Bible Commentaries
1 Peter 3

Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New TestamentMeyer's Commentary

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Verse 1

1 Peter 3:1 . From here to 1 Peter 3:6 an exhortation to wives.

ὁμοίως ] not simply particula transeundi (Pott); on account of the subsequent ὑποτασσόμεναι it stands related rather to the exhortation contained in what precedes; the participle here as in chap. 1 Peter 2:18 .

αἱ γυναῖκες ] Form of address, like οἱ οἰκέται (as opposed to Steiger); vid. ὑμῶν , 1 Peter 3:2 ; τῶν γυναικῶν (instead of ὑμῶν ) is used here, not because the thought is a general one (de Wette, Wiesinger), nor “because Peter means to say that the heathen men should be won over by their own wives” (Schott), but because the apostle wishes clearly to point out how the wives too may be able to advance the kingdom of God. The words are addressed generally to all Christian wives, though, as the sequel shows, with special reference to those who have unbelieving husbands.

ὑποτασσόμεναι τοῖς ἰδίοις ἀνδράσιν ] ἰδίοις is used here, not by way of contradistinction (Glossa inter.: suis viris, non adulteris, or according to Calvin: ut Ap. castitatis uxores admoneat avocetque a suspectis obsequiis virorum aliorum; so, too, Fronmüller), but only to express the idea of belonging together more strongly than the simple pronoun; cf. also Winer, p. 145 f. [E. T. 191 f.].

With the thought here expressed, cf. Ephesians 5:22-24 ; Colossians 3:18 ; 1 Timothy 2:9 . It is self-evident, although many interpreters have discussed the question at considerable length, that the subjection of the wife to the husband is of quite a different kind from that of the slave to the master. The apostle, however, does not go into the subject further, but contents himself with simply emphasizing that point. [166]

ἽΝΑ ΚΑῚ ΕἼ ΤΙΝΕς ἈΠΕΙΘΟῦΣΙ Τῷ ΛΌΓῼ ] ΚΑῚ ΕἼ , i.e. even then when ,” supposes not only a possible, but a particularly unfavourable case; that is to say, when men who are joined to Christian wives oppose the λόγος , even then may such be gained over by the Christian walk of their wives; [167] τινες must be conceived as referring to heathen men with Christian wives.

With τῷ λόγῳ , cf. chap. 1 Peter 2:8 .

The expression ἀπειθεῖν denotes here, as in chap. 1 Peter 2:7 , not a simple negation only, (Pott: ad religionem christianam nondum accessisse), but an opposition to.

διὰ τῆς τῶν γυναικῶν ἀναστροφῆς ] ἑαυτῶν must be supplied to γυναικῶν ; it is not wives in general who are here meant, but only the wives of heathen husbands.

ἀναστροφή ; quite generally: the Christian walk of women, with special reference, however, to their relation to their husbands; it is precisely obedience that most easily wins the heart.

ἄνευ λόγου ] Huss incorrectly: sine verbo praedicationis publicae (so, too, Fronmüller); the words are used here to emphasize more strongly διὰ τῆς … ἀναστροφῆς , and must be held to refer to the conduct of wives (de Wette, Wiesinger). Schott wrongly unites ἄνευ λόγου with the preceding τῆς … ἀναστροφῆς into one idea; Peter could never have meant to say that the walls of women should be a silent one . The apostle’s thought is this: if the husbands oppose the Word, the wives should all the more diligently seek to preserve a Christian walk, in order by it to win over their husbands, even without words, i.e. “without preaching and exhortation on their part” (de Wette). Oecumenius incorrectly refers these words to the conduct of husbands in the sense: cessanti omni verbo et contradictione.

κερδηθήσονται ] that is to say, for the faith, and by it for the kingdom of God; cf. 1 Corinthians 9:19 ff.; so, too, Schott indeed, who, however, unjustifiably thinks that the apostle’s meaning is, that the preservation of the marriage relation is the primary object which is to be attained by the good behaviour of the wives. On the indie, with ἵνα , cf. Winer, p. 269 ff. [E. T. 361].

[166] For similar remarks of the ancients, see in Steiger; that of the humorist Philemon (in a Fragment, ver. 123) is particularly significant: ἀγαθῆς γυναῖκός ἐστιν , ὧ Νικοστράτη , μὴ κρείττονʼ εἶναι τʼ ἀνδρὸς , ἀλλʼ ὑπήκοον .

[167] Hofmann maintains that if the protasis be thus understood, the apodosis is not suited to it, “inasmuch as no other case could be supposed in which the husband could be won, without words, by the conduct of his wife, than that of his being disobedient to the Word,” and that the difficulty can only be removed if εἴ τινες be interpreted as equal to οἵτινες . But the difficulty Hofmann alludes to clearly still remains, though in fact it has no existence if only the idea ἀπειθοῦσι receive the precision it is entitled to.

Verse 2

1 Peter 3:2 . ἐποπτεύσαντες τὴν ἐν φόβῳ ἁγνὴν ἀναστροφὴν ὑμῶν ] for ἐποπτ ., cf. chap. 1 Peter 2:12 . The participial clause here serves as a further explanation of the preceding διὰ κ . τ . λ .

ἁγνός : “ chaste ,” in the full extent of the word, not only in contradistinction to πορνεία proper, but to whatsoever violates the moral relation of the subjection of the wife to her husband. This ἁγνεία is determined by ἐν φόβῳ (not equal to, in timore Dei conservato: Glossa interl.; Grotius too, Bengel, Jachmann, Weiss, Fronmüller, etc., understand by φόβος here the “fear of God”), as connected in the closest possible way with the shrinking from every violation of duty towards the husband; [168] cf. chap. 1 Peter 2:18 .

[168] Schott unwarrantably maintains that in this interpretation it is not ἀναστροφή which is more precisely defined by the homogeneous adjectival expression ἐν φόβῳ ἁγνή , but ἁγνὴ ἀναστρ . by ἐν φόβῳ .

Verse 3

1 Peter 3:3 . ὧν ἔστω ] The genitive ὧν does not depend on a κόσμος to be supplied from the predicate ὁ ἔξωθεν … κόσμος (de Wette, Wiesinger, Schott, Hofmann); such a construction, arbitrary in itself, is here entirely inadmissible on account of the remoteness of the predicate, from which the idea wanting is to be taken. The genitive is rather ruled by ἔστω . εἶναί τινος expresses, as usual, the relation of belonging to; the sense is therefore: “ whose business let it be ,” i.e. who have to occupy themselves with. [169]

οὐχ ὁ ἔξωθεν κ . τ . λ .] As often in our epistle, the negative preceding the positive.

ὁ ἔξωθεν is closely joined together with κόσμος . The genitives which stand between, and are dependent on κόσμος , serve to determine the idea more precisely; their position immediately after ὁ ἔξωθεν is explained from the intention of the writer to lay special emphasis on them, since it belongs to women to take pleasure in adorning themselves in this wise. The whole expression is to be interpreted thus: “ outward adornment wrought by the plaiting of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of apparel .”

ἐμπλοκή , ἅπ . λεγ . (in the passage specially to be compared with this, 1 Timothy 2:9 , πλέγματα is used), not: “the plaits,” but “the plaiting;” it is an active idea, like περίθεσις and ἔνδυσις ; “these verbalia describe the vain occupation of worldly women” (Wies.); χρύσια are golden ornaments generally.

The last two members of the clause, united by ἤ , are connected with the first by καί , because they have reference to things which are put on the body.

[169] When Hofmann would advance against this construction that the affirmative subject (ver. 4) is not suitable to it, “since it may be said of the hidden man of the heart, that it should be the woman’s adornment, but not that it should be her business, for she herself is that hidden man,” it must be observed in reply that it is not ὁ κρυπτὸς … ἄνθρωπος in itself, but ὁ κρυπτὸς … ἄνθρωτος ἐν τῷ ἀφθάρτῳ κ . τ . λ ., which is to he taken as that which should be characteristic of women; as Hofmann also in his expositions says, the adornment of women is not indicated by the simple, but by the compound expression.

Verse 4

1 Peter 3:4 . As antithesis to what precedes, ἀλλʼ ὁ ἔσωθεν κόσμος would have been expected; instead of this, however, the author at once states in what that adornment does consist.

ὁ κρυπτὸς τῆς καρδίας ἄνθρωπος ] does not mean: the virtutes christ. quas Spir. s. per regenerationem in homine operatur (Gerhard; so, too, Wiesinger and Fronmüiller), for here there is no mention either of the Holy Ghost or of regeneration. It denotes simply the inner man, in contradistinction to the outward man (so, too, de Wette, Brückner, Weiss, Schott, Hofmann); κρυπτός , antithesis to ἔξωθεν , 1 Peter 3:3 ; cf. ὁ ἔσω ἀνθρ ., Romans 7:22 ; Ephesians 3:16 ; ὁ ἔσωθεν , sc . ἄνθρ ., 2 Corinthians 4:16 ; cf., too, such expressions as: τὰ κρυπτὰ τῆς καρδίας , 1 Corinthians 14:25 , and τὰ κρυπτὰ τῶν ἄνθρ ., Romans 2:16 . The apostle selected the expression κρυπτός as a contrast to the conspicuous adornment formerly spoken of. τῆς καρδίας is not gen. qualitatis (Schott); καρδία itself denotes no quality; it is the genitive of apposition subjoined, in that καρδία is the seat of the feeling and the disposition.

ἐν τῷ ἀφθάρτῳ ] τὸ ἄφθαρτον , substantive (like φθαρτά , chap. 1 Peter 1:18 ), “ the imperishable ” (incorrectly, Hofmann: ἐν τῷ ἀφθάρτῳ , sc . κόσμῳ ), in contrast to the perishable ornaments above mentioned. The prepos. ἐν points out the sphere in which the inner hidden man should move. If “ ὧν ὁ κόσμος ἔστω ” be supplied after ἀλλά , then “ ἐν is to be joined with it, so as to show in what, and with what, this their inward hidden man should be their ornament” (Schott; so, too, Hofmann).

τοῦ πρᾳέος καὶ ἡσυχίου πνεύματος ] a more exact definition of the ἄφθαρτον ; it denotes not the πν . ἅγιον of God, but the spirit of man. The meek and quiet spirit (here emphasized with special reference to ὑποτασσόμενοι , 1 Peter 3:1 ) is that “imperishable,” in which the hidden life of woman should exist and move. [170]

ἘΣΤΙΝ ἘΝΏΠΙΟΝ ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ ΠΟΛΥΤΕΛΈς ] does not apply to the whole (Grotius), nor to Τῷ ἈΦΘΆΡΤῼ (Bengel, Pott, Steiger, Schott), since it is self-evident that the ἌΦΘΑΡΤΟΝ is in God’s eyes ΠΟΛΥΤΕΛΈς . It is to be taken with the immediately preceding: ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΟς (de Wette, Wiesinger). Such a ΠΝΕῦΜΑ is, in the judgment of God (1 Timothy 2:3 ), ΠΟΛΥΤΕΛΈς (Mark 14:3 ; 1 Timothy 2:9 ), whilst outward adornment, worthless to the divine mind, possesses a value only in the eyes of men. [171]

[170] The two expressions: πραΰς and ἡσύχιος , must not be sharply distinguished; πραΰτης stands contrasted specially with ὀργή (James 1:20-21 ) or ζῆλος (James 3:13-14 ), synonymous with ἐπιεικεία (2 Corinthians 10:1 ), μακροθυμία (Colossians 3:12 ), ὑπομονή (1 Timothy 6:11 ), etc.; it is peculiar to him who does not allow himself to be provoked to wrath. ἡσυχία is related to ἀκαταστασία ; a ἡσύχιος is he who is peaceable and does not care for noisy life. Bengel interprets: mansuetus ( πραύς ): qui non turbat; tranquillus ( ἡσύχιος ): qui turbas aliorum fert placide; the contrary would be more correct.

[171] Luther: “A woman should be thus disposed as not to care for adornment. Else when people turn their minds to adornment, they never give it up; that is their way and their nature; therefore, a Christian woman should despise it. But if her husband wish it, or there be some other good reason for adorning herself, then she is right to do so.” Calvin, too, rightly observes: Non quemvis cultum reprehendere voluit Petrus, sed morbum vanitatis, quo mulieres laborant.

Verses 5-6

1 Peter 3:5-6 . οὕτω γάρ ] ground for the exhortation: ὧν ἔστω , etc., by the example of the saintly women of the O. T. οὕτω refers back to what precedes.

ποτὲ καὶ αἱ ἅγιαι γυναῖκες ] ποτέ , i.e. in the time of the Old Covenant.

ἅγιαι : because they belonged to the chosen people of God (Schott), and their life was sanctified and consecrated to God in faith.

αἱ ἐλπίζουσαι εἰς [ ἐπὶ ] Θεόν ] cf. 1 Timothy 5:5 . This nearer definition is subjoined not only because hope in God, i.e. in the fulfilment of His promises, was the characteristic mark of the piety of these holy women, rooted as it was in faith, but specially “to explain why it did not, and could not, occur to them ever to delight in empty show” (Hofmann). [172]

With ἐκόσμουν ἑαυτάς , cf. 1 Timothy 2:9 .

ὙΠΟΤΑΣΣΌΜΕΝΑΙ ΤΟῖς ἈΝΔΡΆΣΙΝ is linked on to ἘΚΌΣΜΟΥΝ ἙΑΥΤΆς , showing wherein lay the proof that they had adorned themselves with the meek and quiet spirit. There is but one (de Wette) characteristic indeed here mentioned, but, according to the connection, it is the chief manifestation of that spirit. It is incorrect to resolve (as was formerly done in the commentary) the participle into: “ from this fact, that .” 1 Peter 3:6 . ὡς Σάῤῥα ὑπήκουσε τῷ Ἀβραάμ ] A simple comparison of the contents of the two passages is a sufficient refutation of de Wette’s supposition that, in the words before us, there is a reference to Hebrews 11:11 .

Ὡς : particula allegandi exemplum: Bengel. Sarah is mentioned, because, as the wife of Abraham and ancestress of the people of Israel, she had especial significance in the history of redemption. [173]

ὙΠΉΚΟΥΣΕ refers not merely to the single case which the apostle had particularly before his mind, but denotes the habitual behaviour of Sarah towards Abraham: the aor. is used here as in Galatians 4:8 (de Wette, Wiesinger, Schott).

ΚΎΡΙΟΝ ΑὐΤῸΝ ΚΑΛΟῦΣΑ ] she showed herself submissive to the will of Abraham in this, that she called him ΚΎΡΙΟς . The allusion is here to Genesis 18:12 (cf. also 1 Samuel 1:8 , LXX.).

Ἧς ἘΓΕΝΉΘΗΤΕ ΤΈΚΝΑ ] Lorinus: non successione generis, sed imitatione fidei; Pott incorrectly explains the aorist by the future ( ἜΣΕΣΘΕ ); the translation, too, of the Vulg.: estis , is inexact; Luther is right “ whose daughters ye are become .” As Paul calls the believing heathen, on account of their faith, children of Abraham, so Peter here styles the women who had become Christians, children of Sarah.

