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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
1 Peter 3

 

 

Verses 1-7

1 Peter 3:1-7

Analysis:—Exhortations addressed to married people, enjoining duties affecting their mutual relations, from a Christian point of view

1 Likewise, ye wives,[FN1] be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if[FN2] any obey not the word,[FN3] they also may without the word[FN4] be won by the conversation of the wives; 2, 3While they behold[FN5] your chaste conversation coupled with fear.[FN6] Whose[FN7] adorning, let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair,[FN8] and of wearing of gold,[FN9] or 4 of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible,[FN10] even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit,[FN11] which is in the sight of God of great price 5 For after this manner in the old time[FN12] the holy women also, who trusted[FN13] in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their 6 own husbands: Even[FN14] as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are,[FN15] as long as[FN16] ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.[FN17][FN18]7Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1 Peter 3:1. Likewise, wives, be in subjection to your own husbands.—The Apostle now passes on to conjugal duty, intending to make ὁμοίως convey the idea that the obedience of wives to their husbands is as sacred an obligation as that of servants to their masters. What may be the reason of his not noticing the duties of believing masters to their servants, to which Paul, in Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25, has special reference? It is probably to be found in the circumstance that in the Churches to which he wrote this Epistle were only few believing masters, or none that had slaves. Estius sees in this circumstance an additional reason that this Epistle was addressed to the Jews of the dispersion, among whom were many slaves, but few masters.—αἱ γυναῖκες, address as in 1 Peter 2:18; 1 Peter 3:7; Ephesians 5:22; Ephesians 5:25.—ὑποτασσόμεναι, Participle, as ch 1 Peter 2:18, governed by the principle, 1 Peter 2:17, “Fear God,” etc, cf. Colossians 3:18; Genesis 3:16.

To your own husbands.—Cf. [Leighton observes: “A soul converted is gained to itself, gained to the pastor, or friend, or wife, or husband who sought it, and gained to Jesus Christ: added to His treasury, who thought not His own precious blood too dear to lay out for this gain.”—M.]—Grotius cites the language of the heathen orator Libanius, which shows how primitive Christian wives followed these exhortations. He exclaims: “What wives have these Christians!”

1 Peter 3:2. When they behold your conversation, chaste in fear.—ἐποπτεύσαντες, cf. 1 Peter 2:12, an insight flowing from close observation.—τὴν ἐν φόβῳ ἁγνήν.—The allusion is probably (with reference to 1 Peter 2:17) to the fear of God, not to the fear of the husband, as in Ephesians 5:33.—ἁγνήν not=chaste in its restricted sense, but because of its close connection with φόβῳ and with the sequel, denotes chaste in a wider sense,=pure, holy, cf. James 3:17.—So Calov, not only with reference to conjugal fidelity and cleanness of the body.

1 Peter 3:3. Your adornment let it not be the outward (adornment) of braiding the hair, and putting round golden ornaments, or of putting on of dresses.—This verse is closely connected with the foregoing. This holy conversation in the fear of God is described first negatively: “In contrast with the means used by wordly-minded women to attach their husbands, the Apostle specifies the means whereby a Christian wife may hope to win even a resisting husband.”—ὦν ἔστω sc. κόσμος, cf. 1 Timothy 2:9.—The Genitives are those of nearer definition, and describe the act of adorning, not the objects of adornment.—ἐμπλοκή, the artificial braiding of hair; female vanity is inexhaustible in the invention of new styles and fashions. Calov cites a passage from Jerome’s Epistle to Demetrius, in which he adverts to this subject, and quotes Cyprian’s sharp censure of women on this score. The views, which even the more serious heathen held concerning such trifles, have been collected by Steiger from Plato, Sophocles and Plutarch.—ἢ ἐνδύσεωε ἱματίων.—Peter, of course, adverts simply to the costliness of dresses. [But does not ἐνδύσεως allude rather to putting them on in an unbecoming and indecent manner? Alford says that ‘within the limits of propriety and decorum, the common usage is the rule.’ True, but where are those limits? Are they observed in the ‘full dress’ of the best society of either hemisphere? Is ‘full dress’ not a misnomer, and ought not our Christian matrons to use their influence in having full dress made more dress?—M.] Calov:—“Peter forbids not any and every adornment, but a modest and seemly adorning of the body, conformably to their several stations, is allowed,” cf. 1 Corinthians 12:23.

1 Peter 3:4. But let it be the hidden man of the heart—price.—κρυπτὸς ἄνθρωπος=ἐσω ἀνθρωπος, Romans 7:22; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Ephesians 3:16. This hidden man is not, as Steiger holds, = καρφία, but that which the Spirit of God forms and develops in the secret workshop of the heart, namely, the new way of thinking, feeling and willing, the new spiritual life, the new nature, the inmost kernel of man’s religion, in as far as he has within him something flowing from the life of Jesus. [In other words the inner man is the Christian, the regenerated, daily-renewed Prayer of Manasseh, adorned with the beauty of holiness with his (heart) affections centred in God.—M.].—ἐν τῷ ἀφθάρτῳ. Contrasted with those perishable, worthless trifles, 1 Peter 3:3. A neuter adjective is used for an abstract noun (v. Winer, p266). Beza: = sinceritas, incorruptio. πραΰς= עָנִי mild, gentle, meek, Matthew 21:5; 1 Corinthians 13:4, etc.; Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:12; Matthew 11:29; James 1:20; James 3:13; 1 Corinthians 4:21; Galatians 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:24. The contrary of self-will, pride, presumption, obstinacy, hardness, anger and envy.—ἡσυχίου, calm, tranquil, without passionate excitement. Bengel:—mansuetus, qui non turbat, tranquillus, qui turbas aliorum placide fert.—πνεύματος relates not to the Holy Spirit, but to the spiritual life, infused into believers by the Holy Ghost.—ὅ ἐστιν may be connected either with πνεύματος or with ἀφθάρτῳ. Bengel connects it with the latter, as being the principal subject, [but “the meek and quiet spirit” seems to be the main thing desired.—M.].—πολυτελής=πολύτιμος 1 Peter 1:19.—[cf. Mark 14:3; 1 Timothy 2:9; Proverbs 1:13.—M.].—ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ, “coram Deo, qui interna, non externa, spectat, cui placere curant pii.” Bengel.

1 Peter 3:5. For after this manner formerly also the holy women, who hoped in God, adorned themselves, etc.—οὔτω refers to what immediately precedes. The proof of it [the meek and quiet spirit.—M.] is their obedience.—ἄγιαι γυναῖκες, Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21; Ephesians 3:5; 2 Peter 1:21; those women of blessed memory and singled out in the history of salvation; their personality is defined by their hope in God. If God is all in all in a man’s heart, it has renounced the idol ‘vanity’ and expelled passionate excitement, cf. 1 Timothy 5:5. Tertullian:—“Be clothed with the silk of honesty, the byssus of holiness and the purple of chastity: thus adorned, God will be your friend.” Bengel:—“vera sanctitas, spes in Deum: est hoc epitheton pars subjecti.”

1 Peter 3:6. As Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord.—This obedience is illustrated by the example of Sarah, whom the Rabbis also were wont to set up as a pattern. She showed her obedience first in leaving with her husband the land of her nativity in reliance upon the promises of God, secondly in regarding Abraham as her Lord and calling him Song of Solomon, Genesis 18:12, notwithstanding they were both descended from a common earthly parent, Genesis 20:12.—ὑπήκουεν denotes the continuance of her obedience, which was rewarded by Abraham in his turn obeying her, Genesis 16:2; Genesis 21:12.—Grotius remarks that when the corruption of morals had become general at Rome, wives were called mistresses [of course in a good sense.—M.]

Of whom ye have become children.—ἦς ἐγενήθητε τέκνα. This is one of the Apostle’s frequent allusions to Isaiah; cf. Isaiah 51:1-2. “Look upon the rock whence ye are hewn (Abraham) and to the hole of the pit (or well) whence ye are digged (Sarah).” Sarah is here mentioned as the first mother of the people of Israel.—It is not ἐστὲ but ἐλενήθητε, because the expression ‘children of Sarah’ has not only a carnal but also a spiritual import. Steiger argues from this passage that the Apostle was addressing Gentile Christians as he would hardly have said to Jewesses, “ye have become Sarah’s children” without adding some such explanation as this; “You have now become Sarah’s children indeed or after a spiritual manner;“ but the opposite conclusion seems more in place. Did our Lord make such a qualification when He said to Zaccheus, the Jewish publican-in-chief, “He also is a son of Abraham”? Luke 19:9. Did He do it in the case of the infirm woman of whom He said that she was a daughter of Abraham? Luke 13:16; John 8:39. Even John the Baptist destroyed the delusion that those are Abraham’s children who are descended from him after the flesh, Matthew 3:9. Believing Jewesses would have no difficulty in understanding what was meant, while to Christian Gentile women it would hardly have been equally intelligible and applicable. Weiss remarks, “To be called the daughters of Sarah was no particular distinction conferred upon Gentile women, but to be designated as the children of their venerated ancestress and that in the highest sense [i. e., of similarity of disposition), was the loftiest praise bestowed upon Jewesses.” This conclusion is corroborated by the quotation from Isaiah 51

If ye do good and are not afraid of any sadden fear.—ἀγαθοποιοῦσαι, not in that - - - - or because- - - -, or if - - - -, but: as those who - - - - [so German.—M.]. You evidence your relationship to Sarah by doing good. Grotius recalls the amiable reception which Sarah accorded to the stranger guests and the readiness with which she obeyed Abraham on that occasion, [Estius says on πτόησιν: quod dum facitis, non est quod metuatis quidquam mali: velut, ne maritis vestris displiceatis, si minus corruptæ inceditis: aut ne serviliter vos tractent, si faciles ad obsequium vos præbeatis; ut solet sexus muliebris vanis pavoribus esse obnoxius. Sed et si forte nacti estis maritos iniquiores, silentio potius ac patientia, quam multis verbis studete eorum animos lenire.“ cf. Luke 21:9; Luke 24:37.—M.]

1 Peter 3:7. Ye husbands, in like manner, dwelling according to knowledge with the feminine, as with the weaker vessel.—Ὁμοίως refers back to 1 Peter 2:17 as in 1 Peter 3:1. Weiss wrongly maintains that the exhortation to Christian husbands is out of place in this connection because it does not coincide with the point of view indicated at 1 Peter 2:11-12. But why should it not coincide, if the Apostle addresses in turn the different conditions and classes of Christians, and shows to each how they should walk worthily among the Gentiles, honour all men and fear God? It would rather have been a grave omission, had he not reminded husbands of their duties; the exhortation was indeed peculiarly needed in order to avoid all misunderstanding and abuse of the obedience of women.—His first precept to husbands relates to συνοικεῖν=to dwell together, to have intercourse in general and then, as some of the ancients understand the word, with particular reference to conjugal intercourse. It should take place κατὰ γνῶσιν, according to knowledge—derived from reason and from the Gospel in respect of their peculiar relations and wants.—ὡς ἀσθενεστέρῳ σκεύει should be joined to συνοικοῦντες; otherwise συνοικεῖν would have no object, ἀπονέμοντες would have two ὡς.—σκεῦος is widely used of vessels, clothes and things in general, Deuteronomy 22:5; Luke 17:31; then of men with reference to their dependence and frailty and their destination for some particular purpose. We are like vessels in the potter’s hand, Jeremiah 18:6; Isaiah 29:16; Isaiah 45:9; Isaiah 64:8. He can break or preserve, reject or prefer them to honour, Jeremiah 19:11; Jeremiah 22:28; Jeremiah 48:38; Hosea 8:6; Psalm 2:9; Revelation 2:27; Romans 9:21-22; 2 Timothy 2:20. In particular, the body is called the vessel containing the soul, 1 Thessalonians 4:4-5. Here σκεῦος applies equally to husband and wife as is evident from the comparative ἀσθενεστέρῳ; it designates both as the handiwork of God, organized and designed for each other. The husband should be particularly moved to a considerate, loving and careful treatment of his wife by the thought:—“God himself has thus appointed and made the nature of woman.”—ἀσθενεστέρῳ. Calov:—“Women are weak in point of sex, the constitution of their body, mind and judgment, art, aptitude and wisdom in the conduct of affairs.” [Rather a sweeping judgment of woman, and as ungenerous as untrue. Woman is physically man’s inferior, but it is doubtful whether she is so mentally. This is not in the writer’s opinion a question of superiority or inferiority, but one of diversity. There are mental qualities in which woman excels man and others in which he excels her. They seem to be well balanced under equal advantages afforded to each. His experience in schools constrains him to admit that up to the age of sixteen, girls are decidedly brighter and better students than boys. If they do not progress after that period in an equal ratio, the fault belongs to vicious social habits and to the superficial and fanciful ideas as to the maximum attainments of females, but not to the natural endowment of their mind. It came forth from the Creator’s hand perfect after its kind, everyway adapted to man’s mind and the two equally and healthily developed, working together in one direction, supply each other’s defects and strengthen each other’s powers. United, this natural diversity blends in harmony. An excellent discussion of this subject maybe found in Adolphe Monod’s “La Femme,” Paris1860.—M.] Luther:—“Woman is weaker in body, more timid and less courageous than Prayer of Manasseh, hence your treatment of her should be accordingly.” But as woman’s weakness is relative, man also being a weak, frail vessel, Hebrews, mindful of his own weakness, ought the more readily to sympathize with the weaker, τῷ γυναικείῳ σκεύει.

Giving honour as to those who are also fellow-inheritors of the grace of life, in order that your prayers be not hindered.—The second precept is: ἀπονέμοντες τιμήν: to accord τὸ νόμμον, what is due; τίμήν with reference to [“Cum vir et uxor non sunt bene Concordes, minus possunt oratione vacare et eorum orationes sunt minus exaudibiles.” Lyra.—M.]. Roos: “There is no room for prayer that may be answered where the husband despises and tyrannizes his wife and where a marriage is marred by discord.” Grotius: “Harsh treatment leads to insult and strife, which hinder the power and efficacy of prayer.” Matthew 18:19; Sirach 25:1. Wiesinger: “The consciousness of having sinned against the hope of salvation forces itself as an obstruction between God and him who prays, and thus bars the way of prayer.”

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The conjugal state is not a human-Divine κτίσις, like the secular rule, 1 Peter 2:13, but instituted by God Himself, Genesis 2:18; Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; it is a relation of life adapted even to the royal priesthood, to the holy people of God’s possession, in which they are to show forth the praises (virtues) of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvellous light, 1 Peter 2:9. On the other hand, we ought not to deny the existence of a pure celibacy; so Thiersch.

2. Although the necessity of the wife obeying the husband is recognized outside of Christianity, the equality of husband and wife, in virtue of Divine appointment and grace, were altogether unknown; hence there is every where (i. e., outside of Christendom) a great degradation of the female sex. “Christianity,” observes Steiger, “is equi-distant from the moral degradation of the female sex, which the Mohammedans and Rabbis would almost deprive of immortality, and from the secular exaltation and deification, which, especially since the middle ages, has been defended as Christian by those who confounded Germanism with Christianity, while it secured to woman anything but happiness.

3. Peter, defining prayer as the centre and support of conjugal life, takes as lofty a conception of the matrimonial covenant as Paul, although the Pauline idea that the marriage of Christians is a figure of the relation of Christ to His Church does not occur in Peter (cf. Ephesians 5).

4. True love in the conjugal state depends upon and is rooted in mutual esteem; where this is wanting, the conjugal state is shaken at its very foundation; but it is not only esteem of the personal qualities and excellencies of either part, but also, and chiefly, the appreciation flowing from the thought: Thy partner, like thyself, is a child of God, purchased with the same precious blood of Christ, and called, like thyself, to be an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

There must be some special reason why wives are reminded of their duties before the husbands, and charged with obedience as their principal and foremost task.—Christian wives need not ask, which husbands must we obey? The direction is unmistakable: your own husbands; consequently, also unbelieving, harsh, and wayward husbands.—Noble art!—to be silent with the mouth, and to speak in the life. Augustine tells of Monica, his mother, that she spoke of Christ to her husband by her feminine virtues, and that, after having borne his violence without a murmur or complaint, she gained him at the close of his life to Christ, without deploring in the believer what she had suffered at his hands as an unbeliever.

1 Peter 3:2. There is often a veil before the eyes of a hard husband; doubt not that it can be removed, so that he may admiringly look upon the mystery of a profoundly-Christian mind, and with melted heart fall down at the feet of Jesus.—Fondness of rule and dress is a bad propensity, which is sometimes found even in Christian wives.—The proud daughters of Eve may see themselves reflected, as in a mirror, in Isaiah iii.—What is the heavenly bridal array of the believing daughters of Sarah?—Where hope in God is firmly established, no evil can terrify us.—It is the greatest calamity of wedded life to see prayer hindered and room given to Asmodeus [the devil matrimonial or disturber of married life.—M.].—How do husband and wife walk in the light of Divine truth?—It is the greatest folly if husbands act the part of tyrants to their wives.

Starke:—Although wives should mainly fear God that they may shun evil and do good, yet ought they to fear their husbands also, that Isaiah, not only to give them no cause for suspicion and jealousy by unseemly speech, behaviour or works, Proverbs 7:10, but they should also make it their study to please them.—Holy women, influenced by the Holy Spirit, will observe the proper medium in dress, cf. Est. ii: 16; Genesis 24:22; Romans 12:2.—Are you astonished to see persons covered with gold and pearls, with jewels and similar vanities? Rest assured that a believing soul, resplendent in virtues, is far more glorious and pleasant to God and His angels, Psalm 45:14-15.—The most respectable dress! Is it to be this? You say, it does not suit me, it is old, and makes no show. Well, that depends upon whom you want to please: God?—if Song of Solomon, it should be glorious, but inward; or the devil, the prince of this world?—then you need not care for Peter or Christ, dress after your own fashion, Proverbs 7:10.—As the Old and the New Testaments have only one Messiah, one faith, one hope and one charity, so they have only one inward soul-ornament, Acts 15:11; Isaiah 61:10.—Wives may lessen or increase the cares of their husbands, Proverbs 31:12.—If a husband and wife do not live after God’s ordinance, their prayers and worship are utter vanity and loss, 1 Timothy 2:8.

[Leighton:

1 Peter 3:1. “The common spring of all mutual duties on both sides is supposed to be love: that peculiar conjugal love that makes them one, will infuse such sweetness into the authority of the husband and obedience of the wife, as will make their lives harmonious, like the sound of a well-tuned instrument; whereas without that, having such an universal interest in all their affairs, they cannot escape frequent contests and discords, which is a sound more unpleasant than the jarring of untuned strings to an exact ear.”—M.]

[Publius Syrus:—Casta ad virum matrona parendo imperat. The submissive wife rules by obedience.—M.]

[Jay:

1 Peter 3:2. Chaste conversation implies “diffidence, the blushings of reserve, the tremulous retiring of modesty, the sensation that comes from the union of innocence and danger, the prudence which keeps far from the limits of permission, the instinctive vigilance which discerns danger afar off, the caution which never allows the enemy to approach near enough even to reconnoitre.”—M.]

[Leighton:—With fear.—“Fearing the least stain of chastity, or the very least appearance of any thing not suiting with it. It is delicate, timorous grace, afraid of the least air, or shadow of any thing that hath but a resemblance of wronging it, in carriage, or speech, or apparel, as follows in the 3 d and 4 th verses.”—M.]

[Plutarch:

1 Peter 3:3. Conjug. Præcep. c26. “An ornament, as Crates said, is that which adorns. The proper ornament of a woman is that which becomes her best. This is neither gold, nor pearls, nor scarlet, but those things which are an evident proof of gravity, regularity and modesty.” The wife of Phocion, a celebrated Athenian general, receiving a visit from a lady who was elegantly adorned with gold and jewels, and her hair with pearls, took occasion to call the attention of her guest to the elegance and costliness of her dress; “My ornament,” said the wife of Phocion, “is my husband, now for the twentieth year general of the Athenians.” Plutarch in Vit. Phoc.—Plato De Repub.:—“Behaviour and not gold is the ornament of a woman. To courtesans, these things, jewels and ornaments, are advantageous to their catching more admirers; but for a woman who wishes to enjoy the favour of one Prayer of Manasseh, good behaviour is the proper ornament, and not dresses. And you should have the blush upon your countenance, which is the sign of modesty, instead of paint; and worth and sobriety, instead of gold and emeralds.”

The sense of antiquity on this subject was very strong. Clemens Alex. Pædag. Lib3, cap4, says: “The women that wear gold, plait their hair, paint their faces, have not the image of God in the inward Prayer of Manasseh, but in lieu of it, a fornicating and adulterous soul.” The Apostolical Constitutions, Lib1, cap8, 8, forbid women to wear exquisite garments fitted to deceive, or gold rings upon their fingers, because all these things are signs of whoredom. Jamblichus in Vita Pythag., Lib1, cap31, p165, maintains “that no free women wore gold, but whores only.”—An inquiry into the sources from which false hair, now so generally worn by women, is procured, might possibly abolish this vicious and unchristian fashion.—M.]

[Leighton:

1 Peter 3:3-4. “The soul fallen from God hath lost its true worth and beauty, and therefore it basely descends to these mean things, to serve and dress the body, and take share with it of its unworthy borrowed ornaments, while it has lost and forgotten God, and seeks not after Him, knows not that He alone is the beauty and ornament of the soul, Jeremiah 2:32, and His Spirit and the grace of it, its rich attire, here particularly specified in one excellent grace; and it holds true in the rest.”—M.]

[Philip Henry:—“Besides this” (secret prayer) “he and his wife constantly prayed together morning and evening, and never, if they were together at home or abroad, was it intermitted; and, from his own experience of the benefit of this practice, he would take all opportunities to recommend it to those in that relation, as conducing very much to the comfort of it, and their furtherance in that which he would often say is the great duty of yoke-fellows, and that is ‘to do all they can to help one another to heaven.’ He would say that this duty of husbands and wives praying together is intimated in that of the Apostle, 1 Peter 3:7, where they are exhorted to live as heirs of the grace of life, that their prayers (especially their prayers together) be not hindered; that nothing may be done to hinder them from praying together, nor to hinder them in it, nor to spoil the success of their prayers. This sanctifies the relation, and fetches in a blessing on it, makes the comforts of it more sweet, and the cares and crosses of it more easy, and is an excellent means of preserving and increasing love in the relation. Many to whom he had recommended the practice of this duty have blessed God for him, and for his advice concerning it.”—An Account of the Life and Death of Mr. Philip Henry, by his Son, p58, Lond, 1712, quoted by Brown.—M.]

[Gataker (quoted by Brown):—“Let such married persons as God hath blessed in this kind” (by their being equally yoked in the best sense) “learn what cause they have to be thankful to God, either for other. Let the jars and discord that they see between other men and women mismatched, and the cross and cursed carriage of them, either toward other, together with the manifold annoyances and grievous mischiefs and inconveniences that ensue ordinarily thereupon, be a means to put them in mind of God’s great mercy and goodness toward them, and to make them more thankful to Him for the same. And since they have received either other from God, let them therein show their thankfulness to God by endeavouring to bring either other nearer unto God, by helping either other forward in the good ways of God. Do either with other as Anna did with her son Samuel: as she had him of God, so she bestowed him on God again: return each other again to God, and labour to return them better than they received them. The better they shall make each other, and the nearer they shall bring each other to God, the more good, through God’s goodness, shall they have either of other. The more man and wife profit in the fear of God, the more comfortably and contentedly shall they live together, the better shall it be for them both.” From “A Good Wife Indeed.” The same author has also sermons entitled, “A Good Wife, God’s Gift”, “Marriage Prayer”, and “Marriage Duties”, which are well worth consulting.—Fordyce’s Sermons to Young Women, in 2 vols, London, 1794 (rare) are also very valuable.—M.]

[Bp. Jeremy Taylor:—(Marriage Ring): “Marriage was ordained by God, instituted in paradise; the relief of a natural necessity, and the first blessing from the Lord. Marriage is a school and exercise of virtue. Here is the proper scene of piety and patience, of the duty of parents and the charity of relatives; here kindness is spread abroad, and love is united and made firm, as a centre. Marriage is the nursery of heaven, fills up the numbers of the elect, and hath in it the labours of love and the delicacies of friendship, the blessing of society and the union of hands and hearts. Marriage is the mother of the world, and preserves kingdoms, and fills cities, and churches, and heaven itself. Like the useful bee, marriage builds a house, and gathers sweetness from every flower, and labours, and unites into societies and republics, and sends out colonies, and feeds the world with delicacies, and obeys their king, and keeps order, and exercises many virtues, and promotes the interest of mankind, and is that state of good things to which God hath designed the present constitution of the world.”—M.]

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Cod, A. B. and Sinait. omit αἱ. ὁμοίως goes back to 1 Peter 2:13—M.]

FN#2 - καὶ εἴ, even if; the force of καὶ εἴ, Isaiah, “put the worst case, even if your husbands are positively disobedient to the word, your duty is clear.”—M.]

FN#3 - κερδηθήσονται; another reading is κερδηθήσωνται. Rec Cod. Sin.—On ἵνα with a Fut. Indic. see Winer, 6th ed. p258, and cf. Revelation 22:14; translate “that they shall be won.”—M.]

FN#4 - ἄνευ λόγου, without word. Translate the whole verse: “Likewise, wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, that even if any obey not the word, they shall be won without word by means of the conversation of the wives.”—M.]

FN#5 - ἐποπτεύσαντες=having beheld, when they behold.—M.]

FN#6 - The German renders “your conversation chaste in fear.”—M.]

FN#7 - ὦν=of whom, i.e, your adornment.—M.]

FN#8 - ἐμπλοκῆς τριχῶν=braiding of hair, cf. 1 Timothy 2:9.—M.]

FN#9 - περιθέσεως=putting round (the head, the arm, the ankle or the finger). Translate the verse: “Your adornment let it be not the outward of braiding of hair, and putting round golden ornaments, or of putting on of dresses.”—M.]

FN#10 - ἐν τῷ ἀφθάρτῳ=in the incorruptible ornament of.—M.]

FN#11 - τοῦ πρᾳέος καὶ ἡσυχίου πνεύματος=the meek and quiet spirit, which, etc.—M.]

FN#12 - ποτὲ καὶ=formerly also.—M.]

FN#13 - ἐλπίζουσαι (Part, of Imperfect, according to Winer, 6th ed, p305)=who hoped.—M.]

FN#14 - No necessity for “even”; the Greek has simply ὡς.—M.]

FN#15 - ἧς ἐγενήθητε τέκνα=of whom ye have become children.—M.]

FN#16 - αγαθοποιοῦσαι states the condition on which they have become Sarah’s children; render, therefore, “if,” instead of “as long as.”—M.]

FN#17 - καὶ μὴ φοβοΰμεναι μηδεμίαν πτόησιν=and are not afraid of any sudden fear. πτόησιν=fear from without, some external cause of terror. See additional observations under “Exegetical and Critical.”—M.]

FN#18 - This verse needs entire recasting; the E. V. is involved. We translate, closely following the original: “Ye husbands, in like manner, (refers to πάντας τιμήσατε, 1 Peter 2:17) dwelling, according to knowledge with the feminine, as with the weaker vessel, giving honour as to those who are also fellow-inheritors of the grace of life, in order that your prayers be not hindered. So Alford. The Cod. Sin. reads συνομιλοῦντες, “companying with,” for συνοικοῦντες, and supplies ποικίλης, manifold before χάριτος.—M.]

FN#19 - It is better to retain in English the adjectival construction of the original, substituting being, in Italics. instead of be ye.—M.]


Verses 8-17

1 Peter 3:8-17

Analysis:—Exhortations of Christians in general, irrespective of their civil and domestic relations, to godly behaviour before an ungodly and hostile world

8 Finally, be ye[FN19] all of one mind, having compassion one of another;[FN20] love as brethren,[FN21] be pitiful,[FN22] be courteous:[FN23] 9Not rendering evil for evil, or railing:[FN24] but contrariwise[FN25] blessing;[FN26] knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.[FN27] 10For he that will[FN28] love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:[FN29] 11Let him eschew evil,[FN30] and do good; let 12 him seek peace, and ensue it.[FN31] For[FN32] the eyes of the Lord are over[FN33] the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers:[FN34] but the face of the Lord is against[FN35] them 13 that do evil. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers[FN36] of that which is good? 14But and if[FN37] ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy[FN38] are ye: and be not 15 afraid of their terror,[FN39] neither[FN40] be troubled; But[FN41] sanctify the Lord God[FN42] in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer[FN43] to every man that asketh you a reason of[FN44] the hope that is in you, with meakness and fear: 16Having a good conscience; that, whereas[FN45] they speak evil of you,[FN46] as of evil doers, they may be ashamed that 17 falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.[FN47] For it is better, if the will of God be Song of Solomon, that ye suffer for well doing than for evil doing.[FN48]

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

[On the whole section.]—The Apostle hastens to conclude the Epistle, but not without laying down precepts for the conduct of Christians in general—irrespective of their social position—in their dealings with an ungodly world; he substantiates these general exhortations by indicating the feelings they ought to cherish beforehand the one toward the other.

1 Peter 3:8. Finally, all being of one mind, sympathizing, loving the brethren, compassionate, courteous (kind).—τὸ δὲ τέλος, adverbial Accusative, introduces the third main division, and conclusion of the Epistle.—[Oecumenius supplies the following connection: τί χρὴ ἰδιολογεῖσθαι; ἁπλῶς πᾶσι φημί. τοῦτο γὰρ τέλος καὶ πρὸς τοῦτο πᾶσιν σκόπος ἀφορᾷ τῆς σωτηρίας, καί τοῦτο νόμος πᾶσιν ἀλάπης.—M.]—ὁμόφρων=ὁμόνοος from φρήν, of one mind, agreeing in manner of thinking, so as to pursue one end, and to make choice of one way, cf. 2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 2:2.

[Robert Hall:—“Could we indulge the hope that such a state of things (i. e., oneness of mind) was likely soon to establish itself, we should hail the dawn of a brighter day, and consider it as a nearer approach to the ultimate triumph of the Church than the annals of time have yet recorded. In the accomplishment of our Lord’s prayer, that all His people may be one, men would behold a demonstration of the Divinity of His mission, which the most impious could not resist, and behold in the Church a peaceful haven inviting them to retire from the tossings and perils of this unquiet ocean, to a sacred enclosure, a sequestered spot, which the storms and tempests of the world were not permitted to invade.”—M.]

συμπαθεῖς, the disposition which enters into another’s weal or woe, joys with the joying, and weeps with the weeping, Romans 12:15; 1 Corinthians 12:25; Hebrews 13:3. Always to see in the sufferings of others only a judicial or pedagogical element, is contrary to the mind of Christ. [Christian sympathy refutes also La Rochefaucoult’s slander of human nature, that man always sees in the sufferings of others something not altogether displeasing.—M.]

φιλάδελφοι, cf. 1 Peter 1:22; 1 Peter 4:8; 1 Peter 5:9; Romans 12:10.—εὔσπλαγχνος, brave, courageous, then also tender-hearted, compassionate, as here. This quality, like that which follows, has already a bearing on our conduct in relation to the world.—φιλόφρων, kind in thought and deed, benevolent to everybody.

[Leighton:—This courteousness which the Apostle recommends is not satisfied with what goes no deeper than words or gestures. That is sometimes the upper garment of malice, saluting him aloud in the morning whom they are undermining all the day, and sometimes, though more innocent, it may be troublesome merely by the vain affectation and excess of it; and even this becomes not a wise Prayer of Manasseh, much less a Christian; an over-studying or acting of this is a token of emptiness, and is below a solid mind. Nor is it that graver and wiser way of external, plausible deportment, which fully answers this word. That is the outer half, indeed, but the thing itself is a radical sweetness in the temper of the mind, that spreads itself into a man’s words and actions; and this not merely natural (a gentle, kind disposition, which Isaiah, indeed, a natural advantage which some have), but spiritual, from a new nature descended from heaven, and so in its original nature it far excels the others, supplies it where it is not, and doth not only increase it where it Isaiah, but elevates it above itself, renews it, and sets a more excellent stamp upon it. See note in Appar. Crit, above.—M.]

[On the other hand, see note in Appar. Crit, above.—M.]—ἐκλήθητε, as disciples of Jesus, and children of God, you are destined to be the light and the salt of the world, and to exert a beneficent influence on it, Matthew 5:13-14.

That ye should inherit blessing.—The idea implied in these words is: as ye sow, so ye shall reap, as ye work, so shall be the recompense, [See note in Appar. Crit, above.—M.]—κληρονομήσητε refers, however, to the free grace in the distribution of the recompense, that it is a reward of grace, then to the title of the Sonship, and constant possession, Matthew 25:34. Chrysostom:—“Fire is not extinguished with fire, but with water; likewise wrong and hatred, not with retaliation, but with gentleness, humility and kindness.”—Gerhard:—“Believers, if they are offended, should recollect that God has not covered them with His curse, although they deserve it just as much as others, but has blessed them with all heavenly blessing.”—Weller:—“Your lot is better than that of the ungodly. God has called you to the inheritance of heaven, that you might be the children of God, and joint heirs with Christ, and become the sharers of the Divine nature. On the other hand, the ungodly are rejected from the presence of God, and excluded from that heavenly inheritance.” [Christian revenge is to forgive and forget injuries, and to bury them in love.

The sandal tree perfumes, when riven,

The axe that laid it low.

Let him that hopes to be forgiven

Forgive and bless his foe.

Cf. Proverbs 25:22; Romans 12:20.—M.]

1 Peter 3:10. For he who desireth to love life—that they speak no guile.—The exhortation to humble conduct, and the love of enemies is now substantiated by citations from the Old Testament. These embody the truth that such conduct assures us of the protection, the gracious regard and blessing of God. The Apostle quotes, without any material change, from Psalm 34. 1 Peter 3:13 to 1 Peter 3:18, the second person being changed into the third in 1 Peter 3:13-15. Only 1 Peter 3:13 varies somewhat from the LXX, which reads: θέλων ζωήν, ἀγαπῶν ἡμέρας ἰδεῖν, while here we have: θέλων ζωήν ἀγαπᾷν καὶ ἰδεῖν ἡμέρας. Bengel says, “that the Apostle adds new salt, saying: Who really and truly loves life, who is so thoroughly in earnest about this love that he fulfils its demands.” It seems better, however, to put a comma after ζωήν, as in the LXX. “Whoso desireth to live, and to love and see good days.” The alteration may have been made with reference to those sayings of Christ which advert to a false love of life, Matthew 10:39; Matthew 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 17:33; John 12:25.—ἰδεῖν = רָאָה, of experience and enjoyment.—παύειν=to make an end of, to allay, to stop, hinder, keep back from a thing. “The expression pre-supposes the natural unruliness of the tongue and its wild, natural impulse to evil.” Wiesinger. [“Calvin:—“Primum notat, quæ lingua vitia cavenda sint, nempe ne contumeliosi ac petulantes simus: deinde ne fraudulenti ac duplices. Hinc ad facta descendit, ne quem laedamus, vel ne cui inferamus damnum.“—M.]—χείλη αὑτοῦ. (Lachmann and Tischendorf omit αὑτοῦ).—δόλος is governed by ἀπό. Winer, p278.—δόλος denotes acting the deceiver or hypocrite; מִרְמָה, cf. James 1, 26. David, in this verse, refers primarily to temporal life and experience, so does Peter.

[See note in Appar. Crit.—M.]

1 Peter 3:12. Because the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, etc.—The reason is now given why those who act upon the preceding exhortation may cherish the hope of life and good days, and the contrary is stated.—ὀφθαλμοί and πρόσωπον are here in antithesis, the one denoting the gracious regarding of God, the other His look in anger.—κύριος = יְהוָֹה not Christ but the Father, cf. James 5:4.—ἐπί not = against, as it has not this meaning. Understand: are directed. “We are wont to look with a severe eye on those with whom we are angry.” Bengel:—“Anger excites the entire human countenance, love brightens the eyes.” cf. 2 Samuel 22:28; Leviticus 17:10; Leviticus 20:5; Psalm 68:3.

1 Peter 3:13. And who is he that—if ye be emulous of that which is good?—Inference drawn from the gracious regard of God directed upon the righteous. τίς κακώσων, who will be able to harm you, who will be suffered to injure you? of. Isaiah 1, 9; Romans 8:33. The sense is not: Nobody will have any mind to harm you. Peter, at least, knew the world differently and his Master had foretold differently, 1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 2:15; 1 Peter 2:18; 1 Peter 3:9; Matthew 10:24; Mark 10:44; John 13:16. The passage supplies therefore no new reason for peaceableness and holiness.—μμηταὶ τοῦ ἀλαθοῦ. (Lachmann, Tischendorf [and Alford with A. B. C. and others.—M.], read ζηλωταί; that is the more difficult reading. Fronmüller [ζηλωταὶ is better sustained and yields a better sense than μιμηταὶ, which later reading Alford supposes to have come in from 3 John 1:11.—M.]. μιμηταὶ is elsewhere only applied to persons, here it is applied to the abstract τὸ ἀγαθόν, because the good as personified in Christ is the point of reference, cf. Titus 2:14; 3 John 1:11.

[Bengel: “Ne hoc quidem vitam beatam vobis aufert, immo potius auget.“—M.].—τὸν δὲ φόβον αὐτῶν sc. of evil-doers, 1 Peter 3:12. This is a citation from Isaiah 8:12-13. φόβον may be taken actively of the terror which they cause, cf. Job 3:25; Psalm 91:5, or passively of the fear with which they are seized. In Isaiah 8:12-13, the word seems to have a passive sense, here an active one. Be not afraid of the terror which they inspire, and do not suffer yourself to be disconcerted. [But see note in Appar. Crit. above.—M.]. ταραχθῆτε, a climax, to become confused, disconcerted, troubled.

[I have adopted in Appar. Crit. the reading κύριον δὲ τὸν χριστὸν.—M.]

Being ready always for an answer—hope in you.—ἕτοιμοι δὲ (Lachmann omits δέ; then ἕτοιμοι would define the sanctification). But forget not that freedom from the fear of man does not exclude but include responsibility. The Christian, says Steiger, is not bound to account for his faith to any scoffer or such like ( Matthew 6:7), but to every man asking reasons, cf. 1 Peter 4:5; Romans 14:12; Hebrews 13:17; Acts 24:14 etc.; Acts 26:6 etc.—ἀπολοία, a defence, an apology, no learned theories but a brief account of the Person in whom we believe, of the testimony on which, and the reasons why we believe, and of the hope which this belief warrants us to cherish. Cornelius:—“Peter demands an answer, not a disputation.”—Join παντί to ἀπολογίαν.—περὶ τῆς ἐν ὑμῖν ἐλπίδος. We have already seen, especially in the opening of the Epistle, 1 Peter 1:3; cf. 1 Peter 1:13, that hope, in the Apostle’s view, is the real centre of the Christian life. It is the end of regeneration, the sum-total of all the blessings of salvation, the kernel of the whole of salvation. The primitive Christians were often persecuted for their hope in the salvation of the Messiah. Every believer should become thoroughly assured of the reasons for this hope. Christian faith and the hope founded on it, must attain such vital strength in our inmost heart (ἐν ὑμῖν) as to be able to become a counterpoise to the lust and fear of the world. [Luther:—“In persecutione oportet nos habere spem: si ratio spei exigitur, oportet nos habere verbum.“ Bengel:—“Spes Christianorum sæpe commovit alios ad percontandum.“ Didymus says: “Here is a caution to those who imagine that it is enough for us to lead what is called a moral life, without a sound foundation of Christian faith; and here is a special admonition to the Clergy, to be able to solve doubts and remove difficulties which may perplex their people, and to stop the mouths of gainsayers ( Titus 1:11) and render a satisfactory reason of whatever they do, or teach.“—M.]

1 Peter 3:16. With meekness and fear, having a good conscience.—[The German version, following the Vulgate, begins 1 Peter 3:16 with but with meekness, etc.—M.]. μετὰ πραΰτητος. (Lachmann, Tischendorf [and Alford, following A. B. C. and many others.—M.], insert ἀλλά before μετα); the sense being—“provided” [or as Alford explains “ready, but not over ready.”—M.], cf. 1 Peter 3:4, free from haughtiness, scorn and bitterness in the consciousness of truth and with the desire to convince.—φόβου in respect of God, whose cause we should not prejudice. [Alford defines φόβου “proper respect for man and humble reverence of God.”—M.]. Luther:—“Then must ye not answer with proud words and state your cause with a defiance and with violence, as if you would tear up trees, but with such fear and humility as if ye stood before the judgment-seat of God,—so shouldest thou stand in fear, and not rely on thy own strength, but on the word and promise of Christ.” Matthew 10:19; 1 Corinthians 2:3.—συνείδησιν ἔχοντες not coördinated with, but subordinated to ἕτοιμοι. Harless:—“Only he is able to defend his Christian hope with full assurance, who has kept in a good conscience, as in a good vessel, the grace he has received.” cf. 1 Peter 2:19. A good conversation is the most telling apology before slanderers. [Calvin:—“quia parum auctoritatis habet sermo absque vita, ideo fidei professioni bonam conscientiam adjungit.—M.]

That in the matter in which they speak against you as evil-doers, they who slander your good conversation in Christ, may be ashamed.—ἴνα ἐν ᾦ.—You were not only called to bless your enemies, but to become a blessing to them in putting them to shame, and if possible, to win them. cf. 1 Peter 2:12-19. ἐπηρεάζειν, to use hard words, abusive and haughty conduct in order to terrify and so to coerce, any one. It denotes greater hostility than καταλαλέω, 1 Peter 2:12.—τὴν ἀγαθὴν ἐν Χριστῷ ἀναστροφήν, see 1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 1:15. Join ἐν Χριστῷ to ἀναστοροφήν not to ἀγαθὴν. A conversation led in communion with Christ, looking up to Him, in His strength and with His help. They slander your good conversation, i. e., you on account of your good conversation. This is to give prominence to the folly of their detraction, which sooner or later must become manifest to themselves.

1 Peter 3:17. For it is better to suffer for doing well, if the will of God should will it Song of Solomon, than for doing ill.—κρεῖττον γὰρ. In no event will you escape suffering. Peter now meets, as Gerhard observes, the objection: “I should not take it so hard, if I had merited it.” He says: Is it not better to suffer for doing well than for doing ill?—κρεῖττον denotes that which is more advantageous, deserves the preference; cf. 1 Peter 2:19. Grotius:—“This is what Socrates said to his wife without being instructed, as we Christians are, respecting the right way and whither it leads.”—εἰ θέλοι (The textus rec. reads θέλει; but Tischendorf [following A. B. C. K. L. and others.—M.] prefers the Optative.), cf. 1 Peter 3:14, if and as often as it may be His will. cf. Matthew 18:14; Matthew 26:39; Matthew 26:42; 1 Corinthians 4:19; James 4:15; 1 Peter 1:6; 1 Peter 4:19.—[εἰ έλοι τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ placuerit voluntati divinæ θέλημα meaning the will itself, and θέλειν the operation of the will (like the stream streams,—the river flows, etc,) cf. James 3:4, see Winer, p627.—M.].—Θέλημα, this will is known from what happens to us. [Luther:—“Go on in faith and love; if the cross comes, take it; if it comes not, do not seek it.”—M.]

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The above warnings against self-revenge and exhortations to love our enemies are not peculiar to Christianity. They are already found in the Old Testament, and Christianity simply enforces, them by new and stronger motives. Steiger:—“The frequent warnings against self-revenge found in this Epistle, seem to have also an individual origin in the vehemence peculiar to Peter and in his holy dread of actions similar to that in the case of Malchus.”

2. The exhortation to fear God, which occurs repeatedly in this Epistle, is characteristic of the Petrine doctrine. This enforcing of fear, although more peculiar to the economy of the Law than to that of the Gospel, is equally necessary under the dispensation of the New Testament, and few Christians will be found who are past it. “As the difference of tropes (German, “Lehrtropen“) has always a providential signification for different individualities and degrees of development of the Christian life, so it is the case here.” Weiss.

3. The manner in which Peter refers to the sufferings of his contemporary fellow-believers supplies us with hints as to the date of this Epistle.

4. To draw from 1 Peter 3:14 the inference that in the opinion of Peter it is possible to acquire and merit heaven on account of righteousness, would be a great mistake; no, only the assurance of salvation and the degree of glory depend upon suffering for Christ’s sake and suffering with Him.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Beams of the glory of God which shine forth from the character of believers.—The blessing attitude of Christians in a hostile world.—The dignity and blessing of the cherished cross.—Are we permitted to love life and to desire good days?—Of true and false peace.—The flaming eye of God upon evil-doers.—The Christian’s watchword; nobody is hurt but by himself (Chrysostom has written a work on this subject).—The secret of being blessed in suffering—a good conscience, the shield and protection of believers.

Starke:—Try thyself—whether thou art of such a mind, 1 Peter 3:8. Micah 6:8.—All the members of the body are ready by sympathy to lighten the sufferings of the suffering members.—Canst thou requite evil with good? Try thyself; if thou art able, thou art a child of God, if not, it is idle conceit, Matthew 5:45.—There is no member of the body with which man is more likely and more ready to sin than with the tongue; hence we should carefully reflect upon what we speak and how we speak, James 3:5-6; Proverbs 16:26; Proverbs 17:27; Sirach 22:33.—Peace is rare game, in the diligent pursuit of which every Christian ought to be a quick huntsman, Proverbs 15:18; Proverbs 25:15; 2 Corinthians 13:12.—Nothing is more likely to move us to a holy conversation than the constant and lively recollection that the eyes and ears of God are ever around us. If this cannot fill a man with holy dread, he denies God in deed, though he confess Him in words, Deuteronomy 6:18.—Although the godly do not cry with their mouth, they cry to God with their heart, Psalm 34:16; Psalm 34:18. The world is enraged, Satan shows his teeth, it rains enemies: should this make thee alarmed, thou who lovest God? Hast thou not a Father who is almighty, and a King who is the Conqueror of all His enemies? Shall men, vile dust and ashes as they are, or hell itself then be able to hurt a hair of thy head unless He permit it? Be therefore courageous! the Lord be with thee; come hither, sword of the Lord and Gideon, Psalm 56:12.—The ungodly who persecutes the saints runs against a wall of iron and breaks his head, Jeremiah 20:11.—The strength and joyfulness of faith in heavy sufferings and persecutions differs altogether from self-made stoical insensibility and hard-heartedness.—The heart is a timid thing; at the least stirring of a cross-wind [so the German.—M.] it begins to tremble as the leaves of trees. But do right, and fear not the devil, Hebrews 11:27.—The ornament of Christ’s true bride is within, Psalm 45:10; Luke 17:20.—A judicious physician makes great allowance for a delirious patient—do thou the same for those who err, Galatians 6:1.—Silence is sometimes better than speaking, Matthew 27:12; Matthew 27:14; Colossians 4:5-6; Proverbs 26:4-5.—Nobody should cause his own sufferings; but those which God imposes every body should bear with patience, Lamentations 3:26; Lamentations 3:28.—To suffer innocently is the honour, but to suffer for sin is the shame of Christians, 1 Peter 4:15; Matthew 5:11.

Lisco:—Christian feeling in evil times.—The all-conquering power of faith and love of the sharers of Christ’s kingdom.—The art of providing good days for one’s self.

Stier:—Good days without sorrow and tribulation from without are not good for us, but would be the greatest misfortune to our souls.

Staudt:—Direction for good days; 1. How we should live inwardly; 2. How we should live outwardly; 3. How we should live upwardly.

V. Herberger:—1. What is following Christ? 2. What reasons have we to do it cheerfully and readily?

[Leighton: 1 Peter 3:8.—Men having so many disputes about religion in their heads, and no life of religion in their hearts, fall into a conceit that all is but juggling, and the easiest way Isaiah, to believe nothing; and these agree with any or rather with none. Sometimes it is from a profane supercilious disdain of all these things, and many there be of these, of Gallio’s temper, that care for none of these things and that account all questions in religion, as he did, but matter of words and names. And by this all religions may agree together; but it were not a natural union by the active heat of the spirit, but a confusion rather, by the want of it: not a knitting together, but a freezing together, as cold congregates all bodies how heterogeneous soever, sticks, stones and water; but heat makes first a separation of different things and then unites those that are of the same nature.—Beware of two extremes that often cause divisions, 1. Captivity to custom; 2. Affectation of novelty.—The scales of Leviathan, as Luther expresses it, are linked together; shall not the Lord’s followers be one in Him? They unite to undermine the peace of the Church, shall not the godly join their prayers to countermine them?—Says one: “Nothing truly shows a spiritual man so much, as the dealing with another man’s sin.”—Sin broke all to pieces, man from God and one from another. Christ’s work in the world was union.—The friendships of the world, the best of them, are but tied with chains of glass, but this fraternal love of Christians is a golden chain, both more precious, and more strong and lasting; the others are worthless and brittle.—The roots of plants are hid under ground, so that themselves are not seen, but they appear in their branches and flowers and fruits, which argue there is a root and life in them; thus the graces of the Spirit, planted in the soul, though themselves invisible, yet discover their being and life in the tract of a Christian’s life, his words and actions, and the frame of his carriage Faith worketh by love, so then where this root Isaiah, these roots will spring from it and discover it, pity and courtesy.—He whom the Lord loads most with his richest gifts, stoops lowest, as pressed down with the weight of them; the free love of God humbles the heart most to which it is most manifested.

1 Peter 3:9. One man’s sin cannot procure privilege to another to sin in that or the like kind. If another has broken the bonds of allegiance to God and charity to thee, yet thou art not the less tied by the same bonds still.

1 Peter 3:11. We may pursue peace among men and not overtake it; we may use all good means and fall short; but pursue it up as far as the throne of grace; seek it by prayer and that will overtake it; that will be sure to find it in God’s hand, “who stilleth the waves of the sea and the tumults of the people.” “If He give quietness, who can give trouble?”

1 Peter 3:14. It is a confirmed observation by the experience of all ages, that when the Church flourished most in outward peace and wealth, it abated most of its spiritual lustre (opibus major, virtutibus minor) which is its genuine and true beauty: and when it seemed most miserable by persecutions and sufferings, it was most happy in sincerity and zeal and vigour of grace. When the moon shines brightest towards the earth, it is dark heavenwards, and on the contrary when it appears not, is nearest the sun and clear towards heaven.”—M.]

1 Peter 3:15. Beware of an external, superficial, sanctifying of God, for He takes it not so; He will interpret that a profaning of Him and His name. Be not deceived, He is not mocked; He looks through all visages and appearances, in upon the heart, sees how it entertains Him, and stands affected to Him, if it be possessed with reverence and love more than either thy tongue or carriage can express; and if it be not Song of Solomon, all thy seeming worship is but injury, and thy speaking of Him is but babbling, be thy discourse ever so excellent; yea, the more thou hast seemed to sanctify God while thy heart has not been chief in the business, thou shalt not by such service have the less, but the more fear and trouble in the day of trouble, when it comes upon thee.

[ 1 Peter 3:8. The following passage from Polybius quoted by Raphelius, Obs. Vol. II. p760, beautifully illustrates συμπαθεῖς: “Certainly, if Scipio was peculiarly fitted by nature for any thing, it was for this, that he should inspire confidence in the minds of men, καὶ συμπαθεῖς ποιῆσαι τοὺς παρακαλουμένους; i. e., make those whom he addressed have the same feelings.”—M.]

[ 1 Peter 3:10. “A certain person travelling through the city, continued to call out, Who wants the elixir of life? The daughter of Rabbi Joda heard him and told her father. He said, Call the man in. When he came in, the Rabbi said, What is that elixir of life thou sellest? He answered, Is it not written, What man is he that loveth life and desireth to see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile? This is the elixir of life and is found in the mouth of man.” Quoted by Rosenmüller from the Book of Mussar, 1 Peter 1.—M.]

[1Pe 3:15. Pope:—

Hope springs eternal in the human breast,—

Man never Isaiah, but always to be, blest.—M.]

[Bentley:—”It is certain there is no hope, without some antecedent belief, that the thing hoped for may come to pass; and the strength and stedfastness of our hope is ever proportioned to the measure of our faith.”—M.]

[Vinet:—”We are debtors of religious truth to our brethren, as soon as we ourselves become possessed of it;” “We are debtors in the strictest sense of the term, for, properly speaking, the truth is not the exclusive property of any one. Every good, which may be communicated by its possessor without impoverishing himself, cannot remain exclusively his own. If this proposition be not true, morality falls to the ground. How much more does this hold good of a blessing which is multiplied by division of a spring which becomes more abundant as it pours out its waters!”

“The truth is not to be scattered at random like contemptible dust; it is a pearl that must not be exposed to be trodden under foot by the profane. To protect it by an expressive silence is sometimes the only way we can testify our own respect for it, or conciliate that of others. He who cannot be silent respecting it, under certain circumstances, does not sufficiently respect it. Silence is on some occasions the only homage truth expects from us. This silence has nothing in common with dissimulation; it involves no connivance with the enemies of truth: it has no other object than to protect it from needless outrage. This silence, in a majority of instances, is a language; and when in the conduct of those who maintain it, every thing is consistent with it, the truth loses nothing by being suppressed; or to speak more correctly, it is not suppressed; it is vividly, though silently pointed out; its dignity and importance are placed in relief; and the respect which occasioned this silence, itself imposes silence on the witnesses of its exhibition.”—M.]

[Bp. Hale:—“The proper meaning of the Apostle’s direction and its connection, with the preceding advice, may be thus stated: give ye unto God in your hearts that honour, which is due unto Him, in trusting to His promises, and reposing upon His providence, by a stedfast confidence and reliance; and since ye live among heathens and professed enemies of the Gospel, be not ye daunted with their oppositions and persecutions; but be ready, when ye are thereunto duly called, to make profession of that true faith and religion which ye have received: but let not this be done in a turbulent and seditious manner, but with all meekness of spirit and reverence to that authority, whereby ye are called thereunto.”—M.]

[Chrysostom:

1 Peter 3:14. “Should the empress determine to banish me, let her banish me; ‘The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof.’ If she will cast me into the sea, let her cast me into the sea; I will remember Jonah. If she will throw me into a burning, fiery furnace, the three children were there before me. If she will throw me to the wild beasts, I will remember that Daniel was in the den of lions. If she will condemn me to be stoned, I shall be the associate of Stephen, the proto-martyr. If she will have me beheaded, the Baptist has submitted to the same punishment. If she will take away my substance, ‘naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return to it.’ ” Ep. ad Cyriacum.—M.]

Footnotes:

FN#20 - συμπαθεῖς=sympathizing in grief and joy.—M.]

FN#21 - φιλάδελφοι=loving the brethren.—M.]

FN#22 - εὔσπλαγχνοι, literally of “strong bowels,” i. e., of great courage; compassionate, “misericordes erga afflictos.”—M.]

FN#23 - ταπεινοφρόνες=humble-minded. The Textus Rec. has φιλόφρονες for ταπεινόφρονες; but Griesbach, Tischendorf, A. B. C, and many other Codd. read the latter, which forms a proper transition to the next verse. The German reads the former, which gives also a good sense. Quite a number of Codd. have both. The Cod. Sinait. has ταπινόφρονες.—M.]

FN#24 - “Non malum pro malo in factis injuriosis, nec maledictum pro maledicto in verbis contentiosis.” Lyra.—M.]

FN#25 -

[τοὺναντίον δὲ=nay rather on the contrary; δὲ renders the contrast more emphatic than ἀλλά.—M.]

[εὐλογοῦντες=blessing the evil doer and railer.—M.]

FN#26 - εἰδότες is wanting in A. B. C. K, and many other Codd.—It is also omitted in Cod. Sin.—Lachmann, Tischendorf and Alford reject it. Omitting εἰδότες, render: “Because to this end (namely, ἵνα εὐλογίαν κληρονομήσητε) ye were called.”—M.]

FN#27 - Blessing in general, not a specific one; omit, therefore, the indefinite article. “Qui cœleste regnum aliquando hereditare debent, illi sunt benedicti ac filii benedictionis, non solum passive sed etiam active, benedictionem spiritualem a Deo per fidem recipientes et vicissim aliis ex caritate benedicentes.” Gerhard.—M.]

FN#28 - Θέλων=he who desires; will is ambiguous.—M.]

FN#29 - δόλον=fraud, deceit. Alford lays stress on the force of the Aorists as referring to single occasions, or better, perhaps, to the whole life considered as one fact.—M.]

FN#30 - ἐκκλινάτω δὲ ἀπὸ κακοῦ=let him turn away from evil, and so avoid it.—M.]

FN#31 - διωξάτω=pursue; “inquirat pacem ut rem absconditam et persequatur eam ut rem fugitivam.” Glossa interlinearis, quoted by Alford.—M.]

FN#32 - ὅτι=because.—M.]

FN#33 - ἐπὶ=upon (directed upon); so German, Van Ess and Alford.—M.]

FN#34 - δέησιν=prayer, singular.—M.]

FN#35 - ἐπὶ=upon (in wrath).—M.]

FN#36 - ἐὰν τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ ζηλωταὶ γένηθε=if ye be emulous of (or zealous for) that which is good?—M.]

FN#37 - ἀλλ’ εἰ καὶ=but if even, cf. 1 Peter 3:1.—M.]

FN#38 - μακάριοι, not happy, but blessed.—M.]

FN#39 - φοβηθῆτε φόβον=be not terrified by or with their terror, viz.: the terror with which they would fain fill you. “Sicut summum malorum, quæ lex minatur est cor pavidum et formidine plenum, Leviticus 26:36; Deuteronomy 28:65, ita maximum bonorum quæ Christus nobis promeruit inque Evangelio offert, est cor de gratia Dei certum ac proinde in omnibus adversis et periculis tranquillum.” Gerhard.—M.]

FN#40 - Second μὴ=nor.—M.]

FN#41 - δὲ=may rather, cf. 1 Peter 2:23; Hebrews 2:6.—M.]

FN#42 - A. B. C, Cod. Sinait, Lachmann, Tischendorf and Alford read χριστὸν for Θεόν.—M.]

FN#43 - ἕτοιμοι ἀεὶ πρὸς=ready always for.—M.]

FN#44 - περὶ=concerning. Translate the whole verse: “Nay, rather sanctify Christ the Lord in your hearts, being ready always for an answer to every man that asketh of you a reason concerning the hope in you, but with meekness and fear.”—M.]

FN#45 - ἐν =in the matter in which, cf. 1 Peter 2:12.—M.]

FN#46 - A. C. K, Sinait. and others read καταλαλοῦσιν; Tischendorf and Alford, with B. and other minor MSS, καταλαλεῖσθε with the omission of ὑμῶν ὡς κακοποιῶν.—M.]

FN#47 - Adopting the former reading, translate the whole verse: “Having a good conscience, that in the matter in which they speak against you as evil doers, they who slander your good conversation in Christ may be ashamed.”—M.]

FN#48 - Translate, with greater conformity to the original, like the German: “For it is better to suffer for doing well, if the will of God should will it Song of Solomon, than for doing ill.” A. B. C. K. L. and other Codd, with Tischendorf and Alford, read θέλοι for θέλει, in Rec. and others.—M.]


Verses 18-22

1 Peter 3:18-22

Analysis:—Further exhortation to readiness of suffering in consideration of a deeper motive. Only thus do we attain to resembling Christ, who suffered for our sins, whose sufferings had every where, even in the world of the dead, salutary effects, and led to the most blessed issue

18 For[FN49] Christ also hath once suffered for sins,[FN50] the just for the unjust,[FN51] that he might 19 bring us to God, being put to death[FN52] in the flesh, but quickened[FN53] by the Spirit:[FN54] By[FN55] 20which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime[FN56] were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing,[FN57] wherein few,[FN58] that Isaiah, eight souls were saved by water 21 The like figure[FN59] whereunto even baptism doth also now save us,[FN60] (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh,[FN61] but the answer[FN62] of a good conscience toward God,) by[FN63] the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 22Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God;[FN64] angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.[FN65]

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1 Peter 3:18. Because Christ also suffered.—If, according to our ideas, any one ought to have been spared the cup of suffering, it was Christ; but He also suffered on account of sins and for their atonement.

Once, cf. Romans 6:10; Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 9:7.—It requires not to be repeated and as compared with eternity, it is a short suffering, being compressed into the space of several years and days. It probably relates to the exhortation which follows that we also should once for all die unto sin, 1 Peter 4:1. (Lachmann reads: περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν ἀπέθανεν.).—περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν, on account of sins, cf. 1 Peter 2:24; Romans 8:3. Sins were the originating cause of His sufferings and their blotting out His aim.

A just person for (in the stead of) unjust persons.—δίκαιος ὑπὲρ ἀδίκων. Although ὑπέρ per se may be rendered “for the benefit of,” yet both the circumstance that the context opposes one innocent person to many guilty persons and the word προσάγειν clearly express the idea of vicarious suffering; for προσάγειν relates to Christ’s office of High-priest. Defilement by sin under the Old Testament barred all approach to God; the Priest had the privilege to draw near to God and to mediate the people’s approach to Him. This is rendered in the LXX. by προσάγειν. Vide Weiss, cf. προσέρχεσθαι 1 Peter 2:4.—The word ἅπαξ confirms this view, cf. Hebrews 9:27-28.—The repeated reference to the sufferings of Christ shows in the opinion of Gerhard, that the Apostle cannot weary to make mention of His sufferings, hence he calls himself 1 Peter 5:1, a witness of the sufferings of Christ.

Put to death indeed in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.—Θανατωθείς is best joined to προσάγειν. The restoration of men to the lost communion with God is conditioned by the sacrificial death of Christ, by His resurrection and royal power.—ζωοποιεῖν not = ἐγείρειν, cf. John 5:21; Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:22.—σαρκί, πνεύματι; the two Datives denote the sphere to which the predicate must be supposed to be limited, cf. Winer, § 41, 3. a. The Datives are evidently parallel and must be taken in the same sense. The sense of the first is clear: He was put to death as to His outward, sensuous nature. If this is established, it is impossible to interpret the second member as follows: He was made alive by the spirit that had been given to Him, by the higher divine part of His nature. Weiss:—The parallelism indicated by μέν and δέ, rather requires us to render, “as to His Spirit He was made alive,” (animated.). Death hardly affected the spirit and soul of Christ, but both at the moment of Christ’s dying were for a short time put into a state of unconsciousness. But hardly had Christ surrendered His spirit into the hands of the Father, when the Divine Spirit filled and penetrated Him with a new Divine life. Flacius already observes: “the antithesis clearly shows that Christ was put to death as to one part of His nature, but made alive as to another. It is a modus loquendi taken from or alluding to the universal lot of the godly, cf. Genesis 45:27; 1 Thessalonians 3:8. Roos:—“His soul, for its great refreshing, was endued with and penetrated by heavenly strength.” Others take the view that His death ensued in virtue of the weakness inherent in the flesh, His reanimation in virtue of the strength peculiar to the Spirit, cf. 2 Corinthians 13:4. But θανατωθείς; does not well suit this interpretation, which is somewhat forced. [Luther: “This is the meaning, that Christ by His sufferings was taken from the life which is flesh and blood, as a man on earth, living, walking and standing in flesh and blood and He is now placed in another life, and made alive according to the spirit, has passed into a spiritual and supernatural life, which includes in itself the whole life which Christ now has in soul and body, so that He has no longer a fleshly but a spiritual body.” Hoffman, Schriftbeweiss 2, 337, says: “It is the same who dies and the same who is again made alive, both times the whole man Jesus, in body and soul. He ceases to live in that that, which is to His Personality the medium of action, falls under death; and He begins again to live, in that He receives back this same for a medium of His action again. The life which fell under death was a fleshly life, that Isaiah, such a life as has its determination to the present condition of man’s nature, to the externality of its mundane connection. The life which was won back is a spiritual life, that Isaiah, such a life as has its determination from the Spirit, in which consists our inner connection with God.”—M.] [Wordsworth: “St. Peter thus guards his readers against the heresy of Simon Magus, and the Docetæ who said that Christ’s flesh was a phantom; and against that of the Cerinthians, and other false teachers, whose errors were propagated in Asia, who alleged that the Christ was only an Aeon or Emanation, which descended on the Man Jesus, at His Baptism, but departed from Him before His Passion.”—M.]

1 Peter 3:19. In which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison.—Ἐν is evidently to be joined with πνεύματι, not=διὰ πνεύματος, but really in the condition of a spirit separated from the body. Bengel:—”Christ dealt with the living in the body, with the spirits in the spirit.”—καὶ τοῖς ἐν φυλακῇ.—καί =even to the spirits in prison He did preach; so great was His condescension and so far reached the consequences of His voluntary, vicarious sufferings. As Paul the Apostle, Ephesians 4:9-10, adverts to the descent of Christ to the lowest parts of the earth, doubtless in close connection with the exhortation, cf. 1 Peter 5:2, and with the evident meaning that the example of Christ should move believers to descend to the weakest and most abandoned persons, of whose salvation none entertained any hope, so here the descent of Christ to the world of departed spirits occurs in connection with the preceding exhortations to perseverance in well-doing and suffering.—ἐν φυλακᾖ not=in the realms of death, for the word always denotes a custody, a place of confinement, a prison, Revelation 20:7; Matthew 5:25; Matthew 14:3; Matthew 18:30; Matthew 25:36; Mark 6:17; Mark 6:27; Luke 2:8; Luke 12:58; Luke 21:12; Luke 23:19; John 3:24; Acts 5:19; Acts 8:3; 2 Corinthians 6:5; Hebrews 11:36; consequently it has not the abstract sense of being bound. But this prison must be in the realms of death, cf. 2 Peter 2:4; Judges 6; Matthew 5:25-26. This evidently follows also from the comparison with 1 Peter 4:6. That it is not a mere condition, but a locality in Hades, is manifest both from πορευθείς, for one does not go, i. e., travel into a condition, and from the parallel πορευθεὶς εἰς οὐρανόν of 1 Peter 3:22. As heaven is a definite locality, so is the netherworld (Hades).—The power of the death and life of Christ operates in two directions, downwards to the realms of death, and upward to the higher regions of heaven.—ἐκήρυξε. Gerhard takes it not so much of verbal as of real preaching, as in Hebrews 12:24, not in order to liberate them or to give them time for repentance, but in order to show His glorious victory to the spirits of the damned. But the usus loquendi of κηρύττειν, and 1 Peter 4:6, which should be connected with the passage under notice, militate against his view. The word occurs joined with τὸ εὐαγγέλιον in Matthew 4:23; Matthew 9:35; Mark 1:14; Mark 16:15. Where it is found alone, it is understood that the chief burden of His preaching was: The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come nigh, repent and believe the Gospel, Mark 1:38; Mark 1:15; Matthew 3:1; Matthew 4:17; Matthew 9:35. It was just this kind of testimony which was to constitute the sum and substance of Apostolical preaching, Matthew 10:7; Matthew 24:14; Mark 3:14; Mark 6:12; Mark 13:10; Luke 9:2; Acts 9:20; Acts 10:42-43; 1 Corinthians 1:23; Philippians 1:15 : 2 Timothy 4:2. It is never used of judicial preaching. It Isaiah, therefore, by no means so indefinite an expression as Bengel supposes, but one which has a very definite meaning; further light, moreover, is shed on it by εὐηγγελίσθη of 1 Peter 4:6. The unequivocal sense is: Jesus proclaimed to those spirits in the prisons of Hades the beginning of a new epoch of grace, the appearance of the kingdom of God, and repentance and faith as the means of entering into the same.

1 Peter 3:20. Now follows a further definition. They are men, who once were unbelivers, in the time of Noah. Their having repented on seeing the flood break in, or during the long interval until the coming of Christ, is a gratuitous and arbitrary conjecture. Their unbelief was practical, exhibited by their disobedience, for so Peter invariably takes ἀπειθεῖν, cf. 1 Peter 2:7. They ridiculed the prediction of the coming floods and despised the exhortation to repent.

When the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few persons, that is eight souls, were saved by water.—Ἀπεξεδέχετο (The Text. Rec. had ἅπαξ ἑξεδέχετο, but our reading is doubtless correct.), the goodness of God, exhibited as μακροθυμία, in the long postponement of punishment and judgment, and the waiting for amendment; ποτε cannot be separated without violence from the following ἐν ἡμέραις Νῶε. It waited120 years for repentance, Genesis 6:3.—Since Noah was a preacher of righteousness in word and deed to his contemporaries, 2 Peter 2:5, and since the difficult building of his floating house, covering so long a space of time, ought to have excited their serious consideration, their unbelief appears so much the more culpable.—κιβωτός = תֵּבָה, the well-known name of the ark, cf. Matthew 24:38; Luke 17:27; Hebrews 11:7.—κατασκευαζομένης, denotes the difficulty and long duration of the building which was progressing in their sight.—εἰς ἣν ὀλίγαι, into which a few souls fled, and were saved, through, and by means of, the water. διά suggests both ideas in connection with the comparison with baptism which follows.

A few persons, put designedly, not only because, as Steiger remarks, this narrative shows per se the relation of believers and unbelievers, but also because the fact itself supplies the strongest motive for Christ’s descent into the realms of death, as an act demanded by the grace of God. Only eight souls were saved in the deluge—many thousands and thousands, who were very diverse as to their moral condition, perished; how conclusive, therefore, the inference that that event took place in the world of spirits, which Peter, however, knew, not from inferences he had drawn, but doubtless in consequence of a special revelation. As the time of Noah was elsewhere viewed as an important type of after-times, cf. 2 Peter 2:5; 2 Peter 3:6-7; Matthew 24:37, etc, so here also it ought to be taken in a typical sense, while the activity of Jesus ought not to be considered as being limited to the generation of Noah. By the example of Noah’s family, Peter was taught the dealings of God with all men, who, without any fault of theirs, have not known the salvation in Christ. This passage of Christ’s descent into Hades belongs to those which have suffered most from the treatment of commentators. Some distorted the preaching of Christ into mediate preaching by Noah or the Apostles, others into preaching, which, although having taken place immediately in the realms of death, was yet confined to the godly only. Steiger has enumerated their vagaries; they carry their confutation within themselves, and rest, one and all, on dogmatical embarrassment. Our explanation is supported by many passages, e. g., Acts 2:27; Acts 2:31; Psalm 16:10; Ephesians 4:8; Acts 13:35; Acts 13:37; Acts 2:24; Luke 23:46; Mark 15:37; Mark 15:39; Philippians 2:10; Luke 16:19. Cf. Koenig, Christ’s Descent into Hell; Güder, Doctrine of Christ’s Appearing among the Dead; Zezschwiz, Petri ap. de Christi ad inferos descensu sententia; Herzog, Real-Encyclopædie, Art. Hades; [and the Excursus on the Descensus ad Inferos at the end of this section.—M.]

[Wordsworth:—”St. Peter’s Epistle was probably written in the East (see 1 Peter 3:13). There the belief in two opposite principles, (dualism), a Good and Evil, was widely disseminated by the religion of Zoroaster, and by the Magi of Persia (see Psalm 45:3; Psalm 45:7). There also the Ark rested after the waters of the Flood.

The author of this Epistle, written in the East, may have heard the objection raised, on the history of the Flood, against the Divine Benevolence and the Unity of the Godhead, and he appears to be answering such objections as those, and to be vindicating that history. He shows the harmony of God’s dispensations, Patriarchal and Evangelical. He teaches us to behold in the Ark a type of the Church, and in the Flood a type of Baptism. He thus refutes the Manichæan heresy. He says that God was merciful, even to that generation. He speaks of God’s long-suffering, waiting for them while the Ark was preparing. He states boldly the objection, that few, only eight souls, were saved in the Ark, and contrasts the condition of those who were drowned in the Flood with the condition of those who have now offers of salvation in Baptism. He says that the rest disobeyed while the Ark was preparing. He uses the Aorist tense (ἀπειθήσασι). He does not say, when the Ark had been prepared, and when the Ark was shut, and when the Flood came, and it was too late for them to reach it, they all remained impenitent. Perhaps some were penitent at the eleventh hour, like the thief on the cross. Every one will be justly dealt with by God. There are degrees of punishment, as there are of reward (see Matthew 10:15; Luke 12:48). God does not quench the smoking flax ( Matthew 12:20). And St. Peter, by saying that they did not hearken formerly, while the Ark was preparing, almost seems to suggest the inference that they did hearken now, when One greater than Noah came in His human spirit into the abysses of the deep of the lower world, and that a happy change was wrought in the condition of some among them by His coming.”—M.]

