These small group studies of 1 Peter contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
1 Peter 4:1-11 Inductive Bible Study – Discussion Questions and Teaching Guide
I. Live in the Spirit (1-6)
II. Make use of our short time to serve God and man (7-11)
I. Live in the Spirit (1-6)
- What is to be our purpose (1)?
- What does it mean that “he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin?”(1)
- How does suffering help to purify us? (1)
- What are we to live for (2)?
- What are you living for (2)?
- What does it mean that “the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles (3)?
- Do all unbelievers go this far in sin (3)?
- Are any of your friends/co-workers surprised when you don’t join in their worldly activities (4)?
- How should we respond if they make fun of us for this (4)?
- What does the phrase “give an account” mean? (5)
- Who does the “dead” refer to in verse 6?
- How can you live in the spirit? (6)
Romans 5:3-5 – Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Romans 8:18 – I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Romans 8:8 – Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
Galatians 5:16 – So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Revelation 21:8 – But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
Hebrews 4:13 – Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Verse by Verse Commentary:
1. We see again that Christ is our example. He suffered for us so we should be willing to suffer for Him. His suffering was definitely WAY more than we will ever suffer. We love because He first loved us.
2. We are to arm ourselves with this attitude. That implies several things. Firstly, it implies that we are in a war. The Christian life is not a pleasure cruise. It is not a lazy river ride. It is a battle. It is a battle against Satan and his demons and evil. To win a war you have to approach it with the right mentality and take it seriously. Most of the time, if a soldier just rambles into the battle thinking that victory will be easy, he will lose in a route. Secondly, it shows that the right attitude could be a weapon. We normally wouldn’t consider that our attitude is a weapon, but it is. God can use our attitude as a shining testimony to touch the lost for Christ, to bring glory to Him, and to turn back evil. We are not to be just passive. We are to proactive in deciding how we will respond if we do face persecution and suffering for Christ. We need to be mentally and spiritually prepared. If we are not mentally prepared to face suffering, then perhaps we would wither away when it comes.
3. Verse 1 makes a connection between suffering and sanctification. MacArthur says this means that suffering in the flesh is a sign that we are saved. When the saved die, we will have no more sin. Therefore the one who suffers for Christ will one day be free from sin. However, here it seems to me to be referring to a more immediate purification from sin. That means that suffering on this earth NOW helps us to overcome sin NOW. Suffering acts as a purifying force. How? It helps us focus more on God. It protects us from complacency. It increases our dependence on God. It reminds us that the world is temporary and therefore we must not love the world or the things in it.
4. Verse 2 reinforces this interpretation. The one who suffers will on earth be more interested in the will of God and less infatuated with the world. This ties in with what James wrote about that trials bring about perseverance.
5. Peter reminds his readers that they have already experienced living in the flesh and what it has to offer. He describes a number of the works of the flesh including, debauchery, evil desires, drunkenness, carousing, drinking games, and idolatries. This is not an exhaustive list, but represents a few of the many works of the flesh. These, like all temptations, promise much more than they can deliver. Before coming to Christ, we have already experienced these types of sins. They disappointed us. They left us feeling empty. They left us felling guilty, lonely, discouraged, and miserable. Why should we go back to this again? In Proverbs this would be a compared to a dog returning to its vomit. That is what going back to our previous way of life is like. Disgusting image isn’t it? Well, that’s how disgusting it is if a believer gets pulled back in to his former way of life. We are to be different now. As we learned in the past chapters, we are to be holy as He is holy.
6. If you do not go back to these temptations, your old friends, drink buddies, and sin partners will be surprised. They will try to pressure you to give in. In doing so, they will vilify you. They will make fun of you. They may use titles like “know it all,” “goody two shoes,” “Mr. Perfect,” “stick in the mud,” “party pooper,” etc. They want to portray someone who resists these temptations as narrow minded, judgmental, and boring, prudish, dull. Don’t give in to their peer pressure. How can you resist peer pressure? What should you do when someone or a group is pressuring you to do something wrong?
