I can’t think of surprises without hearing Gomer Pyle’s voice in my head: “Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!”
“In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excess of dissipation, and they malign you.” (I Peter 4:4)
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.” (I Peter 4:12)
Buddy Mathis, a friend of years back, sent me “The Word,” a Bible in 26 translations which his company has published. (Mathis Publishers, Inc., POB 6685, Gulfport, MS 39506 I recommend this as the most unusual gift for a pastor!)
So, let’s read this “surprising” business and see how other translations put it regarding I Peter 4:4.
–Most translations make it, “Do not think it strange.” The root of the Greek word translated there is “xenos,” stranger or alien. So, this sounds right.
–The Phillips New Testament has it: “Indeed your former companions may think it very queer that you will no longer join with them….”
–Moffatt puts it: “It astonishes pagans that you will not plunge with them….”
And regarding I Peter 4:12, we find:
–The New English Bible: “Do not be bewildered….”
–Phillips: “I beg you not to be unduly alarmed….”
–TCNT: “Do not be astonished….”
The point of this, then, becomes: “Once you start following Jesus, your old friends will be stunned at the change. They might even become hostile toward you, for whatever reason. But don’t you be surprised and caught unaware by all of that, or by the real persecution that may be headed your way. Expect it. After all, you’re following a Lord who was crucified for nothing but serving God, loving people and speaking Truth.”
Let’s camp out on these two verses for a few minutes. They have much to say about those of us who are serious in our discipleship.