1 Peter 3:18
For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
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(18) For Christ also.—This gives a reason for thinking it no such formidable thing to suffer when one is innocent. It has been tried before, and the precedent is encouraging. “It is,” says Archbishop Leighton, “some known ease to the mind, in any distress, to look upon examples of the like or greater distress in present or former times . . . As the example and company of the saints in suffering is very considerable, so that of Christ is more than any other, yea, than all the rest together.” If King Messiah (note that he does not call Him Jesus) could endure to be cut off (but not for Himself), was it for any one who clung to the promises to shrink from the like test?

Hath once suffered.—Even if we retain the verb, it should be suffered, not “hath suffered,” it is all past now; but much the better reading is died, which leaves no doubt about the meaning of “suffering” in 1Peter 3:17. And this He did “once.” In this significant word St. Peter strikes out the main argument of a great portion of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 9:27; Hebrews 10:10). The thought that Christ suffered or died “once” conveys comfort to these Christians for several reasons: (1) because His death has, once for all, taken all terror from an innocent death; (2) because no Christian will have to die more than one death; (3) because one death, so soon over for ever, contains the further idea of happiness and peace beyond. The word “to die” in Greek is often used in a penal sense—“to be put to death”—and is to be so taken here.

For sins.—When the Apostle says “Christ also,” he raises a comparison between Christ and the Christian martyr. Now the parallel does not merely consist in the fact that both “suffer” or are put to death. Both are put to death but once. Both are put to death innocent: the martyr “while well-doing,” Christ acknowledged to be “just.” But this does not exhaust the likeness. The Messiah is said to be put to death “for sins.” Now this expression “for sins” (literally, in connection with sins) is that which is used to mean “as a sin-offering.” (See Romans 8:3; Galatians 1:4; Hebrews 10:6; Hebrews 10:8; Hebrews 10:18; Hebrews 10:26; Hebrews 13:11; 1John 2:2; 1John 4:10.) If, therefore, “Christ also was put to death as a sin-offering,” it is implied that, in a sense, the Christian martyr is also a sin-offering, and (though in an infinitely lower degree) dies, like Him, “just for unjust.” This is a fresh encouragement to St. Peter’s first readers to meet death bravely. In what sense they can be sacrifices for other men’s sins we shall consider presently.

The just for the unjust.—That preposition “for” contains a volume of theology. Though it is not so weak a word as the one which occurs in the phrase “for sins,” it does not express the notion of substitution. (Comp. Note on 1Peter 2:21.) It is simply “on behalf of.” As a substitute for the unjust, we make bold to say that (according to Holy Scripture, and the primitive fathers, and the conscience of man) neither the martyrs nor Christ Himself could have made atonement; “on behalf of” other men, the martyrs could very easily be said to die. It is, perhaps, a pity that the definite article has been inserted in our version. Though, of course, our Lord is the only human being who can in strictness be called just, St. Peter means the word here to cover others besides Him; “Christ also died, a just man on behalf of unjust men.”

That he might bring us to God.—Or, better, bring you; though it cannot be stated peremptorily in this case that such is the reading. (See Note on 1Peter 1:12.) The substantive derived from this verb appears as “access” in Romans 5:2; Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12. A most important doctrinal passage. St. Peter says not a word about the Atonement in its effect upon the mind of the Father towards man. Though there is, no doubt, some deep truth in the phrase which occurs in the second of the Thirty-nine Articles—“suffered . . . to reconcile His Father to us”—it is a side on which the New Testament writers do not much dwell. It is too high a mystery for our minds to reach. The phrase is itself not Scriptural. The New Testament, as has been well pointed out, never even speaks of the reconciliation as mutual. The quarrel is treated as one-sided, so far, at least, as in connection with the Atonement. When, then, our Lord was put to death as a sacrifice for sins—a righteous man on behalf of unrighteous men—St. Peter explains these terms by the expression “in order that He might bring you to God,” not “in order that He might bring God to you.” The voluntary death of a righteous man upon the cross, in the calm calculation that nothing else would so attract sinful men to Himself, and thus to the Father who sent Him (John 12:32—this is the aspect of the Atonement which St. Peter sets forth. Perhaps on another occasion he might have set forth a different aspect; but now he is still thinking of the effect of Christian conduct upon the outer world, and his object is to make the Christians feel that they too can, in their measure, bring the unjust, the persecuting heathens and Jews, to God by innocent and voluntary deaths. Thus their deaths are carrying on the work of reconciliation; and what Christ did for them (“died for you”) they do for others. Well then may they be called blessed when they suffer (1Peter 3:14).

Being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.—The interpreters of this sentence may be classified in two groups, according as they understand the fact referred to in the second clause to be (1) the resurrection of Christ, or (2) something which took place between His death and His resurrection. Now, if we could accept the translation in the English Bible, “by the Spirit,” it would be pretty obvious to accept (1); and we should point to such passages as Romans 1:4; Romans 8:11, to show that the resurrection of Christ was due to the action of the Holy Ghost. It would not be possible to follow Oecumenius, Calvin, Beza, and Leighton, in taking “the flesh” to mean generally the human nature of Christ, and “the Spirit” by which He was quickened to mean His own divine nature; for Christ has a human spirit as truly as a human body and soul, and it would be heresy to call His divine nature His spirit, as though it occupied in Him the position which is occupied in men by the human spirit. But, as a matter of fact, we cannot translate it “quickened by the Spirit.” It is literally, killed indeed in flesh, but quickened in spirit. Now, how can “quickened in spirit” be a description of the Resurrection? It cannot be answered (with Huther) that the “spirit” here means the resurrection body; for though that is indeed a spiritual body, yet it is playing fast and loose with words to identify “spirit” and “spiritual body.” If the resurrection body be only spirit, where is the resurrection? Neither would the antithesis be correct between “flesh” and “spirit,” if by “spirit” is meant the new form of body given at the Resurrection. Or, again, taking “spirit” in its true sense of the inward incorporeal self, could the Resurrection be described as a quickening of it? True, the spirit itself will gain in some way by its re-incorporation (2Corinthians 5:4); but as the spirit has been alive all along, but the flesh has been dead, the contrast would be very forced to express death and resurrection by “killed in flesh, but quickened in spirit,” instead of saying rather “killed in flesh, but soon quickened in the same.” Thus we are driven to (2). As a matter of fact, there is nothing in the words to suggest an interval between the quickening and the killing. They both are parts of the same act, and both are used to explain the word “died.” It is a kind of apology for having used the word death at all (for we have seen that St. Peter’s object is to help the future martyrs to despise death, 1Peter 3:14): “Died, do I say? yes, killed in flesh, it is true, but actually quickened to fresh energies in spirit by that very act of death.” (Comp. our Lord’s charge to the Twelve, Matthew 10:28.) But how can His death be said to have been a quickening of His human spirit? Some take the word to mean simply “preserved alive,” a word almost identical, being used apparently in that sense in Luke 17:33, Acts 7:19. The notion, however, would be too weak here; some energetic action seems required to balance “being killed.” That St. Peter is speaking of something not altogether peculiar to Christ, but common to men, may still be inferred from his saying “Christ also.” The doctrine, then, seems to be (as Bengel and others say) that the spirit, set free from the body, immediately receives new life, as it were, thereby. To purely spiritual realities it becomes alive in a manner which was impossible while it was united to the flesh. The new powers are exemplified in what follows immediately. So long as Christ, so long as any man, is alive in the flesh, he cannot hold converse with spirits as such; but the moment death severs flesh and spirit the spirit can deal with other spirits, which Christ proceeded forth with to do.

