1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; (NASB: Lockman)
Amplified: For Christ [the Messiah Himself] died for sins once for all, the Righteous for the unrighteous (the Just for the unjust, the Innocent for the guilty), that He might bring us to God. In His human body He was put to death, but He was made alive in the spirit, (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit
NLT: Christ also suffered when he died for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners that he might bring us safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Remember that Christ the just suffered for us the unjust, to bring us to God. That meant the death of his body, but he came to life again in the spirit. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: Because Christ also died once for all in relation to sins, a just One on behalf of unjust ones, in order that He might provide you with an entree into the presence of God, having in fact been put to death with respect to the flesh [His human body], but made alive with respect to the spirit [His human spirit], (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: because also Christ once for sin did suffer -- righteous for unrighteous -- that he might lead us to God, having been put to death indeed, in the flesh, and having been made alive in the spirit,
Disclaimer - 1 Peter 3:18-22 are passages which are notoriously difficult to interpret and are reminiscent of Peter's statement about Paul's writings (2Pe 3:16-note).
J. M. E. Ross writes that 1 Peter 3:18 is
FOR CHRIST ALSO DIED (suffered) FOR SINS ONCE FOR ALL: hoti kai Christos hapax peri hamartion epathen (3SAAI): (1Peter 2:21, 22,23, 24; 4:1; Isa 53:4, 5, 6; Ro 5:6, 7, 8; 8:3; 2Cor 5:21; Gal 1:4; 3:13; Titus 2:14; Heb 9:26,28)
For (3754) (hoti) means because, since. For shows us that Peter is beginning to explain why it is sometimes God's will for us to suffer for doing what is right as he has just discussed. He wants to remind them not to be surprised nor discouraged by suffering. Peter offers encouragement to his suffering readers because any suffering they might endure for Christ pales in comparison to His glorious suffering in our place, which is similar to what the writer of Hebrews said to his suffering Jewish audience...
So although most believers will not be martyred, they will be called to suffer for Christ and can take heart that even as He triumphed over the suffering of the Cross, they too will eventually triumph over whatever suffering they might be enduring for His Name.
As Greek scholar A T Robertson says...
Wuest adds that Peter is encouraging his readers...
Peter is saying in essence
He who was perfect Righteousness willingly suffered for totally unrighteous men. Obviously, believers can never suffer the way He did (for His was redemptive suffering), but we can suffer for righteousness because He suffered and brought us into the kingdom of light which automatically puts the believer in contact with the kingdom of darkness. Remember that Peter's intent in this section is to help believers arm themselves (1Pe 4:1-note) with the faith to suffer for the sake of Christ and His kingdom.
Many of those even in evangelical churches in America do not realize that suffering is the norm for believers in many (probably most) places of the world. Christianity in America as we enter the new Millennium is the exception not the rule. For example, evangelical missionaries entered Cambodia in the 1920's but were expelled in 1965 at which time there were by best estimates only about 600 believers. However from 1965-1975 civil war ravaged Cambodia and yet during that time the Christian population soared to an estimated 90,000, clearly indicative of the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to spread and convert the lost. It was an amazing work of God. But when the Khmer Rouge took control and Pol Pot unleashed his maniacal fury on the nation, most of the believers in Christ were either martyred or fled the country. Surely the truths of Peter's first epistle helped them arm themselves for suffering even as their Lord suffered (1Pe 4:1-note)
Died (3958) (pascho) describes in its essence what one experiences or undergoes and virtually always refers to a bad sense. It should be noted however that pascho suffered is not in the best Greek texts, which instead have the verb apothnesko or died. The thought the same in either case because Christ’s death obviously involved suffering.
For (peri) sins - Literally reads concerning sins (see similar use in Hebrews 5:3 [note]) because the preposition peri means with regard to, with reference to, in relation to.
Christ suffered for doing what is right. He is our example (1Peter 2:21-note) and we are to follow closely in His steps. Peter emphasizes Christ's example, because Peter learned (denying Him 3x when faced with the possibility of suffering for His Name's sake) that keeping a good conscience (1Peter 3:16-note) and suffering even though one does what is right (1Peter 3:17-note) is not something which frail, sinful flesh can accomplish in its own strength but can only be accomplished in Christ's strength (filled with, controlled by, empowered by His Spirit, see Acts 1:8, 2:2ff, Ephesians 5:18 [note]).
And Peter a Spirit transformed and controlled man practiced what he is preaching in this section, willingly suffering for Christ and not shrinking back as summarized in passages from Dr Luke's record...
