesians 1:11, where the θέλημα has a βουλή; so Paul is Apostle through the will of God (1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1). For the pleonastic expression cf. the verbal parallel ἐάν τις θέλῃ τὸ θέλημα αὐτοῦ ποιεῖν, John 7:17. So God’s patience was waiting (1 Peter 3:20).

17. For it is better, if the will of God be so] Literally, the Greek presenting a kind of emphatic pleonasm, if the will of God should so will. The Apostle falls back upon the thought of chap. 1 Peter 2:20. Men feel most aggrieved when they suffer wrongfully. They are told that it is precisely in such sufferings that they should find ground for rejoicing. These, at any rate, cannot fail to work out for them some greater good.

1 Peter 3:17. Κρεῖττον, better) happier, in innumerable ways.—εἰ, if) And this will is recognised from those things which befall us.—τὸ θέλημα, the will) which is kind.—τοῦ Θεοῦ, of God) For our inclination does not wish it. Comp. the words of Christ to Peter, John 21:18.

Verse 17. - For it is better. St. Peter meets the common objection that suffering could be borne more easily if it were deserved; the Christian must take the cross, if it comes, as from God, sent for his good (comp. 1 Peter 2:19, 20). If the will of God be so; literally, if the will of God should so will. Θέλημα denotes the will in itself; θέλειν, its active operation (Wirier, 3:65. β). That ye suffer for well-doing, than for evil-doing. The construction is participial, as in 1 Peter 2:20. As there, the participle expresses, not merely the circumstances, but the cause of the suffering; they would have to suffer, not simply while they were doing well, but because they did Well. 1 Peter 3:17If the will of God be so (εἰ θέλοι τὸ θέλημα τοῦ Θεοῦ)

More literally, as Rev., preserving the play upon the word will, if the will of God should so will.

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