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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
1 Peter 3



Verse 1

In like manner (ομοιωςhomoiōs). Adverb closely connected with υποτασσομενοιhupotassomenoi for which see note on 1 Peter 2:18.

Ye wives (γυναικεςgunaikes). Without article. About wives see note on Colossians 3:18; and note on Ephesians 5:22; and note on Titus 2:4.

To your own husbands (τοις ιδιοις ανδρασινtois idiois andrasin). ΙδιοιςIdiois occurs also in Ephesians and Titus, but not in Colossians. It strengthens the idea of possession in the article τοιςtois Wives are not enjoined to be in subjection to the husbands of other women, as some think it fine to be (affinities!)

Even if any obey not the word (και ει τινες απειτουσιν τωι λογωιkai ei tines apeithousin tōi logōi). Condition of first class and dative case of λογοςlogos (1 Peter 1:23, 1 Peter 1:25; 1 Peter 2:8), that is, remain heathen.

That they be gained (ινα κερδητησονταιhina kerdēthēsontai). Purpose clause with ιναhina and first future passive indicative of κερδαινωkerdainō old verb, to gain (from κερδοςkerdos gain, interest) as in Matthew 18:15. See the future with ιναhina also in Luke 20:10; Revelation 3:9.

Without the word (ανευ λογουaneu logou). Probably here “word from their wives” (Hart), the other sense of λογοςlogos (talk, not technical “word of God”).

By the behaviour of their wives (δια της των γυναικων αναστροπηςdia tēs tōn gunaikōn anastrophēs). Won by pious living, not by nagging. Many a wife has had this blessed victory of grace.

Verse 2

Beholding (εποπτευσαντεςepopteusantes). First aorist active participle of εποπτευωepopteuō for which see note on 1 Peter 2:12. See 1 Peter 2:12 also for αναστροπηνanastrophēn manner of life).

Chaste (αγνηνhagnēn). Pure because “in fear” (εν ποβωιen phobōi), no word in the Greek for “coupled,” fear of God, though in Ephesians 5:33 fear (reverence for) of the husband is urged.

Verse 3

Whose adorning (ων κοσμοςhōn kosmos). Genitive plural of the relative referring to γυναικωνgunaikōn (wives). ΚοσμοςKosmos has here its old meaning of ornament (cf. our cosmetics), not the common one of world (John 17:5) considered as an orderly whole. Mundus in Latin is used in this double sense (ornament, world).

Let it be (εστωestō). Imperative third singular of ειμιeimi Not the outward adorning of plaiting the hair (ουχ ο εχωτεν εμπλοκης τριχωνouch ho exōthen emplokēs trichōn). The use of ουχouch here rather than μηmē (usual negative with the imperative) because of the sharp contrast in 1 Peter 3:4 (αλλall'). The old adverb εχωτενexōthen (from without) is in the attributive position like an adjective. ΕμπλοκηEmplokē is a late word (from εμπλεκωemplekō to inweave, 2 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 2:20) in Strabo, but often in the papyri for struggle as well as plaiting, here only in N.T.

Of wearing (περιτεσεωςperitheseōs). Late and rare word (Galen, Arrian) from περιτιτημιperitithēmi (Matthew 27:28), to put around, a placing around. Ornaments of gold were worn round the hair as nets and round the finger, arm, or ankle.

Or of putting on (ενδυσεωςenduseōs). Old word from ενδυωenduō (to put on), here only in N.T. Peter is not forbidding the wearing of clothes and ornaments by women, but the display of finery by contrast. Cf. 1 Timothy 2:9-13; Isaiah 3:16.

Verse 4

But the hidden man of the heart (αλλ ο κρυπτος της καρδιας αντρωποςall' ho kruptos tēs kardias anthrōpos). Here αντρωποςanthrōpos is in contrast with κοσμοςkosmos just before. See Paul‘s use of αντρωποςanthrōpos for the outer and old, the inner and new man (2 Corinthians 4:16; Romans 7:22; Colossians 3:9; Ephesians 3:16; Ephesians 4:22, Ephesians 4:24). See also the Jew εν κρυπτωιen kruptōi (Romans 2:29) and what Jesus said about God seeing “in secret” (Matthew 6:4, Matthew 6:6).

In the incorruptible apparel of a meek and quiet spirit (εν τωι απταρτωι του ησυχιου και πραεως πνευματοςen tōi aphthartōi tou hēsuchiou kai praeōs pneumatos). No word in the Greek for “apparel” (κοσμωιkosmōi). For απταρτοςaphthartos see note on 1 Peter 1:4 and note on 1 Peter 1:23. For πραυςpraus see Matthew 5:5; Matthew 11:29. ΠνευμαPneuma (spirit) is here disposition or temper (Bigg), unlike any other use in the N.T. In 1 Peter 3:18, 1 Peter 3:19; 1 Peter 4:6 it means the whole inner man as opposed to σαρχsarx or σωμαsōma very much as πσυχηpsuchē is used as opposed to σωμαsōma (οho). Spirit just mentioned.

Of great price (πολυτελεςpoluteles). Old word (from πολυpolu and τελοςtelos cost), in N.T. only here, Mark 14:3; 1 Timothy 2:9.

Verse 5

Adorned themselves (εκοσμουν εαυταςekosmoun heautas). Imperfect active of customary action, “used to adorn themselves.” ΚοσμεωKosmeō is old verb from κοσμοςkosmos in the sense in 1 Peter 3:3. See Hebrews 11:11, Hebrews 11:35 for like tribute to holy women of the O.T. The participle υποτασσομεναιhupotassomenai repeats 1 Peter 3:1.

Verse 6

As Sarah (ως Σαρραhōs Sarra).

Obeyed Abraham (υπηκουεν τωι Αβρααμhupēkouen tōi Abraam). Imperfect active of υπακουωhupakouō “used to obey” (with dative).

Calling him lord (κυριον αυτον καλουσαkurion auton kalousa). Present active participle of καλεωkaleō See Genesis 18:12.

Whose children ye now are (ης εγενητητε τεκναhēs egenēthēte tekna). First aorist passive indicative of γινομαιginomai “whose children ye became.”

If ye do well (αγατοποιουσαιagathopoiousai). Present active feminine plural participle of αγατοποιεωagathopoieō (1 Peter 2:15), “doing good.”

And are not put in fear by any terror (και μη ποβουμεναι μηδεμιαν πτοησινkai mē phoboumenai mēdemian ptoēsin). Free quotation from Proverbs 3:25, “and not fearing any terror” (cognate accusative of πτοησιςptoēsis after ποβουμεναιphoboumenai present middle participle, late and rare word from πτοεωptoeō to terrify, as in Luke 21:9, here only in N.T.). Perhaps Peter regards Sarah‘s falsehood as the yielding to a sudden terror (Hart). Hannah could also be named along with Sarah. The women somehow do not organize “daughters of Sarah” societies.

Verse 7

Ye husbands likewise (οι ανδρες ομοιωςhoi andres homoiōs). Probably “likewise” here refers to honouring all men (1 Peter 2:17), not “likewise” of 1 Peter 3:1.

Dwell with (συνοικουντεςsunoikountes). Present active participle of συνοικεωsunoikeō old verb for domestic association, here only in N.T. Used as imperative here like the participle in 1 Peter 2:18; 1 Peter 3:1.

According to knowledge (κατα γνωσινkata gnōsin). “With an intelligent recognition of the nature of the marriage relation” (Vincent).

Giving honour unto the woman as unto the weaker vessel (ως αστενεστερωι σκευει τωι γυναικειωι απονεμοντες τιμηνhōs asthenesterōi skeuei tōi gunaikeiōi aponemontes timēn). Present active participle of απονεμωaponemō old verb, to assign, to portion out (or off), here only in N.T. ΣκευοςSkeuos is an old and common word for vessel, furniture, utensil (Matthew 12:29; 2 Timothy 2:20). Here both husband and wife are termed vessels or “parts of the furniture of God‘s house” (Bigg). See Paul‘s use of σκευοςskeuos for ministers (2 Corinthians 4:7). ΓυναικειωιGunaikeiōi here is an adjective (female, feminine) from γυνηgunē (woman, wife). She is termed “the weaker” (τωι αστενεστερωιtōi asthenesterōi), not for intellectual or moral weakness, but purely for physical reasons, which the husband must recognize with due consideration for marital happiness.

Joint-heirs of the grace of life (συνκληρονομοι χαριτος ζωηςsunklēronomoi charitos zōēs). Late double compound found in an Ephesian inscription and the papyri, in N.T. only here, Romans 8:17; Ephesians 3:6; Hebrews 11:9. God‘s gift of life eternal belongs to woman as well as to man. In the eyes of God the wife may be superior to the husband, not merely equal.

To the end that your prayers be not hindered (εις το μη εγκοπτεσται τας προσευχας υμωνeis to mē egkoptesthai tas proseuchas humōn). Purpose clause with εις τοeis to and the present passive infinitive (with negative μηmē) of εγκοπτωegkoptō to cut in, to interrupt, late verb (Polybius), as in Romans 15:22, etc. Very vivid to us now with our telephones and radios when people cut in on us. ΠροσευχαςProseuchas (prayers) is the accusative of general reference. Husbands surely have here cause to consider why their prayers are not answered.

Verse 8

Finally (το τελοςto telos). Adverbial accusative. Conclusion, not of the Epistle, but only of the addresses to various classes. No verb (εστεeste imperative, be) here.

Likeminded (ομοπρονεςhomophrones). Old compound (ομοσ πρηνhomosσυμπατειςphrēn), here only in N.T.

Compassionate (συν πασχωsumpatheis). Old adjective (πιλαδελποιsunπιλοσ αδελποςpaschō), in N.T. only here and Romans 12:15. Our “sympathetic” in original sense.

Loving as brethren (ευσπλαγχνοιphiladelphoi). Old compound (ευphilosσπλαγχνονadelphos), here only in N.T.

Tender-hearted (ταπεινοπρονεςeusplagchnoi). Late and rare compound (ταπεινοσ πρηνeu and splagchnon), in Hippocrates, Apocrypha, in N.T. only here and Ephesians 4:32.

Humble minded (tapeinophrones). Late compound (tapeinosphrēn), in Plutarch, Proverbs 29:23, here only in N.T.

Verse 9

Not rendering evil for evil (μη αποδιδοντες κακον αντι κακουmē apodidontes kakon anti kakou). ΜηMē and the present active participle of αποδιδωμιapodidōmi to give back. The same phrase in Romans 12:17 and the same idea in 1 Thessalonians 5:15. Peter may have obtained it from Paul or both from Proverbs 17:13; Proverbs 20:22, “an approximation to Christ‘s repeal of the λεχ ταλιονιςlex talionis (Matthew 5:38.) which Plato first opposed among the Greeks” (Hart). Common use of αντιanti for exchange.

Reviling for reviling (λοιδοριαν αντι λοιδοριαςloidorian anti loidorias). Allusion to 1 Peter 2:23 (Christ‘s own example).

But contrariwise blessing (τουναντιον δε ευλογουντεςtounantion de eulogountes). Adverbial accusative and crasis (το εναντιονto enantion) of the neuter article and the adjective εναντιοςenantios (εν αντιοςenευλογουντεςantios opposite, Matthew 14:24), “on the contrary.” For ευλογεωeulogountes (present active participle of ευλογειτεeulogeō) see Luke 6:28; Romans 12:14 (imperative οτι εις τουτο εκλητητεeulogeite).

For hereunto were ye called (εις τουτοhoti eis touto eklēthēte). See note on 1 Peter 2:21 for this verb and use of ινα ευλογιαν κληρονομησητεeis touto (pointing to the preceding argument).

That ye should inherit a blessing (ιναhina eulogian klēronomēsēte). Purpose clause with κληρονομεωhina and the first aorist active subjunctive of klēronomeō a plain reference to Esau, who wanted “to inherit the blessing” (Hebrews 12:17) after he had sold his birthright. Christians are the new Israel (both Gentiles and Jews) and are the spiritual descendants of Isaac (Galatians 4:22.).

Verse 10

For (γαρgar). Reason for the entire exhortation in 1 Peter 3:8, 1 Peter 3:9 and introducing in 1 Peter 3:10-12 a quotation from Psalm 34:13-17 with some slight changes.

Would love life (τελων ζωην αγαπαινthelōn zōēn agapāin). “Wishing to love life.” This present life. The lxx expressions are obscure Hebraisms. The lxx has αγαπωνagapōn (participle present active of αγαπαωagapaō not the infinitive αγαπαινagapāin him refrain (παυσατωpausatō). Third person singular first aorist active imperative of παυωpauō to make stop, whereas the lxx has παυσονpauson (second person singular).

His tongue (την γλωσσανtēn glōssan). See James 3:1-12.

That they speak no guile (του μη λαλησαι δολονtou mē lalēsai dolon). Purpose clause with genitive article τουtou (negative μηmē) and the first aorist active infinitive of λαλεωlaleō But it can also be explained as the ablative case with the redundant negative μηmē after a verb of hindering (παυσατωpausatō) like Luke 4:42. See Robertson, Grammar, p. 1061. “Let him refrain his lips from speaking guile.”

Verse 11

Let him turn away (εκκλινατωekklinatō). First aorist active imperative third person singular of εκκλινωekklinō where the lxx has εκκλινονekklinon (second person singular). Old verb, in N.T. only here, Romans 3:12; Romans 16:17. Peter adapted the passage all through to his own construction and use. So as to ποιησατωpoiēsatō (let him do) for ποιησονpoiēson (do thou), ζητησατωzētēsatō (let him seek) for ζητησονzētēson (do thou seek), διωχατωdiōxatō (let him pursue) for διωχονdiōxon (do thou pursue), all first aorist active imperatives (of ποιεω ζητεω διωκωpoieōzēteōdiōkō). See Hebrews 12:14 for “pursuing peace.” If men only did!

Verse 12

Upon (επιepi). In the case of righteous (δικαιουςdikaious in the O.T. sense like δικαιον Λοτdikaion Lot in 2 Peter 2:7) for their good, but in the case of men “that do evil” (επι ποιουντας κακαepi poiountas kaka “upon men doing evil things”) “the face of the Lord” (προσωπον κυριουprosōpon kuriou) is not for their good, επιepi here approaching “against” in idea.

Verse 13

That will harm you (ο κακωσων υμαςho kakōsōn humas). Future active articular participle of κακοωkakoō old verb (from κακοςkakos bad) as in Acts 7:6, Acts 7:19. Any real hurt, either that wishes to harm you or that can harm. See the words in Isaiah 50:9.

If ye be (εαν γενηστεean genēsthe). Rather, “if ye become” (condition of third class with εανean and second aorist middle subjunctive of γινομαιginomai).

Zealous of that which is good (του αγατου ζηλωταιtou agathou zēlōtai). “Zealots for the good” (objective genitive after ζηλωταιzēlōtai (zealots, not zealous), old word from ζηλοωzēloō (1 Corinthians 12:12).

Verse 14

But and if ye should suffer (αλλ ει και πασχοιτεall' ei kai paschoite). “But if ye should also (or even) suffer.” Condition of the fourth class with ειei and the optative (undetermined with less likelihood), a rare condition in the vernacular Koiné, since the optative was a dying mode. If matters, in spite of the prophetic note of victory in 1 Peter 3:13, should come to actual suffering “for righteousness‘ sake” (δια δικαιοσυνηνdia dikaiosunēn) as in Matthew 5:10 (ενεκενheneken not διαdia), then “blessed” (μακαριοιmakarioi the very word of Jesus there which see, a word meaning “happy,” not ευλογητοιeulogētoi) “are ye” (not in the Greek). If the conclusion were expressed regularly, it would be ειητε ανeiēte an (ye would be), not εστεeste (ye are). It is interesting to note the third-class condition in 1 Peter 3:13 just before the fourth-class one in 1 Peter 3:14.

Fear not their fear (τον ποβον αυτων μη ποβητητεton phobon autōn mē phobēthēte). Prohibition with μηmē and the first aorist (ingressive) passive subjunctive of ποβεομαιphobeomai to fear, and the cognate accusative ποβονphobon (fear, terror). “Do not fear their threats” (Bigg). Quotation from Isaiah 8:12.

Neither be troubled (μηδε ταραχτητεmēde taraxthēte). Prohibition with μηδεmēde and the first aorist (ingressive) subjunctive of ταρασσωtarassō to disturb (Matthew 2:6; John 12:27). Part of the same quotation. Cf. 1 Peter 3:6.

Verse 15

Sanctify (αγιασατεhagiasate). First aorist active imperative of αγιαζωhagiazō This instead of being afraid.

Christ as Lord (κυριον τον Χριστονkurion ton Christon). Τον ΧριστονTon Christon direct object with article and κυριονkurion predicate accusative (without article). This is the correct text, not τον τεονton theon of the Textus Receptus. An adaptation to Christ of Isaiah 8:13.

Being ready always (ετοιμοι αειhetoimoi aei). No participle in the Greek, old adjective (Titus 3:1).

To give answer (προς απολογιανpros apologian). “For an apology,” the old sense of απολογιαapologia an answer back, a defence (not excuse), as in Acts 22:1, from απολογεομαιapologeomai to defend (not to apologize).

A reason concerning the hope that is in you (λογον περι της εν υμιν ελπιδοςlogon peri tēs en humin elpidos). Original sense of λογονlogon (accusative of the thing with αιτουντιaitounti with υμαςhumās accusative of the person) “concerning the in you hope.” Ready with a spoken defence of the inward hope. This attitude calls for an intelligent grasp of the hope and skill in presenting it. In Athens every citizen was expected to be able to join in the discussion of state affairs.

Yet with meekness and fear (αλλα μετα πραυτητος και ποβουalla meta prautētos kai phobou). Of God (1 Peter 2:18; 1 Peter 3:2, 1 Peter 3:4), not of man.

Verse 16

Having a good conscience (συνειδησιν εχοντες αγατηνsuneidēsin echontes agathēn). Present active participle of εχωechō See 1 Peter 2:18 for συνειδησινsuneidēsin and 1 Peter 3:21 for συνειδησις αγατηsuneidēsis agathē again (“a quasi-personification,” Hart).

That they may be put to shame (ινα καταισχυντωσινhina kataischunthōsin). Purpose clause with ιναhina and the first aorist passive subjunctive of καταισχυνωkataischunō old verb, to put to shame (Luke 13:17; 1 Peter 2:6).

Wherein ye are spoken against (εν ωι καταλαλειστεen hōi katalaleisthe). Present passive indicative of καταλαλεωkatalaleō for which see 1 Peter 2:12 with εν ωιen hōi also. Peter may be recalling (Hart) his own experience at Pentecost when the Jews first scoffed and others were cut to the heart (Acts 2:13, Acts 2:37).

Who revile (οι επηρεαζοντεςhoi epēreazontes). Articular present active participle of επηρεαζωepēreazō old verb (from επηρειαepēreia spiteful abuse), to insult, in N.T. only here and Luke 6:28.

In Christ (εν Χριστωιen Christōi). Paul‘s common mystical phrase that Peter has three times (here, 1 Peter 5:10, 1 Peter 5:14), not in John, though the idea is constantly in John. Peter here gives a new turn (cf. 1 Peter 2:12) to αναστροπηanastrophē (manner of life). “Constantly the apostle repeats his phrases with new significance and in a new light” (Bigg).