3:14-22 We sanctify God before others, when our conduct invites and encourages them to glorify and honour him. What was the ground and reason of their hope? We should be able to defend our religion with meekness, in the fear of God. There is no room for any other fears where this great fear is; it disturbs not. The conscience is good, when it does its office well. That person is in a sad condition on whom sin and suffering meet: sin makes suffering extreme, comfortless, and destructive. Surely it is better to suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing, whatever our natural impatience at times may suggest. The example of Christ is an argument for patience under sufferings. In the case of our Lord's suffering, he that knew no sin, suffered instead of those who knew no righteousness. The blessed end and design of our Lord's sufferings were, to reconcile us to God, and to bring us to eternal glory. He was put to death in respect of his human nature, but was quickened and raised by the power of the Holy Spirit. If Christ could not be freed from sufferings, why should Christians think to be so? God takes exact notice of the means and advantages people in all ages have had. As to the old world, Christ sent his Spirit; gave warning by Noah. But though the patience of God waits long, it will cease at last. And the spirits of disobedient sinners, as soon as they are out of their bodies, are committed to the prison of hell, where those that despised Noah's warning now are, and from whence there is no redemption. Noah's salvation in the ark upon the water, which carried him above the floods, set forth the salvation of all true believers. That temporal salvation by the ark was a type of the eternal salvation of believers by baptism of the Holy Spirit. To prevent mistakes, the apostle declares what he means by saving baptism; not the outward ceremony of washing with water, which, in itself, does no more than put away the filth of the flesh, but that baptism, of which the baptismal water formed the sign. Not the outward ordinance, but when a man, by the regeneration of the Spirit, was enabled to repent and profess faith, and purpose a new life, uprightly, and as in the presence of God. Let us beware that we rest not upon outward forms. Let us learn to look on the ordinances of God spiritually, and to inquire after the spiritual effect and working of them on our consciences. We would willingly have all religion reduced to outward things. But many who were baptized, and constantly attended the ordinances, have remained without Christ, died in their sins, and are now past recovery. Rest not then till thou art cleansed by the Spirit of Christ and the blood of Christ. His resurrection from the dead is that whereby we are assured of purifying and peace.For Christ also hath once suffered for sins - Compare the notes at 1 Peter 2:21. The design of the apostle in the reference to the sufferings of Christ, is evidently to remind them that he suffered as an innocent being, and not for any wrong-doing, and to encourage and comfort them in their sufferings by his example. The reference to his sufferings leads him 1 Peter 3:18-22 into a statement of the various ways in which Christ suffered, and of his ultimate triumph. By his example in his sufferings, and by his final triumph, the apostle would encourage those whom he addressed to bear with patience the sorrows to which their religion exposed them. He assumes that all suffering for adhering to the gospel is the result of well-doing; and for an encouragement in their trials, he refers them to the example of Christ, the highest instance that ever was, or ever will be, both of well-doing, and of suffering on account of it. The expression, "hath once suffered," in the New Testament, means once for all; once, in the sense that it is not to occur again. Compare Hebrews 7:27. The particular point here, however, is not that he once suffered; it is that he had in fact suffered, and that in doing it he had left an example for them to follow.

The just for the unjust - The one who was just, (δίκαιος dikaios,) on account of, or in the place of, those who were unjust, (ὑπὲρ ἀδίκων huper adikōn;) or one who was righteous, on account of those who were wicked. Compare the Romans 5:6 note; 2 Corinthians 5:21 note; Hebrews 9:28 note. The idea on which the apostle would particularly fix their attention was, that he was just or innocent. Thus, he was an example to those who suffered for well-doing.

That he might bring us to God - That his death might be the means of reconciling sinners to God. Compare the notes at John 3:14; John 12:32. It is through that death that mercy is proclaimed to the guilty; it is by that alone that God can be reconciled to people; and the fact that the Son of God loved people, and gave himself a sacrifice for them, enduring such bitter sorrows, is the most powerful appeal which can be made to mankind to induce them to return to God. There is no appeal which can be made to us more powerful than one drawn from the fact that another suffers on our account. We could resist the argument which a father, a mother, or a sister would use to reclaim us from a course of sin; but if we perceive that our conduct involves them in suffering, that fact has a power over us which no mere argument could have.

Being put to death in the flesh - As a man; in his human nature. Compare the notes at Romans 1:3-4. There is evidently a contrast here between "the flesh" in which it is said he was "put to death," and "the Spirit" by which it is said he was "quickened." The words "in the flesh" are clearly designed to denote something that was unique in his death; for it is a departure from the usual method of speaking of death. How singular would it be to say of Isaiah, Paul, or Peter, that they were put to death in the flesh! How obvious would it be to ask, In what other way are people usually put to death? What was there special in their case, which would distinguish their death from the death of others? The use of this phrase would suggest the thought at once, that though, in regard to that which was properly expressed by the phrase, "the flesh," they died, yet that there was something else in respect to which they did not die. Thus, if it were said of a man that he was deprived of his rights as a father, it would be implied that in, other respects he was not deprived of his rights; and this would be especially true if it were added that he continued to enjoy his rights as a neighbor, or as holding an office under the government. The only proper inquiry, then, in this place is, What is fairly implied in the phrase, the flesh? Does it mean simply his body, as distinguished from his human soul? or does it refer to him as a man, as distinguished from some higher nature, over which death had no power Now, that the latter is the meaning seems to me to be apparent, for these reasons:

(1) It is the usual way of denoting the human nature of the Lord Jesus, or of saying that he became in carnate, or was a man, to speak of his being in the flesh. See Romans 1:2; "Made of the seed of David according to the flesh." John 1:14; "and the Word was made flesh." 1 Timothy 3:16; "God was manifest in the flesh." 1 John 4:2; "every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God." 2 John 1:7; "who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh."

(2) so far as appears, the effect of death on the human soul of the Redeemer was the same as in the case of the soul of any other person; in other words, the effect of death in his case was not confined to the mere body or the flesh. Death, with him, was what death is in any other case - the separation of the soul and body, with all the attendant pain of such dissolution. It is not true that his "flesh," as such, died without the ordinary accompaniments of death on the soul, so that it could be said that the one died, and the other was kept alive. The purposes of the atonement required that he should meet death in the usual form; that the great laws which operate everywhere else in regard to dissolution, should exist in his case; nor is there in the Scriptures any intimation that there was, in this respect, anything special in his case. If his soul had been exempt from whatever there is involved in death in relation to the spirit, it is unaccountable that there is no hint on this point in the sacred narrative. But if this be so, then the expression "in the flesh" refers to him as a man, and means, that so far as his human nature was concerned, he died. In another important respect, he did not die. On the meaning of the word "flesh" in the New Testament, see the notes at Romans 1:3.

But quickened - Made alive - ζοωποιηθεὶς zoōpoiētheis. This does not mean "kept alive," but "made alive; recalled to life; reanimated." The word is never used in the sense of maintained alive, or preserved alive. Compare the following places, which are the only ones in which it occurs in the New Testament: John 5:21 (twice); John 6:63; Romans 4:17; Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:36, 1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Timothy 6:13; 1 Peter 3:18; in all which it is rendered "quickened, quicken, quickeneth;" 1 Corinthians 15:22, "be made alive;" 2 Corinthians 3:6, "giveth life;" and Galatians 3:21, "have given life." "Once the word refers to God, as he who giveth life to all creatures, 1 Timothy 6:13; three times it refers to the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit, or of the doctrines of the gospel, John 6:63; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Galatians 3:21; seven times it is used with direct reference to the raising of the dead, John 5:21; Romans 4:17; Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:22, 1 Corinthians 15:36, 1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Peter 3:18." See Biblical Repos., April, 1845, p. 269. See also Passow, and Robinson, Lexicon. The sense, then, cannot be that, in reference to his soul or spirit, he was preserved alive when his body died, but that there was some agency or power restoring him to life, or reanimating him after he was dead.

