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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

1 Peter 3

Verse 1

1 .] In like manner (i. e. after the same general principle, enounced in ch. 1 Peter 2:13 , as the οἰκέται in their relation) wives ( γυν ., as οἱ οἰκέται , ch. 1 Peter 2:18 , οἱ ἄνδρες , 1 Peter 3:7 , is vocative. This is decisively shewn by ὑμῶν below, as in 1 Peter 3:7 . By the context γυναῖκες is shewn to be wives ) [ by being ] in subjection to (the participle, as in ch. 1 Peter 2:18 ; carrying on the general πάντας τιμήσατε ) your own husbands ( ἰδίοις gives point to the obligation, but is without any distinctive emphasis: see the parallel place, Ephesians 5:22 , and note), that even if ( καὶ εἰ puts into climax the hypothesis: εἰ καί , only that which follows the καί , i. e. the fact assumed: see for the full elucidation of this, 1Co 7:21 note, and Winer, § 53. 7, Hermann on Viger, p. 832, Klotz, Devar. ii. 519 f., Hartung i. p. 139; the views of Hermann and Klotz differing slightly from the above and Hartung, but coming to the same in the end. In this place, as De Wette remarks, καὶ εἰ assumes as possible, the apparently exceptional case which may seem to justify the wives’ disobedience: εἰ καί would concede that the fact was so and direct notice to the fact itself) any (husbands) are disobedient to the word (in a state of unbelieving disobedience; most probably, though this is not directly nor necessarily assumed, heathens), they shall be won (see reff.: converted to faith and obedience: made a gain for Christian love, and for Christ Himself. Cf. Leighton: “A soul converted is gained to itself, gained to the pastor, or friend, or wife, or husband who sought it, and gained to Jesus Christ: added to His treasury, who thought not His own precious blood too dear to lay out for this gain.” On ἵνα with an indic. fut., see Winer, § 41. b. 1. b: and cf. reff.) without word (without the wives preaching to them, or exhorting them, but simply by your Christian behaviour. The grammarians call this way of speaking, in which a word ( λόγου ) is intentionally used in two different senses in the same sentence, antanaclasis . The other rendering, ‘ without the word ,’ is not indeed, as Wiesinger, precluded by the absence of the article, for λόγου , indefinite , might just as well, with the exclusive preposition ἄνευ , refer to the Gospel, but on account of the general improbability of such a saying, seeing that faith is grounded on hearing, and hearing on the word of God. Besides which, the wives’ conversation, being a shewing forth of obedience to the word, could not be said to produce its effect ἄνευ ( τοῦ ) λόγου . Œc. proposes a curious alternative rendering: ἄνευ λόγου , ἤτοι σχολάζοντος παντὸς λόγου καὶ πάσης ἀντιλογίας ἢ (then follows the interpretation as given above, but very well put) ὡς τῆς διὰ τῶν ἔργων ἐπιδείξεως κυριωτέρας οὔσης τῆς διὰ τῶν λόγων περιεργίας . ἄφωνον γὰρ ἔργον κρεῖσσον ἀπράκτου λόγου ) by means of the behaviour of their wives ,

Verses 1-7

1 7 .] Exhortations in regard to the married state : and (1 6) to wives : (7) to husbands .

Verses 1-22

11 4:6 .] Exhortations to walk christianly and worthily towards and among those without who speak and act in a hostile manner . Hitherto we have seen them exhorted to walk worthily of their calling as distinguished from their own former walk: now the Apostle exhorts them to glorify God before an ungodly and persecuting world.

Verse 2

2 .] when they behold (lit. “having beheld:” the time of the ἐποπτεῦσαι is slightly antecedent to that of κερδηθήσονται , but not enough to justify the use of the past. part. in English. On the verb, see ref.) your chaste behaviour ( ἁγνήν , in the largest sense, not with its proper reference only: modest and pure) coupled with fear (so the E. V., admirably: conducted, led, maintained, in a spirit of reverence to your husbands, cf. Ephesians 5:33 , ἡ δὲ γυνὴ ἵνα φόβηται τὸν ἄνδρα . The connexion of words is τὴν ἐν φόβῳ | ἁγνὴν ἀναστροφήν , not, as Huther, τὴν | ἐν φόβῳ ἁγνὴν | ἀναστροφήν ).

Verse 3

3 .] Of whom (the wives; you, who are addressed) let ( the adornment ) be (much better so, supplying the word from κόσμος expressed below, than either, 1. as E. V. al. taking the word κόσμος expressed below as the subject, and supplying it after ἔξωθεν , which however comes to the same in sense, or, 2. as Huther, taking ὧν ἔστω as complete in itself, “let whose business be;” which is against not only probable construction, but the analogy of 1 Timothy 5:9 , which see) not the outward adornment ( ἔξωθεν κόσμος belong together, the intermediate words merely serving to define the κόσμος as that most usually adopted by women) of braiding of hair (cf. 1 Timothy 2:9 , μὴ ἐν πλέγμασιν , and Ellicott’s note there) and putting round (the head, as diadems, or the arm, as bracelets, or the leg, as anklets, or the finger, as rings, or generally, hanging the body round with) of golden ornaments ( χρυσίον , see ch. 1 Peter 1:7 ; 1 Peter 1:18 , and note at the latter place) or of putting on of dresses (“the sex which began first our engagement to the necessity of clothing, having still a peculiar propensity to be curious in that, to improve the necessity to an advantage.” Leighton. The three verbal substantives, as Bengel, “innuunt operam comendi multa tempora absumentem”):

Verse 4

4 .] but (rather let their adornment be) the hidden man of the heart (= ὁ ἔσω [ θεν ] ἄνθρωπος , see reff. Here, as Wies. well argues, it is not, as in ref. Rom., merely the inner man as distinguished from the outer man, which unbelievers have as well as believers: and that for this reason, that the κρυπτὸς ἄνθρωπος is not here that which is to be adorned , but is itself the adornment: and consequently is of necessity the regenerate life itself in its freshness and beauty. And this is designated as being τῆς καρδίας , a gen. of apposition, consisting in the heart, changed, and lovely with Christian affections and graces), in (standing in, as its condition and element. No art. is needed before ἐν , because this clause is further descriptive, not of ἄνθρωπος , but of κόσμος ) the incorruptible ( ornament ) ( τῷ ἀφθάρτῳ , a concrete adj. used by preference over the abstract noun, apparently as contrasted with the concretes just mentioned) of the meek and quiet spirit (“mansuetus, qui non turbat: tranquillus, qui turbas aliorum fert placide. Ad illud refer 1Pe 3:5 fin.: ad hoc, 1Pe 3:6 fin.” Bengel) which (viz. the meek and quiet spirit: not, as Grot, al., the whole preceding, ἀλλ ʼ … πνεύματος , nor, as Bengel and Steiger, τὸ ἄφθαρτον . The art. before πραέος marks the antecedent to the ὅ ) is in the sight of God (“qui interna, non externa spectat,” Bengel) of great price (reff.: the word used for costly ointment and raiment).

