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18For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, 19in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, 20who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. 21And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

Good Stewards of God’s Grace

 4

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same intention (for whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin), 2so as to live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God. 3You have already spent enough time in doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry. 4They are surprised that you no longer join them in the same excesses of dissipation, and so they blaspheme. 5But they will have to give an accounting to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. 6For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does.


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18. Confirmation of 1Pe 3:17, by the glorious results of Christ's suffering innocently.

For—"Because." That is "better," 1Pe 3:17, means of which we are rendered more like to Christ in death and in life; for His death brought the best issue to Himself and to us [Bengel].

Christ—the Anointed Holy One of God; the Holy suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust.

also—as well as yourselves (1Pe 3:17). Compare 1Pe 2:21; there His suffering was brought forward as an example to us; here, as a proof of the blessedness of suffering for well-doing.

once—for all; never again to suffer. It is "better" for us also once to suffer with Christ, than for ever without Christ We now are suffering our "once"; it will soon be a thing of the past; a bright consolation to the tried.

for sins—as though He had Himself committed them. He exposed Himself to death by His "confession," even as we are called on to "give an answer to him that asketh a reason of our hope." This was "well-doing" in its highest manifestation. As He suffered, "The Just," so we ought willingly to suffer, for righteousness' sake (1Pe 3:14; compare 1Pe 3:12, 17).

that he might bring us to God—together with Himself in His ascension to the right hand of God (1Pe 3:22). He brings us, "the unjust," justified together with Him into heaven. So the result of Christ's death is His drawing men to Him; spiritually now, in our having access into the Holiest, opened by Christ's ascension; literally hereafter. "Bring us," moreover, by the same steps of humiliation and exaltation through which He Himself passed. The several steps of Christ's progress from lowliness to glory are trodden over again by His people in virtue of their oneness with Him (1Pe 4:1-3). "To God," is Greek dative (not the preposition and case), implying that God wishes it [Bengel].

put to death—the means of His bringing us to God.

in the flesh—that is, in respect to the life of flesh and blood.

