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Suffering For Doing Good (ch. 3:8 - 22)

 

In verse 8 Peter begins this section with the word "finally." The word "finally" is most likely in reference to concluding this portion of his letter that covers one's submissive attitude to others. 

 

After talking to and about husbands, wives, slaves, masters, and government, he now gives a general encouragement and admonition to his brothers and sisters in Jesus who are suffering so much in an anti-Christ culture.  He says, "live in harmony with one another, be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble."  Peter is speaking to Christians, encouraging them to be an example to the rest of the world in a godly way of living.  Remember, Jesus said that the world would know that we are His disciples if we have genuine love for one another (John 13:35).   

 

This admonition for relational harmony would be important when Christians are being persecuted from the culture in which they live.  In times of persecution, tempers would naturally rise.  People would easily become more irritable with one another.  So, more than ever, great concern must be given to living in harmony in such times.  

 

The Greek word translated as "harmony" here is the word "homophron."  This word is made up of "homos" meaning "one," and "phren" meaning "mind."  This is why some translations use the words "one mind," as in, "be of one mind."  It's actually a more literal translation of the Greek text. 

 

In the Body of Christ there should be a spirit of oneness.  Does this mean "oneness in thinking?"  Well, that would be nice, but I'm not convinced that we will all hold to the same thinking in this life.  Oneness here is at least in a spirit of cooperation with one another.  This is what being humble and thinking of others is all about, something that church continually fails to do.     

 

Living in a state of one mind is a hard thing to do, even among Christians.  If it were easy, Peter would not have mentioned it.  It was especially hard in Peter's day due to the suffering of persecution from the Roman government.  When under such stress, the worst part of us comes to the surface.  Our fallen nature raises its ugly head that in turn disrupts any sense of oneness. 

 

I admit that all translators of the Bible to one degree or another incorporate their biases into their translations.  The NIV translators might well have done that when they translated the Greek word "homophran" here as "harmony."  In my thinking, that softens the meaning of the word that Peter used.  The words "one mind" seem a better translation to me, but again, does this mean we have to think the same on every doctrinal issue?  Again, that would be nice.  I certainly think we can do a better job of attempting to think the same on doctrine, but Peter might well have had more than doctrine in mind here.  He might well have had thinking the same things when it comes to the direction of the church, that is, how Christians precede in the midst of a severe time of suffering.  In other words, Peter may be thinking of having the same goal. Thinking the same thing may have a much wider and broader meaning than simply agreeing on doctrinal issues.      

 

In the same way that husbands are to be considerate of their wives, we are all to be considerate of each other.  Also, in the same way that wives are to submit to their husbands, we are all to submit to one another.  This submission to one another means giving way to others instead of always promoting ones self interests, which is our selfish human tendency.  Our western democracies are very much self-centered.  The democratic form of government is my preferred way to govern a nation, but, we should know that the Bible does not prefer one form of human government over another.  What it does promote is the Kingdom of God where Jesus is the king.  Our democratic way of life in one sense of the word spurs on our human fallen nature that says "I am the important one."  This is not the mentality that Christians are to have, especially in relation to others in the Body of Christ.      

 

Our English word "sympathetic" in verse 8 is translated from the Greek word "sympathes."  This word means "to suffer with or to suffer alongside."  It means to sit down with others and suffer along with them as they are suffering.  This takes a good measure of love, care, and patience for your brother or sister in the Body of Christ. 

 

The words "love of brothers" is speaking of "philos" love, not agape love.  This is reciprocal love.  It's a free exchange of love back and forth, from one person to another and back again. Yes, we are to love agape style, that is, selfless love.  That is fundamental, but, beyond that, love must be a two way experience in order to work within family or within the community of believers.

 

Peter tells his readers to be humble.  Humbleness is seen as a virtue in Biblical thinking.  In the Roman world of Peter's day humbleness was seen as weakness, and probably in today's world as well.  What Peter was saying here to the believers was not what they learn or see in the Roman world in which they lived.  In other words, it was culturally incorrect.  Again, we see Biblical teaching as being completely opposite from what the world teaches.  Those who accepted this teaching would be radicalized in a negative sense in the eyes of their community.             