Verse 5

5 .] For (enforcing of the same by example) in this manner (i. e. with the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit) formerly also (as well as you, if you obey) the holy women ( ἅγιαι , as in Luke 1:70 ; Acts 3:21 ; Ephesians 3:5 ; women of blessed note in the sacred history as servants of God), who hoped ( ἐλπίζουσαι , part. of the imperfect, according to Winer, § 45. 1: but is it not rather the indefinite pres. part. defining the quality or office, as ὁ σπείρων , ὁ πειράζων ?) in God (i. e. whose hope was directed towards, and rested in, God. Bengel remarks, “vera sanctitas, spes in Deum: est hoc epitheton pars subjecti”), adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands (this clause describes the state in which the adornment was put on, to which it belonged: being thus in subjection, they were adorned with the meek and quiet spirit which belongs to it):

Verse 6

6 .] As (e. g.) Sarah obeyed (aor. It refers to her whole course of obedience considered as a completed whole: cf. reff., and Joh 17:4 ) Abraham calling him lord (ref.: ὁ δὲ κύριός μου πρεσβύτερος ): of whom ye have become (i. e. by your implanting through faith into the family of faithful Abraham. The aor. properly refers back to the precise time when they were so made; but cannot be so expressed in English) children, if (the connexion of the following participles is variously taken. The worst way is with Bengel, Ernesti, al. to suppose them in apposition with ὑποτασσόμεναι above, ὡςτέκνα being in a parenthesis: for there is nothing in either of the participles which finds any historical justification in the history of the holy women. Didymus, al., understand them of the manner in which ye are to become Sarah’s children: Harless, Wies., al., of the sign by which your having so become is to be known: but it is perhaps better to take them as the condition on which: and so most Commentators and virtually the E. V. “as long as,” rendering literally the dum of Beza) ye do good, and are not afraid of any sudden fear (to what do these words allude? As in reff., they appear to be a citation from Prov.: where it is said to him that obeys the counsels of wisdom, οὐ φοβηθήσπτόησιν ἐπελθοῦσαν , οὐδὲ ὁρμὰς ἀσεβῶν ἐπερχομένας . This passage, the coincidence with which can hardly be fortuitous, seems to point to the objective rather than the subjective sense of πτόησις , so that φοβεῖσθαι πτόησιν is not = φοβεῖσθαι φόβον , but πτόησις is some external cause of terror. And such a meaning would suit very well with the context, in which as in 1 Peter 3:14 , the Apostle is often encouraging his readers to bear affliction and persecution cheerfully. So that we may interpret πτόησιν with Est., “quod dum facitis, non est quod metuatis quidquam mali: velut, ne maritis vestris displiceatis, si minus corruptæ inceditis: aut ne serviliter vos tractent, si faciles ad obsequium vos præbeatis; ut solet sexus muliebris vanis pavoribus esse obnoxius. Sed et si forte nacti estis maritos iniquiores, silentio potius ac patientia, quam multis verbis studete eorum animos lenire.” Cf. Luke 21:9 ; Luke 24:37 . Huther quotes from Stephanus an extraordinary explanation, “jubentur mulieres officium facere etiam cum nullus eas metus constringit, i. e. sponte et ultro.” And Œc., interpreting ἀγαθοποιοῦσαι of doing good deeds of benevolence, understands this of the wives not being afraid of the account which their (unbelieving) husbands would require of them: ἐλεήμονας αὐτὰς εἶναι παραινεῖ , μηδὲν ὑποβλεπομένας τὸν ἀπὸ τῶν ἀνδρῶν αὐτῶν διὰ τοῦτο ἐκλογισμόν . See Winer, § 32. 2. b , who however interprets πτόησιν subjectively).

With regard to the much-disputed question whether by the preceding injunction all ornament of dress is forbidden, or only the making such ornament the adorning , it may safely be left to the Christian wisdom of believing women, to be not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is, in this as in other similar matters. Within the limits of propriety and decorum, the common usage is the rule. There is sin in singularity, both as ministering to pride in ourselves, and as giving offence to others and discommending our holy religion. As Leighton well says, “There may be in some an affected pride in the meanness of apparel; and in others, under either neat or rich attire, a very humble unaffected mind.… ‘Magnus qui fictilibus utitur tanquam argento; nec ille minor qui argento tanquam fictilibus,’ says Seneca: Great is he who enjoys his earthenware as if it were plate, and not less great is the man to whom all his plate is no more than earthenware.”

Verse 7

7 .] Duty of husbands to their wives . Ye husbands in like manner ( ὁμοίως , not as Est., Grot., Steiger, al., ‘ vicissim ,’ but referring back to the πάντας τιμήσατε ch. 1 Peter 2:17 ; cf. τιμήν below. This has not been seen, owing to inattention to the aor. there: even Huther, who interprets ὁμοίως rightly, that there is a certain τιμή due to the wife, as to the husband and the master before, does not connect the idea with the general precept under which all these are ranged) dwelling ( συνοικεῖν is referred by the older expositors (e. g. Jerome contra Jov. i. 7, vol. ii. p. 248, Aug [10] in Psalms 146:0 , vol. iv. pt. ii. al.) to the ‘tori conjugalis consuetudo:’ but for this there seems no reason, as the word is often used of the whole conjugal life: so Kypke here, “ connubio juncti vivant : ad totum respicit vitæ consortium, in auo justo copulati matrimonio vitam transigunt. Est hæc frequentior vocis notio, quæ apud Græcos antiquiores, ni fallor, sola occurrit. Demosth. in Neæram, p. 534, scopum τοῦ συνοικεῖν esse dicit, ut liberi gignantur legitiml et ingenui, et ab hoc distinguit τὸ ἑταίρας καὶ παλλακὰς ἒχειν ”) according to knowledge (in an intelligent and reasonable manner, well aware of the ἀσθένεια spoken of below: see reff.) with the feminine as with the weaker vessel ( γυναικείῳ is an adj. not a subst. as Wahl: see reff. For σκεῦος , instrument, applied to the wife, see ref. 1 Thess. Here the man is a σκεῦος also; both being God’s instruments in His beneficent work of the multiplication of mankind. The higher use of the word as a vessel of grace, or of wrath, does not preclude the lower one which is most obvious here, where the married relation is the subject of consideration. On ἀσθενεστέρῳ , Bengel says, “comparativus: etiam vir habet infirmitatem:” and so Steiger: but this is plainly not so: the word ‘weaker’ being used as comparing with something which is stronger, viz. the man. Some, as Luth., Calv., Beza, Est., Grot., Hamm., E. V., join these words, ὡς ἀσθενεστ . κ . τ . λ ., with ἀπονέμοντες τιμήν . But this mars the parallelism and the sense. For the Apostle prescribes two things: 1. consideration for the wife, as of the weaker sex: 2. honour for the wife, as a fellow-heir of the grace of life. Œc. carries on the same idea, of not exacting too rigid accounts, as on 1 Peter 3:6 ; τουτέστιν , αἴσθησιν λαμβάνοντες τῆς τοῦ θήλεος κουφότητος καί τοῦ εὐπαραφόρου ἐν πᾶσι , καὶ εἰς μικροψυχίαν εὐολίσθου , μακρόθυμοι γίνεσθε πρὸς αὐτάς , μὴ λόγον ἀπαιτοῦντες πικρῶς τῶν κατὰ τὴν οἰκίαν αὐτῶν εἰς ταμιείαν παρακατατιθέντων . But for this there does not seem any reason), giving ( ἀπονέμειν , to apportion, see reff.) honour as to those who are also (besides being your wives) fellow-inheritors (with you) of the grace of life (i. e. God’s gracious gift of life eternal: ch. 1 Peter 1:4 ; 1Pe 1:13 suffice to clear the meaning, the former explaining κληρον ., the latter, χάρις . So that χάρις ζωῆς must not be weakened into χάρις ζῶσα with Erasm., nor into χάρις ζωοποιοῦσα with Grot. The reading συγκληρονόμοι , which it is now proved that [11] has not [Tischdf. however, though he assigns the ς to B 1 (appy), does not think it quite free from doubt], seems to have arisen from the mistaken joining of ὡς ἀσθ . κ . τ . λ . with ἀπονέμοντες τιμήν : see var. readd.): in order that your prayers be not hindered ( ἐγκόπτειν , ἐμποδίζειν , διακωλύειν , Hesych. The hindrance meant seems to be, that which would be occasioned by the man not giving his wife proper honour as a fellow-heir of the grace of life; in which case the peculiar promise of advantage in social united prayer would be lost: cf. Matthew 18:19 . According to this view, the united prayers of man and wife are meant. And so most of the Commentators. Cf. Schol.-Matth., ὁ γὰρ περὶ τὴν οἰκίαν θόρυβος τῶν κατὰ θεὸν ἔργων ἐμπόδιον : and Lyra, “Cum vir et uxor non sunt bene concordes, minus possunt orationi vacare, et eorum orationes sunt minus exaudibiles.” De Wette understands it of losing the confidence requisite for (mutual?) prayer; Wiesinger, of the prayers of the husband alone. If ἐκκόπτεσθαι be read, it must be “be not cut off,” see Romans 11:22 ; Romans 11:24 ; 2Co 11:12 ).

