1 Peter 4:1-6 Commentary

1 Peter 4:1 Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: Christou oun pathontos (AAPMSG) sarki kai humeis ten auten ennoian hoplisasthe ( 2PAMM) hoti o pathon (AAPMSN) sarki pepautai (3SRMI) hamartias,
Amplified: SO, SINCE Christ suffered in the flesh for us, for you, arm yourselves with the same thought and purpose [patiently to suffer rather than fail to please God]. For whoever has suffered in the flesh [having the mind of Christ] is done with [intentional] sin [has stopped pleasing himself and the world, and pleases God] (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
NET: So, since Christ suffered in the flesh, you also arm yourselves with the same attitude, because the one who has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin, (NET Bible)
Young's Literal: Christ, then, having suffered for us in the flesh, ye also with the same mind arm yourselves, because he who did suffer in the flesh hath done with sin,


For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit (1Pe 3:18-note)

Therefore looks back to His unjust suffering and undeserved death (1 Peter 3:18-note, see also notes on 1 Peter 2:24-note; 1Pe 4:13-note; 1Pe 5:1-note) but also to His triumphant victory over the forces of darkness (1Peter 3:22-note) and he reiterates for emphasis Jesus suffered as a man and His example and Selfless attitude should motivate us to arm ourselves. And specifically believers in light of Jesus' suffering should be motivated to deal decisively with sin, for He dealt the death blow to sin for us when He suffered and died on the Cross. Believers are now dead to the power of sin positionally and thus are free from its power to control us. Sure we still sin, but now we make the conscious choice to sin. Peter says now we need to make the conscious choice to cease from sin. Sin is destructive, deceptive, decay producing and death dealing. In light of our Savior's unjust suffering in our place and as our substitute, we should hate sin, for it was sin that took our Lord Jesus to the Cross.


Since Christ has suffered (pascho) - First the perfect Example and then the pertinent Exhortation ("Arm yourselves").

John Phillips...

The Man who now sits enthroned in glory with all power in His hands once lived on earth. He tasted suffering, pain, and death. Peter had seen Him suffer. Moreover, He never shrank from suffering. He knew from the beginning that His path led surely to the death of the cross. He had been born to die. At the age of twelve, He went to Jerusalem. Perhaps He was at a point where He could see the priests busy at the altar. He knew moreover who His real Father was. And He knew what His Father's business was (Luke 2:49). The work He had come to do on earth involved death on a cross (Php 2:5-note, Php 2:8-note).

Peter was aware of this fact. More than once he had heard the Lord foretell His crucifixion. The first time the Lord had dropped that bombshell, the disciples were stunned. Indeed, Peter had taken it upon himself to rebuke the Lord for entertaining any such thought. Consequently, he had been roundly rebuked himself (Mt 16:21, 22, 23, 24, 25). He had been told to start thinking in terms of the cross himself. Indeed, his own cross was now never far from Peter's mind (2Peter 1:14). He had been arming himself with this thought for years (Jn 21:18,19).

Spurgeon comments...

Brethren, we have a Savior who suffered for us. As the Head was, such must the members expect to be. Let us, then, be resolutely determined that, suffer as we may, we will never turn aside from our Lord; for, inasmuch as we suffered in him, yea, and died in him, we ought to reckon that we are henceforth dead to sin, and that we have ceased from it, and can no longer be drawn into it.

In the flesh - Sarx in this context clearly refers to Christ's physical body. In other words, contrary to what some falsely teach, Jesus was no phantom, but He was fully Man, Who lived a sinless life.

Since He as a Man has died for us. (1Pe 3:18-note). The design was to set the suffering Redeemer before them as an example in their trials and refers to the Passion and Crucifixion of Christ. He had to suffer (He 2:9, 10-note, He 5:8-note) because of sin. And so our Lord came to earth to deal with sin and to conquer it forever. He dealt with the ignorance of sin by teaching the truth and by living it before men’s eyes. He dealt with the consequences of sin by healing and forgiving; and, on the cross, He dealt the final deathblow to sin itself. He was armed, as it were, with a militant attitude toward sin, even though He had great compassion for lost sinners.

When He died, we died (co-crucified with Him - see Ro 6:3-note; Ro 6:4, 5-note; Ro 6:6-note; Ro 6:14-note, Galatians 2:20-note). Therefore how can we enjoy that which made Jesus suffer and die on the cross (cf attitude in Ezekiel 9:4-see notes)? We have been spiritually circumcised and have been given a new heart (with a new motivation, a new power, His Spirit of holiness to lead us).

ARM YOURSELVES ALSO WITH THE SAME PURPOSE (mind, attitude): kai humeis ten auten ennoian hoplisasthe (2PAMM):

  • Ro 13:12-14; Php 2:5; Heb 12:3

KJV is a good translation of the Greek here...

arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: (cp Php 2:5, 6, 7, 8-see notes Php 2:5; 2:6; 2:7; 2:8)

Arm yourselves - This phrase brings out the force of the Greek, which conveys the metaphor of going out to battle after putting on armor (cp similar metaphor in our continual war against the lusts of the flesh in 1Pe 2:11-note). Don't miss Peter's implication beloved. You are involved (whether you like it or not) in a relentless war with the world, your flesh and the devil, so you had better arm yourself!

If we put on or adopt the same frame of mind as Jesus had, we shall find that we have protected ourselves (our heart and mind, cp Proverbs 4:23-see notes) against the attacks of temptation (Eph 6:17-note, 1Th 5:8-note) The picture is that of a soldier who puts on his equipment and arms himself for battle. Our attitudes are weapons, and weak or wrong attitudes will lead us to defeat.

Arm (3695) (hoplizo from hoplon = weapon) basically means to make ready or prepare, with a focus upon the process of equipping. In Greek it was used from Homer down meaning to arm, to furnish with arms or to provide. In the case of soldiers it means to equip one's self with weapons. This verb was used of a Greek soldier preparing himself for the coming battle by putting on his armor.

The noun hoplon was used for a soldier who was heavily armed with javelin and large shield and so the picture is that this soldier is heavily armed. Peter is not speaking of literal weapons or armor but uses hoplizo figuratively to convey the idea of arming oneself with a mind or thought in preparation for suffering. Remember the way you think determines how you act (and react).

Phillips notes that...

Peter does not use the Greek word for light armor here but the word for heavy armor. We need all of the protection we can get to prepare ourselves for the battles ahead. God does not promise to carry us to the skies on flowery beds of ease. God does not hand out colorful brochures offering good health, prosperity, wide popularity, and a long life to those who accept Christ. Those who array themselves in such flimsy robes are in for a shock.

Peter had long since learned to arm himself for battle. When he had been arrested years before in Jerusalem and sentenced to death, he simply went to sleep in his prison! He was not only a conqueror but also "more than conqueror," as Paul would have put it (Ro 8:37-note). He had learned how to arm his mind. (Phillips, John: Exploring Ephesians: An Expository Commentary)

The verb arm in aorist imperative which calls for a decisive choice to effectively accomplish this action and implies an urgent and immediate call to do so. Peter is commanding the reader to adopt the attitude of Christ -- equip or arm yourself with this most appropriate tool or weapon -- an attitude similar to that which Christ (cp similar thoughts about preparing our minds - gird your mind - 1 Peter 1:13-note , keep sober in spirit - see 1Pe 5:8-note, cp Ep 6:14-note, 2Ti 2:3, 4-note) Why the mind? What is the important point? The world make look like the battleground for believers (and it is) but the real war takes place in our mind where the battle is over truth. We are in a truceless war (Ro 13:12-note, 2Cor 6:7, 2Co 10:4-note, 1Pe 2:11-note). Peter also uses of the middle voice which calls his hearers to a personal responsibility in doing the arming. The idea is you arm yourself. Only girded with this mindset can you be victorious in the conflict. Fiery trials awaited them and similar trials await each one of His disciples who seeks to walk worthy of the gospel to which we were called.


Outlook determines outcome, and a believer must have the right attitudes if he is to live a right life. Since this is a constant struggle we need to be properly motivated and that is what Peter is doing in this section, teaching that we can be motivated by the truth that our Lord also suffered and also by the certainty of His imminent return to judge the living and the dead.

Yourselves - humeis = you is first in the sentence for emphasis. Purpose is better translated "mind" (He 4:12-note) and indicates an attitude, viewpoint or resolve that expresses itself in determined action. Attitude determines action. Peter says we are to have the same attitude about suffering for righteousness sake as did the Righteous One. The idea of arm is "put on the same armor", "arm yourselves with the same insight." Christ had perfect insight into the true nature of Sin and its consequences and this led Him to deliberately set His face like flint (Isa 50:7) toward Jerusalem and the Cross (Lk 9:51) and so too must we (Lk 9:23, Mk 8:34, 35, 36)

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me (Mt 16:24).

Richison makes an excellent point that...