By the Spirit - According to the common reading in the Greek, this is τῷ Πνεύματι tō Pneumati - with the article the - "the Spirit." Hahn, Tittman, and Griesbach omit the article, and then the reading is, "quickened in spirit;" and thus the reading corresponds with the former expression, "in flesh" (σαρκὶ sarki,) where the article also is lacking. The word "spirit," so far as the mere use of the word is concerned, might refer to his own soul, to his divine nature, or to the Holy Spirit. It is evident:

(1) that it does not refer to his own soul, for:

(a) as we have seen, the reference in the former clause is to his human nature, including all that pertained to him as a man, body and soul;

(b) there was no power in his own spirit, regarded as that pertaining to his human nature, to raise him up from the dead, any more than there is such a power in any other human soul. That power does not belong to a human soul in any of its relations or conditions.

(2) it seems equally clear that this does not refer to the Holy Spirit, or the Third Person of the Trinity, for it may be doubted whether the work of raising the dead is anywhere ascribed to that Spirit. His special province is to enlighten, awaken, convict, convert, and sanctify the soul; to apply the work of redemption to the hearts of people, and to lead them to God. This influence is moral, not physical; an influence accompanying the truth, not the exertion of mere physical power.

(3) it remains, then, that the reference is to his own divine nature - a nature by which he was restored to life after he was crucified; to the Son of God, regarded as the Second Person of the Trinity. This appears, not only from the facts above stated, but also:

(a) from the connection, It is stated that it was in or by this spirit that he went and preached in the days of Noah. But it was not his spirit as a man that did this, for his human soul had then no existence. Yet it seems that he did this personally or directly, and not by the influences of the Holy Spirit, for it is said that "he went and preached." The reference, therefore, cannot be to the Holy Spirit, and the fair conclusion is that it refers to his divine nature.


18. Confirmation of 1Pe 3:17, by the glorious results of Christ's suffering innocently.

For—"Because." That is "better," 1Pe 3:17, means of which we are rendered more like to Christ in death and in life; for His death brought the best issue to Himself and to us [Bengel].

Christ—the Anointed Holy One of God; the Holy suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust.

also—as well as yourselves (1Pe 3:17). Compare 1Pe 2:21; there His suffering was brought forward as an example to us; here, as a proof of the blessedness of suffering for well-doing.

once—for all; never again to suffer. It is "better" for us also once to suffer with Christ, than for ever without Christ We now are suffering our "once"; it will soon be a thing of the past; a bright consolation to the tried.

for sins—as though He had Himself committed them. He exposed Himself to death by His "confession," even as we are called on to "give an answer to him that asketh a reason of our hope." This was "well-doing" in its highest manifestation. As He suffered, "The Just," so we ought willingly to suffer, for righteousness' sake (1Pe 3:14; compare 1Pe 3:12, 17).

that he might bring us to God—together with Himself in His ascension to the right hand of God (1Pe 3:22). He brings us, "the unjust," justified together with Him into heaven. So the result of Christ's death is His drawing men to Him; spiritually now, in our having access into the Holiest, opened by Christ's ascension; literally hereafter. "Bring us," moreover, by the same steps of humiliation and exaltation through which He Himself passed. The several steps of Christ's progress from lowliness to glory are trodden over again by His people in virtue of their oneness with Him (1Pe 4:1-3). "To God," is Greek dative (not the preposition and case), implying that God wishes it [Bengel].

put to death—the means of His bringing us to God.

in the flesh—that is, in respect to the life of flesh and blood.

quickened by the Spirit—The oldest manuscripts omit the Greek article. Translate with the preposition "in," as the antithesis to the previous "in the flesh" requires, "IN spirit," that is, in respect to His Spirit. "Put to death" in the former mode of life; "quickened" in the other. Not that His Spirit ever died and was quickened, or made alive again, but whereas He had lived after the manner of mortal men in the flesh, He began to live a spiritual "resurrection" (1Pe 3:21) life, whereby He has the power to bring us to God. Two ways of explaining 1Pe 3:18, 19, are open to us: (1) "Quickened in Spirit," that is, immediately on His release from the "flesh," the energy of His undying spirit-life was "quickened" by God the Father, into new modes of action, namely, "in the Spirit He went down (as subsequently He went up to heaven, 1Pe 3:22, the same Greek verb) and heralded [not salvation, as Alford, contrary to Scripture, which everywhere represents man's state, whether saved or lost, after death irreversible. Nor is any mention made of the conversion of the spirits in prison. See on [2619]1Pe 3:20. Nor is the phrase here 'preached the Gospel' (evangelizo), but 'heralded' (ekeruxe) or 'preached'; but simply made the announcement of His finished work; so the same Greek in Mr 1:45, 'publish,' confirming Enoch and Noah's testimony, and thereby declaring the virtual condemnation of their unbelief, and the salvation of Noah and believers; a sample of the similar opposite effects of the same work on all unbelievers, and believers, respectively; also a consolation to those whom Peter addresses, in their sufferings at the hands of unbelievers; specially selected for the sake of 'baptism,' its 'antitype' (1Pe 3:21), which, as a seal, marks believers as separated from the rest of the doomed world] to the spirits (His Spirit speaking to the spirits) in prison (in Hades or Sheol, awaiting the judgment, 2Pe 2:4), which were of old disobedient when," &c. (2) The strongest point in favor of (1) is the position of "sometime," that is, of old, connected with "disobedient"; whereas if the preaching or announcing were a thing long past, we should expect "sometime," or of old, to be joined to "went and preached." But this transposition may express that their disobedience preceded His preaching. The Greek participle expresses the reason of His preaching, "inasmuch as they were sometime disobedient" (compare 1Pe 4:6). Also "went" seems to mean a personal going, as in 1Pe 3:22, not merely in spirit. But see the answer below. The objections are "quickened" must refer to Christ's body (compare 1Pe 3:21, end), for as His Spirit never ceased to live, it cannot be said to be "quickened." Compare Joh 5:21; Ro 8:11, and other passages, where "quicken" is used of the bodily resurrection. Also, not His Spirit, but His soul, went to Hades. His Spirit was commended by Him at death to His Father, and was thereupon "in Paradise." The theory—(1) would thus require that His descent to the spirits in prison should be after His resurrection! Compare Eph 4:9, 10, which makes the descent precede the ascent. Also Scripture elsewhere is silent about such a heralding, though possibly Christ's death had immediate effects on the state of both the godly and the ungodly in Hades: the souls of the godly heretofore in comparative confinement, perhaps then having been, as some Fathers thought, translated to God's immediate and heavenly presence; but this cannot be proved from Scripture. Compare however, Joh 3:13; Col 1:18. Prison is always used in a bad sense in Scripture. "Paradise" and "Abraham's bosom," the abode of good spirits in Old Testament times, are separated by a wide gulf from Hell or Hades, and cannot be called "prison." Compare 2Co 12:2, 4, where "paradise" and the "third heaven" correspond. Also, why should the antediluvian unbelievers in particular be selected as the objects of His preaching in Hades? Therefore explain: "Quickened in spirit, in which (as distinguished from in person; the words "in which," that is, in spirit, expressly obviating the objection that "went" implies a personal going) He went (in the person of Noah, "a preacher of righteousness," 2Pe 2:5: Alford's own Note, Eph 2:17, is the best reply to his argument from "went" that a local going to Hades in person is meant. As "He CAME and preached peace" by His Spirit in the apostles and ministers after His death and ascension: so before His incarnation He preached in Spirit through Noah to the antediluvians, Joh 14:18, 28; Ac 26:23. "Christ should show," literally, "announce light to the Gentiles") and preached unto the spirits in prison, that is, the antediluvians, whose bodies indeed seemed free, but their spirits were in prison, shut up in the earth as one great condemned cell (exactly parallel to Isa 24:22, 23 "upon the earth … they shall be gathered together as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison," &c. [just as the fallen angels are judicially regarded as "in chains of darkness," though for a time now at large on the earth, 1Pe 2:4], where 1Pe 3:18 has a plain allusion to the flood, "the windows from on high are open," compare Ge 7:11); from this prison the only way of escape was that preached by Christ in Noah. Christ, who in our times came in the flesh, in the days of Noah preached in Spirit by Noah to the spirits then in prison (Isa 61:1, end, "the Spirit of the Lord God hath sent me to proclaim the opening of the prison to them that are bound"). So in 1Pe 1:11, "the Spirit of Christ" is said to have testified in the prophets. As Christ suffered even to death by enemies, and was afterwards quickened in virtue of His "Spirit" (or divine nature, Ro 1:3, 4; 1Co 15:45), which henceforth acted in its full energy, the first result of which was the raising of His body (1Pe 3:21, end) from the prison of the grave and His soul from Hades; so the same Spirit of Christ enabled Noah, amidst reproach and trials, to preach to the disobedient spirits fast bound in wrath. That Spirit in you can enable you also to suffer patiently now, looking for the resurrection deliverance.

