1 Peter 4:1-11—Love instead of Self-Indulgence


1 Peter 4:1-11


Inspired by the story of Noah, the author urges the followers of Jesus to live in a spirit of love, hospitality, and service to others. 


In the previous section, the author meditated on baptism through the lens of Noah and the Flood. In this section, the image of Noah and the Flood continues, but in the context of the expectation of Christ’s imminent return. The author reminds his audience that they formerly lived like the people who perished in the Flood, indulging themselves with “drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry” (4:3). In the ancient Roman context, these things are clear indications of the frivolous wealth and excess of the aristocracy. At least some of the new followers of Jesus must have been aristocrats themselves because the author notes that their compatriots “are surprised that you no longer join them in the same excesses” (4:4). 

The author then turns the image of partying on its head. Rather than indulge themselves at parties where slaves wait on them, followers of Jesus should be stewards (i.e., people who wait on tables at banquets) and servants of one another. They should be hospitable and live in love because the end of all things is near (4:7). The author reminds the followers of Jesus that they must not do these things just because they are kind. They must steward their gifts and serve one another “so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ” (4:11). He shows the seriousness of his apocalyptic advice by capping it with a doxology, a solemn prayer that reminds his audience that even if they have aristocratic roots, they have no true power or glory. Rather, “To Jesus belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen” (4:11).