What does 1 Peter 4:6 mean?
ESV: 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.
NIV: For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.
NASB: For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as people, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.
CSB: For this reason the gospel was also preached to those who are now dead, so that, although they might be judged in the flesh according to human standards, they might live in the spirit according to God's standards.
NLT: That is why the Good News was preached to those who are now dead — so although they were destined to die like all people, they now live forever with God in the Spirit.
KJV: For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
NKJV: For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
Verse Commentary:
Peter has written that unbelievers, who spend their lives seeking their own pleasure, resent and abuse Christians, who spend their lives seeking God's will even at the cost of their own comfort. In the previous verse, Peter assured Christians that a judgment of all people was coming. Those who rejected Christ and abused Christians would give an account and be judged by Christ.

Verses 5 and 6 answer one of history's most common excuses, as made by pleasure-seekers: "Why waste your whole life doing God's will if you're just going to be dead in the end? You only live once (YOLO!), so get all the pleasure you can get!" Peter insists that is not the case. There is another life coming, and there will be a judgment.

So, when Scripture says the gospel was preached to those who are dead, it means to those who have died after trusting in Christ. Their choice to live for God, to suffer in their bodies for Christ's sake while alive, lead to their opportunity to live in the spirit in the next life even as God Himself does. Christians should be encouraged, and continue to encourage each other (Hebrews 10:24–25), that our suffering for Christ and commitment to Him is not in vain.
Verse Context:
1 Peter 4:1–11 urges Christians to take on Jesus’ attitude toward suffering. We should see it as an expected part of fulfilling God’s purpose for us on earth. Those who willingly endure suffering for Christ set the course of their lives away from mind-numbing sins. This is true even when those who still commit those sins bad-mouth them. We must stay alert so that we can pray in these end times. We must keep loving each other, using God’s gifts to serve each other with God’s power in and through us, so all the glory goes to Him.
Chapter Summary:
Peter continues to describe how Christians should respond when faced with persecution: Take on Christ’s attitude, and expect God’s purpose for your life to include suffering. Set the course of your life away from mind-numbing pleasure seeking. Be alert so that you can pray effectively in these end times. In fact, rejoice if you share in Christ’s sufferings. God uses suffering to refine the faith of His people, and our present suffering contributes to future glory. If you suffer, keep doing good while trusting your soul to your Creator.
Chapter Context:
Peter’s letter to Christians is about how to live in the world while suffering for faith in Christ. Thus far, he has assured Christians that their future is secure with God. We are His holy people, set apart for His purposes. Christians are called to live in submission to every human authority. Now in chapter 4, Peter writes that we should take Jesus’ attitude toward suffering and expect it in this life, avoiding mind-numbing sin while loving each other earnestly. God may use suffering in this life to refine our faith, but the end of all things is near.
Book Summary:
Some 30 years after the resurrection of Jesus, Christians are facing greater persecution for their faith. How should they respond? How should we respond to suffering today? The apostle Peter writes this letter both to comfort believers and to encourage them to stay strong. He urges them to put all their hope in their perfect future with Christ, and to obey and trust Him in the present, even in their suffering. Christ suffered greatly; now the Christ-followers have the opportunity to follow Him even in this, showing His grace and power in their hopefulness, obedience, and faith.
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