 

In verse 9 Peter says not to "repay evil with evil or insult with insult," something that is basic to our fallen nature.   It is obvious then that even in the church someone may insult you, but you are not to insult them back, but rather extend a blessing.  The reason why Peter says this is because at some point we all will inherit a blessing when we behave in this fashion.  So, giving a blessing now is a small thing compared to the big blessing that Jesus will give us, either in this life or in the next life.  But, Peter's admonition does not just apply to our relationships within the church.  The same applies to those in the culture around us, those who insult us and do evil against us.  We are told to respond with a blessing.  As hard as that is, that is the Biblical thing to do, and, we do so in order for those who throw the insults at us may see the love of God.  Besides, it's not our place to repay evil with evil.  That is God's doing when He will judge the world, which He will do justly.         

 

Note the words "you were called" in verse 9.  Peter says the same in chapter 2, verse 21.  We have been called to live a certain way no matter where we find ourselves in life at any given time.  Even in the midst of grief filled suffering we live a blessed life by exhibiting blessing to others.  Christians, like Jesus Himself, must be a blessing to all who cross their paths.     

 

To back his point Peter quotes from Psalm 34:12 to 16 in verse 10.  The Psalm says that "whoever would love life, and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech."  It is quite clear that controlling our tongues will cause us to live a better life.  An uncontrolled tongue creates many unnecessary conflicts.  We donít need to speak everything our mind thinks.  The book of James really zeroes in on this, so if you want to learn more, read James.

 

There is some truth to the old saying, "sticks and stones will break your bones but names will never hurt you."  That being said, nasty names spoken against us are very hurtful and can have resulting problems in our lives.  As I've said, we don't need to speak everything that comes into our minds. The word "bullying" has become a real popular word these days.  Nasty talk directed to others is bullying and Christians shouldn't be involved in such talk.  It's sad to say, but many Christians talk like the world these days.  That should not be. 

 

There are some people that you just don't feel like being around because they are so overly negative.  They complain.  They speak evil of others.  They don't control their tongue.  All of this results in one miserable life that is not attractive to anyone. 

 

The Psalm continues in verse 11 by saying that "he must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it."  This was the teaching among all first century Christians who were suffering from injustice done to them by their anti-Christ culture.  As time goes on, Christians in the western world will suffer in like manner.  Christians should be peace seekers, actually must be peace seekers.  Paul, for example, did his best to try to live peacefully with everyone, but not everyone wanted to live peacefully with him and that is why he found himself in so much conflict.  Still, Paul did not repay the injustice done to him with injustice.

 

In verse 12 Peter continues with the Psalm by saying, that the "eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are attentive to their prayers."  There are two aspects of us being righteous.  We are seen as righteous in the eyes of God, even though we arenít righteous because of the cross of Christ and the fact that Jesus lived the perfectly righteous life on our behalf.  On the other hand, righteousness should be in the process of being worked out in our lives.  If we are on this path of righteousness being worked out in our lives, then God will keep and eye on us and hear our prayers.  If then our prayers are not answered, this may be one reason why, but not the only reason.

                   

The last part of this Psalm says that "the face of the Lord is against those that do evil."  This is clear and simple.  God turns Himself away from evil doers, having nothing to do with them.  He leaves them alone to muddle around in their own calamity.  Possibly the only time He will turn His face towards them is on the Day of Judgement when He pronounces judgement on them.  The thought that God would turn His face from someone is not popular in todayís society, yet it is a Biblical truth.  This is in fact what God did to Jesus while on the cross.  Jesus actually became sin while on the cross.  What this Psalm says happened to Jesus.  God turned His back on Jesus and did not help Him off the cross.  He couldn't because the sinful evil that Jesus became that very moment repulsed God.  For this reason God's wrath fell on Jesus as it will fall on the unbelievers at the White Throne Judgment as see in Revelation 20.

