1 Peter Inductive Bible Study Lesson 10
1 Peter 3:8-22
1 Peter 3:8-13
- Who is the “all” of v. 8 to whom these verses have primary application in the context of 3:1-13?
- What is the message of verses 8-13?
1 Peter 3:14
- What is the message of v. 14a?
- What is the message of v. 14b, but fear you not the fear of them, nor be troubled?
1 Peter 3:15
- What is the message of this verse?
1 Peter 3:16, 17
- What is the message of these verses?
1 Peter 3:18
- What is the significance of the fact this verse starts with the words “For Christ also died. . . .”? Note; The Greek translates, “Because indeed (hoti kai) Christ… died….”
- What is the message of the phrase, “having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit”? Note; The Greek can be translated, “being put to death on one hand in flesh, on the other quickened in spirit.” See Spirit of Prophecy materials for help with an answer. (In the opinion of this writer there is not enough information given for a full contextual definition.) Note also that the definite article, “the,” before spirit is supplied by the translators in the NASB.
1 Peter 3:19, 20
- What is the message of these verses? Note the words “then when” (Grk) in v. 20a. What significance would there be to translating the first word of v. 19 (Greek ev) with the english word “by”—a proper translation.
1 Peter 3:21, 22
- What is the significance of baptism in these verses?
- What is the message of verse 21?
- What does verse 22 add to the message of vv. 18-21?
1 Peter 3:8-13
- In the context of 3:1-7 the counsel in verses 8-13 is to husbands and wives; in the context of 1 Peter it is all the people addressed in chapters 1 and 2, in addition to the husbands and wives of 3:1-7.
- Be kind to those you are surrounded with, no matter how they treat you, because when you do right the Lord knows and answers your prayers.
Note: Here women are by implication threatened with unanswered prayers if they do not do righteously—as were men in v. 7.
1 Peter 3:14
- The presence of suffering in one’s life, whatever nature that suffering may take, if it is caused by right doing, is to be recognized as being accompanied by the blessing of the Lord.
- Verse 14b adds to 14a by stating that in those situations where it can be seen before that doing right will bring suffering, we are not to be afraid of the persecutor, or be troubled; don’t be afraid of them.
But the phrase in 14b can be translated “but fear ye not the fear of them” with the meaning of “don’t fear their fear.” Don’t be afraid of that of which “they,” people who don’t do righteously and receive the blessing of God, are afraid. God will provide for you. God’s people are not to have the same things to fear that people who don’t obey God have to fear.
1 Peter 3:15
- Make Christ the ruler of your life, not fearing anything, believing that His thoughts toward you are to give you blessings, even when you see trouble coming; so that you can with meekness and fear (see above under vv. 1, 2g) explain your faith, even while you suffer—if that is necessary. (This message comes from putting vv. 14 and 15 together.)
1 Peter 3:16, 17
- Verse 17 repeats the teaching of v. 14, if you are to suffer because it is the will of God, let it be because of good done rather than for evil done.
Verse 16 adds by implication that if you suffer unjustly, God will vindicate you. The when of vindication is not stated in these verses.
1 Peter 3:18
- The words “because indeed” (“For Christ also. …” NASB), indicates the thought of the preceding verses is being continued. We are to suffer injustice quietly, because Christ, our Example, did.
- In english we sometimes express the thought that something is both a blessing and a non-blessing. On the one hand, it’s good; on the other hand— well, maybe not so good.
The conjunction in such a sentence structure can be described as a disjunctive conjunction, or a conjunction of contrast.
The issue relevant to our text is to notice that in such linguistic constructions one event has two related but quite different effects.
In our verse Christ is clearly said to have died once (and only once — Grk. hapax) that He might bring us to God; this is the one event, while to be put to death in the flesh and made alive in spirit are the two effects or results.
That Jesus died on the cross is what is meant by “having been put to death in the flesh,” seems quite clear, but the significance of the declaration that He was at the same time “made alive in spirit” is not so clear. Therefore we will quote from the Spirit of Prophecy material regarding Christ’s experience in death, as we attempt to understand the message of this passage.
