The Berean Expositor
Volume 51 - Page 103 of 181
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4: 5 - 11.
pp. 139, 140
"Who shall give account to Him that is ready to judge the quick (those living at that
time) and the dead. For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead,
that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the
spirit" (4: 5 and 6).
These words of Peter are solemn words. They are addressed to those who looked for
the kingdom of heaven, that is to those who had heard the ministry of the Lord Jesus
Christ and to those later in the dispersion who had heard the same gospel from the lips of
the twelve apostles and their disciples. There was in those days the imminent return of
Christ to set up His Millennial Kingdom prior to which there would be a judgment of
men for, amongst other things, qualification to enter this Kingdom. For this particular
resurrection those who had heard the gospel would be raised and judged whilst those who
were alive at the time (the quick) would also be judged and changed in the twinkling of
an eye (I Cor. 15: 52). The point is made in verse 6 that although both quick and dead
would be judged as men under conditions of the flesh in those days, yet judgment by
Christ would have in mind their future life as spirits, that is in changed conditions
unknown to us today. We now know that this moment is postponed to the not too distant
"But the end of all things is at hand, be ye therefore sober (of a sound mind,
balanced), and watch unto prayer" (4: 7).
Even as Peter repeats his warnings so we say again that at the time this epistle was
written every attempt by Satan was being made to deceive and confuse, and that by many
in the church at that time (even as today). Hence we find the injunction to keep a clear
head, a balanced judgment, to watch for deception, and with all pray to the One Who had
the power to garrison their hearts for the truth.
"Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of
sins. Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another" (4: 8, 9, R.S.V.).
There is no suggestion we balance out our sins with love. The love here is that shown
to the sinner. Peter was no doubt quoting from Prov. 10: 12:
"Hate stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins."
Where we are out of sympathy with others or have even stronger antipathy, we shall
have difficulty in being pleasant or helpful to them and if they are discussed with third
parties the danger of slander in some degree is always present. On the other hand if we
have a mature love towards an offender remembering our own wretched past, we shall
seek to direct to that one an understanding and constructive advice that will lead to his or
her change of heart.