quickened by the Spirit—The oldest manuscripts omit the Greek article. Translate with the preposition "in," as the antithesis to the previous "in the flesh" requires, "IN spirit," that is, in respect to His Spirit. "Put to death" in the former mode of life; "quickened" in the other. Not that His Spirit ever died and was quickened, or made alive again, but whereas He had lived after the manner of mortal men in the flesh, He began to live a spiritual "resurrection" (1Pe 3:21) life, whereby He has the power to bring us to God. Two ways of explaining 1Pe 3:18, 19, are open to us: (1) "Quickened in Spirit," that is, immediately on His release from the "flesh," the energy of His undying spirit-life was "quickened" by God the Father, into new modes of action, namely, "in the Spirit He went down (as subsequently He went up to heaven, 1Pe 3:22, the same Greek verb) and heralded [not salvation, as Alford, contrary to Scripture, which everywhere represents man's state, whether saved or lost, after death irreversible. Nor is any mention made of the conversion of the spirits in prison. See on 1Pe 3:20. Nor is the phrase here 'preached the Gospel' (evangelizo), but 'heralded' (ekeruxe) or 'preached'; but simply made the announcement of His finished work; so the same Greek in Mr 1:45, 'publish,' confirming Enoch and Noah's testimony, and thereby declaring the virtual condemnation of their unbelief, and the salvation of Noah and believers; a sample of the similar opposite effects of the same work on all unbelievers, and believers, respectively; also a consolation to those whom Peter addresses, in their sufferings at the hands of unbelievers; specially selected for the sake of 'baptism,' its 'antitype' (1Pe 3:21), which, as a seal, marks believers as separated from the rest of the doomed world] to the spirits (His Spirit speaking to the spirits) in prison (in Hades or Sheol, awaiting the judgment, 2Pe 2:4), which were of old disobedient when," &c. (2) The strongest point in favor of (1) is the position of "sometime," that is, of old, connected with "disobedient"; whereas if the preaching or announcing were a thing long past, we should expect "sometime," or of old, to be joined to "went and preached." But this transposition may express that their disobedience preceded His preaching. The Greek participle expresses the reason of His preaching, "inasmuch as they were sometime disobedient" (compare 1Pe 4:6). Also "went" seems to mean a personal going, as in 1Pe 3:22, not merely in spirit. But see the answer below. The objections are "quickened" must refer to Christ's body (compare 1Pe 3:21, end), for as His Spirit never ceased to live, it cannot be said to be "quickened." Compare Joh 5:21; Ro 8:11, and other passages, where "quicken" is used of the bodily resurrection. Also, not His Spirit, but His soul, went to Hades. His Spirit was commended by Him at death to His Father, and was thereupon "in Paradise." The theory—(1) would thus require that His descent to the spirits in prison should be after His resurrection! Compare Eph 4:9, 10, which makes the descent precede the ascent. Also Scripture elsewhere is silent about such a heralding, though possibly Christ's death had immediate effects on the state of both the godly and the ungodly in Hades: the souls of the godly heretofore in comparative confinement, perhaps then having been, as some Fathers thought, translated to God's immediate and heavenly presence; but this cannot be proved from Scripture. Compare however, Joh 3:13; Col 1:18. Prison is always used in a bad sense in Scripture. "Paradise" and "Abraham's bosom," the abode of good spirits in Old Testament times, are separated by a wide gulf from Hell or Hades, and cannot be called "prison." Compare 2Co 12:2, 4, where "paradise" and the "third heaven" correspond. Also, why should the antediluvian unbelievers in particular be selected as the objects of His preaching in Hades? Therefore explain: "Quickened in spirit, in which (as distinguished from in person; the words "in which," that is, in spirit, expressly obviating the objection that "went" implies a personal going) He went (in the person of Noah, "a preacher of righteousness," 2Pe 2:5: Alford's own Note, Eph 2:17, is the best reply to his argument from "went" that a local going to Hades in person is meant. As "He CAME and preached peace" by His Spirit in the apostles and ministers after His death and ascension: so before His incarnation He preached in Spirit through Noah to the antediluvians, Joh 14:18, 28; Ac 26:23. "Christ should show," literally, "announce light to the Gentiles") and preached unto the spirits in prison, that is, the antediluvians, whose bodies indeed seemed free, but their spirits were in prison, shut up in the earth as one great condemned cell (exactly parallel to Isa 24:22, 23 "upon the earth … they shall be gathered together as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison," &c. [just as the fallen angels are judicially regarded as "in chains of darkness," though for a time now at large on the earth, 1Pe 2:4], where 1Pe 3:18 has a plain allusion to the flood, "the windows from on high are open," compare Ge 7:11); from this prison the only way of escape was that preached by Christ in Noah. Christ, who in our times came in the flesh, in the days of Noah preached in Spirit by Noah to the spirits then in prison (Isa 61:1, end, "the Spirit of the Lord God hath sent me to proclaim the opening of the prison to them that are bound"). So in 1Pe 1:11, "the Spirit of Christ" is said to have testified in the prophets. As Christ suffered even to death by enemies, and was afterwards quickened in virtue of His "Spirit" (or divine nature, Ro 1:3, 4; 1Co 15:45), which henceforth acted in its full energy, the first result of which was the raising of His body (1Pe 3:21, end) from the prison of the grave and His soul from Hades; so the same Spirit of Christ enabled Noah, amidst reproach and trials, to preach to the disobedient spirits fast bound in wrath. That Spirit in you can enable you also to suffer patiently now, looking for the resurrection deliverance.

20. once—not in the oldest manuscripts.

when … the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah—Oldest manuscripts. Greek, "was continuing to wait on" (if haply men in the hundred twenty years of grace would repent) until the end of His waiting came in their death by the flood. This refutes Alford's idea of a second day of grace having been given in Hades. Noah's days are selected, as the ark and the destroying flood answer respectively to "baptism" and the coming destruction of unbelievers by fire.

while the ark was a-preparing—(Heb 11:7). A long period of God's "long-suffering and waiting," as Noah had few to help him, which rendered the world's unbelief the more inexcusable.

wherein—literally, "(by having entered) into which."

eight—seven (the sacred number) with ungodly Ham.

few—so now.

souls—As this term is here used of living persons, why should not "spirits" also? Noah preached to their ears, but Christ in spirit, to their spirits, or spiritual natures.

saved by water—The same water which drowned the unbelieving, buoyed up the ark in which the eight were saved. Not as some translate, "were brought safe through the water." However, the sense of the preposition may be as in 1Co 3:15, "they were safely preserved through the water," though having to be in the water.

