Peter wrote the following in what we call his first letter (ch 3:18- 22)
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— to those who were disobedient 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, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by 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.
Can anybody give me a thorough understanding of this passage? My amazing RZIMConnect page informs me that my topic is similar to “Do we have a second chance for salvation after death?” But that thread does not really speak to this particular passage.
Some specific questions;
“He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit…” Were these two “events” simultaneous, or is this a summary of his death on the cross and his resurrection on the 3rd day? Did he suffer death in the sense of being separated from the Father, and entering into the realm of Death - was this a spiritual death? He defeated the power of Death, presumably on a spiritual level - wrestling the keys of this kingdom from its ruler - before rising physically, i.e. in bodily form to reveal himself to his disciples?
" After being made alive, he went (in the spirit)…" what was the timing here? Was it prior to his physicl resurrection and escape from the burial clothes and grave, or after?
“he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits” Do we have any clue as to what he proclaimed, or as other versions have it “preached” to these imprisoned spirits? Any other scriptures hinting about this happening, or what the message was, why he preached it, what the hoped for result would be - i.e. why He did this? We don’t read here of what effect this preaching had. Is there any other scriptural passage that tells us, or hints at it?
“to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.” This is a very specifically defined group of spirits. Do we take this to mean that this group was the only group of dead sprits that received the proclamation, or it illustrative of all who were disobedient prior to Christ’s crucifixion? Is this an indication, not so much of a “second chance” but a first “clear” chance for people who have never heard the gospel, to hear it?
Peter seems to jump very abruptly from telling us about the proclamation to the ancient dead spirits, to telling his readers that the flood was a picture of baptism. I then become confused by which baptism … the ritual of water baptism that is performed in churches to day, or Jesus baptism “with the spirit and fire” - which John the Baptist maintained was very distinct from his own. And how did this picture of baptism relate to Jesus preaching to Noah-era dead people’s spirits?
“this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also … It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ…” This formulation is very puzzling to me. The first part says (to me) that this baptism saves me. Which baptism? - my personal submission to physical water baptism; Christ’s own “baptism” of death and resurrection (cf. Jesus quesiton to the sons of Zebedee “are you able to be baptised with my baptism?”), and if so why does he then write "It (presumably refering back to baptism) saves you by (method/medium) the resurrection of Jesus? Prior to this passage, Peter is writing about suffering for doing good (vs 17) . In this context, is he suggesting that any suffering for doing good, is in fact a form of baptism - that “baptism” should be a daily experience for us? (“Offer yourselves daily as a living sacrifice…”; “deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me…”)