Every time we resist temptation, we become more equipped to resist the next temptation. Each time we conquer sin makes us better able to face the next attack. As we build momentum of conquering sin, we become more spiritually mature. Spiritual maturity guarantees infrequency of sin in our lives. (1 Peter 4:1b)

H Mears writes

Such a high resolve will involve a measure of actual suffering, for God’s will may cut across our desire to gratify some bodily craving. Very few in this world escape suffering, either mental, physical or spiritual. We cannot choose the way we shall suffer. Often God allows us to go through life denied the one thing we wish more than anything else. But we should be comforted in this that whom God loves, He chastens. If He grinds down the surface of our lives, it is that the stone may shine the more brilliantly. The many facets of the diamond are what make it dazzling.

What is your attitude toward sin? Have you armed yourself? Are you willing to suffer for righteousness sake?

With the same purpose - As discussed below perhaps a better way to translate this word would be intention. What Peter is showing us is that righteous living begins right thinking (intentions).

Purpose (1771) (ennoia from en = in + noús = mind) is literally "in mind" and so refers to a thought, principle, counsel, resolve. The principle of thought and feeling here referred to is that of the dying life voluntarily accepted and put on as armor, and finding expression in the meek & courageous pursuit of the spiritual life. This word deals with forming motivations.

The only other NT use of ennoia is in Hebrews...

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions (ennoia) of the heart. (See note Hebrews 4:12) (Comment: Here the point is that God’s Word discerns morally questionable motivations of our hearts.)

BECAUSE HE WHO HAS SUFFERED IN THE FLESH HAS CEASED FROM SIN: hoti o pathon (AAPMSN) sarki pepautai (3SRMI) hamartias:

  • Ro 6:2,7,11; Gal 2:20; 5:24; Col 3:3, 4, 5
  • Isa 1:16; Ezek 16:41; Heb 4:10

Note that this is a difficult passage and although I have presented the interpretation I favor, the reader should be aware that there are at least three other possible interpretations. See Steven Cole's discussion for a more detailed analysis of the possibilities (click).

Suffered (3958) (pascho) means essentially what happens to a person experience. It means to undergo something; to experience a sensation, to experience an impression from an outside source, to undergo an experience (usually difficult) and normally with the implication of physical or psychological suffering. Pascho can refer to experiencing something pleasant, but in the present context (and most NT contexts) it refers to experiencing something trying, distressing or painful.

Suffered in the flesh - as Christ did equates with His death, burial and resurrection bringing victory over sin & death. As we "suffer in the flesh" (note aorist tense here signifying a once for all time suffering ~ when He died we died when we by faith identified with His death). Now because of our IDENTIFICATION with Christ by faith, we too have died to the power of sin in our life. Sin no longer reigns & controls us (Ro 6:11-note; Ro 6:14-note). We have ceased once and for all from our former slavery to SIN and now are slaves to Christ, slaves to righteousness. Note "ceased" is in the perfect tense which signifies a definite break with sin's rule at one point in time (their day of salvation when they identified by faith with Christ's propitiatory work of Romans 6) with the effect of that once for all break from the domination of Sin continuing in their new life in Christ.

So the central idea here seems to be the same truth taught in Romans 6 (also see Ro 8:13-note): As we daily and even moment by moment yield ourselves in total abandonment to to God, we are arming ourselves with the same attitude toward sin that Jesus had and we are enabled by His Spirit Who indwells us to overcome the strong desires that once ruled over us in our old life. Remember however Jesus' warning in (Mt 25:41) and be vigilant and diligent (2Pe 1:5ff-note).

Ceased (3973) (pauo [word study]) means to stop, restrain, refrain, quit, desist. To come to an end.

Wiersbe writes

Our goal in life is to “cease from sin.” We will not reach this goal until we die, or are called home when the Lord returns; but this should not keep us from striving (1Jn 2:28, 29, 1Jn 3:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). Peter did not say that suffering of itself would cause a person to stop sinning. Pharaoh in Egypt went through great suffering in the plagues, and yet he sinned even more! I have visited suffering people who cursed God and grew more and more bitter because of their pain. (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor or Logos)

Peter is encouraging them that although they may be currently suffering or soon will enter a season of suffering, they are victors (overcomers) in Christ (1Jn 5:4, 5) & they have effectively broken with their former slavery to the old master sin (Ro 6:17, 18-note; Ro 6:18-note; Ro 6:22-note). The power of sin has been terminated by Christ's death on the Cross and we can now walk in newness of life (Ro 6:4-note). Believers now don't so much fight for victory as from the victory that has already been accomplished on Calvary (see your present "power" in 1Co 1:18 where "power" is dunamis [word study]) and "being saved" is present tense which speaks of our daily "salvation" or "present tense salvation [see the Three Tenses of Salvation]") .

Suffering, plus Christ in our lives, can help us have victory over sin.

Wayne Barber teaches that the suffering has a purifying effect in our life so that after we have suffered we will cease from sin. Other commentators take ceased from sin to be more the idea along the line of the same truth taught in Romans 6 that we are identified with Christ in His suffering and death, and therefore can have victory over sin. As we yield ourselves to God, and have the same attitude toward sin that Jesus had, we can overcome the old life and manifest the new life.

F B Meyer in Our Daily Homily - THE Church was redeemed in a baptism of pain: for her members to suffer, and by suffering to overcome the world, is to fulfill the forecast which Jesus gave when He said, "In the world ye shall have tribulation; be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." Arm yourselves with this mind; put on this thought, this resolution, this purpose; determine that suffering at least shall never daunt you.

The reason for donning this armor.--Here we have no continuing city. In the death of Jesus we suffered in the flesh, and ceased from our connection with the world which cast Him out: and, as suffering is meted out to us, we become increasingly convinced that we can have no fellowship with its sins. The pain which the world allots to the followers of Jesus widens the chasm between them and it, pulls down the old nests in which their affections once built, and makes them more determined than ever to follow their Lord.

The choice which this armor involves.--No more the lusts of men, but the will of God. Never again to work the desire of the Gentiles, but to live according to God. Not henceforth to bow before the bondage of evil habit, but with erect and upright gaze to behold the face of Christ --such is the choice. Will you not now make it at this solemn moment, as you stand on this watershed between the two continents--here of the morning, there of the midnight? Follow the King, cost what it may.

The nature of the armor.--It is armor of Light: in which Christ's nature was encased, and on which all the shafts of man and devil broke into splinters. No weapon that was ever manufactured can prevail against its heavenly temper.


F B Meyer - "Arm yourselves with the same mind" (or thought, R. V. marg). - Let this thought be deeply inwrought by the power of the Holy Ghost. Let it be the ruling conception of your soul. Muse (Meditate) on it as steadfastly as the saint is said to have considered the stigmata. Gird it about you each morning (1Pe 1:13-note), as the soldier his cuirass (ED: piece of armor covering the body from neck to waist - the breastplate of such a piece) before he enters on the fight (Ep 6:12-note; Ep 6:13-note). Whenever the world approaches with its soft caress, or the flesh allures (see Chart contrasting in the flesh vs in the Spirit), or the devil tempts, answer each unhallowed suggestion with the words,

I cannot do that now; I have passed into a new world, where such things are not admissible. I am seated in Christ Jesus, where all that is unclean and defiling is far down under my feet.

Then reckon on the blessed Spirit to make your boasting good, and to realize in you all that Jesus accomplished when He breathed out His Spirit in the last throes of death. There is no need to be overcome of sin. We are risen. We have ascended (Ep 2:6-note). We are one with Jesus in His glorious triumph (see notes Colossians 1:27; Colossians 3:4). The Spirit Who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us, and is prepared to realize in us, as in miniature, all that glory and victory which He wrought in our glorious Lord.

He that hath suffered in the flesh (and we have done that in Jesus) hath ceased from sin.

Let us ponder these deep and precious words. (F B Meyer from The Glorious Lord)


A Cure For Self Pity - We all have a tendency to feel sorry for ourselves when trouble comes our way and everything seems to be going wrong. One cure for these feelings can be found in remembering what other believers have endured in their service for Christ.

Consider American missionary David Brainerd (1718-1747). He wrote,

My diet consists mostly of hasty-pudding, boiled corn, and bread baked in ashes, and sometimes a little meat and butter. My lodging is a little heap of straw, laid upon some boards. . . . My work is exceedingly hard and difficult. . . . These and many other uncomfortable circumstances attend me; and yet my spiritual conflicts and distresses so far exceed all these that I scarce think of them, but feel as if I were entertained in the most sumptuous manner.

It's helpful to consider what people like David Brainerd have endured, but it's even more helpful to remember what our Lord Jesus went through for us. The most effective cure for self-pity is to recall the suffering of our Savior on the cross and to think of the great joy we will experience when He returns in His glory (1 Peter 4:1,13).

As we focus our thoughts on Jesus, we'll gain a new perspective and our self-pity will cease. —Richard De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Lord, I thank You for the lessons
You have taught through those in need,
For they show how by affliction
They have learned on You to feed. —Anon.

When you think no one has problems like yours,
remember what Jesus endured.

1 Peter 4:2 so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: eis to meketi anthropon epithumiais alla thelemati theou ton epiloipon en sarki biosai (AAN) chronon.

