Here is a Bible study and commentary on 1st Peter chapter four.
First Peter 4:1-3 “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.”
The Apostle Peter is telling us that we are no longer to live in the flesh because this only brings death (Rom 6:23b), and the former times when we lived in “sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry” are history for us. Of course we still fall into sin, but we don’t sit there and bask in it. We get up and repent, and so the days of living in in these evil ways are behind us. That explains why “they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1st Pet 4:4-5).
What does Peter mean by saying that if we have “suffered in the flesh” we have “ceased from sin?”
How can we “arm ourselves” by thinking this way?
First Peter 4:7-9 “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
Most of the Christians living in the days of the apostles thought that the end of the age was near, and maybe that’s why Peter wrote that “The end of all things is at hand.” In a way, he is still right because no one knows what tomorrow may bring, and no one has any guarantee of living beyond today, so today is the day of salvation (2nd Cor 6:2). Judgement comes after death (Heb 9:27), so today is the day to be saved. We are to focus on “loving one another earnestly” or sincerely, and not just with words. Hospitality includes the fact that we don’t grumble but give thanks to God, and this should compel us to “be self-controlled and sober-minded.”
How does love cover a “multitude of sins?”
Why does Peter mention we are to show hospitality but “without grumbling?”
First Peter 4:10-11 “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
God have given each of us spiritual gifts, but these gifts are not for us but for the church and they are also intended to glorify God, therefore we must be good stewards of the gifts God has given us, meaning we must use these gifts and not simply bury them like the unwise steward did (Matt 25:18). Whatever we do, we are to do everything so that “God may be glorified through Jesus Christ,” and the Father desires that His Son be glorified.
What are the gifts that Peter is mentioning here?
How can we be good stewards of God’s gifts?
How do they glorify God and Jesus Christ?
First Peter 4:12-14 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”
You don’t have to be surprised when persecution or trials come. In fact, we’re to rejoice over these persecutions? Why? Because the “Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you,” just as Jesus promised “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:10), but also “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt 5:11-12). Don’t you want that blessing? I am sure I will receive many from this article. Just read the comments and you’ll see why persecution is a blessed thing. Thank you to my persecutors…you have just blessed me.
How are you being persecuted?
Why are we blessed by being persecuted?
First Peter 4:15-17 “But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”
Persecution is one thing, but suffering for doing evil is another. There is no blessing in suffering for our own sins, but if we suffer for being a Christian, “let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.” Judgment starts in the church, meaning we don’t judge the world. That is God’s job and He will do it perfectly, as the Apostle Paul wrote, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Rom 12:19). Today, unbelievers are simply storing up God’s wrath but for the Christian, God’s wrath on account of our sins has been placed on Jesus Christ. Do you still reject Christ? If so, it is “because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Rom 2:4) and that’s when “He will render to each one according to his works” (Rom 2:6).
Why does Peter separate suffering for doing good and suffering for doing evil?
How does judgment “begin at the household of God?”
First Peter 4:18-19 “And If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner? Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”
It is interesting that even the righteous are “scarcely saved,” and since that is true, how much worse will it be for “the ungodly and the sinner?” The author of Hebrews answers this question by telling us that it is “a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries” (Heb 10:27), and again warning unbelievers, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:31).
Why does Peter say Christians are “scarcely saved?”
Why does Peter ask, “what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?
Chapter four of 1st Peter is a call to live a holy life, to separate ourselves from sin, to ponder how we are scarcely saved, and to use God’s gifts to glorify Him through Jesus Christ. Peter ties in our calling and suffering and tells us that it is to be expected, so we shouldn’t be surprised by it when it comes. The real surprise would be if we’re never persecuted. It that’s the case, I suggest a person examines themselves to see if they truly are in the faith, because the fact is, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2nd Tim 3:12), and “all” in the Greek means exactly the same thing in English: all!
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.