21. whereunto—The oldest manuscripts read, "which": literally, "which (namely, water, in general; being) the antitype (of the water of the flood) is now saving (the salvation being not yet fully realized by us, compare 1Co 10:1, 2, 5; Jude 5; puts into a state of salvation) us also (two oldest manuscripts read 'you' for 'us': You also, as well as Noah and his party), to wit, baptism." Water saved Noah not of itself, but by sustaining the ark built in faith, resting on God's word: it was to him the sign and mean of a kind of regeneration, of the earth. The flood was for Noah a baptism, as the passage through the Red Sea was for the Israelites; by baptism in the flood he and his family were transferred from the old world to the new: from immediate destruction to lengthened probation; from the companionship of the wicked to communion with God; from the severing of all bonds between the creature and the Creator to the privileges of the covenant: so we by spiritual baptism. As there was a Ham who forfeited the privileges of the covenant, so many now. The antitypical water, namely, baptism, saves you also not of itself, nor the mere material water, but the spiritual thing conjoined with it, repentance and faith, of which it is the sign and seal, as Peter proceeds to explain. Compare the union of the sign and thing signified, Joh 3:5; Eph 5:26; Tit 3:5; Heb 10:22; compare 1Jo 5:6.

not the, &c.—"flesh" bears the emphasis. "Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh" (as is done by a mere water baptism, unaccompanied with the Spirit's baptism, compare Eph 2:11), but of the soul. It is the ark (Christ and His Spirit-filled Church), not the water, which is the instrument of salvation: the water only flowed round the ark; so not the mere water baptism, but the water when accompanied with the Spirit.

answerGreek, "interrogation"; referring to the questions asked of candidates for baptism; eliciting a confession of faith "toward God" and a renunciation of Satan ([Augustine, The Creed, 4.1]; [Cyprian, Epistles, 7, To Rogatianus]), which, when flowing from "a good conscience," assure one of being "saved." Literally, "a good conscience's interrogation (including the satisfactory answer) toward God." I prefer this to the translation of Wahl, Alford and others, "inquiry of a good conscience after God": not one of the parallels alleged, not even 2Sa 11:7, in the Septuagint, is strictly in point. Recent Byzantine Greek idiom (whereby the term meant: (1) the question; (2) the stipulation; (3) the engagement), easily flowing from the usage of the word as Peter has it, confirms the former translation.

by the resurrection of Jesus—joined with "saves you": In so far as baptism applies to us the power of Christ's resurrection. As Christ's death unto sin is the source of the believer's death unto, and so deliverance from, sin's penalty and power; so His resurrection life is the source of the believer's new spiritual life.

22. (Ps 110:1; Ro 8:34, 38; 1Co 15:24; Eph 1:21; 3:10; Col 1:16; 2:10-15). The fruit of His patience in His voluntary endured and undeserved sufferings: a pattern to us, 1Pe 3:17, 18.

gone—(Lu 24:51). Proving against rationalists an actual material ascension. Literally, "is on the right hand of God, having gone into heaven." The oldest manuscripts of the Vulgate and the Latin Fathers, add what expresses the benefit to us of Christ's sitting on God's right hand, "Who is on the right hand of God, having swallowed up death that we may become heirs of everlasting life"; involving for us A STATE OF LIFE, saved, glorious, and eternal. The Greek manuscripts, however, reject the words. Compare with this verse Peter's speeches, Ac 2:32-35; 3:21, 26; 10:40, 42.

1Pe 4:1-19. Like the Risen Christ, Believers Henceforth Ought to Have No More to Do with Sin.

As the end is near, cultivate self-restraint, watchful prayerfulness, charity, hospitality, scriptural speech, ministering to one another according to your several gifts to the glory of God: Rejoicing patience under suffering.

1. for us—supported by some oldest manuscripts and versions, omitted by others.

in the flesh—in His mortal body of humiliation.

arm—(Eph 6:11, 13).

the same mind—of suffering with patient willingness what God wills you to suffer.

he that hath suffered—for instance, Christ first, and in His person the believer: a general proposition.

hath ceased—literally, "has been made to cease," has obtained by the very fact of His having suffered once for all, a cessation from sin, which had heretofore lain on Him (Ro 6:6-11, especially, 1Pe 4:7). The Christian is by faith one with Christ: as then Christ by death is judicially freed from sin; so the Christian who has in the person of Christ died, has no more to do with it judicially, and ought to have no more to do with it actually. "The flesh" is the sphere in which sin has place.

