Listen the preview:
1 Peter 3:19-22
“Made alive by suffering part B”
Vs. 20b-21a Noah’s ministry
Last Sunday I began examining one of the more difficult passages in the New Testament and I warned that it would be extremely easy to spend our time trying to understand what Peter was trying to say while missing out on what he did say based upon the context. The context was in verse 17 where Peter quotes “For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” What we know is that what Peter said in this section made sense to the original readers of this letter and we know this because it was the Holy Spirit who placed this illustration on Peter’s mind and heart. The illustration uses Jesus, suffering for doing good when He died on the cross to make the way of salvation for fallen sinful humanity. Furthermore, Peter weaves his way through the two examples of Jesus and Noah but in settings that we Christians know little about and consider a mystery:
What took place during the 3 days lay in Joseph’s tomb
What humanity was like prior to the flood
What Peter reveals is amazing and mind blowing as these two mysteries are connected and Jesus saved humanity in a way that most believers never considered. The first part of this we looked at last where we needed to answer four question based upon verses 19-20:
When He preached?
Where He preached?
To whom He preached?
What He preached?
We answered to easier questions of 1 and 2 first as they are clarified in the Greek:
A. “When” He preached and “Where” He preached: The little words shouldn’t be overlooked in passages as the words “by whom” in the Greek make the interpretation of this “by means of which spirit” and make the word “SPIRIT” in verse 18 even more unlikely to be the “Holy Spirit” but instead referring to Jesus’ human “spirit”; so….
1. The answer to the first question of “WHEN” Jesus preached is covered in the word
“went” as it speaks of a person who is travelling or going on a journey. Prior to His resurrection and after His words of the cross in Luke 23:46 where He said, “Father, into Your hands and commit My spirit” as Jesus’ human body was laying in Joseph’s tomb, the man Christ Jesus who possessed a human soul and human spirit went on a journey to two locations:
a. First, according to Heb. 4:14; Jesus passed “through” the heavens as our “High Priest” and according to Heb. 9:12 “with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all.” Heb. 9:24 tells us that “Christ has not entered the holy places made WITH HANDS, which are copies of the true BUT INTO HEAVEN ITSELF.” Which is what Heb. 10 further clarifying for us reminding the reader that Jesus was the fulfillment of the shadow of sacrifices that annually had to be offered. His sacrifice was “ONCE and FOR ALL”. The emphasis of Heb 10 is not only upon the sacrifice but the completion of the sacrifice by the High Priest upon the Mercy Seat not in the tabernacle in Jerusalem but upon the true one in heaven. I’m of the opinion that it is soon after this scene that the Apostle John sees in Revelation chapter 5 as he despaired over no one coming forward at the invitation of the angel who asked, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to lose its seals”? John looked and saw no one “in heaven or on earth or under the earth” was able. Then John looked in verses 6-7 and saw a “Lamb as though it had been slain…and He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat upon the throne.” As mentioned this is where Jesus sacrifice upon the cross was completed and our atonement secured when His own blood was sprinkled upon the true mercy seat for our sin.
b. That takes us to the second place Jesus went as well as the second question of “WHERE” was this place? In the First Testament this place is known as Sheol where at that time the departed dead went. Sometimes in the New Testament that word is translated “Hell”, but hell is the translation of the word’s hades not Sheol. Peter then describes that “by means of Jesus human spirit made alive by the Holy Spirit” that Jesus proceeded to “Sheol” to preach.
Now you will remember that I said last week we needed ask and answer in questions 3 and 4 To “Whom” He preached and “What” He preached we needed to utilize the process of elimination.
A. The question as to “WHOM” Jesus preach is found in the Greek word for “spirits” where we discover that in the entire New Testament in which that word is translated it is not one time used of a human being! Peter under the empowerment of the Holy Spirit “DID NOT” have a dead human in Sheol in mind when he wrote this! That has eliminated one possibility and left only two other possibilities as there are only two other “free moral agents” besides humans that can fit this: Angels (Heb 1:7,14) and demons (Matt. 8:16). The fact that the preaching was in prison is would eliminate that Jesus preached to angels in prison. Demons can take up residence in human bodies according to Matt. 12:43-45 There are two words in the Greek that are used to describe in unseen world where evil spirits are confined “Tartarus” “HELL” as seen in 2 Peter 2:4 and the “bottomless pit” Rev. 9:1-12. The Greek word here is Tartarus and Peter links these spirits and fallen angels with the pre-flood saying that they sinned at that time. Based upon this it seems that Jesus presented His own Blood and sprinkled it upon the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies completing our atonement; then preached to the fallen angels in Tartarus.