ἀγαθοποιοῦσαι ] does not belong to ὙΠΟΤΑΣΣΌΜΕΝΑΙ , as if Ὡς ΣΆῤῬΑ ΤΈΚΝΑ were a parenthesis (Bengel, Ernesti, etc.), but to ἘΓΕΝΉΘΗΤΕ , not, however, as stating how they become (Weiss, p. 110 f.) [174] or “ have become ” children of Sarah (to the first interpretation the aorist ἐγενήθητε is opposed, to the latter the pres. partic.), but as showing the mark by which they proved themselves children of Sarah. It may be resolved into: “since,” or: “that is to say if,” etc. It is grammatically incorrect to see in ἀγαθοποιοῦσαι the result of ἧς ἐγενήθητε τέκνα , and to explain: “in this way have they become the children of Sarah, that they are now in accordance therewith ἀγαθοποιοῦσαι and μὴ φοβούμεναι ” (Schott). By ἀγαθοποιεῖν is to be understood here not specially benevolence (Oecum.); [175] the word denotes rather the whole moral activity of Christian life in its fullest extent, although here, as the connection shows, with particular reference to the marriage relation.

ΚΑῚ ΜῊ ΦΟΒΟΎΜΕΝΑΙ ΜΗΔΕΜΊΑΝ ΠΤΌΗΣΙΝ ] ΠΤΌΗΣΙς equals ΦΌΒΟς (Pollux v. 122: ΣΥΣΤΟΛῊ , ΘΌΡΥΒΟς , ΤΑΡΑΧΉ ), in the N. T. ἍΠ . ΛΕΓ . (Luke 21:9 ; Luke 24:37 , the verb ΠΤΟΗΘΈΝΤΕς is connected with ἜΜΦΟΒΟΙ ΓΕΝΌΜΕΝΟΙ ); it denotes not the object causing fear, but the fear itself which is felt; and it can be looked on either objectively as a power threatening man, or laying hold of him (as Proverbs 3:25 , LXX.: ΚΑῚ Οὐ ΦΟΒΗΘΉΣῌ ΠΤΌΗΣΙΝ ἘΠΕΛΘΟῦΣΑΝ ; 1Ma 3:25 : ΠΤΌΗΣΙς ἘΠΙΠΊΠΤΕΙ ἘΠῚ ΤᾺ ἜΘΝΗ ; the synonymous terms ΦΌΒΟς , ΤΡΌΜΟς , are used also in a like manner), or taken in a sense purely subjective. Most commentators understand ΠΤΌΗΣΙς here in the first of these senses, only they do not take the conception strictly by itself, but identify it with that which causes fear; in the first edition of this commentary the second meaning is attributed to ΠΤΌΗΣΙς : ΦΟΒΕῖΣΘΑΙ ΠΤΌΗΣΙΝ equal to ΦΟΒΕῖΣΘΑΙ ΦΌΒΟΝ : “to experience fear” (Mark 4:41 ; Luke 2:9 ; cf. Winer, p. 210 f. [E. T. 280]); but this explanation is opposed by the fact “that in such a connection the substantive must be taken not in idea only, but in form also from the verb” (Brückner). The idea here is quite as universal as in ἈΓΑΘΟΠ . ; and accordingly it must be conceived as the fear generally which the enmity of the unbelieving world occasions to believers; still, according to the connection, the apostle had doubtless in his mind more particularly the conduct of heathen men towards their Christian wives.

Luther’s translation is inexact: “if ye … are not so fearful.” The rendering of Stephanus is incorrect, s.v . πτόησις : jubentur mulieres officium facere etiam, cum nullus eas metus constringit i. e. sponte et ultro.

[172] According to Schott, this addition is meant to express that “the complete development of the Christian church, to which they belonged, was only as yet an object of hope;” but this introduces a reference which the words do not contain.

[173] Schott applies ὡς to that which directly precedes, in this sense: that “the conduct of the holy women was regulated only according to the standard of Sarah.” Hofmann thus: that Sarah “is mentioned as a shining example of the conduct of holy women.” Both are wrong, since neither is alluded to by ὡς .

[174] It must be held, with “Wiesinger, Brückner, and Schott, in opposition to Weiss and Fronmüller, that it is more natural to take these words as applying to Gentile-Christian rather than to Jewish-Christian readers. For inasmuch as the latter, before their conversion, were already τέκνα τῆς Σάῤῥας , some allusion must have been made to their not having been so in a right manner, and as they now had become. It does not follow from John 8:39 (as Weiss thinks) that an allusion of this kind was unnecessary.

[175] Μετὰ τοῦ εὐκόσμου καὶ πρέποντος Χριστιανοῖς κόσμου καὶ ἐλεήμονας αὐτὰς εἶναι παραινεῖ , μηδὲν ὑποβλεπόμενας τὸν ἀπὸ τῶν ἀνδρῶν αὐτῶν διὰ τοῦτο ἐκλογισμόν .

Verse 7

1 Peter 3:7 . οἱ ἄνδρες ὁμοίως ] ὁμοίως , with the participle following, refers back, as in 1 Peter 3:1 , to ὑποτάγητε πάσῃ ἄνθρ . κτίσει , with which the exhortation begins (Hofmann); though there is no ὑποτασσόμενοι (cf. 1 Peter 2:18 , 1 Peter 3:1 ), there lies something corresponding to it in the fact that the wife on her part possesses a τιμή to be acknowledged by the husband. Pott erroneously renders ὁμοίως by “vicissim, on the other hand;” nor is it, as de Wette thinks probable, to be expanded: “in like manner, ye men also, hear my exhortation.”

συνοικοῦντες ] συνοικεῖν ( ἅπ . λεγ .) is not a euphemismus de tori conjugalis consuetudine (Hieronym. contra Jovian, lib. l. c. 4; Augustin. in Psalms 146., etc.); the reference is rather to life together at home.

κατὰ γνῶσιν ] As γνῶσις is here anarthrous, it is wrong to understand γνῶσις as referring directly to “Christian recognition of the relation of wife to husband” (Brückner, Schott); κατὰ γνῶσιν is rather an adverbial expression, in which γνῶσις is to be understood generally, as Wiesinger correctly remarks: “according to recognition, i.e. so that home life must be regulated by knowledge and understanding” (so also Hofmann). Similar adverbial expressions, formed by a conjunction of κατά with an anarthrous subst., occur frequently both in classical and N. T. Greek. It is evident from the context that κατὰ γνῶσιν has here special reference to the marriage relation; but from this it does not follow that the interpretation: “ in a judicious, discerning manner ,” or Luther’s: “with reason,” is incorrect (in opposition to Brückner and Schott). De Wette is completely mistaken in rendering γνῶσις by: “that knowledge of men and self, in fact, that inward discernment, which is the condition of all moderation ,” as is Bengel also directly by: moderatio. [176]

ὡς ἀσθενεστέρῳ σκεύει τῷ γυναικείῳ ] is erroneously connected by Luther and others with ἀπονέμοντες ; it belongs, however, to συνοικοῦντες , which requires a nearer definition.

The word σκεῦος is used to designate the wife in 1 Thessalonians 4:4 (see Lünemann in loc .) with reference to the husband; the same meaning, though with various applications, is here attributed to it by many interpreters. Beza: est femina vas i. e. comes et adjutrix viro ad fideliter coram Deo transigendam vitam adjuncta; Bengel: denotat hoc sexum et totum ingenium temperamentumque foemineum. But this view is incorrect, for τῷ γυναικείῳ , sc . σκεύει , is subjoined by way of explanation, and the comparative ἀσθ . shows that the husband also is thought of as σκεῦος . σκεῦος must be taken here in its specific meaning of a utensil (or instrument) serving a particular purpose, and is accordingly to be understood as specially applicable to man, in so far as the latter is used by God for the accomplishment of His will (cf. Acts 9:15 ). It is inaccurate, nor can it be justified by Romans 9:21 ff., to take the word in the general sense of “creation” (so Wiesinger, and formerly in this commentary). Hofmann understands σκεῦος here as referring both to the husband and the wife, inasmuch as “in a life united in marriage, one part is destined to be and to accomplish something for the other;” but the reference to this mutual relation is purely arbitrary. [177]

ἈΣΘΕΝΕΣΤΈΡῼ ] Bengel: Comparativus, etiam vir habet infirmitatem; in like manner Steiger: “the less weak is called upon to assist the more weak” (thus also Fronmüller). This view is, however, incorrect; it is the husband rather as the stronger ΣΚΕῦΟς there is no reference made here to his weakness who is here contrasted with the wife as the weaker (de Wette, Wiesinger, Schott, Hofmann). And, because he is such a ΣΚΕῦΟς , it is demanded of him that he live with his wife ΚΑΤᾺ ΓΝῶΣΙΝ ; Ὡς here also states the reason: because the wife is a ΣΚ . ἈΣΘΕΝΕΝΈΣΤΕΡΟΝ , it is accordingly incumbent on the man to behave towards her ΚΑΤᾺ ΓΝῶΣΙΝ . Schott erroneously sees in ΚΑΤᾺ ΓΝῶΣΙΝ the determining reason why the man should treat her as a ΣΚ . ἈΣΘ . ; but this can the less be maintained, that Κ . ΓΝ . cannot signify: “because he recognises her as such,” but states the manner of the ΣΥΝΟΙΚΕῖΝ .

ἈΣΘΕΝΕΣΤΈΡῼ ΣΚΕΎΕΙ stands in apposition to Τῷ ΓΥΝΑΙΚΕΊῼ , sc . σκεύει , and is put first by way of emphasis.

ΓΥΝΑΙΚΕῖΟς , ἍΠ . ΛΕΓ . , Leviticus 18:22 ; Deuteronomy 22:5 , LXX.; Esther 2:11 ; Esther 2:17 .

ἈΠΟΝΈΜΟΝΤΕς ΤΙΜΉΝ ] “ in that ye show honour ( respect ) to them ;” ἀπονέμειν in the N. T. ἍΠ . ΛΕΓ .

The participle is not co-ordinate with the foregoing ( ΣΥΝΟΙΚΟῦΝΤΕς ), but subordinate to it, since it brings prominently forward one of the chief ways in which the preceding exhortation may be carried into effect. The thought here must not be arbitrarily limited to any special relation ( e.g. to that of maintenance or of continence, etc.). The husband should, in every relation, show the respect due to his wife.

ὡς καὶ συγκληρονόμοις [- οι ] χάριτος ζωῆς ] serves as ground of the exhortation; if the reading be: ΣΥΓΚΛΗΡΟΝΌΜΟΙς , the reference is to the wives; if ΣΥΓΚΛΗΡΟΝΌΜΟΙ , to the husbands (in opposition to Pott, who somewhat singularly interprets as equal to ΕἸΣΙ ΓᾺΡ ΣΥΓΚΛΗΡΟΝΌΜΟΙ , sc . αἱγυναῖκες ). The dative is more in harmony with the structure of the sentence and the thought, and therefore is to be preferred to the nom. supported by the authorities; although the nom. may be defended on the ground that husbands, as ΣΥΓΚΛ . of their wives, should in turn regard the latter as their ΣΥΓΚΛ . But since this last is really the point of importance, it can hardly be assumed that the apostle would only have hinted at it without openly giving expression to it. [178]

ΚΑῚ ΣΥΓΚΛΗΡΟΝΌΜΟΙς ] de Wette-Brückner explain: “as (those who) also (like yourselves) (are) fellow-heirs ( one with another ).” The reference here attributed to συν simply on account of ΚΑΊ is inappropriate, since it is a thought entirely foreign to the context, that the wives are heirs with each other . If the reading συγκληρονόμοις be adopted, ΣΥΝ applies to the husbands, equivalent to “ with you ;” καί may stand with reference to the foregoing ἈΣΘΕΝΕΣΤΈΡῼ , adding a second particular to it (Schott); or it may also serve simply to intensify ΣΥΝ , since, strictly speaking, it is redundant. [179] If, however, συγκληρονόμοι be read, καί is to be taken in the latter way, and is not to be explained thus: “by ἀπονέμοντες something further is enjoined, which goes beyond the … κατὰ γνῶσιν ” (Hofmann); for συνοικοῦντες κατὰ γνῶσιν stands imperatively, whilst συγκληρονόμοι does not say what the husbands should be, but what they are. With the idea κληρονόμοι , cf. chap. 1 Peter 1:4 ; the expression συγκληρ ., Romans 8:17 ; Ephesians 3:6 ; Hebrews 11:9 .

χάριτος ζωῆς ] ζωῆς states in what the χάρις , of which they are and will be κληρονόμοι , consists. It is erroneous to resolve the expression into χάρις ζῶσα (Erasmus) or χάρις ζωοποιοῦσα (Grotius). Hofmann, assuming συγκληρονόμοι ποικίλης χάριτος ζωῆς to be the true reading, gives an interpretation different from the above: “as such who, with their wives, share a life of manifold grace, i.e. of those divine favours which are experienced in common in every marriage by believers and unbelievers.” In this way, however, justice is done to neither of the ideas, nor is it pointed out what the favours in married life referred to are. [180]

εἰς τὸ μὴ ἐγκόπτεσθαι , ( Rec. ἐκκόπτεσθαι ) τὰς προσευχὰς ὑμῶν ] ἐγκόπτειν , strictly, incidere, then intercidere, from which arises the further meaning impedire (Hes. ἐμποδίζειν , διακωλύειν ); ἐκκόπτειν , pr. excidere, whence stirpitus delere; cf. Job 19:10 , LXX.: ἐξέκοψε δὲ ὥσπερ δένδρον τὴν ἐλπίδα μου ; the idea of the latter word is stronger than that of the former, but the thought in both readings remains substantially the same, since both expressions denote the ceasing of prayer. Wiesinger incorrectly understands the meaning of the term ἐγκόπτ . to be: “prayer in the meantime there still is, but the way is closed to it.” In like manner de Wette, following Bretschneider: ne viam praecludatis precibus vestris, remarks: “Prayer is by sin hindered from mounting up to the throne of God;” and such is in substance Hofmann’s view. [181] This idea would, however, have been more definitely expressed. The apostle does not say that the power and the hearing of prayer are hindered, but that the prayer itself is (this also in opposition to Reiche). In harmony with the connection of this last clause, by τὰς προσευχὰς ὑμῶν is to be understood either the joint prayer of married persons (Weiss, p. 352), [182] or the prayers which those here addressed offer up, as the husbands of their wives (or, further, as heads of households). Depreciation of the wife, in spite of union with respect to the ΚΛΗΡΟΝΟΜΊΑ , necessarily excludes prayer from married life. [183] Schott: “Where the husband does not recognise that the union of natural life in marriage is also union in the state of grace, there can naturally be no expression of the spiritual and Christian fellowship of marriage, no prayer in common.”

[176] Oecumenius understands this exhortation in connection with ver. 6 as having a special application to the household: οἱ ἄνδρες … συνοικῦντες · τουτέστιν : αἴσθησιν λαμβάνοντες τῆς τοῦ θήλεος κουφότητος καὶ τοῦ εὐπαραφόρου ἐν πᾶσι , καὶ εἰς μικροψυχίαν εὐολίσθου , μακρόθυμοι γίνεσθε πρὸς αὐτὰς , μὴ λόγον ἀπαιτοῦντες πικρῶς τῶν κατὰ τὴν οἰκίαν αὐτῶν εἰς ταμιείαν παρακατεθέτων .

[177] Schott arbitrarily asserts that the creature is here termed σκεῦος , “as a vessel which is destined to receive into itself , as its real contents, the realization of the divine will.” Even though a vessel containing something can be termed a σκεῦος , it does not follow that σκεῦος must be understood as meaning this and nothing else.

