1 Peter 3

CHAPTER III.

The duty of wives to their husbands, how they are to be

adorned, and be in subjection as Sarah was to Abraham, 1-6.

The duty of husbands to their wives, 7.

How to obtain happiness, and live a long and useful life, 8-11.

God loves and succours them that do good; but his face is

against the wicked, 12, 13.

They should suffer persecution patiently, and be always ready

to give a reason of the hope that is in them; and preserve a

good conscience, though they suffered for righteousness, 14-17.

Christ suffered for us, and was put to death in the flesh, but

quickened by the Spirit, 18.

How he preached to the old world, while Noah was preparing the

ark, 19, 20.

The salvation of Noah and his family a type of baptism, 21.

Christ is ascended to heaven, all creatures being subject to

him, 22.

NOTES ON CHAP. III.

Verse 1. Ye wives, be in subjection] Consider that your

husband is, by God's appointment, the head and ruler of the house;

do not, therefore, attempt to usurp his government; for even

though he obey not the word-is not a believer in the Christian

doctrine, his rule is not thereby impaired; for Christianity never

alters civil relations: and your affectionate, obedient conduct

will be the most likely means of convincing him of the truth of

the doctrine which you have received.

Without the word] That your holy conduct may be the means of

begetting in them a reverence for Christianity, the preaching of

which they will not hear. See Clarke on 1Co 14:34, and the

other places referred to in the margin.

Verse 2. Chaste conversation-with fear.] While they see that

ye join modesty, chastity, and the purest manners, to the fear of

God. Or perhaps fear, φοβος, is taken, as in Eph 5:33, for the

reverence due to the husband.

Verse 3. Whose adorning] κοσμος.

See Clarke on Heb 9:1,

where the word κοσμος, world or ornament, is defined; and also

the note on "Ge 2:1".

Plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold] Plaiting the hair,

and variously folding it about the head, was the most ancient and

most simple mode of disposing of this chief ornament of the female

head. It was practised anciently in every part of the east, and

is so to the present day in India, in China, and also in Barbary.

It was also prevalent among the Greeks and Romans, as ancient

gems, busts, and statues, still remaining, sufficiently declare.

We have a remarkable instance of the plaiting of the hair in a

statue of Agrippina, wife of Germanicus, an exact representation

of which may be seen in a work of Andre Lens, entitled Le Costume

de Peuple de I' Antiquite, pl. 33. Many plates in the same work

show the different modes of dressing the hair which obtained among

the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Persians, and other nations. Thin

plates of gold were often mixed with the hair, to make it appear

more ornamental by the reflection of light and of the solar rays.

Small golden buckles were also used in different parts; and among

the Roman ladies, pearls and precious stones of different colours.

Pliny assures us, Hist. Nat., l. ix. c. 35, that these latter

ornaments were not introduced among the Roman women till the time

of Sylla, about 110 years before the Christian era. But it is

evident, from many remaining monuments, that in numerous cases the

hair differently plaited and curled was the only ornament of the

head. Often a simple pin, sometimes of ivory, pointed with gold,

seemed to connect the plaits. In monuments of antiquity the heads

of the married and single women may be known, the former by the

hair being parted from the forehead over the middle of the top of

the head, the latter by being quite close, or being plaited and

curled all in a general mass.

There is a remarkable passage in Plutarch, Conjugalia

Praecept., c. xxvi., very like that in the text: κοσμοςγαρεστιν

ωςελεγεκρατηςτοκοσμουν. κοσμειδετοκοσμιωτερανγυναικα

ποιουν. ποιειδεταυτηνουχρυσοςουτεσμαραγδοςουτεκοκκος

αλλοσασεμνοτητοςευταξιαςαιδουςεμφασινπεριτιθησιν. Opera

a Wyttenb., vol. i., page 390. "An ornament, as Crates said, is

that which adorns. The proper ornament of a woman is that which

becomes her best. This is neither gold, nor pearls, nor scarlet;

but those things which are an evident proof of gravity, regularity,

and modesty." The wife of Phocion, a celebrated Athenian general,

receiving a visit from a lady who was elegantly adorned with gold

and jewels, and her hair with pearls, took occasion to call the

attention of her guest to the elegance and costliness of her dress,

remarking at the same time, "My ornament is my husband, now for

the twentieth year general of the Athenians." Plut., in vit. Phoc.

How few Christian women act this part! Women are in general at as

much pains and cost in their dress, as if by it they were to be

recommended both to God and man. It is, however, in every case,

the argument either of a shallow mind, or of a vain and corrupted

heart.

Verse 4. The hidden man of the heart] οκρυπτοςτηςκαρδιας

ανθρωπος. This phrase is of the same import with that of St.

Paul, Ro 7:22,

οεσωανθρωπος, the inner man; that is, the soul, with the whole

system of affections and passions. Every part of the Scripture

treats man as a compound being: the body is the outward or visible

man; the soul, the inward, hidden, or invisible man. The

term ανθρωπος, man, is derived, according to the best

etymologists, from ανατρεπωνωπα, turning the face upward. This

derivation of the word is beautifully paraphrased by Ovid. The

whole passage is beautiful; and, though well known, I shall insert

it. After speaking of the creation and formation of all the

irrational animals, he proceeds thus:-

"Sanctius his animal, mentisque capacius altae

Deerat adhuc, et quod dominari in caetera posset.

Natus HOMO est: sive hunc divino semine fecit

Ille opifex rerum, mundi melioris origo;

Sive recens tellus, seductaque nuper ab alto

AEthere, cognati retinebat semina coeli.--

Pronaque cum spectent animalia caetera terram,

OS HOMINI SUBLIME DEDIT; COELUMQUE TUERI

Jussit, et erectos ad sidera tollere veltus."

METAM, lib. i. ver. 76.

"A creature of a more exalted kind

Was wanting yet, and then was MAN design'd;

Conscious of thought, of more capacious breast,

For empire form'd, and fit to rule the rest.

Whether with particles of heavenly fire

The God of nature did his soul inspire,

Or earth but new divided from the sky,

Which still retain'd th' ethereal energy.--

Thus, while the mute creation downward bend

Their sight, and to their earthly mother tend,

Man looks aloft, and with erected eyes

Beholds his own hereditary skies." DRYDEN.

The word ανθρωπος, man, is frequently applied to the soul, but

generally with some epithet. Thus οεσωανθρωπος, the inner man,

Ro 7:22,

to distinguish it from the body, which is called οεξωανθρωπος,

the outer man, 2Co 4:16;

οκρυπτοςανθρωπος, the hidden man, as in the text; οκαινος

ανθρωπος, the new man, the soul renewed in righteousness,

Eph 2:15,

to distinguish him from οπαλαιοςανθρωπος, the old man, that is,

man unregenerate or in a state of sin, Ro 6:6.

And the soul is thus distinguished by the Greek philosophers.

A meek and quiet spirit] That is, a mind that will not give

provocation to others, nor receive irritation by the provocation

of others. Meekness will prevent the first; quietness will guard

against the last.

Great price.] All the ornaments placed on the head and body of

the most illustrious female, are, in the sight of God, of no

worth; but a meek and silent spirit are, in his sight, invaluable,

because proceeding from and leading to himself, being

incorruptible, surviving the ruins of the body and the ruins of

time, and enduring eternally.

Verse 5. For after this manner] Simplicity reigned in

primitive times; natural ornaments alone were then in use. Trade

and commerce brought in luxuries; and luxury brought pride, and

all the excessive nonsense of DRESS. No female head ever looks so

well as when adorned with its own hair alone. This is the

ornament appointed by God. To cut it off or to cover it is an

unnatural practice; and to exchange the hair which God has given

for hair of some other colour, is an insult to the Creator. How

the delicacy of the female character can stoop to the use of false

hair, and especially when it is considered that the chief part of

this kind of hair was once the natural property of some ruffian

soldier, who fell In battle by many a ghastly wound, is more than

I can possibly comprehend. See the notes on 1Co 11:14-16; and

1Ti 2:9.

Who trusted in God] The women who trust NOT in God are fond of

dress and frippery; those who trust in God follow nature and

common sense.

Being in subjection unto their own husbands] It will rarely be

found that women who are fond of dress, and extravagant in it,

have any subjection to their husbands but what comes from mere

necessity. Indeed, their dress, which they intend as an

attractive to the eyes of others, is a sufficient proof that they

have neither love nor respect for their own husbands. Let them

who are concerned refute the charge.

