Translations: Chinese GB Big5

1Peter 4:1-11 (web)

Suffering Persecution II

Identifying with Christ in His Sufferings

Live for God

4:1 Forasmuch then as Christ suffered for us in the flesh,
arm yourselves also with the same mind;
for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin;
4:2 that you no longer should live the rest of your time in the flesh
for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.
4:3 For we have spent enough of our past time doing the desire of the Gentiles,
and having walked in lewdness, lusts, drunken binges,
orgies, carousings, and abominable idolatries.
4:4 They think it is strange that you don't run with them
into the same excess of riot, blaspheming:

Because we're all going to die

4:5 who will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

4:6 For to this end was the gospel preached even to the dead,

that they might be judged indeed as men in the flesh,
but live as to God in the spirit.

Serve to bring glory to God

4:7 But the end of all things is near.
Therefore be of sound mind, self-controlled, and sober in prayer.
4:8 And above all things be earnest in your love among yourselves,
for love covers a multitude of sins.
4:9 Be hospitable one to another without grumbling.
4:10 According as each has received a gift,
be ministering it among yourselves,
as good stewards of the grace of God in its various forms.
4:11 If any man speaks, let it be as it were oracles of God.
If any man serves, let it be as of the strength which God supplies,
that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ,
to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Discussion Questions

If you decide to live for Christ, is it inevitable that you will suffer for it? (2Tim 3:12)
What kind of sufferings do we face?
Do you find that have much more in common with you Christian friends than with your non-Christian friends and colleagues?
What kind of things might be modern versions of what the pagans choose to do.
Do these seem surprised that you don't join them in such?
What simple phrases might you use to warn them of the judgment day?
How might you use your gift to serve?


A Result of Faith Persecution
Activities of Faith Prayer
Response of Faith Rejoicing

Suffer for Christ's Sake

1Peter 4:1,2 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

Sounds much along the lines of Php 2:5-8 "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!" In fact much of the Christian life involves such an attitude. Not simply action, but attitude - walking as Christ walked and with the same attitude, having the same kind of reasons for doing things as he had, namely doing the will of God despite the consequences to one's flesh, one's resources, one's dignity.

Also it says, "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires." Gal 5:24 For the grace of God "teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age" Tit 2:12 It is inevitable that for a person to live for the will of God, they will suffer in the flesh. And if for no other reason but that "the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish." Gal 5:17 

People Think You're Strange?

1Peter 4:3,4 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do— living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.

As for the sinful lifestyle characteristic of the worldly, there is no excuse. Peter here says such things "pagans choose to do". Sinners are so by choice. The wicked, out of their own free will, choose to live a lifestyle of sin, and so are accountable. For God would not hold people accountable for things over which they had no control. Thus sin incurs guilt because sinners choose to sin.

Likewise Christians are free to choose not to sin. For the instructions Peter is giving to Christians involves our willingness to obey. Likewise Paul writes, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world" Rom 12:2a So "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices  and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator." Col 3:5-10

As for the world's reaction to our repentance from our former way of life, Jesus said to his worldly brothers, "The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil." John 7:7 Whether it be by words or lifestyle, the Christian testifies of the world's evil, thus invoking hostility upon ourselves. This is part of the Christian life.

Pay Back Time!

1Peter 4:5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

"God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power" 2Th 1:6-9  So you who speak evil of the children of God, be prepared with some good excuse. This rhetoric of "us" versus "them" is common throughout the epistles. "They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us." 1John 4:5,6

We're also reminded of the Sheep/Goat judgement of Matthew 25 in which the judgement is based upon how one had treated Christ's brethren.. But understand that not everyone is a child of God. The "you", the percentage of children of God in the world, is at best 5% of the population. "But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His." Rom 8:9 And " He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." 1John 5:12

And by the way, who is it that will judge the living and the dead? Elsewhere Peter says, "He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he (Jesus) is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead." Acts 10:42  Likewise Paul says, "Christ Jesus will judge the living and the dead" 2Tim 4:1b As Paul says, "He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead." Acts 17:31

A Reason for Preaching the Gospel

1Peter 4:6 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

That is, for those Christians who have died, and perhaps Peter is speaking of those who have died as a consequence of their being persecuted for their faith (judged according to men in regard to the body) much as Christ died, these people had formerly had the gospel preached to them so that now, though killed by the world, they live to God in the spirit. For throughout this letter Peter is encouraging the elect to continue in the faith despite the hostility the world has against them.

Likewise Peter previously said, "having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation." 1Peter 2:12 Vindication for the Christian is largely in the future.

Prerequisites for Effective Prayer

1Peter 4:7  The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.

