1 Peter – Chapter Four XV

by Ed Urzi

“But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers” (1 Peter 4:7).

1 Peter 4:7 begins a series of exhortations to Godly living that continue to the end of this chapter. To introduce this portion of his letter, the Apostle used a phrase that may be unsettling, but is just as relevant today as it was when this epistle was originally written: “The end of all things is near…” (NIV).

This cautionary message is one that we must take seriously, especially in regard to this need to be “serious and watchful in your prayers.” While the online world may be filled with a multitude of self-proclaimed end-times experts, there are likely to be far fewer of us who are serious and watchful in our prayers.

For instance, let’s consider this exhortation from 1 Peter 4:7 in light of the Biblical references to Jesus’ return. In Revelation 3:11, Jesus is quoted as saying, “I am coming soon…” (NIV). Given the millennia that have passed since the book of Revelation was originally written, we might question the validity of Jesus’ claim to return soon.

To address that question, a closer look at the language that was originally used to author this portion of Scripture may be helpful. You see, the word translated “soon” or “quickly” in Revelation 3:11 can mean “without delay.” However, it can also mean “by surprise” or “suddenly” as well. (1) So when Jesus says He is coming soon, we might understand His meaning to be, “I will return without warning.”

Jesus also addressed the need to be serious and watchful in the following excerpt from the Gospel of Luke, a portion of Scripture that helps tie these passages together…

“Constantly be on your guard so that your hearts will not be loaded down with self-indulgence, drunkenness, and the worries of this life, or that day will take you by surprise like a trap, because it will come on everyone who lives on the face of the earth” (Luke 21:34-35 ISV).

This highlights two human tendencies that may emerge when facing the issues of daily life. The first represents an attempt to escape from such pressures, and the second involves a preoccupation with them. Those responses make it easy to forget that our lives extend beyond the problems and concerns of today. So whether Jesus suddenly returns to start a new chapter in human history or simply returns for us at the end of our lives (whenever that may be), we would do well to be serious and watchful in our prayers.

(1) NT:5035 taxu/ tachu (takh-oo’); neuter singular of NT:5036 (as adverb); shortly, i.e. without delay, soon, or (by surprise) suddenly, or (by implication, of ease) readily: Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.