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Chapter 4 Verses 1-6

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  1   Since   therefore   Christ   suffered   in   the   flesh,     arm   yourselves   with  
      ►3   οὖν2   Χριστοῦ1   παθόντος3       σαρκὶ4   καὶ5   ὁπλίσασθε10   ὑμεῖς6   ◄10  
          οὖν   Χριστός   πάσχω           σάρξ   καί   ὁπλίζομαι   σύ      
          C   NGSM   VPGSM2A           NDSF   C   VF2PAVDVF2PAVM   PPNP      
          3767   5547   3958           4561   2532   3695   4771      

the   same   way   of   thinking,   for   whoever   has   suffered   in   the   flesh   has  
τὴν7   αὐτὴν8       ἔννοιαν9   ὅτι11     ►13   12 παθὼν13›       σαρκὶ14    
  αὐτός           ἔννοια   ὅτι            πάσχω           σάρξ      
RASF   JASF           NASF   C           RNSM, VPNSM2A           NDSF      
3588   846           1771   3754           3588, 3958           4561      

ceased   from   sin,      
πέπαυται15     ἁμαρτίας16      
παύομαι       ἁμαρτία      
VF3SRID       NGSF      
3973       266      
  2   so   as   to   live   for   the   rest   of   the   time   in   the   flesh   no   longer   for
            βιῶσαι13   ►14   τὸν9   ἐπίλοιπον10       χρόνον14   ἐν11     σαρκὶ12   μηκέτι3     εἰς1
                  βιόω         ἐπίλοιπος           χρόνος   ἐν       σάρξ   μηκέτι       εἰς
                  VIAA       RASM   JASM           NASM   ED       NDSF   D       EA
                  980       3588   1954           5550   1722       4561   3371       1519

  human   passions   but   for   the   will   of   God.      
  ἀνθρώπων4   τὸἐπιθυμίαις5›   ἀλλὰ6       θελήματι7     θεοῦ8      
  ἄνθρωπος    ἐπιθυμία   ἀλλά           θέλημα       θεός      
  NGPM   RASN, NDPF   C           NDSN       NGSM      
  444   3588, 1939   235           2307       2316      

  3     The   time   that   is   past   suffices   for   doing   what *   the   Gentiles
      γὰρ2   3   χρόνος5       παρεληλυθὼς4   ἀρκετὸς1     κατειργάσθαι10   ►6   τῶν8   ἐθνῶν9
      γάρ     χρόνος           παρέρχω   ἀρκετός       κατεργάζομαι         ἔθνος
      T   RNSM   NNSM           VPNSMRA   JNSM       VIRD       RGPN   NGPN
      1063   3588   5550           3928   713       2716       3588   1484

  want to do, *   living   in   sensuality,   passions,   drunkenness,   orgies,  
  τὸβούλημα7›   πεπορευμένους11   ἐν12   ἀσελγείαις13   ἐπιθυμίαις14   οἰνοφλυγίαις15   κώμοις16  
   βούλημα   πορεύομαι   ἐν   ἀσέλγεια   ἐπιθυμία   οἰνοφλυγία   κῶμος  
  RASN, NASN   VPAPMRD   ED   NDPF   NDPF   NDPF   NDPM  
  3588, 1013   4198   1722   766   1939   3632   2970  

drinking   parties,   and   lawless   idolatry.      
πότοις17     καὶ18   ἀθεμίτοις19   εἰδωλολατρίαις20      
πότος       καί   ἀθέμιτος   εἰδωλολατρία      
NDPM       C   JDPF   NDPF      
4224       2532   111   1495      
  4   With   respect   to   this   they   are   surprised   when   you   do   not   join  
      ἐν1       2       ξενίζονται3   ►5   ὑμῶν6   συντρεχόντων5   μὴ4   ◄5  
      ἐν           ὅς           ξενίζομαι       σύ   συντρέχω   μή      
      ED           PRDSN           VF3PPIDVF3PPIP       PPGP   VPGPMPA   D      
      1722           3739           3579       4771   4936   3361      

them   in   the   same   flood   of   debauchery,   and   they   malign   you;      
  εἰς7   τὴν8   αὐτὴν9   ἀνάχυσιν12   ►11   τῆς10 ἀσωτίας11›       βλασφημοῦντες13        
    εἰς     αὐτός   ἀνάχυσις        ἀσωτία           βλασφημέω          
    EA   RASF   JASF   NASF       RGSF, NGSF           VPNPMPA          
    1519   3588   846   401       3588, 810           987          