[178] In the 2d edition of this Commentary it was said: “Why should not the apostle base his exhortation to the men to honour their wives, by reminding them (the men) that they are called to inherit the χάρις ζωῆς along with their wives?” Reiche says: scilicet quia absurdum (!) esset, sic argumentari; Brückner maintains that meaning to be “altogether inappropriate and foreign to the purpose of the address.” These assertions, however, can by no means be accepted, since the consciousness of being a fellow-heir of salvation with any one may very well lead to a recognition of the τιμή which he possesses. Nor is there anything improbable in the circumstance itself, that the apostle, whilst basing the exhortation: συνοικεῖν κατὰ γνῶσιν , on the position of the women, should ground the ἀπονέμειν τιμήν on the position of the men. Schott passes too lightly over the whole question.

[179] On the redundance of καί in comparisons, see Winer, p. 390 [E. T. 548]; but this use of it cannot be appealed to, since ὡς here is not a comparative particle. Wiesinger thinks that συν perhaps contains the reference to a community to which man and wife equally belong; but what this was, would have been indicated by the context, as Ephesians 3:6 ; such, however, is not the case here. To the expression “strictly” Reiche adds a?, without ever thinking that, since the same idea is expressed by καί and συν , one of the two must be redundant, and that “strictly” is only meant to show that καί is in so far not purely redundant, that it serves to strengthen the idea expressed by συν .

[180] There is no warrant for the opinion that the apostle’s exhortation must apply also to such husbands as have unbelieving wives, since a case so special might well have been passed over. If the apostle had wished to make reference to this, he would in some way have alluded to it; cf. ver. 1 ff.

[181] In this interpretation the reference to the coming of prayer to God is a simple importation. Hofmann adds to the interpretation, that “the sighs of the wife bar the road to the husband’s prayers, by accusing him to God before his prayer, thus rendered worthless, reaches Him.” But this is a thought altogether foreign to the context.

[182] Although in ver. 7 it is the husbands who are addressed, still, as the verse treats of their behaviour towards their wives, ὑμῶν can well apply to both.

[183] Hieronymus, Oecumenius, etc., apply the words according to 1 Corinthians 7:3 , ad honorem impertiendum uxoribus a viris, qui sit abstinentia a congressu, ut orationi vacare possint (Lorinus), which is connected with the false interpretation of συνοικοῦντες ; Nicol. de Lyra says more correctly: cum vir et uxor non sunt bene Concordes, minus possunt orationi vacare. The Scholion in Matthaei, p. 199, is inadequate: ὁ γὰρ περὶ τὴν οἰκίαν θόρυβος τῶν κατὰ Θεὸν ἔργων ἐμπόδιον .

Verse 8

1 Peter 3:8 . Exhortations of a general character follow, without regard to the various conditions of men, yet in connection with chap. 1 Peter 2:11 ff. They deal with the relations of the Christians towards each other, and towards those who are inimically disposed to them.

τὸ δὲ τέλος ] here adverbially: “ finally, lastly ;” in the classics τέλος δέ occurs frequently. Pott explains erroneously, by appeal to 1 Timothy 1:5 : pro κατὰ δὲ τὸ τέλος summa cohortationum mearum jam eo redit (in like manner Erasmus, Grotius, Wolf, Steiger, etc.). Oecumenius marks the transition very well thus: τὶ χρὴ ἰδιολογεῖσθαι ; ἁπλῶς πᾶσι φημί · τοῦτο γὰρ τέλος καὶ πρὸς τοῦτο ὁ σκόπος ἐφορᾷ τῆς σωτηρίας .

πάντες ] emphatically, in contrast to what preceded: slaves and masters, husbands and wives.

ἔστε or some such word is usually supplied here; it is more correct, however, to consider the following adjectives, etc., as standing in a dependence similar to that of the participles formerly; only that the apostle has in his mind, instead of the particular ὑποτάγητε κ . τ . λ . in 1 Peter 2:13 , the more general exhortation to obedience toward God.

ὁμόφρονες ] in the N. T. ἅπ . λεγ . (Theognis, 81, ὁμόφρονα θυμὸν ἔχοντες ); frequently τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν , Romans 12:16 ; Rom 15:5 ; 2 Corinthians 13:11 ; Philippians 2:2 ; similar expressions, 1 Corinthians 1:10 ; Ephesians 4:3 ; Philippians 3:16 ; Luther: “ like-minded .”

συμπαθεῖς ] “ sympathizing ,” in N. T. ἅπ . λεγ .; the verb, Hebrews 4:15 ; Hebrews 10:34 ; for the explanation, comp. Romans 12:15 . Oecumenius explains: συμπάθεια · ὁ πρὸς τοὺς κακῶς πάσχοντας ὡς καὶ ἐφʼ ἑαυτοῖς ἔλεος ; where, however, it is incorrect to limit the application to suffering only. Bengel: ὁμόφρ .: mente, συμπαθεῖς : affectu in rebus secundis et adversis.

φιλάδελφοι ] “ brotherly ,” Luther; also ἅπ . λεγ .; the substantive occurs in chap. 1 Peter 1:22 .

εὔσπλαγχνοι ] to be found, besides here, in Ephesians 4:32 , “ compassionate ;” in classical Greek: qui robustis est visceribus, as in Hippocr. p. 89 C; and figuratively equal to εὐκάρδιος , ἀνδρεῖος ; in the sense of compassionate it does not occur in the classics.

ταπεινόφρονες ] ἅπ . λεγ .; the ταπεινοφροσύνη (humility) as well before God (Acts 20:19 ) as towards our neighbour (chap. 1 Peter 5:5 , Philippians 2:3 , where it is joined with σπλάγχνα οἰκτιρμοῦ ); here, with the latter reference.

Calvin: humilitas praecipuum conservandae amicitiae vinculum. Hofmann justly questions whether “ ὑποτάσσομαι , the leading idea of the series of exhortations which here comes to a close, is, as it were, echoed in ταπεινόφρ .” (Wiesinger). For a panegyric on humility, see Lorinus in loc . In the classics ταπεινόφρων means “mean-spirited and faint-hearted.” The word φιλόφρονες (spurious here) is explained by Gerhard: qui student facere ea quae alteri amica sunt et grata. The first three expressions show the loving relation in which Christians stand to each other; the last two (or three), the conduct of Christians towards all without distinction (Hofmann).

Verse 9

1 Peter 3:9 . Behaviour towards the hostile world, μὴ ἀποδιδόντες κακὸν ἀντὶ κακοῦ ] the same phrase occurs Romans 12:17 , 1 Thessalonians 5:15 ; comp. Matthew 5:43 ff.

ἢ λοιδορίαν ἀντὶ λοιδορίας ] comp. chap. 1 Peter 2:23 . Nicol. de Lyra: non reddentes malum pro malo in factis injuriosis, nec maledictam pro maledicta in verbis contentiosis.

τοὐναντίον δὲ εὐλογοῦντες ] i.e. in return for κακόν and λοιδορία ; εὐλογεῖν in the N. T., when used of man , is equal to bona apprecari, opposed to καταρᾶσθαι ; cf. Matthew 5:44 ; Luke 6:28 ; Romans 12:14 ; 1 Corinthians 4:12 ; James 3:9 . Taken in this sense (Wiesinger, Brückner, Hofmann [184] ), it expresses simply the opposite of the preceding λοιδορίαν ἀντὶ λοιδορίας . It is more in harmony with the context, however, to understand it as referring equally to κακὸν ἀντὶ κακοῦ ; in which case it will have a wider sense, and be equivalent to “wishing well and showing kindness by word and deed” (Fronmüller). This is supported by the subsequent εὐλογίαν ; nor does the N. T. usage stand in the way, in so far as in 2 Corinthians 9:5-6 , at least, εὐλογία denotes something accomplished by human action, though Hofmann strangely seeks to lessen its force by understanding it of “a personal greeting.”

ὅτι εἰς τοῦτο ἐκλήθητε ] comp. chap. 1 Peter 2:21 .

ἵνα εὐλογίαν κληρονομήσητε ] From chap. 1 Peter 2:21 it is natural to take εἰς τοῦτο as referring to what precedes ( εὐλογοῦντες ) (Oecumenius, Grotius, Calvin, Steiger, de Wette-Brückner, Fronmüller, Reiche, Hofmann, etc.); in which case ἵνα would belong either to εὐλογοῦντες , ὅτι … ἐκλήθητε thus forming a parenthesis, or to ἐκλήθητε . But in the first case the close connection of the clauses is broken, whilst in the second the somewhat inadequate idea arises, that we are called upon to bless, in order that we ourselves may obtain a blessing. It is therefore better to take εἰς τοῦτο with the subsequent ἵνα (Luther, Beza, Bengel, Wiesinger, Schott, etc.); comp. chap. 1 Peter 4:6 ; John 18:37 ; Romans 14:9 . The consciousness that we, as Christians, are called to obtain a blessing, should be an incitement to us to bring blessing to others; the more so, that otherwise we shall fall short of the blessing to which we are called. On εὐλογίαν Bengel rightly remarks: benedictionem aeternam, cujus primitias jam nunc pii habent. If εἰδότες before ὅτι be the correct reading, it must be taken as in chap. 1 Peter 1:18 .

[184] Schott no doubt insists that the blessing of man is accomplished in word only and not in deed, but he does not say whether it means a wish expressed in prayer (bona apprecari), or whether any operation through the word is to be understood, for he renders εὐλογεῖν by “to bestow good in word.” If the former be implied, then it is wrong to say: “that God’s blessing is in truth accompanied by deeds, but man’s must stop short at the word.” If the second, then man’s blessing is also in deed.

Verses 10-12

1 Peter 3:10-12 . Quoted from Psalms 34:13-17 , LXX., and strengthening the foregoing exhortations by a reference to the divine judgment. In the original the first clause forms an interrogation, to which the following clauses, in the second person imperative, give the answer.

ὁ γὰρ θέλων ζωὴν ἀγαπᾷν , καὶ ἰδεῖν ἡμέρας ἀγαθάς ] The translation of the LXX., an inexact reproduction of the Hebrew, [185] runs: τίς ἐστιν ἄνθρωπος ὁ θέλων ζωὴν , ἀγαπῶν ἡμέρας ἀγαθάς ; Peter’s deviation from it by the conjunction of θέλων ἀγαπᾷν is striking.

θέλων is not used adverbially here, equivalent to “fain;” but neither must another conception be substituted for ἀγαπᾷν ; de Wette: “he who will show [186] love for life” ( i.e. a yearning desire after it). The idea “show,” besides being an arbitrary introduction, is inappropriate, inasmuch as it is love of life itself, and not the showing of it, that is here in question. Wiesinger is more happy: “He who is really in earnest as to the love of life.” θέλων is then to be explained on the principle that love of ΖΩΉ , no less than the possession of it, is conditioned by a certain course of conduct on the part of man. Bengel, appealing to Ecclesiastes 2:17 , interprets still better: qui vult ita vivere, ut ipsum non taedeat vitae; i.e. who will have life so that he can love it ; so, too, Schott; similarly Hofmann, only that the latter unnecessarily understands ἀγαπᾷν to mean simply “to enjoy a thing.”

ΚΑῚ ἸΔΕῖΝ ἩΜΈΡΑς ἈΓΑΘΆς ] with ἸΔΕῖΝ in this connection, comp. Luke 2:26 ; Hebrews 11:5 ; John 3:3 .

The passage in the Psalms has evidently reference to earthly happiness; according to de Wette, on the other hand, the apostle had the future and eternal life in view here; this, however, is not the case, for in the passage before us the reference is likewise to the present life (Wiesinger, Schott, and Brückner), only it must be observed that for the believer happiness in this life consists in something different from that of the man of the world; to the former, days of suffering also may be ἡμέραι ἀγαθαί . If this be correct, ΓΆΡ cannot refer to the thought immediately preceding, but only “to the whole exhortation, 1 Peter 3:8-9 ” (Wiesinger, Schott).

ΠΑΥΣΆΤΩ Κ . Τ . Λ . ] The LXX., keeping to the Hebrew original, here and in what follows preserve the second person.

ΠΑΎΕΙΝ , “ to cause to cease, to hold back ;” in classical Greek never joined with ἀπό ; the subsequent genitive ΤΟῦ ΜῊ ΛΑΛῆΣΑΙ stands in conformity with the use of the verb among the Greeks; comp. Winer, p. 305 [E. T. 409].

ΚΑΚΌΝ has a wider range than ΔΌΛΟς ; there is no ground for limiting the application of the term here simply to words of reprimand (de Wette). With δόλος , comp. chap. 1 Peter 2:1 ; 1 Peter 2:22 . 1 Peter 3:11 . ἘΚΚΛΙΝΆΤΩ ΔῈ Κ . Τ . Λ . ] ἘΚΚΛΊΝΕΙΝ ἈΠΌ ; comp. Romans 16:17 . The same thought in the same words, Psalms 37:27 ; comp. further, Isaiah 1:16-17 ; Romans 12:9 .

ΔΈ , if it be genuine, serves to bring into prominence the new idea, distinct from the preceding.

ΖΗΤΗΣΆΤΩ Κ . Τ . Λ . ] ΔΙΏΚΕΙΝ (comp. 1 Timothy 6:11 , etc.), stronger than ΖΗΤΕῖΝ (comp. Matthew 6:33 ; Colossians 3:1 ).

The first half contains the general thought, the second emphasizes one more special. Although the exhortations of the apostle refer more particularly to the conduct of Christians towards their persecutors, yet they are not confined to this, but go beyond it (in opposition to Schott). 1 Peter 3:12 . ὍΤΙ ὈΦΘΑΛΜΟῚ ΚΥΡΊΟΥ Κ . Τ . Λ . ] ὍΤΙ is inserted by the apostle in order to mark more precisely the connection of thought. The exhortations are founded on a reference to the manner of God’s dealings. On the first hemistich Bengel remarks: inde vitam habent et dies bonos. The apostle omits the words ΤΟῦ ἘΞΟΛΟΘΡΕῦΣΑΙ ἘΚ Γῆς ΤῸ ΜΝΗΜΌΣΥΝΟΝ ΑὐΤῶΝ in the Psalm, added to ΠΡΌΣΩΠΟΝ ΚΑΚΆ (not because, as de Wette thinks, he considered them too strong), and thus deprives the last member of the verse of a nearer definition. Calvin, Grotius, Beza, de Wette, accordingly take the ἘΠΊ of this member in a sense different from that which it has in the first, namely, as conveying the idea of “punishment,” equivalent to “against;” this, however, is arbitrary. Hensler, Augusti, and Steiger find in all three members the expression of “attentive observation” only; but this view itself, according to the thought, inadequate is opposed by the particle ΔΈ , which indicates rather a contrast, and is not to be translated, with Hensler, by “but also.” If, now, the antithesis be not contained in ἘΠΊ , it can be sought for only in ΠΡΌΣΩΠΟΝ , which, though in itself doubtless a vox media (comp. Numbers 6:25-26 ; Psalms 4:7 ), is nevertheless in this passage of the Psalms to be thought of as one full of wrath, and, as such, was present to the mind of the apostle. Strictly speaking, indeed, this should have been expressed; but not necessarily so, since the antithesis between this and the preceding member of the verse makes it sufficiently apparent. A similar interpretation is given by Wiesinger, Brückner, and Schott.

