1 Peter 4-5

1 Peter 4

Growing by Serving

Peter is now going to talk about what it really means to live in the Spirit the way God does (6).

Everyone Grows by Serving God's Will (1-6)

They were first to arm themselves with the knowledge that they would need to suffer, not retaliating for wrongs committed against them. This would be evidence that they had ceased from living selfishly, thus done with sin (1). Peter makes it clear that they would not live any longer for their passions but for God's will (2).

They had lived long enough pleasing themselves sensually, living for feel-good moments, getting drunk, participating in sexual indulgence, attending parties centered around drinking, being out of control, and worshiping things (3). They should no longer participate in all the excesses of lust, and they were not to be surprised when slandered when having done nothing wrong (4).

Peter assures them that all will give an account to God for what they do (5). Then, Peter picks back up on what he had mentioned about preaching to "spirits in prison" (3:19). The "spirits in prison" were those who had rejected the message in the days of Noah but were held in prison until Jesus came and preached to them. He held them accountable for their rejection of Noah's preaching, and, at the same time, eight people (Noah and his family) who received the message, were led out of their prison by Christ. Peter is trying to make it clear that everyone will give an account (6).

Everyone Grows by Serving Others (7-11)

Peter goes back to his list of how to grow, and notice how he repeats many of the same themes, wanting to make sure they comprehend the importance of what he is saying.

From being self-disciplined and serious in prayer (7), to loving each other so much that they refuse to broadcast the mistakes (8), to opening their homes to each other without complaining about being taken advantage of, they were to serve (9). They were to not merely serve but to serve each other with their gifts by the grace of God (10). They were to speak as though God was speaking through them; they were to serve with God's strength; they were to do it all for God's glory (11).

Everyone Grows by Serving Through Suffering (12)

Peter makes two things clear about suffering: first, suffering is not an unexpected circumstance for those in love with Christ (12). Second, suffering would ultimately lead to rejoicing when Christ's true glory would be seen by all (13).

They could know that when insulted they were actually blessed because something good was coming from the bad they were experiencing (14). They were warned not to suffer for being evil (15), but when they did suffer as a follower, they were to bear it without shame, giving praise to God (16).

Peter reminds them that judgment begins in God's house, where they will learn who they really are by how they respond to suffering and ill-treatment (17). If the righteous are barely saved by responding in kindness and mercy when mistreated, Peter poses the question: how will it fare for those doing the mistreating? (18) To Peter, the end of the matter is to trust their suffering souls to their faithful Creator while they do good in the face of a bad world (19).

1 Peter 5

Peter now is going to address the elders and those they lead on how they are to live and walk together in church life.

How to Shepherd (1-4)

As a fellow elder (1), Peter calls on them to shepherd their churches willingly—not for the money, nor because they feel obligated, but with an eager attitude (2), refusing to force any to follow (3). Peter assures them that their labor will be rewarded (4).

How to Respond to Shepherding (5)

Peter goes on to tell the younger to come under the elders by listening to them and to act humbly toward them and each other so they can receive God's grace (5).

How to Respond to God (6-11)

Not only were they to be humble before each other but also before God so He could exalt them (6). They were to humble themselves by giving God their worries instead of pridefully caring for themselves (7). They were to humble themselves before God further by being thoughtful and watchful, aware that the devil prowls, roaring like he owns the place, seeking to destroy them with lust (8). They were to continue to walk humbly before God as they resisted the devil, not in their own power but in faith, loaded with the knowledge their suffering is what all who love Jesus go through (9). Peter promises them that their humility will pay off and, after a season, they will be restored and made incredibly stronger (10) as they allow Him to have dominion in all things (11).

How to Respond to Peter's Letter (12-14)

Peter mentions that Silvanus is his faithful scribe and tells them to stand firm in the true grace of God he has been telling them about (12). He then lets them know he is writing from Babylon (Rome) and tells them to greet each other affectionately after they have read the letter (13-14).