  5   but   they   will   give   account   to   him   who   is   ready   to   judge   the  
      ►2   οἳ1     ἀποδώσουσιν2   λόγον3     τῷ4     ἔχοντι6   ἑτοίμως5     κρῖναι7    
          ὅς       ἀποδίδωμι   λόγος             ἔχω   ἑτοίμως       κρίνω      
          PRNPM       VF3PFIA   NASM       RDSM       VPDSMPA   D       VIAA      
          3739       591   3056       3588       2192   2093       2919      

living   and   the   dead.      
ζῶντας8   καὶ9     νεκρούς10      
ζάω   καί       νεκρός      
VPAPMPA   C       SAPMJAPM      
2198   2532       3498      
  6   For   this is why *   the   gospel   was   preached   even   to   those   who   are   dead,   that  
      γὰρ3   εἰςτοῦτο2›         εὐηγγελίσθη6   καὶ4           νεκροῖς5   ἵνα7  
      γάρ   εἰς οὗτος               εὐαγγελίζω   καί                   νεκρός   ἵνα  
      T   EA, PDASN               VF3SAIP   C                   SDPMJDPM   C  
      1063   1519, 3778               2097   2532                   3498   2443  

  though   judged   in   the   flesh   the way people are, *     they   might   live   in   the
μὲν9     κριθῶσι8       σαρκὶ12   κατὰ10 ἀνθρώπους11›   δὲ14       ζῶσι13    
μέν       κρίνω           σάρξ   κατά ἄνθρωπος   δέ           ζάω        
T       VF3PASP           NDSF   EA, NAPM   C           VF3PPSA        
3303       2919           4561   2596, 444   1161           2198        

  spirit   the way God does. *  
  πνεύματι17   κατὰ15 θεὸν16›  
  πνεῦμα   κατά θεός  
  NDSN   EA, NASM  
  4151   2596, 2316  

[1]

When 53-year-old Danny Anderson was feeding his horses Monday night, a 5-foot rattler slithered onto his central Washington property.

Anderson and his 27-year-old son, Benjamin, pinned the snake with an irrigation pipe and cut off its head with a shovel. A few more strikes to the head left it sitting under a pickup truck.

"When I reached down to pick up the head, it raised around and did a backflip almost, and bit my finger," Anderson said. "I had to shake my hand real hard to get it to let loose."

His wife insisted they go to the hospital, and by the time they arrived at Prosser Memorial Hospital 10 minutes later, Anderson’s tongue was swollen and the venom was spreading. He then was taken by ambulance 30 miles to a Richland hospital to get the full series of six shots he needed.

It turns out a snake can still strike for an hour even after its head is cut off.

If another rattlesnake comes along, Anderson said he’ll likely try to kill it again, but said he’ll grab a shovel and bury it right there. (Information from: Tri-City Herald, http://www.tri-cityherald.com)

The great gospel promise of victory is in:
Genesis 3:15 [15]I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."

Satan is a defeated foe (Col. 2:15). Like the head of a dead snake, we face the danger of the world, the flesh and the devil. Although defeated, these forces can cause damage.

Like taking a shovel to a foe, 1 Peter 4:1-6 calls us to arm ourselves for battle. The verb, used only here in the New Testament, is from hoplizô, an aorist middle imperative, meaning literally, “to arm oneself with weapons” or “to put on as armor.” The noun form hoplon means “weapons” and is used in six passages eg., John 18:3; 2 Cor. 6:7; 10a. The picture is of preparation for battle.

The apostle Peter provides believers with four perspectives motivating them to be strong when righteousness brings suffering and, perhaps, martyrdom. Believers strengthen their resolve in persecution when they are armed with an understanding of the 1) Attitude of Christ, 2) the Will of God, 3) the Transformation from the past, and 4) the Hope of eternal life.