And in the end as indicated by the traditional account Peter apparently received his desire to be crucified upside down for His Lord. In short, Peter is fully qualified to speak about suffering and enduring for His Name's sake!
As alluded to above, it is notable how completely Peter's heart had changed after He received the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. The old Peter filled with a very different spirit strongly objected to the idea that Christ might have to suffer
What a difference a Day made
And beloved we too must yield to the Spirit's Who will enable us to suffer for His sake as more than conquerors.
THE JUST FOR THE UNJUST IN ORDER THAT HE MIGHT BRING US TO GOD: peri hamartion dikaios huper (instead of, as substitute for) adikon hina humas prosagage (3SAAS) to theo: (Zechariah 9:9; Mt 27:19,24; Acts 3:14; 22:14; Js 5:6; 1John 1:9) (Ephesians 2:16, 17, 18)
Just (1342)(dikaios from dike = right, just) (Click word study on dikaios) defines that which is in accordance with high standards of rectitude. It is that which is in right relation to another and so in reference to persons defines the one who is morally and ethically righteous, upright or just
In order that (2443) (hina) introduces the purpose for which the perfect Righteous One suffered and died for unrighteous sinners.
Bring us to (4317) (prosago from pros = toward, facing + ago = to go) is used of a person who brings another into the presence of a third party. (Click study of related noun prosagoge) describes someone’s being introduced or given access to another. In classical Greek the noun form prosagoge refers to the one making the introduction. In ancient courts certain officials controlled access to the king. They verified someone’s right to see him and then introduced that person to the monarch. Christ now performs that function for believers. He opened the way of access to God.
Prosago - 4x in 4v - Translated - approaching(1), bring(2), brought(2).
Prosago is used repeatedly in the Septuagint (LXX) for the sin offering. For example Moses records...
This verb prosago conveys several pictures, all illustrating some aspect of this profound truth...
The meaning here is the aim of Christ's work to bring about man's reconciliation with God so that the cleansed sinner can be brought into the presence of the King by Christ, our Redeemer.
To bring us to God was Christ's mission
Jesus was always a man on the Mission, declaring to His disciples who were worried about physical food..
Later just before His suffering and crucifixion He once again reaffirmed His mission in His prayer to His Father declaring...
The divine tearing of the temple veil from top to bottom symbolically demonstrated the reality that He had opened the way to God. Matthew recorded this momentous event writing that just as Jesus cried out and yielded up His Spirit...
The writer of Hebrews exampled that the temple veil tearing was but a picture of the tearing of our Lord's writing that now believers in His sacrificial, fully atoning death on the Cross...
Because of the work of Christ on the cross He became our "Forerunner" and High Priest
As a result of His death in our place, believers have been "brought to God" and have continual access to the Throne room of God, Paul explaining that...
In Romans Paul explains that because of His death, burial and resurrection, we are how justified by faith, have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ...
NT believers may now come boldly to His throne...
In summary, 1 Peter 3:18 is one of the riches summaries in the Scriptures of the meaning of the Cross of Christ.
HAVING BEEN PUT TO DEATH IN THE FLESH: thanatotheis (APPMSN) men sarki: (1Peter 4:1; Da 9:26; Ro 4:25; 2 Cor 1:24; 13:4; Col 1:21,22)
Put to death (2289) (thanatoo) means to kill or cause to be put to death and leaves no doubt that on the Cross Jesus’ physical life ceased. The passive voice (speaks of action that comes to the subject from an outside source) indicates the total culpability of His executioners and stresses what man did to Him.
In His flesh points out that He was no docetic phantom (Docetists deny that the incarnation and the true human life of Christ ever took place) Who only appeared to have a human body, as "flesh" refers to the humanity Christ assumed at the incarnation (Jn 1:14, 1Ti 3:16). Used without an article "flesh" is qualitative and characterizes Him as a human being, a man among men here on earth.
Made alive (2227) (zoopoieo from zoos = alive + poieo = to make) literally means to make alive. This verb is in the passive voice which indicates that there is operation of power from an outside source, the Spirit of...
In the spirit (4151) (pneuma) is a reference to Jesus’ eternal inner person. Christ's eternal spirit has always been alive, although His earthly body was then dead; but three days later His body was resurrected in a transformed and eternal state.
John MacArthur writes that...
C H Spurgeon wrote...
The Judge's Compassion - During his years as mayor of New York City, Fiorello La Guardia sometimes presided as judge in a night court. In one case, a man was found guilty of stealing a loaf of bread. He pleaded that he had committed that theft to feed his starving family. "The law is the law," La Guardia declared. "I must therefore fine you $10." When the man sadly confessed that he had no money, the judge took $10 out of his wallet and paid the fine. He also asked each person in the courtroom to contribute 50 cents to help the man.
