I have been working for (10?) years on a commentary on 1 & 2 Peter and Jude. I hope that it will be an addition to the series which already has Pastoral Epistles for Pastors, Colossians and Philemon for Pastors and Philippians for Pastors.
Here’s just a taste of things …
1 Peter 4:7 – “The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.”
Peter has been making a point about the importance of time in his readers’ lives. He reminded them that “the time already past” (v.3) has been spent in independence from God and has been filled up with enough sin. Now “the rest of the time in the flesh” should be devoted to God and His will (v.2). They have chosen in the present to honor God with their obedience even it if proves painful (v.4) because the time will come when all will stand before God to give an account (v.5). Picking up on these time sequences Peter declares, “The end of all things is near” (Πάντων δὲ τὸ τέλος ἤγγικεν). Most English translations do not translate the conjunction δὲ, (but cf. “But,” KJV, NKJV; “For,” NET; “Now,” HCSB). Just how to render the conjunction is a challenge. But Peter clearly transitions at this point, though he does so by building upon the urgency established by his reflections upon our sinful past, our meaningful present and our future accountability before God’s throne.
Peter speaks expansively, calling before our minds “all things” (Πάντων) and wants us to consider “the end of” (τὸ τέλος) them. We should understand “all things” (Πάντων) as all encompassing. Peter thrust it to the beginning of the sentence for added emphasis. Peter has a vision “in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:10). This encompasses everything above us (“the heavens”), all that is beneath and around us (“the earth”), and all that mankind has done, accomplished, produced and brought forth throughout history (“and its works”).
Peter wants us to contemplate “the end of” (τὸ τέλος) all these things. The noun marks the last point in the duration of something, and thus “the end of” that period. It points to conclusion, fulfillment of purpose, consummation and completion not simply cessation. The presence of the definite article is telling and signals that Peter has that “end” in which “all things” will have found their appropriate place, whether in judgment or in salvation. Indeed, Peter has in mind “the end of” this created order. As it signals judgement, Peter speaks later of how “all these things are thus to be dissolved” (2 Pet. 3:11). He says, “the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat” (v.12). The end will involve “the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain” (Heb. 10:27). As it signals salvation, Peter has worked to set his readers’ eyes upon the longed-for fulfilment of Christ’s work on their behalf (1 Pet. 1:3-9, 13; 2:12). Peter has already alerted his readers to the fact that they live the “last times” (1 Pet. 1:20), the period that began when Jesus was raised from the dead (1:3; 3:22).
|Ministry Maxim: Always pray in the shadow of the clock.
This “end” is “near.” But what precisely does Peter mean by “is near” (ἤγγικεν)? Nearness is a relative matter. One thing can be nearer than something else, yet still further from it when compared to another thing. Earth is nearer the sun than Jupiter, but it is further from the sun than mercury. The verb can refer to one coming near to death (Phil. 2:30), of physical proximity to something (Acts 9:3; 10:9; 21:33; 22:6; 23:15), of time in relationship to the sovereign plan of God in fulfilling a promise (Acts 7:17), and relationally and experientially in drawing near to God (Heb. 7:19; James 4:8). It is used elsewhere, as it is here, in an eschatological sense: “you see the day drawing near” (Heb. 10:25) and “the coming of the Lord is near” (James 5:8). Paul uses the cognate preposition to remind that “now salvation is nearer [ἐγγύτερον] to us than when we believed” (Rom. 13:11). If indeed the coming of Christ and thus “the end of all things” is a fixed point established by God’s sovereign will, then it is “nearer” to us now (and with each passing day) than it was yesterday. But that still says nothing definite about just now “near” it is in terms of time as we understand it. But the certainty of its approach and the uncertainty of the time of its arrival both call for prudent living in the present. In his second letter Peter will remind his readers that “with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day” (2 Pet. 3:8) and that “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness” (v.9). In the end “the day of the Lord will [have] come like a thief” (v.10).
Peter here uses the verb in the perfect tense, indicating that “the end” of all things as we know them has come near to us at a point in time and we continue abidingly in that state of nearness; “the end” is waiting, impending, looming. With Jesus’ coming, death, resurrection, and ascension “the last days” have come upon the earth (Acts 2:17; Heb. 1:2; James 5:3). Now the only thing that remains is the proclamation of the gospel to all the peoples of the earth “and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14).
From these sobering contemplations, Peter draws a logical deduction (οὖν, “therefore”). He will outline a series of behaviors that reflect an awareness of one’s life in light of the looming “end of all things” (vv.7b-11). “Not drunken debauchery and license, but sober clear-headedness, marks the Christian (4:7). Love, not lust, fills his heart (4:8); the Christian home is open for hospitality, not orgies (4:9). Ministry replaces exploitation (4:9-11).”
These considerations of time and accountability call us to “be of sound judgment and sober spirit” (σωφρονήσατε . . . καὶ νήψατε). First, we should “be of sound judgment” (σωφρονήσατε). The verb is used six times in the NT (Mark 5:15; Luke 8:35; Rom. 12:3; 2 Cor. 5:13; Tit. 2:6; 1 Pet. 4:7). It could be used to describe one who is “in his right mind” (Mark 5:15; Luke 8:35) as opposed to the insanity of demon-possession. But in the bulk of its uses, the verb has the sense of having a self-controlled mind which enables a person to live a self-controlled life. The aorist imperative presses urgently for our obedience.
In addition (καὶ, “and”) we should “be of . . . sober spirit” (νήψατε). This verb also appears six times in the NT, half of which are by Peter (1 Thess. 5:6, 8; 2 Tim. 4:8; 1 Pet. 1:13; 4:7; 5:8). Used literally the word could describe being free from intoxicants and, given the sins of indulgence and drunkenness Peter called out in verse 3, it might be tempting to read it that way here. But in all its NT usages it is used figuratively (and so here, of “sober spirit,” emphasis added). It means then to “be free fr[om] every form of mental and spiritual ‘drunkenness’, fr[om] excess, passion, rashness, confusion, etc.” and thus to be “be well-balanced” and “self-controlled.” Again the aorist imperative demands action be undertaken immediately and urgently. Do we have here a reflection of Jesus’ words to Peter in the Garden: “Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38; cf. Luke 21:36)?
The verbs, so closely related in their meaning, may form a hendiadys, making a singular point through two commands. With both verbs Peter is echoing a theme he began earlier in the letter: “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:13).
The next phrase (εἰς προσευχάς, “for the purpose of prayer”) is to be read with both preceding verbs, not simply the latter (e.g., “be sober-minded, then, and watch unto the prayers,” YLT; cf. KJV). Peter is stating the reason to take these steps. The preposition (εἰς) generally denotes the entry into something and here sets forth the purpose or goal toward which the actions are taken (“for the purpose of”). That objective is “prayer” (προσευχάς). In Peter’s only other use of the noun he is also concerned for that which might hinder the prayers of Christian married men (1 Pet. 3:7, which see for more on the noun). The plural form indicates both the diversity of forms in which prayer is expressed (including praise, confession, thanksgiving, petition, and intercession) and the repeated nature of its practice. Prayer is both a weapon to be wielded (Eph. 6:17-18) and that which we fight to protect. Davids well says, “proper prayer is not an ‘opiate’ or escape, but rather a function of a clear vision and a seeking of even clearer vision from God.” Prayer is both why and how we stay sober minded.
 NIDNTTE, 4:479.
 Clowney, 177.
 Dubis, 140; Forbes, 146.
 BDAG, 5098.
 Harris, 83, 88.
 Davids, 157.