[10] Augustine, Bp. of Hippo , 395 430

[11] The CODEX VATICANUS, No. 1209 in the Vatican Library at Rome; and proved, by the old catalogues, to have been there from the foundation of the library in the 16th century. It was apparently, from internal evidence, copied in Egypt. It is on vellum, and contains the Old and New Testaments. In the latter, it is deficient from Heb 9:14 to the end of the Epistle; it does not contain the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon; nor the Apocalypse. An edition of this celebrated codex, undertaken as long ago as 1828 by Cardinal Angelo Mai, has since his death been published at Rome. The defects of this edition are such, that it can hardly be ranked higher in usefulness than a tolerably complete collation, entirely untrustworthy in those places where it differs from former collations in representing the MS. as agreeing with the received text. An 8vo edition of the N.T. portion, newly revised by Vercellone, was published at Rome in 1859 (referred to as ‘Verc’): and of course superseded the English reprint of the 1st edition. Even in this 2nd edition there were imperfections which rendered it necessary to have recourse to the MS. itself, and to the partial collations made in former times. These are (1) that of Bartolocci (under the name of Giulio de St. Anastasia), once librarian at the Vatican, made in 1669, and preserved in manuscript in the Imperial Library (MSS. Gr. Suppl. 53) at Paris (referred to as ‘Blc’); (2) that of Birch (‘Bch’), published in various readings to the Acts and Epistles, Copenhagen, 1798, Apocalypse, 1800, Gospels, 1801; (3) that made for the great Bentley (‘Btly’), by the Abbate Mico, published in Ford’s Appendix to Woide’s edition of the Codex Alexandrinus, 1799 (it was made on the margin of a copy of Cephalæus’ Greek Testament, Argentorati, 1524, still amongst Bentley’s books in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge); (4) notes of alterations by the original scribe and other correctors. These notes were procured for Bentley by the Abbé de Stosch, and were till lately supposed to be lost. They were made by the Abbate Rulotta (‘Rl’), and are preserved amongst Bentley’s papers in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge (B. 17. 20) 1 . The Codex has been occasionally consulted for the verification of certain readings by Tregelles, Tischendorf, and others. A list of readings examined at Rome by the present editor (Feb. 1861), and by the Rev. E. C. Cure, Fellow of Merton College, Oxford (April 1862), will be found at the end of these prolegomena. A description, with an engraving from a photograph of a portion of a page, is given in Burgon’s “Letters from Rome,” London 1861. This most important MS. was probably written in the fourth century (Hug, Tischendorf, al.).

Verse 8

8 .] Finally ( τὸ τέλος , adverbial accusative, as μακράν , μάτην , ἀκμήν , τὴν ἀρχήν , John 8:25 , δωρεάν , &c. See Winer, § 32. 6. Œc. gives the connexion well: τί χρὴ ἰδιολογεῖσθαι ; ἁπλῶς πᾶσι φημί · τοῦτο γὰρ τέλος καὶ πρὸς τοῦτο πᾶσινσκοπὸς ἀφορᾷ τῆς σωτηρίας , καὶ τοῦτο νόμος πᾶσιν ἀγάπης ), all ( being ) (the adjectival construction still carried on [from ch. 1Pe 2:17 ]) of one mind (reff.), sympathising ( συμπάθειαπρὸς τοὺς κακῶς πάσχοντας ὡς καὶ ἐφ ʼ ἑαυτοῖς ἔλεος , Œc. But the meaning is not confined to cases of sorrow: the χαίρειν μετὰ χαιρόντων is also included), loving the brethren, compassionate (in classical Greek, of strong courage , lit. “of strong bowels,” as in Hippocr. p. 89 C (Huther); here, and in ref., as Bengel, “misericordes erga afflictos”), humble-minded (the word forms a note of transition to the next verse: humility being essential both to true gentleness of love and to true patience under injuries);

Verses 8-9

8, 9 .] General summary exhortations to mutual forbearance and love .

Verse 9

9 .] not giving back [to others] evil for evil, or reproach for reproach (“non malum pro malo in factis injuriosis, nec maledictum pro maledicto in verbis contentiosis.” Lyra), nay rather (the δέ sharpens the contrast more than ἀλλά : see above, on ch. 1Pe 2:23 ) on the contrary, blessing (scil., the evil doer or speaker. The word blessing , in E. V., is liable to be, and generally is, mistaken for the substantive εὐλογίαν ): because to this and (viz. that which follows with ἵνα , as in ch. 1 Peter 4:6 ; not as Œc., Grot., Calv., Steiger, De Wette, al., that which has gone before, which would leave a very lame connexion of the sentence: see below) ye were called (by God), that ye might inherit blessing (“qui cœleste regnum aliquando hereditare debent, illi sunt benedicti ac filii benedictionis, non solum passive sed etiam active, benedictionem spiritualem a Deo per fidem recipientes et vicissim aliis ex caritate benedicentes.” Gerhard. And this is obviously the right connexion; for, as Wies. remarks, it is not in order to inherit a blessing that we must bless; but because our portion is, blessing: and the reasoning is much as in Ephesians 4:32 , χαριζόμενοι ἑαυτοῖς καθὼς καὶθεὸς ἐν χριστῷ ἐχαρίσατο ὑμῖν ).

Verse 10

10 .] For ( the above exhortations are impressed by a citation from Psalms 34:0 (33 LXX) 13 17. That the citation cannot, as De Wette maintains, apply directly to the last written words, is plain, by the verb κληρονομήσητε , necessarily referring to the future life, whereas the blessings promised in the Psalm as necessarily refer to the present. So that we must connect the citation mainly with the εὐλογοῦντες , and if we take in the intermediate clause, it must be only secondarily, as connecting, generally, blessing with blessing) he who desireth to love life (the citation is curiously divergent from the LXX, and very difficult to understand. The LXX have, τίς ἐστιν ἄνθρωποςθέλων ζωήν , ἀγαπῶν ἡμέρας ἰδεῖν ἀγαθάς ; Here all is plain: whereas θέλων ζωὴν ἀγαπᾷν is hardly intelligible. Commentators have endeavoured to make it so by introducing some foreign idea into one or other of the verbs: thus the ‘glossa interlinearis,’ De Wette, al., “qui vult ostenders, se dilectionem habere:” Bengel and Steiger, “qui vult ita vivere, ut ipsum non tædeat vitæ.” Huther, understanding ζωή of the future life, “He that will love life,” seeing that the love of life, in this sense, is dependent on a certain moral relation of man and is impossible without love. But if we are to take the words as they stand, and not rather regard them as another way of expressing the same as in the Psalm, it may well be, “He that loves life and wishes to continue to do so”) and to see (reff.) good days, let him refrain (the LXX proceed in the 2nd person, παῦσον .… σου .

The word itself, like the English one “refrain,” implies a natural tendency towards that from which the abstention is to take place) his tongue (“primum notat, quæ linguæ vitia cavenda sint, nempe ne contumeliosi ac petulantes simus: deinde ne fraudulenti ac duplices. Hinc ad facta descendit, ne quem lædamus, vel ne cui inferamus damnum.” Calv.) from evil, and lips, that they never speak (aor. referring to single occasions, or, better perhaps, to the whole life considered as one fact) deceit (i. e. speak one thing and mean another):

Verse 11

11 .] moreover (the δέ brings up a new particular, belonging to a different sphere of conduct) let him turn away from (in act, that is: see reff.) evil, and do good: let him seek peace, and pursue it (because it is not always to be found, and when not immediately found, may require diligent pursuit: cf. ref. Heb. and St. Paul’s εἰ δυνατόν , τὸ ἐξ ὑμῶν κ . τ . λ . Romans 12:18 . The ‘glossa interlinearis’ is good: “inquirat pacem ut rem absconditam, et persequatur eam ut rem fugitivam”).