Amplified: So that he can no longer spend the rest of his natural life living by [his] human appetites and desires, but [he lives] for what God wills. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

KJV: That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.

NET: in that he spends the rest of his time on earth concerned about the will of God and not human desires. (NET Bible)

Young's Literal: no more in the desires of men, but in the will of God, to live the rest of the time in the flesh

SO AS TO LIVE THE REST OF THE TIME: ton epiloipon...biosai (AAN) chronon:

So as - Peter elaborates on the result or the purpose of the "arming" they did in the preceding verse (1Pe 4:1). If one equips himself with the same mindset as Christ (by grace thru faith cp Col 2:6-note) the result will be that you won't live according to the evil desires of unregenerate men. You won't continue presenting the members of your body to Sin (your old defeated "master" or "lord") to bring about unrighteous acts, but now you are enabled to continually present yourself to God for righteous deeds (cp Ro 6:11, 12, 13- notes Ro 6:11; 6:12-13).

Rest of the time - What is left of our life on this earth. Peter reminds them (and all of us) of the brevity of the remainder of their earthly life (cp "time of your stay" 1Pe 1:17[note], "ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS...THE GRASS WITHERS" 1Pe 1:24 [note]) which should inspire us all to "redeem the time" and make the most of each opportunity God gives us (Ep 5:16-note, Col 4:5, 6-note)

If we do the will of God, then we will invest the rest of our time in that which is lasting and satisfying, but if we choose to give in to the world around us, the flesh within us, and/or the devil confronting us, we will waste the rest of our time and regret it when we stand before Jesus. This same idea was alluded to earlier when Peter said that...

if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man's work, conduct (aorist imperative) yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth (1Pe 1:17-note)

Steven Cole observes that...

living a holy life will be easy. Clearly, it’s not. As our text shows, it’s a constant struggle. Peter’s readers were being persecuted for their faith. Some were being ridiculed by their former friends because they no longer joined them in their drinking and sexual orgies. The persecution was making them wonder, “Why am I enduring this? Why not go with the flow and enjoy the pleasures I used to enjoy?” When they saw the first century version of the Schlitz commercial, which encouraged them to grab all the gusto they could, since they only go around once, they were tempted. But Peter counters that mentality by saying, “Yes, you only go around once, and then you stand before Christ who suffered for our sins and who will judge the living and the dead! In light of that, you must be intent on holiness. Any suffering you encounter for Christ’s sake should steel you to live for the will of God, not for the lusts of men.” (1Peter 4:1-6)

Wiersbe writes concerning the rest of your time...

While on our way home from the African trip... we were delayed in London by a typical English fog. London is one of my favorite places, so I was not disturbed a bit! But the delay gave my wife and me the opportunity to show London to a couple who were traveling with us. Imagine trying to see that marvelous city in one day! We had to make the most of the time—and we did! Our friends saw many exciting sites in the city. How long is “the rest of your time”? Only God knows. Don’t waste it! Invest it by doing the will of God. (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor or Logos)


Time Flies - Many metaphors are used in literature to describe life's brevity. It is a dream, a swift runner, a mist, a puff of smoke, a shadow, a gesture in the air, a sentence written in the sand, a bird flying in one window of a house and out another. Another symbolic description was suggested by a friend of mine who said that the short dash between the dates of birth and death on tombstones represents the brief span of one's life.

When we were children, time loitered. But as we get closer to the end of our lives, time moves with increasing swiftness, like water swirling down a drain. In childhood we measured our age in small increments. "I'm 6 1/2," we would say, for it seemed to take so long to get older. Now we have no time for such childishness. Who claims to be 60 1/2?

It's good to ponder the brevity of life now and then. Life is too short to treat it carelessly. In Psalm 90, after describing the shortness of life, Moses prayed, "Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Ps 90:12-note).

To make the most of our earthly existence, we must lose ourselves in the will of God

(1Peter 4:2). This we can do even when time is running out. It's never too late to give ourselves totally to God. —David H. Roper (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Lord, help us to redeem the time
You give us every day—
To take each opportunity
To follow and obey. —Sper

Don't just count your days,
make your days count.

IN THE FLESH NO LONGER FOR THE LUSTS OF MEN: eis to meketi anthropon epithumiais alla thelemati theou ton epiloipon en sarki biosai (AAN) chronon: (1Peter 2:1,14; Ro 7:4; 14:7; Eph 4:17,22, 23, 24; 5:7,8; Col 3:7,8; Titus 3:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) (Lust: Hos 6:7; Mk 7:21; Eph 2:3)

In the flesh - Refers in context to our physical bodies, not our Sin nature inherited from Adam which refer to flesh as that evil disposition which is indefatigably opposed to the will of God.

Phillips notes that Peter...

had learned how to arm his mind. We are in enemy territory. We cannot expect to get through it unscathed. But we can get through it victoriously. God expects us to do just that. We are not to spend the rest of our lives giving way to our flesh or to our fears. We are to live in harmony with God's will, whatever that may be. God's will for one person might be quite different from His will for another person. The Lord had once pointed out that fact forcibly enough to Peter years before (Jn 21:17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22). (Phillips, John: Exploring Peter: An Expository Commentary)

No longer - No longer for our Self but for the Savior. In Adam we all had a pattern of life that sought to please Self, but now in Christ we are empowered and called to be oriented to do the will of God for the short time we have left on earth.

Paul uses a similar "time phrase" no longer in Corinthians writing...

For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. (2Cor 5:14, 15)

Lusts - Note that it lusts is plural (in Greek and English) which pictures the many and variable cravings our fallen flesh (still present even in believers!) is prone to wander as Robert Robertson so "beautifully" phrased it in his hymn Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing (play) ...

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Lusts (1939)(epithumia [word study] from epi = at, toward {the preposition "epi-" in the compound is directive conveying the picture of "having one’s passion toward" } + thumos = passion. The root verb epithumeo = set heart upon) is a neutral term denoting the presence of strong desires or impulses, longings or passionate craving (whether it is good or evil is determined by the context) directed toward an object. (Click article in ISBE) Most often epithumia in the NT describes strong desires which are perverted and unrestrained and which originate from our SIN (flesh) nature, which is corrupt and fallen.

Warren Wiersbe writes that

these fundamental desires of life are the steam in the boiler that makes the machinery go. Turn off the steam and you have no power. Let the steam go its own way and you have destruction. The secret is in constant control. These desires must be our servants and not our masters; and this we can do through Jesus Christ. (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)

A Jewish proverb says "Lust is like rot in the bones."

Hiebert has an interesting note that the

degeneration in the meaning of the term (epithumia from God given desires to perverted desires) is a revealing commentary on human nature. Left to himself, instead of gaining mastery over his base desires and steadfastly adhering to the good, the individual is characteristically overcome by his evil cravings, so that they become the dominating force of his life." (Hiebert, D. Edmond: 1 Peter. Page 94. Moody)

The memory of our sinful past as unsaved men should serve as a sharp goad against any tendency to relapse into that kind of lifestyle. Conversion makes us sometimes painfully aware conscious of two different types of life, one set on self's will and the other on God's will. To live for the lusts of men refers to a life ruled or controlled by the variegated evil cravings or sinful desires that characterize man's fallen, depraved mind (1Pe 1:14-note).

Pastor Steven Cole introduces his sermon on this section with the following statistics...

In 1988 Leadership, a leading journal for pastors, commissioned a poll to determine, “How common is pastoral indiscretion?” One question was, “Since you’ve been in local church ministry, have you ever done anything with someone (not your spouse) that you feel was sexually inappropriate?” The responses: 23% yes; 77% no.

A second question was more explicit: “Have you ever had sexual intercourse with someone other than your spouse since you’ve been in local church ministry?” Yes: 12%; No: 88%. To put these figures in perspective, they also surveyed subscribers to Christianity Today magazine who are not pastors. The incidences of immorality were nearly double: 45% had done something they considered sexually inappropriate; 23% admitted to adultery (Leadership, Winter, 1988, p. 12.) Those figures disturb me! If one out of four pastors admits to doing something sexually inappropriate and one out of eight has crossed the line into adultery, and twice that many lay people have done so, is it any wonder that the American church is lacking God’s power and blessing? (1 Peter 4:1-6)

BUT FOR THE WILL OF GOD: alla thelemati theou: (1Peter 2:15; Ps 143:10; Mt 7:21; 12:50; 21:31; Mk 3:35; Jn 1:13; 7:17; Ro 6:11; 12:2; 2Cor 5:15; Gal 2:19,20; Eph 5:17; 6:6; Col 1:9; 4:12; 1Th 5:18; Heb 13:21; Jas 1:18; 1Jn 2:17)

Will (2307) (thelema from thelo = to will with the "-ma" suffix indicating the result of the will = "a thing willed") generally speaks of the result of what one has decided. One sees this root word in the feminine name "Thelma." In its most basic form, thelema refers to a wish, a strong desire, and the willing of some event. (Note: See also the discussion of the preceding word boule for comments relating to thelema).

Zodhiates says that thelema is the...

