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, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because 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. Baptism, 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, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
Comment: I am going a bit beyond just what the passage says but I think that as gentiles reading this we don’t have the background of thinking to fill in what Peter is saying. It is a difficult passage and could use a whole sermon!
*Not long before Peter wrote this, Jesus died, was buried and rose again. He died as a man (although He was truly God) but He rose again with a ‘spiritual body’ He could just disappear as if through a solid wall.
*Prior to that from the fall in Eden to His coming as a man on earth, in His spirit, Jesus had pleaded with mankind to turn to God. Peter highlights that at the time of Noah when, apart from 8 people, all rejected His calling them, through Noah’s preaching, to repent. They were drowned and are now in hell. Since he is talking about Noah Peter says that the 8 were saved by water. That is only an incomplete statement but the ‘through water’ is used to encapsulate the years of preaching, the building of the ark and the gracious act of God in saving them from the same destruction that the others experienced.
*For the present – Now the ‘formula’ for becoming a Christian is ‘repent, believe, be baptised and experience a new life’. And Peter labels that all as baptism. Peter expands his usage of baptism to mean ‘the formula’ above – ‘Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, …. as an appeal to God for a good conscience, (repentance) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, (the act of Christ at Easter) who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God.’ (our Advocate and High Priest). And we have our Saviour sitting at the right hand of God in victory!
Prayer: Open my eyes, to understand your word, please Father God.