Posts Tagged ‘1 Peter 3’

We are in 1 Peter 3:20-21 today. This is a passage that teaches us about what water baptism means. It talks about,

“. . . when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which, a few, that is, eight persons were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as a pledge to God from a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ . . .”

We learn several things from this passage.

1. Baptism is a water crossing

 We see this is the phrase – “brought safely through water.” We have seen before how going through the Red Sea was a water crossing, which has five parts to it that teaches us about the meaning of water baptism. Today we see that Noah and his family’s crossing of the flood waters is also a picture of water baptism in five parts.

Peter tells us that baptism “corresponds” to Noah’s  going through the waters of judgment to new life on the other side. The word “corresponds” is actually “type.” It is a type of baptism, that is an event that points forward to something in the future, which is its counterpoint. They are interconnected.

And so first we have the story of Noah and the ark:


  • The flood waters represent judgment and death, sent to destroy humanity.
  • But God provided the ark and then sent the waters of  judgment away, saving Noah and his family.

There are five parts to this water crossing: 1. Noah left behind the old corrupt world; 2. Noah was set free from judgment and destruction. He and family passed through the waters unharmed; 3. Noah received the sign of new life/ a dove (think of Jesus’ baptism where the Spirit came as a dove); 4. Noah began a new humanity, it was a new start and a new community; 5. Noah committed to do God’s will – the Noahic covenant found in Genesis 8 and 9.

Well, as Peter says, Christian water baptism corresponds to this.


  • We have the waters of judgment and death.
  • But God provides Jesus to save us from the waters – from Satan and death.

And we have the same five components: 1. We leave our old life in the world behind; 2. We are set free from judgment and destruction; 3. We receive new life, the Holy Spirit; we are born anew; 4. We are part of a new humanity in Christ, the second Adam; 5. We commit to obey God. This is the symbolic meaning of baptism. This is what we are expressing when we are baptized.

Also, Peter points out that –

2. In both cases God provided a means of salvation

First, there is the ark “in which, a few, that is, eight persons were brought safely through water.” God told them to build this and gave them the plan and then God sent the waters away.

Second, Peter is saying, you are saved . . . “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ . . .” God provides Jesus to us, who has overcome Satan and death and all that the deep waters represent. And through his victory we can be saved from all this. 

Finally, Peter mentions –

3. What those who are saved need to do – trust and obey

For Noah it was building the ark and then getting in it when the rains came. This was an expression of his trust in and obedience to God.

For us it is “a pledge to God from a good conscience.” Now this phrase is translated in different ways but this is the one that fits here. The word can mean request, but it can also mean a profession or pledge. It was used in legal settings to to seal contracts.

So baptism is a pledge or promise to God; it is an expression of our faith in and obedience to God. It is covenantal. And this pledge comes “from a good conscience” – that is, sincerely, from the heart, without reservations.

Finally, and lest there be any misunderstanding, Peter says, “baptism . . . now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as a pledge to God from a good conscience.”

It is not, of course, the act of baptism as a physical washing that saves. It is our faith and commitment to obey that connects us to Jesus, who saves. And this faith and commitment is properly expressed in baptism as a public declaration of allegiance to Jesus. In the act of baptism we publicly connect ourselves to Jesus, who is our ark, who saves us from the waters and gives us new life. He has overcome Satan and death and we overcome through him.

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