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 4:12-19 Inductive Bible Study
I. Rejoice in your suffering for Christ (12-14)
II. Suffer for doing right (15-16)
III. God cleanses the church through suffering, which is preferable to condemnation (17-19)
I. Verses 12-14
What does the fiery ordeal refer to?
What is the purpose of this trial?
Why does God want to test us?
How might some Christians react to this? How should we react to it?
What is the cause for rejoicing when we face these types of trials?
Do you consider it a blessing when you are reviled for the name of Christ? Have you ever been reviled for the name of Christ?
What is one area/situation where you can stand for Christ where previously maybe no one even knew you were a Christian?
Cross-References about Suffering for God
Philippians 1:29, 3:10
1. Beloved – Once again Peter shows his close relationship with those whom he is writing to. He loves them as children and want what is best for them. They are facing trials, which are very difficult for them and trying for their faith. He is going to teach them some “hard truths” that trials like this are inevitable for believers. But he wants them to know that he is on their side and wants what is best for them and loves them.
2. Do not be surprised… as though some strange thing were happening to you – Some believers might expect that the Christian life would be easy and smooth all the time. Jesus even said some would respond to the gospel with joy, but when trials come, having no root, they would wilt away. These are the kind of Christians who think trusting in God is a ticket to a rich and smooth life. Peter warns his readers against this attitude. They should not only realize that trials may come, but they expect trials as normal aspect of Christian life. In some times and places trials are more severe. In some times and places they are less severe. But they are always there and they are always normal. How can it help us as believers to expect that trials will come?
3. Fiery ordeal which comes upon you for your testing – Fire is a way to purify things. This is what trials do. They purify the church. Throughout history persecution has often been the very best thing that could happen for the growth of the church. Persecution was rampant in Acts and the church grew like wildfire. Trials test the church as a community. They also test believers as individuals. How do they test us? They test our commitment to Christ. They test our faith. They test our belief in God’s promises. Do we really believe God has our best at heart? Do we really believe He is in control? Are we really willing to follow Him no matter what the cost? These are some of the questions that trials help us answer. For true believers, trials will reveal the answer to all these questions to be a resounding “YES!” How will this affect a Christian’s walk? When a Christian goes through the trial and passes the test, his commitment and faith in God will be reaffirmed through action. The trial will help him to make his faith more personal and more concrete (not just a theory).
4. Share the sufferings of Christ – Although we will never suffer as Christ did, we can share in those sufferings to some degree. This could be a point of comfort for us. We know that no matter how bad things get, Christ has been through worse and come out victorious.
5. Keep on rejoicing – See point 3. Because trials are a test that can help us in our Christian faith, we should rejoice when we face them. It is a blessing to be counted worthy enough to suffer for the name of Christ. As we have learned before, that means we are doing something right. We are being a bright testimony. We are making a stand for Him. Although the people around us may revile us, we can be joyful in the fact that God is pleased with us. We cannot love God and the world. We must choose one or the other. If we love God, the world turns against us. If we love the world, God will judge us.
6. The Spirit of glory and of God rests on you – God will be with us in the midst of suffering. We are not alone. He has not and never will forsake us. This should comfort us in the middle of the trial. The story of the footprints in the sand accurately depicts God’s care for us in the middle of trials.
II. Verses 15-16
What kind of behavior should make us ashamed? Does it?
Are you ever ashamed about your faith in Christ? What kind of actions or behaviors might give evidence that a person is ashamed of Christ?
In verse 16, how does Peter say we should respond when we suffer for Christ? Is this easy?
What is one area/situation where you can be bold for Christ (instead of being ashamed?)
Verses on boldness:
Acts 4:13, Acts 4:31
2 Corinthians 3:12
Luke 14:27 – Whoever does not bear his own cross cannot be my disciple
1. Verse 15 – This is a reminder that believers must make sure to do right, so if we suffer it is for the right reasons. This type of behavior should make us ashamed. If we do these things, we should feel shame (even if no one ever finds out).