7. In verse 5, Peter reminds his readers that every person will have to give an account for his actions. God sees the evil that they are doing and they will have to answer to God for that. In the same vein, God will also see if you join in with them and you will have to answer for that. Each of us is responsible for our actions. Your parents’ faith will not vindicate you when you face God, but neither would your family members’ sins condemn you. This is why God’s judgment is perfectly fair and just. Whenever we are considering the temptations of the world, remember that God is watching. He will record what you do and you will have to explain your actions to Him one day.
8. In fact, no one could withstand this judgment. That is why the gospel was preached. Some believers were now dead when Peter wrote this epistle. These could live spiritually because they accepted this gospel message. Although the people around them made fun of them, laughed at them, and pressured them, they held fast to the gospel and when they faced this judgment were declared innocent (because they accepted Christ’s sacrifice for them). So we really have two choices. Please the people around us. Become miserable and guilty as we join in with them. Then face God’s judgment and punishment. Or we can please God. We can say no to these tempations and pressures. The people around us may vilify us, but God will accept us. So do you want to please God or people? That is like asking if a person on trial wants to make friends with the judge or the beggar in the street outside.
II. Make use of our short time to serve God and man (7-11)
- How could the end have been “near” almost 2000 years ago (7)?
- How near is it now? What developments in the world might point to the time being near? (7)
- What applications does Peter give them based on the fact that the end is near (8-11)?
- What is sound judgment (7)?
- What is a sober spirit (7)?
- How is your prayer life? (7) Is it improving? Are you spending more time in group and individual prayer than before? Are you satisfied with your prayer life? What is one specific, simple step you could take to improve it in the coming week? (7)
- Explain the word “fervent”. (8)
- Go around the table and each person list 1 way he can (in his current situation) show hospitality to others. (9) Why would someone complain after doing these things? What would that show about his heart?
- Have you received a gift? How do you know? (10) What is the gift for? How could you find out your gift and is it important to find out (10)?
2 Timothy 3:1-4 – But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.
Matthew 24:14 – And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
2 Peter 3:3-4 –Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”
Ephesians 6:18 – And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Isaiah 55:6 – Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.
Psalms 88:13 – But I cry to you for help, Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Romans 12:6-8 – We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. The end of all things is near. Near is clearly a relative term. Jesus’ first coming ushered in the last days, which last from His first to His second coming. So we are in the end times. To God though, a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day. Therefore the last days could last quite a while. One thing is certain though. We are almost 2000 yeas closer than Peter and his readers were!
2. This knowledge should motivate us to:
a) Be self controlled. Don’t fall into temptation. Don’t stray from the narrow path. We don’t want to be caught with our hand in the cookie jar when Christ returns.
b) Be sober-minded. Take things seriously. Take life seriously. Our time here is limited so we should make the most of it.
c) For the sake of prayer. Be men and women of prayer. Pray for Christ’s second coming. Pray for revival. Pray for God’s kingdom. Pray, pray, pray without ceasing.
3. Be fervent in our love for one another. Don’t allow it to grow cold. Don’t just love others out of habit. Don’t be complacent showing the same kindnesses to others. Always be thinking what more you can do and how you can improve. It should be exciting for us when we have opportunities to share Christ’s love to the people around us.
4. This allow applies to showing hospitality to the people around us. This is an opportunity to spread Christ’s love. As a result, we should not hold back or complain about. Do not have a house guest and then complain to your wife or friends about how long they stayed, how much they ate, or the mess that they made. Instead be a servant to really make them feel at home. Everyone can show hospitality to others, even if you don’t have your own home. List out some ways that you can show hospitality to others in your current situation.
5. Use our gifts. Read cross-references. Are you involved in a local church or fellowship? Are you seek out opportunities to serve others? I believe it is not important to spend a lot of time trying to figure out our gift. Instead start serving. As you serve (and submit to your church’s leadership), over time you will naturally slide into the kind of ministry that best suits your needs. Also, gifts are to be developed. For example, although you might be a good teacher you still need to prepare and practice. Although you might be good at singing, you also need to practice. This is the same as natural talents. No matter how talented someone is, practice and discipline can make them better.
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