Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America

Tuesday after the Twenty-Sixth Sunday after Trinity Sunday

Posted on November 16, 2021 by Pastor Dulas under Devotions
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Scripture: 1 Peter 4:1-7 (NKJV)
4:1 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. 4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. 5 They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
7 But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.
“For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead.”
Does he mean physically dead or spiritually? Though a strange way of speaking, the rest of Scripture helps us to interpret it. Nowhere does Scripture speak of preaching the Gospel to the physically dead, that they might “live according to God.” On the contrary, Hebrews 9 says, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (v. 27). Therefore, St. Peter cannot mean that the Gospel was preached to those already physically dead.
But Christ is Judge of “the living and the dead,” and Romans 10 explains, “Have they not heard? Yes indeed: ‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth’” (v. 18). In this sense, the physically dead heard the Gospel while living, and Christ will judge both the living and the dead according to how they received His Gospel while alive.
The Gospel is not preached to those already physically dead, but it is preached to those spiritually dead. All men are spiritually dead before hearing the Gospel: “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). In this sense, the Gospel is proclaimed to both believers and unbelievers alike, so that everyone who hears might “live according to God in the spirit.”
Prayer: O God, so rule and govern our hearts and minds by Thy Holy Spirit, that being ever mindful of the end of all things, and the day of Thy just judgment, we may be stirred up to holiness of living here and dwell with Thee forever hereafter; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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