Translations: Chinese GB Big5

1Peter 3:13-22 (web)

Suffering Persecution I

Suffering to Draw others to Christ

3:13 Now who is he who will harm you, if you become imitators of that which is good?
3:14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake,
you are blessed. "Don't fear what they fear, neither be troubled."

3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts;
and always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason
concerning the hope that is in you, with humility and fear:

3:16 having a good conscience; that, while you are spoken against as evildoers,
they may be disappointed who curse your good manner of life in Christ.
3:17 For it is better, if the will of God should so will,
that you suffer for doing well than for doing evil.
3:18 Because Christ also suffered for sins once,
the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God;
being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;
3:19 in which he also went and preached to the spirits in prison,
3:20 who before were disobedient,
when God waited patiently in the days of Noah,
while the ark was being built.
In it, few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.
3:21 This is a symbol of baptism, which now saves you -
not the putting away of the filth of the flesh,
but the answer of a good conscience toward God,
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
3:22 who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven,
angels and authorities and powers being made subject to him.

Discussion Questions

vs 13-14 How does fear interfere with our responding properly to persecution?
What fears dominate non-Christians who suffer unjustly?
vs 15 What does it mean for Christ to be Lord to you?
Why would people ask you for a reason for the hope you have?
How should you not answer?
Why would people slander your good behavior?
vs 17 Is it ever God's will for you to suffer for doing good?
vs 19-21 Concerning the flood of Noah what aspects may be likened to various aspects of Christianity?


Fear not for doing Good

1Peter 3:13,14
  Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened."

Obviously there are people who would harm you for doing good. Just look at what happened to Christ. But there is nothing to fear from such people. For Jesus said, "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him." Luke 12:4,5

Don't be afraid to live the Christian life and carry out the ministry to which you were called. Don't let earthly fears influence your decisions. Fear God, not men. "Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe." Pr 29:25 It's a fact that "everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." 2Tim 3:12 And there's a blessing in experiencing persecution. Jesus said, "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven." Mt 5:10-12 Yes there is compensation for all the injustices you have suffered here on earth. So take courage.

Winning a Hearing

1Peter 3:15,16 
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

To set apart Christ "as Lord" in your heart means that you have made yourself subordinate to his commands and to his authority. "And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." 2Cor 5:15 We can have confidence in the midst of opposition and through the trials of life because we are acting under God's authority and there are eternal consequences at stake. Consequently we should not become exasperated by the trivial things that weigh down the world with worries. Such confidence and perseverance is itself a witness. It communicates conviction and may open a door for the gospel. The good works you do are being done under the authority of Christ, and as such those who oppose you do not have authority to do so. By persisting in good works, despite the difficulties and opposition, demonstrates how important they are and that you are acting with conviction.

Be prepared to give an answer. "The heart of the righteous studies how to answer" Pr 15:28a Consider what questions are on other peoples minds that are relevant to our faith? Or perhaps what questions should we put on their minds. As Peter says in the next chapter, our lives should invoke curiosity as to why we don't live like the worldly. "We have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles——when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation" 1Peter 4:3,4 In this sense it is healthy for Christians to be thought of as "strange" by the worldly. When we suffer as Christ did and bear it even with joy, this is certainly a curious phenomenon. When we are mistreated, but in response show love and tolerance, this is strange. When we are content with what the world is not content with, this can be attractive to those who seek contentment. Just behaving in a Christlike manner despite the circumstances, that can win a hearing.

However, many Christians have simply resorted to "flag waving" techniques to generate questions. Rather than behaving in a Christlike manner, they will just behave weird in order to generate questions or interest. And then there are some among the healthy and wealthy Christians boasting in their riches who give false testimony proposing that if you become a Christian you'll be healthy and wealthy. But if its worldly health and wealth that one seeks, the world has a better offer. Christ died poor at the age of 33. And many of his devout followers suffered similar fates. Rather, let the rich be generous. And then perhaps they can win a hearing legitimately.

Furthermore our answers should not be pompous, arrogant and condescending, but rather as a fellow sinner who has received undeserved grace - as one beggar showing another where to get a drink of water. Humility is the most essential of character qualities. Without it we cannot help the lost to develop saving faith. In fact without it, Christian love is nullified.

Keep a Clear Conscience

1Peter 3:16
keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

A good conscience is a healthy conscience. A healthy conscience is one that feels good when we do good and bad when we do bad. Developing a healthy conscience is a process, as is the development of an unhealthy conscience. It's a matter of compliance to God's will.  "The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." 1Tim 1:5 As sinners our conscience is corrupt to a degree. But having been born of God, the Word of God and the Holy Spirit help to heal our conscience that we can discern better between right and wrong. But we must exercise it. "Solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." Heb 5:14  And Paul says, "I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man." Acts 24:16 Don't violate your conscience. If you feel guilty for doing something or for not doing something, follow your conscience. Your maturity depends on it.

Keep a clear conscience with regards to how you react to hostility. Innocent victims always end up winning in the long term. While evil men are put to shame. (Works as well both inside and outside the Christian community)

Suffering for Good - God's Will?