 

Earlier in this chapter I commented on the husband's prayers not being answered because of their mistreatment towards their wives.  I said that this is one reason why we don't see more of the miraculous in our Christian meetings.  Here is another reason why we don't see more of the miraculous today.  It's because some in the congregation are doing evil and not behaving as the Christians should are to be.    

 

In verse 13 Peter says "who will harm you when you do good?"  He is simply being practical and logical here.  If you do good to others, thereís a good chance they will do good to you.  This is true on some levels and in some situations, but remember, the people to whom Peter is writing are being persecuted, or, have the possibility of being persecuted from the anti-Christ society in which they lived.  These people may do good, but, bad done to them was still a real possibility in the culture in which they lived.  What is good in the eyes of the world may not be good in the eyes of God.  So, when a Christian does good in the eyes of God, our culture calls it bad.   This is what Peter is getting at in the next verse.   

 

With the possibility of bad being done to Peter's readers, he thus says in verse 14 that even if these people do suffer for doing good, they are blessed.  The Greek verb tense here is an often not used tense.  The Greek reads something like this.  "If suffering happens to happen to you."  The point here is that these people weren't looking for suffering to come their way, but, if it happens, then it happens.  Unlike fundamentalist Muslims today, these Christians did not have a martyrdom complex.    

 

Why should we feel blessed in these suffering situations?  Such talk doesnít sound like good common sense.  The fact is that Jesus suffered unjustly, and if we suffer in like fashion, we should be thankful that we are suffering in the same way that our Lord suffered.  This was Peterís attitude towards unjust suffering.  Peter wanted to follow Jesus, even if it meant suffering unjustly, and he did just that, right up to his death on the cross.  

 

The next phrase says this.  "Do not fear what they fear."  The NIV has an alternative reading that says, ďDo not fear their threats.  Do not be frightened."  I believe this means that we should not be afraid of those who will do evil to us because our good deeds that they consider evil cause them to mistreat us.  Remember that Jesus said we are not to fear those who kill the body.  He said that we should fear Him who will destroy both body and soul in the fire's of hell (Matthew 10:28).     

 

If you were to think of "fear not as they fear" as seen in the 1984 NIV, you might think of it this way.  People often feared their government in Peter's day, especially Nero's regime.  As far as Peter was concerned, he feared no one, not even Nero.  Instead, he feared God.   

 

Instead of fearing your oppressors, verse 15 tells us what to do.  Peter says that "in your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord."  This is fundamental to being a Christian.  In the deepest place of our hearts, Jesus must be our Lord.  We should put Him in charge of every aspect of our lives.  In so doing, He will grant us the strength to endure the unjust suffering. I believe this is just another way of saying that we should fear the Lord, not those who oppose us because Jesus is in fact our Lord. 

 

Some versions of the Bible use the word "sanctify" in verse 15.  The Methodists have built a whole doctrine over what they call Entire Sanctification, and by so doing, suggest that one becomes a Christian by making Jesus his Saviour, then at some later point, one makes Jesus his Lord.  This is not New Testament thinking.  We don't make Jesus our Saviour then our Lord.  We get saved when we hand our lives over to Jesus because He is Lord after genuine repentance.  Becoming a Christian is not merely submitting to Jesus as Saviour but submitting to Him as Lord.  He is our Lord and thus He becomes our Saviour.  Submitting to Jesus as our Lord is not a second work of grace.  It is the first work of grace.     

 

In the midst of this unjust suffering Peter encourages his readers to be ready at all times to give a reason, or a defense, for the hope we have in Jesus. 

 

First of all, Peter points out that Christians can actually have hope in the midst of the suffering.  Some may not have this hope, but that does not mean it's not available for you.  Hope is a certain expectation of a future reality.  Christians have a great hope in what the future has for them.  There is nothing wrong with Biblical hope.

It's not a lack of faith as some might think.

