Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1-2)
Some people will do anything to avoid pain. As followers of Christ, however, we should be willing and prepared to do God's will and to suffer for it if necessary. Sin loses its power to defeat us in our suffering if we focus on Christ and what He wants us to do. When our bodies are in pain or our lives are in jeopardy, our real values show up clearly, and sinful pleasures seem less important. If anyone suffers for doing good and still faithfully obeys in spite of suffering, that person has made a clean break with sin.
in the flesh: Christ’s suffering was real because He took on our human nature.
arm yourselves: In order to fight the good fight successfully, believers must take on the same mind as Christ (Phil. 2:5). He who has suffered in this context refers to suffering Christians.
has ceased from sin: Those who serve God faithfully in the midst of suffering take on a different attitude toward sin than what they previously held. Sin no longer holds the same grip on them. The phrase has ceased here does not suggest that those who have suffered become sinlessly perfect or that they will never sin again.
For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. (1 Peter 4:3-4)
A person whose life changes radically at conversion may experience contempt from their old friends. You may be scorned not only because you refuse to participate in certain activities, but also because your priorities have changed and you are now heading in the opposite direction. Your very life incriminates their sinful activities. Mature Christians should help new believers resist such pressures of opposition by encouraging them to be faithful to Christ. Dissipation refers to wasteful expenditure and intemperate pursuit of pleasure, especially drinking to excess.
Lewdness speaks of insolent, shameless behavior that goes unchecked in a person’s life.
Revelries refers to long, protracted feasts that involve much drinking and immorality.
abominable idolatries: The idea here is that some forms of idolatry may have been detestable even to the civil authorities. Of course, all types of idolatry are hateful to God (Ex. 20:3–5; Deut. 7:25; 32:16, 17).
they think it strange: Unbelievers cannot understand the transformed lives of believers.
flood of dissipation: In contrast to believers, who live in order to please God, unbelievers live without thought of the eternal consequences of their acts. They fill their lives with evil deeds that have no eternal value.
speaking evil of you: Unbelievers typically ridicule those who refuse to follow them in their frivolous and wicked lifestyles.
They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. (1 Peter 4:5-6)
They will give an account: Although unbelievers think they are free to do as they please, they are greatly mistaken. There are consequences to what they do. One day they will stand defenseless before God and give an account of all of their wickedness (Rev. 20:11–15).
There are four main interpretations of who Peter refers to when he speaks of the dead in this verse:
(1) Some see a connection between the gospel preached in this verse and the proclamation of Christ in 1 Peter 3:19, 20. Accordingly, they understand this verse to be about Christ offering salvation to those who lived in pre-Christian times (1 Peter 3:19, 20). This is most likely mistaken, because there is no indication in Scripture that anyone gets a “second chance” to be saved after death.
(2) Another group of commentators also connects this preaching to 1 Peter 3:19, 20, but holds that this verse is speaking of Christ preaching the gospel only to the righteous people of Old Testament times. The other two interpretations maintain that this verse is not connected to 1 Peter 3:19, 20.
(3) One view has Peter speaking of the gospel which was preached to believers who are now dead. They had died just like other people, but they were now living with God.
(4) The final and perhaps the most sound interpretation of this verse is that Peter is referring to the spiritually dead. The gospel was being preached to them so that they could come alive spiritually.
The basis of salvation is our belief in Jesus (Acts 16:31), but the basis for judgment is how we have lived. Those who inflict persecution are marked for punishment when they stand before God. Believers have nothing to fear, however, because Jesus will be the final Judge over all (John 5:22; 2 Timothy 4:1).
Many people in the early church had concerns about life after death. In Thessalonica, Christians worried that loved ones who died before Christ's return might never see Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Peter's readers needed to be reminded that the dead (both the faithful and their oppressors) would be judged. The judgment will be perfectly fair, he pointed out, because even the dead have heard the gospel (1 Peter 3:18, 19). The Good News was first announced when Jesus Christ preached on the earth, but it has been operating since before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), and it affects all people, the dead as well as the living.
References: NKJV Holy Bible, Life Application Bible (NIV), and the Nelson Study Bible.