Verse 12

12 .] The citation continued, and a reason given for the foregoing conditions of prosperity . Because the eyes of the Lord (Jehovah) are (directed, in a favourable sense, for good) upon righteous men (“inde vitam habent et dies bonos,” Bengel), and His ears (inclined) unto their supplication: but the face of the Lord is (directed, in an unfavourable sense, for wrath) upon men doing evil things .

Verse 13

13 .] And (connected with what preceded: seeing that God takes such care for the righteous, and that the result of that care will be a life worthy to be loved, and good days. Beza, Bengel, al., would make the καί only a ‘formula interrogandi.’ But the other is to me much more probable: and indeed, as De W. well says, even in cases where καί appears merely to introduce a question, it in reality always connects) who is he that shall harm you (not, as Wies., if I understand him, “that will have any mind to harm you” ( nicht in dem Sinne … dass Riemand ihnen etwas anhaben kann … sondern in dem Sinne, dass ihnen Riemand Uebles wird thun wollen ): many will have this: but your μακαριότης will be such as to turn off all their malice and make even suffering itself to be happiness) if ye be (by having become: aor.: but we cannot express this in English otherwise than by expressing its result, ye be ) emulous [i. e. as in E. V. followers: the Rheims version has emulators , which if it were sufficiently English would be better] of that which is good ( τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ is first, for emphasis: “if it be that which is good, of which you are zealous?” Thus the contrast between κακώσων and τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ is stronger. The adj. has been taken by some as masc.: but probably only on account of the apparent difficulty of μιμηταί (rec.) being joined with it. This latter reading has most likely come in from 3 John 1:11 , μὴ μιμοῦ τὸ κακόν , ἀλλὰ τὸ ἀγαθόν )?

Verses 13-22

13 4:6 .] Exhortation to right behaviour towards the world in persecutions which come upon them for righteousness’ sake (13 17): and that by the example of Christ (18 22), whose suffering in the flesh, and by consequence whose purity and freedom from sin they are to imitate ( 1Pe 4:1-6 ).

Verse 14

14 .] Nay if even (see on εἰ καί , above, 1Pe 3:1 ) ye chance to suffer (“levius verbum quam κακοῦσθαι .” Beng. In fact the πάθημα need not be a κακόν , but may be an ἀγαθόν , and is, in the case supposed. The opt. after εἰ usually takes place when “illa quæ ponitur conditio, non revocatur ad veritatem, sed fingitur tantummodo cogitatione.” Klotz, Devar. ii. p. 491) on account of righteousness (Wies. quotes Augustine’s “martyrem facit non pœna sed causa.” δικαιος . , that right and holy living to which you devote yourselves and which gives offence to the ungodly world. διὰ δικ . = ἕνεκεν δικαιοσύνης in our Lord’s saying Matthew 5:10 , and ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ , Mat 5:11 ), blessed are ye (“ne hoc quidem vitam beatam vobis aufert, immo potius auget.” Beng.). But (“docet quomodo suscipienda sint adversa, ne beatitas imminuatur.” Beng. The words are almost verbatim from Isa 8:12-13 ) be not afraid with their terror (not, “afraid of,” as E. V. φόβον is, as in l. c., subjective, and φοβηθῆναι φόβον merely as χαίρειν χαράν and the like. The command amounts to this, “be not affected in heart by the fear which they strive to inspire into you”) nor be troubled (“sicut summum malorum quæ lex minatur est cor pavidum et formidine plenum, Leviticus 26:36 , Deuteronomy 28:65 , ita maximum bonorum quæ Christus nobis promeruit inque Evangelio offert, est cor de gratia Dei certum ac proinde in omnibus adversis et periculis tranquillum.” Gerh.):

Verse 15

15 .] nay rather (the sharply adversative δέ , see above on ch. 1Pe 2:23 ) sanctify (reff.) in your hearts (in the O. T. passage it is added, καὶ αὐτὸς ἔσται σου φόβος . “This addition is not made here, but ἐν ταῖς καρδ . ὑμῶν , to bring out that the ἁγιάσατε must be perfected in the inner parts of a man and so keep him from all false fear. As if he would say, Care only for this, that your heart may be a temple of Christ, in which becoming honour may be given to Him as Lord; then will nothing further disturb you: you have in Him all that you can need.” Wiesinger) Christ as Lord ( κύριον is emphatically placed forward as predicate; and the expression τὸν κύριον τῶν δυνάμεων αὐτόν (LXX-F., not A) changed in a Christian sense into κύριον δὲ τὸν χριστόν ): [ but (so far from being afraid of men, be ever ready to give them a gentle and reverent answer when they enquire of your hope)], ( being ) (the same adjectival sentences as before) ready always for ( ἑτοιμ . πρός , ref. [i. e. to give]) an answer (an apologetic justification, in the primitive Christian sense. This was most commonly given before official persons and on trial, but in the present case is expressly extended to every person and occasion) to every man ( παντί , dat. aft. ἀπολογίαν , as in ref. 1 Cor.) that asketh of you a reason (a reasonable account) concerning the hope [ that is ] in you ( ἐλπίς , not as Calvin = πίστις (“ spes hic per synecdochen pro fide capitur”), but as Luth.: “in persecutione oportet nos habere spem: si ratio spei exigitur, oportet nos habere verbum.” And Bengel: “spes christianorum sæpe commovit alios ad percontandum”), but ( ἀλλά makes a contrast to the ἑτοιμότης ready, but not over ready: see Luther, below) with meekness (see above on 1Pe 3:4 ) and fear (another antanaclasis, after μὴ φοβηθῆτε φόβον above. This fear is not the fear of God exclusively, nor that of men, but the aspect of the mind as regards both: proper respect for man, and humble reverence of God. The case supposed would generally occur when some one invested with authority asked a reason: and the complexion of the answer to be given is taken from that circumstance. On the injunction, Luther says, speaking from his own experience at Worms and elsewhere, “Then must ye not answer with proud words and bring out the matter with a defiance and with violence as if ye would tear up trees, but with such fear and lowliness as if ye stood before God’s tribunal.… so must thou stand in fear, and not rest on thine own strength, but on the word and promise of Christ,” Matthew 10:19 f. (in Wiesinger)):

Verse 16

16 .] having a good conscience (viz. when you make your apology, “quia parum auctoritatis habet sermo absque vita, ideo fidei professioni bonam conscientiam adjungit.” Calv. This is better, seeing that the same subject, that of behaviour under persecution, is afterwards carried on, 1 Peter 3:17 , than with De Wette and Steiger to regard these words as taking up the former part of 1Pe 3:15 ), that in the matter in which ( ἐν , see note on ch. 1Pe 2:12 ) ye are spoken against (see var. readd.) they who traduce (ref. Aristotle, Rhet. ii. 2, gives the idea of ἐπηρεασμός : ἔστινἐπηρεασμὸς ἐμποδισμὸς ταῖς βουλήσεσιν , οὐχ ἵνα τι αὑτῷ , ἀλλ ʼ ἵνα μὴ ἐκείνῳ . If so, when applied to words, it will mean envious detraction) your good ( ἀγαθός = καλός , ch. 1Pe 2:12 ) conversation (behaviour in life) in Christ (as Christians, your whole life being in Christ , as its element: see 1 Corinthians 4:17 ; Col 2:6 ) may be ashamed .