Verse 6. Even as Sara obeyed] Almost the same words are in

Rab. Tanchum, fol. 9, 3: "The wife of Abraham reverenced him, and

called him lord, as it is written, Ge 18:12:

And my lord is old." The words of the apostle imply that she

acknowledged his superiority, and her own subjection to him, in

the order of God.

Whose daughters ye are] As Abraham is represented the father

of all his male believing descendants, so Sara is represented as

the mother of all her believing female posterity. A son of

Abraham is a true believer; a daughter of Sarah is the same.

As long as ye do well] For you cannot maintain your

relationship to her longer than ye believe; and ye cannot believe

longer than ye continue to obey.

And are not afraid with any amazement.] It is difficult to

extract any sense out of this clause. The original is not very

easy; μηφοβουμεναιμηδεμιανπτοησις may be rendered, And not

fearing with any terror. If ye do well, and act conscientiously

your part as faithful wives, ye will at no time live under the

distressing apprehension of being found out, or terrified at every

appearance of the discovery of infidelities, or improper conduct.

Being not guilty of these, you will not have occasion to fear

detection. On this subject a learned man has quoted these words,

which I have produced elsewhere, Eph 6:14:-

--------------- hic murus aheneus esto,

Nil conscire sibi, nulla pallescere culpa.

"Let this be my brazen wall, to be self-convicted of no

private delinquency, nor to change colour at being

charged with a fault."

Happy is the wife, and happy is the husband, who can

conscientiously adopt the saying.

Verse 7. Dwell with them according to knowledge] Give your

wives, by no species of unkind carriage, any excuse for

delinquency. How can a man expect his wife to be faithful to him,

if he be unfaithful to her? and vice versa.

Giving honour unto the wife] Using your superior strength and

experience in her behalf, and thus honouring her by becoming her

protector and support. But the word τιμη honour, signifies

maintenance as well as respect;-maintain, provide for the wife.

As-the weaker vessel] Being mare delicately, and consequently

more slenderly, constructed. Roughness and strength go hand in

hand; so likewise do beauty and frailty. The female has what the

man wants-beauty and delicacy. The male has what the female

wants-courage and strength. The one is as good in its place as

the other: and by these things God has made an equality between

the man and the woman, so that there is properly very little

superiority on either side. See Clarke on 1Th 4:4.

Being heirs together] Both the man and woman being equally

called to eternal glory: and as prayer is one great means of

obtaining a meetness for it, it is necessary that they should live

together in such a manner as to prevent all family contentions,

that they may not be prevented, by disputes or misunderstandings,

from uniting daily in this most important duty-family and social

prayer.

Verse 8. Be ye all of one mind] Unity, both in the family and

in the Church, being essentially necessary to peace and salvation.

See on Ro 12:16; 15:5.

Having compassion] συμπαθεις. Being sympathetic; feeling for

each other; bearing each other's burdens.

Love as brethren] φιλαδελφοι. Be lovers of the brethren.

Pitiful] ευσπλαγχνοι. Tender-hearted; let your bowels yearn

over the distressed and afflicted.

Courteous] φιλοφρονες. Be friendly-minded; acquire and

cultivate a friendly disposition. But instead of this word,

ταπεινοφρονες, be humble-minded, is the reading of ABC, more

than twenty others, with the Syriac, Arabic of Erpen, Coptic,

Armenian, Slavonic, and some of the fathers. This is probably the

true reading, and Griesbach has admitted it into the text.

Verse 9. Not rendering evil for evil] Purposing, saying,

doing nothing but good; and invariably returning good for evil.

Ye are thereunto called] This is your calling-your business in

life, to do good, and to do good for evil, and to implore God's

blessing even on your worst enemies. And this is not only your

duty, but your interest; for in so doing you shall obtain God's

blessing, even life for evermore.