1 Peter 3:21. Which, in the antitype, is now saving us.—ὅ καὶ ἡμᾶς (The Textus. Rec. reads , an easier reading. Lachmann reads ὑμᾶς instead of ἡμᾶς; so also Tischendorf;) resumes 1 Peter 3:18, after the Apostle’s manner of returning after a parenthesis, to what had gone before, and by making it the subject of further elucidation, cf. 1 Peter 2:24; 1 Peter 2:21. The thoughts now mentioned are by no means accidental, and such as might have, been omitted, but the προσάγειν of 1 Peter 3:18 remained to be explained, as to the manner how it was effected, viz.: by baptism, whereof that saving water was a type.—ὅ relates to ὕδωρ, similar to the members of Noah’s family.—αντίτυπον, antitypal, in the antitype, that Isaiah, as baptism. Two appositions to ὕδωρ. The water of the flood is here viewed only in the light of having been saving to Noah and his family, inasmuch as it carried the ark.—σώζει, the Present is used because the saving has only begun and is not yet completed.

Not putting-away the filth of the flesh, but inquiry of a good conscience after God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.—Now follows a more particular account of the nature of baptism, first, negatively, theft, positively. The end contemplated is not, as in the case of Jewish lustrations, purification from the filth of the body. Steiger cites Justin Martyr, Tryph. p331, “Of what avail is that baptism, (that of the Jewish lustrations) which cleanses the flesh and the body only?” It is rather an ἐπερώτημα συνειδήσεως ἀγαθῆς. In explaining this dark passage, it is necessary to begin with the more lucid points. The antithesis of the putting-away of the filth of the flesh suggests a reference to the moral import of baptism, to inward, spiritual cleansing. Hence the Apostle names this ἀγαθὴ συνείδησις as the end contemplated in baptism. With this we have to connect the apposition εἰς Θεόν, for a good conscience toward God, which is much more than a good conscience toward men ( 1 Corinthians 4:4), is just what we need. Connecting, with the majority of commentators, εἰς Θεόν with ἐπερώτημα, as indicating the end of ἐπερώτημα, would yield a very harsh expression, which cannot be illustrated by 2 Samuel 11:7, besides, the apposition would then appear to be superfluous. But since the Genitive ἀγαθῆς συνειδήσεως corresponds with ῥύπου σαρκός, it must be like the latter, the Genit. objecti, not the Genit. subjecti. As to the matter itself, the good conscience cannot be supposed to be existing at baptism and preceding it, for the Apostle elsewhere regards a good conscience as something received at, and effected by, baptism, Acts 2:38. If the good conscience were anterior to baptism, it would be difficult to see how salvation, by means of baptism, could be necessary. What, then, is the meaning of ἐπερώτημα, which occurs only once, and that in this passage, in the New Testament? We should expect a word signifying the cleansing of the conscience: but ἐπερώτημα is never used in such a sense; nor does it signify promise or pledge, as Grotius explains the word from the usage of Roman law, nor address, confidence, open approach, but simply asking, inquiry. This gives quite a good sense: baptism is the inquiry for a good conscience before God, the desire and longing for it. This would define the subjective side of baptism, with reference to the circumstance that from the earliest time certain questions relating to the state of his conscience were proposed to the candidate for baptism. Lutz approaches the right explanation: “Baptism is the request for a good conscience, for admittance to the state of reconciliation on the part of such as have a good conscience toward God, a petition for the pardon of sin, which is obtained by the merits of Christ.” Similar are the views of Wiesinger and Weiss, except that they erroneously join εἰς Θεόν and ἐπερώτημα. Adhering to the idea of asking, the thing asked may be conceived, as follows: How shall I rid myself of an evil conscience? Wilt Thou, most holy God, again accept me, a sinner? Wilt Thou. Lord Jesus, grant me the communion of Thy death and life? Wilt Thou, O Holy Ghost, assure me of grace and adoption, and dwell in my heart? To these questions the Triune Jehovah answers in baptism, Yea. Now is laid the solid foundation for a good conscience. The conscience is not only purified from its guilt, but it receives new vital power by means of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

δι’ ἀναστάσεως is better joined with συνειδήσεως ἀγαθῆς than with σώζει, from which it is too far separated. In 1 Peter 1:3, the living hope is based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, here, the good conscience. The mediating features of προσάγειν τῷ Θεῷ and of σώζειν have now been indicated. [Most commentators connect δι’ ἀναστάσεως with σώζει, treating the intervening sentence as a parenthesis.—M.]

[Wordsworth:—From the Book of Common Prayer: “Baptism represents to us our profession, which is to follow the example of our Saviour Christ, and to be made like unto Him, that as He died and rose again for us, so we who are baptized and buried with Christ in His death, should be dead to sin and live unto righteousness,” “continually mortifying all our evil and corrupt affections, and daily proceeding in all virtue and godliness of living,” in order that we who are “baptized into His death may pass through the grave and gate of death to our joyful Resurrection, through His merits who died, and was buried, and rose again for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord.”

Waterland, On Justification, p 1 Peter440:—“St. Peter assures us that Baptism saves; that Isaiah, it gives a just title to salvation, which is the same as to say that it conveys justification. But then it must be understood, not of the outward washing, but of the inward lively faith stipulated in it and by it. Baptism concurs with Faith, and Faith with Baptism, and the Holy Spirit with both; and so the merits of Christ are savingly applied. Faith alone will not ordinarily serve in this case, but it must be a contracting faith on man’s part, contracting in form corresponding to the federal promises and engagements on God’s part; therefore, Tertullian rightly styles Baptism obsignatio fidei, testatio fidei, sponsio salutis, fidei pactio, and the like.”

Baptismal interrogatories were used in the primitive, even in the Apostolical Church, and Peter seems to refer to them here. See Acts 8:37; Hebrews 6:1-2; cf. Romans 10:10. Justin Martyr, Apol. 1, c61; Tertullian, de Spect., c4; de Coronâ Mil., c3, and de Resurrect. Carnis, c48. “Anima non lavatione sed responsione sancitur.“ Cf. Cyprian, Ep. 70, 76, 85; Hippolytus, Theophan., c10; Origen, Exhortatio ad Martyr, c12; Vales in Euseb7, 8, and Euseb7, 9, where Dionysius, Bp. of Alexandria, in the third century, speaks of a person who was present at the baptism of some who were lately baptized, and heard the questions and answers, τῶν ἐπερωτήσεων καὶ ἀποκρίσεων. See more in Wordsworth.—M.]

1 Peter 3:22. Who is on the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, angels and authorities and powers being subjected unto him.—Now follows, as the further consequence of the sufferings of Christ, His ascension into heaven, and exaltation to the right hand of God. A former sufferer is now exalted to the highest dignity of heaven. Thus this verse beautifully connects with the exhortation to willingness of suffering, cf. 1 Peter 3:17-18, and paves the way for 1 Peter 4:1, etc.—ὅς ἐστιν ἐν δεξιᾷ; cf. Ps. Exodus 1; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; Philippians 3:20. He has been received as sharer of the Divine government. He is not only King of His Church, but of the whole world.—πορευθεὶς εἰς οὐρανόν=having gone into heaven. It is incorrect that this designates, not a locality of the universe, but a relation to the world. Wiesinger.—ὑποταγέντων, cf. Hebrews 1:4; Ephesians 1:21; Colossians 2:10. The spirits, in their various gradations, are now subjected to Him who has suffered so much and so deeply. We do not pretend to determine whether they can be distinguished, with Hoffmann, as ἄγγελοι, inasmuch as they are the executors of the Divine will, as ἐξουσίαι, inasmuch as they sway authority in this world, and δυνάμεις, because they bring about the alternations of this world, cf. Matthew 28:18; Luke 24:49; Acts 2:32; Acts 2:35; Acts 3:21; Acts 3:26; Acts 4:10-12; Acts 10:40-42.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The fact that the Apostles do not separate the vicarious element of the sufferings of Christ from its typical element suggests an important hint to preachers as to the treatment of the atonement of Jesus.

2. The restoration of the lost communion of sinners with God Isaiah, according to 1 Peter 3:18, one of the main ends of the sufferings of Christ; but His resurrection is also a co-operating factor in this great work, 1 Peter 3:21.

3. There are no stronger motives for perseverance in well-doing, even where it involves the endurance of great suffering, than those taken from the innocent and vicarious sufferings and death of Jesus. As His sufferings and death conducted Him to life and to a greatly blessed sphere of work, so we are warranted to believe, if through suffering for righteousness we are made like Him, that suffering and death itself will also conduct us, and others by us, to life and blessedness. That which has affected the Head will also in different degrees affect the members, cf. Ephesians 2:5; Ephesians 2:7.

4. Christ’s descent into hell, or rather into Hades, which transpired, not after, but before His resurrection (cf. Acts 2:27; Acts 2:31), is by no means a subordinate point in the Apostle’s creed that may be surrendered to unbelief, but a fundamental article. But doubtless it is not founded, as Weiss assumes, on a conclusion reached by the Apostle’s reasoning, as if he had inferred the necessity of Christ’s preaching among the dead, both from the exclusiveness of the salvation wrought by Christ only, and from the justice of God, but rather on an illumination of the Holy Ghost, whose organs the Apostles were. The justice and love of God now appear to us in glorious light, and withhold the definite sentence of condemnation until all men have decided with full consciousness concerning Christ and His Gospel. He is set as the rock of salvation or stone of stumbling for all the world, 1 Peter 2:6, etc.

5. Hades is not the final, absolute place and state of punishment; this is evident from Revelation 20:14; Revelation 20:10; the lake of fire and brimstone, the fiery pit, γέεννα, is that final place. There are in Hades two provinces or regions, separated from one another by a gulf. The one is a place of repose, comfort and refreshing, Abraham’s bosom, Luke 16:22, probably that paradise to which before His resurrection and ascension ( John 20:17) Jesus went with the thief, Luke 23:43; lower paradise, as contrasted with the upper, to which Paul was transported, 2 Corinthians 12:2; 2 Corinthians 12:4; cf. Revelation 2:7. Another part of the lower world contains the different prisons of human souls, who in their bodily existence had despised the word of God, acted against the light of conscience, and died in guilty unbelief. Here Jesus, as a spirit, appeared to fallen spirits, to some as Conqueror and Judges, to others, who still stretched out to Him the hand of faith, as a Saviour. We may, therefore, suppose with König that the preaching of Christ begun in the realms of departed spirits its is continued there in a manner adapted to the relation of the world of the dead, and analogous to the manner in which such provision has been made adapted to our earthly relations (cf. 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9), so that those who here on earth did not hear at all, or not in the right way, the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ, shall hear it there. If this truth had always been sufficiently recognized, the anti-scriptural opinion of universal recovery would hardly have found such extensive circulation. [But see the Excursus, below.—M.]

6. Baptism is here taken as a means of grace, although not described from every point of view, but only according to its subjective condition, the desire for a good conscience, which coincides with μετάνοια and according to its saving power which is mediated by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

7. This passage in connection with Acts 5:32 contains a testimony for the visible ascension of Christ, which has recently been questioned, and, alas! occasionally also by professedly believing teachers.

8. “The doctrine of this section has,” as Richter says, “nothing in common with the heresies of purgatory and universal recovery. But it affords a lucid example that the atonement once made ( Acts 5:18) is of universal import for all men and for all times. It affects even the dead, and the decision of their eternal destiny depends upon their relation to the announcement of the death and resurrection of Christ.”

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Suffer gladly for Christ’s sake, because He also has suffered for you and for all. Look at the glory into which your Head has entered through suffering.—Consider that suffering happens to us only once in the flesh, 1 Peter 3:18, and that it has manifold blessings for us and for others.—The universal sin-offering of Jesus, the fulfilment of all the typical offerings.—The atonement having been made for all men, must also be preached to all men.—It was part of the reward of the perfect obedience of Christ that He should receive the keys of hell and death. Hence He was able to enter the realms of death and remove thence as many as He chose without the ruler of those prisons being able to prevent it.—There are in the prisons of the unhappy realms of death, in which unconverted souls are detained unto judgment, differences and degrees of which some are more supportable and others more fearful and insupportable, Matthew 10:15; Matthew 11:22.—The descent of Christ into the dark and horrible regions of the world of the dead exhibits the stupendous power of His commiserating love.—Christ appearing to them as Conqueror and Judges, did not proclaim to them the sentence of condemnation but announced to them the only way of salvation from their long, more than two thousand years’ imprisonment.—Let nobody die with the false consolation of hearing the Gospel hereafter in the world of death.—As here, so beyond the grave, there are not wanting witnesses of Christ and preachers of the Gospel.—The success of Christ’s preaching in those prisons is not recorded; Peter may intend to give a hint on the subject in mentioning the few who escaped the flood.—A threefold fruit of the sufferings of Christ: 1. He has brought us to God by reconciling us to God through His blood and becoming our peace, Romans 5:10; Ephesians 2:13; Colossians 1:20; Colossians 1:2. He brings us daily to God, for through Him we have access to the Father by faith, Romans 5:2; Ephesians 2:18, and by His Spirit He renews us day by day3. He will bring us to God in the end, when it shall appear what we shall be.

Besser:—“It is infinitely better to suffer once with Christ than to suffer eternally without Christ.”

Bede:—“The ark was lifted up with Noah and his family: so we are carried upward and made citizens of the kingdom of heaven by baptism. As the water of itself did not save Noah, but only by means of the ark, so the water of baptism saves us not as water only but as water with the true ark which is Christ. All the power of baptism flows from the sufferings of Christ, from the wood of the cross.” Despair not, little flock; look through the mist of thy tribulation upward to the Prince of glory, to thy King, before whom every thing lies prostrate.—To what manifold and rich glory do sufferings lead!—How will it fare with those who cause tribulation to believers?—Do not abuse the long-suffering of God, believe that the punishment, of God comes irresistibly and with more fearful weight, if His grace has been neglected.

Starke:—Away, popish mass! We need no more offering for sin. The one offering of Christ is mighty and valid for eternity, Hebrews 10:12.—O, the riches of the love of God and of Christ! For a righteous man one will perhaps suffer a little, but Christ has suffered every thing for sinners, Romans 5:7-8; Romans 5:10.—The vengeance of God comes slowly but it strikes hard. Long spared, fearfully punished; such has been the experience of thousands who lived after the first world, 1 Corinthians 10:6, etc.—Our baptism should continually remind us not to act against the dictates of our conscience or to sin against God, Romans 6:4.—There are orders among the holy angels, although we do not understand their nature and condition, Colossians 1:16.