Verse 17

17 .] For (confirmation of the exhortation to a good conscience above: Œc., al., refer it to 1 Peter 3:14 , μακάριοί ἐστε ) it is better (we have had a similar argument in ch. 1 Peter 2:19-20 , from which passage the sense of κρεῖττον here is made clear: there it is said of the suffering for well-doing, that it is χάρις , that it is κλέος , that εἰς τοῦτο ἐκλήθητε . “Beatius,” says Bengel, “infinitis modis:” Hæc consolatio,” says Calvin, “arcana potius meditatione, quam longo verborum circuitupercipitur:” and Gerhard, “Occurrit tacitæ objectioni.… Non adeo graviter.… ferrem, si essem promeritus. Respondet Petrus, satius est te non esse meritum, ut benefaciens ac male audiens te verum Christianum probes” (mainly from Wiesinger)) to suffer ( for ) (see ch. 1 Peter 2:20 , and the connexion as given there) doing well, if the will of God should will ( it so ) (on the optative after εἰ , signifying “if perchance it should be so,” see above on 1 Peter 3:14 .

In the expression, εἰ θέλοι τὸ θέλημα , τὸ θέλημα is the divine Will itself, τὸ θέλειν is the putting forth of that Will in act: see Winer, § 65. 2. Luther (in Wies.) says beautifully, Gehe du hin in Glaube und Liebe: kommt das Kreuz, so nimm es an: kommt es nicht, so such’ es nicht ). than ( for ) doing ill:

Verse 18

18 .] because (not ‘for:’ it does not only render a reason , but lays down the reason why Christian suffering for well-doing is blessed) Christ also (as well as yourselves if ye be so called as to suffer) suffered for sins (the thought is somewhat similar to that in ch. 1 Peter 2:21 , but the intent of it different: there, it was as an example to us that the sufferings of Christ were adduced: here, it is as a proof of the blessedness and advantage of suffering for well-doing, that proof being closely applied to us by the fact that that suffering was undertaken on our behalf, and that blessedness is our salvation. περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν I distinctly hold, with Wiesinger, to come in, as a point of comparison between Christ and ourselves, under the καί , against most Commentators, among whom are De Wette and Huther. Considering St. Peter’s love of antanaclasis (using the same term in two meanings), of which we have already had several examples, e. g. 1 Peter 3:9 ; 1 Peter 3:14-15 , I have no hesitation in applying the παθεῖν περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν the one time to Christ, the other to ourselves, though His suffering for sin, and ours, are two very different things. He, the sinless One, suffered περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν , for sins; as a sacrifice for sin, as a sinner, made sin for us, dying the death of a criminal: we, though not sinless, yet ἀγαθοποιοῦντες , are to suffer if God’s will so will it, περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν , for sins which we are supposed to have committed, and as sinners. To miss this, is to miss one of the cardinal points of the comparison) once (“from this ἅπαξ , through the καί ,” as has been beautifully said (Besser, in Wies.), “a beam of comforting light falls on the sufferings of Christians.” He suffered once : His sufferings are summed up and passed away: He shall suffer no more. And we are suffering ἅπαξ : it shall be soon so thought of and looked back upon. For this reason doubtless, and not as Œc. to shew τὸ τοῦ παθόντος δραστήριόν τε καὶ δυνατόν , nor as Pott, al., to contrast the sufferings of Christ as in Hebrews 10:1-2 , with the often-repeated sacrifices of the O. T., is ἅπαξ inserted), a just person ( δίκαιος is purely predicative: not as E. V. ‘the just,’ which again loses the point of comparison) on behalf of unjust persons (this again, though the resembling tints are beginning somewhat to fade off, is another point of comparison: He suffered, just, righteous, ὑπὲρ ἀδίκων : He represented, He was offered for, the unjust, the unrighteous: and so we in our turn, though in a far less deep and proper meaning, when we, being δίκαιοι ( 1Pe 3:12 ), suffer as ἄδικοι , though not in any propitiatory sense ὑπὲρ ἀδίκων . We have similar uncertainty and play of meaning where the same subject is treated Romans 6:10-11 , τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ ἀπέθανενζῇ τῷ θεῷ , οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς λογίζεσθε ἑαυτοὺς νεκροὺς μὲν εἶναι τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ , ζῶντας δὲ τῷ θεῷ : where the two expressions, though they have a common meaning of small extent, are in their widest and most important references of necessity widely divergent), that (with this ἵνα we leave the comparison, as far as suffering is concerned, returning to it presently for a moment with the θανατωθείς , and pass up to the μακαριότης of His innocent suffering, and to that which makes it so glorious and precious to us, as the ground of all our blessedness in suffering) He might bring us near to God (“ut nos, qui abalienati fueramus, ipse abiens ad Patrem, secum una, justificatos adduceret in cœlum, 1 Peter 3:22 , per eosdem gradus quos ipse emensus est, exinanitionis et exaltationis. Ex hoc verbo Petrus, usque ad cap. 1 Peter 4:6 , penitus connectit Christi et fidelium iter sive processum (quo etiam ipse sequebatur Dominum, ex ejus prædictione, Joh 13:36 ) infidelitatem multorum et pœnam innectens.” Bengel: who also remarks on τῷ θεῷ , “Deo id volenti. Plus notatur per dativum quam si diceretur ad Deum ”), put to death (this participial clause conditions the ἵνα προσαγάγῃ , giving the manner of that bringing us near to God) indeed in the flesh (of this there can be no doubt, and in this assertion there is no difficulty. σαρκί is adverbial; it was thus, in this region, under these conditions, that the death on the cross was inflicted: His flesh, which was living flesh before, became dead flesh: Christ Jesus, the entire complex Person, consisting of body, soul, and spirit, was put to death σαρκί ), but made alive ( again ) in the spirit (here there may seem to be difficulty: but the difficulty will vanish, if we guide ourselves simply and carefully by the former clause. ‘Quod ad carnem,’ the Lord was put to death: ‘quod ad spiritum,’ He was brought to life (for this, and not “remained alive,” must be insisted on as the meaning of ἐζωοποιήθη ). His flesh was the subject, recipient, vehicle, of inflicted death: His spirit was the subject, recipient, vehicle, of restored life. But here let us beware, and proceed cautiously. What is asserted is not that the flesh died and the Spirit was made alive ; but that ‘quoad’ the flesh the Lord died, ‘quoad’ the Spirit He was made alive. He, the God-man Christ Jesus, body and soul, ceased to live in the flesh, began to live in the Spirit; ceased to live a fleshly mortal life, began to live a spiritual resurrection life. His own Spirit never died, as the next verse shews us. “This is the meaning, that Christ by His sufferings was taken from the life which is flesh and blood, as a man on earth, living, walking, and standing in flesh and blood … and He is now placed in another life and made alive according to the Spirit, has passed into a spiritual and supernatural life, which includes in itself the whole life which Christ now has in soul and body, so that He has no longer a fleshly but a spiritual body.” Luther. And Hofmann, Schriftb. ii. 1. 336, says, “It is the same who dies and the same who is again made alive, both times the whole Man Jesus, in body and soul. He ceases to live, in that that , which is to His Personality the medium of action, falls under death; and He begins again to live, in that He receives back this same for a medium of His action again. The life which fell under death was a fleshly life, that is, such a life as has its determination to the present condition of man’s nature, to the externality of its mundane connexion. The life which was won back is a spiritual life, that is, such a life as has its determination from the Spirit, in which consists our inner connexion with God.” It is impossible, throughout this difficult and most important passage, to report all the various shades of difference of opinion which even the greater expositors have given us. I shall indicate only those which are necessary to be mentioned as meanings to be distinguished from that which I advocate, or as errors likely to fall constantly under the eye of my readers. Of this latter class is the rendering of the E. V. here, “ by the Spirit ,” which is wrong both grammatically and theologically: the explanation of Œc., Calov., al., τουτέστιν ἀναστὰς ἐκ νεκρῶν τῇ τῆς θεότητος δυνάμει : ἀνέστη γὰρ ἐκ νεκρῶν οὐχ ὡς ἄνθρωπος , ἀλλ ʼ ὡς θεός : and that of Grot. that πνευματι = ἐκ δυνάμεως θεοῦ , 2Co 13:4 ):