For Christ also hath once suffered; in opposition to the legal sacrifices which were offered from day to day, and from year to year, Hebrews 7:27 9:25; and Hebrews 10:12: and this shows, as the perfection of Christ’s sufferings, (in that they needed not be repeated), so our conformity to him in deliverance from ours; that as Christ underwent death (the principal part of his sufferings) not often, but once only, and then his glory followed; so likewise, if in this life we suffer for righteousness’ sake, according to Christ’s example, there remains no more suffering for us, but we shall be glorified with him, 2 Timothy 2:12.

For sins; i.e. for the expiation of sin. This is another argument for patience under sufferings, that Christ by his sufferings hath taken away the guilt, and freed us from the punishment, of sin; so that our sufferings, though they may be not only by way of trial, but of correction, yet are not properly penal or vindictive.

The just for the unjust; and therefore well may we, who are in ourselves unrighteous, be content to suffer, especially for his cause and truth.

That he might bring us to God; i.e. reconcile us to God, and procure for us access to him with freedom and boldness, Romans 5:2 Ephesians 3:12.

Being put to death in the flesh; his human nature, frequently in Scripture called flesh, as 1 Peter 4:8 John 1:14; and though his soul, as being immortal, did not die, yet he suffered most grievous torments in it, and his body died by the real separation of his soul from it.

But quickened by the Spirit; i.e. his own Godhead, John 2:19 John 10:17,18. The former member of this sentence speaks of the subject of his death, his flesh, which was likewise the subject of his life in his resurrection; this latter speaks of the efficient cause of his life, his own eternal Spirit. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins,.... Not his own, for he committed none, but for the sins of his people; in order to obtain the remission of them, to make reconciliation for them, and to take and put them away, and finish and make an end of them; which sufferings of his, on account of them, were many and great: he suffered much by bearing the griefs, and carrying the sorrows of his people, whereby he became a man of sorrows, and acquainted with griefs, from his cradle to his cross; and from the temptations of Satan, being in all points tempted, as his members are, though without sin; and from the contradiction of sinners against him, in his name, credit, and character, abusing him as the worst of men; and he suffered in his soul, from the wrath of God, and curses of the law, which lay upon him; and in his body, by many buffetings, scourges, wounds, and death itself, even the death of the cross; and which being the finishing part of his sufferings, is chiefly here meant. The Alexandrian copy reads, "died for you"; and the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions read, "died for our sins"; and this he did once, and but once; he died once, and will die no more; he was offered up once, and will be offered up no more; there is no more offering, or sacrifice for sin; the reason is, because his one offering is sufficient to take away sin, which the legal sacrifices were not, and therefore were often offered; and the reason why this his one offering, or once suffering and dying, is sufficient, is, because of his divine nature, or eternal Spirit, by which he offered himself, and gave infinite virtue to his sacrifice and satisfaction: now, this is an argument for suffering patiently; since Christ, the head, has also suffered, and therefore, why not the members? and since he has suffered for their sins, therefore they should not grudge to suffer for his sake; and seeing also their sufferings are but once, in this life only, and as it were but for a moment, and not to be compared with his sufferings for them; and especially when it is considered what follows:

the just for the unjust; Christ, the holy and just one, who is holy in his nature, and righteous in his life and actions, which were entirely conformable to the righteous law of God, and upright and faithful in the discharge of his office, and therefore called God's righteous servant; he suffered, and that not only by unjust men, by the Jews, by Pilate, and the Roman soldiers, but for and in the room and stead of unjust men, sinners, and ungodly, who were destitute of righteousness, and full of all unrighteousness; and since he did, it need not be thought hard, or strange, that sinful men should suffer at the hands of others; and still it should be borne with the greater patience, since Christ not only suffered for them, but since an end is answered by it, as is here suggested:

that he might bring us to God; nigh to God, who, with respect to communion, were afar off from him; and in peace and reconciliation with him, who were enemies to him by wicked works; and that they might have freedom of access, with boldness, unto God, through his precious blood, and the vail of his flesh; and that he might offer them unto God, as the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions render it; as a sacrifice acceptable unto God, presenting them to him unblamable and unreproveable in his sight; that he might bring them into his grace and presence here, and, as the great Captain of their salvation, bring them to him in glory hereafter:

being put to death in the flesh; in the human nature: flesh includes the whole of human nature, both body and soul; for though the body only dies, yet death is the dissolution of the union between them both; and such was Christ's death; for though the union between the two natures continued, yet his body and soul were disunited; his body was left on the cross, and his soul, or Spirit, was commended to God, when his life was taken from the earth, and he was put to death in a violent manner by men:

but quickened by the Spirit; raised from the dead by his divine nature, the Spirit of holiness, the eternal Spirit, by which he offered himself, and by virtue of which, as he had power to lay down his life, so he had power to take it up again; when he was also justified in the Spirit, and all the elect in him. Now, as the enemies of Christ could do no more than put him to death in the flesh, so the enemies of his people can do no more than kill the body, and cannot reach the soul; and as Christ is quickened and raised from the dead, so all his elect are quickened together, and raised with him, representatively, and shall, by virtue of his resurrection, be raised personally, and live also; which is no inconsiderable argument to suffer afflictions patiently, and which is the design of this instance and example of the sufferings, death, and resurrection of Christ.

{18} For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, {19} the just for the unjust, {20} that he might bring us to God, {21} being put to death in the {m} flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

(18) A proof of either of the rules, by the example of Christ himself our chief pattern, who was afflicted not for his own sins (which were none) but for ours, and that according to his Father's decree.

(19) An argument taken by comparison: Christ the just, suffered for us that are unjust and shall it grieve us who are unjust, to suffer for the cause of Christ.

(20) Another argument being partly taken of things coupled together, that is, because Christ brings us to his Father that same way that he went himself, and partly from the cause efficient: that is, because Christ is not only set before us for an example to follow, but also he holds us up by his power in all the difficulties of this life, until he bring us to his Father.

(21) Another argument taken from the happy end of these afflictions, in which Christ also goes before us both in example and power, as one who suffered most grievous torments even to death, although but only in one part of him, that is, in the flesh or man's nature: but yet became conqueror by virtue of his divinity.

(m) As touching his manhood, for his body was dead, and his soul felt the sorrows of death.

1 Peter 3:18. First, mention of the death of Christ by way of giving the reason.

ὅτι καὶ Χριστὸς ἅπαξ περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν ἔπαθε [ἀπέθανε]] ὅτι is connected with the idea immediately preceding, and gives the ground of the κρεῖττον; καὶ Χριστός (as in chap. 1 Peter 2:21) places the sufferings which the Christians have to bear, as ἀγαθοποιοῦντες, side by side with the sufferings of Christ, περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν, so that καί must be taken as referring not to ἔπαθε [ἀπέθανε] only (as is done by most commentators, among them de Wette), but, as the position of the words (περὶ ἁμαρτ. before ἔπαθε) clearly shows, to περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν ἔπαθε [ἀπέθανε] (Wiesinger, Brückner, Schott). Hofmann’s application of it to the whole “statement here with respect to Christ” is open to objection, from the fact that in what follows there are elements introduced which go too far beyond the comparison here instituted. Christ’s sufferings were on account of sin, and such also should be the sufferings of the Christians.[193] This does not preclude the possibility of His sufferings having had a significance different from what theirs can have. This peculiar significance of Christ’s sufferings is marked by δίκαιος ὑπὲρ ἀδίκων, or, as Schott holds, by ἅπαξ. ἅπαξ gives prominence to the fact that in relation to His subsequent life (θανατωθείςζωοποιηθείς) Christ’s suffering took place but once, as in Hebrews 9:27-28 (Hofmann: “once it took place that He died the death He did die, and what followed thereon forms, as what is enduring, a contrast to what passed over but once”); doubtless not without implying the secondary idea, that the sufferings of Christians take place only once also, and come to an end with this life.[194]

περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν, which states yet more indefinitely the purpose of Christ’s sufferings: “on account of sin,” finds a more precise definition in what follows.

δίκαιος ὑπὲρ ἀδίκων, “as the just for the unjust;” comp. Romans 5:6 : ὑπέρ, equivalent to, in commodum, is not in itself, indeed, equal to ἀντί; but the contrast here drawn between δίκαιος and ἀδίκων suggests that in the general relation, the more special one of substitution is implied (Weiss, p. 261); comp. chap. 1 Peter 2:21. The omission of the article is due to the fact that the apostle holds it of importance to mark the character of the one as of the other.

ἵνα ἡμᾶς προσαγάγῃ τῷ Θεῷ] gives the purpose of ἔπαθεν [ἀπέθανε], which latter is more closely defined by that which immediately precedes and follows; προσάγειν does not mean “to sacrifice;” (Luther, Vulg.: ut nos offerret Deo), neither “to reconcile;” but “to bring to,” i.e. “to bring into communion with God,” which goes still beyond the idea of reconciliation; the latter presupposes Christ’s death for us; the former, the life of Him who died for us. Weiss maintains, without sufficient reason (p. 260), that the word here points to the idea of the Christians’ priesthood (chap. 1 Peter 2:5). The verb occurs here only; the substantive προσαγωγή, Romans 5:2; Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12.[195]

θανατωθεὶς μὲν σαρκί, ζωοποιηθεὶς δὲ πνεύματι] This adjunct does not belong to ἔπαθεν (de Wette), but to προσαγάγῃ (Wiesinger); it is subjoined, in order to show prominently how the προσάγειν can take place through Christ; the chief stress is laid on the second member. According to Schott, both participles are to be considered as “an exposition of ἅπαξ;” this assumption is contradicted, on the one hand, by the distance between them and the latter word; and, on the other, that they must necessarily be attached to a verb.

The antithesis between the two members of this sentence is strongly marked by μὲνδέ. The datives σαρκί, πνεύματι, state with reference to what the verbal conceptions θανατωθείς, ζωοποιηθείς holds good; “they serve to mark the sphere to which the general predicate is to be thought of as restricted” (Winer); comp. 1 Corinthians 7:34 : ἁγία καὶ σώματι καὶ πνεύματι; Colossians 2:5 : τῇ σαρκὶ ἄπειμι, τῷ πνεύματι σὺν ὑμῖν εἰμι. Schott explains—somewhat ambiguously—the datives “as general more precise adverbial definitions,” which state “what is of determinative importance in both facts,” and “the nature of the actual condition produced by them.”

πνεύματι is by some understood instrumentally; incorrectly, for σαρκί cannot be taken thus; the two members of the clause correspond so exactly in form, that the dative in the one could not be explained differently from the dative in the other, as Wiesinger, Weiss, von Zezschwitz, Brückner, Schott, and Fronmüller justly acknowledge.

σαρκὶπνεύματι; this antithesis occurs frequently in the N. T.; with reference to the person of Christ, besides in this passage, in Romans 1:3 : κατὰ σάρκακατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης, and 1 Timothy 3:16 : ἐν σαρκὶἐν πνεύματι (cf. also chap. 1 Peter 4:6).

The antithesis of the two conceptions proves it to be erroneous to assign to the one term a sphere different from that of the other, and to suppose σάρξ to mean the body of Christ, and πνεῦμα the Spirit of God. Antithesis clare ostendit quod dicatur in alia quidem sui parte aut vitae ratione mortificatus, in alia autem vivificatus (Flacius). It must be observed that both are here used as general conceptions (Hofmann), without a pronoun to mark them as designations applicable only to Christ; for which reason σάρξ cannot relate exclusively to the human, and πνεῦμα to the divine nature of Christ.[196] As general conceptions (that is, as applicable not to Christ alone, but to human nature generally), σάρξ and πνεῦμα must, however, not be identified with σῶμα and ψυχή.[197] For σάρξ; is that side of human nature in virtue of which man belongs to the earth, is therefore an earthly creature, and accordingly perishable like everything earthly; and πνεῦμα, on the other hand, is that side of his nature by which he belongs to a supernatural sphere of existence, is not a mere creature of earth, and is accordingly destined also to an imperishable existence.[198]

Wiesinger (with whom Zezschwitz agrees) deviates from this interpretation thus far only, that he understands ΠΝΕῦΜΑ, not as belonging to the nature of man, “but as that principle of union with God which is bestowed upon man at regeneration.” This deviation may arise from the reluctance to attribute a πνεῦμα to man as such (also in his sinful condition); as, however, according to Peter, the souls of the departed are ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΑ (1 Peter 3:19), it is thus presupposed that an unregenerate man also possesses a ΠΝΕῦΜΑ during his earthly existence. It must also be observed that ΣΆΡΞ and ΠΝΕῦΜΑ are here not ethical antitheses, but are contrasted with each other as natural distinctions.

θανατωθεὶςζωοποιηθείς] ΘΑΝΑΤΌΩ incorrectly interpreted by Wahl here, as in other passages of the N. T., by capitis damno, morti addico; for although it may sometimes occur in this sense in the classics, still in the N. T. it means only to kill. By θανατωθεὶς σαρκί, then, the apostle says of Christ, that He was put to death in His earthly human nature (which He along with all the rest of mankind possessed[199]), i.e. at the hand of man by the crucifixion.

ζωοποιέω does not mean “to preserve alive,” as several commentators explain, e.g. Bellarmin (de Christo, lib. iv. cap. 13), Hottinger, Steiger, and Güder;—this idea, in the Old as in the New Testament, being expressed by ζωογονεῖν and other words (see Zezschwitz on this passage); but “to make alive” (de Wette, Wiesinger, Weiss, Zezschwitz, Schott, Köhler,[200] Hofmann, and others); it often applies to the raising up of the dead; cf. John 5:21; Romans 4:17; 1 Corinthians 15:22, etc. In this sense alone does ζωοποιηθείς answer the preceding ΘΑΝΑΤΩΘΕΊς. Bengel: vivificatio ex antitheto ad mortificationem resolvi debet. The latter idea assumes the anterior condition to have been one of death, whilst the former—in contradiction to θανατ.—would presuppose one of life. Christ then, according to the apostle, entered into the actual state of death, that is, in so far as the ΣἈΡΞ pertained to Him, so that His life in the flesh came to an end;[201] but from death He was brought back again to life, that is, was raised up, as far as the πνεῦμα pertained to Him, so that the new life was purely pneumatical. But the new life began by His reuniting Himself as πνεῦμα to His σῶμα, so that thus this σῶμα itself became pneumatical.[202]