Will, not to be conceived as a demand, but as an expression or inclination of pleasure towards that which is liked, that which pleases and creates joy. When it denotes God's will, it signifies His gracious disposition toward something. Used to designate what God Himself does of His own good pleasure. (Zodhiates, S. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. AMG or Logos)

Spurgeon comments that...

The doctrine of substitution is the strongest possible argument for holiness. You lived in sin once, but Christ died for your sin, so you must reckon that, in Him, you died to sin, seeing that He died in your stead. And the argument is that, henceforth, your life is to be a life in Him, a life of holiness, to the praise and glory of God.

But - Marks a strong contrast. The but marks a sharp line in the sand -- on one side a life lived only to satisfy self and on the other side a life lived to please the Father in heaven and bring glory to His holy name...with no middle ground (cp Mt 6:24-note, Jas 4:4-note, 1Jn 2:15-note ). Don't let the world pour you into its mold! (Ro 12:2-note) When we are living to please Him, His will is our law, His Word our rule, His Son's life our example, His Spirit rather than our own soul our Guide and Source of strength. God's will should ever be the North pole star for the believer.

The will of God is not a burden that the Father places on us. Rather it is a privilege of divine enjoyment and enablement which makes all burdens light. The will of God comes from the heart of God (Ps 33:11-note) and therefore is an expression of the love of God. We may not always understand what He is doing, but we know that He is doing what is best for us. We do not live on shaky explanations but on His sure promises.

Richison adds these practical thoughts...

If we count ourselves dead to sin in the death of Christ, we can live to the will of God. When Christians live for the will of God, they affirm that the will of God is best for them. Making the will of God our rule of life demonstrates our essential motivation for life (1Pe 4:1).

Acceptance of God’s will is an important attitude for the believer. God opens doors and closes doors. God is the God of providence. No circumstance comes into our lives without His will. We do not knock doors down. We wait until He opens the door. A closed door is as good as an open door if the Lord closed the door. We love open doors but we are not enthusiastic about shut ones.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Ro 12:2-note).

We prove the will of God as God transforms our minds

Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is (Ep 5:17-note)

It is possible to understand the will of God. God’s will is no esoteric idea difficult to grasp. God does not tease us with His will by making us wonder what it is.

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding (Col 1:9-note)

Are you “filled” with the will of God? It is one thing to follow the will of God occasionally and it is another thing to fill our whole lives with the will of God. When we operate like this we will not run contrary to the will of God.

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1Th 5:18-note)

There is no doubt about the will of God here. Christians need to develop a capacity for appreciation for what God has done in their life.

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men (1Pe 2:15-note)

A life of integrity shuts the mouth of our critics.

For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil (1Pe 3:17-note)

The will of God is for Christians to suffer for integrity, not inconsistency.

Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator (1Pe 4:19-note)

Those who suffer in the will of God understand God’s providence in allowing suffering to enter their lives.

The word will carries the idea of purpose and design. Purpose plus design equals the will of God. God has a purpose for our lives. When we enter God’s plan for our lives we enter maximum blessing. (Notes)

How do you know the will of God? Simply put, by doing the will of God. Jesus alluded to this principle...

If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself. (John 7:17)


The Good That Pain Can Do - Affliction, when we accept it with humility, can be instructive, a discipline that leads us to a deeper, fuller life. “Before I was afflicted I went astray,” David said, “but now I keep Your Word” (Psalm 119:67 - See Spurgeon's note). Peter would agree: Affliction leads us not to live for ourselves “but for the will of God” (1Peter 4:2).

Far from being an obstacle to our spiritual growth, pain can be the instrument of it—if we’re trained by it. It can push us closer to God and deeper into His Word. It is a means by which He graciously shapes us to be like His Son, gradually giving us the compassion, contentment, tranquility, and courage we long and pray for. Without pain, we wouldn’t be all that God wants us to be. His strength shines brightest through human weakness.

Has God set you apart today to receive instruction through suffering and pain? Endure this training patiently. He can turn the trial into a blessing. He can use it to draw you close to His heart and into His Word, teach you the lessons He intends for you to learn, and use it to bestow His grace on you.

God is making more of you—something much better—than you ever thought possible. —David H. Roper (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

By faith a Christian can have poise
And rise above all that annoys—
Sustained and strengthened by God’s power
To live in victory hour by hour. —Hess

Whatever God teaches us through pain is gain.

1 Peter 4:3 For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: arketos gar o pareleluthos (RAPMSN) chronos to boulema ton ethnon kateirgasthai, (RMN) peporeumenous (RMPMPA) en aselgeiais, epithumiais, oinophlugiais, komois, potois, kai athemitois eidololatriais.

Amplified: For the time that is past already suffices for doing what the Gentiles like to do—living [as you have done] in shameless, insolent wantonness, in lustful desires, drunkenness, reveling, drinking bouts and abominable, lawless idolatries. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

KJV: For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:

NET: For the time that has passed was sufficient for you to do what the non-Christians desire. You lived then in debauchery, evil desires, drunkenness, carousing, drinking bouts, and wanton idolatries. (NET Bible)

Young's Literal: for sufficient to us is the past time of life the will of the nations to have wrought, having walked in lasciviousnesses, desires, excesses of wines, revellings, drinking-bouts, and unlawful idolatries,

FOR THE TIME ALREADY PAST IS SUFFICIENT: arketos gar o pareleluthos (RAPMSN) chronos: (Ezek 44:6; 45:9; Acts 17:30; Ro 8:12,13; 1Cor 6:11)

Peter gives in 1Pe 4:3, 4, 5, 6 the reasons (x3) that should motivate us to effectively endure suffering. It is not natural to endure suffering for righteousness sake & to persevere such suffering victoriously requires strong definitive motivation...from the past (1Pe 4:3), the present (v4) and the future (1Pe 4:5, 6).

Our past life had more than enough sin. The readers (and myself included) had done their "full tour of duty" and then some in their past service as slaves to sin. We should all take a good sober backward look at the consequences of our past self-gratification to motivate us now to orient our lives around a new view of life, a new authority and a new dynamic available to us in the old rugged Cross of Christ, from which flows the power of Almighty God to endure whatever suffering might come our way for His sake.

Past (3928) (parerchomai from para = beside + erchomai = come) means to pass by. It means to be no longer available for something.

Parerchomai - 29x in 25v - Matt 5:18; 8:28; 14:15; 24:34f; 26:39, 42; Mark 6:48; 13:30f; 14:35; Luke 11:42; 12:37; 15:29; 16:17; 17:7; 18:37; 21:32f; Acts 16:8; 27:9; 2 Cor 5:17; Jas 1:10; 1 Pet 4:3; 2 Pet 3:10

The verb past is perfect tense indicating that their old life is a closed chapter and should stay closed! Paul parallels this truth by reminding the Roman believers that they once were slaves to SIN (see note Romans 6:17) but now they have become slaves of GOD. (see Ro 6:18-note cp Ro 6:22-note). Note the 3 perfect tenses in this chapter emphasize the thought that this past of theirs is a closed chapter & that part of the story is over and done with ("finis"). (cp 1Pe 1:14-note).

Sufficient (713) (arketos from arkeo [word study] = be sufficient) means adequate or enough.

John Phillips comments that...

we might have gotten away with things when we were pagans, but that will not do for the new life we have in Christ. Peter reminds us that the past is the past. It is over and done with. There must be no going back to it. There must be a break with all that now. As Paul puts it, "our old man [the man of old, the man I used to be] is crucified with [Christ]" (Ro 6:6-note). (Phillips, John: Exploring 1Peter: An Expository Commentary)

Guzik comments that...

Sadly, many Christians (in their heart of hearts) think that they have not spent enough time doing the will of the ungodly. They want to experience more of the world before they make a full commitment to godliness. This is a tragic mistake. (1Peter 4 )

Barnes writes...

"We have spent sufficient time in indulging ourselves, and following our wicked propensities, and we should hereafter live in a different manner." This does not mean that it was ever proper thus to live, but that, as we would say, "we have had enough of these things; we have tried them; there is no reason why we should indulge in them any more." (Albert Barnes. Barnes NT Commentary)

Richison observes that...

Peter greatly emphasizes this word in the Greek by being placed first in the sentence. Living that life in the past is emphatically sufficient! “Enough” pertains to what is sufficient for some purpose and resulting in satisfaction. We came to a place when we said, “Enough is enough already! I have had it with that kind of life. It does not satisfy.”

Sufficient (arketos) for the day are its troubles” (Mt 6:34-note)

Knowing Jesus personally gives ultimate satisfaction.

At a point in our life we came to realize that our former life without Christ was “enough.” We had our fill of it. When we met Christ that life no longer satisfied us.

It is difficult for us to think about past sin and the harm that we did before coming to Christ. Our sin built upon itself until it sent us into a spiral downward. Sin is not a static thing because it creates a momentum of sinning. At the point when sin completely controlled us, it was only then that we came to realize the futility of our lives. (Notes)

Spurgeon comments on sufficient (suffice) asking...