2. Verse 16 – But we should never feel ashamed for doing what is right, for serving God. Are you? We should not be ashamed to tell a group of old classmates that we are a Christian. You should not be ashamed to tell our relatives that you married a guy who doesn’t own a house (because he is a Christian). We should not be ashamed to tell a group of successful businessmen that our wife is a homemaker. We should not be ashamed to tell other teachers at our school that we are going to homeschool our children. The list goes on and on. Why are we sometimes ashamed in situations like this? We may want to be popular. Or we may want to impress other people. Or we may just want to fit in. But these are not the correct motivations. What are? Glorify God in His name. Everything we do should be to glorify God, not to please people.
III. Verses 17-19
What does “household of God” refer to? What does verse 17 mean? What does it mean that it is time for judgment to begin?
Looking at it simply, what is happening to believers here? What is happening to unbelievers?
What does it mean that “with great difficulty the righteous are saved?”
What is the connection between suffering and will of God?
Do you entrust your souls to God? What adjective is used to describe Him here? What kind of attitudes/actions would show that a person is entrusting himself to God? What kind of attitudes/actions would show that a person is not entrusting himself to God? As we entrust ourselves to Him, what other responsibility do we have?
Proverbs 11:31 – 18 is quoted from there
2 Timothy 1:12 – For I know whom I believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him…
Luke 12:7 – God knows the number of hairs on our head.
1. Based on the context, it appears that this judgment (in verse 17) refers to trials and persecution that come to the church. MacArthur says, “Not condemnation, but the purging, chastening, and purifying of the church by the loving hand of God. It is far better and more important to kingdom work to endure suffering as the Lord purges and strengthens the church, than to endure the eternal sufferings of the unbeliever in the lake of fire. And, if God so strongly and painfully judges His church which He loves, what will be His fury on the ungodly.” That means it is better to go through God’s test now and confirm our commitment to and faith in Him than to go through a smooth and prosperous life thinking we are saved only to realize our faith wasn’t real and end up facing eternal judgment in hell.
2. This means that when we are going through the trial, instead of having a “woe is me” attitude, we should be thankful that God loves us enough to get involved in our lives and test us. We should be thankful that our suffering is only shortlived and that He has rescued us from the real suffering in hell.
3. It is with difficulty that the righteous is saved – Salvation is not cheap or easy or free. Jesus had to give His life for us to be saved. Although, we cannot earn salvation, we need to truly believe in Him and repent of our sins. If we truly repent and believe, this will be shown by a radically changed life. We believe in Him and we are disciplined by Him. The life of a believer is not easy. We do face persecutions and trials and suffering. But it is worth it because we will finally be saved.
4. If a believer faces this much difficulty and trials, how about an unbeliever? Well, see Proverbs 11:31. He will receive what he deserves. Although these verses individually could be hard to understand, remember to look at them in context. Peter is encouraging his readers in the middle of persecutions. There are several main points that he is making.
a) We will face suffering.
b) This suffering leads to confirmation of our salvation if we pass the test.
c) This short term suffering is nothing compared with the eternal suffering unbelievers will face in hell.
5. Therefore – Verse 19 gives us a clear action point. What should we do based on what we have learned? We should entrust ourselves to God. Put our life completely in His hands. Give up control. Give up our own desires. Stop trying to force God’s hand. Stop being pushy in prayer. Stop trying to avoid suffering by hiding our faith or keeping parts of it a secret. Stop complaining when we do suffer.
6. What do we learn about God from verse 19? He is faithful. He will not disappoint us. He will take care of us. God is a good God. This is the basis of our faith in Him. He knows what we need much better than we ourselves know what we need (Kind of like the mother who gives a gift to the child for Christmas that the child never even thought of or asked for, but it ended up being his favorite gift. Why? The mother knows the child. Then again, the child may not want the gift because it wasn’t as exciting as the new Xbox 360. The child can trust his mother that the gift is what he really needs or he can reject it and keep pushing for what he wants selfishly. There is a choice there.) Remember that Jesus calls His sheep by name.
What can we learn about God from these verses?
What can we learn about people, both believers and unbelievers?
What do we need to do to obey God from these verses?
Who can we tell?