Verse 17

Better (κρειττονkreitton). Comparative of κρατυςkratus as in 2 Peter 2:21; Hebrews 1:4. Patient endurance not only silences calumny (1 Peter 3:16), is Christlike (1 Peter 3:18), but it has a value of its own (1 Peter 3:17).

If the will of God should so will (ει τελοι το τελημα του τεουei theloi to thelēma tou theou). Condition of the fourth class again (ειτελοιei- ειtheloi) with αγατοποιουντας η κακοποιουνταςei and the optative. For a like pleonasm see John 7:17.

For well-doing than for evil-doing (υμαςagathopoiountas ē kakopoiountas). Accusative plural agreeing with πασχεινhumās understood (accusative of general reference with the infinitive αγατοποιεωpaschein (to suffer) of the participles from κακοποιεωagathopoieō (see 1 Peter 2:15) and κακοποιοςkakopoieō (Mark 3:4, and see 1 Peter 2:14 for kakopoios).

Verse 18

Because Christ also died (οτι και Χριστος απετανενhoti kai Christos apethanen). So the best MSS.; later ones επατενepathen (suffered). The example of Christ should stir us to patient endurance.

For sins (περι αμαρτιωνperi hamartiōn). “Concerning sins” (not his, but ours, 1 Peter 1:18). ΠεριPeri (around, concerning) with αμαρτιαςhamartias in the regular phrase for the sin offering (Leviticus 5:7; Leviticus 6:30), though υπερ αμαρτιαςhuper hamartias does occur (Ezekiel 43:25). So in the N.T. we find both περι αμαρτιωνperi hamartiōn (Hebrews 5:3) and υπερ αμαρτιωνhuper hamartiōn (Hebrews 5:1).

Once (απαχhapax). Once for all (Hebrews 9:28), not once upon a time (ποτεpote).

The righteous for the unrighteous (δικαιος υπερ αδικωνdikaios huper adikōn). Literally, “just for unjust” (no articles). See 1 Peter 2:19 for the sinlessness of Christ as the one perfect offering for sin. This is what gives Christ‘s blood value. He has no sin himself. Some men today fail to perceive this point.

That he might bring us to God (ινα ημας προσαγαγηι τωι τεωιhina hēmās prosagagēi tōi theōi). Purpose clause with ιναhina with second aorist active subjunctive of προσαγωprosagō and the dative case τωι τεωιtōi theōi The MSS. vary between ημαςhēmās (us) and υμαςhumās (you). The verb προσαγωprosagō means to lead or bring to (Matthew 18:24), to approach God (cf. προσαγωγηνprosagōgēn in Ephesians 2:18), to present us to God on the basis of his atoning death for us, which has opened the way (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 10:19.)

Being put to death in the flesh (τανατωτεις μεν σαρκιthanatōtheis men sarki). First aorist passive participle of τανατοωthanatoō old verb (from τανατοςthanatos death), to put to death. ΣαρκιSarki is locative case of σαρχsarx quickened in the spirit (ζωοποιητεις δε πνευματιzōopoiētheis de pneumati). First aorist passive participle of ζωοποιεωzōopoieō rare (Aristotle) verb (from ζωοποιοςzōopoios making alive), to make alive. The participles are not antecedent to απετανενapethanen but simultaneous with it. There is no such construction as the participle of subsequent action. The spirit of Christ did not die when his flesh did, but “was endued with new and greater powers of life” (Thayer). See 1 Corinthians 15:22 for the use of the verb for the resurrection of the body. But the use of the word πνευματιpneumati (locative case) in contrast with σαρκιsarki starts Peter‘s mind off in a long comparison by way of illustration that runs from 1 Peter 3:19-22. The following verses have caused more controversy than anything in the Epistle.