Verses 18-22

18 22 .] Establishment of the above position on the fact of Christ having Himself suffered, being righteous , and through death, even in death vanquishing the power of death, entered into His glory at God’s right hand:

Verse 19

19 .] in which (viz. πνεύματι , in the spirit, according to which His new life was. ἐν ᾧ , not simply ᾧ this time: see below) He also went and preached ( πορευθείς of a local transference here, just as below in 1 Peter 3:22 , πορευθεὶς εἰς οὐρανόν : and ἐκήρυξεν of a preaching good news, nearly = εὐηγγελίσατο , as in all other places of the N. T.) to the spirits in prison (the disembodied spirits, which were kept shut up (Jude 1:6 ; 2Pe 2:4 ) in the place of the departed awaiting the final judgment: in Scheol, as Syr.),

Verse 20

20 .] which were once disobedient (this clause is a secondary and dependent one, descriptive of the spirits intended: that they were those of men who were formerly disobedient) when ( ὅτε marks distinctively the time intended by the ποτέ ) the longsuffering of God was waiting (and this marks the period of their disobedience, viz. those 120 years of Genesis 6:3 . ἀπ εξεδέχετο , imperf.: the ἀπ - betokening the full time during which it was exercised. “Exspectabat donec exspectandi finis erat.” Beng.) in the days of Noah while the ark ( κιβωτοῦ anarthrous as the well-known name for the ark in the LXX) was being prepared, in which (pregn. constr., “by having entered into which:” not “into which,” see below) a few persons, that is eight souls (individuals: ψυχαί , as being in the body: the distinction may be noted here, but is not always kept: the disembodied are ψυχαί in Revelation 6:9 ; Rev 20:4 ) were saved (from drowning) by water (not, “into which a few, &c. got safe through the water,” which was not the fact. The water is in the Apostle’s view the medium of saving , inasmuch as it bore up the ark: cf. the next verse: or it may be, and so Bengel, Steiger, De Wette, Huther, “through (the) water”). So much for the exegesis of the detail of this passage; from which it will be seen that we have regarded it, in common with the majority of Commentators, as necessarily pointing to an event in our Lord’s redemptive agency which happened, as regards time, in the order of the context here: and that that event was, His going (whether between His death and resurrection, or after the latter, will be presently discussed) to the place of custody of departed spirits, and there preaching to those spirits, which were formerly disobedient when God’s longsuffering waited in the days of Noah. Thus far I conceive our passage stands committed: and I do not believe it possible to make it say less, or other, than this. What was the intent of that preaching, and what its effect is not here revealed; the fact merely is stated. The statement of the fact, however, has been felt to be accompanied by such great difficulties, that other meanings have been sought for the passage than that which the words present at first sight. Expositors have endeavoured to remove the idea that the gospel was preached to the dead in Hades, either, 1. by denying the reference to our Lord’s descent thither at all, or, 2. by admitting that, but supposing it to have had another purpose. I give, following the classification in Huther’s note, an account of the principal upholders of these views. Under I., I place all those who deny any reference to Christ’s descent into Hades, distinguishing the minor differences between them as to what κήρυγμα is there indicated.

I. 1. Augustine, Bed [12] , Thos. Aquinas, Lyra, Hammond, Beza, Scaliger, Leighton, Horneius, Gerhard, al., and recently Hofmann, Schriftbeweis ii. 1. 335 341, maintain that the κήρυγμα was the preaching of righteousness by Noah to his contemporaries : that Noah thus preached not of himself, but by virtue of the Spirit of Christ inspiring him; and that thus his preaching was in fact a preaching by Christ in the Spirit. So, e. g. Augustine, Ep. 164 (99), vol. ii., suggests, that the “spiritus conclusi in carcere” may be “animæ quæ tunc erant in carne, atque ignorantiæ tenebris velut carcere claudebantur.” Also that Christ had not indeed come in the flesh, but from the beginning of the race came from time to time to convict the evil, to console the good, or to admonish both. For this He came not in flesh, but in spirit, i. e. in substantia Deitatis. But he qualifies this by asking, “Quid facit Filius sine Spiritu Sancto, vel sine Patre, cum inseparabilia sint omnia opera Trinitatis?” But this arbitrary interpretation of φυλακή = “caro, et ignorantiæ tenebræ,” is not common to all the supporters of this view. Beza represents a large class: “Christus.… jam olim in diebus Noe.… prædicavit spiritibus illis, qui nunc in carcere meritas dant pœnas, utpote qui recta monenti Noe.… parere olim recusarint.” Thus Scaliger, Horneius, al.: and Hofmann, except that he joins ποτέ with πορευθεὶς ἐκήρυξεν , not with ἀπειθήσασιν . It must be evident to every unprejudiced scholar, how alien such an interpretation is from the plain meaning and connexion of the words and clauses. Not a word is indicated by St. Peter on the very far-off lying allusion to the fact that the Spirit of Christ preached in Noah: not a word, here, on the fact that Noah himself preached to his contemporaries. Again, the same subject χριστός runs through the whole, without a hint, that we are dealing with historical matter of fact in ἔπαθεν , θανατωθείς , ζωοποιηθείς , and with recondite figure in πορευθεὶς ἐκήρυξεν . Again, whether we take the metaphorical φυλακή of Aug [13] , which I suppose will find hardly any advocates, or the τοῖς νῦν ἐν φυλακῇ of Beza, al., it cannot surely be doubted that we are equally putting force on the Apostle’s words, and that the τοῖς ἐν φυλακῇ πνεύμασιν must describe the local condition of the πνεύματα at the time when the preaching took place . Moreover πορευθείς , as compared with 1 Peter 3:22 (which Hofmann gets most lamely over, by saying that it presents no greater difficulty than the statement that Christ accompanied the Israelites through the wilderness in 1 Corinthians 10:4 ; to which we may answer, If this were a plain statement involving such an application of the word, we might then discuss the intelligibility of it) the part. ἀπειθήσασιν , marked off by the ποτέ as not belonging to the same time as the ἐκήρυξεν (which Hofmann shews he feels, by his impracticable attempt to connect ποτέ with ἐκήρυξεν ), shew, as plainly as words can shew, that we are reading of some act of Christ which He then, at the time described, went and did, with reference to spirits who were, at some other time ( ποτέ ) specified ( ὅτε ), in a certain state ( ἀπειθήσασι ). And, which has not been sufficiently noticed, a crowning objection to this view is the use of the word πνεύμασιν , connecting ἐν ᾧ ( πνεύματι ) our Lord’s state, with the state of those to whom He preached: a word only used of men when departed out of this life (ref.).

[12] Bede, the Venerable , 731; Bedegr, a Greek MS. cited by Bede, nearly identical with Cod. “E,” mentioned in this edn only when it differs from E.

[13] Augustine, Bp. of Hippo , 395 430

I. 2. Several Commentators, principally Socinian, but also Vorst., Grot., Schöttgen, al., understand by τὰ ἐν φυλ . πν . either the Gentiles, or the Jews (“sub jugo legis existentes”) and Gentiles (“sub potestate diaboli jacentes:” so in both cases, Schöttg. and Amelius) together, and by ἐκήρυξεν the preaching of the Spirit of Christ by the Apostles. These expositors take the mention of the disobedient in Noah’s time to be merely by way of sample of the disobedient in all time, or, at least, in the time when the Apostle was writing. So Grot.: “adjungere voluit Petrus similitudinem a temporibus Noe, ut ostendat quanto res nunc melius per Christum quam tunc per Noen processerit.” As Huther well says, “How this interpretation heaps on caprice upon caprice, need not be shewn.” I will add, that its fautors do not appear to attempt to justify it philologically, as indeed it is plain they cannot. Every word of every clause protests against it.