 

Peter then says that we should be ready at all times to give a reason for why we hope.  Christians need to be ready to explain as many aspects of the gospel as they can.  It's sad to say, but many Christians today just canít do that.  This lack is due to our Biblically illiterate church.  Many Christians have little desire to study and know the Bible.  Many church leaders fail to teach the Bible.  Instead, they preach simple and short inspirational sermons.  Their intent in these sermons is to inspire the people sufficiently enough that they leave the gathering feeling good, but feelings don't last.  Feelings won't get you through the hard times of life.  What we need is Biblical instruction.  It is the Word of God that will get us through the hard days.  Jesus said that man lives by every word the proceeds out of the mouth of God.  There are many such words in the Bible.     

 

One trend among many modern day Evangelical pastors and teachers is the trend to preach self help instead of the Bible.  This is pure humanism that waters down Biblical truth and especially waters down the work and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  There is nothing inherently wrong with helping self, but apart from the Holy Spirit it is humanism, not true Christianity.  

 

Peter is telling us that we need to be able to explain Biblical truth at least to a degree.  I realize that we are not all Bible teachers.  Not all have that ministry but, we all should be competent in explaining the foundational truths of salvation. 

 

In verse 15 Peter says that our explanation must be given with gentleness and respect.  Giving our explanation in arrogance will do more harm than good.  It only makes the questioner more antagonistic and upset with us, blinding his eyes and understanding to what we're saying.  Over the years I've seen many explanations of the gospel spoken out of arrogance.  This should not be.  A spirit of gentleness and respect will go a long way to win people to Jesus. 

 

In verse 16 Peter tells his readers to answer all our opponents' questions with a clear conscience.  If we do, then our accusers should be ashamed of themselves.  If we do good, the best we can, with a pure motive before Jesus, then the only ones that should experience shame are those who accuse us.  If they donít experience the shame now, they will on the Day of Judgment, and, many don't experience this shame because their own consciences are fried.  What Peter says here is logical, but not often the case in an anti-Christ culture which knows little about a normal conscience.    

 

Our English word "conscience" here is translated from the Greek word "syneidesis."  This word is made up of two Greek words meaning "with" and "know."  This suggests an inner knowing. It suggests being honest with yourself in that place of who you are that no one else but God can see.       

 

Note the words "your good behaviour in Christ."  Throughout his letter, Peter speaks about "doing good" and now he qualifies this with the words "in Christ."  For the Christian, doing good must be within the boundaries set forth by Jesus.  Doing good must come from faith and what the Bible defines as doing good.  One can do good in a humanistic sense, and the good that is done might well have good results.  That being said, Christians do good, not merely from a humanistic perspective, but from a Biblical perspective.    

 

In verse 17 Peter tells his readers as well as us, that "it is better to suffer for doing good, if it is Godís will, than for doing evil."  This tells us that some suffering is Godís will and some suffering isn't His will.  Obviously, suffering because of our own foolishness, stupidity, and sin, is not Godís will.  We bring that on ourselves.  However, unjust suffering done against us that is beyond our control could be seen as God's will.  I say this because if you have handed your life over to Jesus; if He is in charge of your life', if He is directing your paths, then what ever comes your way, including unjust suffering, is His will.   

 

This tells me that when suffering comes our way, we should do our best to seek the Lord to see why the suffering is coming our way.  This may be easier said than done, but it is important to know why we are suffering.  Only then can we respond accordingly.

 

Part of the gospel message can be seen in verse 18.  Peter says the following.  "For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God."   The sentence begins with the word "for."  This connects this sentence to the last sentence.  The reason why we should endure unjust suffering is because "Jesus died unjustly for us all."  He was the righteous who died for the unrighteous.  We are to follow in His steps.  So, part of the reason for our unjust suffering is to lead the unrighteous to Jesus, just like Jesus did for us. 