According to Bengel, with whom Schmid (bibl. Theol.), Lechler, and Fronmüller agree (comp. also Hahn, neutest. Theol. I. 440), ζωοποιηθείς does not refer to the resurrection of Christ, but to His deliverance from the weakness of the flesh, effected by His death, and, based upon this, his transition to a higher life (which was followed by the resurrection).[203] Against this, however, is to be observed: (1) That the going of His πνεῦμα to the Father, connected with His death (Luke 23:46), is, as little as His ascension, spoken of in Scripture as “a becoming quickened;” (2) That as in θανατωθείς the whole man Christ is meant, the same must be the case in ζωοποιηθείς; and (3) That this view is based on what follows, which, however, if rightly interpreted, by no means renders it necessary. Buddeus is therefore entirely right when he says: vivificatio animae corporisque conjunctionem denotat.[204]

[193] The subsequent δίκαιος proves that the sins for which Christ suffered were not His own sins; thus also the believer’s sufferings should not arise out of his own sins, he should not suffer as a κακοποιῶν, but as an ἀγαθοποιῶν. Rejecting this application, Hofmann finds the point of comparison in this, “that we should let the sins which those who do us wrong commit. be to us the cause of sufferings to us” (?).

[194] Oecumenius finds in ἅπαξ an allusion to: τὸ τοῦ παθόντος δραστήριόν τι καὶ δυνατόν, or to the brevity also of the sufferings. Gerhard unites all three elements by saying: ut ostendat (Ap.) passionis Christi brevitatem et perfeetionem sacrifieii et ut doceat Christum non amplius passioni fore obnoxium.—According to Pott, it is also meant to express the contrast to the frequent repetition of the O. T. sacrifices,—an application entirely foreign to the context. According to Schott, ἅπαξ indicates that Christ suffered once for all, so that any further suffering of the same kind is neither necessary nor possible. This is no doubt correct, but it does not follow that Peter—whose words combine the typical and specifically peculiar significance of the sufferings of Christ—should not have had in his mind the application of ἅπαξ to believers, as above stated. It is with ἅπαξ as with περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν; it is impossible for believers to suffer περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν in the same sense that Christ suffered περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν.

[195] It is certainly very doubtful whether the purpose also of the death of Christ, here stated, “admits of application to us,” in that “it should likewise be our object, by the manner in which we endure undeserved sufferings, to bring those by whom we are wronged to bethink themselves, and to lead them to a knowledge of Christ” (Hofmann).

[196] Accordingly, interpretations like those of Calvin are incorrect: caro hic pro externo homine capitur, spiritus pro divina potentia, qua Christus victor a morte emersit; Beza: πνεύματι, i.e. per divinitatem in ipso corporaliter habitantem, equal to ἐκ δυνάμεως Θεοῦ, 2 Corinthians 13:4; Oecumenius: θανατωθεὶς μὲν τῇ φύσει τῆς σαρκός, τούτεστι τῇ ἀνθρωπίνῃ, ἀναστὰς δὲ τῇ δυνάμει τῆς θεότητος. It is equally incorrect, with Weiss (p. 252), to understand σάρξ as meaning “the human nature of Christ” (instead of which he no doubt also says: “the earthly human nature of Christ”), and πνεῦμα as meaning “the pre-existent divine πνεῦμα communicated at baptism to the man Jesus”(which, as “Weiss maintains, constitutes, according to Peter, the divine nature of Christ). Weiss, for the sole purpose of representing the apostle’s doctrinal conception as still in a very undeveloped state, imputes to Peter a view of the person of Christ which—as he himself says—is possessed of “a duality which somewhat endangers the unity of His person.” Nor has Wichelhaus hit the true explanation when he says: “Peter here considers Christ as, on the one hand, a true man in body and soul liable to all suffering …; and, on the other hand, in so far as He was anointed by the Holy Ghost.”

[197] σάρξ and σῶμα are proved to be two distinct conceptions by the fact that after the resurrection man will have a σῶμα, but no σάρξ. The difference between πνεῦμα and ψυχή is clear from passages such as Matthew 6:25. If in other passages πνεῦμα be used as synonymous with ψυχή (comp. e.g. John 12:27 with John 13:21), this is explained by the two-sidedness of the human soul.

[198] To Weiss’s remark, that Peter terms that side of human nature by which man is rendered capable of religious life ψυχή, it must be replied that the ψυχή possesses such capacity for this very reason, that even under the power of the σάρξ it has never ceased to be spiritual. In place of πνεύματι, ψυχῇ would not be at all appropriate here, in the first place, because ψυχή forms no antithesis to σάρξ, and then because the idea of what is celestial, peculiar to πνεῦμα, would not find expression in it.

[199] Schott is wrong in maintaining that the antithesis to what is here said should be, “that Christ was quickened according to His glorified human nature;” the antithesis to “earthly,” however, is not “glorified,” but “celestial.”

[200] “Zur Lehre Ton Christi Höllenfahrt,” in the Zeitschrift für luth. Theol. u. Kirche, by Delitzsch and Guericke, 1864, H. 4.

[201] Schott substantially agrees with this interpretation, but thinks that the above expression does not say decidedly enough that “this was an entire cessation of His life.” However, this “entire” is saying too much, since σαρκί evidently points to a limitation.

[202] Hofmann says, not quite accurately (Schriftbeweis, II. 1, p. 473): “the antithesis θανατ. κ.τ.λ. denotes the end of life in the flesh, and the commencement of life in the spirit.” For spiritual life was in Christ during His life in the flesh, and after it, before His resurrection. At His death He committed His πνεῦμα to His Father; it was therefore in Him before, and continued to lire after His death.—Hofmann remarks correctly, however: “As it was the Christ living in the flesh who, by being put to death, ceased to be any longer in that bodily life in which from His birth He had existed, so His quickening of that which was dead is a restoration of a spiritual nature to a bodily life.”

[203] Bengel: Simul atque per mortificationem involucro infrmitatis in carne solutus erat, statim vitae solvi nesciae virtus modis novis et multis expeditissimis sese exserere coepit. Hanc vivificationem necessario celeriter subsecuta est excitatio corporis ex morte et resurrectio e sepulcro.—Schmid: “The πνεῦμα is a principle which He possessed in a special manner, … this, in consequence of death, is set free from the trammels of sensuous bodily nature, it now enters upon its full rights, and developes in its fulness that ζωή which was in Him.”

