The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
March 27, 2011


1) 1 Peter 4:10-11 (Tom Edwards)


1 Peter 4:10-11
by Tom Edwards

After instructing the brethren who are scattered throughout Asia Minor to "Be hospitable to one another without complaint" (1 Pet. 4:9), Peter then gives some additional instruction in 1 Peter 4:10,11.  He states: "As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.   Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."

In this passage, the Greek word for "gift" is "charisma," which is used in the Scriptures with reference to miraculous and non-miraculous gifts; so it doesn't have to necessarily be referring to only a miraculous gift in verse 10. Thayer defines it as "1) a favour with which one receives without any merit of his own  2) the gift of divine grace  3) the gift of faith, knowledge, holiness, virtue  4) the economy of divine grace, by which the pardon of sin and eternal salvation is appointed to sinners in consideration of the merits of Christ laid hold of by faith  5) grace or gifts denoting extraordinary powers, distinguishing certain Christians and enabling them to serve the church of Christ, the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating on their souls by the Holy Spirit."

The Greek word for "grace" in the Scriptures is "charis."  So we are not surprised when Vine defines "charisma" as "a gift of grace, a gift involving grace."

Consider some of these following passages where "charisma" is used:

Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the FREE GIFT of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (emphasis mine).  So here "charisma" is referring to eternal life as being the "free gift" that the Christian has in Jesus.  For how could such a gift ever be earned, deserved, or merited?

In 2 Corinthians 1:8-11, "charisma" is rendered as "favor" and has reference to the deliverance God bestowed upon Paul and others through the prayers of the saints.  

Another usage of "charisma" can be seen in 1 Corinthians 7:7 where it is rendered as "gift," but referring to self-control with regard to sexual abstinence, which the context makes clear.  For after saying, "Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that," Paul then states: "But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I.  But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion."  (Consider also vv. 3-6.)

Sometimes, however, "charisma" is used to refer to miraculous gifts, such as in 1 Corinthians 12:4.  Here, Paul states that "...there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit." He then continues by specifying those gifts, which were the miraculous gifts of "the word of wisdom," "the word of knowledge," "faith," "gifts of healing," "effecting of miracles," "prophecy," "distinguishing of spirits," "tongues," and "the interpretation of tongues."  And since they are "gifts" that were given by God's grace, the Corinthians should have had that type of attitude toward them.  However, they seemed to have disregarded that important fact, as 1 Corinthians 4:7 indicates: "For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?"

Sometimes in the same passage, "charisma" is used to stand for miraculous, as well as non-miraculous gifts, such as in Roman 12:6-8: "Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness."

In 1 Peter 4:9, Peter had instructed the brethren to "Be hospitable to one another without complaint."  Surely that is something that can be carried out without miraculous gifts -- and whatever good thing that the Lord has made possible for us to have, we are merely stewards of that and should not be stingy with it.  For when you think about it, what can we say that we have that the Lord hasn't made possible for us to have?  

But someone might say, "God never gave anything to me; I had to work for it all."  Do you think that person is seeing things very clearly?  For those who feel as that individual does, we could present the questions, "Where did you get that mind and body to do the work?  And where did that food, water, air, and other necessities of life that help sustain your mind and body really come from?"  You have legs to walk with; arms to reach out with; hands to grab with; eyes to see with; ears to hear with; a mouth to speak and eat with; and on and on.  How could anyone be so blind as to say that God has never done anything for him, when everything that makes up an individual is made possible by God?!  And what a blessing it all is.  It is the Lord who makes the sunshine and the rain, the air and the food, the habitable environment in which we live.  All of nature is from God; and He has also provided man with the resources and ability to use them in order to make many helpful things for mankind.  To not see the hand of God in all of this, is to truly be blind indeed.  Therefore, whatever good we can achieve in this life or whatever good we can receive, we need to realize that if it were not for the Lord, none of it would have ever been possible.  

Peter also points out in 1 Peter 4:10 that whatever this specific "special gift" would be, the Christian was to use it in serving one another.  

Serving is essential.  Can we be a Christian without doing so?    Compare, for example, Matthew 20:25-28: "But Jesus called them to Himself, and said, 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.  It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.'"

Christ was the greatest servant of all.  Note what God the Father says about His Son in Matthew 12:18, "BEHOLD, MY SERVANT WHOM I HAVE CHOSEN; MY BELOVED IN WHOM MY SOUL is WELL-PLEASED; I WILL PUT MY SPIRIT UPON HIM, AND HE SHALL PROCLAIM JUSTICE TO THE GENTILES."

