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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

April 10, 2013

1 Peter 3:17-22, 4:1-6

  1. Verses 17-19. We will continue to look at the idea that the believer may have to suffer for the sake of the gospel. Peter’s main argument in these verses is that physical suffering for the sake of the faith, as bad as it may seem, will always work out in a spiritual victory. Physical suffering doesn’t feel good, but it works out as a good in the end. Peter’s test case for this theological stance is that Christ suffered, but was victorious through his death. The death of Christ was the vehicle to his victory over sin. His physical suffering, for righteousness, led to a spiritual victory. Peter declares that his death brought us to God. We could not have been brought to God without the death of Christ. Even though he suffered in the body he was made alive in the Spirit. Because he died as a perfect lamb without sin, death had no claim on Him so when he was released from the body in spirit form he preached to those who were locked in the spiritual prison of death. We are not sure what he preached because Peter does not say. That is not the main issue of the text. The issue is that his death released him in the spirit to preach to those who were in the spirit. Righteous suffering had a spiritual benefit. Death became a vehicle of victory.

  2. Verses 20-22. Peter mentions Noah in this passage, to remind the people that even in the days of Noah, Noah was a righteous man in a corrupt world. God saw the righteous Noah and saved his family, but the unrighteous world was not spared the judgment of God. Their salvation came through their obedience to find shelter prior to the judgment. Their faith in God led to their salvation. Those that didn’t believe were not spared when the floods came. In the same way Peter compares the believer’s faith in Christ with a saving ark that will provide safety in the coming judgment of God. Their faith in Christ, even though it might bring suffering, will work itself out as a saving ark during the judgment. The salvation for the believers is not found in an outer flood of water, but in an inward faith in Christ, who was victorious over death by his resurrection and who reigns as King of Kings.

  3. Chapter 4:1-5. Now that we have this saving faith in Christ, Peter tells his audience that the only real response to the works of Christ is to take on the same mindset. Christ’s example was that he pursued the things of God and not the things of the flesh. Sinful man is marked by his pursuit of pleasure. Christ was marked by obedience to the Father. The response of the believer is to stop chasing the things of the world and the flesh, and pursue the will of God. This may cause some physical discomfort, but it will always lead to a spiritual reward. Peter tells his audience that they had spend the first half of their lives pursuing pleasures, now they must use the time that they have left in this life doing the things of God. Before we were identified with Christ at salvation, we used to live in the same way unbelievers still live. Our former lifestyle, like theirs, was characterized by fleshly self-indulgence. We endeavored to fill the cup of human pleasure to overflowing. But when we were turned to faith in Christ all that changed. And now, our new lifestyle not only puzzles unbelievers, it threatens them. It makes them look bad. It might make them feel guilty. And so we are talked about for doing good works. The unrighteous may indulge in the flesh now and persecute those who pursue righteousness. But their pleasure is only momentary, just as the suffering of the righteous is temporary. Like those who lived in Noah’s day (3:19-20), the wicked must someday stand before the One who is ready to judge both the living and the dead (verse 5).

  4. Verse 6. Peter reminds the reader that their brothers in Christ who are already dead, suffered as they were judged by the men of this world, but received a spiritual victory of eternal life. Their suffering did not bring about a tragedy but a triumph. These believers, who died in Christ, suffered for the faith because they chose to serve God and not their flesh.

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