[204] Schott explains, indeed, ζωοποιηθείς rightly in itself, but he objects to the identification of ζωοποίησις with ἀνάστασις, and thinks that the former is the fundamental condition of the latter, which is the “side of the resurrection concealed and as yet hidden in the depths”(?). But where does the apostle make any allusion to any such distinction between two sides in the resurrection of Christ?1 Peter 3:18. The advantage of suffering for well-doing is exemplified in the experience of Christ, who gained thereby quickening (1 Peter 3:21) and glory (1 Peter 3:22). How far the pattern applies to the Christian is not clear. Christ suffered once for all according to Hebrews 9:24-28; the Christian suffers for a little (1 Peter 3:10). But does the Christian suffer also for sins? St. Paul and Ignatius speak of themselves as περίψημα περικαθάρματα; compare the value of righteous men for Sodom. But even if Peter contemplated this parallel it is quite subordinate to the main idea, in which (spirit) even to the spirits in prison he went and preached them that disobeyed once upon a time when the patience of God was waiting in the days of Noah while the ark was being fitted out.… The spirits who disobeyed in the days of Noah are the sons of God described in Genesis 6:1-4. But there as in the case of Sarah St. Peter depends on the current tradition in which the original myth has been modified and amplified. This dependence supplies an adequate explanation of the difficulties which have been found here and in 1 Peter 3:21, provided that the plain statement of the preaching in Hades is not prejudged to be impossible. The important points in the tradition as given in the Book of Enoch (vi.–xvi. cf. Jubilees v.) are as follows: the angels who lusted after the daughters of men descended in the days of Jared as his name (Descent) shows. The children of this unlawful union were the Nephilim and the Eliud. They also taught men all evil arts so that they perished appealing to God for justice. At last Enoch was sent to pronounce the sentence of condemnation upon these watchers, who in terror besought him to present a petition to God on their behalf. God refused to grant them peace. They were spirits eternal and immortal wi.o transgressed the line of demarcation between men and angels and disobeyed the law that spiritual beings do not marry and beget children like men. Accordingly they are bound and their children slay one another leaving their disembodied spirits to propagate sin in the world even alter it has been purged by the Flood. But Christians believed that Christ came to seek and to save the lost and the captives; all things are to be subjected to Him. So Peter supplements the tradition which he accepts. For him it was not merely important as connected with the only existing type of the Last Judgment or an alternative explanation of the origin and continuance of sin but also as the greatest proof of the complete victory of Christ over the most obstinate and worst of sinners.—ἐν ᾧ sc. πνεύματι: as a bodiless spirit in the period between the Passion (18) and the Resurrection-Ascension (22).—καί, even to the typical rebels who had sinned past lorgiveness according to pre-Christian notions.—τοῖς ἐν φυλακῇ πνεύμασιν, the spirits in prison, i.e., the angels of Gen. l.c. who were identified with my spirit of Genesis 6:3, and therefore described as having been sent to the earth by God in one form of the legend (Jubilees, l.c.). The name contains also the point of their offending (Enoch summarised above); cf. 2 Peter 2:4; Judges 1:6; and the prophecy of Isaiah 51:1 (which Jesus claimed, Luke 4:8 f.), κηρῦξαι αἰχμαλώτοις ἄφεσιν. These spirits were in ward when Christ preached to them in accordance with God s sentence, bind them in the depths of the earth (Jub. 1 Peter 5:6).—ἐκήρυξεν = εὐηγγελίσατο, cf. Luke 4:8. Before Christ came, they had not heard the Gospel of God’s Reign. Enoch’s mediation failed. But at Christ’s preaching they repented like the men of Nineveh; for it is said that angels subjected themselves to Him (1 Peter 3:22, cf. ὑποτάσσεσθαι, throughout the Epistle.—ἀπειθήσασίν ποτε, their historic disobedience or rebellion is latent in the narrative of Genesis 6. and expounded by Enoch; cf. 1 Peter 2:7)., 1 Peter 3:1, 1 Peter 4:17. In LXX ἀπ commonly = rebel (מרה).—ἀπεξεδέχετομακροθυμία, God’s long-suffering was waiting. The reading ἅπαξ ἐξεδέχετο is attractive, as supplying a reference to the present period of waiting which precedes the second and final Judgment (Romans 2:4; Romans 9:22) The tradition lengthens the period of πάρεσις (Romans 3:25); but St. Peter limits it by adding while the Ark was being fitted out in accordance with Gen. If Adam’s transgression be taken as the origin of sin the long-suffering is still greater. The idea seems to be due to ἐνεθυμήθην, I reflected, of the LXX, which stands for the unworthy anthropomorphism of the Hebrew I repented in Genesis 6:6. Compare for language Jam 5:7; Matthew 24:37 f.; Luke 17:26 f.—εἰς ἣν, sc. entered and.—ὀλίγοι κ.τ.λ. St. Peter hints that here in the typical narrative is the basis of the disciple’s question, εἰ ὀλίγοι οἱ σωζόμενοι (Luke 13:23).—ὀκτὼ ψυχαί so Genesis 7:7; ψ. = persons (of both sexes), cf. Acts 2:41, etc. The usage occurs in Greek of all periods; so נפש in Hebrew and soul in English.—διεσώθησαν διʼ ὕδατος, were brought safe through water. Both local and instrumental meanings of διʼ are contemplated. The former is an obvious summary of the whole narrative; cf. also διὰ τὸ ὕδωρ (Genesis 7:7). The latter is implied in the statement that the water increased and lifted up the ark (Genesis 7:17 f.); though it fits better the antitype. So Josephus (Ant. I., iii. 2) says that “the ark was strong so that from no side was it worsted by the violence of the water and Noah with his household διασῴζεται”. Peter lays stress on the water (rather than the ark as e.g., Hebrews 11) for the sake of the parallel with Baptism (Romans 6:3; cf. St. Paul’s application of the Passage of the Red Sea, 1 Corinthians 10:1 f.).18. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins] As in the previous chapter (1 Peter 2:21-25), so here, the Apostle cannot think of any righteous sufferer needing comfort without thinking also of the righteous Sufferer whom he had known. And here also, as there, though he begins with thinking of Him as an example, he cannot rest in that thought, but passes almost immediately to the higher aspects of that work as sacrificial and atoning. Every word that follows is full of significance—“Christ suffered” (better than “hath suffered,” as representing the sufferings as belonging entirely to the past), once and once for all. The closeness of the parallelism with Hebrews 9:26-28 might almost suggest the inference that St Peter was acquainted with that Epistle, but it admits also of the more probable explanation that both writers represent the current teaching of the Apostolic Church. The precise Greek phrase “for sins” (literally, “concerning, or on account of, sins”) is used in Hebrews 10:6; Hebrews 10:8; Hebrews 10:18; Hebrews 10:26, and in the LXX. of Psalm 40:6, and was almost the technical phrase of the Levitical Code (Leviticus 4:33).

the just for the unjust] The preposition in this case means “on behalf of,” and is that used of the efficacy of Christ’s sufferings in Mark 14:24, John 6:51, 1 Corinthians 5:7, 1 Timothy 2:6. It is used also of our sufferings for Christ (Php 1:29), or for our brother men (Ephesians 3:1; Ephesians 3:13), and therefore does not by itself express the vicarious character of the death of Christ, though it naturally runs up into it. In the emphatic description of Christ as “the Just,” we have an echo of St Peter’s own words in Acts 3:14; in the stress laid on the fact that He, the just, died for the unjust, a like echo of the teaching of St Paul in Romans 5:6.

that he might bring us to God] This, then, from St Peter’s point of view, and not a mere exemption from an infinite penalty, was the end contemplated in the death of Christ. “Access to God,” the right to come boldly to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16), was with him as with St Paul (Romans 5:2; Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12), the final cause of the redemptive work. The verb, it may be noted, is not used elsewhere in this connexion in the New Testament.

