Christian Restraint.* 1Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same attitude (for whoever suffers in the flesh has broken with sin), 2so as not to spend what remains of one’s life in the flesh on human desires, but on the will of God. 3For the time that has passed is sufficient for doing what the Gentiles like to do: living in debauchery, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and wanton idolatry.a 4They are surprised that you do not plunge into the same swamp of profligacy, and they vilify you; 5but they will give an account to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead.b 6For this is why the gospel was preached even to the dead* that, though condemned in the flesh in human estimation, they might live in the spirit in the estimation of God.
Christian Charity.* 7The end of all things is at hand. Therefore, be serious and sober for prayers. 8c Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins.* 9Be hospitable to one another without complaining.d 10As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.e 11Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God; whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ,f to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.*
IV. Advice to the Persecuted
Trial of Persecution.* 12Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you.g 13But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly.h 14If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.i 15But let no one among you be made to suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as an intriguer. 16But whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed but glorify God because of the name. 17For it is time for the judgment to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, how will it end for those who fail to obey the gospel of God?j
18“And if the righteous one is barely saved,
where will the godless and the sinner appear?”k
19As a result, those who suffer in accord with God’s will hand their souls over to a faithful creator as they do good.
* [4:1–6] Willingness to suffer with Christ equips the Christian with the power to conquer sin (1). Christ is here portrayed as the judge to whom those guilty of pagan vices must render an account (1 Pt 4:5; cf. Jn 5:22–27; Acts 10:42; 2 Tm 4:1).
* [4:6] The dead: these may be the sinners of the flood generation who are possibly referred to in 1 Pt 3:19. But many scholars think that there is no connection between these two verses, and that the dead here are Christians who have died since hearing the preaching of the gospel.
* [4:7–11] The inner life of the eschatological community is outlined as the end (the parousia of Christ) and the judgment draws near in terms of seriousness, sobriety, prayer, and love expressed through hospitality and the use of one’s gifts for the glory of God and of Christ.
* [4:8] Love covers a multitude of sins: a maxim based on Prv 10:12; see also Ps 32:1; Jas 5:20.
* [4:11] Some scholars feel that this doxology concludes the part of the homily addressed specifically to the newly baptized, begun in 1 Pt 1:3; others that it concludes a baptismal liturgy. Such doxologies do occur within a New Testament letter, e.g., Rom 9:5. Some propose that 1 Pt 4:11 was an alternate ending, with 1 Pt 4:12–5:14 being read in places where persecution was more pressing. But such doxologies usually do not occur at the end of letters (the only examples are 2 Pt 3:18, Jude 25, and Rom 16:27, the last probably a liturgical insertion).
* [4:12–19] The suffering to which the author has already frequently referred is presented in more severe terms. This has led some scholars to see these verses as referring to an actual persecution. Others see the heightening of the language as only a rhetorical device used at the end of the letter to emphasize the suffering motif.
a. [4:3] Eph 2:2–3; 4:17–19; Col 3:7; Ti 3:3.
b. [4:5] Acts 10:42; 2 Tm 4:1.
e. [4:10] Rom 12:6–8; 1 Cor 12:4–11.
f. [4:11] 1 Cor 10:31.
h. [4:13] Rom 5:3–5; 8:17; 2 Tm 2:12.
i. [4:14] Acts 5:41 / Is 11:2.
j. [4:17] Lk 23:31; 2 Thes 1:8.