March 14 - 1 Peter 3:13-22

Friday, March 14, 2014

1 Peter 3:13-22 – Suffering

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”  But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits—to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

The first question Peter asks here is rhetorical, yet even though we do what is good - persecution will still occur.  Matthew 5:10-12 is the original beatitude (blessedness) that Peter is remembering and then he continues by quoting Isaiah 8:12-13.  Christians shouldn't fear their enemies, but should instead, fear God (Matthew 10:28). And in that reverent fear of God, Christians ultimately have nothing to be afraid of if they are doing good. Our salvation and eternal life is assured.

We are to honor Christ as holy. Now this might seem obvious, because of course he is, but what Peter is exhorting us to do is to revere only Christ … to fear only Jesus. Setting anyone else above Jesus to receive our reverence and fear is unacceptable. He says that we are to do this 'in our hearts.' The heart (Greek – kardia), is the central core of the human in Peter's belief. It is here that love begins for the Christian.

We read in 1 Peter 3:4, that women were to let their adornment be the hidden person of the heart and in 1 Peter 1:22 that with sincere brotherly love, we are to love one another earnestly from a pure heart. This is the deepest part of a person's core … the heart and it is here that we are to make Christ holy and to acknowledge him as above all else.

In our acknowledgement of Jesus Christ, we are to always be prepared. He has given us hope, we should never fail to tell others about that hope, but always with gentleness and respect. Since Peter uses the terminology of "make a defense

We are to imitate Christ. If we think that our suffering is too much, Christ suffered for absolutely no reason other than to save us. He was the righteous one and died for people He would never meet, simply because they could never atone for their unrighteousness.  All of this was done for us so that we could have full access to the throne room.  Paul says the same thing in Ephesians 2:18, 3:12 and in Romans 5:2.

1 Peter 3:19-20 are difficult verses to interpret. Even Luther admitted to not knowing what Peter meant. Most scholars interpret this passage according to the book of Enoch which does not exist in most of our Bibles. However, the spirits may be the evil angels from Genesis 6:1-4 who were imprisoned because of their sin – having sex with human women. This isn't so much about him descending into hell, but Jesus' victory over all evil, including those powers. Peter links Christ's victory over sin throughout the ages to the baptism that Noah's family faced – coming through the flood that destroyed earth.  All angels, authorities and power will be in submission to Him.

Sin caused mankind to suffer. Christ is victorious over sin, from the beginning of time until the end. The greatest moment of baptism … clearing away the sins of the earth … during the flood of Noah's time is reflected in the symbolic baptism we now receive.

Holiness sometimes means more on the inside than it does on the outside.