what does the bible say?

What did Peter mean, “The Gospel was preached also to those who are dead…”

1 Peter 4:5-6 reads: “They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.  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.”  

This scripture is referring to people who are now dead, but had the gospel preached to them while they were alive.  As the context refers to God judging “the living and the dead,” at the time of the resurrection when those who are now dead will be made alive once again.  

The Scriptures show that “the dead know nothing” (Ecclesiastes 9:5), and that “there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).  Clearly the dead cannot receive any communication whatsoever.  Preaching is for the living, not the dead. There is another sense in which the Gospel is preached to those who are “dead.”  In this case, the term “dead” is used in reference to people who have not repented and been forgiven by God.  They are still “dead” in their trespasses and sins.  They have not yet received God’s Spirit, which is the down payment of eternal life.  “Jesus mentioned such people in Luke 9:60, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.”  

The apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:1-3 confirms this:  “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.  

God’s Church has been commissioned to preach the Gospel as a witness to the world (Matthew 24:14).  Yet, most people have not yet been called by God and have not heeded that message.  They exist physically but are dead spiritually because they continue to live and be judged by the standards men devise, rather than “according to God in the spirit” (see 1 Peter 4:6 above).  God’s Master Plan of Salvation provides an opportunity for all who have ever lived to have their minds opened to the truth, be judged, and inherit eternal life.

sign up for more

Sign up for newsletters, new articles, and more.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.