The End of All Things is at Hand

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The End of All Things is at Hand

Sermon by  Thomas Thornhill Jr

Passage: 1 Peter 4:7-11


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Sunday, September 4, 2022 pm



Tonight, we continue our study of 1 Peter, a letter written to encourage Christians who were facing perilous times.  We have seen Peter’s instructions encouraging them to remain faithful, endure and continue to be an example in all areas of their lives, even when it means being mocked and perhaps even physically persecuted.  In our last lesson, we discussed the conditions in which Peter was writing and how, unless things change, we are headed in the same direction – where serving God faithfully might come at a much greater cost.  Will we remain faithful.   In today’s lesson, Peter continues to encourage them to faithful living by giving them some more instructions to live by.  But, first, we have another challenging passage.


  1. The end of all things is at hand.
    1. What is “the end of all things”?
      1. Several views have been advanced for what this expression refers to.
        1. The destruction of Jerusalem which was likely only a few years away.
        2. The imminent end of the world – This is a verse used by those who advocate “realized eschatology” which basically states that EVERYTHING concerning God’s plan ended in 70 AD with the destruction of Jerusalem – hence that was the Lord’s 2nd They argue everything in scripture has been fulfilled.  I highly reject this because, we are still here and have a spiritual purpose!  And there are passages, such as 2 Peter 3:10ff and 2 Thessalonians 2:2-4ff that clearly point to future events.
        3. The end of one’s life – certainly when one dies, his time on earth has come to an end.
        4. Others see this as His yet future second coming, even though it was obviously millennia later. I believe, this is ultimately what Peter is talking about though some other things need to be considered.
      2. The expression “end of all things” points to an end point. Thus context (including all of scripture) needs to be considered.  This morning we talked about the 2nd coming of Christ and what will happen.  Here we focus on this wording.
        1. The word of “end” is τέλος (telos) and can be related to any of the above (except realized eschatology which confuses many passages about the destruction of Jerusalem with the second coming).
          1. Matthew 24:6, 13-14 is speaking of the coming destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD (cf. Matthew 24:34-35 – this generation)
          2. The end of one’s life – Matthew 10:21-22 – some would be persecuted to death, but he who endures to the end… Also, Hebrews 3:14, 6:11 – confidence steadfast, hope until the end.  These at least include the end of one’s life.
          3. The second coming – 1 Corinthians 1:8 – the Lord would “confirm you to the end”, 1 Corinthians 15:24 – then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to the Father…;
          4. Other usages – the end of Jesus’ life (Matthew 26:58, John 13:1 – “He loved them to the end”), Romans 6:21 – the end results of sin is death (also 2 Corinthians 11:15), Romans 6:22 – the culmination of faithfulness is everlasting life, 1 Timothy 1:5 – now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart… (it is the ultimate or final result desires), finally – Revelation 1:8 – Jesus is “the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end”, etc.
          5. So we can that the Greek word has many different meanings.
        2. What is “at hand”?
          1. This word usually means:
            1. Imminent (Matthew 4:17 – kingdom of heaven is at hand, Philippians 2:30 where Epaphroditus came “close to death”)
            2. Or it can mean coming close to something – Matthew 21:1 “drew near Jerusalem”, Hebrews 7:19 – draw near to God).
          2. In fact, there are only a few verses where this is not the case. The word can mean:
            1. It can be speaking of something closer now than in times past – Consider Romans 13:11-12 – which speaks of our salvation being “nearer” (a different form of the same root word) than when we first believed. Then Paul says, “The night is far spend, the day is at hand” (same word).  Paul is saying, it is time for you to step up and act properly.
            2. It can be referring to a specific point in time which can change – e.g. Philippians 2:30 – Again Epaphroditus. Consider that while he was “near death”, as Paul writes that condition has changed (see vs. 25-27) – he left Rome NOT as near death as he was (at least in that situation).
            3. There can be nearness in relationship – Consider again, Hebrews 7:9, esp. James 4:8 – “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to You.” Our relationship with God is a two-way street.
            4. It can also have reference to something not quite so near from a time standpoint, but just simply means closer than before. Consider Acts 7:17, “But when the time of the promise drew near (same word – TT) which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt”.   This would be reference to the time of Joseph or some time thereafter – another king arose who did not know Joseph.  Considering when that promise was made – EVEN if it is reference to Jacob in Egypt – it was hundreds of years before they actually entered the promised land.  Even later in their time in Egypt (suppose the slavery only began 100 years before the Exodus [Moses was 80 when he delivered them]), it was at least 150 years before they inherited the promised land.  THEN consider the seed promise made to Abraham (the ultimate intended promise of Genesis 12:1-3).  At the timing of Moses leading the people, we have ~1500 before Christ came.  But according to Acts 7:17, it was “at hand.”
            5. The point is, “At hand” does not have to mean “imminent”. Context helps us determine meaning.
          3. So what is the point of this statement?
            1. Some contend it is the destruction of Jerusalem because it was imminent.
              1. But the problem with this is its effect on Peter’s audience. How was Jerusalem being destroyed going to end their persecutions?  It would NOT, in fact, as noted in our last lesson, it is very likely the severity of their persecutions was in its infancy.