1Peter 3:17
It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

Many are of the opinion that if one is doing the will of God they will be free from suffering. But this is not the case. Doing the will of God involves suffering - even suffering persecution, as it is written, "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" 2Tim 3:12

Many ask, "Why does God allow good people to suffer?" Isn't it unjust for those who do good to suffer for it? Isn't it better for people to suffer for the bad things they do rather than the good? But while it is acknowledged that God is just, Peter is speaking from the perspective of grace rather than the perspective of justice. Both are valid perspectives. But if we take God's plan and purposes in mind, now especially is a time for grace to reign. Justice will come, but let us walk in grace. In leading others to Christ we need to graciously tolerate a degree of abuse and sacrifice our rights if we are to walk in the same Spirit that Jesus walked in on the road to the cross.

Christ died for Sins

1Peter 3:18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit

It was God's will for Christ to suffer. "It was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering" Is 53:10 Jesus said, "Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!" John 12:27-28a Christ dying for sins is central to the gospel message. "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures" 1Cor 15:3,4 And "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." 1John 2:2

The resurrection of Christ from the dead provides us with forensic evidence validating his testimony as the Son of God, and giving us hope of our resurrection. For "if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." Rom 8:11


1Peter 3:19,20 through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water

Where did Christ go when he died? In Acts chapter 2 Peter speaks of Christ death saying, "You will not leave my soul in Hades" Acts 2:27 Jesus went to Hades. What is Hades? Jesus describes Hades in Luke 16:19-31 where he speaks of two men dying and ending up there. In Hades there is paradise, as Jesus said to the thief on the cross next to him, "today you will be with me in paradise." Luke 23:43b And there is hell fire. In Luke 16 he describes a rich man who "being in torments in Hades" Luke 16:23b says, "I am tormented in this flame." Luke 16:24b  This side is also known as "hell" or "Gehenna", like Jesus said, "And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire" Mr 9:47 So there are two sides to Hades. One is paradise and the other is hell, a place of torment. These are separated by an impassible gap. However both sides could talk to each other.When Jesus died he went to paradise and preached across the gap to those in hell.

Among those he would have preached to were those who died in disobedience during Noah's time. Perhaps the reason why Peter brings this up is to draw an analogy to his readers concerning the present time. For the gospel is the ark of salvation, though few believe it. In Noah's time only 8 people were saved. Upon being asked, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" Jesus said to them, "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to." Luke 13:23,24

Salvation Analogy

1Peter 3:21,22 There is also an antitype which now saves us——baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand— with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

Peter is referring to the flood of Noah. He is not referring to a particular element of the flood. The NIV incorrectly inserts the word "water", which is not found in this verse in the Greek, and thus I'm quoting here from a more precise version. The water of Noah did not represent salvation but wrath. The ark represents Christ, our salvation. The ark saves us from the flood of God's wrath.

But there is an analogy with regards to water baptism. But he is not speaking of the ritual of water baptism having some kind of sacramental nature, which is why he says, "not the removal of the filth of the flesh". Nothing done to the flesh can save a person. An early Christian cult throught circumcision saves. Later a heresy was introduced in historic Christianity that water baptism saves, simply replacing circumcision with baptism - one ritual with another. Such heresies are of the same spirit. Rather what Peter is talking about is having a pledge of a good conscience towards God. Noah was saved because he had pledged a good conscience towards God. Water baptism is supposed to correspond to one's repentance from sin, having pledged a good conscience to God. In contrast, baptism heretics will baptize infants, which has nothing to do with repentance or making such a pledge.

Water baptism is an analogous to salvation. But what really matters is the baptism of the Holy Spirit in which one is included in Christ.  John the Baptist contrasts to two saying, "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." Mt 3:11 Baptism of the Spirit may occur before or after one is water baptized. For example concerning the conversion of the household of Cornelius they said, "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have." Acts10:47 When one receives the Holy Spirit they are included in  Christ.  "You also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance" Eph 1:13,14 And "if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." Rom 8:9 When one receives the Holy Spirit they enter the Ark, God closes the door, and they are eternally secure. Having ascended to heaven Jesus has such authority as to secure a place for us.

"I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Rom 8:38,39

1Peter 3:13-22 RAP

3:13 And who will bring the harm to you if you do the good 
So you should in everything do the good you should 
14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right 
How blessed you are and unlike them don't have fear nor fright 
15 But in your hearts make Christ the Lord, ready to respond 
To everyone who asks you of the hope you have beyond 
16 With gentleness and respect keep your conscience clear 
So to shame the ones who speak against your good works here. 
17 It is better if it really be the will of God 
To suffer for the right you do, though it may be hard 
18 For Christ did also suffer once the just one in our stead 
Being put to death in flesh, then risen from the dead 
19 By that Spirit also preached to those who misbehaved 
20 Who disobeyed in Noah's time, when only 8 were saved. 
21 The flood of Noah is a type of washing that saves you 
Not from dirt but to pledge your conscience to be true 
22 Unto God who saves you by the one he gave the crown 
The Christ who reigns at God's right hand and all to him bow down

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

May 06,2016