Today you should read: 1 Peter 3:13-22
Apologetics & Suffering
Today we read one of the most popular passages in Scripture among Christians when discussing the importance of apologetics (the defense of our Christian faith).
1 Peter 3:15 says:
but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
I can write a whole sermon, let alone small devotion on this passage alone but I’d rather take the time to focus on its surrounding verses. Before and after Paul mentions the importance of defending our faith (always be prepared, you will be asked when showing the hope within you) and how to do it (with gentleness and respect), he shares the context in which the church is to share their faith. That context is one of suffering. This is important because I think it’s easiest to defend our beliefs when our beliefs seem to be profiting us. But can we honor Christ as Holy in our hearts and defend our faith when it seems like the world is crumbling around us (vs. 14, 16 & 17). Can you defend God’s Word concerning the sanctity of marriage when labeled as a bigot for doing so? Can you tell someone that there is only one way to Heaven when called simple-minded for saying so? Can you share the Gospel when that very Gospel message will put your life and families’ life in danger for doing so? If you thought defending your faith was already hard enough, read beyond verse 15 and see the context in which Peter is telling us to do so. Thankfully, we’re reminded that it was God’s Will for Christ to suffer for us and, like Jesus; we are blessed and many times used by God when suffering for the Gospel (vs. 17-18).
Now for the two confusing and at times controversial topics in the chapter:
Jesus preaches to the “imprisoned spirits” who didn’t listen to Noah? (vs. 18-20)
These passages have been interpreted in three different ways. Two that fit along with our general orthodoxy of Christian faith and one that does not. The first interpretation explains the “imprisoned spirits” as actual lost human beings from Noah’s day who are now suffering judgment for lack of obedience and faith. The Spirit of Christ was actually speaking through Noah as an OT prophet and was trying to save them from God’s upcoming wrath. This passage just brings this up as it refers to the waters of the flood as they relates to the next controversial subject in this chapter, baptism. This belief was held by many church fathers like Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and somewhat John Calvin.
The second interpretation is that the “imprisoned spirits” are fallen angels who are in hell waiting for the final judgment. The message Christ proclaimed would’ve been one of final victory over sin, Satan, these fallen angels and death instead of a proclamation of salvation for the demons. The following link helps explain this interpretation. http://www.gotquestions.org/spirits-in-prison.html
The third interpretation is that Jesus actually went to hell and offered salvation to lost souls. This goes against much of Scripture which indicates that our opportunity to respond to the Gospel is only here on earth (Luke 16:26, Heb. 9:27).
Baptism as a means of salvation? (vs. 21-22)
The last two passages talk about baptism and the ark of Noah. In both illustrations, the waters of baptism and the waters surrounding Noah’s ark (I’m pretty stoked for the upcoming Russell Crowe Noah flick, by the way) represent a sense of God’s judgment and that the ark and Jesus save us from that judgment. Some people like to use this passage to justify the false doctrine of baptism being necessary for salvation because it says “Baptism… now saves you” but those people seem to ignore the following sentence “not as a removal of dirt from the body” which indicates that the passing of water over the body does not cleanse anyone. When Peter wrote vs. 21 he was saying that what baptism represents saves you; just like Lord’s Supper and the covenant of marriage don’t save someone. It’s what each one of these things represent that does the miraculous work of salvation; and what they all represent is the Gospel clearly proclaimed in verse 18:
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,
Posted by: Erik Koliser