II. We now come to those who understand the passage of our Lord’s descent into Hades, but, offended by the idea of the possibility of salvation being opened to spirits of the disobedient kept awaiting judgment, diverge from one another and from the ‘prima facie’ explanation.

II. 1. Flacius, Calov., Buddæus, Wolf, Aretius, al., understand τὰ ἐν φηλ . πν . of souls awaiting condemnation, but explain ἐκήρυξεν of announcing, not salvation, but condemnation. So Hollaz (in Huther), “fuit prædicatio Christi in inferno non evangelica, quæ hominibus tantum in regno gratiæ annunciatur, sed legalis, elenchtica, terribilis, eaque turn verbalis, qua ipsos æterna supplicia promeritos esse convincit, tum realis, qua inimanem terrorem iis incussit.” But, besides that κηρύσσειν , as remarked above, has, as applied to Christ and His Apostles, but the one meaning of preaching the good tidings of salvation, besides the utter superfluity of such a ‘concio damnatoria’ to spirits already reserved to damnation, what a context would such a meaning give, in the midst of a passage intended to convey consolation and encouragement by the blessed consequences of Christ’s sufferings! See this well insisted on in Wiesinger’s careful discussion of the opinions on our passage, p. 241.

II. 2. Some of the Fathers, as Iren. (iv. 27. 2, p. 264; v. 31. 1, p. 331; al.; see Stieren’s Index, p. 1017), Tertullian, Hippolytus, the Schoolmen, Zwingle, Calvin, al., explain ἐκήρυξεν rightly, of announcing salvation, but regard τὰ ἐν φυλ . πνεύματα as the spirits of the just , especially of the O. T. saints. The most extraordinary instance of this class of interpreters is Calvin, who explains φυλακή to mean “specula, sive ipse excubandi actus:” and the spirits in φυλακή are, according to him, those which were in waiting for Christ’s salvation: “piæ animæ in spem salutis promissæ intentæ, quasi eminus eam considerarent.” Then he proceeds, “Postquam dixit, Christum se mortuis manifestasse, mox addit: quum increduli fuissent olim ; quo significat, nihil nocuisse sanctis patribus quod impiorum multitudine pæne obruti fuerint:” and regards this consideration as one calculated to console the believers, few as they were in the midst of the ungodly world. And having thus interpreted, he ingenuously confesses, “Discrepat, fateor, ab hoc sensu Græca syntaxis; debuerat enim Petrus, si hoc vellet, genitivum absolutum ponere. Sed quia apostolis novum non est liberius casum unum ponere alterius loco, et videmus Petrum hic confuse multas res simul coacervare, nec vero aliter aptus sensus elici poterat: non dubitavi ita resolvere orationem implicitam, quo intelligerent lectores, alios vocari incredulos, quam quibus prædicatum fuisse evangelium dixit.” A sentence to be well remembered for many reasons.

II. 3. Suarez, Estius, Bellarmine, Luther (on Hosea 4:2 , anno 1545, quoted in Bengel), Peter Martyr, Bengel, al., assume that the words refer, not to all the unbelievers of Noah’s time, but only to those who repented at the last moment when the flood was upon them. “Probabile est,” says Bengel, “nonnullos ex tanta multitudine, veniente pluvia, resipuisse: cumque non credidissent dum exspectaret Deus, postea cum arca structa esset et pœna ingrueret, credere cœpisse: quibus postea Christus, eorumque similibus, se præconem gratiæ præstiterit.”

II. 4. Athanasius, Ambrose, Erasmus, Calvin (Instit. 2:16. 9), hold both kinds of prædication, the ‘evangelica’ to the spirits of the just, the ‘damnatoria’ to those of the disobedient.

One or two singular interpretations do not fall under any of the above classes: e. g. Marcion maintained that the preaching of Christ was to those whom the O. T. calls ungodly, but who were in reality better than the O. T. saints; Clem.-alex. (Strom. vi. 6, p. 762 P.), that they were the δίκαιοι κατὰ φιλοσοφίαν , who were nevertheless imprisoned under idolatry.

It remains that we should enquire, whether this preaching to the imprisoned spirits by our Lord, took place between His death and His resurrection, or after the latter. The answer will very much depend on the sense which we give to ἐν . The argument which Wiesinger so much insists on, that the clauses must come in chronological sequence, will not determine for us; because ἐνκαὶ .… might very well be a taking up again of πνεύματι , recapitulating some former act also done in the Spirit: qu. d. “put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit, that Spirit in which also, ere He was made alive with the full resurrection life, He” &c. And this I incline to think the sense of the passage: ἐν ᾧ referring not to the complex resurrection life, but properly and strictly to the Spirit, in which the Lord never ceased to be, even when His complex life of body and soul was dissolved. And Wiesinger is in fact assuming too much, when he says that “Christ ζωοποιηθεὶς πνεύματι ” is the subject of the sentence: that subject is simply χριστός from 1 Peter 3:18 , of whatever period we understand this act. When again Wiesinger says that πορευθ . ἐκήρυξεν cannot be understood of the time intermediate, because in no case can we think of our Lord’s state in death in dualistic wise, so that while His body was held by the bands of death, His Spirit should be carrying on the Messianic work, I answer, why not? Surely the reply to the penitent thief implies a πορευθῆναι , and in that πορευθῆναι a joy and triumph sufficient to be the subject of a consoling promise at that terrible moment. And might not the reasoning be turned, with as much propriety? Might not we say that it is impossible to conceive of our Lord during that time as other than employed in the Spirit in which He continued, not to exist merely, but to live? That, granted that His dying words imply a special delivering of his Spirit into the hands of his Father, and by consequence, a resting of his Spirit in those Hands in the death-state, yet must we not conceive of His Spirit as going thither, where “the righteous souls are in the hand of God?” And if so, who shall place a limit to His power or will to communicate with any departed spirits of whatever character? So that, while I would not say that the conditions of the passage are not satisfied by the supposition that the event happened after the Resurrection, I believe there can be no reason for saying that they are not, on the other hypothesis. And I own, that the ἐνκαί inclines me to this other. It seems most naturally to be taken as a resumptive explanation of πνεύματι with a view to something ( 1Pe 3:21 ) which is to follow; and the ἐν , capable indeed of being otherwise explained, yet seems to favour this idea, that the Lord was strictly speaking ἐν πνεύματι when that happened which is related.

From all then which has been said, it will be gathered, that with the great majority of Commentators, ancient and modern, I understand these words to say, that our Lord, in His disembodied state, did go to the place of detention of departed spirits, and did there announce His work of redemption, preach salvation in fact, to the disembodied spirits of those who refused to obey the voice of God when the judgment of the flood was hanging over them. Why these rather than others are mentioned, whether merely as a sample of the like gracious work on others, or for some special reason unimaginable by us, we cannot say. It is ours to deal with the plain words of Scripture, and to accept its revelations as far as vouchsafed to us. And they are vouchsafed to us to the utmost limit of legitimate inference from revealed facts. That inference every intelligent reader will draw from the fact here announced: it is not purgatory, it is not universal restitution; but it is one which throws blessed light on one of the darkest enigmas of the divine justice: the cases where the final doom seems infinitely out of proportion to the lapse which has incurred it. And as we cannot say to what other cases this κήρυγμα may have applied, so it would be presumption in us to limit its occurrence or its efficacy. The reason of mentioning here these sinners, above other sinners, appears to be, their connexion with the type of baptism which follows. If so, who shall say, that the blessed act was confined to them?

The literature of the foregoing passage is almost a library in itself. The principal Commentators nave given accounts more or less complete, of the history of its interpretation. The most concise and comprehensive is that in De Wette’s Handbuch.