 

"The righteous for the unrighteous" simply means that the righteous Jesus died for all of unrighteous humanity.  This shows the love of God for a lost humanity.  The words "once and for all" here are important.  In all of history, past, present, and future, there has been only one person who has died once and for all.  There has been only one sacrifice for our salvation.  There has been, neither will be, any other sacrifice.  This places Jesus as the only means to get to God the Father.  There is no other way.  There is no other sacrifice.  

 

Peter says that Jesus "was put to death in the body but was made alive by the Spirit."  It was only Jesusí body that died.  His spirit, who He is, did not die, even though there are some these days who believe His spirit died as well.  Jesus did not die spiritually.  That would be an impossibility.  He is God and God cannot die.  It was only His physical human body that suffered death, and by the Holy Spirit, His human body was raised into what we call a glorified body.  Some day, those of us who have given our lives to Jesus will have a similar glorified body.  

 

Verses 19 and 20 are interesting in the sense that many have had differing opinions over the years about the meaning of these verses.  It says that Jesus "went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah."  Many scholars believe this is in reference to those who died in disobedience before the flood in Genesis 6.  They believe their spirits were imprisoned.  This most likely is Hades.  The word Hades is used in other passages as a place of the dead.  See Acts 2:27 and 31, Romans 10:6-8, and Ephesians 4:8-10.  Peter says that while Jesusí body was dead, His spirit preached to these souls.  What did He preach?  Because the text does not say what He preached, we just don't know.  All that we might say would have to be qualified by saying it is speculation.     

 

As an aside to what I said above about some people believing that Jesus died spiritually, meaning He was no longer God, this verse says differently.  If Jesus' spirit preached to these souls, how could He have died spiritually?  

 

When Evangelical Christians see the word "preach" they most likely and often think in terms of preaching the gospel, but that does not necessarily mean that Jesus preached the gospel to these souls.   The Greek word "kerysso" is translated as "preached" here.  This word simply means to proclaim something.  Jesus might have well proclaimed judgment in the instance and not the gospel.  We just don't know what He proclaimed because the text does not say.  The Greek word "euaggelizzo" is often translated as "preach" in the New Testament, but not here.  It is where English derives its word "evangelize."  Again, this word simply means "to announce or proclaim."  It can be used in a variety of ways, not just preaching the gospel.

 

Further to what I said in the last paragraph, the Greek word "kerysso" was often used in Greek culture as a formal announcement of things.  Also, the Greek word "euaggelizzo" is the word the New Testament normally uses for preaching the gospel.  Therefore, since Peter does not use the word "euaggelizzo" in this verse, but uses the formal word "kerysso," it is quite possible that Peter is not saying that Jesus preached the gospel to these pre-flood spirits.   

There are some who believe that prior to the flood in Noah's day evil spirits somehow impregnated women that produced giants in the land as you will read in Genesis chapter 6.  Some people think it is the spirits of those people that Jesus preached to but again, that is speculative.

 

Some people believe what Peter means here is that the Spirit of Christ preached through Noah to those of his day prior to the flood. I'm not sure the text is saying this.

 

To be honest, I really do not know, at least not as yet, the full meaning to verses 19 and 20.  One thing I do believe though is that when Jesus died, and before He was raised from the dead, He descended into Hades and preached to the righteous saints of the Old Testament and frees them to be with Him in heaven.  I get this from Ephesians 4:8 to 10 where Paul says that Jesus first descended before He ascended.  That being said, this does not seem to be what Peter is talking about here.    

 

Peter points out that only eight people were saved in the ark.  The water that was a form of judgment and destruction on the wicked was a means of salvation for eight righteous people who were saved.  This is often the case when it comes to the way God works.  The cross of Christ itself was both a demonstration of God's wrath and judgment as well as a demonstration of His love, grace and salvation.  In the case of Noah, the water that judged the wicked brought salvation to the righteous who were in the ark.  This is what is meant by the phrase "through the water."   