1) THE ATTITUDE OF CHRIST 1 Peter 4:1
1 Peter 4:1 [4:1]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, (ESV)

Therefore obviously points back to what Peter wrote in the preceding passage, that at the Cross Christ endured His greatest suffering, dying under divine judgment as the just for the unjust; yet there He also accomplished for believers His greatest triumph over sin and its condemning power, over the forces of hell, and over the power of death. The cross of Jesus Christ is the ultimate proof that suffering can lead to victory over the forces of evil.

As we saw last week, when Jesus suffered in the flesh, He died (3:18; cf. Isa. 53:10; Matt. 27:50; Acts 2:23) in fulfilling divine redemption’s plan. When He went to the Cross, the Father made Him to be sin and a curse for all who believe; as Paul said: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’ ” (Gal. 3:13; cf. Deut. 21:23). He came “in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin” (Rom. 8:3; cf. 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24).

Therefore He felt the full force of sin’s evil unjustly, but in so doing He gained for His saints salvation and for Himself the everlasting honour and praise of all who will live in heaven (cf. Rev. 5:8–14).

God calls us to wake up, seize the Divine power given to us and arm ourselves:
Romans 13:12 [12]The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. (ESV) (cf. 2 Cor. 6:7)

2 Corinthians 10:4 [4]For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. (ESV)

Ephesians 6:11 [11]Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. (ESV)

In the context of 1 Peter 4:1 the primary weapon Peter calls for in arming believers is the same way of thinking/purpose that was manifest through Christ’s suffering and death. That way of thinking/purpose (“attitude,” “thought,” or “principle”) is a willingness to die because Christians know death produces the greatest victory (cf. 1 Cor. 15:26, 54–55; 2 Tim. 1:10; Rev. 21:4).

Quote: Kate Wilkinson said:
May the mind of Christ my Saviour,
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and pow’r controlling
All I do and say

In the ultimate obedience depicted in 1 Peter 4:1 Believers who have died have ceased from sin will have entered into an eternal condition of holy perfection, free from all sin’s influences and effects (cf. 1 Cor. 15:42–43; 2 Cor. 5:1; Rev. 21:4; 22:14–15).

Poem: Safely Home
I am home in Heaven, dear ones;
Oh, so happy and so bright!
There is perfect joy and beauty
In this everlasting light.

All pain and grief is over,
Every restless tossing passed;
I am now at peace forever,
Safely home in Heaven at last.

Did you wonder I so calmly
Trod the valley of the shade?
Oh! But Jesus’ love illumined
Every dark and fearful glade.

And He came Himself to meet me
In that way so hard to tread;
And with Jesus’ arm to lean on,
Could I have one doubt, dread?

Then you must not grieve so sorely,
For I love you dearly still:
Try to look beyond earth’s shadows,
Pray to trust our Father’s will.

There is work still waiting for you,
So you must not idly stand;
Do it now, while life remaineth
You shall rest in Jesus’ land.

When the work is all completed,
He will gently call you home;
Oh, the rapture of that meeting,
Oh, the joy to see you come!
(Galaxie Software: 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press, 2002; 2002)

strengthen their resolve in persecution when they are armed with an understanding of the 1) Attitude of Christ

2) THE WILL OF GOD 1 Peter 4:2
1 Peter 4:2 [2]so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. (ESV)

All sin is disobedience to the will of God. In that sense all sin is a personal act of rebellion by believers against Him (cf. Ps. 51:4).

In the end, condemnation will come on those who did not obey God’s will (Matt. 25:41–46; Jude 15)—even those who think they were obedient:
Matthew 7:21 [21]"Not everyone who says to me, ’Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (ESV)

Paul commands believers:
Romans 12:2 [2]Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (ESV) (cf. Eph. 6:5–6; Col. 4:12).

Sin, on the other hand, is an expression of disobedience (cf. Neh. 9:26; 1 John 3:4) and a refusal to do what God has commanded (Pss. 106:24–25; 107:11; cf. Jer. 22:21; 35:14b).

