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[1Pe 4:17-18 DBY] (17) For the time of having the judgment begin from the house of God is come; but if first from us, what shall be the end of those who obey not the glad tidings of God? (18) And if the righteous is difficultly saved, where shall the impious and the sinner appear?

Is Peter referring to the "house" of God (IE: the temple) or "the household"? And does he mean the believing house/household or the unbelieving?

Optional: What is his reasoning about the righteous being "difficultly saved"?

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There are two questions about the passage in 1 Peter 4:17, 18.

Household/Family of God (v17)

This phrase "household of God" refers to the Christian community, see Eph 2:19, 1 Tim 3:15, Titus 1:7, Heb 3:2, 5, 6, 10:21, etc. This is conformed in the same verse where Peter writes, " … judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us … ". Apparently, Ellicott agrees:

Begin at the house of God.--The phrase contains an obvious reference to Ezekiel 9:6 (comp. also Jeremiah 25:29). Who are meant by the "house of God" is clear, not only from such passages as 1Peter 2:5; 1Corinthians 3:16; 2Thessalonians 2:4, but also from the immediate addition, "and if first at us."

Further, Paul also uses the Temple as a metaphor of the Christian community, 1 Cor 3;16, 17. In this and the other famous metaphor of the Christian community - the wheat and weeds parable, the righteous and the unrighteous in the church co-exist and are separated at the judgement.

Difficult Salvation (v18)

God is a great saviour and thus I do not believe the difficulty of salvation refers to any difficulty with God but with us. There are several references to this idea such as 1 Cor 3:15, Job 19:20, and of course the verse that Peter quotes is from Prov 11:31. As the Pulpit commentary observes:

The righteous shall be requited in the earth, that is, chastised for his transgressions. So it would be now, St. Peter says; judgment must begin at the house of God. He adopts the inexact Septuagint translation for its substantial truth, as we now sometimes use versions which are sufficient for practical purposes, though we know them to be critically inaccurate. We observe again the absence of marks of quotation, as often in St. Peter. Bengel well remarks that the awful "scarcely" (μόλις σώζεται) is softened by 2 Peter 1:11.

Ellicott reaches a similar conclusion:

The fact that they are "scarcely" saved "imports not," according to Leighton, "any uncertainty or hazard in the thing itself to the end, in respect of the purpose and performance of God, but only the great difficulties and hard encounters in the way." This is only partly true. The Apostle is rather thinking of the final judgment than of the life of trial; and he means that there was but little margin left: a very few more falls, a few more refusals to follow the calls of grace, and they would have been lost. Doubtless, when the best of us looks back, in the light of the last day, upon all that he has been through, he will be amazed that he ever could be saved at all. Yet Bengel well calls us to see the other side of the picture in 2Peter 1:11.

  • Ezekiel 9:6 seems ambiguous: [Eze 9:6-7 KJV] (6) Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house. (7) And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city. – Ruminator Apr 2 at 22:05
  • Quite right - the slaying was among the so-called people of God, the Jews at the time. God was effectively separating the loyal Jews from the apostate Jews among the household of God. The same is true today among the Christian community - not all Christians will be saved. – user25930 Apr 2 at 22:42

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