Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Once For All

"For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons were brought safely through water.  Baptism which corresponds to this, 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, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him."  1 Peter 3:18-22 (ESV)

Explanation for 1 Peter 3:18-22 from The MacArthur Study Bible, page 1894-1895.

"3:18 For Christ also suffered.  Peter wished to encourage his readers in their suffering by again reminding them that even Christ suffered unjustly because it was God's will (v. 17).  Ultimately, however, Christ was marvelously triumphant to the point of being exalted to the right hand of God while all of those demon beings who were behind his suffering were made forever subject to him (v.22).  God also caused Peter's suffering readers to triumph.   once for sins. Under the Old Covenant, the Jewish people offered sacrifice after sacrifice, and then repeated it all the next year, especially at the Passover.  But Christ's one sacrifice for sins was of such perpetual validity that it was sufficient for all and would never need to be repeated (see notes on Heb. 7:27; 9:26-28).  the righteous for the unrighteous.  This is another statement of the sinlessness of Jesus (cf. Heb 7:26) and of his substitutionary and vicarious atonement.  He, who personally never sinned and had no sin nature, took the place of sinners (cf. 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Cor. 5:21) in so doing, Christ satisfied God's just penalty for sin required by the law and opened the way to God for all who repentantly believe (cf John 14:6; Acts 4:12).  bring us to God.  In this life spiritually, and in the next life, wholly (cf. Mark 15:38).  put to death in the flesh.  A violent physical execution that terminated his earthly life (cf. Heb. 5:7).  alive in the spirit.  This is not a reference to the Holy Spirit, but to Jesus' true inner life, his own spirit.  Contrasted with his flesh (humanness), which was dead for three days, his spirit (deity) was alive, lit., "in spirit" (cf. Luke 23:46).

3:19 proclaimed.  Between Christ's death and resurrection, his living spirit went to the demon spirits bound in the abyss and proclaimed that, in spite of his death, he had triumphed over them (see notes on Col. 2:14-15).  spirits in prison.  This refers to fallen angels (demons), who were permanently bound because of heinous wickedness.  The demons who are not so bound resist such a sentence (cf. Luke 8:31).  In the end, they will all be sent to the eternal lake of fire (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10).

3:20 did not obey. . . in the days of Noah.  Peter further explains that the abyss is inhabited by bound demons who have been there since the time of Noah, and who were sent there because they severely overstepped the bounds of God's tolerance with their wickedness.  The demons of Noah's day were running riot through the earth, filling the world with their wicked, vile, anti-God activity, including sexual sin, so that even 120 years of Noah's preaching, while the ark was being built, could not convince any of the human race beyond the eight people in Noah's family to believe in God (see notes on 2 Pet. 2:4-5; Jude 6-7; cf. Gen. 6:1-8).  Thus God bound these demons permanently in the abyss until their final sentencing.   safely through water.  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 (see note on Acts 2:38).

3:21  corresponds to this, now saves you.  Peter is teaching that the fact that eight 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 Christ, the ark of one's salvation.    Baptism. . . through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Peter is not at all referring to water baptism here, but rather a figurative immersion into union with Christ as an ark of safety from the judgment of God.  The resurrection of Christ demonstrates God's acceptance of Christ's substitutionary death for the sins of those who believe (Acts 2:30-31; Rom. 1:4).  Judgment fell on Christ just as the judgment of the flood waters fell on the ark.  The believer who is in Christ is thus in the ark of safety that will sail over the waters of judgment into eternal glory (cf. Rom. 6:1-4).   not as a removal of dirt from the body.  To be sure he is not misunderstood, Peter clearly says he is not speaking of water baptism.  In Noah's flood, they were kept out of the water while those who went into the water were destroyed.  Being in the ark and thus saved from God's judgment on the world prefigures being in Christ and thus saved from eternal damnation.   an appeal to God for a good conscience.  The word for "appeal" has the idea of a pledge, agreeing to certain conditions of a covenant (the New Covenant) with God.  What saves a person plagued by sin and a guilty conscience is not some external rite, but the agreement with God to get in the ark of safety, the Lord Jesus, by faith in his death and resurrection (cf. Rom. 10:9-10; Heb. 9:14; 10:22).

3:22 right hand of God.  After Jesus accomplished his cross work and was raised from the dead, he was exalted to the place of prominence, honor, majesty, authority, and power (cf. Rom. 8:34; Eph.1:20-21; Phil. 2:9-11; Heb. 1:3-9; 6:20; 8:1; 12:2).  The point of application to Peter's readers is that suffering can be the context for one's greatest triumph, as seen in the example of the Lord Jesus."

Let's pray:  Dear Lord Jesus, Thank You for Your suffering for us.  Your sacrifice is everything to me.  I want to lift up to You those who are reading this today and are suffering.  I pray that You will comfort those who are suffering and deliver them from their suffering.  I pray for healing for those who need Your healing.  I pray for those who are unsaved and those who think they do not need saving.  I pray for their salvation so they too may be in that "ark of safety" because of what You, our Lord Jesus Christ, did for us.  I say these things in Jesus' name. Amen.


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