1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

1 Peter chapter 4

English Standard Version

New International Version

New American Standard Bible

Christian Standard Bible

New Living Translation

King James Version

What does 1 Peter chapter 4 mean?

In chapter 4, Peter urges Christians to be fiercely committed to fulfilling the purpose of our lives in Christ. Prior chapters made the case that we are a "holy people." We have been rescued from meaningless lives and set apart from the world, in order to be used for God's purpose. Since believers have these new, eternal lives in Christ, we must begin to think like Jesus, including Jesus' way of thinking about suffering.

Jesus expected persecution along the way to fulfilling His mission on earth. Peter is clear that we should expect to suffer, as well. In fact, this is part of completing the mission God has given us. We should be ready and willing to suffer for Christ, as He did for us. In doing so, we will set the course of our lives away from sin, especially the mind-numbing sins of endless pleasure seeking.

The path of submission to Christ and the path of self-serving pleasure go in completely opposite directions. Those who still indulge in drunkenness, partying, and idolatry won't understand or accept the Christian's lifestyle. In fact, they will resent the fact that Christians refuse to participate. According to Peter, refusal to do what unbelievers do will result in criticism and condemnation from them. This is especially true when the believer is someone who used to commit those very sins, but has been changed by Christ.

But Peter offers a warning and encouragement: The end of all things is drawing near, and the Judge is coming. Instead of living for pleasure, we must be very careful to stay clear-minded and focused so that we can pray faithfully. We must strain hard to love each other well. We must share and serve and speak to each other with God's gifts, with His words, with His strength.

Again, we should not be surprised when suffering becomes intense. Instead, we should look ahead to the moment when Christ's glory will be revealed to all of the universe. We should see our current suffering as something temporary, which we can still rejoice in. Our pain in the here-and-now will contribute to that eternal moment of glory. So, instead feeling shame when we receive insults for being Christians, we should receive them as badges of honor that bring glory to God.

Peter concludes the chapter with a hard idea: God may use suffering to "judge" or discipline His children. This is not a punishment for the believer's sin, which has been fully paid for through the death of Christ on the cross. Rather, this is in order to draw us closer to Him and away from all the destructive things in the world that might draw us in.

How should Christians respond to suffering? Entrust our souls to God, and do good works.
What is the Gospel?
Download the app: