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.
21. whereunto—The oldest manuscripts read, "which": literally, "which (namely, water, in general; being) the antitype (of the water of the flood) is now saving (the salvation being not yet fully realized by us, compare 1Co 10:1, 2, 5; Jude 5; puts into a state of salvation) us also (two oldest manuscripts read 'you' for 'us': You also, as well as Noah and his party), to wit, baptism." Water saved Noah not of itself, but by sustaining the ark built in faith, resting on God's word: it was to him the sign and mean of a kind of regeneration, of the earth. The flood was for Noah a baptism, as the passage through the Red Sea was for the Israelites; by baptism in the flood he and his family were transferred from the old world to the new: from immediate destruction to lengthened probation; from the companionship of the wicked to communion with God; from the severing of all bonds between the creature and the Creator to the privileges of the covenant: so we by spiritual baptism. As there was a Ham who forfeited the privileges of the covenant, so many now. The antitypical water, namely, baptism, saves you also not of itself, nor the mere material water, but the spiritual thing conjoined with it, repentance and faith, of which it is the sign and seal, as Peter proceeds to explain. Compare the union of the sign and thing signified, Joh 3:5; Eph 5:26; Tit 3:5; Heb 10:22; compare 1Jo 5:6.
not the, &c.—"flesh" bears the emphasis. "Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh" (as is done by a mere water baptism, unaccompanied with the Spirit's baptism, compare Eph 2:11), but of the soul. It is the ark (Christ and His Spirit-filled Church), not the water, which is the instrument of salvation: the water only flowed round the ark; so not the mere water baptism, but the water when accompanied with the Spirit.
answer—Greek, "interrogation"; referring to the questions asked of candidates for baptism; eliciting a confession of faith "toward God" and a renunciation of Satan ([Augustine, The Creed, 4.1]; [Cyprian, Epistles, 7, To Rogatianus]), which, when flowing from "a good conscience," assure one of being "saved." Literally, "a good conscience's interrogation (including the satisfactory answer) toward God." I prefer this to the translation of Wahl, Alford and others, "inquiry of a good conscience after God": not one of the parallels alleged, not even 2Sa 11:7, in the Septuagint, is strictly in point. Recent Byzantine Greek idiom (whereby the term meant: (1) the question; (2) the stipulation; (3) the engagement), easily flowing from the usage of the word as Peter has it, confirms the former translation.
by the resurrection of Jesus—joined with "saves you": In so far as baptism applies to us the power of Christ's resurrection. As Christ's death unto sin is the source of the believer's death unto, and so deliverance from, sin's penalty and power; so His resurrection life is the source of the believer's new spiritual life.