What type of Bible study and questions could we glean from the Book of First Peter chapter 4? What ones would you suggest?
The Book of 1st Peter is a book for the ages. There is never going to be a time when the Word of God is not helpful and beneficial in the Christian’s walk with Christ. Peter endured beatings and imprisonment before finally being crucified, as tradition holds, upside down but Christianity could be said to have been turning the world upside down too…perhaps we could say right side up! Read along with us in 1st Peter chapter 4 to see what type of Bible study and questions we can come up with that you, your small group or Sunday school could use.
How to Create a Bible Study
I will touch briefly on how you can create your own Bible studies by using these diagnostic questions; how, who, why, when, where, and what. For this chapter we can ask:
- How this is relevant to believers today?
- Who does this apply too?
- Why was it written?
- Why should we consider this chapter as meaningful to us?
- When was this written?
- When can we use these truths for today?
- Where is it applicable to us?
- Where are there similarities in our life?
- What does it mean to us today?
- What are we to learn from it?
I suggest you could use these questions for each verse and if you are in a small group  or study, leave time for the participants to answer these questions. If you are studying this for yourself, write out your answers after each verse to see how you can take these verses to heart to grow in your faith.
Suffering Produces the Mind of Christ
First Peter 4:1-2 “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.”
If Christ suffered in the flesh, should we not expect the same, although certainly not to the same extent? What is Peter saying we should “arm” ourselves with? What does he mean by saying that “whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin?” How can we replace our human passion or living in the flesh for the will of God? I do know that anyone that wants to be Christ-like must suffer like Christ did, but again, not to the same degree.
From the Dead to the Living
First Peter 4:3-5 “For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.”
How many of us remember living in these lusts of the flesh? How many of us were attending drinking parties, getting drunk (or had substance abuse problems), living in sexual immorality, idolatry (of lust, money, greed, and so on), and letting our passions be our guide? What has changed? Why did it change? Have you experienced persecution from those you used to run with in doing such sinful things? Why are they surprised that you don’t join them in such sinful desires of the flesh anymore? How do they “malign you?” What does it mean that they will all have to “give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead?” Who are the living and the dead? Is it those who have already died or those who are living but in reality dead in trespasses and sins?
The Gospel is Preached to the Dead?
First Peter 4:6-7 “For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does. The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.”
What does Peter mean that this was “why the gospel was preached to those who are dead?” What does it mean that they are “dead?” What does it mean that they are to be judged “in the flesh?” What does Peter mean when he wrote “the end of all things is at hand?” Does he mean the end of the world  or the end times or the end of a person’s life? What did Peter mean by telling us to be “sober-minded for the sake of your prayers?”
Love Covers a Multitude of Sins
First Peter 4:8-11 “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”
What does Peter mean by saying that “love covers a multitude of sins?” Was he talking about Jesus death for us? Did he mean that our earnest love for one another covers these sins? Did he mean that the sins to be covered were those against us or those we should cover or keep secret from others and the church? Why does Peter tie in showing hospitality to not grumbling? What is the connection between the two? What are the “oracles of God” that Peter wrote about? Are the oracles of God the Scriptures? Were they the Old Testament Scriptures? Was Peter talking about the oracles of God being Paul’s writings, the gospels or his own letters to the church? How can we “serve by the strength that God supplies?” What does that mean? How can serving through the strength that God gives glorify God?
Blessed for Insults
First Peter 4:12-14 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”
Why should we not be surprised when we experience trials? Does this mean that the only surprise would be if we never did experience them? Why shouldn’t it be strange that we’re undergoing trials? How can we rejoice in persecutions? Why should we? How is God’s glory revealed in our sufferings? How was God’s glory revealed in Christ’s sufferings? How is it possible to receive a blessing for being insulted for Christ’s sake? What kind of blessing would it be? What is “the Spirit of glory and of God” that rests upon us? What is this “Spirit of glory?” Is it God’s Holy Spirit?
Suffering for the Right Reason
First Peter 4:15-19 “But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And ‘If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’ Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”
Why would Peter be writing to Christians to not suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer or a meddler? Why would Peter be telling believers this when they are like not murdering anyone? Was he speaking about the reference to when Jesus said that hating someone is like murdering them in the heart? Why are we not supposed to be “ashamed” but instead, glorify God in suffering? What does Peter mean that judgment begins at the household of God? What kind of judgment is this since Christians are supposed to have all of their sins already judged at the cross? Is this talking about church discipline? What does it mean to “suffer according to God’s will?” Is it really God’s will to suffer?
It is my hope that you can benefit from this rich text that is found in 1st Peter 4 and that you can grow in your Christian faith in a way that is pleasing to God. Perhaps it will prepare you for the times ahead of us when Christians will suffer more and undergo more and more persecution as the time of Christ’s return draws near.
Related Bibles study tools: First Peter 5 Bible Study 
Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.