“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21)
Peter’s first epistle, written during a time of bitter persecution, deals with the matter of suffering. Peter reminds us that Christ suffered for us and that it is a privilege to suffer for Him. We are “called” to suffering and should “think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try” us (4:12).
Christ’s suffering was foretold (1:11), as is ours. We see that He had patience, humility, and submission in His sufferings (2:23) in order to bear “our sins in his own body on the tree” (2:24). He suffered unjustly, “the just for the unjust” (3:18), not only in His spirit, but “Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh” (4:1), being witnessed personally by Peter (5:1).
Since we are likewise “called” to suffer, Peter explains that we also will be “suffering wrongfully” (2:19) even “when ye do well” (v. 20). We will “suffer for righteousness’ sake” (3:14) and “for well doing” (v. 17). To avoid being taken by surprise, we are to prepare ourselves to suffer “in the flesh” (4:1), if need be. We will “be reproached for the name of Christ” (4:14) and should “not be ashamed” if we “suffer as a Christian” (4:16). It is much better to suffer in such a way than to have done something evil to deserve it (v. 15).
Suffering while following Christ’s example is “acceptable with God” (2:20), and even makes us “happy” (3:14; 4:14). Through it we can “glorify God on this behalf” (4:16) because it is “according to the will of God” (4:19). There is even a magnificent reward awaiting the sufferer (5:10).
In view of all of this, there is little wonder that Peter says, “Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (4:13). JDM