The hope of Christians is to cease from sin one day in heaven. Since that is the goal, the purpose for their salvation, it has strong implications for them now, so that they ought to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions

Since they are headed for holiness in eternity to come, saints are to live (bioô; a reference to earthly life) the remainder of the time God gives on earth in pursuit of that holiness, no matter the physical cost. They are armed for victory who live for the will of God, not the sinful desires of men. Peter calls those desires human passions/lusts, a strong word (epithumia) that means “passionate longing,” and in this context connotes an evil desire. He urges believers to shun sin—not to live any longer driven by human lusts (2 Tim. 2:22), which are rooted in their unredeemed flesh (Rom. 7:17–18; Gal. 5:17) which previously characterized their unregenerate state (Eph. 2:1–3) and life in this world (1 John 2:15–17).

Peter is telling believers to arm themselves with a commitment to do the will of God and abandon their former sins. This is precisely what the apostle Paul calls for in Romans 6:8–12,
Romans 6:8-12 [8]Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. [9]We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. [10]For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. [11]So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. [12]Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. (ESV)

Quote: George W. Truett said: “To know the will of God is the greatest knowledge! To do the will of God is the greatest achievement!” –(quoted in “Toolkit,” Cell Church, Winter, 1996, p. 10.)

Believers strengthen their resolve in persecution when they are armed with an understanding of the 1) Attitude of Christ 2) THE WILL OF GOD 1 Peter 4:2

3) THE TRANSFORMATION FROM THE PAST 1 Peter 4:3-5

I will spend most of my time on this point.

1 Peter 4:3-5 [3]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. [4]With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; [5]but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. (ESV)

This passage is a vivid description of the tragic and devastating life pattern of the unconverted, which ends inexorably in judgment. The verses parallel several of Paul’s descriptions of humanity’s lost spiritual condition and describe the character and consequences of sin (Rom. 1:18–32; 1 Cor. 6:9–10; Gal. 5:19–21; cf. Eph. 5:3–7; Col. 3:5–10; 2 Tim. 3:1–7). Peter reminds believers to leave all that behind because it belongs to their former life in sin and under judgment.

Since they have been delivered from that evil life, their souls are purified (1:22) and the time that is past for serving sin (Rom. 7:5; 1 Cor. 6:9–11a; Eph. 2:1–3). For the believer, the sinful past is a closed book and its saga of sin is over.
-A reality check on how we sabotage ourselves: Do you at times, long for days gone by where you did certain activities that do now do not do. This is our unredeemed flesh working on a mind that is not renewed by the word of God. We need to immediately cast out these unhelpful distractions, recognize the futility that they deliver, and fill our mind with what is edifying.

This previous life suffices (arketos) in this context means more than simply adequate, but conveys the sense of being more than enough. Peter’s readers had had a whole life full of opportunity to sin, and that is more than enough in doing what the Gentiles (the unconverted peoples) want to do living to fulfill sinful passions (cf. Eph. 2:1–3).

The Sinful Passions/Desire (boulçma) here conveys the sense of a purposed longing. The hearts of the unsaved determine to follow their passions as part of what Peter earlier called their “futile way of life” (1:18).
1 Peter 1:18 [18]knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, (ESV)

That former disposition pursued a course; it conducted life’s affairs along a specific path of behavior, and Peter described that for his readers with six terms. First, sensuality (aselgeia) describes those who engage in unbridled, unrestrained vice of all sorts (cf. Rom. 13:13). It could also be translated “debauchery,” an excessive indulgence in sensual pleasure. Many unregenerate people live lawlessly, flaunting their vices in open defiance of God’s law (cf. Rom. 1:21–32; 2 Cor. 12:21), whereas others are less obvious (cf. 1 Tim. 5:24). Passions/Lusts (epithumia) are the sinful passions that drive people into such indulgence (cf. 1 Thess. 4:5; 1 Tim. 6:9; Jude 18). Drunkenness (oinophlugia) literally means “wine bubbling up” and refers to habitual intoxication. This term can also refer to the effects of narcotic use.
-We must take care for example in the improper use of even prescription medication that we do not become an improperly medicated people, off in our own little medicated world, unable to interact with others.

