1 Peter 3:13-21

We’re reading the first epistle of Peter over two weeks, with brief explanations and applications. The Bible text (NIV 2011) is in blue, so you can tell what bits are Scripture and what bits are my explanations.

13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? Not many people. But some will, of course. That’s one reason you’re a minority group!

14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Just as God said to Isaiah, when he was in the minority; when he was one of the few who had not bowed down to the Canaanite god called Ba’al: “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”

15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. Don’t just live in an attractively different way. That’s just the first step. Be ready to explain why it is you’re different. But do this with gentleness and respect. Not like some Christians, who shall remain nameless, who seem to give the reason for their hope with arrogance and hostility—but do it with gentleness and respect,

16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. Don’t allow the way you present the gospel to reinforce their negative view of you as a troublesome minority. Be gracious.

17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 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. In all of this, don’t forget that righteous suffering as a persecuted minority isn’t an accidental by-product of the gospel. It’s right at the heart of it. Christ, who righteously suffered for you.

19 And 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.

Jesus thus vindicated Noah in the eyes of his society: Noah, the original mocked and marginalised minority. Because it was a minority! In the ark, only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,21 and this water is an antitype—a symbolic precursor—of baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward 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.

So just as Noah and his family were on the winning side, rest assured that you are. Just as Isaiah prevailed against the prophets of Ba’al; just as David was kept safe from all of his enemies, so too will you. And you’ll be vindicated in the eyes of all those who seek to shame you, when Christ returns.

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