Life-Study of 1 Peterby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In the foregoing message we considered 4:1-4. Verse 1 says, “Christ, therefore, having suffered in the flesh, you also arm yourselves with the same mind, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” Peter’s word concerning arming ourselves indicates fighting, warfare. In 2:11 Peter also speaks of war, the war between the fleshly lusts and the soul: “Beloved, I entreat you as sojourners and pilgrims to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.” Both 2:11 and 4:1 refer to the same kind of fighting, to the warfare between the lusts and our soul. According to Peter’s word in 4:1, we need to arm ourselves with the mind of Christ in order to fight against the flesh with its lusts.
If we would arm ourselves with the mind of Christ, we must have Christ as our life. If we try to arm ourselves with the same mind without having Christ as our life, we shall merely be imitating Christ in an outward way. As we have pointed out in a previous message, this kind of imitation can be compared to that of a monkey who has been trained to imitate a human being.
In 4:2 Peter says that we should no longer live in the flesh in the lusts of men, but in the will of God. Then in verses 3 and 4 he presents a picture of the vain manner of life. In particular, in verse 4 he points out that the unbelievers think it strange that we do not run together with them into the same flood of dissipation. In many cases, the unbelievers blaspheme the believers, speak injuriously of them.
In verse 5 Peter goes on to say, “Who shall render an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” The relative pronoun “who” in this verse refers to the nations (v. 3), who are astonished at the believers’ different manner of life and speak evil of them (v. 4).
In verse 5 Peter says that the unbelievers will render an account to the One who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For anyone to render an account to God is to relate to Him all that he has done and spoken in his entire life. This reveals the government of God over all men. He is ready to judge all, both the living and the dead. His judgment is His governmental administration to deal with the situation among men.
Christ will judge the living and the dead. First, at His throne of glory before the millennium He will judge those who are living of the nations (Matt. 25:31-46). Then He will judge the dead at the great white throne after the millennium (Rev. 20:11-15). This will also be the judgment of God’s government, but it differs from the judgment on the believers in verse 6, which begins from the house of God in this age (v. 17).
In Acts 10:42 Peter says that God has ordained Christ to be the Judge of the living and the dead. In 2 Timothy 4:1 Paul says to Timothy, “I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is about to judge the living and the dead....” God has given all judgment to Christ because He is a man (John 5:22, 27; Acts 10:42; 17:31; Rom. 2:16). As the righteous Judge (2 Tim. 4:8), He will judge the living at the time of His second appearing, and He will judge the dead after the millennium. Therefore, the Lord will exercise God’s judgment over all men, over the living and the dead.
Verse 6 says, “For unto this end the gospel was preached also to the dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” For centuries, the meaning of this verse has been debated. What does it mean to say that the “gospel was preached also to the dead”? The dead refers to the dead believers in Christ, who suffered persecution because of their Christian testimony, as referred to in 1:6, 2:18-21; 3:16-17; and 4:12-19. This kind of persecution is considered by Peter in this book as God’s judgment, according to the government of God, which begins from the house of God (v. 17). The gospel was preached to these dead believers while they were living, in order that they might on one hand be judged, dealt with, by God through the opposers’ persecution according to men in the flesh, but, on the other hand, live by believing in Christ according to God in the spirit. This shows how strict and serious is the judgment of God in His governmental administration. If the believers, who have been obedient to the gospel, are dealt with by God’s governmental judgment, how much more will those who oppose the gospel and blaspheme the believers be judged by God’s dealing!
In verse 6 “spirit” denotes the believers’ spirit, regenerated and indwelt by the Spirit of God (John 3:6; Rom. 8:10-11). In this way the believers’ spirit becomes a mingled spirit, in which they should live and walk (Rom. 8:4).
The word “dead” is used in both verse 5 and verse 6. In verse 5 the dead refers to all those unbelievers who have died and who will be judged by the Lord at the white throne after the millennium. In verse 6 the same word refers to dead believers. By the time Peter wrote this Epistle, a good number of the Jewish believers had died. The gospel had been preached to these believers while they were alive. Therefore, “the gospel was preached also to the dead” means that it was preached to certain believers who had died before this Epistle was written.
Peter says that the gospel was preached to the dead so that they might be judged according to men in the flesh. These believers were judged after they were saved. They were judged in the flesh while they were still living.
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