[185] In the original Hebrew the passage is:

[186] Similarly already the Glossa interl. : qui vult ostendere, se dilectionem habere. Lorinus thinks that the combination of the two words serves to intensify the idea: si recte dicitur quis concupiseere, desiderare (Psalms 118:20 ), quidni velle, quod est verbum generale, amare? Innuit duplicatio non solum vehementiam desiderii amorisve, sed infirmitatem quoque carnis revocantis subinde voluntatem, ne ita velit acriter et assiduo. But in Psalms 118:20 (Vulg.: concupivit anima mea desiderare justificationes tuas) the connection is different from here.

מִי־הָאִישׁ הֶחָפֵץ חַיִּים

אֹהֵב יָמִים לִרְאוֹת טוֹב .

Verse 13

1 Peter 3:13 serves further to emphasize the exhortation to well-doing, and at the same time introduces the following paragraph, in which Peter calls upon the Christians to suffer persecutions patiently.

καί ] unites what follows with what precedes. A new reason, the truth of which is attested by the thought contained in 1 Peter 3:12 , is added in 1 Peter 3:13 to the argument advanced for the preceding exhortation of 1 Peter 3:12 . The sense is: Do good, for to the good God is gracious, with the wicked He is angry; and those who do good, for this very reason none can harm.

τίς ὁ κακώσων ὑμᾶς ] an impressive and passionate question (stronger than a simple negative), in which must be noted the form ὁ κακώσων , sc. ἐστί instead of κακώσει , as also the sharp contrast between κακοῦν and the subsequent ἀγαθοῦ . “Do harm,” as a rendering of κακοῦν (Wiesinger, de Wette), is too weak. The word is used for the most part of ill-treatment (Acts 7:6 ; Acts 7:19 ; Acts 12:1 ; Acts 18:10 ), and denotes here, with reference to the preceding κακά , such evil-doing as is really harmful for him who suffers it. It is possible that the apostle had in his mind Isaiah 50:9 , LXX.: ἰδοὺ κύριος κύριος βοηθήσει μοι , τίς κακώσει με . The interrogative form expresses the sure confidence of the apostle, that to those who do good no one either will or can do harm. Steiger’s interpretation is too pointless: “and indeed who then will seek to do you harm, as you imagine, if you really,” etc.; [187] for the reservation must be added that every proverb has this peculiarity, that it is not without exception (Benson), or that the statement in the oratio popularis must not be taken too strictly. The strong and consoling expression of an unshaken faith is thus reduced to a somewhat empty commonplace. [188]

ἐὰν τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ ζηλωταὶ γένησθε ] τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ was taken by some of the older interpreters (Lorin., Aret., etc.) to be the gen. masc., probably on account of the article (as distinguished from the anarthrous ἀγαθόν , 1 Peter 3:11 ). Weiss also thinks that by it Christ perhaps may be understood. Most commentators, however, correctly regard it as the neuter; comp. 1 Peter 3:11 . The article is put, inasmuch as in this term all the single virtues, formerly mentioned, are included; it stands first by way of emphasis.

ζηλωταί ; comp. 1 Corinthians 14:12 ; Titus 2:14 . If the reading μιμηταί be adopted, its connection with the neuter is somewhat singular, still the verb μιμεῖσθαι does occur with names of things; comp. Hebrews 13:7 ; 3 John 1:11 .

[187] Gualther’s paraphrase is not less insipid: quis est, scilicet tarn impudens et iniquus, qui vos affligat, si beneficentiae sitis aemulatores? “Wiesinger’s interpretation also is inappropriate: “If ye follow my exhortations, it is to be hoped,” etc. The words do not hint that “the trials which the readers had endured were not altogether undeserved on their part”(Wiesinger).

[188] Schott’s interpretation, according to which κακοῦν is “to make evil-doers in the judgment of God,” is altogether wide of the mark. Although κακοῦν , corresponding to the Hebrew הִרְשִׁיעַ , as applied to a judge, may mean: “to condemn,” or properly: “to declare a person a κακός ,” it does not follow therefrom that it may also have the meaning of “causing God to declare a person a κακός .”

Verse 14

1 Peter 3:14 . ἀλλʼ εἰ καὶ πάσχοιτε ] ἀλλά expresses the antithesis to the negation contained in the preceding question: “ but even though you should suffer ;” cf. Winer, p. 275 [E. T. 367]; a species of restriction which, however, is not intended to weaken the force of the foregoing thought. No doubt the possibility of suffering is admitted, yet in such a way that the Christian is considered blessed on account of that suffering. πάσχειν is not identical with κακοῦσθαι , but, as Bengel rightly remarks: levius verbum quam κακοῦσθαι . Every Christian has a πάσχειν , but he need never fear a κακοῦσθαι . [189]

διὰ δικαιοσύνην ] recalls Matthew 5:10 . δικαιοσύνη is here (cf. chap. 1 Peter 2:24 ) synonymous with τὸ ἀγαθόν and ἡ ἀγαθὴ ἐν Χριστῷ ἀναστροφή , 1 Peter 3:16 .

μακάριοι ] sc . ἐστέ . Even suffering itself contributes to your blessedness.

τὸν δὲ φόβον κ . τ . λ .] These and the words which begin the following verse are “a free use” (Schott) of the passage, Isaiah 8:12-13 , LXX.: τὸν δὲ φόβον αὐτοῦ ( i.e. τοῦ λαοῦ ) οὐ μὴ φοβηθῆτε , οὐδὲ μὴ ταραχθῆτε · κύριον αὐτὸν ἁγιάσατε . The thought here is not quite the same, the sense of the Old Testament passage being: do not share the terror of the people, and do not be moved by what alarms them. If φόβος be here taken objectively , then φόβος αὐτῶν is “ the fear emanating from them ,” or “the fear which they excite” (de Wette, Brückner); cf. Psalms 91:5 : οὐ φοβηθήσῃ ἀπὸ φόβου νυκτερινοῦ ; cf. also in this chap. 1 Peter 3:6 . If, on the other hand, it be taken in a subjective sense, then αὐτῶν is equal to “of them,” therefore: “do not fear with the fear of them, i.e. do not be afraid of them” (Schott and Hofmann also). In both cases the meaning is substantially the same. Wiesinger is inaccurate when he takes φόβος subjectively, and interprets αὐτῶν as de Wette does.

[189] These words also are wrongly explained by Schott, since he takes ἀλλʼ as quickly denying the previous statement, and introducing a new turn of thought, separates εἰ καί from each other, and connects καί with πάσχοιτε in the sense of “even.” For the first, Schott appeals to Hartung’s Partikell . II. p. 37; for the second, to Hartung, I. p. 140, note; but without any right to do so. For, as to the former , he overlooks that ἀλλʼ here follows on a sentence negative in meaning; and as to the latter , that καί has here a position, in which a separation of it from εἰ could not for a moment be thought of. The apostle would have expressed the idea: “if for righteousness’sake you should have to experience (not only not happiness and blessing, but) even suffering,” by εἰ διὰ δικαιοσύνην καὶ πάσχοιτε .

Verse 15

1 Peter 3:15 . κύριον δὲ τὸν Χριστόν ] κύριον , in Isaiah equivalent to τὸν Θεόν ; a substitution of this kind is frequently found in the N. T., where reference is made to passages in the O. T., and can be easily explained on the principle that a consciousness distinctively Christian was asserting itself; “ κύριον is placed first, as antithesis to αὐτῶν ” (Wiesinger). Schott denies that κύριον stands in apposition to τὸν Χριστόν , holding that κύριον is to be taken rather as a predicate of the object, equivalent to, “ as Lord ;” for this reason, that κύριος stands here without the article, and that the simple conjunction of κύριος and Χριστός does not occur. But against the first objection the expression κύριος ὁ Θεός may be urged, and against the second the verse Luke 2:11 . It is more natural, and at the same time more in harmony with the passage in the O. T., to connect κύριος directly with τὸν Χριστόν : “ but … the Lord, the Messiah .”

ἁγιάσατε ] in antithesis to φοβηθῆτε and ταραχθῆτε ; “ hold , i.e. honour, fear as holy ” (de Wette); the sanctifying comprehends within it the fear of God; cf. Isaiah 8:18 ; Isaiah 29:23 ; it thus forms the contrast to the fear of man; where the former is, the latter must give way.

ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν ] added by the apostle in order to mark the inward nature of the ἁγιάζειν .

ἕτοιμοι ] Whether δέ be the original reading or not, this clause is undoubtedly intimately connected in thought with that which precedes it. Without δέ this being ready is conceived as a proof of the ἁγιάζειν Χρ .; with δέ the thought is this, that the ἁγιάζειν Χρ . κ . τ . λ ., which banishes all fear of man, should not exclude the ἀπολογία before men (de Wette, Wiesinger). Hofmann takes the particle here as equal to “rather;” but against this is the fact that here κύριον … ὑμῶν would have to be taken as a simple parenthesis, inasmuch as δέ would refer only to what precedes, and a second antithesis would then be added to the already antithetical κύριον δὲ κ . τ . λ .

ἀεὶ πρὸς ἀπολογίαν παντὶ τῷ κ . τ . λ .] ἕτοιμος πρός , cf. Titus 3 :. “The injunction exempts neither time ( ἀεί ) nor person ( παντί )” (Steiger).

To limit its application to a judicial examination is arbitrary, and militates against παντί .

ἀπολογία not equal to satisfactio (Vulg.), but here rather quaevis responsio, qua ratio fidei (more correctly spei) nostrae redditur (Vorstius; Philippians 1:7 ; Philippians 1:16 ; Acts 26:2 ).

παντὶ τῷ αἰτοῦντι κ . τ . λ .] The dative depending on ἀπολογίαν , cf. 1 Corinthians 9:3 ; for αἰτέω with double accusative, cf. Winer, p. 212 f. [E. T. 281]. λόγον αἰτεῖν : “ to demand account of ,” only here, cf. chap. 1 Peter 4:5 ; Romans 14:12 .

περὶ τῆς ἐν ὑμῖν ἐλπίδος ] περί : as to its nature and ground.

ἐλπίς , not equivalent to πίστις (Calvin: spes hic per synecdochen pro fide capitur), but the hope of the Christian looking, on the ground of faith, into the future salvation. [190]

ἀλλὰ μετὰ πραΰτητος καὶ φόβου ] If ἀλλά be the true reading, as there can hardly be any doubt it is, it will serve to make more sharply prominent the way and manner, in which the ἀπολογία should be conducted; de Wette: “as it were: but remember .”

μετά , to be connected not with ἕτοιμοι , but with ἀπολογίαν ; πραΰτητος opposed to passionate zeal. φόβου is to be applied directly neither to God (Aretius: reverentia et timor Dei; thus Weiss also, p. 169), nor to men before whom testimony is to be borne (according to some: the civil authorities); but it denotes the being afraid based, of course, on the fear of God of every unseemly kind of ἀπολογία , and stands especially opposed to all arrogant self-confidence (Wiesinger).

[190] That this “account” had special reference to the removal of the suspicion that the kingdom of Christ was of this world, is nowhere alluded to in the context (de “Wette, Schott). And Schott is hardly justified in giving the apostle’s exhortations special application “to the divinely ordained ordinances of natural social life.”

Verse 16

1 Peter 3:16 . συνείδησιν ἔχοντες ἀγαθήν ] These words are taken by several interpreters (Bengel, Steiger, de Wette, etc.) with ἁγιάσατε , 1 Peter 3:14 , as co-ordinate with ἕτοιμοι ; Wiesinger construes them with ἕτοιμοι , as subordinate to it. The latter is to be preferred, for συνείδ . ἐχ . denotes “the point essentially important, to being ever prepared to give an answer in a right manner” (Wiesinger). But it is better still to assume that it like μετὰ πραΰτητος belongs in a loose way to ἀπολογίαν , equivalent to “ with good conscience ,” i.e. in that your walk does not give the lie to your confession. [191] Calvin says correctly: quia parum auctoritatis habet sermo absque vita.

ἵνα ἐν ᾧ κ . τ . λ .] The construction is here the same as in chap. 1 Peter 2:12 ; see the exposition of this passage, where, too, Schott’s interpretation of ἐν ᾧ , equal to “in this, that,” is considered. The conjunctive of the Rec. καταλαλῶσιν would represent the case as possible, equal to “ in which they may possibly slander you .”

ἵνα , as a final particle, refers to the whole preceding thought, especially to συνείδ . ἔχ . ἀγαθήν .

καταισχυνθῶσιν ] comp. 2 Corinthians 7:14 : “ that they may be put to shame ,” i.e. since their slanders are openly proved to be lies.

οἱ ἐπηρεάζοντες κ . τ . λ .] The subject stands, by way of emphasis, at the end of the sentence. ἐπηρεάζειν , “to revile,” Matthew 5:44 ; Luke 6:28 . Hensler distinguishes, without any ground, the ἐπηρεάζοντες from the καταλαλοῦντες , as different persons; the former he considers to be the accusers of the Christians, who bring the slanders of others before the judge.

ὑμῶν τὴν ἀγαθὴν ἐν Χριστῷ ἀναστροφήν ] i.e. the good life which you lead in Christ ( i.e. as Christians).”

[191] Hofmann says, “that it should not be joined with ἀπολογία , for the meaning is that they should do that whereunto they must be prepared with eagerness, and a good conscience which they should bring to it.” To this it is to be replied, that the ἀπολογία itself is precisely the thing for which they are to be ready. It is evidently arbitrary “to supplement an imperative (which?) to ἀλλά , and to connect συνείδησιν ἔχοντες ἀγ · with it.”

Verse 17

1 Peter 3:17 . κρεῖττον γάρ ] γάρ gives the ground of the exhortation contained in συνείδ . ἔχ . ἀγ .; the explanation of this κρεῖττον is contained in chap. 1 Peter 2:19 ff.

ἀγαθοποιοῦντας … πάσχειν ] The connection between these two ideas is the same as that between ἀγαθοποιοῦντες καὶ πάσχοντες , chap. 1 Peter 2:20 , the participles giving not simply the special circumstances, as Hofmann asserts, but the reason of the suffering; this Schott denies as regards the first member: ἀγαθοποιοῦντας . [192]

The parenthetical clause: ΕἸ ΘΈΛΟΙ ΤῸ ΘΈΛΗΜΑ ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ , belongs to ΠΆΣΧΕΙΝ ; the optative denotes the possibility: “ if such should be the will of God

On the pleonasm: θέλοι τὸ ΘΈΛΗΜΑ , see Winer, p. 562 [E. T. 755]. The thought here is not quite the same as that of chap. 1 Peter 2:20 . There, chief stress is laid on ὙΜΟΜΈΝΕΙΝ , to which no special prominence is here given. But, as in the former case the exhortation is enforced by reference to Christ, i.e. to His sufferings, so is it here also, in the following paragraph on to the end of the chapter, only that in this passage the typical character of His sufferings is less emphasized, whilst the exaltation which followed them is brought specially forward.

[192] It must, indeed, be noted that those sufferings which the believers, as such, have to endure from the unbelieving world, overtake them because of their ἀγαθοποιεῖν ; Christians who, though confessing Christ, at the same time live entirely like the children of the world, are well liked by the world.