Verse 19

In which also (εν ωι καιen hōi kai). That is, in spirit (relative referring to πνευματιpneumati). But, a number of modern scholars have followed Griesbach‘s conjecture that the original text was either Νωε καιNōe kai (Noah also), or Ενωχ καιEnōch kai (Enoch also), or εν ωι και Ενωχen hōi kai Enōch (in which Enoch also) which an early scribe misunderstood or omitted Ενωχ καιEnōch kai in copying (ομοιοτελευτονhomoioteleuton). It is allowed in Stier and Theile‘s Polyglott. It is advocated by J. Cramer in 1891, by J. Rendel Harris in The Expositor (1901), and Sidelights on N.T. Research (p. 208), by Nestle in 1902, by Moffatt‘s New Translation of the New Testament. Windisch rejects it as inconsistent with the context. There is no manuscript for the conjecture, though it would relieve the difficulty greatly. Luther admits that he does not know what Peter means. Bigg has no doubt that the event recorded took place between Christ‘s death and his resurrection and holds that Peter is alluding to Christ‘s Descensus ad Inferos in Acts 2:27 (with which he compares Matthew 27:52.; Luke 23:34; Ephesians 4:9). With this Windisch agrees. But Wohlenberg holds that Peter means that Christ in his preexistent state preached to those who rejected the preaching of Noah who are now in prison. Augustine held that Christ was in Noah when he preached. Bigg argues strongly that Christ during the time between his death and resurrection preached to those who once heard Noah (but are now in prison) and offered them another chance and not mere condemnation. If so, why did Jesus confine his preaching to this one group? So the theories run on about this passage. One can only say that it is a slim hope for those who neglect or reject Christ in this life to gamble with a possible second chance after death which rests on very precarious exegesis of a most difficult passage in Peter‘s Epistle. Accepting the text as we have, what can we make of it?

He went and preached (πορευτεις εκηρυχενporeutheis ekēruxen). First aorist passive (deponent) participle of πορευομαιporeuomai and first aorist active indicative of κηρυσσωkērussō the verb commonly used of the preaching of Jesus. Naturally the words mean personal action by Christ “in spirit” as illustration of his “quickening” (1 Peter 3:18) whether done before his death or afterwards. It is interesting to observe that, just as the relative εν ωιen hōi here tells something suggested by the word πνευματιpneumati (in spirit) just before, so in 1 Peter 3:21 the relative οho (which) tells another illustration of the words δι υδατοςdi' hudatos (by water) just before. Peter jumps from the flood in Noah‘s time to baptism in Peter‘s time, just as he jumped backwards from Christ‘s time to Noah‘s time. He easily goes off at a word. What does he mean here by the story that illustrates Christ‘s quickening in spirit?

Unto the spirits in prison (τοις εν πυλακηι πνευμασινtois en phulakēi pneumasin). The language is plain enough except that it does not make it clear whether Jesus did the preaching to spirits in prison at the time or to people whose spirits are now in prison, the point of doubt already discussed. The metaphorical use of εν πυλακηιen phulakēi can be illustrated by 2 Peter 2:4; Judges 1:6; Revelation 20:7 (the final abode of the lost). See Hebrews 12:23 for the use of πνευματαpneumata for disembodied spirits.

Verse 20

Which aforetime were disobedient (απειτησασιν ποτεapeithēsasin pote). First aorist active participle of απειτεωapeitheō (for which verb see 1 Peter 3:20) in the dative plural agreeing with πνευμασινpneumasin These spirits now in prison once upon a time (ποτεpote) were disobedient (typical rebels, Hart calls them).

Waited (απεχεδεχετοapexedecheto). Imperfect middle of the double compound απεκδεχομαιapekdechomai late verb, probably first by Paul (1 Corinthians 1:7), though in the apocryphal Acta Pauli (iii) and other late writings cited by Nageli (p. 43). Perfective use of the two prepositions (απο εκapoκατασκευαζομενης κιβωτουek) to wait out to the end, as for Christ‘s Second Coming (Philemon 3:20). A hundred years apparently after the warning (Genesis 5:32; Genesis 6:3; Genesis 7:6) Noah was preparing the ark and Noah as a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5) forewarned the people, who disregarded it.

While the ark was a preparing (κατασκευαζωkataskeuazomenēs kibōtou). Genitive absolute with present passive participle of κιβωτοςkataskeuazō old compound (Matthew 11:10), for εις ηνkibōtos (ark) see Matthew 24:38.