At the heart of the gospel stands the cross of Jesus Christ. Its message is so plain that even a child can understand it: Jesus took my place and died instead of me. But its truth is so awesome that the wisest of humans can't fully fathom its meaning. The Bible says, "Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God" (1Peter 3:18). It also says, "When we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly" (Ro 5:6-note).
As we look at the judge's compassion, we catch at least a glimpse of God's measureless grace. The demands of the law were satisfied. The judge himself paid the fine. The lawbreaker was set free and even blessed with an undeserved gift. What a profound picture of our Savior! —Vernon C Grounds (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
'I Belong There!' - A missionary was speaking to a remote tribe of people who had never heard about the life and ministry of Jesus. Seated in the front row, listening intently to all the missionary had to say, was the chief of the tribe.
As the story of Jesus came to its climax and the chief heard how Christ was cruelly crucified, he could restrain himself no longer. He jumped up and cried, "Stop! Take Him down from the cross! I belong there, not Him!" He had grasped the meaning of the gospel; he understood that he was a sinner, and that Christ was the sinless One.
As you consider that scene of the Son of God hanging on the cross in agony, with blood flowing from His wounds, can you say from your heart, "I belong there!" Then go one step further and put your trust in Him as your Savior, so that you can say with Paul, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Gal. 2:20). Jesus took our place and died in our stead. Because He bore our sins, He has opened the way for us to be brought into fellowship with the Father. If you identify yourself with Christ and believe that He died for you, God will identify you with Christ and give you His righteousness.(Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Can you say, "I belong there!"—Henry G. Bosch
When Jesus died upon the cross,
Amplified: In which He went and preached to the spirits in prison, (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: So he went and preached to the spirits in prison-- (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: It was in the spirit that he went and preached to the imprisoned souls (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: by which [human spirit] also having proceeded, He made a proclamation to the imprisoned spirits (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: in which also to the spirits in prison having gone he did preach,
IN WHICH ALSO HE WENT: en o kai tois en phulake pneumasin poreutheis (APPMSN) ekeruxen (3SAAI): (1Peter 1:11,12; 4:6; Neh 9:30; Rev 19:10)
In which - This phrase points to what happened to Christ's living spirit. While Christ's body lay in the tomb, He went in His spirit to another place.
Went (4198) (poreúomai from poros = a passing or passage) means to go from one place to another and is used in 1Peter 3:22 to describe Christ's ascension. Unlike the spirits of the unrighteous, who immediately experience the wrath of God after death, the spirit of Christ was able to accomplish God's perfect purpose.
This passage has been subject to many interpretations. Some say Peter referred to the descent of Christ into Hades (Sheol is the OT counterpart) between His death and resurrection to offer people who lived before the Flood a second chance for salvation which is clearly without scriptural support. For example Heb 9:27-note says
Luke similarly records Abraham's words to the rich man in the "hot side" of Hades...
Others have said this passage refers to Christ’s descent into hell after His crucifixion to proclaim His victory to the imprisoned fallen angels referred to in 2Peter 2:4; 5 (notes), equating them with “the sons of God” (Ge 6:1, 2, cp Job 1:6, 2:1, Jude 1:6,7), an interpretation that a number of conservative commentators do not agree with.
Others say that Christ descended into Hades and made proclamation to all of disobedient mankind at the time of the flood. But if that is so why would these men and women be singled out compared for example to those of Sodom & Gomorrah?
Some such as Wayne Grudem and D. Edmond Hiebert (both respected Bible scholars) feel that Christ did not descend into Hades at all after His crucifixion.
In sum, 1Peter 3:19 is a very difficult and controversial passage and we should not break fellowship with someone who holds a different interpretation.
AND MADE PROCLAMATION: en o kai tois en phulake pneumasin poreutheis (APPMSN) ekeruxen (3SAAI):
Proclamation (2784) (kerusso) means to announce as a herald, to proclaim. In the ancient world, heralds would come to town as representatives of the rulers to make public announcements or precede generals and kings in the processions celebrating military triumphs, announcing victories won in battle. Kerusso is not the word Peter used with the meaning “to preach the Gospel” (1Pe 1:12-note, 1Pe 4:6-note)
Peter did not tell us what Jesus proclaimed, but if these were indeed demonic spirits, it could not be a message of redemption since angels cannot be saved (Heb 2:16-te note).
MacArthur explains that...