Verse 18

1 Peter 3:18 . First, mention of the death of Christ by way of giving the reason.

ὅτι καὶ Χριστὸς ἅπαξ περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν ἔπαθε [ ἀπέθανε ]] ὅτι is connected with the idea immediately preceding, and gives the ground of the κρεῖττον ; καὶ Χριστός (as in chap. 1 Peter 2:21 ) places the sufferings which the Christians have to bear, as ἀγαθοποιοῦντες , side by side with the sufferings of Christ, περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν , so that καί must be taken as referring not to ἔπαθε [ ἀπέθανε ] only (as is done by most commentators, among them de Wette), but, as the position of the words ( περὶ ἁμαρτ . before ἔπαθε ) clearly shows, to περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν ἔπαθε [ ἀπέθανε ] (Wiesinger, Brückner, Schott). Hofmann’s application of it to the whole “statement here with respect to Christ” is open to objection, from the fact that in what follows there are elements introduced which go too far beyond the comparison here instituted. Christ’s sufferings were on account of sin, and such also should be the sufferings of the Christians. [193] This does not preclude the possibility of His sufferings having had a significance different from what theirs can have. This peculiar significance of Christ’s sufferings is marked by δίκαιος ὑπὲρ ἀδίκων , or, as Schott holds, by ἅπαξ . ἅπαξ gives prominence to the fact that in relation to His subsequent life ( θανατωθείς … ζωοποιηθείς ) Christ’s suffering took place but once, as in Hebrews 9:27-28 (Hofmann: “once it took place that He died the death He did die, and what followed thereon forms, as what is enduring, a contrast to what passed over but once”); doubtless not without implying the secondary idea, that the sufferings of Christians take place only once also, and come to an end with this life. [194]

περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν , which states yet more indefinitely the purpose of Christ’s sufferings: “ on account of sin ,” finds a more precise definition in what follows.

δίκαιος ὑπὲρ ἀδίκων , “as the just for the unjust;” comp. Romans 5:6 : ὑπέρ , equivalent to, in commodum, is not in itself, indeed, equal to ἀντί ; but the contrast here drawn between δίκαιος and ἀδίκων suggests that in the general relation, the more special one of substitution is implied (Weiss, p. 261); comp. chap. 1 Peter 2:21 . The omission of the article is due to the fact that the apostle holds it of importance to mark the character of the one as of the other.

ἵνα ἡμᾶς προσαγάγῃ τῷ Θεῷ ] gives the purpose of ἔπαθεν [ ἀπέθανε ], which latter is more closely defined by that which immediately precedes and follows; προσάγειν does not mean “to sacrifice;” (Luther, Vulg.: ut nos offerret Deo), neither “to reconcile;” but “ to bring to ,” i.e. “ to bring into communion with God ,” which goes still beyond the idea of reconciliation; the latter presupposes Christ’s death for us; the former, the life of Him who died for us. Weiss maintains, without sufficient reason (p. 260), that the word here points to the idea of the Christians’ priesthood (chap. 1 Peter 2:5 ). The verb occurs here only; the substantive προσαγωγή , Romans 5:2 ; Ephesians 2:18 ; Ephesians 3:12 . [195]

θανατωθεὶς μὲν σαρκί , ζωοποιηθεὶς δὲ πνεύματι ] This adjunct does not belong to ἔπαθεν (de Wette), but to προσαγάγῃ (Wiesinger); it is subjoined, in order to show prominently how the προσάγειν can take place through Christ; the chief stress is laid on the second member. According to Schott, both participles are to be considered as “an exposition of ἅπαξ ;” this assumption is contradicted, on the one hand, by the distance between them and the latter word; and, on the other, that they must necessarily be attached to a verb.

The antithesis between the two members of this sentence is strongly marked by μὲν … δέ . The datives σαρκί , πνεύματι , state with reference to what the verbal conceptions θανατωθείς , ζωοποιηθείς holds good; “they serve to mark the sphere to which the general predicate is to be thought of as restricted” (Winer); comp. 1 Corinthians 7:34 : ἁγία καὶ σώματι καὶ πνεύματι ; Colossians 2:5 : τῇ σαρκὶ ἄπειμι , τῷ πνεύματι σὺν ὑμῖν εἰμι . Schott explains somewhat ambiguously the datives “as general more precise adverbial definitions,” which state “what is of determinative importance in both facts,” and “the nature of the actual condition produced by them.”

πνεύματι is by some understood instrumentally; incorrectly, for σαρκί cannot be taken thus; the two members of the clause correspond so exactly in form, that the dative in the one could not be explained differently from the dative in the other, as Wiesinger, Weiss, von Zezschwitz, Brückner, Schott, and Fronmüller justly acknowledge.

σαρκὶ … πνεύματι ; this antithesis occurs frequently in the N. T.; with reference to the person of Christ, besides in this passage, in Romans 1:3 : κατὰ σάρκα … κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης , and 1 Timothy 3:16 : ἐν σαρκὶ … ἐν πνεύματι (cf. also chap. 1 Peter 4:6 ).

The antithesis of the two conceptions proves it to be erroneous to assign to the one term a sphere different from that of the other, and to suppose σάρξ to mean the body of Christ , and πνεῦμα the Spirit of God . Antithesis clare ostendit quod dicatur in alia quidem sui parte aut vitae ratione mortificatus, in alia autem vivificatus (Flacius). It must be observed that both are here used as general conceptions (Hofmann), without a pronoun to mark them as designations applicable only to Christ; for which reason σάρξ cannot relate exclusively to the human, and πνεῦμα to the divine nature of Christ. [196] As general conceptions (that is, as applicable not to Christ alone, but to human nature generally), σάρξ and πνεῦμα must, however, not be identified with σῶμα and ψυχή . [197] For σάρξ ; is that side of human nature in virtue of which man belongs to the earth, is therefore an earthly creature, and accordingly perishable like everything earthly; and πνεῦμα , on the other hand, is that side of his nature by which he belongs to a supernatural sphere of existence, is not a mere creature of earth, and is accordingly destined also to an imperishable existence. [198]

Wiesinger (with whom Zezschwitz agrees) deviates from this interpretation thus far only, that he understands ΠΝΕῦΜΑ , not as belonging to the nature of man, “but as that principle of union with God which is bestowed upon man at regeneration.” This deviation may arise from the reluctance to attribute a πνεῦμα to man as such (also in his sinful condition); as, however, according to Peter, the souls of the departed are ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΑ (1 Peter 3:19 ), it is thus presupposed that an unregenerate man also possesses a ΠΝΕῦΜΑ during his earthly existence. It must also be observed that ΣΆΡΞ and ΠΝΕῦΜΑ are here not ethical antitheses, but are contrasted with each other as natural distinctions.

θανατωθεὶς … ζωοποιηθείς ] ΘΑΝΑΤΌΩ incorrectly interpreted by Wahl here, as in other passages of the N. T., by capitis damno, morti addico; for although it may sometimes occur in this sense in the classics, still in the N. T. it means only to kill . By θανατωθεὶς σαρκί , then, the apostle says of Christ, that He was put to death in His earthly human nature (which He along with all the rest of mankind possessed [199] ), i.e. at the hand of man by the crucifixion.

ζωοποιέω does not mean “to preserve alive,” as several commentators explain, e.g. Bellarmin ( de Christo , lib. iv. cap. 13), Hottinger, Steiger, and Güder; this idea, in the Old as in the New Testament, being expressed by ζωογονεῖν and other words (see Zezschwitz on this passage); but “ to make alive ” (de Wette, Wiesinger, Weiss, Zezschwitz, Schott, Köhler, [200] Hofmann, and others); it often applies to the raising up of the dead; cf. John 5:21 ; Rom 4:17 ; 1 Corinthians 15:22 , etc. In this sense alone does ζωοποιηθείς answer the preceding ΘΑΝΑΤΩΘΕΊς . Bengel: vivificatio ex antitheto ad mortificationem resolvi debet. The latter idea assumes the anterior condition to have been one of death, whilst the former in contradiction to θανατ . would presuppose one of life. Christ then, according to the apostle, entered into the actual state of death, that is, in so far as the ΣἈΡΞ pertained to Him, so that His life in the flesh came to an end; [201] but from death He was brought back again to life, that is, was raised up, as far as the πνεῦμα pertained to Him, so that the new life was purely pneumatical. But the new life began by His reuniting Himself as πνεῦμα to His σῶμα , so that thus this σῶμα itself became pneumatical. [202]

According to Bengel, with whom Schmid ( bibl. Theol .), Lechler, and Fronmüller agree (comp. also Hahn, neutest. Theol . I. 440), ζωοποιηθείς does not refer to the resurrection of Christ, but to His deliverance from the weakness of the flesh, effected by His death, and, based upon this, his transition to a higher life (which was followed by the resurrection). [203] Against this, however, is to be observed: (1) That the going of His πνεῦμα to the Father, connected with His death (Luke 23:46 ), is, as little as His ascension, spoken of in Scripture as “a becoming quickened;” (2) That as in θανατωθείς the whole man Christ is meant, the same must be the case in ζωοποιηθείς ; and (3) That this view is based on what follows, which, however, if rightly interpreted, by no means renders it necessary. Buddeus is therefore entirely right when he says: vivificatio animae corporisque conjunctionem denotat. [204]

[193] The subsequent δίκαιος proves that the sins for which Christ suffered were not His own sins; thus also the believer’s sufferings should not arise out of his own sins, he should not suffer as a κακοποιῶν , but as an ἀγαθοποιῶν . Rejecting this application, Hofmann finds the point of comparison in this, “that we should let the sins which those who do us wrong commit. be to us the cause of sufferings to us” (?).

[194] Oecumenius finds in ἅπαξ an allusion to: τὸ τοῦ παθόντος δραστήριόν τι καὶ δυνατόν , or to the brevity also of the sufferings. Gerhard unites all three elements by saying: ut ostendat (Ap.) passionis Christi brevitatem et perfeetionem sacrifieii et ut doceat Christum non amplius passioni fore obnoxium. According to Pott, it is also meant to express the contrast to the frequent repetition of the O. T. sacrifices, an application entirely foreign to the context. According to Schott, ἅπαξ indicates that Christ suffered once for all, so that any further suffering of the same kind is neither necessary nor possible. This is no doubt correct, but it does not follow that Peter whose words combine the typical and specifically peculiar significance of the sufferings of Christ should not have had in his mind the application of ἅπαξ to believers, as above stated. It is with ἅπαξ as with περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν ; it is impossible for believers to suffer περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν in the same sense that Christ suffered περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν .

[195] It is certainly very doubtful whether the purpose also of the death of Christ, here stated, “admits of application to us,” in that “it should likewise be our object, by the manner in which we endure undeserved sufferings, to bring those by whom we are wronged to bethink themselves, and to lead them to a knowledge of Christ” (Hofmann).

[196] Accordingly, interpretations like those of Calvin are incorrect: caro hic pro externo homine capitur, spiritus pro divina potentia, qua Christus victor a morte emersit; Beza: πνεύματι , i.e. per divinitatem in ipso corporaliter habitantem, equal to ἐκ δυνάμεως Θεοῦ , 2 Corinthians 13:4 ; Oecumenius: θανατωθεὶς μὲν τῇ φύσει τῆς σαρκός , τούτεστι τῇ ἀνθρωπίνῃ , ἀναστὰς δὲ τῇ δυνάμει τῆς θεότητος . It is equally incorrect, with Weiss (p. 252), to understand σάρξ as meaning “the human nature of Christ” (instead of which he no doubt also says: “the earthly human nature of Christ”), and πνεῦμα as meaning “the pre-existent divine πνεῦμα communicated at baptism to the man Jesus”(which, as “Weiss maintains, constitutes, according to Peter, the divine nature of Christ). Weiss, for the sole purpose of representing the apostle’s doctrinal conception as still in a very undeveloped state, imputes to Peter a view of the person of Christ which as he himself says is possessed of “a duality which somewhat endangers the unity of His person.” Nor has Wichelhaus hit the true explanation when he says: “Peter here considers Christ as, on the one hand, a true man in body and soul liable to all suffering …; and, on the other hand, in so far as He was anointed by the Holy Ghost.”

[197] σάρξ and σῶμα are proved to be two distinct conceptions by the fact that after the resurrection man will have a σῶμα , but no σάρξ . The difference between πνεῦμα and ψυχή is clear from passages such as Matthew 6:25 . If in other passages πνεῦμα be used as synonymous with ψυχή (comp. e.g. John 12:27 with John 13:21 ), this is explained by the two-sidedness of the human soul.

[198] To Weiss’s remark, that Peter terms that side of human nature by which man is rendered capable of religious life ψυχή , it must be replied that the ψυχή possesses such capacity for this very reason, that even under the power of the σάρξ it has never ceased to be spiritual. In place of πνεύματι , ψυχῇ would not be at all appropriate here, in the first place, because ψυχή forms no antithesis to σάρξ , and then because the idea of what is celestial, peculiar to πνεῦμα , would not find expression in it.

[199] Schott is wrong in maintaining that the antithesis to what is here said should be, “that Christ was quickened according to His glorified human nature;” the antithesis to “ earthly ,” however, is not “ glorified ,” but “ celestial .”

[200] “Zur Lehre Ton Christi Höllenfahrt,” in the Zeitschrift für luth. Theol. u. Kirche , by Delitzsch and Guericke, 1864, H. 4.

[201] Schott substantially agrees with this interpretation, but thinks that the above expression does not say decidedly enough that “this was an entire cessation of His life.” However, this “ entire ” is saying too much, since σαρκί evidently points to a limitation.

[202] Hofmann says, not quite accurately ( Schriftbeweis , II. 1, p. 473): “the antithesis θανατ . κ . τ . λ . denotes the end of life in the flesh, and the commencement of life in the spirit.” For spiritual life was in Christ during His life in the flesh, and after it, before His resurrection. At His death He committed His πνεῦμα to His Father; it was therefore in Him before, and continued to lire after His death. Hofmann remarks correctly, however: “As it was the Christ living in the flesh who, by being put to death, ceased to be any longer in that bodily life in which from His birth He had existed, so His quickening of that which was dead is a restoration of a spiritual nature to a bodily life.”

[203] Bengel: Simul atque per mortificationem involucro infrmitatis in carne solutus erat, statim vitae solvi nesciae virtus modis novis et multis expeditissimis sese exserere coepit. Hanc vivificationem necessario celeriter subsecuta est excitatio corporis ex morte et resurrectio e sepulcro. Schmid: “The πνεῦμα is a principle which He possessed in a special manner, … this, in consequence of death, is set free from the trammels of sensuous bodily nature, it now enters upon its full rights, and developes in its fulness that ζωή which was in Him.”

[204] Schott explains, indeed, ζωοποιηθείς rightly in itself, but he objects to the identification of ζωοποίησις with ἀνάστασις , and thinks that the former is the fundamental condition of the latter, which is the “side of the resurrection concealed and as yet hidden in the depths”(?). But where does the apostle make any allusion to any such distinction between two sides in the resurrection of Christ?

Verse 19

1 Peter 3:19 . With this verse a new paragraph extending to 1 Peter 3:22 inclusive begins, closely connected by ἐν ᾧ ( i.e. πνεύματι ) with what precedes, and in which reference is made to the glory of Him who was quickened according to the Spirit. It may appear singular that in this passage Peter should make mention of those who were unbelieving in the days of Noah, and of baptism as the antitype of the water of the deluge; but this may be explained from the circumstance that he looks on the deluge as a type of the approaching judgment. It must be observed that it is not so much the condemnation of the unbelieving, as the salvation of believers that the apostle has here in his mind.