Prayer takes self-control. What is the real reason prayer alludes many of us? It's because we fail to exercise self-control over our flesh. Even in prayer clear mindedness and self-control must be exercised. In his parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, the Pharisee was zealous to pray about himself. His praying was simply a way of making himself feel religously superior to others. Also "prayer meetings" can end up simply being "gossip meetings" - place where Christians can either here the latest gossip about the personal lives of others, or air their grievances against their brethren.

Furthermore there are serious implications to the fact that the end of all things is near. How much today prayer is dominated by temporal concerns of this life rather than issues of eternal concern. Likewise Paul writes, "You, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled" 1Thess 5:4-8a

Above all things

1Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for "love will cover a multitude of sins."

It is a common characteristic of Christians to love each other. In fact it is a measure of whether one has been born of God, as John says in 1John 3:10 and consequently a basis for one's assurance of salvation, "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers." 1John 3:14a The challenge is to mature beyond this and have a deep or "fervent" love for one another. Paul writes to the Thessalonians saying, "May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you" 1Thess 3:12 And Peter himself said earlier in this letter, "love one another fervently with a pure heart" 1Peter 1:22c

May seem obscure as to what Peter means by "love will cover a multitude of sins." But consider he's quoting from Pr 10:12 "Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins." And a related verse in Pr 17:9 "He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends." So in the first covering all sins is put in contrast to stirring up strife. And furthermore given the second verse where covering a transgression (and yes all the "covers" are the same Greek word in the LXX as in 1Peter) with repeating a matter, it would seem reasonable that "covers a multitude of sins" means to not unnecessarily stir up strife by talking about someone's sins. It's essentially an overlooking of sins.

However as we can see throughout the gospels and letters to Christians not only general sins, put sins of individuals and groups are often brought up. But the purpose is not to stir up strife but to edify. Pr 17:9 seems to contrast covering a transgression with gossip. You've met those people who talk about every sin someone else has committed in their view. It's not love and people don't want gossipers as their friends.

Enthusiastic Hospitality

1Peter 4:9
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

That is, "Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Rom 12:13 Hospitality would have been an essential ingredient in practicing Christian love in the midst of the type of persecution many faced those days. Christians were practically thrown out of Israel and being homeless would have had to rely on a good deal of hospitality. But all of us like a degree of privacy, so there is the temptation of begrudging such requests. The Greek lexicon tells us that "grumbling" means "a secret displeasure not openly avowed" So it's not sufficient to keep one's complaints to oneself. Having a spirit of hospitality involves not even complaining in oneself over the matter. And such an attitude should be characteristic of all Christian work as Paul says, "Do all things without complaining and disputing" Php 2:14

Gifts - Use them!

1Peter 4:10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

In my estimation there are characteristically two major roadblocks to applying this verse. One is the restrictions institutional Christianity places upon individuals exercising their gifts. And secondly is the reluctance of individuals to take up the responsibility to exercise their gifts. In fact some will claim not be gift simply to avoid doing any work. "But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it." Eph 4:7 When any part of the body stops functioning, the whole body suffers. "Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.  From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." Eph 4:15,16

Apply Gifts Seriously

1Peter 4:11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Not that a person should, in some kind of charismaniac fashion, reckon their own words to be the words of God and thus above scrutiny. What Peter is saying is to be as thoughtful about what you say as God is about what He says. Jesus said, "I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.  For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." Mt 12:36,37  In fact why not quote the Bible? In my study guides I quote the Bible in red not only to distinguish it from my own words, but also as a personal measure as to the degree to which I'm quoting the Word of God and the degree to which I'm sharing my own opinion. This is one measure I use in evaluating other teachers as well. So "Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few." Ecc 5:2

A prerequisite for Christian ministry is a sense of our own inadequacy, but also a trust in God to provide us the ability to carry out His ministry. These often develop over time and experience as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit. But God can't direct a ship which is not moving. And if the car is parked, turning the wheel won't change its direction. So let's get moving. And I counsel young Christians not to be too concerning about identifying their gifts, but rather to fulfill their responsibilities and God will reveal their gifts while they do so.

1Peter 4:1-11 RAP

4:1 Since Christ suffered, have the same mind
For those who cease from sin will suffer as Christ in kind
2 Do not live your earthly life for your own desire
But rather live to do God's will and set your goals much higher
3 You spent enough time in the past doing what pagans do
Carousing at drunken orgies and worshipping idols too
4 They think it strange you do not plunge into the flood as they
5 They heap abuse, but God will judge them on the last day
6 For to this end the gospel was preached to those who are now dead
Though judged by men they live with God, just like the scriptures said
7 The end of all things is near, I say
Watch and be sober so you can pray
8 Love each other deeply, for love covers many a sin
9 Be hospitable without grumbling if someone need to move-in
10 As each one has received let him served one another
So that God may be praised by serving your brother.
11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as God would
If anyone serves, let him do as he should
With all the strength that God supplied
That in all things God may be glorified.

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Nov 27,2016