1. As you pray for your study today, ask God to use His Word in your life as the writer of Hebrews prayed in Hebrews 13:20-21: “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
2. Read 1 Peter 4:1-6
3. In 4:1, Peter encourages us to “arm yourselves with the same way of thinking” as Jesus Christ who “suffered in the flesh.” In your own words, what does it mean for a Christian to “arm themselves” with the example of Jesus Christ?
4. The phrase “whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin” in 4:1 is a difficult phrase to interpret. Some possible interpretations of this phrase are:
- The Christian’s relationship with sin has dramatically changed since trusting in Christ (see Romans 6:1-11 for a parallel passage). The Christian is “dead” or “done” with sin’s necessary rule in their lives.
- Jesus work against sin (defeating it and bringing victory) was complete when His suffering was complete on the cross.
- Those who suffer for Christ experience a level of purification/sanctification as reward for their suffering.
Which of these interpretations is most compelling to you? What is the main point of this section of 4:1 (to the best of your understanding)?
5. 1 Peter 4:2-3 describes the change in life that a person goes through when they trust in Christ. Their lives were once characterized by certain “Gentile” (i.e. non-Christian in this context) behaviors. Now, however, these same people live lives in submission to the will of God. What are some behaviors in your own life that you have seen shift since trusting in Christ?
6. What do you notice about the list of sins mentioned in 4:3? Anything stand out compared to your experience with fleshly temptations today?
7. In 4:4, Christians are reminded that their unsaved neighbors, friends, and family might ridicule them for their change in behavior. Concerning this verse/concept Warren Wiersbe says, “Unsaved people do not understand the radical change that their friends experience when they trust Christ and become children of God. They do not think it strange when people wreck their bodies, destroy their homes, and ruin their lives by running from one sin to another! But let a drunkard become sober, or an immoral person pure, and the family thinks he has lost his mind!” In what ways have you experienced this kind of opposition to your faith as your lifestyle has changed?
8. For Christians who are ridiculed for their change in lifestyle, Peter gives a particular encouragement in 4:5. What is that encouragement, and how does it encourage you as you receive opposition for living out your faith in Christ?
9. STUDY NOTE: 1 Peter 4:6 says, “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.” This sentence can lead to much confusion, as it appears to affirm a strange practice: namely preaching to the dead! However, this verse is not as complicated as it first appears. The original recipients of this letter had shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those around them. Some of those who heard the Gospel responded in faith, yet had gone on to already physically die (through persecution or even just natural causes). Peter writes to encourage us that it is ALWAYS worth it to share Christ, even if responding in faith leads to persecution or ridicule (see 4:4). In death, the value of the Gospel is actually most clear. Those who are dead, if they responded in faith to the Gospel while they were alive will CONTINUE TO LIVE IN THE SPIRIT, even if their bodies die physically. In this way, we have a tremendous encouragement to share Christ even with those who experience difficulty after they believe.
10. How does 1 Peter 4:6 encourage you to share Christ with those around you today? Is there someone in your life that you feel God is prompting you to share Jesus with this week?
To access the entire “True Grace” study of 1 Peter, click here.