Verse 10. For he that will love life] This is a quotation

from Ps 34:12-16, as it stands in the Septuagint; only the aorist

of the imperative is changed from the second into the third

person, &c. He who wishes to live long and prosperously, must act

as he is here directed. 1. He must refrain from evil-speaking,

lying, and slandering. 2. He must avoid flattery and fair

speeches, which cover hypocritical or wicked intentions. 3. He

must avoid evil, keep going away εκκλινατω, from evil. 4. He

must do good; he must walk in the way of righteousness. 5. He

must live peaceably with all men; seek peace where it has been

lost; restore it where it has been broken; and pursue it where it

seems to be flying away. He who lives thus must live happy in

himself. And as excess in action and passion always tends to the

shortening of life, and nothing preys on the constitution more

than disorderly passions, he must live not only happiest but

longest who avoids them. It is an edifying story that is told in

the book Mussar, chap. 1., quoted by Rosenmuller: "A certain

person, travelling through the city, continued to call out, Who

wants the elixir of life? The daughter of Rabbi Joda heard him,

and told her father. He said, Call the man in. When he came in,

the rabbi said, What is that elixir of life thou sellest? He

answered, Is it not written, What man is he that loveth life, and

desireth to see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil,

and his lips from speaking guile? This is the elixir of life, and

is found in the mouth of man."

Verse 12. The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous] That

is, He is continually under God's notice and his care; God

continually watches for him and watches over him, and he is under

his constant protection.

And his ears are open unto their prayers] The original is very

emphatic: The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his

ears to their prayers. The righteous man ever attracts the Divine

notice, and wherever he is, there is the ear of God; for, as every

righteous man is a man of prayer, wherever he prays, there is the

ear of God, into which the prayer, as soon as formed, enters.

But the face of the Lord] Far from his eye being upon them, or

his ear open to their requests, (for prayer they have none,) his

face, his approbation, his providence and blessing, are

turned away from them; and he only looks upon them to abhor them,

and to turn the arm of his justice against them.

Verse 13. Who is he that will harm you] Is it possible that a

man can be wretched who has God for his friend? "All the devices

which the devil or wicked men work against such must be brought to

naught, and by the providence of his goodness be dispersed."

If ye be followers, &c.] εαντουαγαθουμιμηταιγενησθε. If

ye be imitators of the good One, i.e. of God. οαγαθος, the

good One, is one of God's prime epithets, see Mt 19:17, and Satan

is distinguished by the reverse, οπονηρος, the EVIL one,

Mt 13:19, where see the notes.

Instead of μιμηται, followers, or rather imitators, ζηλωται,

zealous of what is good, is the reading of ABC, fifteen others,

both the Syriac, Erpen's Arabic, the Coptic, AEthiopic, Armenian

and Vulgate, with some of the fathers. This is a very probable

reading, and Griesbach has placed it in the margin as a candidate

for the place of that in the text.

Verse 14. But and if ye suffer] God may permit you to be

tried and persecuted for righteousness' sake, but this cannot

essentially harm you; he will press even this into your service,

and make it work for your good.

Happy are ye] This seems to refer to Mt 5:10, &c.

Blessed or happy, are ye when men persecute you, &c. It is a

happiness to suffer for Christ; and it is a happiness, because if

a man were not holy and righteous the world would not persecute

him, so he is happy in the very cause of his sufferings.

Be not afraid of their terror] τονδεφοβοναυτωνμηφοβηθητε.

Fear not their fear; see Isa 8:12.

Sometimes fear is put for the object of a man's religious worship;

see Ge 31:42; Pr 1:26,

and the place in Isaiah just quoted. The exhortation may mean,

Fear not their gods, they can do you no hurt; and supposing that

they curse you by them, yet be not troubled; "He who fears God

need have no other fear."

Verse 15. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts] To

sanctify God may signify to offer him the praises due to his

grace, but as to sanctify literally signifies to make holy, it is

impossible that God should be thus sanctified. We have often

already seen that αγιαζω signifies to separate from earth, that

is, from any common use or purpose, that the thing or person

thus separated may be devoted to a sacred use. Perhaps we should

understand Peter's words thus: Entertain just notions of God; of

his nature, power, will, justice, goodness, and truth. Do not

conceive of him as being actuated by such passions as men;

separate him in your hearts from every thing earthly, human,

fickle, rigidly severe, or capriciously merciful. Consider that

he can neither be like man, feel like man, nor act like man.

Ascribe no human passions to him, for this would desecrate not

sanctify him. Do not confine him in your conceptions to place,

space, vacuity, heaven, or earth; endeavour to think worthily of

the immensity and eternity of his nature, of his omniscience,

omnipresence, and omnipotence. Avoid the error of the heathens,

who bound even their Dii Majores, their greatest gods, by fate, as

many well-meaning Christians do the true God by decrees; conceive

of him as infinitely free to act or not act, as he pleases.

Consider the goodness of his nature; for goodness, in every

possible state of perfection and infinitude, belongs to him.

Ascribe no malevolence to him; nor any work, purpose, or decree,

that implies it: this is not only a human passion, but a passion

of fallen man. Do not suppose that he can do evil, or that he can

destroy when he might save; that he ever did, or ever can, hate

any of those whom he made in his own image and in his own

likeness, so as by a positive decree to doom them, unborn, to

everlasting perdition, or, what is of the same import, pass them

by without affording them the means of salvation, and consequently

rendering it impossible for them to be saved. Thus endeavour to

conceive of him; and, by so doing, you separate him from all that

is imperfect, human, evil, capricious, changeable, and unkind.

Ever remember that he has wisdom without error, power, without

limits, truth without falsity, love without hatred, holiness

without evil, and justice without rigour or severity on the one

hand, or capricious tenderness on the other. In a word, that he

neither can be, say, purpose, or do, any thing that is not

infinitely just, holy, wise, true, and gracious; that he hates

nothing that he has made; and has so loved the world, the whole

human race, as to give his only-begotten Son to die for them, that

they might not perish, but have everlasting life. Thus sanctify

the Lord God in your hearts, and you will ever be ready to give a

reason of the hope that is in you to every serious and candid

inquirer after truth. Most religious systems and creeds are

incapable of rational explanation, because founded on some

misconception of the Divine nature.

"They set at odds heaven's jarring attributes,

And with one excellence another wound."

The system of humanizing God, and making him, by our unjust

conceptions of him, to act as ourselves would in certain

circumstances, has been the bane of both religion and piety; and

on this ground infidels have laughed us to scorn. It is high time

that we should no longer know God after the flesh; for even if we

have known Jesus Christ after the flesh, we are to know him so no

more.

What I have written above is not against any particular creed

of religious people, it is against any or all to whom it may

justly apply, it may even be against some portions of my own; for

even in this respect I am obliged daily to labour to sanctify the

Lord God in my heart, to abstract him from every thing earthly and

human, and apprehend him as far as possible in his own essential

nature and attributes through the light of his Spirit and the

medium of his own revelation. To act thus requires no common

effort of soul: and just apprehensions of this kind are not

acquired without much prayer, much self-reflection, much time, and

much of the grace and mercy of God.

Instead of τονθεον, GOD, ABC, four others, both the Syriac,

Erpen's Arabic, the Coptic, Vulgate, and Armenian, with Clement

and Fulgentius, read τονχριστον, CHRIST. Sanctify Christ in your

hearts. This reading is at least equal to the other in the

authorities by which it is supported; but which was written by St.

Peter we know not.

A reason of the hope] An account of your hope of the

resurrection of the dead and eternal life in God's glory. This

was the great object of their hope, as Christ was the grand object

of their faith.

The word απολογια, which we translate answer, signifies a

defence; from this we have our word apology, which did not

originally signify an excuse for an act, but a defence of that

act. The defences of Christianity by the primitive fathers are

called apologies. See Clarke on Ac 21:1.

With meekness and fear] Several excellent MSS. add the word

αλλα, but, here, and it improves the sense considerably: Be

ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a

reason of the hope that is in you, BUT with meekness and fear. Do

not permit your readiness to answer, nor the confidence you have

in the goodness of your cause, to lead you to answer pertly or

superciliously to any person; defend the truth with all possible

gentleness and fear, lest while you are doing it you should forget

his presence whose cause you support, or say any thing unbecoming

the dignity and holiness of the religion which you have espoused,

or inconsistent with that heavenly temper which the Spirit of your

indwelling Lord must infallibly produce.

Verse 16. Having a good conscience] The testimony of God in

your own soul, that in simplicity and godly sincerity you have

your conversation in the world. See on the term conscience at the

end of Hebrews.

Whereas they speak evil of you] See the same sentiment in

1Pe 2:11, and the note there.

Verse 17. For it is better] See on 1Pe 2:19, 20.

Verse 18. Christ also hath once suffered]

See Clarke on Ro 5:6; "Heb 9:28".

Put to death in the flesh] In his human nature.

But quickened by the Spirit] That very dead body revived by

the power of his Divinity. There are various opinions on the

meaning of this verse, with which I need not trouble the reader,

as I have produced that which is most likely.

Verse 19. By which] Spirit, his own Divine energy and

authority.

He went and preached] By the ministry of Noah, one hundred and

twenty years.

Unto the spirits in prison] The inhabitants of the

antediluvian world, who, having been disobedient, and convicted of

the most flagrant transgressions against God, were sentenced by

his just law to destruction. But their punishment was delayed to

see if they would repent; and the long-suffering of God waited one

hundred and twenty years, which were granted to them for this

purpose; during which time, as criminals tried and convicted, they

are represented as being in prison-detained under the arrest of

Divine justice, which waited either for their repentance or the

expiration of the respite, that the punishment pronounced might be

inflicted. This I have long believed to be the sense of this

difficult passage, and no other that I have seen is so consistent

with the whole scope of the place. That the Spirit of God did

strive with, convict, and reprove the antediluvians, is evident

from Ge 6:3:

My Spirit shall not always strive with man, forasmuch as he is

flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years. And

it was by this Spirit that Noah became a preacher of righteousness,

and condemned that ungodly world, Heb 11:7, who would not

believe till wrath-Divine punishment, came upon them to the

uttermost. The word πνευμασι, spirits, is supposed to render this

view of the subject improbable, because this must mean disembodied

spirits; but this certainly does not follow, for the spirits of

just men made perfect, Heb 12:23,

certainly means righteous men, and men still in the Church

militant; and the Father of spirits, Heb 12:9,

means men still in the body; and the God of the spirits of all

flesh, Nu 16:22; 27:16,

means men not in a disembodied state.

But even on this word there are several various readings; some

of the Greek MSS. read πνευματι, in spirit, and one πνευματι

αγιω, in the Holy Spirit. I have before me one of the first,

if not the very first edition of the Latin Bible; and in it the

verse stands thus: In quo et hiis, qui in carcere erant,

SPIRITUALITER veniens praedicavit; "by which he came spiritually,

and preached to them that were in prison."

In two very ancient MSS. of the Vulgate before me, the clause

is thus: In quo et his qui in carcere erant SPIRITU venient

praedicavit; "in which, coming by the Spirit, he preached to those

who were in prison." This is the reading also in the

Complutensian Polyglot.

Another ancient MS. in my possession has the words nearly as in

the printed copy: In quo et hiis qui in carcere CONCLUSI erant

SPIRITUALITER veniens praedicavit; "in which, coming spiritually,

he preached to those who were SHUT UP in prison."

Another MS., written about A. D. 1370, is the same as the

printed copy.

The common printed Vulgate is different from all these, and

from all the MSS. of the Vulgate which I have seen in reading

spiritibus, "to the spirits."

In my old MS. Bible, which contains the first translation into

English ever made, the clause is the following: In whiche thing

and to hem that weren closid togyder in prison, hi commynge in

Spirit, prechide. The copy from which this translation was taken

evidently read conclusi erdnt, with one of the MSS. quoted above,

as closid togyder proves.

I have quoted all these authorities from the most authentic and

correct copies of the Vulgate, to show that from them there is no

ground to believe that the text speaks of Christ's going to hell

to preach the Gospel to the damned, or of his going to some

feigned place where the souls of the patriarchs were detained, to

whom he preached, and whom he delivered from that place and took

with him to paradise, which the Romish Church holds as an article

of faith.

Though the judicious Calmet holds with his Church this opinion,

yet he cannot consider the text of St. Peter as a proof of it. I

will set down his own words: Le sentiment qui veut que Jesus

Christ soit descendu aux enfers, pour annoncer sa venue aux

anciens patriarches, et pour les tirer de cette espece de prison,

ou ils Pattendoient si long tems, est indubitable; et nous le

regardons comme un article de notre foi: mais on peut douter que

ce soit le sens de Saint Pierre en cet endroit. "The opinion

which states that Jesus Christ descended into hell, to announce

his coming to the ancient patriarchs, and to deliver them from

that species of prison, where they had so long waited for him, is

incontrovertible; and we (the Catholics) consider it as an article

of our faith: but we may doubt whether this be the meaning of St.

Peter in this place."

Some think the whole passage applies to the preaching of the

Gospel to the Gentiles; but the interpretation given above appears

to me, after the fullest consideration, to be the most consistent

and rational, as I have already remarked.

