1 Peter 3:18-4:6 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What does Peter tell us about Christian baptism? See 1 Peter 3:21 (printed below)

The thing that corresponds to that water, namely, baptism, now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but the pledge to God of a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 3:21)

Peter’s reference to the days of Noah and the great flood, the time when “eight souls were brought safely through the water” (verse 20) leads him to a discussion of Christian baptism (verses 21). Peter immediately directs our attention to the spiritual significance of the sacrament of baptism. He indicates that he is not concerned about “the removal of the dirt from the flesh;” the merely external application of the water to the body in the ceremony of baptism. He is speaking about “the pledge to God of a good conscience;” a genuine profession of faith originating out of true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ with a view towards a life of commitment to God. Submission to the sacrament of baptism together with his public profession of faith is a man’s testimony to his faith in Christ and his commitment to Christ. Peter goes on to relate baptism (the spiritual event of which the sacrament is a sign and seal) to the resurrection of Jesus Christ (note Romans 6:1-14 for the apostle Paul’s fuller discussion of this same topic). The New Testament teaching may be summarized as follows: by virtue of your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (publicly expressed by a profession of faith and submission to baptism), you now have a new resurrected heart and nature that shares in Christ’s resurrection life.

2. What does Peter say about Christ in 1 Peter 4:1 (printed below?) What do you think he means?

Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, also fortify yourselves with the same attitude, because he who suffered in the flesh is done with sin. (1 Peter 4:1)

Peter confronts us with the same teaching as does the apostle Paul in Romans 6. By virtue of His death, Christ “is done with sin.” That is to say, Christ was removed from this present world, a world that is dominated by sin; He no longer has to bear it and interact with it. As the apostle Paul states it in Romans 6:10, “The death Christ died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.”

3. Because of our relationship to Christ, how must the Christian live the remainder of his life on earth? See 1 Peter 4:1-2 (printed below)

Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, also fortify yourselves with the same attitude, because he who suffered in the flesh is done with sin. (2) As a result, he does not live the remainder of his earthly life for evil human desires, but for the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1-2)

Because of our spiritual connection to Christ—our union with Christ—in His death and resurrection, we must no longer live the remainder of our earthly life “for evil human desires, but for the will of God.” We are no longer to live for the sake of indulging and satisfying the sinful lusts; rather, we are to live for God. As a believer in Christ, your new pre-occupation and governing principle is obedience to the will of God, as that holy will is defined by His commandments.

4. What was the reaction of the pagan community to the new and godly lifestyle of their Christian neighbors? See 1 Peter 4:4 (printed below)

Engaged in such a lifestyle, they think that it is strange for you not to plunge with them into the same flood of dissolute living, so they malign you. (1 Peter 4:4)

In verse 4 Peter reports the reaction of the pagan community (the neighbors, the friends or former friends, the relatives, the co-workers) to the new and godly lifestyle of these Christian people. The pagan community is astonished; they find it amazing, even strange, that the Christians do not join them as they plunge themselves into “a flood of dissolute living” (i.e.; unrestrained lawlessness, riotousness). Furthermore, the unbelieving community heaped abuse upon these Christian people; because these Christians did not join with their pagan neighbors in their lifestyle of ungodliness and immorality, but rather stood as a witness against them (note Ephesians 5:8-12 and John 15:18-19)

5. What assurance and warning does Peter give in verse 5 (printed below?)

They will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. (1 Peter 4:5)

Peter warns that there is coming a day of accountability. The whole world shall finally give an account of their lives when they stand before the Lord God their Creator and Judge (note Acts 17:31). This warning with regard to the world is at the same time an assurance with regard to the Christian. It is the assurance that he shall be vindicated before the throne of God and receive the honor and reward bestowed by Christ upon those who have been faithful to Him.