I Peter 3:17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.
We have talked of suffering before. There is much suffering in life. God states that it is better to suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. Those who suffer for the cause of Christ, know that their suffering is acknowledged by God. Those who suffer for their own sins cannot find comfort in God. They have earned what they have received. They actually deserve much more than they receive. God is merciful and gracious even to the lost. However, in the end, the wicked will suffer for all eternity in the lake of fire. That is not a good thing. There is no escaping from that judgment.
In verse 18 we are again brought back to Christ. He suffered once for our sins. He did not suffer for His own sins. He had no sin. He is the just suffering for the sins of us, the unjust. His suffering was necessary in order to make a way for us to be forgiven and saved. Jesus Christ was put to death in the flesh, but He was alive in the Spirit.
People have argued before that God died on the cross of Calvary. Then they go further and ask, if God died on the cross, who was in charge? They make that argument to try to dismiss the deity of Jesus Christ. Those who are saved do not make such arguments, but the lost, who are influenced by the devil will come up with such arguments. God knew this would come up and He clearly states that Jesus Christ, the man, died on the cross. Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God did not die on the cross. God cannot die. None of the three persons of the Godhead can die.
This also shows us that those who are born again, will die physically, but because they have been given eternal life, their soul will not perish. Their soul will go to heaven immediately at the moment of death. Their body will be raised up again at the rapture.
This is also a sober warning that the lost person will die but their soul which is dead in trespasses and sins, will still exist in hell for all eternity. Jesus often warned of the torment that they will face in Hell and then in the lake of fire.
In verse 19 we are also reminded that Jesus Christ preached to the spirits that were in prison at that time. In verse 20 we are told that these spirits were of those who rejected the truth in the Old Testament. We are told that these are those who in the days of Noah scoffed at what he was doing and they missed out on God’s deliverance from the judgment of the flood. Only 8 people were spared that judgment. All the rest chose to perish in the flood waters. Jesus reminded them that their rejection was foolish and in fact disastrous. They would not ever get out of that prison they were in. Hell is a prison and it is eventually going to be cast into the lake of fire.
In verse 21 we are reminded of the importance of Biblical baptism. I recently watched a short portion of a “baptismal service” from the church that I grew up in. It was such a sham. As we are reminded in our text, baptism does not save anyone. Baptism is a figure. It is a picture of something that has already taken place. Water cannot wash away sin. Water can wash away the filth of the flesh. Even there, water alone does not wash the filth away properly. Soap needs to be added to wash the filth of the flesh away.
Baptism must follow true salvation. Apart from true salvation, baptism is just getting wet. Biblical baptism is a testimony of the fact that the recipient has a good conscience toward God. That is important. The person being baptized needs to be saved first. Baptism is a testimony of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ is not alive, there is no salvation.
We see as well here that baptism is by immersion. Jesus Christ died, was buried and rose again. That is the picture given in baptism. The saved person is put under the water by the pastor. The person does not fight against this. He is put under the water, and then the pastor raises the person out of the water. Salvation is a gift of God. The repentant sinner submits to God’s will. He provides salvation and He gives the saved person eternal life.
In verse 22 we are reminded that Jesus Christ is in heaven. He is seated on the right hand of His Father.
In heaven the angels and authorities and powers are subject to Jesus Christ. This again reminds us of the fact that Jesus Christ is God. He is the second person of the Godhead. There is a unique relationship in the Godhead. The human mind cannot understand this, but the spiritual man accepts this as fact.
It is a blessing to know the true God and to be a recipient of His salvation. God warns us of the danger of rejecting His gift of salvation. He also reminds us of the blessings of His salvation.
It is important to know the truth. It is important to believe what God says, and not allow the false teaching around us to corrupt the truth. There are many religions that have a distorted teaching of baptism. They assume that it really does not matter how a person is baptized, as long as their heart is right. The reality is that if the heart is right, then the Spirit of God will lead the person to Biblical baptism. There are those who want to argue about the different “modes” of baptism. Any good dictionary will teach that baptism is immersion. The Greek word translated as “baptism” is defined by using the illustration of canning. In canning the product is submerged in the solution. It is covered in that solution in order to preserve it. Then it is drawn out of that solution in order to eat it.
Baptism does not save. That does not mean it is not important. It is a picture. If the picture is wrong, the understanding will be wrong. If a person can be proud and just add Jesus to what they already have, that fits with Hinduism, but it is not Biblical Christianity. In Biblical Christianity, the recipient humbles himself in repentance toward God and trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.
Be sure you follow God’s Word in your life. Be sure your “salvation” is Biblical salvation. If you are saved, the Holy Spirit will lead you to seek to be Biblically baptized. You will not be content with a fraudulent exercise.
Those who are truly saved have the blessing of looking forward to the soon return of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is in heaven now and He will be coming back in the clouds soon. Be sure not to miss out on that blessing.