 

Before going any farther I'd like to comment a bit on Romans 6:1 through 5.  Paul was being criticized because people thought he was promoting sin.  That is to say, the more we sin the more we can experience God's grace, but he wasn't saying that at all, and Romans 6 is his explanation.  In verse 3 he says that all who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death.  Verse 4 says that we were buried with Jesus through baptism into death.  The word "baptism" here and elsewhere is often in relation to death.  So, when Jesus died and was buried, in one real sense of the word, He was baptized into death, as I believe Paul is saying here. 

 

What I see Paul saying in Romans 6:3 and 4 is that because Jesus died on our behalf, from God's viewpoint, He sees us as dying as well.  Therefore, in one real sense of the word, we were buried with Jesus in that tomb.  This is how God saw the tomb.  In this sense of the word, we died to sin.  We were in fact baptized into death with Jesus, but it doesn't end there.

 

Paul goes on to say that when Jesus rose from the dead, from God's perspective, we were raised from the dead to because God sees us as being in Christ.  God sees us through the lens of Jesus.  When God sees Jesus, either in the tomb or raised to life, He sees the true believer.  

 

This is what water baptism is all about.  It's more than as symbolic gesture.  It's an acknowledgement of a literal historical fact, that being, in one real sense of the word from God's perspective, when Jesus died; we died, and, when Jesus rose from the dead, so did we.

 

In verse 21 Peter says that only "a few in it" were saved.  We should understand that the word "it" is in reference to the ark, not the water.  The water itself saved no one.  It was actually a baptism into death for all of humanity, except for the eight people of Noah's family.    

 

The next phrase Peter says is this.  "This water symbolized baptism that saves us."

 

It's debatable in some people's minds just what baptism that Peter is talking about here, although most see it as water baptism due to the context of Noah's flood and water.  Some suggest that Peter is speaking of the ceremonial washings that were Jewish traditions.  These washings symbolized the removal of unrighteousness in one's life.  This could be true because Peter says in verse 21 that "it's not the removal of dirt that saves us."  Again, Peter might well be thinking of Jewish traditions that are meaningless when it comes to salvation.

 

Probably the most common thinking here is that Peter is talking about water baptism.  If this is so, we should realize that it's not water baptism that is the symbol.  The symbol is the flood that represents water baptism.  We need to understand what baptism would have meant to Peter, if indeed he was speaking of water baptism.  I think we can learn how Peter would have thought about baptism by looking at the ministry of John the Baptist.  If you were one of the thousands of people coming to John to be water baptized, going under the water would have been more than just a symbol.  It would have been living proof of your repentance.  This was a serious matter for John.  He got very upset with those sent by the Pharisees who wanted to be water baptized but had no resemblance of repentance in their lives.  He told them to leave and make sure they showed him proof of repentance before coming back to be baptized.      

 

Another point to be made here is that Peter might not have been talking about water baptism at all here.  He might be talking about being baptized into death as I stated a few paragraphs back from Romans 6, which would make contextual sense.

Another controversial issue is the words that "baptism saves us."  The New Testament doesn't teach that any kind of thing we can do saves us.  It's a repentant heart that is demonstrated by one handing his life over to Jesus as Lord that saves us.  I believe this is what Peter is saying here when he speaks of a "pledge of a good conscience towards God" in verse 21.  That is faith.

 

What Peter says about baptism saving us has many interpretations.  It's my thinking at the moment that Peter's idea of water baptism was so intertwined with the fundamentals of salvation that he just simply saw it as an important part of the process of salvation.  When thinking in these terms, exercising just one part of the process of salvation saves no one.  For example, if one simply has faith, that faith, apart from repentance can't save him.  If one repents, but does not proceed to faith, that repentance does not save him.  If one is water baptized only, water baptism alone does not save him.              

 

Many believe that water baptism is symbolic of our death to self and our resurrection to a new life in Jesus.  I no longer speak of water baptism in terms of being symbolic of something, even death to self and faith to God.  I would put it this way.  Water baptism is a real demonstration of the fact that you in one real sense of the word have died with Jesus when He died on the cross.  It's an acknowledgement of that historical fact.  When God saw Jesus on the cross, because Jesus died in our place, God saw us on the cross as well.  In God's eyes, we did die with Jesus on that cross.  Acknowledging this fact is what water baptism is all about.    

