1 Peter 4
Living for God (4:1-6)
1 When Christ suffered and died for us, He died to sin once for all (Romans 6:10). In the same way, we too must suffer with Christ; our old sinful self with its sinful nature must be crucified (see Romans 6:6; 8:13; Galatians 5:24 and comments). We must also count ourselves dead to sin (see Romans 6:11 and comment). This is the meaning of Peter’s command here: … arm yourselves also with the same atti-tude—that is, with Christ’s attitude. He who suffers—who has died to sin—has put away sin. Sin no longer has any power over him (Romans 6:7). He is done with sin.
2 Therefore, having died to sin, we must no longer live for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. Paul writes: Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness (Romans 6:12-13). This is why Christ died for us, so that we might offer ourselves to God (Romans 6:13; 12:1), so that we might live the rest of [our] earthly life … for the will of God.
3 Therefore, we must stop doing what we used to do—that is, we must stop doing what pagans9 choose to do (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Ephesians 4:17-19). Rather, we must make new our minds, goals, and desires. We must put on the mind of Christ (see Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:22-24 and comments).
4 When we stop participating in the evil activities of our former friends, they will naturally be upset. They will be angry with us and revile us, because by our good life their evil will be exposed and condemned (see Ephesians 5:11).
5 Every evildoer will have to give an account to Christ, who is the judge of all men, both living and dead (John 5:22,27; Acts 10:42; Romans 2:16). Whoever does not accept Christ as Savior will in the end have to face Him as Judge.
6 The gospel was preached to men so that their sin might be judged in this life, and so that the penalty for their sin might be removed through faith in Christ—that is, so that their punishment might fall on Christ. This is Peter’s meaning when he says here: so that they (men) might be judged according to men in regard to the body. The bodies of believers die like the bodies of other men (because the judgment of sin is death), but their spirits do not die. Through faith in Christ, believers receive new spiritual life, which begins now in this life and lasts forever. That is, they live according to God in regard to the spirit.
Therefore, even though their bodies die, believers in Christ receive eternal life (John 5:24; 11:25-26). But those who do not accept Christ will, after death, receive the eternal judgment of God. They will receive eternal punishment.
The Gifts of God (4:7-11)
7 The end of all things—that is, the second coming of Christ—is near. We must each live our lives as if Jesus was going to come tomorrow (see Mark 13:33-37; Luke 12:35-36; 17:26-27).
We must remain clear minded and self-controlled, so that we can pray more effectively. As Peter wrote this, he surely had in mind the time when the disciples were in the garden of Gethsemane with Jesus, and because of sleepiness they could not stay awake to pray (Mark 14:37-40). Perhaps it was because Peter failed to pray in the garden that he later fell into temptation and denied his Lord (Mark 14:66-72).
8 Above all, love each other deeply. The commandments to love God andto love man are the first and greatest commandments (Mark 12:30-31). All other commands are included in these commandments to love (Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:14; Col-ossians 3:4). By our love for each other, we show the world that we are disciples of Christ and children of God (John 13:3435; 1 John 4:7).
… love covers over a multitude of sins. This means that love does not look at other people’s faults and weaknesses. Love keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5). Love not only covers our brother’s sin but it also “covers” our own sin; because to the extent we forgive our brother’s sins in love, to that same extent God will “cover,” or forgive, our sins (Matthew 6:12,14-15; Mark 11:25-26).
9 Christians must offer hospitality to all people, but especially to other believers. Not only that, they must do it without grumbling (Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2; 3 John 5-8). The more of our goods we share with others, the more God will give to us in return (2 Corinthians 9:6-8). And let us not forget that when we show hospitality to others, we are at the same time showing hospitality to Christ Himself (see Matthew 25:35,37-40). … whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:40).
10 Every Christian has received one or more gifts from God. These gifts can be both natural and spiritual gifts (see Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 and comments). Every gift is given for the common good of the members of the church (1 Corinthians 12:7). Whatever gift we have received, we have received it as stewards; we are to use it for others, not for ourselves.
No Christian can say: “I have no gift.” Every Christian has received at least one gift from God, and along with it, the grace and strength to use it. If we do not use the gifts we have been given in God’s service, He will punish us for it (see Matthew 25:14-30).