Suffice? O brethren, let it do much more than that! Let it make us cry, “Would God that we had never wrought the will of the Gentiles at all!” Some young people foolishly say that they must have a little space in which they can “see life.” Ah, those of you who have been converted in after years regret that ever you saw what men call “life”, which is but the alias for corruption and death!

Wiersbe comments...

Remember what you were before you met Christ (v. 3). There are times when looking back at your past life would be wrong, because Satan could use those memories to discourage you. But God urged Israel to remember that they had once been slaves in Egypt (Dt 5:15). Paul remembered that he had been a persecutor of believers (1Ti 1:13ff), and this encouraged him to do even more for Christ. We sometimes forget the bondage of sin and remember only the passing pleasures of sin." (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor or Logos)

FOR YOU TO HAVE CARRIED OUT THE DESIRE OF THE GENTILES: to boulema ton ethnon kateirgasthai (RMN): (1Peter 1:14; Dt 12:30,31; Ro 1:20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32; Eph 2:2,3; 4:17; 1Thes 4:5; Titus 3:3)

The KJV translates it the will of the Gentiles. There could hardly be a more dramatic contrast with the will of God in the preceding passage.

Carried out (2716) (katergazomai [word study] from katá = intensifies meaning of verb + ergazomai = labor, work or engage in an activity involving considerable expenditure of effort) means to work out fully and thoroughly, to accomplish or achieve an end (implying thoroughness), to finish or carry something to its conclusion. To work so as to bring something to fulfillment or successful completion and implies doing something with thoroughness. It means to do that from which something results. This verb always means to complete the effort and the work begun.

You have spent enough (sufficient) time in the past doing what pagans choose to do! The memory of their (our) varied and often sordid past conduct should undergird the readers' (our) present suffering for righteousness.

Carried out is perfect tense which defines the activity as terminated.

Katergazomai - 22x in 22v - Rom 1:27; 2:9; 4:15; 5:3; 7:8, 13, 15, 17f, 20; 15:18; 1 Cor 5:3; 2 Cor 4:17; 5:5; 7:10f; 9:11; 12:12; Eph 6:13; Phil 2:12; Jas 1:3; 1 Pet 4:3. NAS = accomplished(1), brings about(2), carried(1), committed(1), committing(1), does(1), doing(4), done(1), effecting(1), performed(1), prepared(1), produced(2), produces(2), producing(2), work(1).

Desire (will) (1013) (boulema, see boule) denotes a determined resolve and can be translated "choose to do". Either means the thing desired, willed. Here boulema describes the deliberate chosen acts of disobedience while they were unregenerate pagans. These actions were a frontal assault as it were, representing "in the face" rebellion against the Almighty Holy One.

Boulema - 3x in 3v - Acts 27:43; Ro 9:19; 1Pet 4:3. NAS = desire(1), intention(1), will(1).

Richison comments that...

Now that we have become Christians, we mark that passage of time as non-Christians as a thing of the past. We clearly mark the distinction between our life before and after knowing Christ. Years without Christ were the wasted years — the time between birth and new birth. Our entire career before Christ was a waste and we were sick of it. That life did not satisfy us. It was a wretched treadmill of vacuous sin. We came to hate our sin and bad habits. (Notes)

Paul recorded a similar reminder of the "before/after" picture of every believer...

For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. 4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:3, 4, 5-See notes Titus 3:3; 3:4; 3:5)

Comment: Before coming to Christ we simply put in time on Earth. We went through the motions of life without any true purpose or meaning. God saved us and gave us meaning and purpose.

The Gentiles - From a Biblical viewpoint all the world is ethnically, nationally divided into either Jews (Israel) or Gentiles (the nations). This division is in distinguish to the two spiritual families - In Adam (Satan is the father of this family) or In Christ (God is the Father of this family).

HAVING PURSUED A COURSE OF SENSUALITY, LUSTS: peporeumenous (RMPMPA) en aselgeiais epithumiais: (Mk 7:22; 2Cor 12:21; Gal 5:19; Eph 4:19; Jude 1:4)

Having pursued (4198) (poreuomai from poros = a passing or passage) means to go from one place to another and is used in 1Pe 3:22 (note) to describe Christ's ascension. Peter uses poreuomai to picture the unregenerate lifestyles of the pagans as a journey, traveling as it were from one sinful destination to another.

Having pursued is in the perfect tense which Vincent says is

an inferential reference to a course of life now done with.

Jude uses this same verb recording that...

"In the last time there shall be mockers, following (poreuomai) after their own ungodly lusts." (Jude 1:18)

Now Peter describes the will of the Gentiles, recording 6 ugly sins that characterized their will and not God's will. Note all 6 evils mentioned here are in the plural, indicating the variety and frequency of these vices! It has been observed that all 6 of these vices were pagan excesses often connected with the practice of idolatry and celebrations to the honor of heathen gods.

Having pursued - This is more literally "having walked in" which identifies all 6 of these sins as in the locative case with preceding preposition "en" (English = in).

Sensuality (766) (aselgeia [word study] from aselges = licentious <> a = negates next word + selges = continent) originally referred to any excess or lack of restraint but came to convey the idea of shameless excess and the absence of restraint, especially with sexual excess. Thus like koite, aselgeia was used almost exclusively of especially lewd sexual immorality, of uninhibited and unabashed lasciviousness. It refers to the kind of sexual debauchery and abandonment that characterizes much of modern society and that is often flaunted almost as a badge of distinction!

Aselgeia refers to uninhibited sexual indulgence without shame and without concern for what others think or how they may be affected (or infected). They have no concern about even their reputation, much less their character.

Aselgeia indicates indecency, wanton behavior, and a complete lack of restraint. In his second letter, Peter uses the word to describe the "filthy" lifestyle of the people of Sodom (2Pe 2:7-note). The dominating idea behind the word is that of shameless conduct with emphasis on sensuality and behavior that shocks public decency.

Aselgeia - 10x in 10v - Mark 7:22; Rom 13:13; 2 Cor 12:21; Gal 5:19; Eph 4:19; 1 Pet 4:3; 2 Pet 2:2, 7, 18; Jude 1:4. NAS = licentiousness(1), sensual(1), sensuality(8).

The Greeks defined aselgeia as

a disposition of soul that resents all discipline,” as “a spirit that acknowledges no restraints, dares whatsoever its caprice and wanton insolence may suggest.

Aselgeia pictures sin as an inordinate indulgence of appetites to the extent of violating a sense of public decency. This word pictures unbridled, unrestrained living, all sorts of evil involving lack of self-restraint.

Barclay writes that aselgeia...

does not solely mean sexual uncleanness; it is sheer wanton insolence. As Basil defined it, “It is that attitude of the soul which has never borne and never will bear the pain of discipline.” It is the insolence that knows no restraint, that has no sense of the decencies of things, that will dare anything that wanton caprice demands, that is careless of public opinion and its own good name so long as it gets what it wants...It has been defined as “readiness for any pleasure.”...The great characteristic of aselgeia is this—the bad man usually tries to hide his sin (they have enough respect for common decency not to wish to be found out); but the man who has aselgeia in his soul does not care how much he shocks public opinion so long as he can gratify his desires...the man who is guilty of aselgeia is that he is lost to decency and to shame... he does not care who sees his sin. It is not that he arrogantly and proudly flaunts it; it is simply that he can publicly do the most shameless things, because he has ceased to care for decency at all...Sin can get such a grip of a man that he is lost to decency and shame. He is like a drug taker who first takes the drug in secret, but comes to a stage when he openly pleads for the drug on which he has become dependent. A man can become such a slave of liquor that he does not care who sees him drunk. A man can let his sexual desires so master him that he does not care who sees him satisfy them...It has been defined as “readiness for any pleasure.”...Jezebel was the classic instance of aselgeia when she built a heathen shrine in Jerusalem the Holy City. Josephus ascribed it to Jezebel when she built a temple to Baal in Jerusalem. The idea is that of a man who is so far gone in desire that he has ceased to care what people say or think... Aselgeia is the insolently selfish spirit, which is lost to honour, and which will take what it wants, where it wants, in shameless disregard of God and man. (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press)

DRUNKENNESS (habitual), CAROUSING: oinophlugiais, komois: (2Sa 3:28; Pr 23:29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35; Isa 5:11; 28:7; Eph 5:18)

Drunkenness (3632) (oinophlugia from oinos = wine + phluo = to bubble up, to overflow) means literally to be bubbling over with wine! What a picture of a drunken orgy and debauchery!

Vincent notes that this word is used...

Only here in New Testament. The kindred verb occurs in the Septuagint, Deut. 21:20; Isa. 56:12. From oinos, wine, and phleo or phluo, to teem with abundance; thence to boil over or bubble up, overflow. It is the excessive, insatiate desire for drink, from which comes the use of the word for the indulgence of the desire — debauch. So Rev., wine-bibbings.