   

As I said earlier, if you read the first part of Romans 6 you will clearly see that the death of Jesus is seen as a baptism.  Jesus, when He was buried in the tomb was in one real sense of the word "buried into death," and, when He was buried into death, in the sight of God, so were we.  So, when we get water baptized we are acknowledging the fact that we, in one real sense of the word as God views things, died with Jesus.  Like Jesus, we were baptized into death.  For this reason I know longer use the word "symbolize" in reference to water baptism.  I use the word "acknowledge" or something similar.  Water baptism is more than symbolic.  It's an acknowledgement of a real historic event with present implications in one's life.        

Again, baptism in itself can't save us.  If it could, then 
infant baptism would save every baby who has ever
been baptized, and this is certainly not New Testament
thinking.  That being said, we cannot relegate water baptism to some simple symbol that you can take or leave.   As far as I am concerned, a disciple of Jesus will be water baptized because his desire is to obey Jesus in all things.    

Others suggest that when you go under the water in baptism you literally die to sin and self.  They say that baptism is more than symbolic.  I think this is stretching water baptism beyond an unscriptural extreme.   They say this because Peter says "baptism that now saves you" in verse 21.  The reality of life is that even after one is water baptized he sins, so this thinking holds no merit for me.        

 

In verse 21 Peter states the foundation of our salvation, and it is the resurrection of Jesus.  We, thus, should understand the statement that baptism saves us in light of what Peter says here.  It's the resurrection that forms the basis of our salvation.  Our faith is based on the fact the Jesus rose from the dead.  If He had not risen from the dead our trust in Him would be futile.  Jesus did rise from the dead, and even more so, He also ascended into heaven and is at Godís right hand.  We cannot speak of the resurrection without speaking of the ascension.  The two go hand in hand.   

 

Notice the words "in it only a few were saved."  The word "it" refers to the ark.  It was the ark, not the flood of water that saved the eight people as many seem to think.  That's the context of the word "it."  It's also common sense.  Flood waters save no one.  The flood in Noah's day killed all who were not in the ark.           

 

So, to cap what I've just said.  The flood in Noah's day symbolizes water baptism.  Water baptism is not the symbol, and it's more than symbolic of death to self and faith in God.  It's a real demonstration of the fact that you died on the cross when Jesus died on the cross.  Water baptism is an important part of the salvation process, but it alone saves no one.     

 

In verse 22 Peter speaks of Jesus sitting at God's right hand.  First of all, I believe that this is anthropomorphic language.  It's using human terms to help explain a spirit God to us.  Does a spirit have a right hand? 

 

The people of Peterís day understood sitting at Godís right hand to be a place of universal authority.  It was an idiom that expressed the truth that Jesus now exists alongside God as the supreme authority over all there is.  Some day, as the Apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15, Jesus will hand all things over to His Father.  All that Jesus has authority over will be handed over to God Himself.  I see this taking place at the end of the book of Revelation when the heaven and earth flees from the presence of God and a new heaven and earth comes into existence.  

 

Peter closes this chapter by saying that Jesus, who is now in this place of authority, has the angels, authorities, and powers in submission to Him.  All the spiritual beings in heaven submit to Jesus.  The words, angels, authorities, and powers suggest that there are different levels in the angelic world.  We do know that throughout the Bible there is mention of different types of angelic beings, like cherubim and the beasts we see in the book of Revelation.  Angels appear to have various ranks and responsibilities.

 

Although I think these angelic beings here are good angels there are some who believe they are both good and evil angels, especially because Paul uses the same terminology in Ephesians 6 in reference to evil angels.  Whatever the case, in one real sense of the word, demons are in subjection to God, and that includes satan.  I don't believe that satan is allowed to do anything without God giving him the permission.          

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