Peter made several important points about the Lord in His role as judge:
- First, God is the one who will judge.
- Second, God is ready to judge.
- Thirdly, God will judge the living and the dead. The third truth involves the persons who will be judged. Paul also wrote that Jesus will “judge the living and the dead” at His appearing (2 Tim. 4:1). We should not read more into this statement than is present in the text. The phrase the living and the dead is an example of a Hebrew literary device called inclusion. By referring to extremes of any category, the writer includes everyone or everything in that category. In this case, it means God will judge everyone who has ever lived and who will live in the future. It included the people alive at the time of Peter’s writing, persons who perished through the centuries before, and everyone who will live. God’s judgment is all-inclusive.
1 Peter 4:1-6 Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same understanding —because the one who suffers in the flesh is finished with sin — 2 in order to live the remaining time in the flesh no longer for human desires, but for God’s will. 3 For there has already been enough time spent in doing what the Gentiles choose to do: carrying on in unrestrained behavior, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and lawless idolatry. 4 They are surprised that you don’t join them in the same flood of wild living—and they slander you. 5 They will give an account to the one who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this reason the gospel was also preached to those who are now dead, so that, although they might be judged in the flesh according to human standards, they might live in the spirit according to God’s standards.
No one can escape. Everyone will give an account for the deeds of his or her life, whether good or evil (Rev. 20:12; 2 Cor. 5:10).
With the phrase for this reason, Peter tied his description of God’s inevitable judgment to his closing statement in this section. Because human beings are sinful and God’s judgment is sure, the gospel was … preached. The gospel is good news to anyone who will believe in Christ, repent of sin, and receive Jesus as Savior. By the same means, the gospel is the basis of judgment for all people who reject Christ.