Carousing (2970) (komos) originally referred to a band of friends who accompanied a victor in a military engagement or athletic contest on his way home, singing with rejoicing and praises to the victor. But the word "degenerated:" until it came to mean "" or a noisy, nocturnal and riotous procession of half drunken revelers and frolicsome fellows who after supper paraded through the streets at night with torches and music in honor of Bacchus or some other deity, singing and playing before houses of male and female friends (and causing a major public disturbance). Hence komos generally refers to feasts and drinking parties that are protracted till late at night and indulge in revelry.

Barclay writes that komos...

describes the kind of revelry which lowers a man’s self and is a nuisance to others...A komos was a band of friends who accompanied a victor of the games after his victory. They danced and laughed and sang his praises. It also described the bands of the devotees of Bacchus, god of wine. It describes what in regency England would have been called a rout. It means unrestrained revelry, enjoyment that has degenerated into license. (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press)

DRINKING PARTIES AND ABOMINABLE IDOLATRIES: potois kai athemitois eidololatriais: (Gal 5:21) (1Ki 21:26; 2Chr 15:8; Isa 65:4; Jer 16:18; Rev 17:4,5)

Drinking parties (4224) (potos from pino = to drink) drinking especially bouts of drinking.

Abominable (111) (athemitos from a = negative + themis = statute, an adjective from themis = law) is literally contrary to statute, and thus illegal or unlawful. It describes that which is forbidden.

Vincent writes...

More literally, unlawful, emphasizing the idolatries as violations of divine law.

Athemitos is used in the Apocryphal book of 2 Maccabees to describe unlawful sacrifices.

2 Maccabees 7:1 records Jews who were

compelled by the king against the law (athemitos) to taste swine's flesh

Luke records the only other NT use of athemitos by the Apostle Peter in Acts 10:28

And he (Peter is speaking and is the one who uses athemitos) said to them, "You yourselves know how unlawful (athemitos) it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.

Since idolatries were not forbidden by Gentile laws, Peter has to be referring to the fact that they were "unlawful" and "abominable" before a Holy God. Going beyond the inner sense of what was proper, their idolatries led to evils that tended to make men shudder. Their past associations with such idolatries should motivate them assiduously and unswervingly to adhere to their new life (armed for the same purpose verse 1) in Christ with its demands (1Pe 1:15-note) and provision (Ro 8:13-note) for moral purity.

Idolatries (1495) (eidololatreia from eidolon [from eídos = that which is seen, what is visible, figure, appearance] idol, some sort of physical representation of a deity, image + latreia = service, worship <> latreuo = minister, render religious service) means idol worship and is the pagan (Gentile) counterpart (and opposite of) Jewish latreia (worship). This pagan practice involved the worship of many gods and took various forms in which devotion to the idols was expressed. Idolatry in the first century was far worse than simple idol worship. Idol worship encouraged as part of its exercise not only drunkenness but also sensuality, sexual laxity and sexual vice.

As Robertson notes...

The Greeks actually carried lust and drunkenness into their religious observances (Aphrodite, for instance).

1 Peter 4:4 In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: en o xenizontai me suntrechonton (RAPMPG) humon eis ten auten ten asotias anachusin, blasphemountes; (PAPMPN)

Amplified: They are astonished and think it very queer that you do not now run hand in hand with them in the same excesses of dissipation, and they abuse [you]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

KJV: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you

NET: So they are astonished when you do not rush with them into the same flood of wickedness, and they vilify you. (NET Bible)

Young's Literal: in which they think it strange -- your not running with them to the same excess of dissoluteness, speaking evil

AND IN ALL THIS (this manner of life), THEY ARE SURPRISED: en o xenizontai (3PPPI):

The all this - The "sick" six above, a veritable sewer of vice.

Spurgeon said:

You set your heart aflame with the Word of God and man shall come and watch you burn.

They are surprised (3579)(xenizo from xenos = stranger. Words in xen- stem can mean foreign, strange, or even guest) means to appear strange to another, to astonish (cp Acts 17:20) or to surprise. Peter uses this same verb in verse 12...

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you... (1Pe 4:12-note)

The present tense pictures their pagan friends continuing to be astonished at the radical change of direction of behavior in those who used to be their companions in riotous, raucous sins. This is a quite unfamiliar element which they could not understand (cp 1Cor 2:14) and thus it seemed strange to them. And because it is human nature to resent and be suspicious of that which disturbs the status quo, we see that their surprised attitudes were acted out in slanderous statements against their former soul mates in sin!

Richison writes that...

It is surprising (”strange”) to the fast crowd that the Christian broke away from them. They cannot imagine any value system other than their own. The fact that the Christian chooses values polar opposite to theirs’ blows apart their assumptions about life. The mob is so closed in its view of life that when one of their crowd makes a decision like this, it is astonished. It seems so strange that a person would make this decision. It is a cause for wonder. They think you are crazy for leaving this party life. They wonder at this as something unusual. The Christian’s testimony gets their attention. (Note)

There is a type of suffering that comes from no longer running in the fast lane with the fast crowd. Your old (unregenerate) friends will not take it lying down (so to speak) that you no longer cavort with them and this is a form of undeserved suffering for the sake of your Lord. Remember that when you suffer, He suffers, for He is your Covenant Partner and your Covenant Defender. You never suffer alone when you suffer for His Name's sake.

Spurgeon comments...

What a strange world this world is! It speaks evil of men because they will not do evil. Yet it has ever been so; the men, “of whom the world was not worthy,” have been the very people of whom worldliness have said, “Away with such fellows from the earth! It is not fit that they should live.” The world’s verdict concerning Christians is of little value.

Wiersbe comments that the...

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! Festus told Paul, “You are out of your mind!” (Acts 26:24) and people even thought the same thing of our Lord (Mark 3:21). (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor or Logos)

THAT YOU DO NOT RUN WITH THEM INTO THE SAME EXCESS (pouring out) OF DISSIPATION: me suntrechonton (PAPMPG) humon eis ten auten tes asotias anachusin: (Mt 23:25; Lk 15:13; Ro 13:13; 2Pe 2:22)

Run with (4936) (suntrecho from sun = with, speaks of intimate association + trecho = run) means literally to run together like a crowd or a mob as here even as we say today that someone is "running with the wrong crowd"! To reiterate the prefix sun indicates the former extremely close ties between the now polarized parties.

What a word picture -- these pagans were running after the six vices like rats scurrying for the darkness.

Vincent commenting on the phrase do not run with them says this is a description of those...

“In a troop” (Bengel); like a band of revelers.

Vincent quotes a Ovid’s description of a typical debauched Bacchic rite...

“Lo, Bacchus comes! and with the festive cries
Resound the fields; and mixed in headlong rout,
Men, matrons, maids, paupers, and nobles proud,
To the mysterious rites are borne along.”
Metamorphoses, iii., 528–530.

Richison adds that...

Metaphorically it means to run a course of evil with others so as to be closely associated with them in a particular type of conduct. The fast crowd gathers together to live out the same values jointly. They get confidence from closely associating with each other. They justify what they do by mob thinking. The Devil’s crowd does not tolerate anyone out of harmony with it’s values.

The cults of Artemis and Demeter centered in Ephesus and the cults of Dionysius and Cybele in Phrygia and Pergamum are illustrations of these kinds of mobs.

The fast crowd depends on group influence so they want us to run “with” them. They maintain their course of evil by peer pressure. If you are going to be “with it,” you must accept their extreme values. (Note)

The same excesses of dissipation - The NET Bible renders it "the same flood of wickedness".

Excesses (401) (anachusis from ana = intensifies meeting + cheo = to pour out) is literally a pouring out or overflowing. It is an extremely high point on a scale of extent and implies an excess of something with negative value. Excessive. Extreme. Classic Greek used this word of a tide that filled the pools lying off the beach.

Dissipation (810) (asotia related to ásotos or prodigal, which in turn is derived from a = negative + sozo = save which describes something devoid of saving quality) strictly speaking describes the disposition of an ásotos or prodigal. Literally it is the picture of having no hope of safety, then describing the act of one who has abandoned himself to such reckless behavior.

Vincent says that asotia is literally "unsavingness" and describes the "the prodigal son who lived unsavingly [asotia]."

Asotia is variously translated as profligacy (state of being completely given up to dissipation and licentiousness), reckless abandon, debauchery (extreme indulgence in sensuality), riotous living, wild, excess, extravagant squandering, dissoluteness, prodigality (quality of being recklessly extravagant with wasteful lavishness threatening to lead to early exhaustion of resources).

Asotia describes behavior which shows lack of concern or thought for the consequences of an action as seen with senseless or reckless deeds.

Asotia is the characteristic of an abandoned man, denoting a dissolute life and carries the idea even of rioting (as translated in the KJV) and was commonly used to describe drunken revelry at pagan festivals.

Asotia portrays the utter recklessness in expenditure on part of those who have lost self-control (or never had it). Paul commanded the Ephesians not to "get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, (asotia) but be filled with the Spirit" (Ep 5:18-note)

In sum, the picture here is of a large crowd running together in a mad, wild race—a melee pursuing sin.

AND THEY MALIGN YOU: blasphemountes (PAPMPN): (1Peter 2:12; 3:16; Acts 13:45; 18:6; 2Pe 2:12; Jude 1:10)

Meyer writes that...

