“After being made alive,[j] he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 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, 21 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.[k] It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.“ 1 Peter 3.19-22
This segment of Scripture begins with a very odd concept — that Jesus, after he rose from the grave, went to spirits of the dead (and or imprisoned) and made proclamation to them about, I am assuming here, his suffering, death and resurrection. It suggests that Jesus went to those souls who had died and who did not have a chance to receive him to receive him after their death and to hear the good news. (For more on this visit https://biblehub.com/commentaries/1_peter/3-19.htm)
Jesus had been “made alive”, a miracle in itself, and makes it a priority to go preach to those both among the living and the dead. It’s a crazy concept! Yet verse 20 supports this theory as Peter writes that Jesus went to those who “were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah.” So wherever those souls were kept, Jesus went there!
Peter then ties the water that saved Noah and his family, eight in all, with the water of baptism. This water “symbolizes baptism” (meaning it is a symbol and not salvific in itself) represents salvation. Not by removing dirt from the body, Peter writes, but “the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
Baptism does save you on it’s own nor is it necessary for salvation. (Think thief on the cross to whom Jesus said, “Today you will be with me in paradise.) The baptismal waters symbolizes our salvation from Jesus just as God saved Noah and his family from utter destruction by the flood. We are made clean by receiving and believing upon his sacrifice “who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him,” v.22.
Jesus went to great links to redeem all the people of earth. Not only those living when he was alive, but those who had gone before. People sometimes ask, “How did God save the Jews before Jesus?” This could be one answer, not to mention his own created sacrificial Temple system and the saving of his chosen people.
The important factor here isn’t how Jesus saved us, but that he did and how we respond to his love. Are you ignoring his invitation to have new life? Why would anyone ever do that? If Jesus offers redemption of our bodies and souls, gives us life today and life eternally, then why not receive this good news and share it with the world?
It’s a tremendous gift to all who believe. Have you believed today?
“O Lord God, I am sitting in your creation, near the mountains, by a whispering stream in the cold windy air. But my heart with warm with your grace. My heart is receptive to your message. I thank you for allowing me to find strength and power in your word. To believe what is written and to put it into practice. I thank you for this day that you have given me and for the opportunity to walk another step in your vast world. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen