1 Peter 4

1 Peter 4:1

Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,

(a) In the flesh… in the flesh. In the body.

(b) Arm yourselves also with the same purpose. Have the same mindset as Christ when it comes to sin.

(c) Has ceased from sin. Whoever has died is done with sin.

Satan wants you to think that you have no choice when it comes to sin. “I have a sinful nature. I can’t help what I do.” But the old person you used to be was crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6–7). You don’t have a sinful nature. In union with the Lord, you have the nature of Christ himself (2 Pet. 1:4). So reckon yourself dead to sin and live for God (Rom 6:11).

1 Peter 4:2

so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

(a) Live the rest of the time in the flesh. For as long as you live in your earthly body.

(b) The lusts of men or the lusts of the flesh are the desires of the unspiritual life. These include the desire to get your own way, get everything for yourself, and to appear important (see entry for 1 John 2:16).

(c) The will of God is for you to walk in newness of life by putting your faith in his Son Jesus (John 6:40, Rom. 6:4, 1 Pet. 4:2, 6).

As a slave of sin you had no choice but to walk in the flesh (see next verse). But having been redeemed with the precious blood of Jesus (1 Pet. 1:18–19), you can walk in the new way of the spirit (see 1 Pet. 4:6).

1 Peter 4:3

For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.

(a) The time already past. You’ve spent enough time living that dead-end way of life.

(b) The desire of the Gentiles. The futile and faithless life of the unbeliever.

(c) Sensuality. To pursue a course of sensuality is to walk after the flesh and without any regard for the things of God. It’s living in response to your natural appetites, leaning on your strengths (your abilities and understanding), and living solely from the basis of your earthly experience (what you see, hear, touch, know, etc.). The sensual life of independence can be contrasted with the spiritual life of reliance on God.

(d) Lusts, etc. The desires of the flesh are revealed in various deeds of the flesh (Gal. 5:19–21).

1 Peter 4:4

In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you;

(a) They are surprised. Those who live in the flesh marvel that you no longer follow them down that self-destructive path. Blind to their bondage, they cannot understand why you no longer join them in their revelries.

(b) Excesses of dissipation. The mindless wastefulness of that corrupt and empty lifestyle.

(c) They malign you. They mock and revile you.

1 Peter 4:5

but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

(a) Give account. Those who mock you will have to explain themselves before the judgment seat of God (Rom. 14:10).

(b) The living and the dead. Everyone is judged, including those who are dead at the time of Christ’s return (Acts 10:42, 2 Tim. 4:1, Rev. 20:12–13). However, the prospect of judgment should not frighten the believer. Since we are judged by our response to Christ, our judgment has taken place. Since we have responded to Christ in faith, we are judged righteous, acceptable, and pleasing to God.

1 Peter 4:6

For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.

(a) The gospel; see entry for 1 Pet. 4:17.

(b) This purpose. Because the dead are judged (see previous verse), they need to hear the gospel.

(c) Those who are dead. Those who died prior to the cross (see entry for 1 Pet. 3:19).

(d) Judged in the flesh as men. They died. The sentence of death came to them (1 Cor. 15:22).

(e) They may live in the spirit as born again believers and children of God. Although their physical bodies have died, they may be clothed with resurrection bodies as all believers are (1 Cor. 15:52, Php. 3:21).

(f) The will of God is for none to perish and all to repent. (2 Pet. 3:9). How does this apply to those who perished before the cross? How could the dead put their faith in the Risen Lord before the Lord rose? Either they had a prophetic understanding of what was to come (1 Pet. 1:10), or Someone had to visit them in the grave and tell them the good news (1 Pet. 3:19).

1 Peter 4:7

The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.

(a) The end of all things refers to the end of the age, the end of sin, Judgment Day, and the glorious return of the Lord to earth.

The Lord told Peter that nobody knows when the Son of Man would return (Matt. 24:36), yet Peter and the other apostles understood by the Holy Spirit that they were living in the last days. We continue to live in the last days and the end of all things is nearer than ever (see entry for Heb. 1:2).

(b) Sound judgment. Live intentionally with the end in mind. Live with purpose.

(c) Sober spirit. Don’t be so consumed with your appetites that you never give a moment’s thought to the Lord’s return. Live with eternity in mind; see entry for 1 Pet. 1:13.

(d) The purpose of prayer. It’s hard to pray when you’re drunk.

1 Peter 4:8

Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

(a) Fervent. The original word (ektenes) means intent (as in intentional), earnest, and constant. True love is not a feeling but a decision. It is choosing to humble ourselves and prefer one another (1 Pet. 5:5). It’s laying down our rights, agendas, and our lives as Christ laid down his life for us (John 15:13). Such a love cannot be manufactured from within. It can only be received and passed on from the One who is the Source of love (1 John 4:19).

(b) Love covers a multitude of sins. It is the love of God that covers and cures our sins (Pro. 10:12).

If we repaid evil with evil, the world would soon be swallowed up by violence. Jesus shows us another way. He loves us so that we can love others, and he forgives us so that we can forgive others (Eph. 4:32). Only the relentless love of God can set us free from sin and selfishness.

1 Peter 4:9

Be hospitable to one another without complaint.

(a) Be hospitable. Give yourself to others. Open your heart and your home to your brothers and sisters (Rom. 12:13).

When we open our hearts to the love of God, we find the doors of our hearts opening to people. Jesus was a people-person. As we allow him to express his love in our lives, we become people-people too.

(b) Without complaint. Do it cheerfully and out of love. Don’t offer meals and beds because you have to; do it because we’re family.

1 Peter 4:10

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

(a) Each one has received a special gift. Every believer has been graced by God with spiritual gifts for the purpose of building the church (1 Cor. 12:7, 14:12).

(b) Employ it. Put your gift to work.

You may think that you need a special qualification before you can serve, or that you are disqualified by your gender or pedigree, but Peter says no such thing. You are qualified by the Lord. The grace of God that empowered the apostles, empowers you (Rom. 12:6).

(c) Good stewards. The way to tell if we are being good stewards of God’s grace is that our good works result in praise to our heavenly Father (Matt. 5:16).

(d) Manifold grace means God’s grace comes in a variety of flavors. The original word for manifold (poikilos) means motley and is suggestive of a “many-colored tapestry” (to quote the Passion Translation). Just as it is a mistake to limit God, it’s a mistake to think his gifts and grace conform to traditional ministry types. For every problem and need, the Creator has a creative and life-giving solution.

(e) Grace of God; see entry for 1 Pet. 5:5.

1 Peter 4:11

Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

(a) Whoever speaks. If you have been graced by God to preach, teach, prophesy, or otherwise speak, don’t hold back. Don’t let timidity or the voice of condemnation cause you to neglect your gift.

As a Jewish man, Peter had been raised under the law-keeping covenant. The old covenant was racist (Jews are special) and sexist (women are inferior), but the new covenant is neither. After being with Jesus, Peter understood that racial and gender distinctions were irrelevant to the ministry of the Spirit (Gal. 3:28).

Peter calls us to speak and serve (1 Pet. 2:9, 3:7, 15, 4:11) and not once does he rule out women. If God has gifted you to speak, then speak as though speaking the very words of God, and let no one silence you.

(b) The utterances of God. If God has gifted you to speak and given you words to speak, then speak boldly and don’t hold back.

(c) Whoever serves. It is the grace of God that qualifies you to serve in his name.

(d) The strength which God supplies. Whatever you do, do it in the strength and power of the Lord.

Rely on your own strength (our natural abilities and understanding), and you will be fruitless and worn out (Jer. 17:5–6). But those who lean on the Lord’s strength and direction will be rested, blessed, and very fruitful (Jer. 17:7–8).

(e) In all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God. Don’t do it to make a name for yourself. Do it to make Jesus famous.

(f) Glory and dominion forever. Peter is quoting a doxology or praise prayer that was known in the New Testament church (Rev. 1:6, 5:13).

1 Peter 4:12

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;

(a) Beloved; see entry for 1 Pet. 2:11

(b) The fiery ordeal among you. The church was experiencing a time of severe persecution. See entry for 1 Pet. 4:17.

(c) For your testing. The trials of life reveal your true identity. If you are being persecuted for your faith, it means you are living for God (2 Tim. 3:12). You should consider this a blessing and not something to be ashamed of (1 Pet. 4:16).

(d) As though some strange thing were happening to you. We should not be surprised when trials come. Jesus warned that we would be hated on account of his Name (Matt. 10:22). “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20).

1 Peter 4:13

but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.

(a) Share the sufferings. Jesus Christ faced persecution. We share in his sufferings if we are persecuted for being a Christian (1 Pet. 4:16).

(b) Keep on rejoicing. To be persecuted on account of your faith in Christ means you remind the world of Jesus, and that’s a good thing.

Peter preached what he practiced. After he and John were flogged and released from their sham trial before the Sanhedrin, they left “rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for his name” (Acts 5:41).

(c) At the revelation of his glory. When the Lord returns to earth in glory (Matt. 25:31). The context indicates that Peter is talking about the glorious return of the Lord (1 Pet. 4:5, 7).

(d) Rejoice with exultation. For the persecuted believer there is joy now and more joy to come when the Lord returns. Heaven honors those who shine for Jesus (Matt. 5:12).

1 Peter 4:14

If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

(a) Reviled for the name of Christ. If you are insulted, mocked or slandered for being a Christian.

(b) You are blessed; see entry for 1 Pet. 3:14.

(c) The Spirit of glory and of God is the Holy Spirit who both rests on you and dwells in you (Rom. 8:9). The Holy Spirit doesn’t come and go but he abides in you forever (John 14:17).