ἐν ᾧ καὶ κ . τ . λ .] “ in which (spirit) He also went and preached unto the spirits in prison (to them), which sometime were unbelieving when ,” etc. The close connection of these words with what immediately precedes by ἐν ᾧ , sc. πνεύματι , favours the view that ἐκήρυξε refers to an act of Christ which, as the ζωοποιηθεὶς πνεύματι , He performed after His death, and that with reference to the spirits ἐν φυλακῇ of the unbelievers who had perished in the deluge. This is the view of the oldest Fathers of the Greek and Latin Church; as also of the greater number of later and modern theologians. Augustin, however, opposed it, and considered ἐκήρυξεν as referring to a preaching by Christ ἐν πνεύματι , long before His incarnation, in the days of Noah, to the people of that generation, upon whom the judgment of the deluge came because of their unbelief. [205] This view, after being adopted by several theologians of the Middle Ages, became prevalent in the Reformed Church. In recent times, it has been defended more especially by Schweizer, Wichelhaus, Besser, and Hofmann. The chief arguments which those who maintain it advance in opposition to that first mentioned, are the following: (1) The idea that Christ preached to the spirits ἐν φυλακῇ would be an isolated one occurring nowhere else in Scripture; and, further, preaching such as this, if conceived as judicial, would have been entirely useless, whilst, looked on as a proclamation of salvation, it would stand in contradiction to the uniform teaching of Scripture regarding the state of man after death. To this, however, it must be replied, that isolated ideas are to be found expressed here and there in Scripture, and that the reconciliation of the idea of a salvation offered to the spirits ἐν φυλακῇ with the other doctrines of Scripture, can at most be termed a problem difficult of solution; nor must it be forgotten that the eschatological doctrines comprehend within them very many problems. (2) This view does not correspond with the tendency of the entire passage from 1 Peter 3:17 to 1 Peter 3:22 , and therefore does not fit into the train of thought. But this assertion is to the point only if those who make it have themselves correctly understood the tendency of the passage, which in this instance they have not done. (3) It cannot be understood how Peter comes so suddenly to speak of the spirits in prison. But, in reply, it may be urged, with at least equal justification, that it is not easy to understand how Peter comes so suddenly to speak of an act of Christ before His incarnation. (4) The want of the article before ἀπειθήσασι compels us to translate this participle not: “which sometime were unbelieving,” but: “when they sometime were unbelieving.” This, however, is not the case, since the participle, added with adjectival force to a substantive, is often enough joined to the latter without an article. If Peter had put the words πορευθεὶς ἐκήρυξε , before τοῖς … πνεύμασι , no difficulty would have presented itself in the translation under dispute (“the sometime unbelieving spirits in prison”). The translation to which preference is given is grammatically untenable. [206]

Finally, appeal has been made to the fact that καί is placed after ἐν ᾧ , indeed even to ἐν ᾧ itself; but a correct explanation offers no justification for so doing. Besides the close connection of the relative clause with that immediately preceding, the following points favour the interpretation attacked: (1) The correspondence of the πνεύματι to be supplied to ἐν ᾧ with the subsequent πνεύμασιν ; (2) πορευθείς , which must be taken in the same sense as the πορευθείς in 1 Peter 3:22 ; (3) The fact that ποτέ does not stand with ἐκήρυξε , but in 1 Peter 3:20 with ἀπειθήσασιν , which shows that the ἀπειθεῖν took place previous to the κηρύσσειν ; and, lastly, (4) The circumstance that had Peter closed his sentence with ἐκήρυξεν , it could have occurred to no one that Peter was here speaking of a preaching of Christ which took place in a time long gone by.

ἐν ᾧ ] is not equivalent to διό ( αἰτιολογικῶς with reference to ἔπαθε , Theophylact); but whilst ᾧ refers back to πνεύματι , ἐν ᾧ states in what condition Christ accomplished that which is mentioned in what follows,

He accomplished it not ἐν σαρκί (for after the σάρξ He was put to death), but ἐν πνεύματι (for after the πνεῦμα He was made alive). ἐν stands here in a position similar to that which it holds in Romans 8:8 , where, however, σάρξ and πνεῦμα form an ethical antithesis, which here is not the case. Hofmann wrongly attributes to ἐν here an “instrumental force” equivalent to “by means of;” he is induced to do solely by his explanation of the πνεύματι to be supplied. Although it is evident that πνεύματι here must be taken in no sense different from that of the foregoing πνεύματι , Hofmann nevertheless holds it to be identical with the πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ mentioned in chap. 1 Peter 1:11 , while he himself says that the πνεύματι subjoined to ζωοποιηθείς cannot be understood of the Holy Ghost. [207]

Peter says, then, that Christ, in the Spirit according to which He was made alive, preached to the spirits ἘΝ ΦΥΛΑΚῇ , which cannot be understood to mean anything else than that He did it as a ΠΝΕῦΜΑ (in His pneumatical condition). Fronmüller erroneously interprets: “in the existence-form of a spirit separated from the body;” for the quickened Christ lives not as a simple spirit, but is in possession of a glorified spiritual body.

ΚΑῚ ΤΟῖς ἘΝ ΦΥΛΑΚῇ ΠΝΕΎΜΑΣΙ ΠΟΡΕΥΘΕῚς ἘΚΉΡΥΞΕΝ ] By ΤᾺ ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΑ are to be understood, neither angels (Hebrews 1:14 [208] ) nor “men living upon the earth” (as Wichelhaus explains), but the souls of men already dead, as in Hebrews 12:23 , which in Revelation 6:9 ; Revelation 20:4 , Wis 3:1 , are called ψυχαί . ἐν φυλακῇ designates not only the place, but denotes also the condition in which the πνεύματα are. Hofmann wrongly because in opposition to the uniform usage in the N. T. denies all local reference to the expression, and would therefore translate ἐν φυλακῇ by “in durance.” The meaning is, that the πνεύματα were in prison as prisoners. [209] The expression occurs in the N. T. with the article and without it, and its more precise force here is clear from the passages: Revelation 20:7 ; 2 Peter 2:4 ; Jude 1:6 . It does not denote generally the kingdom of the dead (Lactant. Inst . I. 7, c. 21: omnes [animae] in una communique custodia detinentur), but that part of it, which serves as abode for the souls of the ungodly until the day of judgment. [210] The dative depends, indeed, on ἘΚΉΡΥΞΕΝ , not on ΠΟΡΕΥΘΕΊς ; but the addition of the latter word gives prominence to the fact that Christ went to those spirits, and preached to them in that place where they were. Hofmann is not altogether wrong when, in support of his own view of the passage, he says: “the operation of the spirit of Christ, by which Noah was made the organ of His proclamation, might be termed a ‘going and preaching’ on the part of Christ” (comp. especially the passage, Ephesians 2:17 : ἘΛΘῺΝ ΕὐΗΓΓΕΛΊΣΑΤΟ ; see Meyer in loc ., to which Hofmann might have appealed). But that πορευθείς cannot be so taken here is shown by the ΠΟΡΕΥΘΕΊς in 1 Peter 3:22 , with which it must be identical in sense. [211] ἐκήρυξε is the same verb as that so often used in the N. T. of the preaching (not the teaching) of Christ and His apostles. Usually it is accompanied by an object ( τὸ εὐαγγέλιον , τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ , Χριστόν , or the like); but it is frequently, as here, used absolutely, cf. Matthew 11:1 ; Mark 1:38 , etc.

It cannot be concluded, with Zezschwitz, from the connection of this relative clause with ζωοποιηθεὶς πνεύματι , that ζωοποίησιν illam spiritualem quasi fundamentum fuisse concionis idemque argumentum; nor does the word itself disclose either the contents or the purpose of that preaching; but since Christ is called the κήρυξας without the addition of any more precise qualification, it must be concluded that the contents and design of this κήρυγμα are in harmony with the κήρυγμα of Christ elsewhere. It is accordingly arbitrary, and in contradiction to Christ’s significance for the work of redemption, to assume that this preaching consisted in the proclamation of the coming judgment (Flacius, Calov., Buddeus, Hollaz, Wolf, Aretius, Zezschwitz, Schott, etc.), and was a praedicatio damnatoria. [212] Wiesinger justly asks: “This concio damnatoria what does it mean in general, what here especially?”

It is unjustifiable to deny, with some commentators, that the apostle regarded this πορευθεὶς ἐκήρυξε as an actual reality. [213]

καί , following ἐν ᾧ , must not be explained, as Schweizer does, in this way, that Peter, wishing to hold up Christ to his readers as a pattern of how they should conduct themselves under suffering, adduces two examples, 1 Peter 3:19 ff., His death on the cross, and His preaching; the whole structure of the clauses, as well as their contents, contradicts this. Nor can it be explained, as Hofmann assumes, “from the antithesis between us whom Christ wished to bring to God, and those who as spirits are in durance.” This would hold good only if, in 1 Peter 3:18 , it were affirmed that Christ did the same to us as to those spirits, that is, preached to us. It is likewise incorrect to take καί as equivalent to “even” (Wiesinger, Fronmüller); for a distinction between these spirits and others is nowhere hinted at. καί is put rather in order to show prominently that what is said in this verse coincides with the ζωοποιηθεὶς πνεύματι of 1 Peter 3:18 . Zezschwitz: ut notio, quae in enunciatione ἐν ᾧ latet ( ζωοπ . πνεύματι ) urgeatur.

[205] It must be observed, that whilst Hofmann considers the preaching of Christ as having taken place through Noah, Schweizer most decidedly disputes this, and is of the opinion that it was addressed to Noah himself as well as to his contemporaries. In support of this, he very rightly appeals to the fact that Noah is not here as 2 Peter 2:5 termed a κῆρυξ . But he does not say by whom this preaching must be considered to have taken place.

[206] Hofmann, indeed, says that since the expression is not τοῖς ἀπειθήσασι , the translation should not be “those spirits in durance, which sometime were disobedient;” but he grants that, from a grammatical point of view, it remains doubtful “whether ποτέ signifies the past as related to the time of Christ’s preaching, or the past as regards the present of the writer.”

[207] Hofmann says that the accusation made against him, that he effaces the distinction between πνεῦμα as a term used to designate the precise nature of Christ, and πνεῦμα as the third Person in the Trinity, is the result of that confusion of ideas by which “in the Spirit” and “as a Spirit” are understood to mean the same thing. But it must be replied that rather is the identification of two different ideas, contained in his interpretation, the result of the confusion of ideas, leading him as it does to hide the difference by defining πνεῦμα as “the Spirit of Christ’s life.”

[208] Baur ( Tüb. theol. Jahrb. 1856, H. 2, p. 215) understands it to mean the ἄγγελοι ἁμαρτήσαντες , 2 Peter 2:4 , who, according to Genesis 6:1 ff., had fallen previous to the deluge. This interpretation is sufficiently contradicted by ver. 20.

[209] The interpretation of Wichelhaus who by circumlocution explains τὰ ἐν φυλ . πνεύματα as equal to οἱ ἀπειθοῦντες τηρούμενοι , φρουρουμένοι εἰς ἡμέραν τοῦ κατακλυσμοῦ is altogether erroneous.

[210] Justin ( Dial. c. Tryph. c. 5): τὰς μὲν τῶν εὐσεβῶν ( ψυχὰς ) ἐν κρείττονί που χώρῳ μένειν , τὰς δʼ ἀδίκους καὶ πονηροὺς ἐν χείρονι τὸν τῆς κρίσεως ἐνδεχομένας χρόνον .

[211] Luthardt so thoroughly recognises the vis of this πορευθείς , that he says he should interpret the passage as Hofmann does, if the πορευθείς did not prevent him from doing so. Besides, it is certain that the coming of the Holy Spirit is at the same time a coming of Christ; but it must not be overlooked that in the N. T. it is nowhere indicated as being a coming of Christ ἐν πνεύματι .

[212] Hollaz: Fuit praedicatio Christi in inferno non evangelica, quae hominibus tantum in regno gratiae annunciatur, sed legalis elenchthica, terribilis eaque tum verbalis, qua ipsos aeterna supplicia promeritos esse convincit, tum realis, qua immanem terrorem iis incussit. This interpretation, which, has its origin in dogmatic views, Zezschwitz seeks to found on exegesis by characterizing the idea of judgment as the leading conception of the whole passage, to which, however, the context gives no warrant, and also by maintaining that otherwise Peter would have used the word εὐαγγελίζειν , or a compound of ἀγγέλλειν . It is certainly correct when Schott and Köhler say that κηρύσσειν is not in itself equal to εὐαγγελίζειν ; but it does not follow that it may not be applied to a message of salvation. It must be remembered that Christ’s aim, even as a preacher of judgment, ever was the accomplishment of salvation, as he declared Luke 19:10 ; John 12:47 .

[213] Thus Picus Mirandola says: Christus non veraciter et quantum ad realem praesentiam descendit ad inferos, sed solum quoad effectum. Cf., too, J. R. Lavater, de descensu Christi ad inf. lib. I. c. 9. Many interpreters unwarrautably weaken at least ἐκήρυξε , in so far as to make it synonymous with “showed Himself,” or, at any rate, they say that the preaching of Christ was potius realiter, quam verbaliter. This the author of the article, “Die Höllenfahrt Christi,” in the Erlanger Zeitschrift für Protest. 1856, should not have sanctioned. Schott is not free from this arbitrary method of interpretation, in that he characterizes κηρύσσειν “as a bearing witness to oneself, not only in word, but also in deed,” and calls “this bearing witness to and showing forth of Himself by Christ in the glory of His mediatorial person,” a concio damnatoria.

Verse 20

1 Peter 3:20 . The words which begin this verse: ἀπειθήσασίν ποτε , characterize the spirits who are in prison according to their former conduct. The participle must not, with Wiesinger, be resolved into: “although, notwithstanding the fact that they had been disobedient;” an adversative relation of this kind must have been more plainly expressed. [214]

According to the uniform usage of the N. T., the word ἀπειθεῖν has here also the meaning of unbelief involving resistance; cf. chap. 1Pe 2:7-8 , 1 Peter 3:1 , 1 Peter 4:17 . The translation: “to be disobedient,” is too inexact, for the word forms the antithesis to πιστεύειν .

ὅτε ἀπεξεδέχετο κ . τ . λ .] serves not only to specify the time when these spirits were unbelieving, but also to mark the guilt of the ἀπειθεῖν .

ἀπεκδέχεσθαι , according to N. T. usage, equivalent to: “ patient waiting ,” is here used absolutely, as in Romans 8:25 (comp. ἐκδέχεσθαι , Hebrews 10:13 ; thus Schott also). The narrative itself shows the object to which this waiting of God’s long-suffering was directed. Its duration is not to be limited to the seven days mentioned in Genesis 7:4 (de Wette), for this is in keeping neither with the ἀπεξεδέχετο ἡ … μακροθυμία , nor the subsequent κατασκευαζομένης κιβωτοῦ , but embraces the whole period of 120 years mentioned in Genesis 6:3 .

