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) Suffered in the flesh… in the flesh. Jesus suffered physical pain and death in his 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. Peter gives some examples of fleshly desires in 1 Peter 2:1 and 4:3.
(c) The will of God is for you to walk in newness of life by trusting in his Son Jesus (John 6:40, Rom. 6:4).
As a slave of sin you had no choice but to walk in the flesh (see next verse). Having been redeemed with the precious blood of Jesus (1 Pet. 1:18–19), you can now walk in the new way of the spirit.
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 the self-destructive life of the flesh.
(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 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).
Peter sees two outcomes for those who malign and mock Christians. Some will have to give the Lord a “please explain” for their poor conduct, while others will repent and join you in glorifying the Lord when he returns (1 Pet. 2:12).
(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).
The prospect of judgment should not frighten the believer. One with the Lord, his future is your future. You can look forward to Judgment Day with confidence (see entry for 1 John 4:17).
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. We are all called to live in the spirit but here Peter is talking about “those who are dead,” meaning people who died prior to the coming of Jesus Christ. Although they died, they yet 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.
Peter did not know when the Son of Man would return (Matt. 24:36), yet he 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. Don’t waste your life, but 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) Prayer is an appropriate activity for those who are watchful and awaiting the Lord’s return. Prayer is conversing with your heavenly Father. A healthy prayer life will include: praising the Lord and giving thanks for all he has done (Acts 16:25, Col. 1:12, 3:17), praying for others, including those in authority (Eph. 1:16, 1 Tim. 2:1), and presenting your requests to God (Php. 4:6, 1 John 5:14–15).
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, our 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) One another. Fellow believers (see entry for 1 Pet. 1:22).
(c) Love covers a multitude of sins. To cover or hide the sins of others is to choose to not see their sins. “Love overlooks the mistakes of others” (Pro. 17:9, TPT).
Although there are times when love compels us to confront the hurts that have been done to us by others (e.g., Matt. 18:15), we are not the sin-police. We are not to set ourselves up as little judges (Jas. 4:11). Our part is to love our brothers and sisters and stick with them through thick and thin.
When Jesus came to earth, he did not go around finding fault and pointing out our sin. He just loved us despite our faults. Go and do likewise.
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) One another. Fellow believers (see entry for 1 Pet. 1:22).
(c) 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) One another. Fellow believers (see entry for 1 Pet. 1:22).
(d) Good stewards. One way to tell if we are being good stewards of God’s grace is that the exercise of our gifts and talents results 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. We have all been called to proclaim the goodness of God (Mark 16:15, Heb. 5:12). Note that some older translations say “If any man speak” giving the impression that only men can speak in church. However, the original text is gender neutral. If Peter had believed women should not speak, preach, teach, or prophesy, this would have been the perfect time to say so.
As a Jewish man, Peter had been raised under the law-keeping covenant. The old covenant was racist (Gentiles are unclean) and sexist (women are inferior), but the new covenant is neither. After being with Jesus, Peter understood that racial and gender distinctions are 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 you’re speaking the very words of God, and let no one silence you.
(b) The utterances of God. If God has gifted you to speak, then speak boldly and don’t hold back. Don’t let timidity or the voice of condemnation cause you to stay silent.
(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 (your 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) Supplies. The original word (choregeo) means to pay for the chorus. In Greek festivals and plays, a wealthy patron would fund the performance of live music. They would hire, train, and dress the performers. Similarly, the God who has called and gifted you to shine will train, dress, and provide you with everything you need to deliver a performance worthy of his name.
(f) 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.
(g) 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 have been recognized as one of God’s children. You should consider this a blessing and not something to be ashamed of (1 Pet. 4:14, 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 that you remind the world of Jesus, and that’s something to celebrate.
When we are persecuted on account of Christ, we are to “rejoice and be glad,” said Jesus, “for great is your reward in heaven” (Matt. 5:12). The reward we get is the honor of being numbered among the prophets who were also persecuted.
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 into 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, for you are a dearly-loved 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 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 face a period of increased persecution.
The scattered believers had already experienced a measure of suffering (1 Pet. 2:19–20), but now the judgment, or condemnation, of Christians had become a fiery ordeal (1 Pet. 4:12¬). The apostle Paul was dead and in a year or two Peter himself would be crucified (2 Pet. 1:14). If you were a follower of Christ, martyrdom was a real prospect (Rev. 2:10).
In the beginning, the New Testament church only had to deal with persecution from the religious Jews. But now the Gentiles (e.g., the idol-worshippers and imperious Romans), who formerly had been agnostic about the gospel and the rise of the church, had come to an unfavorable judgment. Along with the Jews, they began to condemn and persecute the church throughout the Roman world (e.g., Heb. 10:32–34, 1 Pet. 2:12).
(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? Those who reject the grace of God that is revealed in the gospel will ultimately be destroyed (2 Pet. 3:7).
Peter is not saying that 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 lost eternally.
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 just 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), the 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
AND IF IT IS WITH DIFFICULTY THAT THE RIGHTEOUS IS SAVED, WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GODLESS MAN AND THE SINNER?
(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 lost forever. (The capitalized quote is from Proverbs 11:31 as it appears in the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament.)
(b) The righteous are those who have been made right with God by receiving, through faith, the free gift of Christ’s righteousness. See entry for Righteousness.
(c) What will become of the godless? They will reap death and destruction (2 Pet. 3:7).
(d) Godless. The original word (asebes) is translated elsewhere as ungodly. To be ungodly is to have nothing but contempt for the things of God. See entry for 2 Pet. 2:5.
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 Christians. It is not God’s will for you to be mistreated, but persecution happens (2 Tim. 3:12).
The wrong way to read this verse (and 1 Pet. 3:17) is, “Sometimes it is God’s will for you to suffer.” That is not what Peter is saying. The context is persecution (1 Pet. 4:13–14). “If anyone suffers as a Christian” (1 Pet. 4:16). Why would God want you to be persecuted for trusting in him? To “suffer according to the will of God” is to be persecuted because you are in the will of God.
(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, and never disappoint you. His promises are unbreakable and his love never fails.
(d) Doing what is right. 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 he will bear his righteous fruit in your life.
The Grace Commentary is a work in progress with new content added regularly. Sign up for occasional updates below. Got something to say? Please use the Feedback page. To report typos or broken links on this page, please use the comment form below.
- 1 Peter 4:1
- 1 Peter 4:2
- 1 Peter 4:3
- 1 Peter 4:4
- 1 Peter 4:5
- 1 Peter 4:6
- 1 Peter 4:7
- 1 Peter 4:8
- 1 Peter 4:9
- 1 Peter 4:10
- 1 Peter 4:11
- 1 Peter 4:12
- 1 Peter 4:13
- 1 Peter 4:14
- 1 Peter 4:15
- 1 Peter 4:16
- 1 Peter 4:17
- 1 Peter 4:18
- 1 Peter 4:19