Monday, 28 April 2014

Imprisoned Spirits, Noah and Baptism


Over the last few months we have been studying the book of 1 Peter at The King's Church Mid-Sussex. It's an amazing letter written by someone who walked and talked with Jesus. 

Last Sunday (27 April) I preached from some verses in chapter 3 where Peter encourages us not to live in fear but to be prepared and ready when anyone asks us about the hope that we have in Jesus. 

If you missed that message you can listen to it here.

Those of you who have been following the series closely may have noticed that we skipped over a chunk of the third chapter that speaks about marriage. This isn't because we don't want to teach about marriage! Not at all. However, last year we spent six weeks looking at marriage, relationships and sexuality and so I would point you to those sermons for a Biblical view on marriage. Specifically, I recommend you listen to this message - 'A high view of marriage'


At the end of 1 Peter 3, we read some verses that can appear slightly confusing. They say this:

18 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. 19 After being made alive, 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 symbolises baptism that now saves you also – not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience towards God. 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.

Michael Eaton wrote that these verses "are famous for their difficulty and famous for the strange ideas that have been read into them!" (1)  

Mark Driscoll wrote "Considering there are nearly 180 different interpretations of 1 Peter 3:18–20, we can confidently say this passage is one of the most difficult in the entire Bible. Even Martin Luther was confounded by this passage, saying “A wonderful text is this, and a more obscure passage perhaps than any other in the New Testament, so that I do not know for a certainty just what Peter means." (2)

I am glad to be in such company as Martin Luther! There a few main question that come up when people read these verses. They tend to be the following.

1. Who are the imprisoned Spirits that Peter talks about in verse 19?
2. How did he proclaim anything to them if they were from 'long ago' (verse 20)?
3. And does baptism actually save us (verse 21)?

Now there are two things I could do at this moment. The first thing is try and answer these questions myself. The second is to point you to others who have already answered some of these questions and who have done so in a more eloquent way than I could achieve.  

So, if you want to find out about Imprisoned Spirits, Noah and Baptism based on 1 Peter 3 v 18-22 I recommend you look at the following.

1. A blog post by Mark Driscoll 'Tough text Thursday'

2. An article by Wayne Grudem ' Christ preaching through Noah'

3. A sermon by John Piper 'Strengthened to Suffer: Christ, Noah, and Baptism' -

Happy reading!!

(1) Preaching through The Bible - 1 Peter (Michael Eaton) A Sovereign World International Book
(2) (Mark Driscoll)