Ray Pritchard writes...
TO THE SPIRITS NOW IN PRISON: en o kai tois en phulake pneumasin poreutheis (APPMSN) ekeruxen (3SAAI): (Isa 42:7; 49:9; 61:1; Rev 20:7)
One of my favorite uses of phulake is in the Septuagint (Lxx) translation of Pr 4:23-note where "watch (present imperative) over your heart" in the Greek translation reads more like "keep (tereo) a guard (phulake) over your heart."
Phulake - 47x in 45v - Matt 5:25; 14:3, 10, 25; 18:30; 24:43; 25:36, 39, 43f; Mark 6:17, 27, 48; Luke 2:8; 3:20; 12:38, 58; 21:12; 22:33; 23:19, 25; John 3:24; Acts 5:19, 22, 25; 8:3; 12:4ff, 10, 17; 16:23f, 27, 37, 40; 22:4; 26:10; 2 Cor 6:5; 11:23; Heb 11:36; 1 Pet 3:19; Rev 2:10; 18:2; 20:7. NAS translates phulake - guard(1), imprisonment(1), imprisonments(2), prison(34), prisons(3), time of the night(1), watch(4).
To the Spirits - MacArthur feels that this does not refer to human spirits (or Peter would have used the word psuche for souls). Instead Peter used pneuma, a word the New Testament never uses to refer to people except when qualified by a genitive (e.g., Hebrews 12:23-note “the spirits of the righteous”). Peter uses "psuche" for "persons" in the next verse which clearly indicates human beings. It would seem unlikely for him to spirits (of men) here in verse 19 and then souls of Noah et al in verse 20.
Nevertheless, in fairness, it must be noted that there are at least 3 views regarding the identity of the spirits in this passage...
MacDonald writes that the verses 1Peter 3:19, 20...
The Net Bible has the following comment on the phrase "and preached to the spirits in prison" writing that...
Morris explains it this way...
Regarding the spirits in prison Morris says that...
1 Peter 3:20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. (NASB: Lockman)
Greek: apeithesasin (AAPMPD) pote hote apexedecheto e tou theou makrothumia en emerais Noe kataskeuazomenes (PPPFSG) kibotou, eis en oligoi, tout' estin (3SPAI) okto psuchai, diesothesan (3PAPI) di' hudatos
Amplified: [The souls of those] who long before in the days of Noah had been disobedient, when God’s patience waited during the building of the ark in which a few [people], actually eight in number, were saved through water. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: of those who had been disobedient in the days of Noah - the days of God's great patience during the period of the building of the ark, in which eventually only eight souls were saved in the flood. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: who were at one time rebels when the long-suffering of God waited out to the end in the days of Noah while the ark was being made ready; in which eight souls were brought safely through [the time of the deluge] by means of the intermediate agency of water, (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: who sometime disbelieved, when once the long-suffering of God did wait, in days of Noah -- an ark being preparing -- in which few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water;
WHO ONCE WERE DISOBEDIENT: apeithesasin (AAPMPD) pote: (Ge 6:3,5,13)
Disobedient (544)(apeitheo [word study] from a = without + peítho = persuade) literally describes one who refuses to be persuaded and who disbelieves willfully and perversely. Apeitheo in the present context means that these individuals possessed an attitude of unbelief because they deliberately disobeyed, consciously resisted and rebelled against authority and finally manifested an obstinate rejection of the will (truth) of God.
Apeitheo means not to allow oneself to be persuaded; not to comply with and to refuse or withhold belief (in the truth, but elsewhere in Christ, in the gospel). Apeitheo speaks of a stubborn, stiff-necked attitude. It speaks of disbelief manifesting itself in disobedience. It is opposed to pisteuo, the verb translated "believe".
Apeitheo - 14x in 14v - John 3:36; Acts 14:2; 19:9; Rom 2:8; 10:21; 11:30f; 15:31; Heb 3:18; 11:31; 1 Pet 2:8; 3:1, 20; 4:17. Translated - disbelieved(1), disobedient(10), do not obey(1), obey(2).
Marvin Vincent in discussing apeitheo in John 3:36 writes that..
From the preceding comments, it should not surprise you to discover that in the New Testament the word group translated disobey, disobedience, etc (apeitheo and related words) does not stand in contrast with obedience but in contrast with faith!
Who are "the spirits in prison"? See the preceding verse for the differences of opinion. We know they "once were disobedient" and that they lived during the days of Noah.
I favor John MacArthur's assessment...
WHEN THE PATIENCE OF GOD KEPT WAITING IN THE DAYS OF NOAH DURING THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE ARK IN WHICH A FEW, THAT IS, EIGHT PERSONS WERE BROUGHT SAFELY THROUGH THE WATER: hote apexedecheto e tou theou makrothumia en hemerais Noe kataskeuazomenes (PPPFSG) kibotou, eis en oligoi, tout' estin (3SPAI) okto psuchai, diesothesan (3PAPI) di' hudatos: (Isa 30:18; Ro 2:4,5; 9:22; 2Pe 3:15) (days: Mt 24:37, 38, 39; Lk 17:26, 27, 28, 29, 30) (Ge 6:14-22; Heb 11:7) (Ge 7:1-7,13,23; 8:1,18; Mt 7:14; Lk 12:32; 13:24,25; 2Pe 2:5) (Ge 7:17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23; 2Cor 2:15,16; Eph 5:26)
Patience (3115)(makrothumia from makros = long, distant, far off, large + thumos = temper, passion, emotion or thumoomai = to be furious or burn with intense anger) is literally long-temper (as opposed to "short tempered), a long holding out of the mind before it gives room to action or passion. It describes a state of emotional calm or quietness in the face of provocation, misfortune or unfavorable circumstances.
Makrothumia is the capacity to be wronged and not retaliate. It is the ability to hold one's feeling in restraint or bear up under the oversights and wrongs afflicted by others without retaliating. It is manifest by the quality of forbearance under provocation. Here it describes God's patience toward sinful men (see also note Romans 2:4).
Kept waiting (553)(apekdechomai from apó = intensifier + ekdechomai = expect, look for <> from ek = out + dechomai = receive kindly, accept deliberately and readily) means waiting in great anticipation but with patience.
Persons - is the Greek word for souls and is used in 1Peter 1:9, 22, 2:25, 4:19, each use related to salvation.
Persons (5590) (psuche or psyche from psucho = to breathe, blow, English = psychology, "study of the soul") is the breath, then that which breathes, the individual, animated creature. However the discerning reader must understand that psuche is one of those Greek words that can have several meanings, the exact nuance being determined by the context. It follows that one cannot simply select of the three main meanings of psuche and insert it in a given passage for it may not be appropriate to the given context. The meaning of psuche is also contingent upon whether one is a dichotomist or trichotomist. Consult Greek lexicons for more lengthy definitions of psuche as this definition is only a brief overview. (Click an excellent article on Soul in the Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology; see also ISBE article on Soul)
Were brought - The passive voice emphasizes that God saved Noah and family, the ark being the actual agent of their physical salvation. Noah was already saved (spiritually) by his faith & trust in God's promises (Heb11:7), a faith that was shown to be a genuine & authentic saving faith by his works as he did all that the LORD had commanded him to do (Ge6:22).
Through (dia) may have an instrumental force which would be rendered "by means of water". However it is difficult to see how the floodwaters can be viewed as the means of their salvation, when in reality it was the Ark that saved them. More probable is the idea that they were saved in passing through the floodwaters. Yet there remains the paradoxical truth that the floodwaters that brought death to the wicked were the very means of the "8's" deliverance -- the waters buoyed up the ark and brought Noah and his family safely to the new world. They had been rescued in spite of the water not because of the water. Here, water was the agent of God’s judgment not the means of salvation. The waters however did bear up the Ark of safety, even as the same waters destroyed the world.
Note that KJV translates "saved by water" ("through water") in the sense that they were saved from the deadly moral and spiritual pollution that had engulfed all the antediluvian world. The waters bore up their Ark of safety, but these same waters destroyed the old world.
So too the Cross has a "paradoxical" effect and is either the power of God unto salvation (1Cor 1:18) or the Rock of stumbling. (1Pe 2:8, 1Co1:23 "Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block")
Allan Stibbs wrote,
Summary: Only those who were in the Ark were saved. Only those who had in a sense "identified" with the Ark were saved. And thus Peter goes on make the analogy with baptism but not a ritual baptism like practiced in Peter's day. (Archeologists have found houses that possess "baptismal chambers" that the rich owners would use for daily "purification"). The "baptism" Peter is talking about is not this daily ritual but that which gives a clean conscience (Heb 10:19, 20, 21,22), when one is identified by grace thru faith in the finished work of Christ's death, burial & resurrection. Only then can a man have a "good conscience". And this truth of identification with Christ (baptism into Christ Ro 6:2, 3, 4, 5ff) would encourage the believers who might be called to suffer and even die for the sake of righteousness. After all why should they now fear man? (cp Mt 10:28) What could man do to them? They could not be killed because they had already died with Christ and they now had everlasting life. So Peter's allusion to Noah, baptism and good conscience is to encourage them about who they are in Christ (in the "Ark" so to speak) no matter what fiery trials might come their way. And to show the completeness of this victory over present sufferings, Peter teaches that after His suffering & death, Christ ascended to the right hand of the Father and now all powers were subjected to Him. He triumphed over evil. You are on the winning team. Keep a good conscience before God. Live the way you are supposed to live by doing what is right! Amen.
><> ><> ><>
Today in the Word We've all seen cartoons featuring an oddly-dressed crank who carries a sign reading ""The End Is Near."" We laugh at the image, feeling superior. Perhaps the man is not quite sane. Perhaps he simply wants to attract attention. We don't really think he has ""inside information"" about the world's end or that his message is true.
Unfortunately, that is how the world sees us as followers of Christ. People without God often view Christians as cranks, perhaps amusing or annoying, but not as people with a vital message of life. Jesus warned His disciples it would be this way. Just as the world misunderstood and persecuted Him, so it misunderstands and persecutes believers in Him.
That has been true throughout human history, as Noah could attest. He preached for 120 years, but his neighbors only thought he was a crazy man. In today's text, Peter referred to Noah's ministry to illustrate the necessity of keeping a good testimony in spite of unjust persecution.
We'll get to the difficult verses in this text below, but first we need to pause at 1Peter 3:18, a text about which there can be no argument. One writer has called this verse a rich summary of the cross. It refers to the substitutionary nature of Christ's atonement, its finality, and its triumph in the resurrection.
In 1 Peter 3:19-note, Peter states that Christ preached to ""spirits in prison."" And verse 20 seems to indicate that the Spirit of the preincarnate Christ was speaking through Noah as he preached. Peter had earlier said the Spirit of Christ spoke through the Old Testament prophets (see 1Peter 1:11-note).
Some believe that Christ went to Hades in His spirit while His body was in the grave to announce His victory to human beings or to fallen angels. There is evidence for this interpretation, but the other explanation better fits the context.
TODAY ALONG THE WAY - Evidently some readers of 1 Peter needed to take a step of obedience that would please Christ and draw them closer to Him (Copyright Moody Bible Institute. Used by permission. All rights reserved)
1 Peter 3:21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you--not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience --through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, (NASB: Lockman)
Amplified: And baptism, which is a figure [of their deliverance], does now also save you [from inward questionings and fears], not by the removing of outward body filth [bathing], but by [providing you with] the answer of a good and clear conscience (inward cleanness and peace) before God [because you are demonstrating what you believe to be yours] through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: And this is a picture of baptism, which now saves you by the power of Jesus Christ's resurrection. Baptism is not a removal of dirt from your body; it is an appeal to God from a clean conscience. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: And I cannot help pointing out what a perfect illustration this is of the way you have been admitted to the safety of the Christian "ark" by baptism, which means, of course, far more than the mere washing of a dirty body: it means the ability to face God with a clear conscience. For there is in every true baptism the virtue of Christ's rising from the dead. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: which [water] also as a counterpart now saves you, [namely] baptism; not a putting off of filth of flesh, but the witness of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: also to which an antitype doth now save us -- baptism, (not a putting away of the filth of flesh, but the question of a good conscience in regard to God,) through the rising again of Jesus Christ,
AND CORRESPONDING TO THAT BAPTISM NOW SAVES YOU: o kai humas antitupon nun sozei (3SPAI) baptisma: (Ro 5:14; 1Co 4:6; Heb 9:24; Heb 11:19) (Mt 28:19; Mk 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Ro6:3, 4, 5, 6; 1Co12:13; Gal 3:27; Ep 5:26; Col 2:12; Titus 3:5, 6, 7)
Corresponding (499) (antitupon from anti = over against, opposite to + tupos = mark of a stroke or blow, figure formed by a blow or impression) first of all means striking back or struck back (of sound - echoing, of light - reflecting back) and then corresponding to, a copy or an exact representation.
See the related discussion of type and antitype (Typology - Study of Biblical types, rationale, cautions, guidelines, contrasts with allegory)
In English antitype refers to a person or thing that represents the opposite of another. And so it can convey the meaning of the opposite, as the flesh is opposite the spirit, but it is not strictly speaking used that way in the NT. (but see example from Hebrews 9:24-note)
Thayer states that antitupon is "a thing resembling another, its counterpart; something in the Messianic times which answers to the type".