“Was the human nature of the Son of Mary changed into the divine nature of the Son of God? No; the two natures were mysteriously blended in one person–the man Christ Jesus. In Him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. When Christ was crucified, it was His human nature that died. Deity did not sink and die; that would have been impossible” (5SDABC 1113).
In my opinion Mrs. White’s statement explains somewhat Peter’s presentation of Christ’s death experience on the cross.
1 Peter 3:19,20
- The general message of these two verses is, to me, easy; the Spirit appealed to people to believe the message of Noah which was proclaimed to them while the ark was being built.
Proving this to be the message of these verses exegetically is difficult because these verses contain in verse 19 two concepts that are unique in Scripture.
The first is the words “spirits in prison;” the second concept is that Christ went (someplace) and preached to spirits in prison “by spirit,” or, “in spirit” — the same spirit that was made alive or that made Him alive in v. 18.
The phrase “spirits in prison” is unique in Scripture. It is often understood by commentators as referring to dead people; making the phrase to say that Christ died on the cross and then went by the spirit that made Him alive and preached to those dead who had heard the gospel preached while Noah was building the ark. (See for example a commentary on 1 Peter such as The Letters of James and Peter. by William Barclay, where he writes,
“So, then, it must first of all be remembered that this whole matter is to be thought of, … in terms of Christ’s going to the dead in their grey and shadowy world” (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, May 1960, p. 281).
But such a concept is not the result of good Biblical understanding. According to scripture when a man dies his spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecc 12:7); therefore it does not go to be in prison.
It is true that in the Spirit of Prophecy materials the grave is often represented as a prison, but in harmony with the teaching of Scripture, the spirit of man, in the Spirit of Prophecy materials, goes back to God at death (i.e., P.K. 82; 6 SDABC 1093).
Note the following regarding death as a prison house in Mrs. White’s materials:
“I saw that the hope of the bereaved is in looking forward to the glorious day when the Life-giver shall break the fetters of the tomb, and the righteous dead shall arise and leave their prison house to be clothed with glorious immortal life” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 40). (For other references to death as a prison house see, Sons and Daughters of God, p. 359; The Great Controversy, p. 644; Sons and Daughters of God, p. 358, etc.)
There is another problem with having these verses teach that Christ went after His death and before His resurrection and did anything; Christ was in the tomb as the prisoner of divine justice. He had arrived there by following God’s plan for His life. Therefore while He had the power to lay down His life and to take it up again, He would not leave the grave before He was called by His Father. His Father only could release Him, and relieve Him from the debt for which He had become responsible. The Father called Him Sunday morning (D.A. 779, 780; Y.I. 508, 509).
So what should we understand by carefully reading these verses? To answer let’s first translate them from the Greek.
v. 19. By which also going to the spirits in prison he proclaimed.
v. 20. To disobeying ones (dat. plural, masculine, participle, aor.1), then when (pote hote) was waiting the longsuffering of God in the days of Noah, an ark being prepared (pres. pass, ptc.), into which a few, this is eight souls were brought safely (were rescued—3 pl aor.1 pass.) through water.
The meaning of these verses becomes somewhat clear when we note the time in which the described action took place. The phrase “then when” linguistically designates the time of the proclamation— the time during which the ark was being built. The first three words of this verse, “by which also” serve to emphasize this time element. Therefore, the action described in verse 20 is an account of another work by the Spirit—in addition to the act in v. 18d.
To this writer the message of these verses is that even when God was preparing to destroy the evil people He was yet seeking their salvation.
The spirit of man is evil or the spirit of man is good. The people here referred to were in a prison of their own making; they were prisoners of their own passions and appetites because they were rejecting the message proclaimed to them. The water sent by God through which the eight obedient ones were saved was the same water that destroyed the rebellious.