It does not matter how your good deeds are received by men. If you are like God, you will find them received with contempt and ingratitude.

They malign (987) (blasphemeo [word study] derived from bláx = sluggish, slow, stupid + phémē = rumor, fame or more likely derived from bláptō = to hurt, injure, harm + phémē from phēmí = to speak) means literally to speak to harm and in general therefore means to bring into ill repute and so to slander, to defame (to harm the reputation of by libel or slander), speak evil of, to rail at (revile or scold in harsh, insolent, or abusive language and rail stresses an unrestrained berating), to speak calumny (noun form = a misrepresentation intended to blacken another’s reputation = the act of uttering false charges or misrepresentations maliciously calculated to damage another’s reputation), to calumniate (verb form = to utter maliciously false statements, charges, or imputations about - calumniate imputes malice to the speaker and falsity to the assertions)

The idea of blasphemeo is that the words spoken hurt or smite the reputation of another. It means to destroy or discredit another's good name by speaking evil against them. In the context of the NT, the "reputation" or "good name" slandered or discredited is usually that of God or of His Truth.

Blasphemeo refers to a “malicious misrepresentation”. Note that in several of the New Testament uses of blasphemeo, we see that the actions of professed Christians can speak louder than their words and thus convey "malicious misrepresentation" of God and/or the Gospel to those who observe those actions. In such situations God and His Gospel have in effect been blasphemed. Thus Christians for their part must take care that they do not, by their own conduct, give cause for blasphemy against God or against his word.

The present tense indicates this is not a one time "pot shot" but a continual barrage of vilifying remarks from their former party pals.

The former friends are surprised, offended, and resentful because of the Christian’s lack of interest in ungodly pleasures.

We must be patient toward the lost, even though we do not agree with their lifestyles or participate in their sins. Unsaved people are blind to spiritual truth (2Cor 4:3, 4) and dead to spiritual enjoyment (Ep 2:1-note). In fact, our contact with the lost is important to them since we are the bearers of the truth of the Good News that they need to receive to be set free from their bondage to sin. When unsaved friends attack us, this is our opportunity to witness to them (1Pe 3:15-note), especially not returning evil from evil. This may provide an entree for dialogue about why we don't return their blasphemous remarks.

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To not run with the crowd will not be easy, for the temptation to compromise is ever present. We need to be like the little animal called the ermine described in the following illustration...

In the forests of northern Europe and Asia lives little animal called the ERMINE, known for his snow-white fur in winter. He instinctively protects his white coat against anything that would soil it. Fur hunters take advantage of this unusual trait of the ermine. They don’t set a snare to catch him, but instead they find his home, which is usually a cleft in a rock or a hollow in an old tree. They smear the entrance and interior with grime. Then the hunters set their dogs loose to find and chase the ermine. The frightened animal flees toward home but doesn’t enter because of the filth. Rather than soil his white coat, he is trapped by the dogs and captured while preserving his purity. For the ermine, purity is more precious than life. The Lord wants His people to keep themselves separated from the filth of this world at all cost. In (Nu15:38,40) the Lord told the Jews to put a blue thread on the borders of their clothes. When they saw the blue, they were to remember God's holy purpose for their lives and to keep a distance from sin. Do we remind ourselves often of our high and holy purpose for living? The best way to live in the world is to live above it.- Henry G Bosch (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


AGAINST THE FLOW (READ: 1Peter 4:1-5 "Do not be conformed to this world." -- Ro 12:2 (see note)

Two university students in Moorhead, Minnesota, painted a mural on the wall outside their dormitory room. According to USA Today, it showed a school of fish all swimming in the same direction except for a single fish heading the opposite way.

The one fish was intended to be the age-old symbol for Christ. Printed on the picture were the words, "Go against the flow." University officials, arguing that the mural might offend non-Christians, ordered the students to paint over it.

In obedience to our Master, we must be willing to go against the flow of society. As we follow Jesus, our motives, values, and habits are bound to be

different from those who are not Christians. That's the way it was in the first century when the pagans were puzzled and convicted by the lifestyle of Christians. Peter wrote, "They think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you" (1Peter 4:4).

When we are marching to the beat of a different drummer, of course we will be out of step with people around us. This takes conviction, courage, and courtesy. But by God's enabling grace we can be disturbingly different -- and effectively different too. -- Vernon C. Grounds (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Some will hate you, some will love you;
Some will flatter, some will slight;
Cease from man and look above you,
Trust in God and do the right.-- Macleod

When we walk with the Lord,
we'll be out of step with the world.


When Right Seems Wrong - There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. --Proverbs 14:12

When the crowd is running the wrong way, it's hard to be the oddball who runs the right way. Most of the participants in the NCAA 10,000-meter cross-country race in Riverside, California, thought Mike Delcavo was heading the wrong way. He kept waving for the other 127 runners to follow him, but only 4 believed he had taken the right turn--the turn that all the other competitors had missed.

When he was asked about the reaction to his mid-course decision not to let the crowd determine his direction, Mike responded, "They thought it was funny that I went the right way."

First-century pagans reacted the same way to the changed lifestyle of their Christian neighbors. The apostle Peter said, "They think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you" (1Pe 4:4). Non-Christians still think that followers of Jesus Christ are going in the wrong direction. But actually, believers are headed for the victor's crown and a heavenly home (2Ti 4:7 8-notes).

The route that non-Christians choose may seem right to them, but it leads to eternal loss. Keep on the right path, no matter how many are running the other way. --V C Grounds (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

The path we're on determines our
Eternal destination;
One leads to everlasting life,
The other, condemnation. --Sper

It's better to be right
than popular.

1 Peter 4:5 but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: oi apodosousin (3PFAI) logon to hetoimos echonti (PAPMSD) krinai (AAN) zontas (PAPMPA) kai nekrous.

Amplified: But they will have to give an account to Him Who is ready to judge and pass sentence on the living and the dead. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

KJV: Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.

NET: They will face a reckoning before Jesus Christ who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. (NET Bible)

Young's Literal: who shall give an account to Him who is ready to judge living and dead

BUT THEY SHALL GIVE ACCOUNT TO HIM WHO IS READY TO JUDGE THE LIVING AND THE DEAD: oi apodosousin (3PFAI) logon to hetoimos echonti (PAPMSD)krinai (AAN) zontas (PAPMPA) kai nekrous:

  • Mal 3:13, 14, 15; Mt 12:36; Lk 16:2; Ro 14:12; Jude 1:14,15) (Mt 25:31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46; 1 Co 15:51,52

This is similar in content to how Jesus interacted with deceit, threats, etc (1Pe 2:23-note).

This verse pictures a court scene where one's antagonists are brought before the Judge of the living and the dead. People who have “walked in lewdness” (see note 1 Peter 4 :3) and who malign believers (1 Peter 4 :4) are amassing a debt to God which they will spend all eternity paying back (Mt 18:23; cf. Mt 12:36; Ro 14:11, 12-note; He 4:13-note).

Here are several verses on righteous judgment, but note that some clearly separate the judgment of the godly (saved) from the ungodly (unregenerate) which may not be the exact meaning of the living and the dead in this context (see discussion following verses)

Psalm 1:6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.

Spurgeon comments on this Psalm...

Or, as the Hebrew hath it yet more fully, The Lord is knowing the way of the righteous. He is constantly looking on their way, and though it may be often in mist and darkness, yet the Lord knoweth it. If it be in the clouds and tempest of affliction, he understandeth it. He numbers the hairs of our head; he will not suffer any evil to befall us. "He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." (Job 23:10.)

But the way of the ungodly shall perish. Not only shall they perish themselves, but their way shall perish too. The righteous carves his name upon the rock, but the wicked writes his remembrance in the sand. The righteous man ploughs the furrows of earth, and sows a harvest here, which shall never be fully reaped till he enters the enjoyments of eternity; but as for the wicked, he ploughs the sea, and though there may seem to be a shining trail behind his keel, yet the waves shall pass over it, and the place that knew him shall know him no more for ever. The very "way" of the ungodly shall perish. If it exist in remembrance, it shall be in the remembrance of the bad; for the Lord will cause the name of the wicked to rot, to become a stench in the nostrils of the good, and to be only known to the wicked themselves by its putridity.

May the Lord cleanse our hearts and our ways, that we may escape the doom of the ungodly, and enjoy the blessedness of the righteous!

Eccl 12:14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.

Ezekiel 18:30 "Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, each according to his conduct," declares the Lord GOD. "Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you.

John 5:22 "For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son,

23 in order that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

28 "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice,

29 and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life (the "first" resurrection), those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment (the "second" resurrection). (See related topic on The Two Resurrections - "First" and "Second")

Acts 10:42 "And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.

Acts 17:31 (note) because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead."

Romans 14:10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat (bema) of God.


12 So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God. (see notes Romans 14:10; 14:11; 14:12)

2 Timothy 4:1 (see note) I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:

Js 5:9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.

