1 Peter: An Apologetic For Resident Aliens 3:18-4:6
1 Peter 3:18-4:6: Life in the Flesh or in the Spirit?
“18For 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,19in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison,20because 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.21Baptism, 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,22who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. 1Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,2so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.3The time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.4With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you;5but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.6For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.”
Peter has been exhorting the church to live according to who they are in Christ, and here he stops again to remind us that we aren’t righteous in our own works, but we are made righteous by the only righteous entity in the universe, Jesus Christ. This follows the last passage which contrasts the righteous and the “evil.” It’s easy to think that we are righteous because of our actions, church involvement, etc, but we are made righteous by Christ “suffering for our sins.” Peter dives back into doctrine to remind us that our identity is in Him, not in our religious duty. Once again, he refers back to the Old Testament, and to the story of Noah to demonstrate that we are saved like Noah, who got into the ark that God told him how to build, so that he and his family would be saved from the pending judgment of God. It shows that God is meticulous about salvation and His own devices, not patterns that are created by men. Noah followed God’s instructions. The same is true of the anti-type, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is what saves us. Just like baptism, which is not the cleansing of our body (not the water or ceremony), but the truth of Christ’s work on the cross. Our “good conscience” and subsequent works come as a result of God working first on the cross, and then working the result of the cross in our lives. This is what changes lives: Jesus and His work!
- Why is it important that we are “put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit?”
- Why does our flesh need to be put to death? What is the meaning of this?
- Where does our “good conscience” come from?
- Why is this important?
- How does this affect or inform our life’s choices?