2. That he, &c.—"That he (the believer, who has once for all obtained cessation from sin by suffering, in the person of Christ, namely, in virtue of his union with the crucified Christ) should no longer live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God" as his rule. "Rest of his time in the flesh" (the Greek has the preposition "in" here, not in 1Pe 4:1 as to Christ) proves that the reference is here not to Christ, but to the believer, whose remaining time for glorifying God is short (1Pe 4:3). "Live" in the truest sense, for heretofore he was dead. Not as Alford, "Arm yourselves … with a view no longer to live the rest of your time."

3. may sufficeGreek, "is sufficient." Peter takes the lowest ground: for not even the past time ought to have been wasted in lust; but since you cannot recall it, at least lay out the future to better account.

us—omitted in oldest manuscripts.

wroughtGreek, "wrought out."

Gentiles—heathen: which many of you were.

when, &c.—"walking as ye have done [Alford] in lasciviousness"; the Greek means petulant, immodest, wantonness, unbridled conduct: not so much filthy lust.

excess of wine—"wine-bibbings" [Alford].

abominable—"nefarious," "lawless idolatries," violating God's most sacred law; not that all Peter's readers (see on 1Pe 1:1) walked in these, but many, namely, the Gentile portion of them.

4. Wherein—In respect to which abandonment of your former walk (1Pe 4:3).

run not with them—eagerly, in troops [Bengel].

excess—literally, "profusion"; a sink: stagnant water remaining after an inundation.

riot—profligacy.

speaking evil—charging you with pride, singularity, hypocrisy, and secret crimes (1Pe 4:14; 2Pe 2:2). However, there is no "of you" in the Greek, but simply "blaspheming." It seems to me always to be used, either directly or indirectly, in the sense of impious reviling against God, Christ, or the Holy Spirit, and the Christian religion, not merely against men as such; Greek, 1Pe 4:14, below.

5. They who now call you to account falsely, shall have to give account themselves for this very evil-speaking (Jude 15), and be condemned justly.

ready—very speedily (1Pe 4:7; 2Pe 3:10). Christ's coming is to the believer always near.

6. For—giving the reason for 1Pe 4:5, "judge the dead."

gospel preached also to … dead—as well as to them now living, and to them that shall be found alive at the coming of the Judge. "Dead" must be taken in the same literal sense as in 1Pe 4:5, which refutes the explanation "dead" in sins. Moreover, the absence of the Greek article does not necessarily restrict the sense of "dead" to particular dead persons, for there is no Greek article in 1Pe 4:5 also, where "the dead" is universal in meaning. The sense seems to be, Peter, as representing the true attitude of the Church in every age, expecting Christ at any moment, says, The Judge is ready to judge the quick and dead—the dead, I say, for they, too, in their lifetime, have had the Gospel preached to them, that so they might be judged at last in the same way as those living now (and those who shall be so when Christ shall come), namely, "men in the flesh," and that they might, having escaped condemnation by embracing the Gospel so preached, live unto God in the spirit (though death has passed over their flesh), Lu 20:38, thus being made like Christ in death and in life (see on 1Pe 3:18). He says, "live," not "made alive" or quickened; for they are supposed to have been already "quickened together with Christ" (Eph 2:5). This verse is parallel to 1Pe 3:18; compare Note, see on 1Pe 3:18. The Gospel, substantially, was "preached" to the Old Testament Church; though not so fully as to the New Testament Church. It is no valid objection that the Gospel has not been preached to all that shall be found dead at Christ's coming. For Peter is plainly referring only to those within reach of the Gospel, or who might have known God through His ministers in Old and New Testament times. Peter, like Paul, argues that those found living at Christ's coming shall have no advantage above the dead who shall then be raised, inasmuch as the latter live unto, or "according to," God, even already in His purpose. Alford's explanation is wrong, "that they might be judged according to men as regards the flesh," that is, be in the state of the completed sentence on sin, which is death after the flesh. For "judged" cannot have a different meaning in this verse from what "judge" bears in 1Pe 4:5. "Live according to God" means, live a life with God, such as God lives, divine; as contrasted with "according to men in the flesh," that is, a life such as men live in the flesh.




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