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17For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, what will be the end for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

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17 For the time is come, or, Since also the time is come. He amplifies the consolation, which the goodness of the cause for which we suffer brings to us, while we are afflicted for the name of Christ. For this necessity, he says, awaits the whole Church of God, not only to be subject to the common miseries of men, but especially and mainly to be chastised by the hand of God. Then, with more submission, ought persecutions for Christ to be endured. For except we desire to be blotted out from the number of the faithful, we must submit our backs to the scourges of God. Now, it is a sweet consolation, that God does not execute his judgments on us as on others, but that he makes us the representatives of his own Son, when we do not suffer except for his cause and for his name.

Moreover, Peter took this sentence from the common and constant teaching of Scripture; and this seems more probable to me than that a certain passage, as some think, is referred to. It was formerly usual with the Lord, as all the prophets witness, to exhibit the first examples of his chastisements in his own people, as the head of a family corrects his own children rather than those of strangers. (Isaiah 10:12.) For though God is the judge of the whole world, yet he would have his providence to be especially acknowledged in the government of his own Church. Hence, when he declares that he would rise up to be the judge of the whole world, he adds that this would be after he had completed his work on Mount Sion. He indeed puts forth his hand indifferently against his own people and against strangers; for we see that both are in common subjected to adversities; and if a comparison be made, he seems in a manner to spare the reprobate, and to be severe towards the elect. Hence the complaints of the godly, that the wicked pass their life in continual pleasures, and delight themselves with wine and the harp, and at length descend without pains in an instant into the grave — that fatness covers their eyes — that they are exempt from troubles — that they securely and joyfully spend their life, looking down with contempt on others, so that they dare to set their mouth against heaven. (Job 21:13; Psalm 73:3-9.) In short, God so regulates his judgments in this world, that he fattens the wicked for the day of slaughter. He therefore passes by their many sins, and, as it were, connives at them. In the meantime, he restores by corrections his own children, for whom he has a care, to the right way, whenever they depart from it.

In this sense it is that Peter says that judgment begins at the house of God; for judgment includes all those punishments which the Lord inflicts on men for their sins, and whatever refers to the reformation of the world.

But why does he say that it was now the time? He means, as I think, what the prophets declare concerning his own time, that it especially belonged to Christ’s kingdom, that the beginning of the reformation should be in the Church. Hence Paul says that Christians, without the hope of a resurrection, would of all men be the most miserable, (1 Corinthians 15:19;) and justly so, because, while others indulge themselves without fear, the faithful continually sigh and groan; while God connives at the sins of others, and suffers them to continue torpid, he deals rigidly with his own people, and subjects them to the discipline of the cross.




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