Verse 21

21 .] Which (viz. ὕδωρ : not βάπτισμα , which does not come in till the end of the clause: nor, the whole fact announced in 1 Peter 3:20 . The construction is somewhat involved by the close connexion of the thing signifying and the thing signified. The ὕδωρ to which refers is not, as Huther, al., the water of Noah’s flood, but water, generally, the common term between the type and antitype) the antitype ( of that ) ( ἀντίτυπον , adj. antitypal: the corresponding particular in both cases: the word does not contain in itself any solution of the question which of the two, the τύπος or that which is ἀντίτυπον to it, is the original: in ref., from the context, the τύπος is the primitive, the ἀντίτυπον the representative: here, from the context, it is vice versa: this need not however be expressed, but left to be understood) is now saving (pres., the rescue not being as yet fully accomplished. We are as yet διασωζόμενοι δι ʼ ὕδατος ) you also (as well as them. Then this assertion having been made, follows the parenthetical explanation, that the method of saving in the ἀντίτυπον is not material, as in the type), even baptism (not, the water of baptism: the parenthesis following is a kind of protest against such a rendering: but, water, in the form of baptism, become to us baptism. Water is the common term: water saves in both cases. It saved them, becoming to them a means of floating their ark and bearing them harmless: it saves us, becoming to us baptism: and that baptism not material, but spiritual); not putting away of the filth of the flesh ( σαρκός , placed first for emphasis, see Winer, § 30. 3, Remark 4. b; removing the baptism spoken of altogether out of the realm of carnal washings: q. d. “not fleshly putting away of filth.” σαρκός cannot be the gen. subj. as Bengel, ‘carni adscribitur depositio sordium:” it is the gen. possessive governed by ῥύπου . It is possible that the Apostle may have special reference to the unavailing nature of the Jewish washings, as Justin Martyr, Tryph. § 14, p. 114, τί γὰρ ὄφελος ἐκείνου τοῦ βαπτίσματοςτὴν σάρκα καὶ μόνον τὸ σῶμα φαιδρύνει ; βαπτίσθητε τὴν ψυχήν ), but enquiry of a good conscience after God (i. e. the seeking after God in a good and pure conscience, which is the aim and end of the Christian baptismal life. This is the sense of ἐπερωτᾶν εἰς , in the only place where it occurs in Scripture, viz. 2Ki 11:7 LXX, καὶ ἐπηρώτησεν Δαυὶδ εἰς εἰρήνην Ἰωάβ , καὶ εἰς εἰρήνην τοῦ λαοῦ , καὶ εἰς εἰρήνην τοῦ πολέμον . On this view, συνειδ . ἀγ . is gen. subj., the enquiry which a good conscience makes. Very various have been the interpretations. Œc. goes wrong, in saying συνειδήσεως ἀγαθῆς τῆς εἰς θεόν , ἤτοι κατὰ θεόν : for εἰς θεόν must by the requirement of the sentence be joined to ἐπερώτημα . His explanation of ἐπερώτημα is ἀῤῥαβών , ἐνέχυρον , ἀπόδειξις . This is taking the juristic sense of ἐπερώτημα , which prevailed in Byzantine Greek, of a stipulation or contract . And so in the main, Aretius, al., and recently De Wette and Huther understand the word of the questions asked in baptism , ἀποτάσστῷ Σατανᾷ ; ἀποτάσσομαι · συντάσστῷ χριστῷ ; συντάσσομαι : and make συνειδ . ἀγ . a gen. object., pledge of a good conscience , i. e. to maintain a good conscience. But there does not appear to be any justification in Scripture, or in the usage of the time, of this sense of the word ἐπερώτημα : and εἰς θεόν would hardly occur in this sense: we have in the similar case of διαθήκη , oftenest a dative following ( 2Ki 5:3 ), then πρός ( 2Ki 3:13 ), μετά ( 2Ki 3:12 ), ἀνὰ μέσον (3 Kings 1Pe 5:12 ); but never εἰς . Again, many understand, the request of a good conscience: so Bengel. “Salvat ergo nos rogatio bonæ conscientiæ, i. e. rogatio qua nos Deum compellamus cum bona conscientia, peccatis remissis et depositis, cf. 1 Peter 3:16 , et Hebrews 10:22 . Hæc rogatio in baptismo datur et in omnibus fidei, precum, vitæque christianæ actibus exercetur.” This same meaning of ἐπερώτημα is taken in the main by Wiesinger, making however συνειδ . a gen. object., “ prayer (or, desire) to God for a good conscience :” so also Seb. Schmidt, Hofmann, Weiss. The objection to all these is, that they do not justify the expression as applied to the saving force of baptism: as indeed neither entirely does the meaning which I have given above: but where all explanations were unsatisfactory, I thought it best to adopt one which strictly keeps to the Scripture usage of the words, being at the same time full as good as any of the others in its contextual application), by means of the resurrection of Jesus Christ (with what are these words to be joined? Grot., with others, connects them with the immediately preceding: “hæc bonæ conscientiæ sponsio venit ex fide de resurrectione Christi.” So also Hofmann, Schriftb. ii. 2, p. 167, saying, “By means of the resurrection of Christ, as the removal of sin once for all for all mankind, it is, that in baptism the prayer for a good conscience is directed to God.” But as Wies. objects, it is surely allotting too insignificant a part to these words, to make them merely assign the method in which the prayer is heard. Most Commentators have joined them with σώζει , regarding the intervening sentence as parenthetical. Thus taken, the words refer back to ζωοποιηθεὶς πνεύματι in 1 Peter 3:18 , conducting on the course of thought with regard to Christ and to ourselves: His resurrection, and entrance into His kingdom, giving us, by Him, a living part in Him, and entrance also into His kingdom by means of His appointed sacrament of Holy Baptism, spiritually received. Steiger endeavours to combine both connexions, but this evidently cannot be):

Verses 21-22

21, 22 .] The persons and the things compared must be carefully borne in mind. The ὀλίγοι in Noah’s day were saved by water; we also are saved by water. The ἀντίτυπον to that water on which the ark floated, saving its inmates, is the water of baptism; but as ours is a spiritual, not a material rescue, so the ἀντίτυπον is not the washing of our flesh by that water, the form in which it is applied to us, as the bearing up their ark was the form in which their water was applied to them, but a far nobler thing, the clearness and purity of our inner consciousness towards God: and this saving power of the water of baptism in our case is by virtue of the resurrection and exaltation of Christ, into whose death and resurrection we are baptized. Thus by our very profession we are united to Him in sufferings as in glory. He through His innocent sufferings has glorified suffering and death, even in death working mercy, and now exalted as our Head above all principality and power. The course of thought is unusual, is startling, is mysterious; but it is not unaccountable, it is not arbitrary. From the mention of the spiritual nature of our Lord’s resurrection life, arises the mention of His blessed employ even in that state of the pure spirit to which His sufferings brought Him: from that mention comes the connexion of a great type of that day of Noah with our share, by baptismal union with Christ, in His salvation and triumphs; by which thoughts the final point is reached, His utmost exaltation through suffering, our union with and following of Him. Having said thus much on the whole connexion, we can now go into the details.

Verse 22

22 .] who is on the right hand of God ( Psa 110:1 ), having gone (cf. πορευθείς above, 1Pe 3:19 ) to heaven (i. e. into the place of angels and supramundane powers, but distinguished from them by being Himself at God’s right hand. On the whole subject of Christ’s exaltation, see Hofmann, Schriftb. ii. 1, pp. 370 407), angels and authorities and powers (the whole heavenly hierarchy, as in Col 2:10-15 ) being subjected to Him . And thus is announced the glorious completion of the result of Christ’s voluntary and innocent sufferings: glorious for Himself, and glorious for us, who are by baptism united to Him. And now the practical inference for us follows.

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Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.