Verse 20. When once the long-suffering of God waited] In

Pirkey Aboth, cap. v. 2, we have these words: "There were ten

generations from Adam to Noah, that the long-suffering of God

might appear; for each of these generations provoked him to anger,

and went on in their iniquity, till at last the deluge came."

Were saved by water.] While the ark was preparing, only Noah's

family believed; these amounted to eight persons; and these only

were saved from the deluge διυοατος, on the water: all the rest

perished in the water; though many of them, while the rains

descended, and the waters daily increased, did undoubtedly humble

themselves before God, call for mercy, and receive it; but as they

had not repented at the preaching of Noah, and the ark was now

closed, and the fountains of the great deep broken up, they lost

their lives, though God might have extended mercy to their souls.

Verse 21. The like figure whereunto, &c.] Dr. Macknight has

translated this verse so as to make the meaning more clear: By

which (water) the antitype baptism (not the putting away of the

filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards

God) now saveth us also, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

He remarks that the relative ω being in the neuter gender, its

antecedent cannot be κιβωτος, the ark, which is feminine, but

υδωρ, water, which is neuter.

There are many difficulties in this verse; but the simple

meaning of the place may be easily apprehended. Noah believed in

God; walked uprightly before him, and found grace in his sight; he

obeyed him in building the ark, and God made it the means of his

salvation from the waters of the deluge. Baptism implies a

consecration and dedication of the soul and body to God, the

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He who is faithful to his baptismal

covenant, taking God through Christ, by the eternal Spirit, for

his portion, is saved here from his sins; and through the

resurrection of Christ from the dead, has the well-grounded hope

of eternal glory. This is all plain; but was it the deluge,

itself, or the ark, or the being saved by that ark from the

deluge, that was the antitype of which St. Peter speaks? Noah and

his family were saved by water; i.e. it was the instrument of

their being saved through the good providence of God. So the

water of baptism, typifying the regenerating influence of the Holy

Spirit, is the means of salvation to all those who receive this

Holy Spirit in its quickening, cleansing efficacy. Now as the

waters of the flood could not have saved Noah and his family, had

they not made use of the ark; so the water of baptism saves no

man, but as it is the means of his getting his heart purified by

the Holy Spirit, and typifying to him that purification. The ark

was not immersed in the water; had it been so they must all have

perished; but it was borne up on the water, and sprinkled with the

rain that fell from heaven. This text, as far as I can see, says

nothing in behalf of immersion in baptism; but is rather, from the

circumstance mentioned above, in favour of sprinkling. In either

case, it is not the sprinkling, washing, or cleansing the body,

that can be of any avail to the salvation of the soul, but the

answer of a good conscience towards God-the internal evidence and

external proof that the soul is purified in the laver of

regeneration, and the person enabled to walk in newness of life.

We are therefore strongly cautioned here, not to rest in the

letter, but to look for the substance.

Verse 22. Who is gone into heaven] Having given the fullest

proof of his resurrection from the dead, and of his having

accomplished the end for which he came into the world.

On the right hand of God] In the place of the highest dignity,

honour, and influence.

The Vulgate, one copy of the Itala, Augustine, Fulgentius,

Cassiodorus, and Bede, have the following remarkable addition

after the above words: Deglutiens mortem, ut vitae aeternae

haeredes efficeremur. "Having abolished (swallowed down) death,

that we might be made heirs of eternal life." But this addition

is found in no Greek copy, nor in any other of the ancient

versions.

Angels and authorities and powers] That is, all creatures and

beings, both in the heavens and in the earth, are put under

subjection to Jesus Christ. He has all power in the heavens and

in the earth. He alone can save; and he alone can destroy. None

need fear who put their trust in him, as he can do whatsoever he

will in behalf of his followers, and has good and evil spirits

under his absolute command. Well may his enemies tremble, while

his friends exult and sing. He can raise the dead, and save to

the uttermost all that come unto the Father through him.

If he have all power, if angels and authorities and powers be

subject to him, then he can do what he will, and employ whom he

will. To raise the dead can be no difficulty to him, because he

has power over all things. He created the world; he can destroy

it, and he can create it anew. We can conceive nothing too

difficult for Omnipotence. This same omnipotent Being is the

friend of man. Why then do we not come to him with confidence,

and expect the utmost salvation of which our souls and bodies are

capable?

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