1 Peter Chapters 4 and 5 Study

4:1: This verse is a reference to (1 Peter) chapter 3:17-18 “For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.  For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit”

1 Peter 4:1 is further proving that even though we cannot die to atone for sins like Christ’s death on the cross provided an atonement for mankind, we must follow Christ in walking as He walked in order to partake of His atonement, dying to sin to do the will of God.  

An example of arming ourselves with a mind prepared to suffer in the flesh in order to do the will of God would be Uriah in the book of 2 Samuel.  Uriah feared God so greatly and had trained himself to walk in God’s principles and His appointed boundaries to the point where he would not open a letter which he was commanded to carry from King David to Joab the Chief Captain of the Israelite Army.  David, in his sin, was seeking to have Uriah killed because David had committed adultery with Uriah’s wife and made her pregnant (which Uriah didn’t know about since it wasn’t a public matter at this point).  So David wrote a letter to Joab commanding him to put Uriah at the forefront of the hottest battle so that Uriah would die in battle.  And this was all the more egregious because David knew that Uriah was such a trustworthy faithful person that he would not go outside of proper boundaries and open a letter which was correspondence between his superiors (or open a letter addressed to anyone else period).  Uriah doubtlessly would have been curious about the contents of this letter- but he wasn’t going to go outside of God-ordained boundaries.  David knew that Urijah was so stable in righteousness that he could trust him with one hundred percent confidence with a letter which was basically a plan for Uriah’s murder.  Shortly before that, when David had called Uriah back to Jerusalem on the pretext of inquiring about the war with the Ammonites, Uriah would not go back to his house to be with his wife despite David pushing him to do this due to the fact that his fellow soldiers were at war and in discomfort.  Uriah had armed himself with something much more important than his military weapons.  He had armed himself with a mind to walk in God’s commandments and ways.  He fits in especially well with Peter’s theme in this epistle since he is man who was greatly harmed in his righteousness, yet with Judgment Day and eternity in the equation, he will yet be victorious and his righteousness will be proven to be exceedingly profitable in spite of the calamity which he faced in his righteousness in this life.

Consider too with 1 Peter 4:1 Jesus words in the gospels.   

Matthew 5:29-30: “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.  And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”

It’s also notable that Peter could talk to Christians in Apostolic churches about suffering in the flesh to cease from sin and do the will of God without having to make a 30 minute or more detour to explain what he meant.  Now however, most churches have another problem altogether, one that is downright damnable, where the preacher takes a big detour to explain away what Peter said here.

4:2: The lusts of men and the will of God are incompatible.  It is impossible to follow both, though many double minded people delude themselves somehow to wrongly think that they can indeed pursue both.  See Matthew 12:50, Matthew 7:21-27, and 1 John 2:15-17 for a related mini study.

4:3-4: Speaking evil of those who do not do evil with them!  But they usually never frame it like that.  

4:5: We saw in James 5:9 “behold, the judge standeth before the door.”  He is going to judge each of us in His courtroom where all the facts will be laid bare and there will be no partiality.  

Remember also here what we read back in 1 Peter 1:15-17: “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.  And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear.”

4:6: I see three ways to look at this verse, though it is reasonable to believe that Peter had only one in mind.  We’ll also get to one thing that Peter definitely did not mean here.

One) The most natural way to look at this in its context is that Peter means that the Gospel has been preached to those who are spiritually dead that they might disassociate from the sinful values of men and live unto God through Jesus Christ by suffering for truth in the midst of an unrighteous world.  That is exactly what Peter is talking about in the preceding and following verses.

Two)  It perhaps could mean that the Gospel has been preached to those who are spiritually dead that, though they’ll die a physical death eventually (which is the sentence imposed upon mankind in this fallen world), those who repent and believe the Gospel and endure in the faith in Christ in this world might yet be resurrected by God’s Spirit and yet live unto God in His eternal kingdom rather than face eternal damnation like the rest of mankind will.

Three) Another way to look at this would be as a slight variation of the second view.  Peter could be referencing those who have already died physically who repented towards God and were reconciled to Him while they lived.  He could be speaking of their resurrection unto life and exhorting the Christians to be faithful in order to be partakers with them in glory.  Christ’s Gospel is everlasting.  It was foreshadowed throughout Old Testament times, and the knowledge of the revelation of the true God was spread throughout the world in addition to the things which God has inherently made known to man about Himself to every person through creation and the testimony of His law written in every person’s heart.

