1 Peter 5:8

8 1Be sober-minded; 2be watchful. Your 3adversary the devil 4prowls around 5like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8 Meaning and Commentary

1 Peter 5:8

Be sober, be vigilant
The apostle had exhorted to each of these before; see ( 1 Peter 1:13 ) ( 4:7 ) but thought fit to repeat them; sobriety and watchfulness being exceeding necessary and useful in the Christian life; and the one cannot well be without the other: unless a man is sober in body and mind, he will not be watchful, either over himself or others, or against the snares of sin, Satan, and the world; and if he is not on his watch and guard, he is liable to every sin and temptation. The Syriac version renders the words, "watch", and "be ye mindful", or "remember"; watch with diligence, care, and industry, keeping a good lookout, minding and observing everything that presents, and remembering the power and cunning of the enemy; and the Ethiopic version renders them thus, "be ye prudent, and cause your heart to understand"; referring them not to temperance of body, but sobriety of mind, and to a prudent conduct and behaviour, as having a subtle as well as a malicious enemy to deal with:

because your adversary the devil;
he who is a defamer and calumniator; who accuses God to men, and men to God, and is therefore styled the accuser of the brethren; he is the saints' avowed and implacable enemy. Satan is an enemy to mankind in general, but more especially to the seed of the woman, to Christ personal, and to Christ mystical, to all the elect of God: the word here used is a forensic term, and signifies a court adversary, or one that litigates a point in law, or opposes another in an action or suit at law. The Jews F3 have adopted this word into their language, and explain it by (Nyd leb) , "a law adversary", or one that has a suit of law depending against another. Satan accuses men of the breach of the law, and pleads that justice might take place, and punishment be inflicted, and which he pursues with great violence and diligence:

as a roaring lion;
so called, both on account of his strength, and also because of his rage, malice, and cruelty, which he breathes out against the saints, who, though he cannot destroy them, will do all he can to terrify and affright them; so the young lions in ( Psalms 104:21 ) are, by the Cabalistic Jews F4, understood of devils; to which, for the above reasons, they may be truly compared:

walketh about;
to and fro in the earth; see ( Job 1:7 ) as a lion runs about here and there, when almost famished with hunger; and it also denotes the insidious methods, wiles, and stratagems Satan takes to surprise men, and get an advantage of them: he takes a tour, and comes round upon them, upon the back of them, at an unawares, so that they have need to be always sober, and upon their guard:

seeking whom he may devour;
this is the end of his walking about: and the like is expressed in the Targum on ( Job 1:7 ) ( 2:2 )

``and Satan answered before the Lord, and said, from going about in the earth (ydbweb qdbml) , "to search into the works" of the children of men, and from walking in it;''

that so he might have something to accuse them of, and they fall a prey into his hands. This is the work he is continually employed in; he is always seeking to do mischief, either to the souls, or bodies, or estates of men, especially the former; though he can do nothing in either respect without a permission, not unless he "may"; and though this, with respect to body and estate, is sometimes granted, as in the case of Job, yet never with respect to the souls of any of God's elect, which are safe in Christ's hands, and out of his reach; this hinders not but that saints should be sober and watchful.


F3 Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 41. 4. Bereshit Rabba, sect. 82. fol. 41. 4. & Jarchi & Aruch in Mattanot Cehuna in ib.
F4 Lex. Cabal. p. 231, 417.

1 Peter 5:8 In-Context

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

Cross References 5

  • 1. See 1 Peter 1:13
  • 2. See Matthew 24:42
  • 3. Ephesians 4:27; Ephesians 6:11; Revelation 12:9, 12; [Job 1:9-12; Luke 22:31; 2 Corinthians 2:11]
  • 4. Job 1:7; Job 2:2
  • 5. [Psalms 22:21]
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.