1 Peter 3: 18-22… What does it mean?

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.

4 thoughts on “1 Peter 3: 18-22… What does it mean?

  1. I heard a very interesting sermon in the Baptist Church at Highfields on this same text years ago. I scribbled some notes and the page is in my bible with all the references…very hard to decipher after all these years. But there is a note there that Jesus went to preach to the “fallen angels”. I have ref to 1 Peter 4: 6 after that. 1 Cor 15:4-28 plus a few other references…….I’ll have to take a look at them again. Many thanks for your thoughts on these passages Barry.


  2. Thanks for your thoughts. I have found Don Carson, whom you can hear on Youtube, very helpful. I’m not sure about the fallen angels having a chance to repent. I’m happy to leave it in God’s hands. Certainly the ‘all things under His feet’ in 1 Corinthians 15, may either mean all things related to the Universe as we know it or the spirit world as well. For daily living we don’t need to know. Robin much appreciates the Wednesday events.


    1. Exactly. There are many mysteries we do not need to know. Jesus has made eternal life poss9ble for us through his death on the cross………where he went in those 3 days is his business……but curious people like us like to know.!!


  3. Thank you Barry for your comments on this passage. It is most interesting to contemplate that Noah and his wife, and their 3 sons and their wives plus the animals in the Ark were the only ones saved at that point in time. Everyone else was destined for hell. They had heard Noah preaching God’s message for the whole time he was building the Ark, but none of the people listened and believed him. Several thousand years later, there are still people who do not believe in God, and His Son Jesus Christ whom He sent into the world to bring Salvation to those who do believe. God bless you.


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