The great people of faith we read about in the Scriptures are those who served God and man.  Though we normally think of Moses, for instance, as that great leader of God's people, he was also a humble servant (Heb. 3:5).  And Numbers 12:3 is a parenthetical statement showing just how humble he really was: "(Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.)"

Joshua, Moses' successor, was also a great leader for God's people, even as a military leader when he was in his 80's; but all of that was due to his relationship with God; for Joshua is described in Joshua 24:29 as being "the servant of the Lord."

How are we to serve one another?  Paul states in Galatians 5:13, "...through love serve one another."  And as Peter had pointed out in 1 Peter 4:10, we are to serve as "good stewards of the manifold grace of God."  This, again, reminds us that what we render is that which really belongs to God to begin with.  We are merely managers or administers of it.  Compare, for instance, 1 Corinthians 4:1,2: "Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.  In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy."

Jesus also expresses stewardship in the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:13-30).  In this parable, a man is about to go on a journey; but before he leaves, it states in verse 14 that he "...called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them."  So they were stewards of his possessions.  To one was given 5 talents, to another 2, and to another 1 -- and the first two are complimented for having faithfully done business with theirs in order to gain more for their master.

Another similar parable, in which the Lord expresses stewardship, is the parable of the minas (or "pounds" in the KJV) (Luke 19:11-17).  Here, 10 men are each given 1 mina that they are told to do business with, while their master was away.  

These parables make us realize our own stewardship that we have in rendering various services unto the Lord and others.   That God's grace is "manifold" expresses, as Strong shows, that it is "various in character" or "motley."  "Manifold" is from the Greek word "poikilos." In Hebrews 13:9, it is translated as "varied," where the writer warns the brethren to "not be carried away by VARIED and strange teachings."  But it is most often translated as "various" (8 times), such as in pertaining to "various diseases and pains" (Matt. 4:24), "various impulses" (2 Tim. 3:16), "various lusts and pleasures" (Titus 3:3), "various miracles" (Heb. 2:4), and "various trials" (Jam. 1:2, 1 Pet. 1:6).  So "poikilos" corresponds with today's primary definitions of varied, various, or manifold.  The NIV renders "the manifold grace of God" (in 1 Peter 4:10) as "God's grace in its various forms."  The grace of God, therefore, pertains to many things -- and all of which we can be thankful for.  

Peter then says in 1 Peter 4:11, "Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God..." In this verse, "utterances" is rendered as "oracles" in the KJV.  It comes from the Greek word "logion," which Thayer defines as "1) a brief utterance, a divine oracle (doubtless because oracles were generally brief)  1a) in the NT, the words or utterances of God  1b) of the contents of the Mosaic law." There are only three other places in the NT where this Greek word for "oracles" or "utterances" is used.  Let us hear them:  

Acts 7:38,  "This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you."  So here, the oracles has reference to the Law of Moses.  

Also, Romans 3:1,2: "Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision?  Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God."  Again, the Greek word, in this case rendered as "oracles," is referring to the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament.  

One other passage is Hebrews 5:12, "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food."

So in all of these passages, we recognized "oracles" to be pertaining to a message that is strictly from God, and is not man-made.  As Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:20,21: "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God."  When Paul refers to every scripture in 2 Timothy 3:16 as being "inspired by God," the idea of inspired literally means "God breathed."  In other words, the communication of God's inspired word is as if the Lord is exhaling each declaration that is given.  

This truth in 1 Peter 4:11 reminds us of one of the pleas during the restoration movement: "Let us speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where it is silent."

People in the world today, however, often act as if God's word is something that can easily be changed to suit their fancy -- as if it is nothing more than the word of man; and, therefore, can be altered to "keep up with the times," or to be "improved" upon.  But it is not the word of man; rather, it is the word of God; and for that reason, man has no right to tamper with it (cf. Gal. 1:6-9; Rev. 22:18,19).  

The Thessalonians certainly had the right attitude toward the gospel.  Paul states, "For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe" (1 Thess. 2:13).  

These men who spoke the inspired message were simply instruments used by the Lord to declare His word to the world.  Consider how this is expressed in Acts 1:16: "Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus." See also Acts 4:24-26, in which is a quote from Psalm 2 that David wrote; and also confirmation that what David wrote was the inspired word of God, through the help of the Holy Spirit.  So though we don't have miraculous gifts today, as they did in the early church, let those of us who are Christians be sure to use the talent and abilities that God has given us to serve Him today, as we are directed through His word to do so -- and also given the strength by the Lord that we might bring glory to His name!

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

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