The time specified by ὅτε κ . τ . λ . is still more precisely defined in the subsequent ἐν ἡμέραις Νῶε and the κατασκευαζομένης κιβωτοῦ ; in such a way, however, that these adjuncts contain a reference to the exhortation to repentance then given, for Noah was not like the others, an unbeliever, but a believer, and the preparation of the ark gave unmistakeable testimony to the approaching judgment. “ κιβωτός without the article, the expression used by the LXX. for תֵּבָה , equal to ark, arca ; comp. Matthew 24:38 ; Luke 17:27 ; Hebrews 11:7 ” (Wiesinger).

[214] Hofmann has now justly given up his former explanation: “without being obedient.” Walther’s interpretation is evidently entirely arbitrary: “to the spirits, i.e. the devils and the damned in general, particularly to those damned who,” etc. But neither is there a warrant for inserting οἶον (Bengel: subaudi οἶον , i. e. exempli gratia, in diebus Noe; subjicitur generi species maxime insignis).


Some of the interpreters who do not apply this passage to the descensus ad inferos, as Luther (in his Auslegung der Ep. Petri , 1523), the Socinians, Vorstius, Amelius, Grotius, etc., explain ἐκήρυξε as referring to the preaching of the apostles , assuming that the unbelievers in the time of Noah are mentioned only as types of the unbelievers in apostolic times. τὰ ἐν φυλακῇ πνεύματα they understand to mean the heathen alone, or those along with the Jews. Amelius: πνεύμ . hic in genere denotant homines, quemadmodum paulo post ψυχαί · ἐν φυλακῇ : in captivitate erant tum Judaei, sub jugo legis existentes, tum quoque gentiles, sub potestate diaboli jacentes. Illos omnes Christus liberavit; praedicationem verbi sui ad ipsos mittens et continuans et Apostolos divina virtute instruens.


Even interpreters who apply this passage to the descensus ad inferos, and understand ἐκήρυξε of the preaching of salvation, [215] are guilty of much arbitrariness, and especially in designating more precisely those to whom the preaching is addressed. Several of the Fathers, as Irenaeus, Tertullian, Hippolytus; many of the Scholastics; further, Zwingli, Calvin (in his Comment.), and others, hold those to have been the pious, especially the pious of the O. T. [216]

Marcion thinks the ΚΉΡΥΓΜΑ was addressed to those who, though in the O. T. termed ungodly, were actually better than the O. T. believers.

Clemens Al. supposes the ΔΊΚΑΙΟΙ ΚΑΤᾺ ΦΙΛΟΣΟΦΊΑΝ , who, however, were still without faith and in the trammels of idolatry.

Several commentators assume that not all unbelievers in the days of Noah are meant, but those only who, at first indeed unbelieving, had still repented at the last moment when the flood came upon them; this is the view of Suarez, Estius, Bellarmin, Luther (zu der Erklärung der Genesis, 1536, und zu Hosea IV. 2, v. J. 1545), [217] Peter Martyr, etc. Bengel says: Probabile est, nonnullos ex tanta multitudine, veniente pluvia, resipuisse: cumque non credidissent, dum expectaret Deus, postea, cum … poena ingrueret, credere coepisse, quibus postea Christus eorumque similibus se praeconem gratiae praestiterit. Wiesinger agrees with this interpretation, at least in so far that he assumes that the moral condition of the individual (at the time of the flood) was not in every case the same, but extremely varied; although, on the other hand, he finds fault with it on the ground “that, in contradiction to the context, it limits the ἘΚΉΡΥΞΕ only to a part.” Schott remarks, as against Wiesinger, “that although some may in respect of moral condition have differed from the majority, or still have repented in the last moment, yet these were not among the spirits in durance who listened to Christ’s preaching.”

[215] It must further be remarked that several commentators: Athanasius, Ambrosius, Erasmus, Calvin (in his Inslit . lib. II. 2, c. 16, § 9), understand Christ’s preaching as at once a praedicatio salvifica and praed. damnatoria. Calvin, however, does hold by the idea of κηρύσσειν , when he says: Contextus vim mortis (Christi) inde amplificat, quod ad mortuos usque penetraverit, dum piae animae ejus visitationis, quam sollicite exspectaverant, praesenti aspectu sunt potitae; contra reprobis clarius patuit, se excludi ab omni salute.

[216] Calvin’s exposition is singular: he interprets φυλακή equal to specula vel ipse excubandi actus; τὸ ἐν φυλ . πν . equals: the spirits of those who were on the watch-tower, i.e. in the expectation of salvation, or also in anxietas expectationis Christi, and then continues: Postquam (Ap.) dixit, Christi se mortuis manifestasse, mox addit: quum increduli fuissent olim, quo significat nihil nocuisse Sanctis Patribus quod impiorum multitudine paene obruti fuerunt. Exemplum vero ex tota vetustate prae aliis illustre deligit, nempe cum diluvio submersus fuit mundus. He removes the scruple, that the dative ἀπειθήσασι is not in harmony with this explanation, by observing that the apostles sometimes employ one case in room of another.

[217] On Luther’s vacillation in interpreting this passage, see Köhler as above, and Schweizer as above, p. 7.


The view commonly accepted is that this preaching by Christ took place before His resurrection, whilst His body lay in the grave. Many even of the older dogmatists of the Lutheran Church, however, hold it to have been accomplished after His quickening, that is, in the time between this and His going forth from the grave. Quenstedt says: Christus θεάνθρωπος totaque adeo persona (non igitur secundum animam tantum nec secundum corpus tantum) post redunitionem animae ac corporis ad istud damnatorum που descendit; he fixes the time when this happened: illud momentum, quod intercessit inter ζωοποίησιν et ἀνάστασιν Christi stricte ita dictam. Hollaz: distinguendum inter resurrectionem externam et internam; illa est egressio e sepulcro et exterior coram hominibus manifestatio; haec est ipsa vivificatio; so, too, Hutter, Baier, Buddeus, etc. In like manner Schott: “in the new spiritual life which in that mysterious hour of midnight He had put on, and before appearing with it on the upper world by His resurrection, He descended.”

The verse does not indeed say that the ἐκήρυξε belongs to this very moment, but it does certainly point to the preaching having taken place after Christ’s restoration to life, as de Wette, Brückner, Wiesinger, Zezschwitz, have rightly acknowledged; for referring as ἐν ᾧ does to the πνεύματι connected with ζωοπωηθείς , it is arbitrary to find in πορευθεὶς ἐκήρυξε mention made of an act of Christ which took place after the θανατωθείς indeed, but yet before the ζωοποιηθείς . As, then, both expressions apply to Christ in His entire person, consisting of body and soul, what follows must not be conceived as an activity which He exercised in His spirit only and whilst separated from His body. In addition to this, if according to His intention His preaching was to be indeed a preaching of salvation, it must have had for its substance the work of redemption, completed only in the resurrection. Weiss (p. 232) objects that πνεῦμα is not equal to σῶμα πνευματικόν , and this is undoubtedly true; but it cannot prove anything against the view that Christ as the Risen One, that is, in His glorified body, preached to the spirits in prison, inasmuch as in this body the Lord is no longer ἐν σαρκί , but entirely ἐν πνεύματι .

Thus the passage says nothing as to Christ’s existence between His death and resurrection. If Acts 2:31 presuppose the going of the dead Christ into Hades, the common dwelling-place of departed souls, this descensus ad inferos must not be identified with the one here mentioned, as also Wiesinger, Brückner, and Schott rightly observe; so that by drawing this distinction the disputed question, too, whether Christ descended into Hades, quoad animam or quoad animam et corpus, finds its correct solution. It must further be added that this passage gives no support whatever either to the doctrine of the Form. concordiae, that in Hades Christ “overcame the devil, destroyed the power of hell, and despoiled the devil of his might,” or to that of the Catholic Church of the limbus Patrum and Purgatory.

Connected with the words κατασκευαζομένης κιβωτοῦ are the thoughts which follow, in which stress is laid, not so much on the judgment which overtook unbelievers in the flood, as on the deliverance of the few.: εἰς ἣν ὀλίγοι .

διεσώθησαν διʼ ὕδατος ] The preposition διά is to be explained not as equal to ἐκ (Acts 28:4 : ὃν διασωθέντα ἐκ τῆς θαλάσσης ), nor as if it were ἐν (in medio aquarum), nor equivalent to non obstante aqua (Gerhard), nor even as a preposition of time (eo tempore, quo aquae inundaverant); but is to be taken either locally or instrumentally. διʼ ὕδατος is then either: “ through the water ,” or equivalent to: “ by means of water .” The former view (Bengel, Steiger, de “Wette, Brückner, Wiesinger, formerly Hofmann also) seems to be confirmed by the verbum compos. διεσώθησαν . But διασώζειν , both in the LXX. and in the N. T. (cf. Matthew 14:36 ; Luke 7:3 , etc.), is often used as a strengthened form of σώζειν , without the peculiar force of διά being pressed. And thus it must be taken here, inasmuch as it contradicts the historical narrative in Genesis, to say that Noah and his family were saved by passing through the water. διά has accordingly here an instrumental force, so that διʼ ὕδατος indicates water as the medium through which the Noahites were delivered. [218] And this interpretation is alone in harmony with the context, inasmuch as the apostle in what follows gives special prominence to the fact that the N. T. deliverance is likewise effected by means of water. If water was the means of deliverance to Noah and those with him, “in so far as it bore those hidden within the ark, and thus preserved them from destruction, comp. Genesis 7:17-18 ” (Weiss, p. 313; thus also Wolf, Pott, Jachmann, Schott), this implies recourse to a pregnant construction, inasmuch as the apostle unites the two thoughts in one: “ they were saved by going into the ark ” and “they were saved διʼ ὕδατος .” Hofmann seeks to avoid the assumption of a pregnancy by explaining ὝΔΩΡ here as the water “which began to overflow the earth,” and which compelled Noah to enter with those belonging to him into the ark, in support of which he appeals to Genesis 7:11 ; Genesis 7:13 . But although these passages state that both the entering into the ark and the beginning of the deluge took place on the same day, still the latter event is not indicated as the motive of the former. According to the narrative in Genesis, it was the command of God which moved the Noahites to enter the ark, and as soon as they had done so, and God had closed the ark, the deluge commenced; cf. Genesis 7:1 ; Genesis 7:16-17 .

Further, on Hofmann’s interpretation water can be regarded only in a very loose sense as the medium of deliverance; nor would it be in keeping with the subsequent parallelism. It must be noted that ὕδατος is anarthrous, and although by the term no other water can be understood than that of the flood, yet Peter’s object here is not to show that the same water which destroyed some served as the means of deliverance for others, but merely to state that the deliverance of Noah and those with him was effected by water , in order that this water then may be recognised as the type of the saving water of baptism (comp. Schott).

ὀλίγοι , τοῦτʼ ἐστιν ὀκτὼ ψυχαί ] ΤΟῦΤʼ ἘΣΤΙΝ Κ . Τ . Λ . justifies the use of the expression ὈΛΊΓΟΙ ; so much stress is laid on this particular, very probably in order to point out, on the one hand, the great number of those who perished, and on the other, the proportion to be looked for at the final judgment.

[218] Wiesinger has expressed himself in favour of the first version, but then remarks: “the writer conceives the water at the same time as the saving element;” Fronmüller, too, combines both interpretations: “in which few souls sought shelter, and were saved through the water and by it;” this is evidently altogether unwarrantable.

Verse 21

1 Peter 3:21 . ὃ καὶ ὑμᾶς [ ἡμᾶς ] ἀντίτυπον νῦν σώζει βάπτισμα ] ὅ does not apply to the thought expressed in the previous verse, as Gerhard, who adopts the reading ᾧ , explains: isti conservationi tanquam typo spiritualis conservationis baptismus velut ἀντίτυπον respondet (in like manner Beza, Hornejus, Morus, Hottinger, Hensler, etc.), but it refers back to ὕδατος , and, withal, so that by it water generally is to be understood, and not that particular water through the medium of which the Noahites were saved; water saved them, and it is water by which you too are saved. The general term receives a more precise definition in the adjectival ἀντίτυπον , by means of which the water which now saves is contrasted as antitype [219] with the water which saved Noah and those with him. What this antitypical water is, is stated by the subjoined βάπτισμα , which as an apposition must be explained in the sense: “ as baptism ” (comp. Winer, p. 491 [E. T. 663]). Differently Hofmann; he would take the apposition in the sense of: “ a baptism namely ;” he says: “in the explanatory apposition the apostle substitutes the term ‘baptism’ for ‘water,’ without, by the anarthrous βάπτισμα , directly indicating Christian baptism. What kind of baptism he means is stated by the apposition subjoined to βάπτισμα .” On this it must be remarked that βάπτισμα would certainly convey to the readers only the idea of a definite Christian baptism, and that the apposition following is not fitted to mark the term baptism, indefinite in itself, as the specifically Christian baptism, but only to point out in what way baptism possesses in itself the saving power attributed to it.

Without any cogent reason, Steiger interprets βάπτισμα as equivalent to “ baptismal water .” The direct conjunction which takes place here ceases to occasion surprise, if it be considered that the typical character of the deluge, as regards baptism, consists not only in the sameness of the elements, but in the similarity of the relation of the water to those saved. If διʼ ὕδατος be rendered “through the water,” an incongruity will arise, disturbing to the parallelism, and which attempts have been made to overcome by supplying intermediate ideas. According to de Wette, the antitypical character of baptism consists in this: “that in it the flesh must perish and, as it were, be judged ; whilst, at the same time, through faith in the resurrection of Christ, pure spiritual life is attained, and the believer saved.” By these and such like supplements, which the apostle himself in no way suggests, elements are introduced foreign to his conception. [220]

The present σώζει is put here neither instead of the preterite nor the future; it denotes rather the effect which, from the moment of its accomplishment, baptism produces on the persons who submit to it. The latter resemble the Noahites whilst by means of water they were being preserved in the ark from destruction ( ἀπώλεια ).

The antithesis which exists between ὑμᾶς and the preceding ὀλίγοι , indicates that the proportion saved by baptism to the unbelieving is but small. ὀλίγοι has accordingly a typical significance. It is more doubtful whether the same is the case with the ark; Oecumenius already saw in it the church, whilst others regard it as a symbol of Jesus Christ. Thus Hemming: quemadmodum aqua per se non salvavit Noe, sed mediante area, ita aqua baptismi per se non salvat, sed mediante area, h. e. Christo Jesu.

οὐ σαρκὸς ἀπόθεσις ῥύπου , ἀλλά ] Apposition to βάπτισμα , which, however, does not state the nature of baptism generally, but only in what sense it effects σώζειν . This is stated first negatively, in order thereby to mark more distinctly the standpoint. Almost all commentators take σαρκός as a genitive depending on ῥύπου , and preceding it only for the sake of emphasis. Bengel, on the other hand, joins it as genit. subj. directly with ἀπόθεσις : “carni adscribitur depositio sordium; ideo non dicitur: depositio sordium carnis.” The sense would then be: baptism does not consist in this, “that the flesh lays aside its uncleanness .” This explanation, corresponding as it does to the position of the words, is well suited to the idea ἀπόθεσις , which does not necessarily presuppose the activity of the subject, but can be used when the subject is, strictly speaking, passive; comp. 2 Peter 1:14 , the only other passage in which the word occurs in the N. T. Hofmann is accordingly mistaken in asserting that “the laying aside of uncleanness cannot be regarded as an act of the flesh.”