Orgies/Carousing (kômos) refers to participating in wild parties or orgies. In one extrabiblical Greek source, the term described a band of drunken people that sang loudly and staggered wildly through the streets, causing a major public disturbance.

The apostle completed his list of terms with two more expressions that fit this picture of uncontrolled conduct Drinking parties Potos were sessions people engaged in just for the sake of becoming inebriated. Lawless/abominable idolatry denotes the immoral, debauched worship of false gods (such as Dionysius or Bacchus, the Greek god of wine) that accompanied carousing.
-It is a blessing from God when people at times receive the consequences from actions. The empty wallet, bad tattoo, hangover and severed relationships are the mild form of indication that a life lived apart from the glory of God is a life of emptiness and futility.
-There is even a trend of the reversal of sexual lassiez faire that has damaged generations from the 1960’s onward. The emptiness of “Girls gone Wild” has changed to “Girls gone Mild”. People are waking up to the fact that the so-called sexual revolution has just caused a generation to have low self-esteem and a lack of respect from others.

In 1 Peter 4, the memory of the pain and misery those deeds caused them was to motivate his readers to diligently avoid such behaviour, especially since their new life goal was to enter the holy place where sin would forever cease.

Such sins had been so much a way of life for Peter’s readers that when they abandoned them their fellow sinners, still unregenerate, are stated in 1 Peter 4:4 as being surprised (xenizô), meaning “astonished,” or “shocked,” with the connotation of taking offense or being resentful.

Sin was such a normal lifestyle for the unbelievers (cf. Ps. 64:5; John 8:34; 2 Peter 2:14) that they were not only amazed that the Christians’ lives had changed so totally (cf. 1 Thess. 1:9), they even resented the fact that the new believers do not join them in the same flood of debauchery/into the same excesses of dissipation. That expression vividly pictures a large melee of people madly racing forward, what one commentator described as “a euphoric stampede of pleasure seekers.” Flood/Excesses (anachusis) pictures waters coming together and pouring out in excess or overflowing. Debauchery/Dissipation (asotia) is that state in which a person’s mind is so corrupt that he thinks about nothing but evil and how he might indulge his sinful passions. Needless to say, Christians no longer desire such mindless pursuit of the passions that throw people into a state of over-the-top debauchery.

One-time friends become enemies and often malign those who do not join/run with them into sinful behavior. Malign (blasphemeô) literally means “to blaspheme,” “to slander or defame someone,” or “to speak evil of them.” Ancient sources, both Christian and non-Christian, provide ample evidence that it was Christians’ reluctance to participate in many conventionally accepted amusements and ungodly civic ceremonies, and their refusal to engage in idolatrous, immoral functions that caused unbelievers to hate and revile them. That led to unjust persecution and suffering for righteousness’ sake.

First Century practices often involved parades with banners proclaiming images of gods; in some cases there was cult prostitution or ritual self-mutilation. Christians who avoided these festivals, appeared anti-social; unpatriotic and impious to their neighbours. Dinner parties were often held in private rooms attached to temples, and the god was honoured as the feast’s patron. Friends and business contacts soon shunned men who refused to eat with them.

Is this all ancient history?
Illustration: An interesting report came out from San Diego California, that the Fire Department battalion chief ordered the fire fighters to ride in the July 21 Gay Pride parade through San Diego’s Hillcrest neighbourhood.
-I do want to publicly repeat the sexual taunts that the firefighters received from the crowd but the irony is captured well in a statement from one firefighter:
-"You could not even look at the crowd without getting some type of sexual gesture," one said, adding, "If any crew member were to hang up pictures at the station of what we saw, we would be disciplined."
-When they refused to respond to the crowd, some in the crowd turned hostile.

Peter, however, assured his readers that those who slander and persecute believers will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. Such vicious attackers are amassing a debt to God that they will spend eternity paying back. He who is ready to judge will ultimately hold them accountable (cf. Matt. 18:23–34).

Please turn to 2 Thes. 1

In 1 Pt. 4:5, The living—those alive when Peter wrote—and the dead—those already dead—will all be judged (Mt. 25:31-46).