Wherein (τουτ εστινeis hēn). “Into which” (the ark).

That is (πσυχαιtout' estin). Explanatory expression like our English idiom (Romans 10:6, etc.).

Souls (διεσωτησανpsuchai). Persons of both sexes (living men) as in Acts 2:41; Acts 27:37, etc.

Were saved (διασωζωdiesōthēsan). First aorist passive indicative of δι υδατοςdiasōzō old compound, to bring safe through as in Acts 27:44.

Through water (διαdi' hudatos). “By means of water” as the intermediate agent, an apparent change in the use of dia in composition just before (local use) to the instrumental use here. They came through the water in the ark and so were saved by the water in spite of the flood around them. Peter lays stress (Hart) on the water rather than on the ark (Hebrews 11:7) for the sake of the following illustration.

Verse 21

Which also (ο καιho kai). Water just mentioned.

After a true likeness (αντιτυπονantitupon). Water in baptism now as an anti-type of Noah‘s deliverance by water. For βαπτισμαbaptisma see note on Matthew 3:7. For αντιτυπονantitupon see note on Hebrews 9:24 (only other N.T. example) where the word is used of the earthly tabernacle corresponding (αντιτυπαantitupa) to the heavenly, which is the pattern (τυπονtupon Hebrews 8:5) for the earthly. So here baptism is presented as corresponding to (prefigured by) the deliverance of Noah‘s family by water. It is only a vague parallel, but not over-fanciful.

Doth now save you (υμας νυν σωζειhumas nun sōzei). Simplex verb (σωζωsōzō not the compound διασωζωdiasōzō). The saving by baptism which Peter here mentions is only symbolic (a metaphor or picture as in Romans 6:2-6), not actual as Peter hastens to explain.

Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh (ου σαρκος αποτεσις ρυπουou sarkos apothesis rupou). ΑποτεσιςApothesis is old word from αποτιτημιapotithēmi (1 Peter 2:1), in N.T. only here and 2 Peter 1:14. υπουRupou (genitive of ρυποςrupos) is old word (cf. ρυπαροςruparos filthy, in James 2:2; Revelation 22:11), here only in N.T. (cf. Isaiah 3:3; Isaiah 4:4). Baptism, Peter explains, does not wash away the filth of the flesh either in a literal sense, as a bath for the body, or in a metaphorical sense of the filth of the soul. No ceremonies really affect the conscience (Hebrews 9:13.). Peter here expressly denies baptismal remission of sin.

But the interrogation of a good conscience toward God (αλλα συνειδησεως αγατης επερωτημα εις τεονalla suneidēseōs agathēs eperōtēma eis theon). Old word from επερωταωeperōtaō (to question as in Mark 9:32; Matthew 16:1), here only in N.T. In ancient Greek it never means answer, but only inquiry. The inscriptions of the age of the Antonines use it of the Senate‘s approval after inquiry. That may be the sense here, that is, avowal of consecration to God after inquiry, having repented and turned to God and now making this public proclamation of that fact by means of baptism (the symbol of the previous inward change of heart). Thus taken, it matters little whether εις τεονeis theon (toward God) be taken with επερωτημαeperōtēma or συνειδησεωςsuneidēseōs the resurrection of Jesus Christ (δι αναστασεως Ιησου Χριστουdi' anastaseōs Iēsou Christou). For baptism is a symbolic picture of the resurrection of Christ as well as of our own spiritual renewal (Romans 6:2-6). See 1 Peter 1:3 for regeneration made possible by the resurrection of Jesus.

Verse 22

Having gone (πορευτειςporeutheis). First aorist (deponent) participle (not periphrastic) of πορευομαιporeuomai made subject (υποταγεντωνhupotagentōn). Second aorist passive participle of υποτασσωhupotassō (see 1 Peter 2:18; 1 Peter 3:1) in the genitive absolute construction.

Unto him (αυτωιautōi). Christ. See 1 Corinthians 15:28.


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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