Whether man’s spirit is good or evil, whether his spirit is in prison or free, depends on his obedience or disobedience to the proclamations of God. The law of God is the law of liberty. I am free because I keep His law.
The reason Peter presents this material to us is one of the harder issues that comes out of these verses. But certain points seem clearly to be being presented to us by him, such as the following.
Spirit was part of the activity connected with the death of Christ on the cross. Whether this spirit is seen as man’s, or, the Holy Spirit, v. 19, this work was a success. Spirit was again involved in the proclamation to those who were, in the vast majority, destroyed by the flood, though a way of escape was available. This work was therefore not a success.
The common element, and thus the key to the message Peter intended us to receive, appears to be that when Christ suffered unjustly for wrongs, trusting Himself to God, the spirit was successful; when the people rejected the guidance of God, at the time of the flood, the work of the Spirit was negated, the work of the spirit was not successful, and they were lost.
Peter is here setting before us the fact that we can in spite of the spirit reject the message of God and the man of God, and fail of realizing the salvation being provided by God.
The great event of the flood displays to us, as Peter sets it before us, that a spirit as great as that of v. 18 can’t save us if we act like the people of Noah’s time — even with God’s longsufferingnesses.
In a sentence, to resist God’s appeal by the Spirit is to perish; but not because the Spirit is defective.
These verses also set forth the pre-existence of Christ, His work as a Savior long before His incarnation, and the longtime cooperation of Christ and the Spirit.
There is a sentence in Mrs. White’s materials that reads as follows: “It is the word of God that creates the flowers, and the same word will produce in you the graces of His Spirit” (Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 97; quotation #22 from the introduction to this document).
The message of this verse is very clear. The way the message is worded is very interesting. In the phrase “It is the word of God that creates the flowers” there is no reference to the Bible. In the phrase “the same word will produce in you the graces of His Spirit” we know the bible is a portion of that which is referred to as the “word of God.” Notice again another quotation from above:
“God is saying to all who are dead in sin ‘awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead.’ Eph5:14 That word is eternal life….that word, ‘arise from the dead,’ is life to the soul that receives it. … It is all offered to us in His word. If we receive the word, we have the deliverance” (The Desire of Ages, p. 320; quotation #6 from the introduction to this document).
In our text we have a parallel type of construction to that which occurs in the Spirit of Prophecy material just quoted. Verse 18, the last clause reads, “quickened in spirit,” while the first phrase of verse 19 reads, “by which also to the spirits in prison going. …”
Read together as they were written they read “quickened in spirit by which also to the spirits in prison going he proclaimed. …”
The first appearance of the word spirit is a reference to the spirit of Christ— man is a three-part being, body, soul, and spirit.
The second occurrence of the word spirit which is implied, is a reference to the Holy Spirit, by which the appeals of God to men’s hearts are applied. <
The work ascribed to Christ in these verses is formulated in a manner that makes it original in Scripture, preaching to spirits in prison, but though the formula is original the work described is a familiar theme.
Notice Ps 142:7 where David prays that God will bring out his soul from prison, while Isaiah has passages that are more directly parallel to our passage in 1 Peter. Notice Isa 42:1, 7. “Behold my Servant, whom I uphold; mine elect in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my Spirit upon him. … To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house,” and again in Isa 61:1: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.”
1 Peter 3:21, 22
- It is the proper response to God which results in a cleansing of us other than the mere external cleansing of the flesh, a cleansing made available through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which saves us.
- We know that the baptism cleansing is necessary because through water (v. 20) the survivors of the flood were saved. In both cases salvation comes by obeying God’s message; for “them,” getting into the boat, and for us obedience to the message of Christ. In both cases salvation comes through water.
- Verse 22 adds that we are not the only ones who obey Christ; angels and authorities and powers in Heaven itself are also subject to Him.
By implication these verses tell us that when we become obedient to Christ we join a very great group! We join together with the powers of heaven. Obedience to Christ elevates; it does not join us to a group of slaves.