Lisco:—The glory of the grace of Christ.—The duty of Christians to make a good confession in word and deed.—The history of the victory of Jesus Christ, the Head of the kingdom.

[As Fronmueller’s views on this passage, 1 Peter 3:19-20; 1 Peter 4:6 are rather onesided and the doctrinal inferences drawn from them laid down rather too dogmatically, it is but fair that the question in all its bearings should be laid before the readers of this Commentary, which Isaiah -done in the subjoined excursus, taken from an article prepared by me for the Evangelical Review., January1866.—M.]

EXCURSUS ON THE DESCENSUS AD INFEROS

[The object of our Lord’s descent to Hades.—The passage, 1 Peter 3:19, stands in the context from 1 Peter 3:18-20, in a literal and grammatical translation, as follows: “Because Christ also suffered for sins once, a just person on behalf of unjust, in order that He might present us to God; put to death indeed in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, which were disobedient formerly, when the long suffering of God was waiting in the days of Noah while the ark was preparing,” etc. The reasons for this translation appear from the exegesis, to which we now proceed.

ὅτι, 1 Peter 3:18, gives the reason why suffering for well-doing is better than suffering for evil-doing; because it establishes the conformity of Christians to Christ their Head. He suffered for sins once, that Isaiah, He voluntarily underwent suffering for our sins: He made Himself our sin-offering, He suffered in our stead, and His sufferings were the means of everlasting blessedness to others and of eternal glory to Himself; so we also suffer, and for sins, not indeed for the sins of others, but for our own, and by parity of reasoning it follows that the sufferings of Christians not only conform them to Christ (with reverence be it spoken), but are the means of everlasting blessedness to themselves and of eternal glory to Christ. This applies not to all suffering, but only to suffering for well-doing. This “beam of comforting light falls on the sufferings of Christians from this ἄπαξ through καί,” Besser. καί indicates the analogy and shows that ἄπαξ belongs to Christ and His followers. He suffered once and once only, once for all. So it will be with us. Our suffering is only once, limited to a short space of time; it is only for a season, and our present suffering is not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. The way to glory lies through the valley of humiliation. Christ suffered as a just person on behalf of unjust; of course the comparison is only relative, for although we are called δίκαιοι in 1 Peter 3:12, and suffer as ἄδικοι, yet is our δικαιοσύνη infinitely inferior to that of Christ, and our suffering not vicarious like His, for we suffer not ὑπὲρ ἀδίκων, but περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν. The end of our Lord’s suffering is stated in the words ἴνα ἡμᾶς προσαγάγῃ τῷ θεῷ, “that He might bring us near to God.” “This is the fruit of our Lord’s passion, that He brings the wanderers back to the Father, and the lost to the homes of blessedness;”[FN66] or, in the words of Bengel: “That going Himself to the Father, He might bring in, who had been alienated, but now justified, together with Him into heaven, 1 Peter 3:22, by the selfsame steps of humiliation and exaltation, which He Himself had trodden. From this verse onward to 1 Peter 4:6, Peter thoroughly links together the course of progress of Christ and believers (wherein He Himself followed the Lord according to His prediction, John 13:36), in conjunction with the unbelief and punishment of the many.”[FN67] The Apostle next proceeds to specify the manner how Christ opened the way of our being brought to God. We have here a double antithesis θανατωθείς and ζωοποιηθείς, and σαρκί and πνεύματι; the two nouns have been variously explained. Oecum, Theoph, Gerhard, Clarius, Calov, Horneius, Capellus makes them erroneously to denote the human and the divine natures of Christ; Castellio (also Com. a Lap, Flacius, Estius, Bengel) interprets: Corpore necatus, animo in vitam revocatus; Grotius paraphrases σαρκί by “quod attinet ad vitam hanc fragilem et caducam,“ and explains πνεύματι by that divine power. There are many other variations; without entering upon their discussion, we hold with Alford that the two nouns have adverbial force and that this construction removes the difficulties which otherwise spring up. The fact is that quod ad carnem, Christ was put to death, quod ad spiritum, He was brought to life. “His flesh was the subject, recipient, vehicle of inflicted death; His spirit was the subject, recipient, vehicle of restored life. But let us beware, and proceed cautiously. What is asserted is not that the flesh died and the spirit was made alive, but that “quoad” the flesh the Lord died, “quoad“ the spirit, He was made alive. Hebrews, the God- Prayer of Manasseh, Christ Jesus, body and soul, ceased to live in the flesh, began to live in the spirit; ceased to live a fleshly mortal life, began to live a spiritual resurrection-life. His own spirit never died, as the next verse shows us.” Alford.—”This is the meaning, that Christ by His sufferings was taken from the life which is flesh and blood, as a man on earth, living, walking and standing in flesh and blood, * * * and He is now placed in another life, and made alive according to the spirit, has passed into a spiritual and supernatural life, which includes in itself the whole life which Christ now has in soul and body, so that He has no longer a fleshly but a spiritual body.” Luther.—“It is the same who dies and the same who is again made alive, both times the whole Prayer of Manasseh, Jesus, in body and soul. He ceases to live, in that that, which is to His personality the medium of action, falls under death; and He begins to live, in that He receives back this same for a medium of His action again. The life which fell under death was a fleshly life, that Isaiah, such a life as has its determination to the present condition of man’s nature, to the externality of its mundane connection. The life which was won back is a spiritual life, that Isaiah, such a life as has its determination from the Spirit, in which consists our inner connection with God.” Hofmann, Schriftbeweiss, 2, 336.

ἐν . 1 Peter 3:19, clearly refers to πνεύματι and must be rendered “in which,“ not by which as in E. V. καὶ may be connected with the whole period and rendered “in which He also went, etc.”—(Alford), or with τοῖς ἐν φυλακῇ πνεύμασι, and translated “in which He went and preached also (or even) to the spirits in prison,” Steiger. The latter construction seems preferable, for it not only avoids the awkwardness of subordinating the whole period to what precedes, but also gives prominence to the new idea that the activity of Christ reached even to the spirits in prison. On τοῖς ἐν φυλακῇ πνεύμασι see below, πορευθεὶς εἰς οὐρανόν denotes the actual presence of the Spirit of Christ in the place of departed spirits, for πορευθεὶς εἰς οὐρανόν in 1 Peter 3:22 clearly shows that the participle must refer to local transference. Ἐκήρυξεν is=almost εὐηγγελίσατο (from cf. 1 Peter 4:6, whose εὐηγγελίσθη is used with reference to the dead); our verb in connection with τὸ εὐαγγέλιον is found in Matthew 4:23; Matthew 9:35; Mark 1:14; Mark 16:15; it implies the preaching of the gospel in Mark 1:38; Mark 1:15; Matthew 3:1; Matthew 4:17; Matthew 9:35; it has this meaning in the following passages: Matthew 10:7; Matthew 24:14; Mark 3:14; Mark 6:12; Mark 13:10; Luke 9:2; Acts 9:20; Acts 10:42-43; 1 Corinthians 1:23; Philippians 1:15; 2 Timothy 4:2; it is never used in the sense of judicial announcement and N. T. usage clothes it with the meaning “to preach the gospel.”

1 Peter 3:20 describes the character of the spirits in prison; they were still disobedient (ἀπειθήσασιν), i. e., exhibited unbelief in disobedience. They derided the prediction of the coming flood, and despised the exhortation to repentance, ποτέ ὄτε distinctly marks the period of their unbelief, viz, the time during which the ark was preparing. The long suffering of God gave them one hundred and twenty years’ time for repentance. In ἀπεξεδέχετο, which is doubtless the true reading (A. B. C. K. Z.) the full time during which the exercise of the Divine long-suffering took place, is brought out, just as κατασκευαζομένης intimates the difficulty and protracted duration of the building of the ark.

Sound exegesis clearly establishes the Apostolic declaration, that our Lord Jesus Christ, after His crucifixion, went in spirit to the place of departed spirits (Hades, Sheol as in Syriac) and there preached to those spirits, who, in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, persisted in unbelief and disobedience. Why, what and with what effect he preached there, is not revealed. The Apostle’s declaration, however clearly established, has been felt from the earliest times to present many and great difficulties, and occasioned an almost endless variety of interpretations, the main features of which will appear in the following classification. Making the κήρυγμα of our Lord the starting point, we have the following survey (given by Steiger):

Christ Preached. I. Mediately: 1, by Noah, 2, by the Apostles. II. Immediately, in the realms of the dead: 1. to the good; 2. to the good and the wicked; 3. to the wicked.

I:1. Christ preached mediately by Noah. Augustine, Bede, Thomas Aquinas, Lyra, Hammond, Beza, Scaliger, Leighton, Horneius, Gerhard, Elsner, Benson, al., and among more recent authors John Clausen, and Hofmann, (Schriftbeweiss II:335–341) hold that Christ preached by Noah to his contemporaries, that preacher of righteousness not preaching of himself, but in obedience to the prompting of the spirit of Christ; so that while Noah was the instrument, Christ was virtually preaching by him. In illustration of this view we quote Augustine ( Ephesians 99 ad Euodiam; cf. also Ephesians 164): “Spiritus in carcere conclusi sunt increduli qui vixerunt temporibus Noe, quorum spiritus, i. e, animæ erant in carne et ignorantiæ tenebris velut in carcere conclusæ Christus iis non in carne, qui nondum erat incarnatus, sed in spiritu, i. e, secundum divinitatem prædicavit; and Beza: “Christ, says he (the Apostle), whom I have already said to be vivified by the power of the Godhead, formerly in the days of Noah, when the ark was preparing, going forth or coming. not in a bodily form (which He had not yet assumed) but by the self-same power through which He afterwards rose from the dead, and by inspiration whereof the prophets spoke, preached to those spirits who now suffer deserved punishment in prison, as having formerly refused to listen to the admonitions of Noah?”

This kind of interpretation, notwithstanding the respectable authorities who advocate it, will be rejected by candid scholars as arbitrary and ungrammatical. As arbitrary, because the Apostle neither intimates any such figurative preaching of the spirit of Christ in Noah, nor that Noah preached at all; as ungrammatical, because

a. The subject of discourse is not the Logos but the God-Man (Calov), and the means by which He preached is not the Holy Spirit, but the spirit of Christ ἐν sc, πνεύματι).

b. The object (πνεύματα) designates not living men, but departed spirits (cf. Luke 24:37; Hebrews 12:23; Revelation 22:6).

c. The metaphorical φυλακή of Augustine “caro et ignorantiæ tenebræ” and the “qui nunc in carcere meritas dant pœnas” of Beza are inadmissible, the former because it destroys all local reference and thus spiritualizes away the historical value of the Apostle’s declaration, the second because it takes an unjustifiable liberty with that declaration in transferring to the present what manifestly belongs to the past: ἔπαθεν, θανατωθείς, ζωοποιηθείς, and πορευθεὶς ἐκήρυξεν set forth historical events in chronological order, and the τοῖς ἐν φυλακῇ πνεύμασιν “describes the local condition of the πνεύματα as the time when the preaching took place,” (Alford).

d. ἀπειθήσασιν ποτέ interrupts the chronological order, and plainly separates the time of Christ’s preaching from the time of their disobedience. Bengel says: “Si sermo esset de præconio per Noe, τὸ aliquando aut plane omitteretur, aut cum prædicavit jungeretur;” and Flacius, as he disjoins the kind of preaching from the disobedience of those spirits, so on the other hand, he conjoins it with their imprisonment or captivity.

e. πορευθείς, as compared with 1 Peter 3:22, cannot be resolved into a pleonasm; giving to the words their common meaning πορευθεὶς ἐκήρυξε must mean, “he went away and preached.” (Hensler).

I:2. Christ preached mediately by the Apostles. This is the view advocated by Socinus, Vorst, Grotius, Schen, Schlichting and Hensler. It is distinguished, like I, 1, by the metaphorical interpretation of τοῖς ἐν φυλακῇ πνεύμασιν; ἐν φυλακῇ=the prison of the body (Grotius) or=the prison of sin (Socinus, Schlichting, Hensler;) and the πνεύματα either=the Jews (sub jugo legis existentes,) or=the Jews and Gentiles (sub potestate diaboli jacentes). ποτέ is explained in the sense that those to whom Christ preached have now ceased to be unbelievers; Hensler, who gives this explanation, is constrained to read in the next clause ὅτι. But it is a purely arbitrary assumption, unwarranted by the facts of the case that all have believed. πορευθεὶς ἐκήρυξεν, according to the advocates of this view, refers to the efficacy of Christ through the Apostles, but it requires an uncommonly fertile imagination to bring this out. The supposed analogy in Ephesians 4:21; Ephesians 2:17, cannot be pressed into the service of these expositors, for the context is too plain to admit of a similar construction; the αὑτον ἐκούσατε of Ephesians 4:21 is=ἐμάθετ ε τόν χριστόν, 1 Peter 3:20, and ἐν αὐτῷ ἐδιδάχθητε, 1 Peter 3:21, while ἐλθὼν εὐηγγελίσατο εἰρήνην, in Ephesians 2:17, clearly refers back to αὐτὸς γὰρ ἐστιν εἰρήνη ἡμῶν, 1 Peter 3:14, and denotes His coming to the earth in person to make known the covenants of peace, sealed with His atoning sacrifice. On grammatical grounds this view is altogether untenable, and its advocates are constrained to wave grammatical considerations. Although Huther justly remarks, “How this interpretation heaps caprice on caprice, need not be shown,” the following objections to it may be found useful:—

a. The πνεῦμα in which Christ preached, according to this view, must be the Holy Spirit; but this Isaiah, 1. forbidden by the context, for ἐν refers to the πνεύματι immediately preceding it2. Gives a double meaning to πνεῦμα, for πνεύμασι must signify the souls of men.

b. Christ preached by the Apostles not during His bodily death, 1 Peter 3:18, but after His exaltation, 1 Peter 3:22. Steiger.

c. πορευθείς in point of time immediately follows θανατωθεὶς μὲν σαρκὶ ζωοποιηθεὶς δὲ πνεύματι and denotes an actual going away. These considerations abundantly refute explanations like that of Grotius, which we give as a sample of theological finessing: “Adjungere voluit Petrus similitudinem a temporibus Noe, ut ostendat quanta res nunc melius per Christum quam tunc per Noen processerit.