11 Here Peter mentions the two main kinds of Christian ministry: first, the ministry of the word—speaking the very words of God; and second, the ministry of service (see Acts 6:2-4). The first ministry is carried out mainly by pastors, elders, and evangelists.10 Those who teach and preach the word of God must do so as if God Himself were speaking. They must act as God’s spokesmen.
All Christians can take part in the second ministry, the ministry of serving and helping others. God will provide the means and strength—everything that is needed—for carrying out this ministry. If money is needed, God will provide it. But we can’t just wait around and expect God to do everything. We must use all ofour abilities, our strength, our time, and our wealth in God’s service. When we do this, we will bring glory to God. All our labors and efforts in this world have but one ultimate purpose, and that purpose is to glorify God.
Suffering for Being a Christian (4:12-19)
12 Some of the believers to whom Peter wrote this letter were suffering various kinds of trouble and persecution. Perhaps they were surprised and shocked and disillusioned by the troubles that had come upon them. They had thought that after believing in Christ they would receive blessing, joy, and prosperity. But instead of these good things, they had received trouble from their friends and persecution from the Romans. Some of them may have thought: “We have been betrayed.”
But Peter reminds his readers that just as gold is refined by fire, so their faith is being refined by the “fiery” or painful trial that has come upon them (see Mark 4:5-6,1617; 1 Peter 1:6-7).
13 But rejoice11 that you participate in the sufferings of Christ. For Christ, suffering was the road to glory; and it is the same for us. If we suffer for Christ now, we will share in His glory later (Matthew 5:10-12; Romans 8:17). When Christ comes to earth again, we will all the more rejoice with Him (Romans 8:18; 2 Thes-salonians 1:4-5). Therefore, during times of suffering, let us turn our thoughts to the glory and the joy of Christ, in which we shall one day share—if we stand firm. Paul wrote: … we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us (Romans 5:2-5). … if we endure, we will also reign with him (2 Timothy 2:12).
14 Anyone who faithfully follows Christ will from time to time be insulted because of the name of Christ (Psalm 69:7-9; 89:50-51; Matthew 10:22; John 15:1821). To bear reproach and abuse for Christ’s sake is not a disgrace but an honor and privilege(seeMatthew5:11; Acts5:41; Hebrews 11:26; 13:13; 1 Peter 4:16). If we bear Christ’s reproach, His Spirit—the Spirit of glory—and God Himself will come to us and remain with us (see John 14:23).
15 If we suffer for doing wrong, however, we bring no honor to Christ or to ourselves. There is no joy in suffering punishment we deserve. Therefore, let us make sure that any trouble we suffer is for Christ’s sake— that is, for doing good. Only in this way will we glorify God (see 1 Peter 2:19-20; 3:17 and comments).
16 In Peter’s time, the name Christian was despised by almost everyone. Many Christians were poor; some were slaves or servants. Some had been former Jews. Therefore, the Romans despised the Christians. To be called a “Christian” was a shameful thing. However, Peter says here, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed. Rather, praise God that you bear that name, because that is the name of the King of kings and Lord of lords (see verse 14 and comment).
17 God’s judgment against sin begins with the family of God—that is, with believers. God will judge Christians, and He will give a punishment for their sins. The punishment God gives for sin is spiritual death; this is the punishment that Jesus bore in our place (see verse 6 and comment). But think: if God’s judgment against the sins ofbelievers is so great that He gave His only Son to pay the price for those sins, then how much worse will be God’s judgment against the sins of those who do not obey the gospel of God—who do not accept Christ as their Savior.12 The judgment of God against unbelievers will be fearful and terrible (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10).
18 Here Peter quotes Proverbs 11:31. If the righteous must be judged and their faith tested by fire and painful trials, what will the end of the unrighteous be like! It is better by far to come to Christ and face His judgment against sin in this life, than to wait and face God’s final and terrible judgment in the next life.
19 Therefore, let us not be angry with God or man when suffering comes upon us. Because through such suffering we are being made holy. Through suffering our faith is being tested and strengthened. And through suffering we are being prepared to receive a place in God’s kingdom (Romans 8:17; Hebrews 12:5-7,10). We must commit ourselves, therefore, to God; He is faithful. Paul writes: … he (God) who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6). And he also writes: He (God) will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:8-9).
Therefore, let us commit ourselves to God, the righteous Judge (see 1 Peter 2:23). On the cross, Jesus’ last words were: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Peter heard Jesus speak those words. He surely remembered them as he wrote this verse.