1 Peter 4

The Word Made Fresh

1Therefore, because Christ underwent physical suffering, you too should prepare yourselves for the same treatment, because those who undergo physical suffering are done with sin. 2Live out the rest of your earthly life by God’s will, not by human desires. 3You have spent enough time already doing what Gentiles love to do – immoral passions, drunkenness, partying, carousing, and sinful idolatry. 4They are surprised when you stop joining them in those same depravities, and so they speak evil of you. 5But they are going to have to defend themselves before the one who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. 6This is why the good news was preached even to the dead, that they might live spiritually as does God, even though they were judged in the flesh as everyone is judged.

7The end of all these things is at hand, so be serious and discipline yourselves in prayer. 8Above all, be steadfast in your love for one another because love overcomes a multitude of sins. 9Offer hospitality to each other without complaint. 10Be good servants of the abundant grace of God and serve each other with whatever gifts you have received. 11Whoever speaks should speak as one who is delivering the words of God, and whoever serves should serve with the energy God supplies, and God will be glorified in everything through Jesus Christ to whom belongs the glory and power forever. Amen.

12Friends, don’t be shocked by the fiery ordeal that is testing you as if something strange was happening. 13Be happy to share in Christ’s suffering, so that you also may be glad and shout joyfully when his splendor is revealed. 14If you are verbally abused because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for God’s spirit of power and glory is resting on you. 15May none of you have to suffer as a murderer or a thief or any kind of criminal, or even as just a troublemaker. 16But if you are suffering because of Christ, don’t think of it as a disgrace. Thank God because you are called Christians. 17Judgment begins with God’s family, and that time has come. And if the judgment begins with us, what will happen to those who ignore the good news of God? 18“If those who are righteous are to be repaid during their lives; how much more the wicked and the sinful?”

19Therefore, allow those who are suffering because of God’s will to surrender themselves to a faithful Creator while they continue to do good things.


1-6: If you are willing to suffer for your faith, that is a pretty good indication that you are maturing in the faith, and gives you an inner assurance that you are forgiven. Early Christian teachers emphasized over and again that the goal of faith is to move from being guided by your own desires to being guided by God’s will. Verses 3 and 4 are significant — here is the difference between those who have had an honest encounter with Jesus and those who have not. Their lives are changed. Old habits based on human desires — immoral passions, drunkenness, etc. — are replaced by habits based on the guidance of the Spirit. Unbelievers who used to be their companions are surprised and fall into slandering those who no longer enjoy their company. But all will be judged, both the living and the dead. Here the author returns to the idea that Christ preached the good news to the dead (see again 3:19). The dead through Christ will live “in the spirit” though no longer in the flesh.

7-11: First generation Christians, especially those who had known Jesus personally, expected the “end of all things” at any moment. The church had to adjust to expectations as time went by, and that it did so successfully is one of the great success stories of Christianity. Discipline, love, and hospitality were therefore especially important: discipline, to keep the individual believer faithful; love, to preserve unity in the congregation; hospitality, to bring as many as possible into the fold of the faith. The author exhorts his readers to heroic levels of faith and loyalty.

12-19: The letter is addressed primarily to those who are undergoing persecution for being Christians. Evil is against God and God’s people, and they can therefore expect to suffer for the faith. He encourages them to refrain from sin — listing a handful of the worst ones in verse 15 — so that their suffering will not be deserved and therefore will be counted as a sharing in the suffering of Christ. He tells them to redouble their efforts to be faithful, quoting Proverbs 11:31. Righteousness in this instance should be understood as law-abiding. Simply keeping the law does not suffice for salvation; sinners can’t expect to be saved unless, of course, they obtain the forgiveness of their sins.


Always do your very best, and God will handle all the rest.