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1 Peter 3

1-2 Just as all Christians should submit to their rulers, and all workers to their employers, so in the same way should wives be subject to their husbands. In a family, the husband is the head of the wife (see 1 Corinthians 11:3,7-9; Ephesians 5:22-24 and comments; General Article: Christian Marriage).

Do not fear what they fear” is a quotation from Isaiah 8:12. Peter’s meaning is that we believers should not fear the things that other people fear. Other people fear the loss of their wealth. Or they fear the loss of health—they fear death. These are things that believers in Christ do not need to fear.

15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. In our hearts Christ must be the Lord. It must not be we who reign in our hearts, but Christ. No longer can we Christians do what we want; we must do only what He wants. We are no longer the ruler of our lives: He is.

Christ is the ruler, and we are His messengers or ambassadors. In a sense, we are His lips and tongue here on earth. Therefore, we must always be ready to witness to Christ. Peter says here that we must give people the reason for the hope that we have. Christ is our hope (1 Timothy 1:1). Paul writes: Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). If anyone asks us about our hope, about our Lord, let us be ready at once to give that person an answer. If someone shows even a little interest, let us be ready to share our faith with him. Most Christians remain silent. Why? Are we ashamed of our Lord? Are we afraid of man?

But when we witness to others, let us do so with gentleness and respect. We do not need to speak forcefully. We must never put others down. We must never argue, or give offense. Because if a person is offended by our manner of speaking, he will not listen to the words we speak.

Surely, as Peter wrote this verse, he remembered his own experience. Three times Peter had denied His Lord. He had been afraid then. He certainly had not been ready to witness to Christ. He answered those who questioned him neither with gentleness nor with respect—nor with truth! (see Mark 14:66-72). Therefore, let us not be discouraged when we fall; if Peter could overcome his early sins and weaknesses, so can we.

16 We must keep a clear conscience. If

our conscience is unclean—that is, if sin is hidden in our hearts—we will not be able to witness to others. All Christians have had this experience (see Acts 24:16; 1 Timothy 1:5,19 and comments).

If our conscience is clean—if we have repented of our sins and are obeying God’s will—then those who speak against us will in the end be ashamed (see Titus 2:7-8; 1 Peter 2:12,15 and comments).

17 Suffering will come to us; but let it come because we’ve done good, not because we’ve done evil. If we are punished for doing evil, there is nothing praiseworthy about that. Only when we suffer for doing good will we receive praise from God (see 1 Peter 2:19-20 and comment).

18 Whenever we suffer for doing good, let us remember that Christ Himself walked the road of suffering before us. He is for us an example (1 Peter 2:21). Christ suffered for doing good. He did not deserve the suffering He received. But God had appointed Him first to suffer, and only after that to enter into glory (Luke 24:26). Christ’s suffering was completely in accordance with God’s will; the Old Testament prophets had written about it (Luke 24:45-46). Thus when we suffer for doing good we can rejoice, because we know we are following in Christ’s footsteps and will enter into His glory (Romans 8:17-18; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Philippians 3:10-11).

In one way, Christ’s suffering and our suffering are similar. But in another way, Christ’s suffering was special and unique, because He was the sinless Son of God. Through His suffering Christ brought men to God; that is, through His suffering He saved them. Christ died for sins once for all. The RIGHTEOUS man died in the place of unrighteous men (see 1 Peter 2:24 and comment). The innocent Christ offered Himself as a perfect and unblemished sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 9:14; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). His sacrifice will never have to be repeated (see Hebrews 9:26-28; 10:10-14 and comments). Christ took upon Himself the punishment for our sins. Now we are free forever from the condemnation of sin (see Romans 8:1 and comment).

As soon as Christ died, He was made alive again by the Spirit. He conquered death (Romans 6:9-10). But not only that, He also delivers us from death, the punishment for sin (Romans 6:23; Hebrews 2:14-15).

19 From this verse (and from Ephesians 4:9) comes the section in the Apostles’ Creed where it says: “He descended into hell.” After Jesus died and was made alive in spirit, three days passed before His body was resurrected. During that time He went and preached to the spirits in prison. It is not certain what spirits Peter is talking about here. Some Bible scholars believe that they are the spirits of men who died in the flood in Noah’s time without ever hearing about Jesus. Other scholars believe that these spirits are fallen angels (see 2 Peter 2:4-5; Jude 6).

20 The flood in Noah’s time was a sign both of judgment and salvation. God waited patiently while the ark was being built. That is, He gave the evil men of Noah’s time a chance to repent. But when they did not repent, God destroyed them all by sending a flood upon the earth (2 Peter 3:5-7,9). But Noah and his family—eight people—were saved by the flood (Genesis 7:11-12,17-23). They were saved through water. They were saved not only from the water but also through the water, because the water lifted up the boat Noah had built and thus enabled Noah and his family to escape drowning.

Except for those eight people, every other person on earth was destroyed by that flood. Consider this: To follow the majority of people is neither good, nor wise, nor safe. It’s better to follow the eight people in the boat! (see Matthew 7:13-14 and comment).

21 The water ofthe flood is an illustration or symbol of our BAPTISM into Christ. Just as those eight people who entered the boat were saved from judgment and death, so those who enter into Christ through faith are saved from judgment and death. The ceremony of baptism in itself does not save us; it is Christ who saves us. Christ saves us from death, because He Himself overcame death through His resurrection. In order to receive this salvation, all we have to do is to believe in Christ (Romans 10:9).

The meaning of baptism is this: When we are baptized, we die with Christ. … all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death8 (Romans 6:3). With Christ we die to sin (see Romans 6:6,10-11 and comment). True baptism is not an outer washing; it is an inner spiritual washing. In baptism our sins are washed away, our consciences are cleansed, and we are raised with Christ (Romans 6:5).

22 How great and deep is the meaning of baptism! How great is our Savior Christ! Christ has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand. All things have been placed under His authority (see Romans 14:9; Ephesians 1:20-22).

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