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NLT and 1 Peter 4:7

While studying 1 Peter for the sermon series I have been preaching, I found the NLT’s rendering of 1 Peter 4:7 quite surprising:

The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. (NLT)

All other major translations follow similarly to the TNIV’s rendering below:

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. (TNIV)

In my opinion, the NLT does not seem to be a good rendering and worthy of consideration for revision. I don’t think it was Peter’s point to say that the end of the world was coming soon. If it was, then Peter was clearly mistaken. I think it is pretty weak argument made by some to say that Peter was teaching that we need to live like the end of the world was soon. While that may be true, it is simply not what Peter said here. I think the NET Bible provides the best handle on this verse:

For the culmination of all things is near. So be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of prayer. (NET)

This helps us see that the “end of all things” may be referring to the fulfillment of God’s prophecies. Since Peter is writing about suffering as a Christian, perhaps Peter is pointing out that the prophets, like Daniel, spoke that God’s holy people would endure severe persecution (Daniel 7). Perhaps this is also pointing out that the destruction of Jerusalem was about to come (Daniel 9). Thus, the culmination of those prophecies is near. Therefore, the need for Peter’s readers to be disciplined and earnest in prayer. I think the NLT does great on the second half of verse 7. Unfortunately, rendering “the end of all things” as “the end of the world” can be terribly misleading and certainly confusing to those who do not know the scriptures well.

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