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1 Peter 4:5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
This verse is part of a larger passage in which the author, Peter, is encouraging Christians to be faithful in their service to God, even in the face of persecution. In this verse, he reminds his readers that God is the ultimate judge and will hold people accountable for their actions. This serves as a warning to live according to God’s standards and to be prepared to give an account of one’s actions when faced with judgment.
But they will give account. That is, they shall not do this with impunity. They are guilty in this of a great wrong and they must answer for it to God.
To him who is ready to judge. That is, ‘who is prepared to judge’—τῷ ἑτοίμως ἔχοντι. See the phrase used in Acts 21:13: ‘I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem.’ 2 Cor. 12:14: ‘The third time I am ready to come to you.’ Compare the word ready—ἕτοιμός—in Matt. 22:4, 8; 24:44; 25:10; Luke 12:40; 22:33; 1 Pet. 1:5. The meaning is, not that he was about to do it or that the day of judgment was near at hand—whatever the apostle may have supposed to be true on that point—but that he was prepared for it; all the arrangements were made with reference to it; there was nothing to hinder it.
To judge the living and the dead. The living and the dead; that is, those who shall be alive when he comes and those in their graves. This is a common phrase to denote all who shall be brought before the bar of God for judgment. See Notes, Acts 10:42; 1 Thess. 4:16, 17; 2 Tim. 4:1. The meaning in this connection seems to be, that they should bear their trials and the opposition which they would meet with patiently, not feeling that they were forgotten, nor attempting to avenge themselves for the Lord would vindicate them when he should come to judgment, and call those who had injured them to an account for all the wrongs which they had done to the children of God.
By Albert Barnes and Edward D. Andrews