Bill Mounce

For an Informed Love of God

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Thursday, January 21, 2021

1 Peter 4:6 and Those Pesky Prepositions

Sometimes prepoisitional phrases can be so succint that they are hard to understand. All translation involves interpretation.


¶ It can't be understood out of context! You have to read all of 1 Pet 4:1-6, and preferably in the Greek, noting the repeated words and phrases being played out. ¶ Hyper-literally, "for · into · this · also · to-dead-s · is-well-messaged · in-order-that · they-may-be-judged · on-one-hand (μεν) · according-to · men · to-flesh · yet-on-the-other-hand (δε) · may-be-alive-ing · according-to · God · to-spirit." So, my hyper-literal, improper English comes closer and more literal to conveying it, but who could publish that? ¶ It's just untranslatable into proper English. Sorry. The Bible wasn't written in English, and there may be a few places where it can't be translated properly. That's why we learn Greek. And one of Dr. Mounce's favorite points is proven again: So much for any English translation being truly "literal, word for word." ¶ What does it mean? I can only paraphrase/comment/exegete in English, although the original text is clearly obvious to me in the original language. After talking about the worldly dead being held accountable to God for their worldly, wicked behavior in the flesh, verse 6 refers to how we were also among those dead ones, on one hand judged, as far as the flesh goes, according to men (as he just pointed out in verse 4), but on the other hand now being alive (ζωσιν) according to God in the spirit. ¶ Verse 7 then continues by exhorting us to be prudent and sober as the consummation draws near, then going on to give examples of how we should behave, in the following verses.

¶ Reading through the corresponding YouTube comment postings, I don't think people understood my original comment. In verses 3-4 the worldly "dead" judge the believers, the "alive" ones (ζωντας), for not participating with them in their fleshly pursuits. In verse 5 both "alive" and "dead" will have to give an account to God. In verse 6, the gospel is brought to all the "dead" (weren't we all originally dead in our sins before we were made alive in Christ?) where, on one hand (μεν) we are being judged in the flesh by men (what he just said in verses 3-4) but, on the other hand (δε) we are alive (ζωσιν) in the spirit according to God. So, never mind what the world thinks of you. Be prudent and sober all the more as you see the day coming (verse 7+). ¶ There is nothing about literally going and preaching to literally dead people who have been buried in the ground, nor anything about some holding place for disembodied spirits in the netherworld. The worldly people are the living "dead" ones referred to, dead in their sins, as dead as Adam as soon as he ate the fruit in Gen 3, and those in Christ are the "alive" ones.