B. Now“WHAT”did Jesus preach?The Greek word preached is Kerusso and the word was used of a “official announcement or proclamation made be a representative of a government”. Peter didn’t say that Jesus “preached” or “evangelized” or even brought a “message” instead that Jesus brought a “official proclamation” to these fallen angels. Heb 2:16 tells us that “For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.” We need look at verse 20 to get a better picture as too what Jesus’ official proclamation was. What we see is that they were disobedient at the time of the flood and in Peter’s second letter 2:4 he mentions that they sinned, and that God did not spare them but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness to be reserved for judgment. There is no reason to think that Peter under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is making reference to a different group in his second letter than the mention of the one in his first letter. In fact, the use of the word “FOR” in 2 Peter 2:4 is a connective word and associates these two; the fallen angels of the antediluvian world of Noah’s time in which we are told Noah’s family of 8 souls were saved from and the angels were reserved to judgment. Gehenna is the place of dead apostate Jews whereas Tartarus the place of fallen angels. Jude 1:6-7 shed a little more on this where we are told that “the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” It appears that the sin of these fallen angels was fornication as they went after human females a different class of creation stepping beyond what God had designed. It appears that this produced a genetically altered order of being that mixed these two different orders of creation into what Gen 6:1-4 describes “When men began to multiply on the surface of the ground, and daughters were born to them, God’s sons saw that men’s daughters were beautiful, and they took any that they wanted for themselves as wives. Yahweh said, “My Spirit will not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; so, his days will be one hundred twenty years.” The Nephilim were in the earth in those days, and also after that, when God’s sons came into men’s daughters and had children with them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.” This mixed race partly human partly fallen angelic warranted the destruction and extermination of all but 8 humans. So, after Jesus official proclamation between His death and prior to His resurrection was for the purpose of this angelic apostasy of the divine plan of God in which satan trying to make it impossible for Jesus to be fully man as humanity’s seed would have been polluted by demonic seed making human atonement impossible. So, This official announcement was that that satan and this plan was forever thwarted! This satanic plot didn’t end at the time of Noah as we see
that even during the time of David that there was a demonic altered DNA race place upon the earth and one wonders if perhaps that the Babylonia and Greek mythology that has been popularized by movies and comic books found it’s fiction in historical reality of pre-flood truth? It also may suggest the reason for the complete destruction of Sodom and Gomora at Lot’s time?
II. Vs. 20b-21a Noah’s ministry
Vs. 20-21a The ministry of Noah: Peter wants to show the readers in case they thought that the illustration of Jesus as an example of “suffering for doing good” was too difficult of an expectation that Noah also suffered for doing good. In speaking of Noah Peter also brings up his family that was also safely delivered through the flood and the phrase “saved through water” is literally “were brought safely through” and isn’t talking about their spiritual salvation. The article in the Greek is not on the “Ark” saving Noah and his family but rather upon the water saving Noah and his family. The very waters that were the extermination of the human race were life to the inmates of the ark. Those who drown did so because they were not related properly to the waters and Noah and his family were. The righteousness of God judges all who are not correctly related to Him and it is faith in God’s provision of His Ark Jesus that enables us to sail upon God’s goodness. The Greek grammar again serves the student of the word in determining the “antitype” as it is the water in view here not the ark. Water baptism is clearly on Peter’s mind as the illustration is back to the water being that which delivered Noah and his family. But the saving isn’t eternal salvation instead it is the counterpart to that like the First Testament sacrifices were only a typology of the true sacrifice of Jesus. Water baptism is like a wedding ring a finger it isn’t the wedding it only symbolizes that you are married. Peter is careful to make sure that he isn’t teaching “Baptismal regeneration” as he says, “not the removal of filth of the flesh but the answer of a good conscience toward God”. Ceremonies cannot affect the conscience nor transform a heart only trust in Jesus’ finished work can do that. Peter wanted to show them that in the ministry of Noah that they shared some common expectations beyond the difficulty of the times in which these believers lived, and Noah lived:
Both are called to preachers of righteousness in wicked times.
Both are called to be people of faith even when it looks like what they were
doing wasn’t making and difference.
Both need to make sure that they remember the work of God’s salvation
through the death burial and resurrection of Jesus as seen in Noah in the Ark and us in the symbol of baptism.
This will lead us FIVE APPLICATION POINTS that Peter wished to convey two these dear suffering saints in the first century church. These two examples should cause the Church to understand is in regard to: The ministry of the Church! Here is what I believe the purpose of this difficult passage was all about as these five conclusions were some that his readers should have been able to notice as we should as well:
Christians looking at Jesus and Noah: Must expect opposition.
Christians looking at Jesus and Noah: Must serve God by faith and not by sight in the results.
Christians looking at Jesus and Noah: Must realize that we can have joy because the victory is certain. We do this because our identity is in God’s faithfulness and not our effort.
Christians looking at Jesus and Noah: Must understand the importance of identifying with baptism and our death to self-centeredness and trust in only God.
Christians looking at Jesus and Noah: Must realize that Jesus is the only reason we are still breathing earthly air as God wants us to be a “living hope” to everyone we meet.