“For, for this cause was the Gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might bee iudged according to men in the flesh, but liue according to God in the spirit.”
1611 King James Version (KJV)
4:6 For to this end was the gospel preached - Ever since it was given to Adam. To them that are now dead - In their several generations. That they might be judged - That though they were judged. In the flesh according to the manner of men - With rash, unrighteous judgment. They might live according to the will and word of God, in the Spirit; the soul renewed after his image.
1Pe 4:6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead. This passage has been explained as meaning those spiritually dead. But the dead must be the same as in 1Pe 4:5; and there they are opposed to the living. Meyer holds that this is an expansion of 1Pe 3:20,21. There he supposes Christ, in the Spirit, preached to the antediluvians. Here, he holds, that Peter affirms that all the dead who lived before Christ came had the opportunity to hear; hence when the living and dead are judged, none can plead that they had no chance of life. Others hold that the meaning may be freely given as follows: "Whether you die or live Christ is your judge. For this cause the gospel was preached to your brethren who have died", etc. This view avoids some difficulties but does not seem to harmonize fully with the context. Others hold that Peter means all the dead who have died from the time the gospel began to be preached. These had heard and gone, but would be judged as well as the living. This interpretation has the advantage of giving "the dead" the apparent meaning of that phrase. That they might be judged. Without some opportunity to know of the gospel they could not be judged for its rejection. According to men in the flesh. These dead, who had heard, and received the gospel, though experiencing the judgment of physical death that rested on all men, were called to live according to God in the spirit; that is, live on, an immortal life.