1 Peter 4 Commentary

Changed lives of Christ’s followers (4:1-11)

Christ’s death dealt with sin once and for all. In that sense he has nothing more to do with sin.

Christians are united with Christ in his death, and therefore they too should have nothing more to do with sin. They should live no longer to please themselves but to please God (4:1-2). Christians must have no more involvement with the disgusting practices of their former days, no matter how much their reformed behaviour brings jeers and insults from their former friends (3-4).

Ungodly people must one day face divine judgment and condemnation, but in the case of believers, Christ has already borne that judgment and condemnation. The only judgment of sin that they experience is the suffering of their present physical existence, which reaches its climax in death. Those believers who are now dead believed the gospel that was preached to them while they were still living (i.e. during their earthly lives). Therefore, although they experienced physical death as one of the natural consequences of sin, they now live spiritually with God (5-6).

The final great events of the world’s history could begin at any time. Christians should be alert, but should not get over-excited. They should control themselves, pray, and act with love at all times (7-9). They should use their God-given abilities with diligence, whether in teaching God’s Word or in giving practical help to others. Above all they must work in such a way as to bring praise and glory to God (10- 11).

Joy amid persecution (4:12-19)

Christians should not be surprised when they have to suffer because of their faith in Christ. Their association with him means that they have to share his suffering now, just as they will share his glory in the future. They should be glad when they suffer for his sake, because it gives them added assurance that they are God’s people. They know that God is testing and purifying their faith (12-14). They have no


need to be downhearted because of persecution, provided such suffering is undeserved and not because of wrongdoing (15-16).

If present sufferings are, in a sense, God’s judgment on his people for a good purpose, how great will be the sufferings of unbelievers when God acts in judgment against them! When believers know that they suffer because it is God’s will for them and not because of any wrongdoing on their part, they will trust God to use these trials for their good (17-19).

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