The below sermon on the 1 Peter 4:12-29 teaches us about suffering. These free inductive notes are intended as supplement to your own study, not a replacement. Feel free to copy, print, or share them. These notes can be helpful for individual study of the Word or for small group Bible studies. We hope your understanding of God’s Word is deeper from them.

1 Peter 4:12-19

1 Peter 4:12-19


A researcher writing for Christian History magazine estimated that 70 million Christians have been martyred for their faith. The International Institute for Religious Freedom estimates that 8,500 believers continue to be martyred each year.

Around the world believers are facing persecution for their faith. It began shortly after Jesus’ Resurrection with Stephen and it continues today.

Today we continue our study of 1 Peter. Peter knew that the saints in the Roman Empire would be facing persecution, so he shared with them five principles about suffering. These same truths still apply today.

In our passage we will learn about:

  • The certainty of suffering

  • The purpose of suffering

  • The attitude in suffering

  • The cause for suffering

  • The reaction to suffering

Read passage –

Let’s pray –

The certainty of suffering (12)

Dear friends… Peter cares deeply for the believers. He loves them. He has a heart of compassion for them. It is this empathy that motivates him to tell them about the suffering which they should expect. He tells them so that they will be ready and prepared when they face it. Not if they face it, but when.

They were facing and would continue to face a “fiery ordeal.” 1 Peter was written about 63 AD. Nero was the emperor. About a year later some intense persecutions would begin culminating in 67 AD.

The following is an eye-witness account from the Roman historian Tacitus, ““Therefore, to stop the rumor [that he had set Rome on fire], he [Emperor Nero] falsely charged with guilt, and punished with the most fearful tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who were [generally] hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of that name, was put to death as a criminal by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea, in the reign of Tiberius, but the pernicious superstition – repressed for a time, broke out yet again, not only through Judea

In their very deaths they were made the subjects of sport: for they were covered with the hides of wild beasts, and worried to death by dogs, or nailed to crosses, or set fire to, and when the day waned, burned to serve for the evening lights. Nero offered his own garden players for the spectacle, and exhibited a Circensian game, indiscriminately mingling with the common people in the dress of a charioteer, or else standing in his chariot.”

Some of Peter’s readers would only face some normal level of persecution that believers face in all times and places in a pagan world. Scorning, mocking, a laughing behind their backs, slander, localized actions of hatred. But others would face far worse.

To all of them, Peter says, “do not be surprised!” and “as though some strange thing were happening.” Believers should know that suffering and persecution is not only possible or even likely, but it is certain. Read cross-references

Philippians 1:29 – For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him,

2 Timothy 3:12 – Will be persecuted…

These verses are clear that believers who are living for God should expect persecution. God did not want the believers in the first century to be surprised and He doesn’t want you to be surprised either.

There is a popular teaching that God wants believers to be rich and live a smooth, healthy life. It is called the health and wealth gospel. Many people follow it. A survey found that 31% of Americans believe that “if you give God money He will bless you with more” and 61% believe that God wants us to be prosperous.

One such preacher said, “Some people say it’s about peace, joy and love. NO!! It’s about MONEY!

And another famous one (Kenneth Copeland) said, “money come to be now.”

The idea that God wants us to live a carefree, comfortable life and that if we aren’t it is because of our sin, is not a new one. The thinking was already common at the time of Jesus. When they encountered a blind man, the disciples thought his suffering must be due to someone’s sin. What did Jesus tell them? He said it was not due to sin, but so that God would be glorified. God allowed suffering in this man’s life for a greater purpose and it was not due to his sin. The idea that a believer will live a prosperous life without any suffering and that God automatically wants to heal all people of all their sicknesses and take away all their problems, is a lie. Do you know how I know it is a lie? The Bible tells me so.

Peter says, “don’t be surprised as if it is some strange thing!” It is not strange. It is normal. It is expected.

How does this apply to us?

Brothers and sisters, today you should be very clear to know that following Jesus is a tough road. It is called a narrow gate for a reason. He does promise us a life of ease and comfort. He instead warns us of suffering and persecution. He tells you ahead of time so that you can be informed. So the application is two-fold:

  • Don’t fall away when trials come because “you didn’t know” following Jesus would be so hard. He tells you ahead of time so that you can be ready.

  • When you share the gospel with others, do not only highlight the benefits of following Jesus and gloss over the difficulties. Tell them that following Jesus is not easy. Tell them there will be difficulties. That way they can develop a deep root and not be swayed when those storms come.

II. The purpose of suffering (12)

Why do we have to suffer? God loves His children, and He is all powerful so why does He allow this? Verse 12 tells us the answer. It says it is for our “testing.”

Proverbs 17:3 says, “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.”

Just as silver and gold are refined by a fire so we are refined by the fiery trials, suffering, or persecution we may face. Some people ask, “what good can possibly come from suffering?”

  • Suffering can remind us to be humble. When everything is going well and we are successful and our life is smooth, it is easy to become prideful and start to take credit for the good things in our life. When things become difficult we are less prideful.

  • Suffering reminds us of our dependence on the Lord. In times of suffering, we realize that we cannot solve our problems ourselves. Have you ever asked people what they believe and they said, “I believe in myself?” It is very common. But if you ask the same person facing great suffering what they believe it is much less likely they will say “I believe in myself.” In those times all we can do is put our hope in the Lord.

  • Testing reveals the real faith of real believers. God did not test Abraham by asking him to sacrifice Isaac to find out if Abraham had faith or not. He did not test Abraham to figure out the limit of Abraham’s faith. He knows everything. He knew how Abraham would respond. He tested Abraham so that Abraham would be clear about his own faith. By putting his faith into action on such a difficult test, Abraham’s faith was proved to himself. This solidified his faith and helped him to know exactly where he stood, which was firmly on God’s side. God tests us for the same reason. Some who do not really have faith will fall away. But those genuine believers who respond with the faith that was always inside of them will pass the test. They will be encouraged. Doubts will fade away and a new and deeper trust in God will fill their hearts.

I’ve never heard anyone say the really deep lessons of life have come in times of ease and comfort. But, I have heard many saints say every significant advance I’ve ever made in grasping in the depth of God’s love and growing deep with Him, have come through suffering.

The attitude in suffering (13-14)

Read verses 13-14.

When you are persecuted, you should rejoice. When you are persecuted, you should rejoice. Why? Why would anyone ever rejoice about suffering?

Verse 14 tells us that if you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, for His Spirit rests on you. And verse 16 says “praise God that you bear that name.” What does this mean?

This means that persecution is one kind of confirmation that you genuinely belong to Christ and are living for Him. Think about it like this way. Persecution often comes to those who are different. If you are living your life the same as the people in the world around you, will you be persecuted? No. You will be tolerated or even celebrated. Last week, brother Tom Keenan shared about some friends of his. One was Miss Media. Will she be persecuted by her friends? No. Another was Mr. Moneybags. Will Mr. Moneybags be persecuted by his other money loving colleagues? No. They will respect him for his business savvy.

We already read in 2 Timothy that ALL who desire to live godly lives in Christ Jesus