There is truth to two latter views even if they aren’t exactly what Peter was intending here.  I believe that is the first view which is also the most likely thing Peter meant considering the context.  I include the other two views since they are possible, and since they are still true even if not specifically communicated through 1 Peter 4:6.

This verse is definitely not teaching that people can repent and believe in Christ unto salvation after they die.

4:7: In the third chapter of Peter’s next epistle recorded in Scripture (2 Peter) he gives an explanation of how this statement was true even in the first century.

4:8: Remember that Peter is writing to Christian fellowships.  This is a statement which could easily be abused, but principles to prevent such abuse have been covered in our other studies.  It is often the case that Christians who have fallen into sin, and have really repented after they have fallen, can be much helped or stumbled based upon whether the Christians in their life seek their best interest and whether they unnecessarily bring up their past sins or try to use those against them.  Those who have fervent charity won’t be such a bad influence.  Those with fervent charity will rather bare other’s infirmities and not stir up strife through personal frustration and rash judgment.  1 Corinthians chapter 5 is a good reply to hypocrites who might twist a verse like this to vilify a church for excommunicating them while they practice sin.

4:9-10: These are examples which make it obvious that being a faithful Christian might really cause inconvenience and disrupt one’s life- even without persecution put into the equation.

4:11: We are each accountable for what God has said in the Bible.  We cannot add to Scripture by our words.  A Christian’s speech should be in line with God’s Word and their manner of speech should be consistent with the principles of God’s Word for godly, sound speech.  

We also see here that it is not proper for every Christian to think they can do any ministry task.  Peter is not saying we shouldn’t embrace challenges, especially to meet real needs that aren’t likely to be met otherwise, but he is saying that we should recognize our limits for what they are at the moment.  Likewise, the abilities we do have should be made the most of for the Lord.  He is not going to give people more ability to serve Him who don’t faithfully use the ability that they do have.

4:12: Peter is reiterating with an exclamation point what he has been communicating and emphasizing throughout this epistle.

4:13: Consider Romans 8:17-18 here: “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

Refer back to the opening verses of this chapter (1 Peter chapter four) and to the following verses to see that this exceeding joy is at the end of Christ’s narrow way which is filled with things like tribulation and affliction.  We must abstain from sin and do God’s will- and that’s hard enough even with persecution not really taken into account.  But persecution must be taken into account.  So, how much more so when that is put into the equation?

4:14: Refer back to chapter 3 verses 13-17 here.

4:15: Don’t do wrong and say you’re being persecuted for Christ’s sake when you suffer consequences for the wrong like you did.  And bringing evildoers to justice is an aspect of Christianity which to be a faithful Christian we must do our part in.  And that might get one persecuted.  One of our Christian brothers in Africa has received threats lately from Muslims who are enraged that he has been persistent with the authorities demanding that a Muslim man who killed a woman in his church be arrested.  They probably wouldn’t have even arrested him without this Christian man’s pressure.  Note though that this Christian man did not seek private vengeance and try to kill the murderer himself.  He was (and is) working through the authorities.  And if the authorities turn on him or the Muslims end up killing him, then that is an aspect of his own Christian race and his best life on earth from eternity’s perspective.

4:16-17: The illustration of how judgment begins at the house of God is given in Ezekiel chapters eight and nine.  Ezekiel sees a vision where everyone in Jerusalem is killed for all the abominations which happen there- and the slaughter begins right inside the Temple.  God brought an end to the Temple system and the Temple was destroyed (for the second time) likely just a handful of years after Peter wrote this.  Now there is not a specific tangible location where God has set His name (i.e. prescribed His worship to center around), but His prescribed worship is where two or more are gathered in Jesus Christ’s name (submitted to His Word; in subjection to His authority).  And there is not a more dangerous place.  

If you really want God to go out of His way to kill or severely harm you, don’t command Him to strike you dead with lightning.  He is not going to let you command Him what to do.  But corrupt where His true people are gathered by immorality or false doctrine, meddle with their unity which is authentically in the real Jesus Christ, and/or lead their children astray- then your chances of facing a direct severe judgment from the living God go up by a lot.  And that is not to mention how God is going to let His people suffer to try them as gold is tried like chapter one verse seven of this book talks about, to purify them deeper and restore His image in them.  We must cooperate with that process by walking in a living faith in Jesus Christ through suffering so that we are faithful to His world in a fallen, corrupt world which is opposed to the true God.  There is no other way to be saved and there is no other way to escape eternal damnation.  