being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit] The change of the preposition and the mode of printing “Spirit” both shew that the translators took the second clause as referring to the Holy Spirit, as quickening the human body of Christ in His resurrection from the dead. The carefully balanced contrast between the two clauses shews, however, that this cannot be the meaning, and that we have here an antithesis, like that of Romans 1:3-4, between the “flesh” and the human “spirit” of the man Christ Jesus, like that between the “manifest in the flesh” and “justified in the spirit” of 1 Timothy 3:16. By the “flesh” He was subject to the law of death, but in the very act of dying, His “spirit” was quickened, even prior to the resurrection of His body, into a fresh energy and activity. What was the sphere and what the result of that activity, the next verse informs us.1 Peter 3:18. Ὄτι, because) That is better, by means of which we are rendered more like to Christ, in death and in life: for His passion brought the best issue (result) to Himself, and the best fruit to us.—Χριστὸς, Christ) The Holy One of the holy. These are neatly turned expressions: Christ for sins, the just for the unjust.—ἅπαξ, once only) never again to suffer hereafter. It is better for us also to suffer once with Christ, than for ever without Christ.—περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν, for sins) just as though He Himself had committed them.—ἔπαθε, suffered) and that too in such a way, that His enemies slew Him on account of His confession. But His preaching was not thereby hindered; for He discharged that office, both before the day of His death, and on the day of His death, and immediately after His death.—δίκαιος, the Just) [Who has accomplished good for us in a most pre-eminent way, 1 Peter 3:17.—V. g.] Why should we not suffer on account of justice? 1 Peter 3:14.—ἵνα ἡμᾶς προσαγάῃ, that He might bring us) that He Himself, when He departed to the Father, might justify us, who had been alienated from God, and might bring us to heaven (1 Peter 3:22) together with Himself, by the same steps of humiliation and exaltation which He Himself passed through. From this word as far as ch. 1 Peter 4:6, Peter closely connects together the path or progress of Christ and the faithful (by which path he himself also was following his Lord, according to His prediction, John 13:36), intertwining therewith the unbelief and punishment of the many.—τῷ Θεῷ, to God) who willed it. More is signified by the Dative than if he had used a Preposition [πρὸς Θεὸν], unto God.—θανατωθεὶς, being slain by death) as though He now had no existence. Peter shows us how our προσαγωγὴ, access to God, was effected.—σαρκὶ, in the flesh) The flesh and the spirit do not properly denote the human and divine nature of Christ: comp. ch. 1 Peter 4:6; but either of them, so far as it is the principle and fixed condition of life, and of the working which is in conformity with it, whether it be among mortals, of however righteous a character it may be; or with God, even that which is in glory: Romans 1:4, note. To the former state the soul in the body is more adapted; to the latter, the soul either out of the body, or when united with the glorified and spiritual body: 1 Corinthians 15:44.—ζωοποιηθεὶς, quickened) This process of quickening ought to be explained as antithetical to that of being put to death. As to the rest, Christ having life in Himself, and being Himself the life, neither ceased, nor a second time began, to live in spirit: but no sooner had He by the process of death been released from the infirmity which encompassed Him in the flesh, than immediately (as illustrious divines acknowledge) the energy of His imperishable life began to exert itself in new and most prompt modes of action. Wisely therefore does Hauber refer the burial of our Redeemer in some way to His exaltation, in the Contemplations about the Burial of Jesus Christ, p. 8. Comp. the dissertation of Essenius, p. 10. This quickening, and in connection with it His going and preaching to the spirits, was of necessity quickly followed by the raising of His body from the dead, and His resurrection from the tomb, 1 Peter 3:21. Christ liveth unto God, Romans 6:10. Comp. the phrase according to God, ch. 1 Peter 4:6. The discourse of our Lord, John 6., which Peter had received in a becoming manner, John 6:68, had been fixed in the heart of Peter; and with that portion, and especially John 6:51; John 6:53; John 6:62-63, may be compared that which Peter writes, 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Peter 1:19; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 Peter 3:22; 1 Peter 4:1.Verse 18. - For Christ also hath once suffered for sins; rather, because Christ also once suffered. Two of the oldest manuscripts read "died;" but "suffered" corresponds best with the previous verse. The connection is - It must be better to suffer for well-doing, because Christ himself, the All-innocent One, thus suffered, and they who so suffer are made most like unto him. The apostle refers us again to that transcendent Example which was ever before his eyes (compare the close parallel in Hebrews 9:26-28). Christ suffered once for all (ἅπαξ); so the sufferings of the Christian are soon over" but for a moment." For sins (περί); concerning sins, on account of sins; he, himself sinless, suffered concerning the sins of others. The preposition περί is constantly used in connection with the sin offering in the Septuagint (see Leviticus 6:25, Σφάξουσι τὰ περὶ τῆς ἁμαρτίας; comp. Leviticus 5:8-11, etc.; also Hebrews 10:6, 8, 18, 26). The Just for the unjust; literally, just for unjust. There is no article. The apostle began to speak of the death of Christ, both here and in 1 Peter it., as an example; in both places he seems to be led on by an instinctive feeling that it is scarcely seemly for the Christian to mention that stupendous event without dwelling on its deeper and more mysterious meaning. The preposition used in this clause (ὑπέρ) does not necessarily convey the idea of vicarious suffering, as ἁντί (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; comp. also 1 Timothy 2:6) does; it means simply "in behalf of," leaving the character of the relation undetermined; here the context implies the particular relation of substitution (comp. Romans 5:6; also St. Peter's description of our Lord as "the Just," in Acts 3:14). That he might bring us to God. The Vatican and other manuscripts read "you." St. Peter opens out one of the deeper aspects of the death of Christ. The veil that hid the Holiest was then rent in twain, and believers were invited and encouraged to draw near into the immediate presence of God. The verb used here is προσάγειν; the corresponding substantive (προσαγωγή) occurs in Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12; also in Romans 5:2. In those places it is rendered "access" - we have access to the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ. Being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit. The Greeks words are, Θανατωθεὶς μὲν σαρκὶ ζωοποιηθεὶς δὲ πνεύματι, the article τῷ inserted before πνεύματι in the received text being without authority. We observe the absence of any article or preposition, and the exact balance and correspondence of the two clauses. The two datives must be taken in the same sense; it is impossible to regard one as the dative of the sphere, and the other as the dative of the instrument; both are evidently datives of "the sphere to which a general predicate is to be limited" (Winer, 31:6. a); they limit the extent of the participles (comp. 1 Corinthians 7:35; Colossians 2:5). Thus the literal translation is, "Being put to death in flesh, but quickened in spirit." For the antithesis of "flesh" and "spirit," common in the New Testament, comp. Romans 1:3, 4, "Made of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness;" and 1 Timothy 3:16, "Manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit;" see especially the close parallel in 1 Peter 4:6, "That they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit." It seems to follow, from the opposition of flesh and spirit, and from a comparison of the passages quoted above, that by πνεῦμα in this verse we are to understand, not God the Holy Ghost, but the holy human spirit of Christ. In his flesh he was put to death, but in his spirit he was quickened. When the Lord had said, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit;" when he bowed his head, and gave up the spirit; - then that spirit passed into a new life. So Bengel excellently says, "Christus, vitam in semet ipso habens, et ipse vita, spiritu vivere neque desiit, neque iterum coepit; sed simulatque per mortificationem involucre infirmitatis in carne solutus erat, statim vitae solvi nesciae virtus modis novis et multo expeditissimis sese exserere coepit." Christ, being delivered from the burden of that suffering flesh which he had graciously taken for our salvation, was quickened in his holy human spirit - quickened to new energies, new and blessed activities. So it shall be with those who suffer for well-doing; they may even be put to death in the flesh, but "if we die with him, we shall also live with him." It is far better (πολλῷ μᾶλλον κρεῖσσον) to depart and to be with Christ, to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. They that are Christ's shall, like their Master, be quickened in the spirit; they pass at once into the new life of Paradise; their works follow them thither; it may be, we cannot tell, they will be employed in blessed work for Christ, being made like unto him not only in some degree during their earthly life, but also in the intermediate state of rest and hope. The just for the unjust

But the Greek without the article is more graphic: just for unjust.

In the flesh

The Greek omits the article. Read in flesh, the material form assumed in his incarnation.

In the spirit

Also without the article, in spirit; not as A. V., by the Spirit, meaning the Holy Ghost, but referring to his spiritual, incorporeal life. The words connect themselves with the death-cry on the cross: "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." Huther observes, "Flesh is that side of the man's being by which he belongs to earth, is therefore a creature of earth, and accordingly perishable like everything earthy. Spirit, on the other hand, is that side of his being according to which he belongs to a supernal sphere of being, and is therefore not merely a creature of earth, and is destined to an immortal existence."

Thus we must be careful and not understand spirit here of the Spirit of God, as distinguished from the flesh of Christ, but of the spiritual nature of Christ; "the higher spiritual nature which belonged to the integrity of his humanity" (Cook).

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