              2. Furthermore, contextually, Peter is tying this to what was previously stated – “But” (NKJV, KJV, ASV) in the Greek ties it to that (the NASB, ESV fail to include this word in their translation). Recall that in the past few lessons we have addressed the sufferings they were enduring at the hands of both Jews and Gentiles.  In fact, vs. 3-4 focus on the Gentiles.  Peter’s comfort was, “they will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” (vs. 5)   Tied to that phrase, our text must be pointing to something else.
            2. I contend it is a reference to standing before God in judgment, BUT that was something they did NOT know when it could happen. Therefore, they needed to live AS IF His return were imminent.  Consider
              1. Passages of scripture:
                1. James 5:7-8 – The coming of the Lord is at hand – a text similar to ours. He is coming back.
                2. 2 Thessalonians 2:2-4 (re: 1 Thess. 5:1-8 – where Paul told them to be prepared always because we do not know when he will come back) – Paul notes certain key events have to happen first before He comes back. Paul is telling them it was not going to happen immediately.  To my knowledge, the events described by Paul did not happen until centuries later (or have happened over and over).
                3. Romans 13:11 – our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The “day is at hand” – it is TIME to act and get prepared.
                4. 1 Peter 1:9 – Peter spoke of “receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls” – when all is said and done, you will be saved.
                5. These passages all remind us that the Lord is coming back at some point. And we do NOT know when that will be, therefore we must ALWAYS be ready!
              2. The description “the end of all things” – in God’s redemptive plan, it is the next step. In other words, our text is saying, God’s judgment is coming – at that time, He will address the righteous and the wicked.  We just need to be prepared.  Consider Matthew 13:39-40 – the harvest is the end of the age (different Greek word meaning consummation).
              3. As Christians we do not know when OUR time will end – Hebrews 9:27, James 4:13-14 – our life is a vapor…
              4. Consider that Christians ALWAYS live as if the end is eminent! This is the point!  Consider how relevant that was to Christians who might have to face persecutions leading to death at any moment.  Peter calls on them to prepare!
    2. Therefore:
      1. Peter now, again, addresses the conduct of Christians. Be reminded as we have noted throughout this letter (and other recent studies) that we need each other as the world becomes increasingly hostile against us.  Here, Peter describes 4 behaviors we need to consider.
      2. Be serious and watchful in your prayers – recently we addressed how the Christian disposition includes soberness and seriousness.
        1. James 5:16 speaks of the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man.
        2. 1 Peter 1:13 – we noted, “gird up the loins of your mind, be sober and rest your hope fully on the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (e.g. when He comes back).
        3. 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8 – speaking of being ready, do not sleep as others do, but be sober…
        4. Matthew 26:41 – Jesus to Peter, James and John in the Garden – “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation…”
        5. Philippians 4:6 – Be anxious for nothing, but in everything… let your requests be made known to God.
      3. Above all things have fervent love for one another
        1. Peter here reminds us of the importance of love – John 13:34-35 – the new command; Galatians 5:13 – through love serve one another (think about your brother); Ephesians 4:2 – bearing with one another in love; Hebrews 10:24 – consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.
        2. As we deal with an unloving world that often hates us, we need to pursue love for each other. It is absolutely crucial!
        3. Love will cover a multitude of sins – much could be said about this.
          1. Obviously, God’s love covers our sins when we walk in fellowship with Him – 1 John 1:7, Romans 5:8, etc.
          2. But we must also consider how the way we forgive and show mercy is how we will be shown mercy – Matthew 6:14-15, James 2:13
          3. Furthermore, as Christians are we willing to overlook our brother’s and sister’s weaknesses, and their quirks? How important is true unity in love to us?  We are not ignoring their sins, but we need to love them.  This includes not “airing their dirty laundry”.
      4. Be hospitable to one another without grumbling
        1. Again, we are called upon to take care of each other. Be willing to help, and if needed, even sacrifice for our brethren.
        2. Hospitality is a quality we need toward all – Hebrews 13:1-2 – you don’t know when you are helping a brother.
        3. But we must especially be concerned about our brethren – Galatians 6:10 – do good, especially “the household of faith”; Romans 12:13 – describes us as “given to hospitality”; Matthew 25:31-46 shows a picture of judgment – our Lord is looking to see whether we have helped those in need. It is at least part of the factors we will be judged by.
        4. As Christians, in a hostile world, we need to be willing to help one another as brethren – opening our homes and resources when needed. We come to the aid of each other in trying times.  We can see multiple examples of this in scripture – e.g., Acts 4:32-37 – where Barnabas and others sold property to help their needy brethren.
        5. Minister your gifts as good stewards
        6. Vs. 10-11 – Peter notes that whatever gifts you have, use them to build up and serve “one another.” This goes back to the family relationship.
        7. These may have been spiritual gifts (direct from the Holy Spirit), or naturally attained abilities and resources. Whatever they were, use them wisely.
        8. AND, make sure you consider fidelity toward God in using these gifts – only speak as if it were the oracles of God, etc.
        9. We will focus on these 2 verses in our next lesson in this study.


As we live in a hostile world, let us never forget, that this world is temporal.  We are strangers and pilgrims here.  Live with a view of going to your spiritual homeland in heaven.  And, to the best of your ability, help others – including your brethren – to get there.  Are you prepared to stand before God?  Think about it!