An antithetical allusion to the Jewish washings can hardly be here assumed (cf. Justin M. dial. c. Tryph. p. 331: τί γὰρ ὄφελος ἐκείνου τοῦ βαπτίσματος (the Jewish washing), ὃ τὴν σάρκα καὶ μόνον τὸ σῶμα φαιδρύνει ; βαπτίσθητε τὴν ψυχήν ). [221]

ἀλλὰ συνειδήσεως ἀγαθῆς ἐπερώτημα εἰς Θεόν ] The positive, as contrasted with the negative character of baptism, συνειδήσεως ἀγαθῆς can be either the subjective or the objective gen. [222] ἐπερώτημα , a ἅπ . λεγ . in the N. T. (in the O. T. only once, LXX. Daniel 4:14 , as a translation of שְׁאֵלְתָּא ), is used in classical Greek only in the sense of “ question .” Holding by this meaning, commentators have explained it as (1) the question concerning a good conscience addressed to God (thus Wiesinger, who, however, prefers the translation “ inquiry ” to “question”), or (2) “the question of a good conscience directed to God ” (Gerhard, Steiger, Besser). The first of these renderings is not in harmony with the nature of baptism, inasmuch as the person to be baptized already knows how the good conscience is to be obtained. From the second there results only an incomplete idea, necessitating arbitrary supplements. [223] Now, as ἐπερωτᾷν , which doubtless means only “ to ask a question ,” is used also of such questions as would obtain something from the person asked (Matthew 16:1 ; Psalms 137:3 , LXX.), the meaning has been assigned to ἐπερώτημα : “ the inquiring desire ,” “ the inquiring request .” Some commentators here take συν . ἀγ . as a subj . gen., and interpret: “ the request of a good conscience addressed to God ” (thus Bengel, with whom Schmid, Bibl. Theol. des N.T . p. 199, agrees: salvat nos rogatio bonae conscientiae, i. e. rogatio, qua nos Deum compellamus cum bona conscientia, peccatis remissis et depositis [224] ); but this also gives rise to an incomplete idea, inasmuch as the contents of the request are not stated. On this rendering of ἘΠΕΡΏΤΗΜΑ it is better to regard the gen. as an object . gen., thus: “ the request addressed to God for a good conscience ; “Lutz, Lechler, Weiss, Weizsäcker (Reuter’s Repert . 1858, H. 3), Hofmann, Schott; Wiesinger, too, is inclined to agree. [225] But to this also objections which cannot be overlooked arise: (1) Although the reception of baptism be founded on the desire for a reconciled conscience, yet it does not follow that baptism itself can be described as the expression of this desire; (2) Taken thus, the proper meaning of ἘΠΕΡΏΤΗΜΑ is entirely lost sight of; the word is used in a sense in which it occurs nowhere else, a proceeding which is all the more open to question that the apostle had certainly other words at his command wherewith to give the idea of request; (3) The object which the recipient of baptism requests, namely, “the reconciled conscience,” is inadequately expressed by ΣΥΝΕΊΔΗΣΙς ἈΓΑΘΉ , for here no stress is laid on the essential element the forgiveness of sin; lastly, (4) In this interpretation ΕἸς ΘΕΌΝ is only of secondary importance, whilst the passages, chap. 1 Peter 1:21 and 1 Peter 3:18 , show that the chief emphasis lies on ΕἸς ΘΕΌΝ . [226]

Even from early times interpreters have attempted to explain ἐπερώτημα in this passage, not according to common, but according to juristic usage, taking it as equal to ΣΎΜΦΩΝΟΝ , stipulatio mutua, contract (Luther: “covenant”), referring at the same time to the act of question and answer, which took place at baptism: ἈΠΟΤΆΣΣῌ Τῷ ΣΑΤΑΝᾶ ; ἈΠΟΤΆΣΣΟΜΑΙ · ΣΥΝΤΆΣΣῌ Τῷ ΧΡΙΣΤῷ ; ΣΥΝΤΆΣΣΟΜΑΙ · abrenuntias? abrenuntio; credis? credo (Tertull. lib. de resurr. cam.: anima non lavatione, sed responsione sancitur). Aretius interprets: Deus in baptismo nobis promittit, quod velit nos filiorum loco habere propter Christum; contra nos promittimus, nos serio victuros pie; haec est mutua stipulatio; this interpretation, however, is erroneous, as even in legal phraseology ἘΠΕΡΏΤΗΜΑ does not mean a “ reciprocal ” contract. De Wette’s is likewise wrong: “by metonymy, because questions were addressed to the individual who took the vow, ἐπερωτᾶσθαι acquired the meaning promittere, spondere, and ἘΠΕΡΏΤΗΜΑ that of sponsio;” for ἘΠΕΡΏΤΗΜΑ is not derived from ἘΠΕΡΩΤᾶΣΘΑΙ , but from ἘΠΕΡΩΤᾷΝ , and therefore never had or could have had the signification: “ solemn pledge .” Further, it has been not unjustly remarked, in opposition to this view, according to which συν . ἀγ . is considered as an object . gen, that it would have been better to have spoken of ἀναστροφὴ ἀγαθή as that which has to be vowed. [227] Brückner has substantially corrected de Wette by pointing out that in the language of the Byzantine lawyers ἘΠΕΡΩΤᾷΝ is used in the sense: “to conclude a treaty, a contract, stipulari,” taking ΣΥΝ . ἈΓ . as a subject , gen. But his exposition suffers from an uncertain wavering, for he too declares ἐπερώτημα to be synonymous with “ treaty ,” indeed with “ vow ,” which is certainly not the case. The facts are these: a contract was concluded in the form of question and answer: spondesne? spondeo (comp. Puchta, Curs. der Instit. v. 3, p. 97); by the question, on the one side, the agreement was proposed; by the reply, on the other, it was concluded. ἐπερώτημα is then this question by which the conclusion of a contract began, not then the contract itself, and still less the pledge which was taken rather by him who replied. The questioner bound himself by his question to accept that which he who gave the reply promised. If, then, the designation of baptism as ΣΥΝΕΙΔΉΣΕΩς ἈΓ . ἘΠΕΡΏΤΗΜΑ ΕἸς ΘΕΌΝ is to be explained from legal procedure, it can only be spoken of as such, inasmuch as the person baptized, by the reception of baptism, enters into a relation as it were of contract with God, in which he submits in faith to God’s promise of salvation. Nor can it be denied that this is really in harmony with the nature of baptism, more especially if it be considered that in the legal proceedings, connected with the conclusion of a contract, the respondent pronounced his spondeo in the expectation that the interrogator would fulfil the conditions previously stipulated, to which he had pledged himself. This explains the expression ΣΥΝΕΙΔΉΣΕΩς ἈΓΑΘῆς , which points to the circumstance that the recipient of baptism, in submitting to it, has the honest purpose faithfully to fulfil the conditions under which the divine assent is given. This interpretation is distinguished from those above mentioned by its concrete precision. No doubt ἘΠΕΡΏΤΗΜΑ in this juristic sense is to be found only in writings of a later date; but since this form of concluding a contract belonged to an earlier time, it may be assumed that the word had previously been in use thus in legal phraseology. [228] The adjunct: διʼ ἀναστάσεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ , by referring back to ζωοποιηθεὶς δὲ πνεύματι , brings the apostle again to his former train of thought. The words are not appended in a loose way to ἐπερώτημα for the purpose of stating how this is effected, as Grotius, Pott, Hensler, Zezschwitz, Hofmann, Schott, and others assume; [229] they are rather conjoined with the verb of the clause ΣΏΖΕΙ , inasmuch as they state that through which the ΒΆΠΤΙΣΜΑ exercises its saving effect (de Wette, Wiesinger, Weiss). The former construction is the less justifiable, that it is more natural to unite the concluding adjunct with the leading idea than with the secondary thought which specifies the nature of baptism. It is still less appropriate to connect the words directly with ΣΥΝΕΙΔΉΣΕΩς ἈΓ . (as against Fronmüller).

[219] Raphelius: τύπος res aliud quid praefigurans, ἀντίτυπος res ilia praefigurata. ἀντίτυπος has another meaning in Hebrews 9:24 , where the τύπος is the ἀληθινόν .

[220] Schott, indeed, justly remarks “that the antitypical nature of baptism, and therefore the typical nature of that to which baptism corresponds as antitype, consists precisely in what is asserted of both, namely, in their saving power and effect.” He thinks, however, “that the antitypical nature of the water applies to what was essentially peculiar to the great flood.” What this is he explains by saying that “the flood was a judgment which destroyed mankind from the earth, so that from out of it only a small number, belonging to the church of believers, were saved;” that is, “it was a judgment of extirpation in such a way that it was the means of effecting a salvation.”

[221] Augustin’s opinion ( contr. Faust. c. 12 et 13), with which Beda and others agree, is quite inappropriate. It is, that the apostle here alludes to the baptism of the heretics. Calvin’s assertion, too, that this negative apposition emphasizes the fact that baptism, as an outward form, is of no use, introduces a foreign idea into the words of the apostle.

[222] This is denied, indeed, by several commentators, specially by Hofmann and Schott, because a good conscience does not precede, but is the fruit of baptism. But this assertion presupposes the identification of the good conscience with that conscience which by Christ is reconciled with God, and is released from the feeling of guilt. For this, however, the N. T. phraseology gives no warrant. According to it, συνείδησις ἀγαθή rather means: “the consciousness of pure intentions,” or “the consciousness of sincerely willing that which is good”

[223] Gerhard: quomodo deus erga baptizatum affectus sit, etc.; Steiger: “for the salvation of which he who receives baptism would be assured;” Besser: Art thou not my father? am I not thy child? The interpretation given in the Erlanger Zeitschrift , 1856, p. 293 ff., is evidently altogether erroneous: “the proof of the good conscience attained in baptism is the ἐπερώτημα εἰς Θ ., i.e. the question: Am I not saved by my baptism from the judgment on an unbelieving world?” Apart from all else, the matter here treated of is not a question which is only put after baptism, since baptism itself is designated as the ἐπερώτημα .

[224] To this interpretation of Bengel, Hofmann rightly objects: “that ἐπερώτημα cannot well mean something which presupposes the reception of baptism;” but if the “peccatis remissis et depositis” be not looked upon as belonging to the idea of a good conscience, Hofmann’s objection loses its validity.

[225] The same view is to be found already in Seb. Schmidius, only that he regards ἐπερ . as meaning the petitio addressed to God by him who baptizes, and συν . ἀγ . as the gift which he implores for the person baptized; evidently this is entirely arbitrary.

[226] Hofmann, in support of the interpretation here called in question, appeals to the circumstance, “that the petition for the cleansing of the conscience from past sins forms the only suitable antithesis to the putting away of filth contracted outwardly.” But it must be remarked in opposition, that however suitable this antithesis may appear in itself, it does not follow that the apostle had it in his mind in the way here stated. It is rather improbable that he had, since in this positive nearer definition of baptism its application to cleansing is in no way alluded to. The explanation given in Weissagung und Erfüllung , II. p. 234: “the happiness of a good conscience asked of God,” he passes over in silence in his Schriftbeweis , II. 2. The interpretation given by Winer in the 5th ed. of his Gr. : “The inquiry of a good conscience after God, i.e. the turning to God, the seeking Him,” does not occur in the subsequent editions, nor is there any justification for it.

[227] Estius, Beza, Grotius, Semler, Pott, Hensler, etc., interpret similarly to de Wette,

[228] After the explanation here given, it is evidently incorrect when Hofmann says that “ ἐπερώτημα could only be the question addressed by him who closes an agreement, to the person who is to consent to it.” The very opposite is the case. The question is not addressed from the former to the latter, but from the latter to the former; that is, then, not from God to the person baptized, but from the person baptized to God.

[229] 1 Kings 22:7 : ἔτι εἷς ἔστιν ἀνὴρ εἰς τὸ ἐπερωτῆσαι διʼ αὐτοῦ τὸν κύριον , has been appealed to in favour of this construction. Erroneously, since διʼ αὐτοῦ applies to a person. Between it, therefore, and διʼ ἀναστάσεως no parallel can be drawn. According to Hofmann, διά states that which the person baptized appeals to in support of his desire for the remission of sin. The passages, however, which he quotes (1 Corinthians 1:10 and Romans 12:1 ) by no means prove that the prep. διά has this signification.

(Hebrews 13:18 : καλὴν συνείδησιν ἔχομεν , ἐν πᾶσι καλῶς θέλοντες ἀναστρέφεθαι ; cf. also 1 Peter 3:16 ; Acts 23:1 ; 1 Timothy 1:5 ; 1 Timothy 1:19 ; 1 Timothy 3:9 ). If baptism is really to bring a blessing to the person baptized, he must surely desire it with a good conscience.

Verse 22

1 Peter 3:22 . ὅς ἐστιν ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ Θεοῦ ] This brings to a close the whole train of thought with reference to Christ, from 1 Peter 3:18 and onwards, inasmuch as to His sufferings, death, resurrection, and going to the spirits in prison, there is now added, His sitting down at the right hand of God. This expression, which points out the present condition of the glorified Redeemer, occurs likewise in Romans 8:34 , Colossians 3:1 , and in other passages of the N. T.

πορευθεὶς εἰς οὐρανόν ] corresponds to πορευθείς , 1 Peter 3:19 .

ὑποταγέντων … δυνάμεων ] added in order to give prominence to the unlimited sway of Christ (Ephesians 1:21-22 ; Colossians 2:10 ; 1 Corinthians 15:27 ; Hebrews 2:8 ), extending even over all heavenly powers, whatever their name or office.

The expressions ἐξουσίαι and δυνάμεις are with the exception of in this passage used only by Paul as names of angels (with δυνάμεις , cf. Psalms 103:21 ; Psalms 148:2 , LXX.); and in the same sequence. ἄγγελοι is not here the general term to which ἐξουσίαι and δυνάμεις ( καὶ … καί , equivalent to cum … turn) are subordinate, but the three conceptions are co-ordinate, and connected by the repeated copula. This is shown by Romans 8:38 , where, instead of ἐξουσίαι , the name ἀρχαί is used. For the various names, comp. Meyer on Ephesians 1:21 ; Colossians 1:16 .

ὑποταγ . expresses, not enforced, but voluntary subjection.

With regard to the relation of this whole passage to what precedes, ὅτι καὶ Χριστὸς … ἔπαθεν shows that in the first instance confirmation is given to the thought that it is better to suffer for well than for evil doing, by reference to the sufferings of Christ, similarly as is done in chap. 1 Peter 2:21 . But as the last-mentioned passage passes beyond the limits of the typical, that is, first by the addition of ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν to ἔπαθεν , and then by the statements of 1 Peter 2:24 , the same takes place here. There, reference is made to the redeeming death of the abased Christ; here, to the living work of the glorified Christ. The chief separate points have already been stated. The allusion of baptism appears indeed to be a digression, yet it belongs essentially to the train of thought; for after that mention had been made of Christ’s work among the spirits in prison in His exalted condition, it was necessary to call attention likewise to His redeeming work on earth, the effects of which are communicated through baptism. That Peter speaks of this medium (not that of the word, etc.) is explained by his reference to the deluge as the type of the approaching judgment, and to the water by which Noah and those with him were saved, and which appeared as a τύπος of baptism. [230]

[230] Since that which is stated in this paragraph does not keep within the limits of the typical, it may very well in spite of Hofmann’s assertion to the contrary be described as a digression.

Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3". Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.