Here in the NT it refers to an earthly expression of a spiritual or heavenly reality. It indicates a symbol, picture, or pattern of some spiritual truth. Antitype is a thing that is foreshadowed or represented by a type or symbol, especially a character or event in the New Testament prefigured in the Old Testament.
Here is antitupon in a secular Greek writing - "I am placed opposite something that has gone before"
Antitupon is used only here and in Hebrews 9:24-note.
Peter is teaching that the fact that 8 people were in an ark and went through the whole judgment, and yet were unharmed, is analogous to the Christian’s experience in salvation by being in (union with) Christ, identified with Christ our "Ark" of salvation so to speak.
Peter is not teaching (as some twist the Scriptures) that immersion in water by a particular denomination saves you. Peter pictures the waters of baptism as corresponding to (prefigured by) the deliverance of Noah’s family by water. Noah and his family's identification with the Ark (by going into the ark when the flood came) is a type of the believer's identification with Christ (by grace through face) in which he or she identifies with Christ's finished work on the Cross and in so doing in a manner of speaking that person is now safe within the "Ark", Who is Christ Jesus Himself.
This is message of security in Christ is one that Peter's recipients who were experiencing persecution needed to hear, so that might be stabilized when the waves of affliction came upon them.
Application: Biblical Truth sets us free from our fears of what might occur in this life. If one is suffering for the sake of righteousness, they have nothing to fear but can entrust their faithful Creator, Who will deliver them either in the storm or through the storm. Trust in God's faithfulness is the same shield that Shadrach, et al, took up to deflect the fiery missiles of doubt and which enabled them to say...
John Piper answering the question "does baptism save?" writes...
NOT THE REMOVAL OF DIRT FROM THE FLESH BUT AN APPEAL TO GOD FOR A GOOD CONSCIENCE THROUGH THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST: ou sarkos apothesis rhupou alla suneideseos agathes eperotema eis theon di anastaseos Iesou Christou: (Eze 36:25,26; Zec 13:1; 2Cor 7:1) (Acts 8:37; Ro 10:9,10; 2Cor 1:12; 1Ti 6:12)
Appeal (1906) (eperotema from epí = intensifies verb + erotáo =, to ask, inquire of, beg of) was a technical term used in making a contract. Here it refers to agreeing to meet certain conditions required by God before being placed into the ark of safety (Christ). Salvation requires the desire to obtain a cleansed conscience from God and a willingness to meet the conditions necessary to obtain it.
The baptism Peter speaks of is not water baptism. The Greek word translated "baptism" is more specifically translated "immerse." Noah didn't experience Christian baptism, but was immersed in judgment though protected by the ark. Noah and his family didn't miss the judgment--they were there--but were preserved through it. That's what happens to believers in Christ. Peter made it especially clear he wasn't talking about Christian baptism when he said, "Not the removal of dirt from the flesh." He wasn't speaking of an earthly ordinance but a spiritual reality, specifically of "an appeal to God for a good conscience--through the resurrection of Jesus Christ".
Conscience (4893) (suneidesis [word study] from sun = with + eido = know) literally means a "knowing with", a co-knowledge with oneself or a being of one's own witness in the sense that one's own conscience "takes the stand" as the chief witness, testifying either to one's innocence or guilt. It describes the witness borne to one's conduct by that faculty by which we apprehend the will of God. The Greek noun Suneidesis is the exact counterpart of the Latin con-science, “a knowing with,” a shared or joint knowledge. It is our awareness of ourselves in all the relationships of life, especially ethical relationships. We have ideas of right and wrong; and when we perceive their truth and claims on us, and will not obey, our souls are at war with themselves and with the law of God Suneidesis is that process of thought which distinguishes what it considers morally good or bad, commending the good, condemning the bad, and so prompting to do the former and avoid the latter.
The book of Hebrews clearly teaches that one acquires a good conscience by faith and not by works of the flesh.
Baptism is a symbolic picture of the resurrection of Christ as well as our own spiritual renewal.
Peter's point is that just as the Flood immersed in the judgment of God everyone yet some passed through safely, so the final judgment will fall on all, but those who are in Jesus Christ will pass through judgment safely. Being in Christ is like being in the ark: we ride safely through the storms of judgment. Believers go through the death and burial of Christ because of their union with Him, and come out again into the new world of His resurrection.
Summary: Only those who were in the Ark were saved. Only those who had in a sense "identified" with the Ark were saved. And thus Peter goes on make the analogy with baptism but not a ritual baptism like practiced in Peter's day. (Archeologists have found houses that possess "baptismal chambers" that the rich owners would use for daily "purification").
The "baptism" Peter is talking about is not this daily ritual but that which gives a clean conscience (see notes Hebrews 9:9; 9:14; Hebrews 10:19; 20; 21; 22), when one is identified by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ's death, burial and resurrection. Only then can a man truly have a "good conscience". And this truth of identification with Christ (baptism into Christ - see notes Romans 6:2, 6:3, 6:4) would encourage the believers who might be called to suffer and even die for the sake of righteousness. After all why should they now fear man? (cp Mt 10:28) What could man do to them? They could not be killed because they had already died with Christ (baptized into His death = identified with Him in the New Covenant, by grace through faith, now experiencing oneness and union with Christ through this spiritual baptism - see notes on Greek word baptizo) and they now had everlasting life.
So Peter's allusion to Noah, baptism and good conscience is to encourage his readers about who they were in Christ (that they were "safe in the Ark" so to speak) no matter what fiery trials might come their way. And to show the completeness of this victory over present sufferings, Peter teaches that after His suffering and death, Christ ascended to the right hand of the Father and now all powers (including evil angels) were subject to Him. He triumphed over evil in every way. Peter was saying that "You are on the winning team. Keep a good conscience before God. Live the way you are supposed to live by doing what is right!" Amen.
Amplified: [And He] has now entered into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with [all] angels and authorities and powers made subservient to Him. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: Now Christ has gone to heaven. He is seated in the place of honor next to God, and all the angels and authorities and powers are bowing before him. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: And he has now entered Heaven and is at God's right hand, with all angels, authorities and powers subservient to him. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: who is at the right hand of God, having proceeded into heaven, there having been made subject to Him, angels, and authorities, and powers. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: who is at the right hand of God, having gone on to heaven -- messengers, and authorities, and powers, having been subjected to him.
WHO IS AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD HAVING GONE INTO HEAVEN: os estin (3SPAI) en dexia (tou) theou poreutheis (APPMSN) eis ouranon : (Mk 16:19; Acts 1:11; 2:34, 35, 36; 3:21; Heb 6:20; 8:1; 9:24) (Right hand: Ps 110:1; Mt 22:44; Mk 12:36; Lk 20:42; Ro 8:34; Ep 1:20; Col 3:1; Heb 1:3,13; 8:1; Heb 10:12; 12:2)
After describing all the suffering Christ endured, Peter ends this section of Scripture in a glorious final note of triumph. Throughout both the Old and New Testaments, the right hand of God is affirmed as the place of preeminence, power, and authority for all eternity, and that is where Jesus went when had He accomplished His work on the cross, and that's where He rules today. (Heb 10:12, 13, 14)
AFTER ANGELS AND AUTHORITIES AND POWERS HAD BEEN SUBJECTED TO HIM: hupotagenton (APPMPG) auto aggelon kai exousion kai dunameon: (Ro 8:38; 1Co 15:24; Ep 1:21)
MacArthur comments that "after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him"...
Subjected (5293) (hupotasso [word study] from hupó = under + tasso = arrange in orderly manner) means literally to place under in an orderly fashion. In the active voice hupotasso means to subject, bring under firm control, subordinate as used in (Romans 8:20-note) is in the passive voice indicates that God did the subjecting.
Hupotásso was a military term meaning to draw up in order of battle, to form, array, marshal, both troops or ships.
Hupotásso meant that troop divisions were to be arranged in a military fashion under the command of the leader. In this state of subordination they were now subject to the orders of their commander. Thus, it speaks of the subjection of one individual under or to another. Hupotasso was also used to describe the arrangement of military implements on a battlefield in order that one might carry out effective warfare!
Subjected in military terms indicates that Jesus Christ outranks all spiritual entities (angels and authorities and powers).
As Christians, we do not fight for victory, but from victory—the mighty victory that our Lord Jesus Christ won for us in His death, resurrection, and ascension. This truth should encourage believers undergoing suffering: Take this one thought with you in preparation for your suffering. No harassing, oppressing, deceiving, accusing demon is free to do as he pleases. All angels, authorities, powers, devils, evil spirits, demons and Satan himself are subject to Jesus Christ.
When Peter says at the end of his letter (1Pe 5:9), that the devil prowls around like a lion seeking to devour, resist him firm in your faith, THIS is the faith he has in mind. The faith that all angels, authorities and powers are subject to Jesus. This is what we rebuke and resist the devil with: you are subject to Jesus. Jesus reigns at God's right hand and you are under him. You can do nothing without his permission. You are a cat on a chain. You cannot touch me unless he lets you. And he will only let you to the degree that your touch will turn for my good and for his glory.