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1 Peter 4:11

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

If any man speak - In order to explain or enforce God's word, and edify his neighbor, let him do it as those did to whom the living oracles were committed: they spoke as they were inspired by the Holy Ghost. Those, therefore, at Pontus, etc., who undertook to teach others, should speak by the same influence; or, if not under this immediate influence, should speak as or according to the oracles already delivered, grounding all their exhortations and doctrines on some portion of that revelation already given. This command is sent to every man upon earth in holy orders, in pretended holy orders, or pretending to holy orders. Their teaching should be what the oracles of God, the Holy Scriptures, teach and authenticate.

Of the ability which God giveth - Perhaps the ministering here may refer to the care of the poor, and the ability is the quantum of means which God may have placed in their hands; and they are to minister this as coming immediately from God, and lead the minds of the poor to consider him as their benefactor, that he in all things may be glorified through Christ Jesus. This is implied in the essence of any charitable act: the actor is not the author, God is the author; and the poor man should be taught to consider him as his immediate benefactor. Those who give any thing as from themselves, rob God; for to him the praise for all good, and the dominion over all men and things, belong for ever and ever.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

If any man speak - As a preacher, referring here particularly to the office of the ministry.

Let him speak as the oracles of God - As the oracles of God speak; to wit, in accordance with the truth which God has revealed, and with an impressive sense of the responsibility of delivering a message from him. The word rendered “oracles” ( λόγια logia) means, properly, something “spoken” or “uttered”; then anything uttered by God - a divine communication - a revelation. See the Romans 3:2 note; Hebrews 5:12 note. See the general duty here inculcated illustrated at length in the notes at Romans 12:6-8. The passage here has a strong resemblance to the one in Romans.

If any man minister - διακονεῖ diakoneiThis may refer either, so far as the word is concerned, to the office of a deacon, or to any service which one renders to another. See 1 Peter 4:10. The word commonly refers to service in general; to attendance on another, or to aid rendered to another; to the distribution of alms, etc. It seems probable that the word here does not refer to the office of a deacon as such, because the speciality of that office was to take charge of the poor of the church, and of the funds provided for them, (see Acts 6:2-3;) but the apostle here says that they to whom he referred should “minister as of the ability which God giveth,” which seems to imply that it was rather to distribute what was their own, than what was committed to them by the church. The word may refer to any aid which we render to others in the church, as distributing alms, attending on the sick, etc. Compare the notes at Romans 12:7-8.

As of the ability which God giveth - In regard to property, talent, strength, influence, etc. This is the limit of all obligation. No one is bound to go beyond his ability; everyone is required to come up to it. Compare Mark 14:8; Luke 17:10.

That God in all things may be glorified - That he may be honored; to wit, by our doing all the good we can to others, and thus showing the power of his religion. See the notes at 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Through Jesus Christ - That is, as the medium through whom all those holy influences come by which God is honored.

To whom - That is, to God; for he is the main subject of the sentence. The apostle says that in all things he is to be glorified by us, and then adds in this doxology that he is worthy to be thus honored. Compare Revelation 1:6; See the notes at 2 Timothy 4:18. Many, however, suppose that the reference here is to the Son of God. That it would be true of him, and appropriate, see the notes at Romans 9:5.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The destruction of the Jewish church and nation, foretold by our Saviour, was very near. And the speedy approach of death and judgment concerns all, to which these words naturally lead our minds. Our approaching end, is a powerful argument to make us sober in all worldly matters, and earnest in religion. There are so many things amiss in all, that unless love covers, excuses, and forgives in others, the mistakes and faults for which every one needs the forbearance of others, Satan will prevail to stir up divisions and discords. But we are not to suppose that charity will cover or make amends for the sins of those who exercise it, so as to induce God to forgive them. The nature of a Christian's work, which is high work and hard work, the goodness of the Master, and the excellence of the reward, all require that our endeavours should be serious and earnest. And in all the duties and services of life, we should aim at the glory of God as our chief end. He is a miserable, unsettled wretch, who cleaves to himself, and forgets God; is only perplexed about his credit, and gain, and base ends, which are often broken, and which, when he attains, both he and they must shortly perish together. But he who has given up himself and his all to God, may say confidently that the Lord is his portion; and nothing but glory through Christ Jesus, is solid and lasting; that abideth for ever.
Ellen G. White
Education, 226

Thus is created strife for supremacy; and there is encouraged the system of “cramming,” which in so many cases destroys health and unfits for usefulness. In many others, emulation leads to dishonesty; and by fostering ambition and discontent, it embitters the life and helps to fill the world with those restless, turbulent spirits that are a continual menace to society. Ed 226.1

Nor does danger pertain to methods only. It is found also in the subject matter of the studies. Ed 226.2

What are the works on which, throughout the most susceptible years of life, the minds of the youth are led to dwell? In the study of language and literature, from what fountains are the youth taught to drink?—From the wells of paganism; from springs fed by the corruptions of ancient heathendom. They are bidden to study authors, of whom, without dispute, it is declared that they have no regard for the principles of morality. Ed 226.3

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Ellen G. White
That I May Know Him, 114.5

There are glorious truths to come before the people of God. Privileges and duties which they do not even suspect to be in the Bible will be laid open before the followers of Christ. As they follow on in the path of humble obedience, doing God's will, they will know more and more of the oracles of God, and be established in right doctrines. TMK 114.5

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Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 90.1

Do you give service? Give it as in the strength which God supplies. In all things so act that the glory may be God's through Jesus Christ; to him belong glory and power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:11, N.E.B. TDG 90.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 726-7

The Lord has shown me that men in responsible positions are standing directly in the way of His work because they think the work must be done and the blessing must come in a certain way, and they will not recognize that which comes in any other way. My brethren, may the Lord place this matter before you as it is. God does not work as men plan, or as they wish; He “moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.” Why reject the Lord's methods of working, because they do not coincide with our ideas? God has His appointed channels of light, but these are not necessarily the minds of any particular set of men. When all shall take their appointed place in God's work, earnestly seeking wisdom and guidance from Him, then a great advance will have been made toward letting light shine upon the world. When men shall cease to place themselves in the way, God will work among us as never before. 5T 726.1

While extensive plans should be laid, great care must be taken that the work in each branch of the cause be harmoniously united with that in every other branch, thus making a perfect whole. But too often it has been the reverse of this; and, as the result, the work has been defective. One man who has the oversight of a certain branch of the work magnifies his responsibilities until, in his estimation, that one department is above every other. When this narrow view is taken, a strong influence is exerted to lead others to see the matter in the same light. This is human nature, but it is not the spirit of Christ. Just in proportion as this policy is followed, Christ is crowded out of the work, and self appears prominent. 5T 726.2

The principles that should actuate us as workers in God's cause are laid down by the apostle Paul. He says: “We are laborers together with God.” “Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” And Peter exhorts the believers: “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” 5T 726.3

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