Suffering continues to be the theme as we continue into this passage of 1 Peter. Our suffering should result in us remembering Christ’s suffering. Not only do we suffer like Him, but we will also be glorified like He was! Suffering is not the last word. Just as Noah was preserved and saved through the judgment of the flood, so also when judgment comes—and it will—all those in Christ will be secure. Christ’s suffering unto death is the prelude to glory; likewise, our sufferings are temporary and our victory is sure.
Christ Bring (verse 18)
The evil of sin has punishment inseparably connected to it. Where God’s law is broken, the curse will inevitably follow. It was for this reason that Christ died “for sins.” His death has paid for not just “small” sins, but for the most heinous crimes that have ever been committed. His death is also definitive in that it was “once for all.” When the righteous One died for the unrighteous, it was vicarious, substitutionary, and final. The only ground for our justification is the imputed righteousness of Christ, a righteousness that is found outside of us. It is by His vicarious suffering in our place that Christ brings us to God, granting us access to Him. Not only did Christ die for us, but He was then also made alive in the Spirit. He arose, ascended, was seated, and now He reigns—and we will be raised with Him.
Christ Proclaims (verses 19-20)
The same Christ who rose spiritually had also gone and preached spiritually through Noah. In 1 Peter 1:10-12, we read that the “Spirit of Christ” through the prophets “predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.” In the same way, Christ preached by His Spirit through Noah in the days of the flood. The patience of God, the proclamation of Christ, the disobedience of Noah’s generation—all were happening at the same time. The pre-incarnate Christ proclaimed through Noah that judgment was at hand and that salvation is only possible through the ark of God. Those who did not obey the message of Noah were condemned (Hebrews 11:7) for their disobedience, and they are the “spirits now in prison” (compare with Hebrews 12:23, “to the spirits of the righteous”).
Noah preached a message of doing what is right (2 Peter 2:5). Namely, he preached, “Get on the ark! Be saved!” Some of those who worked in that first shipyard knew Noah, heard his preaching, and yet failed to heed the warning. They built the boat but refused to sail. They would not let go of their sins and they, along with their sins, had to be washed away altogether.
Christ Saves (verse 21)
The flood represents baptism and baptism is a symbol of salvation. The ark is a picture of what would come—salvation in Christ. The difference between those who were saved through the water and those who perished in it was simply whether or not they had entered the safety of the ark. In the same way, only those who have entered the safety of Christ through faith in His atoning work are saved through judgment.
This salvation is pictured in baptism. Baptism is not an effectual means of grace for those who do not believe—it does not contain any inherent saving power. Nor is baptism merely an empty sign. Rather, baptism is an identification with Christ and a sign of our union with Him. It is also a public and outward profession of faith in Jesus Christ. It is a depiction of our communion with Jesus Christ, demonstrating that we have been buried with Him into His death and raised with Him to walk with Him in newness of life. Baptism is consecration to Christ, involving “an appeal to God for a good conscience” and a symbolic promise to follow Christ in the fellowship of His church.
Christ Rules (verse 22)
In this verse, we see the supreme dignity of Christ Jesus. Here is the transcendent glory of the Son! There is no reason at all for Christians to fear the wicked rulers of our world or even the fury of Satan himself. We belong to the Lord of glory who has been raised, who has ascended, who is sitting enthroned, and who is ruling over all. Even in your suffering, Jesus still reigns and rules.
- Noah and his family were a minority surrounded by a hostile unbelieving world. Noah was bold in his witness to the unbelieving wicked around him. Noah realized the judgment was coming. God was patient during those days, waiting for repentance. Noah escaped the judgment by grace evidenced in his obedience. Still today, the power of evil is great and the number of faithful is few, but God is in control, withholding judgment in His long-suffering patience so that more might enter in. The Christ who delivered Noah will deliver you from your sin and will bring you to God. Have you obeyed His call to come in faith and repentance and find safety in Him?