Though the house of God is the most dangerous place there is, and those who corrupt it are the most eligible for swift judgment in this life, to avoid it and the righteous ways which accompany it is to invite damnation ultimately anyways.

1 Peter 4:18: Consider also Jeremiah 25:29: “For, lo, I begin to bring evil on the city which is called by my name, and should ye be utterly unpunished?  Ye shall not be unpunished: for I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith the Lord of hosts.”

4:19: Be assured that He is faithful and all-powerful, even though being faithful to Him causes you to suffer now and may really seem to be destroying you.

Remember what James said in the previous Bible book.  James 5:10-11: “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.  Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”

Another appropriate cross reference here is Hebrews 11:6: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

1 Peter 5:1: Peter asserts no papal authority in his epistles- even in the introductions when he mentions being an Apostle.  This alone should make Roman Catholics suspicious of the man they call the Pope and who is foundational to their entire church and justification system.

5:2: Peter is saying don’t be in a role of spiritual leadership in a Christian assembly because of pressure from others nor due to some vague sense of calling in yourself nor to earn a living.  Feeding the flock implies specific knowledge of each member of the flock and laboring to understand what spiritual nutrition is fitting for each of them.  General sermons alone will surely not accomplish this.

5:3: Peter is not coming against rules and standards in the church.  Church leaders though need to be ready to clean toilets and do the dirty work, not requiring others to do what they could do themselves and not demanding anything of anyone which they aren’t doing themselves (or at least proving they would do if it were in their power).  The flock cannot be seen as a means of personal gain for the leaders.  

Many continue to lead churches because they basically know the church would disband if they stopped compromising.  But a faithful leader doesn’t compromise to appease the people- even though he’d do what is necessary to serve them in line with the Lord.  Those with something to gain from the flock will calculate what they’re willing to compromise or not in order to increase their gains and/or minimize their losses.  These are surely not true shepherds of Christ.

5:4: God’s Word also has much to say about His wrath against unfaithful shepherds.

5:5a: Peter seems to be reminding Christians that there is a general honor which the younger in age should have towards the elder in age within a Christian assembly, though he is not excluding, and perhaps is primarily referring to, submission to ordained spiritual elders.  Obviously, when submission to the leadership of a church is impossible without being unfaithful to God (you have to use His Word as your standard), in that case you have to obey the highest authority and leave the church.  

5b: We also see here that there is a general preferring others over ourselves which Christians ought to practice among themselves like Paul speaks about in Philippians chapter two.

5c: And we see that receiving God’s grace is conditional.  We’ll get to this more when we come to verse 12.

5:6-7: Even when other people don’t care.  His care is worth more than even the care of those who do care.

5:8: And the devil is happy, plus his job is a lot easier, when the Christian doesn’t think he can be devoured.  Unconditional eternal security, once saved, always saved doctrine plays right into his hands.

And in general, those who believe God would never send them to hell are duped by the devil, they’re sure not going to get right with God, and they are prime material to be used by the devil as his tools.

5:9: Only in walking in a living faith in Jesus Christ and continuing in His Word is there deliverance from the guilt and power of sin.  And in every way in which someone might have to suffer to overcome sin and do God’s will, there are other Christians somewhere undergoing similar trials.  You’re not the only one, even if it seems like you are.

Revelation 12:11 is fitting to quote here. “And they overcame him (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”

1 Peter 5:10: This establishment and strengthening ultimately happens for those who stay faithful to the Lord in the resurrection when they inherit Christ’s eternal glory.  But this establishment and strengthening happens in this life with many in being refined by trials and eventually delivered from trials.  For example, think of Psalm 23. 

5:11: God receives honor and glory when man cooperates with Him faithfully even unto and in the midst of suffering.

5:12-14: Exhortation, combined with testimony that THIS is the true grace of God wherein ye (genuine Christians) stand.  Remember again chapter two verses 24 and 25: “Who his own self (Jesus Christ) bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.  For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.”  

God’s grace in Jesus Christ and man’s need to cooperate in exercising obedient faith in Jesus Christ are not opposing concepts like many teach.  Refusal by man to be obedient to God and walk in a living faith in Jesus Christ nullifies God’s grace in terms of the disobedient one receiving the benefits thereof.  When a person exercises obedient faith in Jesus Christ, God’s grace being given to them becomes fitting and appropriate.  They are not working to earn that grace and save themselves any more than a drowning person is seeking to save themselves while listening to the directions of, and cooperating with, a good Samaritan laboring in wisdom to save their life.

Aaron’s email is: [email protected]