Verses 1-7 describe our conduct in relation to matrimony.
Verses 8-22 describe our conduct in a general way.
v. 8—The word “finally” suggests that all doctrine should issue in conduct. Each believer has definite conduct obligations to fellow Christians. Believers should seek for unity of mind. While we may not be of the same opinion in some matters, we should be one in our loyalty to Christ. The nearer we are to Christ, the nearer we will be to each other. We should sympathize with one another. We should love as brethren, be tender-hearted, and courteous to each other.
v. 9—Not only has the believer an obligation to fellow believers, he also has an obligation to those who are his enemies. Every believer has those who are opposed to him, who would injure him by word and deed (especially God’s servants). What attitude should we take? We are forbidden to return evil for evil, or insult for insult. On the contrary, we should pray for their blessing, we should leave all in God’s hands who will recompense in due time. Peter says, “Unto this you are called,” meaning, God expects us to “bless and curse not.” If we do this, “we will inherit a blessing.”
Many of us totally underestimate the government of God in our lives. His eye is ever upon us. When we bless our enemies, the Lord will bless us in this life and in the life hereafter.
“To return good for evil is God-like.
To return good for good is man-like.
To return evil for evil is beast-like.
To return evil for good is devil-like.”
Verses 10-12 are a quotation from Psalm 34.
v. 10-11—In this context the truth expressed is rather startling. Longevity and prosperity are apparently acquired by bridling an evil tongue. By turning away from wickedness, by searching or pursuing after peace. Pursuing after harmony and quietness from fears, agitating passions, and moral conflicts.
The pursuit of these things, plus the acquiring and practicing of them, apart from spiritual benefits, will bring health, long life and prosperity.
v. 12—“The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous.” For protection and guidance, He gives watchful care.
The “righteous” are those who do not render evil for evil, and those who bridle an evil tongue. The Lord’s ears are also open at all times to their prayers.
On the contrary, “the face of the Lord is against those that do evil.” Those who walk in the ways of the world, returning evil for evil, insult for insult, and who possess an unbridled tongue.
From verse 13 we come to an entirely new section of the epistle. It runs from 3:13 through 4:6. It could be entitled, “Patience in suffering for righteousness’ sake.”
v. 13—Peter says that, generally speaking, when we zealously follow good, none will harm you.
v. 14—He makes provision for the exception. If you do suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed indeed. Do not be afraid of the threats of your adversaries, nor be disturbed by their opposition. This was good advice for those strangers scattered abroad for their faith.
v. 15—“Sanctify the Lord God in your heart.” The lordship of Christ is in view here. If in persecution, the Lord reckons it is for our good. We honor Him as Lord. Because Christ is Lord in our lives we should live above our trials and express a hope for the future, and when asked by anyone why we can do this, we should be able to give a logical reason for our hope.
v. 16—“Having a good conscience.”
A good conscience is basic to all godly living, and the answer to the hope that is in us. How do we obtain a good conscience? By acknowledging the lordship of Christ, by following the Lord, by doing that which is right, our unjust accusers will be ashamed.
v. 17—It is better to suffer unjustly for doing right, if that should be God’s will, than to suffer justly for doing wrong.
v. 18—Put to death in the flesh, made alive by the Spirit.
v. 19-20—These are controversial. What we believe they mean is that Christ preached to the people of Noah’s day by the Spirit. See Genesis 6:3. Their spirits are now in prison. Mention what He did not do. Purgatory, restorationism, universalism.
v. 21—This verse is also used to teach that salvation is by the ordinance of baptism. Ephesians 2:8-9 says that salvation is through grace by faith. If water baptism had power to save Paul would have written about it. In fact, Paul said, “For Christ sent me not to baptize but to preach the gospel.” 1 Corinthians 1:14-17.
The meaning as I see it at the moment is, the ark, a type of Christ, saved Noah and his family through the water of the flood. Believers are saved though that which baptism figuratively speaks, the death and resurrection of Christ.
That baptism does not save is taught in the words, “Not the putting away of the filthiness of the flesh.” It is rather the answer of a good conscience toward God. He asks us to be baptized to have a good conscience before Him, so we should obey Him in baptism.
1 Peter 3, from Verse 18
v. 18—Peter has been talking about suffering. Those to whom he was writing knew all about suffering, they had been scattered abroad in persecution and were enduring untold suffering on account of their faith.
In verse 17 he reminds his brethren that it is better to suffer for well-doing if this be the Lord’s will than for evil-doing.
Verse 18 is a perfect example of this principle: “Christ also has suffered the just for the unjust,” etc. His suffering was not for His own sins. He was just, holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners. His suffering was different from our suffering because His was atoning. “To bring us to God.”
He was put to death in the flesh, but He was made alive by the Spirit. See Romans 8:11.
v. 19—By which (or whom—the Spirit) He went and preached to the spirits in prison. The question, “When did the Spirit (of Christ) preach to the spirits now in prison?
Verse 20 gives the answer, “When the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah.” Through Noah, the Spirit of Christ preached to the people before the flood whose spirits are now in prison. “My Spirit shall not always strive with man.” Genesis 6.
Consider now the phrase “eight souls saved by water.” Upon this phrase and the following verse those who believe in the doctrine of “baptismal regeneration” lay great emphasis. They say baptism is essential to salvation. Such a theory clearly denies the great salvation passages—Ephesians 2:8-9, etc.
Lack of baptism did not keep the repentant thief from going to Paradise. If water baptism has power to save, surely Paul would not have written, “I thank God that I baptize none of you but Chrispus and Gaius, for Christ sent me not to baptize but to preach the Gospel”—1 Corinthians 1:14, 17.
v. 21—The first phrase in this verse is difficult to understand. Noah and his family were not saved by water. They were brought “through” water by the ark. These things, says Peter, are types or figures of our experience today. Believers are saved through Christ and Christ alone.
The flood separated the godly from the ungodly, so one baptism separates us from the world and is the outward expression of our salvation in Christ. Our baptism typifies what Christ has done in actuality for our salvation. The word “save” in our text is not salvation in its fullest sense. It seems to imply that when we are baptized we are saved or cleansed from a bad conscience. In other words, Christ expects us to be baptized and in doing so we cleanse our conscience by obeying.
The culmination of Christ’s suffering is His glorification.
v. 22—Peter, like the other apostles of the first century, was strong on the resurrection of Christ.
A description of His final glory is prefaced by the phrase, “by the resurrection of Jesus Christ who is at the right hand of God,” etc.
The truth expressed here is known to His children but of which the worldling is ignorant.
1. Christ is at the right hand of God. The place of highest power and glory. Hebrews 1:3, 8:1, 10:12.
2. His exaltation displays His supremacy—“angels and power being made subject unto Him.”
In His ascension Christ passed through the realm of the prince of the power of the air—Satan (Ephesians 2:2). He also triumphed openly over that demonical empire—Colossians 2:15; Ephesians 1:19-23. “Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him,” etc.
Man gave Him the lowest place on earth. God has given Him the highest place in heaven. He is crowned with glory and honor.