Romans 3:19 [19]Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. (ESV)

The apostle Paul perhaps most graphically described the severity of unbelieving persecutors’ judgment:
2 Thessalonians 1:6-9 [6]since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, [7]and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels [8]in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. [9]They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, (ESV)

Please go forward to Rev. 20

The most loving thing we can do is to explain that there is a coming judgment day. God requires perfection for one to stand in His presence. Since no one is perfect, we require the perfection of Jesus Christ and trust in Him to be our representative. For those who think they are good enough on their own there will be a terrible wake up call:
Revelation 20:11-15 [11]Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. [12]And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. [13]And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. [14]Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. [15]And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (ESV)

Those who trust in Christ are born again as John 3:3 says and their names are written in the book of life. They shall die once: a physical death.

Those who come to God in their own righteousness, will die twice: A physical and spiritual death in the lake of fire. It will be an eternity of realizing the awful rebellion and refusal to trust in Christ as Lord and Saviour.

Illustration: The Fire
H. A. Ironside told the story of pioneers who were making their way across one of the central states to a distant place that had been opened up for homesteading. They traveled in covered wagons drawn by oxen, and progress was necessarily slow. One day they were horrified to note a long line of smoke in the west, stretching for miles across the prairie, and soon it was evident that the dried grass was burning fiercely and coming toward them rapidly. They had crossed a river the day before but it would be impossible to go back to that before the flames would be upon them. One man only seemed to have understanding as to what could be done.
He gave the command to set fire to the grass behind them. Then when a space was burned over, the whole company moved back upon it.

As the flames roared on toward them from the west, a little girl cried out in terror, “Are you sure we shall not all be burned up?” The leader replied, “My child, the flames cannot reach us here, for we are standing where the fire has been!”

What a picture of the believer, who is safe in Christ!
On Him Almighty vengeance fell,
Which would have sunk a world to hell.
He bore it for a chosen race,
And thus becomes our Hiding Place.
The fires of God’s judgment burned themselves out on Him, and all who are in Christ are safe forever, for they are now standing where the fire has been.
(Illustrations of Bible Truth by H. A. Ironside, Moody Press, 1945, pp. 34-35)

Believers strengthen their resolve in persecution when they are armed with an understanding of the 1) Attitude of Christ 2) THE WILL OF GOD 3) THE TRANSFORMATION FROM THE PAST

And Just briefly:
4) THE HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE 1 Peter 4:6
1 Peter 4:6 [6]For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does. (ESV)

Finally, believers are to arm themselves with the genuine hope of the reality of eternal life. God has promised them that through death they will overcome sin, escape final judgment, and enter eternal heaven in holy perfection. Peter thus reminds his readers that the gospel (the saving message of Christ) has for this purpose been preached (announced) even to those who are dead (those who had heard and believed the gospel but had died by the time he wrote). Some who read this letter would have known them and realized that some of the dead saints were martyrs. Though some of the dead believers were judged in the flesh the way people are (physically put to death), they were triumphantly alive and live in the spirit the way God does/in the spirit according to the will of God (cf. Heb. 12:23).

Hebrews 12:23 [23]and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, (ESV)

Peter’s point is that believers, even under unjust treatment—including death—should be willing and unafraid to suffer, knowing that all death can do is triumphantly bring their eternal spirits into everlasting life in heaven.

Just as Christ was crucified but was alive in spirit and raised from the dead, believers may suffer physical death but their spirits will remain alive and enter into the promise of eternal life.

No pressure from enemies of the gospel and no unjust persecution by an ungodly world can steal believers’ victory; rather, all suffering for righteousness’ sake has a perfecting power, increases their spiritual strength, humbles, drives to prayer, enriches reward, and, in the event the enemies of Christ take lives, they have reached their ultimate goal and God’s eternal purpose—they have forever “ceased from sin.”

Paul understood this when he wrote:
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 [16]So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. [17]For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, [18]as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (ESV)


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[1]Schwandt, John ; Collins, C. John: The ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament. Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2006; 2006, S. 1 Pe 4:1-6

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