The Trinity in Scripture: 1 Peter 4:12-19 The Trinity and the Suffering of the Believer

After 1 Peter 1:2, the only other explicit reference to the Trinity in the book of 1 Peter occurs in 4:12-19.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

Peter concludes his instruction about suffering (3:13-4:19) by putting it into its Trinitarian perspective. As he has throughout the letter and in this section in particular, Peter puts forward the sufferings of Christ as an encouragement to believers (1:11, 20-21; 2:7, 21-24; 3:18; 4:1). The example of Christ’s sufferings has a two-fold comfort. First, that Christ did suffer and endured it. Secondly, that the sufferings of Christ were eclipsed by the glories that followed. Believers are thus reminded that suffering is endurable and that suffering is not the final word. First Peter is a book filled with hope-sustaining references to the coming glorious vindication of Christ (1:5, 7, 11, 13; 2:12; 4:13; 5:1, 4). Just as we share in Christ’s sufferings, we will share in his triumphs.

Peter then mentions the Holy Spirit with a unique designation, “The Spirit of glory.” Glory is an important word in 1 Peter (1:7, 11, 21, 24; 4:11, 13, 14; 5:1, 4, 10). As in this verse, glory is most often associated with Christ: the glory of his resurrection (1:21); the glory of the joy that comes from believing in him (1:8); the glory God receives through Christ as Christians utilize their gifts to serve one another (4:11); and the glory of his return (1:7; 4:13; 5:1; 5:4). 1 Peter 4:14 demonstrates that the Holy Spirit is also involved with this glory. While he is not called the Spirit of glory anywhere else in Scripture, his ministry is often associated with glory. In Ezekiel, the work of the Spirit resulted in the prophet witnessing “the glory of the LORD” (3:12; 43:5). In Acts 7:55 the filling of the Spirit allowed Stephen to see “the glory of God.” In comparison to the glory of Moses’ face at the giving of the law, the ministry of the Spirit has even more glory (1 Cor. 3:18). Included in this ministry of glory is the Spirit’s work in actually transforming us into the image of the Lord (1 Cor. 3:18). It is according to the riches of the Father’s glory that we are “strengthened with power through his Spirit” (Eph. 3:18). The presence of the Spirit is a glorious presence. So it is no wonder that he rests on those who suffer because of the name of Christ; for where Christ is there is the Spirit.

As in all things, the Father is in ultimate control of all suffering. We praise God that we suffer for the name of Christ which the Spirit blesses us for (4:16). We acknowledge God’s judgment of all things and realize that the world’s rejection of Christ is a rejection of God’s gospel (4:17). We suffer with the assurance that God is in control: he is Creator and everything we endure is according to his will. God is faithful: he never leaves forsakes his children but goes with them through the fire and flood (cf. Is. 43:2).

Even in the midst of suffering—especially in the midst of suffering—God’s people “continue to do good” because of the efficacious example of Christ; the glorious presence of the Spirit; and the faithful providence of the Father.