We now pass on to the second class of interpretations, viz.:

II. Christ preached immediately in the realms of the dead.

I. To the good. Marcion. (Irenæus I:24, 27, cf. Walch, Hist. d. Ketzer. I:512; Neander, Ch. Hist. I. p799), held that Christ then set at liberty those whom the Old Testament describes as ungodly, but whom he (Marcion) maintained to be better than the believers of the Old Covenant, who had to stay behind in hell. The Apocryphal gospel of Nicodemus asserts the same concerning the truly good (see Birch’s Auctarium, p109, 147, cf. Matthæi p200, and Euseb. H. E. I.). Irenæus (I:3:27, 2; 3:31, 1), taught that Christ announced to the pious (the patriarchs and others), the redemption He had purchased, in order to bring them into the heavenly kingdom, (cf. Just. Mart. Dial c. Tryph. p298). This is substantially the view of Tertullian (de Anima. 7, 55), Hippolytus (de Antichr. c. 26), Isidorus (Sent. I:16, 15) Gregory the Great and the Greek Church, Petr, Mogilae, Conf. Eccl. Gr. Orth. I:49, etc.; Joh. Damasc, de Orth. fide III:26), the Schoolmen (Anselm, Albertus, Thom. Aquin.), Zwingle and Calvin, Zwingle (Fidei Chr. Expos, art. de. Chr. VII.) says: “It is to be believed that He (Christ) departed from among men to be numbered with the inferi, and that the virtue of His redemption, reached also to them, which St. Peter intimates, when he says that to the dead, i. e., to those in the nether world, who, after the example of Noah, from the commencement of the world, have believed upon God, while the wicked despised His admonitions, the gospel was preached.” On doctrinal ground he defends his view by the position that no one could come to heaven before Christ ( John 3:13) because He must have in all things pre-eminence ( Colossians 1:18). (De vera et f. rel. art. de baptismo, p214, 29). Calvin interprets φυλακή by “specula sive ipse excubandi actus,” and describes the spirits in ψυλακή as “pias animas in spem salutis promisssæ intentas, quasi eminus eam considerarent.” Perceiving a difficulty in ἀπειθήσασί ποτε κ.τ.λ. he explains: “Quum increduli fuissent olim; quo significat, nihil nocuisse sanctis patribus, quod impiorum multitudine pæne obruti fuerint;” that as those believers sustained no injury to their souls from the multitude of believers that surrounded them, so also now believers are, through baptism, delivered from the world. The way in which he justifies his interpretation, sets forth views to which many, that now call themselves after the Genevan Reformer, are hardly prepared to subscribe: “Discrepat fateor, ab hoc sensu Græca syntaxis; debuerat enim Petrus, si hoc vellet, genitivum absolutum ponere. Sed quia apostolis novum non est liberius casum unum ponere alterius loco, et videmus Petrum hic confuse multas res simul coacervare, nee vero aliter aptus sensus elici poterat; non dubitavi ita resolvere orationem implicitam, quo intelligerent lectores, alios vocari incredulos, quam quibus prædicatum fuisse evangelium dixit.” To this class of interpreters Bp. Browne also belongs, who makes ἐκήρυξεν to signify proclaimed, and explains that Christ proclaimed to the patriarchs that their redemption had been fully effected, that Satan had been conquered, that the great sacrifice had been offered up, and asks, If angels joy over one sinner that repenteth, may we not suppose Paradise filled with rapture when the soul of Jesus came among the souls of redeemed, Himself the Herald (κήρυξ) of His own victory; Browne’s view is that of Horsley (Vol. I. Serm20), who favours, however, in language more decided than Browne’s, the view that Christ virtually preached to those “who had once been disobedient in the days of Noah.” The difficulty of ἀπειθήσασιν Browne supposes to be met by the consideration that many who died in the flood were, nevertheless, saved from final damnation, which he thinks highly probable. The real difficulty, in his opinion, “consists in the fact that the proclamation of the finishing of the great work of salvation, is represented by St. Peter as having been addressed to these antediluvian penitents, and as mention is made of the penitents of later ages, who are equally interested in the tidings.” We have already shown that ἐκήρυξεν cannot be diluted into a mere proclaiming or heralding forth, and we shall show, by and by, that the antediluvian sinners, not penitents, appear to be singled out because of the enormity of their wickedness, and that the fact of their being made the objects of Christ’s tender solicitude, seems to shed the light of heaven on one of the most bewildering subjects in irreligion.

The objections to this whole view, in its different modifications, are—

a. The text says nothing whatever of the good, but refers explicitly to the disobedient. All interpretations which ignore this distinct and explicit reference, are arbitrary, and substitute speculation for the language of inspiration.

b. The text says nothing whatever of the repentance of the contemporaries of Noah, nor does any other passage of Scripture give us any information to that effect. We must, therefore, conclude that the expedient which makes those antediluvians to have repented at the breaking in of the flood, however ingenious, amounts to simple assumption. (The last view is held by Suarez, Estius, Bellarmine, Luther on Hosea 4, 2, A. D1545, as quoted by Bengel, Peter Martyr, Osiander, Quistorp, Hutter, Gessner and Bengel. The latter says: “Probabile est nonnullos ex tanta multitudine, veniente pluvia, resipuisse: cumque non credidissent dum expectaret Deus, postea cum area structa esset et pœna ingrueret, credere cœpisse: quibus postea Christus, eorumque similibus, se præconem gratiæ praestiterit.” Browne also shares this view.)

II:2. Christ preached in the realms of the dead to the good and the wicked. This is maintained by Athanasius, Ambrose, Erasmus, Calvin, Instit. 2, 16, 9. Christ’s preaching to the good is described as a “prædicatio evangelica ad consolationem,” to the wicked as a “prædicatio legalis, exprobatoria, damnatoria ad terrorem.” Bolton quotes the language of Abraham to Dives ( Luke 16, 23 sq.) in support of this view, which is however, open to the same objections as II:1. viz.: that Scripture is silent concerning the good.

II:3. Christ preached in the realms of the dead to the wicked. Luther (Werke, Leipz. Vol. XII. p285) appears to favour this view when he says “that one could not reject this opinion, because that which St. Peter clearly affirms, etc.” Even under this head we have divergent opinions in connection with the question whether Christ manifested himself to the disobedient as Redeemer or as Judge.

Flacius, Calov, Buddeus, Wolf, Aretius, al., make the burden of Christ’s preaching an announcement of condemnation. Hollaz (quoted by Huther) says: “Fuit prædicatio Christi in inferno non evangelica quæ hominibus tantum in regno gratiæ annunciatur, sed legalis, elenchtica, terribilis, eaque tum verbalis, qua ipsos æterna supplicia promeritos esse convincit, tum realis immanem terrorem iis incussit.” Against this view, it may be said—

a. That κηρύσσειν, as already stated, used of Christ and the Apostles, does not admit of such a sense, but uniformly signifies to preach the Gospel;

b. That such damnatory preaching, besides being utterly superfluous in the case of spirits already reserved to condemnation (Alford) is derogatory to the character of the Redeemer; Christian consciousness revolts from the thought that the holy Jesus, whose dying words were words of forgiveness and love, should have visited the realms of the dead and exulted over the misery of the damned, and publishing His triumph, have intensified their torments and made hell more of hell to them;

c. That the context forbids such a view, “As if Peter would console the faithful with the arguments, that Christ, even when dead, underwent suffering on behalf of those unbelievers” (Calvin); for it must be borne in mind that the whole passage, of which these much controverted verses form part, is designed to show how the sufferings of Christ minister to the consolation of believers, (cf. Wiesinger, p241.)

We come now to the only remaining view, according to which Christ visited the realms of the dead and preached there the Gospel to the dead. This is the explicit declaration of the Apostle, who says nothing, however, of the effect of His preaching, whether many, few, or any, were converted by it. It is necessary to start with this caution, because the disregard of it has led many expositors, especially among the fathers, to unwarranted conclusions. E. g., Clement of Alexandria, says: “Wherefore, that He might bring them to repentance, the Lord preached also to those in Hades. But what, do not the Scriptures declare, that the Lord has preached to those that perished in the deluge, and not to these only, but to all that are in chains, and that are kept in the ward and prison-house of Hades;” adding, that while Christ preached only to those of the Old Testament, the Apostles, after His example, must have preached there, and that, also to the heathen, but both only to the good, “to those that lived in the righteousness which was agreeable to the law and philosophy, yet still were not perfect, but passed through life under many short-comings.” Origen (on 1 Kings28. Hom. 2) adds to this, that the prophets had also been there, in order to announce beforehand the arrival of Christ, but confines the number of the delivered also to those who, before death, had been prepared for it. This view seems to have generally spread through the Eastern Church. (See Steiger, p225.) These, and similar opinions, cannot be taken as interpretations, for they superadd inferences which are not warranted by the language of St. Peter, who declares that Christ preached the Gospel in Hades to the unbelieving contemporaries of Noah; nothing more, nothing less.

It has been shown above that Hades denotes the place of the departed, and consists of two separate regions, kept asunder by an impassable gulf. As we know from our Lord’s promise to the penitent thief, that He went on the day of His crucifixion to Paradise, so we learn from St. Peter that He preached to the spirits in prison, and that these disembodied prisoners were those of men who were disobedient in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing.

The word φυλακή cannot be rendered otherwise than prison. Cf. Matthew 5:25; Luke 14:3; Luke 18:30; Luke 25:36, 39, 43, 44; Mark 6:17; Mark 6:27; Luke 3:20; Luke 12:58; Luke 21:12; Luke 22:33; Luke 23:19; John 3:24; Acts 5:19; Acts 12:4 and in 13 other places; 2 Corinthians 6:5; 2 Corinthians 11:23; Hebrews 11:36; Revelation 2:10

The word ἐκήρυξεν has been shown to signify “preached the gospel.” It has this sense in the following passages: Matthew 3:1; Matthew 4:17; Matthew 10:7; Matthew 10:27; Matthew 11:1; Mark 1:7; Mark 1:38-39; Mark 3:14; Mark 5:20; Mark 16:20; Luke 4:44; Romans 10:14; 1 Corinthians 9:27; 1 Corinthians 15:11; and was thus understood by Irenæus (4, 37, 2, p347, ed Grabe.) “Dominum in ea quæsunt sub terra descendisse evangelizantem adventum suum.” (Clemens Alex. Strom. 6, 6, κύριος δἰ οὐδὲν ἔτερον ἐς ᾄδου κατῆλθεν, διὰ τὸ εὐαγγελίσασθαι. So Cyril Alex, on John 16:16, and in Hom. Pasch. 20.)

In concluding this Excursus, it is important to observe that the Apostle teaches nothing that bears any resemblance to the Popish notion of purgatory, since hades and purgatory are two distinct conceptions, the one being the abode of all the departed, the other a supposed place of purification for a particular class of Christians; nor does he teach universal recovery; nor does he intimate any thing in favour of a second probation after death. In addition to this caution, the reader is referred to the capital note of Rev. Dr. Schaff on Matthew XII:32. pp228, 229.

Footnotes:

FN#49 - ὅτι, because, German ‘dieweil,’ better than for; it is not, as Alford puts it, a reason, but the reason, why Christian suffering for well-doing is blessed,—M.]

FN#50 - καὶ Χῥιστὸς ἅπαξ περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν ἔπαθεν, translate: “Christ also suffered for sins once.”—M.]

FN#51 - δίκαιος ὑπὲρ ἀδίκων=a just person for unjust persons.—M.]

FN#52 - θανατωθεὶς, Aor. put to death.—M.]

FN#53 - ζωοποιηθεὶς, Aor. made alive.—M.]

FN#54 - Both σαρκί and πνεύματι, are in the Dative without any preposition: the change of prepositions in the English version is peculiarly unhappy, as obscuring the sense; σαρκί and πνεύματι, are put in antithesis by the regular μὲν and δὲ; translate: “put to death indeed in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.” The German has “after the flesh” and “after the spirit.”—τῷ before πνεύματι is omitted in A. B. C. K. L. and Cod. Sin.—M.]

FN#55 - ἐν =not by but in which, so German.—M.]

FN#56 - ποτὲ ὅτε; translate: “Which were disobedient once (ποτὲ) when (ὅτε) the long-suffering of God, etc.”—M.]

FN#57 - κατασκευαζομένης κιβωτοῦ=the ark was being prepared.—M.]

FN#58 - εἰς ἣν ὀλίγαι=in which a few persons. The construction of εἰς ἣν is pregnant, the few being saved in it after having entered into it. A. B. sustain ὀλίγοι; so does Cod. Sin.—M.]

FN#59 - καὶ ἡμᾶς ἀντίτυπον νῦν σώζει βάπτισμα. Translate: “Which (the water), as the antitype (de Wette) or ‘in the antitype’ (Germ. Polygl.) is now saving us even (as or in) baptism.” ἡμᾶς, Rec. C. K. L. Sinait. ὑμᾶς, A. B. with many versions. σώζει, Present, the action not yet completed.—M.]

FN#60 - καὶ ἡμᾶς ἀντίτυπον νῦν σώζει βάπτισμα. Translate: “Which (the water), as the antitype (de Wette) or ‘in the antitype’ (Germ. Polygl.) is now saving us even (as or in) baptism.” ἡμᾶς, Rec. C. K. L. Sinait. ὑμᾶς, A. B. with many versions. σώζει, Present, the action not yet completed.—M.]

FN#61 - “Not putting-away (subst.) the filth of the flesh.”—M.]

FN#62 - “But ἐπερώτημα, inquiry (Vulgate, de Wette, Alford) of a good conscience after God.” See note below, in Exeg. and Critic.—M.]

FN#63 - διὰ, by means of.—M.]

FN#64 - Translate: “Who is on the right hand of God, having gone into heaven.” The Vulgate adds after Θεοῦ deglutiens mortem, ut vitæ æternæ hærnæ efficeremur.—M.]

FN#65 - ὑποταγέντων=being subjected.—M.]

FN#66 - Bullinger:—Hic est fructus passionis dominicæ, quod fugitivos reducit ad Patrem, et perditos in ædes beatas.

FN#67 - “Ut nos qui abalienati fueramus, ipse abiens ad Patrem secum una, justificatos, adduceret in cœlum, 1 Peter 3:22, per eosdem gradus, quos ipse emensus Esther, exinanitionis et exaltationis. Ex hoc verbo Petrus, usque ad c. i 1 Peter 1 Peter 3:6, penitus connectit Christi et fidelium iter sive processum (quo etiam ipse sequebatur Dominum ex ejus prædictione, John 13:36) infidelitatem multorum et pœnam innectens.

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/1-peter-3.html. 1857-84.

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