(d) Rests on you. When you are reviled for the sake of Christ, it means that those in darkness can see the touch of God on your life. They may call you a troublemaker and throw you in prison. But their slander is evidence that the Lord is with you and on you.

1 Peter 4:15

Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler;

Suffers. There’s good suffering and bad suffering. If you are persecuted for being a Christian, that’s a reason to rejoice (1 Pet. 4:13–14). But if you are locked up for being a criminal, you have nothing to be proud of.

1 Peter 4:16

but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.

(a) Suffers as a Christian. Christians may suffer trials on account of their faith in Christ (1 Pet. 1:6). Whether you are slandered as an evildoer (1 Pet. 2:12, 3:16) or experience a fiery ordeal (1 Pet. 4:12), learn to see these trials as an opportunity to bring glory to God.

(b) Christian. This word, which appears only three times in the Bible, means a follower of Christ (Acts 11:26, 26:28). In a New Testament context, it does not mean a follower of a religion called Christianity. Josephus, in his Antiquities, records that Christ rose on the third day and the tribe of Christians were “so named from him.”

(c) Not to be ashamed. Hold your head high you child of God.

The devil wants to shipwreck your faith and undermine your good conscience. He will tell you lies to make you feel like you’ve done something wrong or that your faith isn’t real. But we should never be ashamed for being recognized as a follower of Christ. Indeed, we should count it as a blessing (1 Pet. 4:14).

(d) Glorify God. Thank God that you have been counted worthy of the name Christian.

(e) In this name. In the early days of the church, the label Christian was considered derogatory. But there is no shame in being recognized as a follower of a Christ.

1 Peter 4:17

For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

(a) It is time for judgment to begin. The church was about to experience intense persecution. The judgment or condemnation of Christians would lead to suffering (1 Pet. 2:19–20, 3:17). Peter reminds the church that “the fiery ordeal” they are facing means they are sharing “in the sufferings of Christ” (1 Pet. 4:12¬–13).

In the beginning, the church only had to deal with persecution from religious Jews. But by the time of Peter’s letter, the situation was deteriorating. Gentiles (e.g., idol-worshippers, Roman officials) were also persecuting Christians for their faith in Christ (e.g., Heb. 10:32–34, 1 Pet. 2:12). The apostle Paul was possibly dead and Peter would soon be crucified (2 Pet. 1:14). If you were a follower of Christ, martyrdom was a real prospect (Rev. 2:10).

(b) The household of God. In the New Testament, believers are often referred to as the family or household of God. See entry for 1 Pet. 2:5.

(c) What will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? Christians may experience hardships on account of persecution, but those who reject the gospel will ultimately suffer worse consequences.

Peter is not saying we have to go through difficulties to prove ourselves righteous any more than he is saying God disciplines his church with punishment. He’s saying choices have consequences. Better to suffer and be reviled for being a Christian, than to be eternally lost and separated from God.

Further reading: “It’s time for judgment to begin with the house of God

(d) The gospel revealed in the Bible goes by several names. There is the gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:1) or the gospel of Christ (Rom. 15:19, 1 Cor. 9:12, 2 Cor. 2:12, 9:13, 10:14, Gal. 1:7, Php. 1:27, 1 Th. 3:2). There is the gospel of God (Mark 1:14, Rom 1:1, 15:16, 2 Cor. 11:7, 1 Th. 2:2, 8, 9), gospel of the blessed God (1 Tim. 1:11), and the gospel of his Son (Rom 1:9). There is the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 4:23, 9:35, 24:14, Luke 16:16), and the gospel of the glory of Christ (2 Cor. 4:4). These are different labels for the one and only gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24). See entry for The Gospel.

1 Peter 4:18


(a) If it is with difficulty. Being a Christian is no picnic when you are being slandered or persecuted for your faith. Yet it is better to suffer briefly than be without God and lost forever.

(b) The righteous are those who have been made right with God by receiving, through faith, the free gift of righteousness. See entry for Righteousness.

(c) What will become of the godless? They will be lost.

1 Peter 4:19

Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.

(a) Those who suffer according to the will of God. Those who are persecuted for being a Christian.

It is not God’s will for you to be mistreated, but you will be mistreated for walking in the will of God (2 Tim. 3:12). You will be mocked by those who are unspiritual and who live only to gratify their flesh (1 Pet. 4:4).

(b) The will of God is for you to put your faith in Jesus and walk in newness of life; see entry for 1 Pet. 4:2.

(c) A faithful Creator. You can trust the Creator with your life because he is faithful. He will never leave you, never let you down, never disappoint you. His promises are unbreakable and his love never fails.

(d) Doing what is right. Living righteously because your faith is in the Righteous One;

Right believing leads to right living. When your heart is settled in the faithfulness of God, you will live righteously without any conscious effort. The Righteous One will fill your heart with his righteous desires and bear his righteous fruit in your life.

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