All the unsaved, currently alive or dead, will be brought before the Judge, the Lord Jesus Christ at the Great White Throne Judgment

And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 14 And 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. (See notes Revelation 20:11; 12; 13; 14; 15; cf. Ro 3:19-note; 2Th 1:6-10).

Alternatively the living could refer to those who survive the Great Tribulation and are judged "alive" by Christ at the Judgment of the Sheep and Goats (Mt 25:31ff) to determine who enters into the 1000 year Millennial reign of Christ (only those who are born again will be allowed to enter). Then at the Great White Throne, all of the remaining lost the dead will be judged.

We probably cannot be dogmatic regarding this phrase the living and the dead for others interpret the living refers to those "born again" and who will be judged at the bema seat of Christ... This interpretation is possible but the context here in Peter is more consistent with judgment against those who malign believers. In sum be a Berean (Acts 17:11-note) and don't be argumentative on points like this.

The unsaved may judge us today, but one day, God will judge them. Instead of arguing with them, we should pray for them, knowing that the final judgment is with God. This was the attitude that Jesus took

while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously (note 1 Peter 2:23)

This was also the attitude advocated by the Apostle Paul

And the Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged,25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. (2Ti 2:24, 25,2 6-note).

1 Peter 4:6 For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: eis touto gar kai nekrois eueggelisthe (3SAPI) hina krithosi men kata anthropous sarki zosi de kata theon pneumati

Amplified: For this is why the good news (the Gospel) was preached [in their lifetime] even to the dead, that though judged in fleshly bodies as men are, they might live in the spirit as God does. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

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

NET: Now it was for this very purpose that the gospel was preached to those who are now dead, so that though they were judged in the flesh by human standards they may live spiritually by God’s standards. (NET Bible)

Young's Literal: for for this also to dead men was good news proclaimed, that they may be judged, indeed, according to men in the flesh, and may live according to God in the spirit

Warning! Someone has said this is the most difficult verse in the Bible to interpret! There are some 20 interpretations according to one writer! We will not even attempt to go there, but recommend that you be a Berean (see Acts 17:11-note)

Spurgeon for example comments that...

This is a very difficult passage to expound, but I suppose the meaning is that the gospel was preached to those departed saints who had been called to die for Christ’s sake, and that it was preached to them for this very reason, that, while they were judged by wicked men, and were by them condemned to die, they still live a far more glorious life than they lived here, because they were thus enabled, by their martyr death, to consummate their consecration to God.

FOR THIS PURPOSE: (Greek = eis touto gar) This connecting phrase refers back to verse 5, to save people from the judgment Peter is referring to. We must not interpret 1Peter 4:6 apart from the context of suffering. Remember that Peter is encouraging his readers to be ready to suffer for righteousness. If we interpret this passage out of this context we may arrive at the misinterpretation of a second chance for salvation after death, a doctrine which Scripture does not teach. Peter was reminding his readers of the Christians who had been martyred for their faith. They had been falsely judged by men, but now, in the presence of God, they received their true judgment.

Those who are dead - those that are now dead at the time Peter was writing. The Gospel is preached (see word study euaggelizo/euangelizo) only to the living (1Pe 1:25-note) because there is no opportunity for salvation after death for...

it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, (He 9:27-note).

Unsaved friends may speak evil of us and even oppose us, but the final Judge is God. We may sacrifice our lives in the midst of persecution, but God will honor and reward us. We must fear God and not men (see notes 1 Peter 3:13;14; 15; 16; 17; see Mt 10:24-33, 28). While we are in these human bodies (“in the [physical] flesh” - see word study of sarx = flesh), we are judged by human standards. One day, we shall be with the Lord (“in the spirit”) and receive the true and final judgment. See Judgment seat of Christ (see notes on the bema)

THE GOSPEL HAS FOR THIS PURPOSE BEEN PREACHED EVEN TO THOSE WHO ARE DEAD THAT THOUGH THEY ARE JUDGED IN THE FLESH AS MEN: eis touto gar kai nekrois eueggelisthe (3SAPI) hina krithosi (3PAPS) men kata anthropous sarki:(1Peter 3:19; Jn 5:25,26) (1Pe 4:1,2; Mt 24:9; Ro 8:9, 10, 11; 1Cor 11:31,32)

The Gospel has...been p reached (2097)(euaggelizo/euangelizo from eu = good, well + aggéllo = proclaim, tell; English = evangelize) means to announce good news concerning something. Euaggelizo was often used in the Septuagint for preaching a glad or joyful message (cf. 1Sam. 31:9; 2 Sa 1:20; 4:10). Euaggelizo/euangelizo in its original sense could be used to refer to a declaration of any kind of good news, but in the NT it (with 2 exceptions discussed below) refers especially to the glad tidings of the coming kingdom of God and of salvation obtained through Jesus Christ's death, burial and resurrection. Most of NT uses of euaggelizo are translated "preach" or "preach the gospel," whichever fits more smoothly into the context. There are two passages that illustrate the original meaning of simply to "bring glad tidings" or "bring good news" of any nature. The first is in Luke...

Lk 1:19 And the angel answered and said to him (Zacharias), "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God; and I have been sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. (that he would have a son, John the Baptist).

Those who are dead - Those who had heard and accepted the gospel while still alive, but who had died by the time of this letter. Some may have been martyred now dead.

That (hina) expresses the purpose of the gospel having been preached to those who are now dead. Peter explains they may die but they will live.

Judged in the flesh - Refers here to the physical flesh. How were they judged? He had just said to those who are dead. This supports the interpretation that they were judged in the flesh and probably implies a martyr's death (but we cannot be absolutely dogmatic), but since they are regenerate, they are alive in the spirit after death.

Another interpretation relates this preaching to that of 1Pe 3:19 (note)

in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison,

The misinterpretation of this passage holds that Christ evangelized those in the unseen world giving them a "second chance" but the Bible does not teach a second chance for salvation (He 9:27, 28-see notes He 9:27; 28). Furthermore, the context supports the interpretation that this truth was intended to encourage suffering believers to persevere in face of present danger, even to the point of death.

MacDonald adds...

Does this mean that the gospel was preached to people after they had died or while they were still alive? And who were these people? We understand this verse to refer to people to whom the gospel was preached while they were still alive on the earth and who believed on the Lord. Because of their valiant stand for the truth, they suffered at the hands of wicked men, and in some cases were martyred. These believers, though judged, or condemned, according to men in the flesh, were vindicated by God. They are now enjoying eternal life with Him. They were not dead when the gospel was preached to them. But they are dead now, as far as their bodies are concerned. Though men thought them mad, God honored them, and their spirits are now in heaven. Preaching the gospel brings two results to those who believe—the blame of men and the approval of God. (MacDonald, W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson or Logos)

THEY MAY LIVE IN THE SPIRIT ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF GOD: zosi (3PPAS) de kata theon pneumati: (Ro 8:2; Gal 2:19; 5:25; Ep 2:3, 4, 5; Titus 3:3, 4, 5, 6, 7; Rev 14:18)

The point of this verse is to encourage us that even though there is a judgment coming beyond the grave, and even though all of us die, nevertheless those who hear and believe the gospel will live in the spirit according to the will of God.

The will of - Note that these words are added by the translators. This is a useful feature in the NASB, KJV and NKJV to help one discern how literal the passage has been rendered (Note: The new excellent translation, the ESV, unfortunately does not have italics).

Wuest gives a reasonable explanation of this difficult passage noting that...

The key to the understanding of this difficult verse is found in the context of the entire book. In 1Pe 1:6, 7 (note) we are told that the recipients are in heaviness in the midst of manifold trials. In 1Pe 2:18ff (note) we have the case of Christian household slaves being unjustly punished because of their Christian testimony. In 1Pe 3:8ff (note) the saints are instructed as to their behavior when undergoing persecution. In 1Pe 4:1ff (note) the apostle deals with the glory of suffering for righteousness’ sake. He speaks of this persecution of the saints by the world as a judgment that begins at the house of God, the Church (1Pe 4:17-note).

In 1Peter 4:1-11 he speaks of the necessity of having the mind of Christ as armored protection against the persecution of the world. Thus the phrase judged according to men, refers to the judgment spoken of in 1Pe 4:17-note which is defined as to its nature by the words in 1Pe 4:14 (note), “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ.”

The words them that are dead, refer to Christian believers who had died. The gospel had been preached to them and they had become Christians. As a result of this they had been judged according to men while they were on earth. This judgment was in the form of persecution because of their Christian testimony.

The word translated according to (kata) means literally “down,” and speaks of domination. This judgment was in the hands of men and was administered by them.

The words in the flesh are to be construed with might be judged, for they balance up the words in the spirit which clearly are to be understood with live. We have here the dative of respect. These Christians were judged with respect to the flesh, that is, with respect to their earthly existence in the body. The natural result of accepting the gospel would be the living of a Christian life, and the natural result of that would be persecution. But these Christians died, many of them as martyrs. Now, in heaven they were living according to the Word of God with respect to their spirits, their human spirits. They in their disembodied state were serving the Lord in the future life. (Wuest, K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans or Logos)