1 Peter 3:13-15 (NIV) 13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.
On verses 13-15a: Don’t misunderstand Peter in verse 13. Peter is not naively saying that no one will want to harm you if you are eager to do good. Peter himself witnessed the greatest doer of good in history, Jesus Christ, being repeatedly criticized and ultimately crucified by people intent on harming him. But what Peter is saying to his Christian readers is: remember that the Greatest One is on your side. He will be there to protect you and to keep you from any ultimate harm. Sodo not be afraid of those who want to harm you while you live out your faith and calling. For even if you suffer because of it, you will be more blessed in the end. When you remember that the Greatest One is on your side, or in Peter’s words, when you “set apart Christ as Lord”, you will not give in to fear.
1 Peter 3:15-16 (NIV) 15 …Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
On verses 15b-16: When Peter writes “always be prepared to give an answer”, the Greek word Peter uses for “answer” is the same Greek word used to describe someone giving their statement of defense in a courtroom. Here are three practical ways you can “always be prepared to give an answer” for the hope that you have:
Always be ready to share your testimony. It could be your salvation testimony (how you came to know Christ personally) or another story of how God has worked in your life. You want to be able to share your testimony in a succinct way, ideally in 3-5 minutes. Divide your testimony into 3 parts: (1) what is a problem you have faced in life which others can relate to; (2) describe how you invited Jesus to take control of that problem (e.g. did you pray a prayer in church, in your room, etc.?); and (3) since inviting Jesus in, what difference Jesus has made in helping you overcome that problem.
Read a book on apologetics (defending your faith) that covers common objections to Christianity, like “How could a loving God send people to hell?” or “How do you know God exists?” Some of my favourite books on apologetics include William Lane Craig’s On Guard, Tim Keller’s Reason for God and Lee Strobel’s Case for Christ series. Books on apologetics can reinforce your faith and equip you to answer people’s questions when they arise.
Keep practicing intimacy with Jesus. When you vigilantly guard your time with God alone and your time in church, I believe God will use your time with Him to equip you to speak an encouraging word to others and give relevant answers to the questions they are asking.
Peter’s reminder to share your answer with gentleness and respect is a good one, for it’s not just what you say but how you say it that matters when sharing with those who don’t yet believe.
1 Peter 3:17-18 (NIV) 17 It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.
On verses 17-18a: Sometimes it is God’s will for us to suffer for doing, not because God enjoys seeing His children suffer, but because it is part of God’s plan to bring about an even greater good. The death of God’s own Son Jesus is the greatest and clearest example of how God allowed His child to suffer much in order to accomplish a greater purpose: the forgiveness of our sins and the salvation of all God’s children.
1 Peter 3:18-20 (NIV) 18 …He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, 19 through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison 20 who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.
On verses 18-20a: What does Peter mean by verses 19-20? Is Peter saying that after Jesus rose from the dead he went back in time to preach to people in prison during Noah’s time? Not exactly. What Peter appears to be saying is that just as the Spirit of Christ was working in the Old Testament prophets (see 1 Peter 1:11) to predict Jesus’ future sufferings and subsequent glory, so the Spirit of Christ was working in Noah to preach to the people in Noah’s day about turning back to God. It was through the Spirit of Christ that Noah became “a preacher of righteousness” (see 2 Peter 2:5).
What can we learn from this? God’s Spirit has been moving from the very beginning, working in and through His people to preach His Word and to call people to return to Him. So when you hear your pastor or others preaching, be open to the fact that God works in and through imperfect people to preach His life-changing Word and to lead people to Himself.
1 Peter 3:21 (NIV) 20 …In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also–not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
On verses 20b-21: How are we to understand these verses? First off, how were Noah and his family “saved through water” (v20)? Weren’t they saved through the ark? Here is how I understand verses 20-21. In the story of Noah’s ark in Genesis 6, the water from the flood is the sign of God’s promise, God’s power, and God’s plan. When Noah thinks about the flood waters, when he later sees the flood waters, and feels the flood waters on his body, he is reminded in a very tangible and powerful way of God’s promise, God’s power and God’s plan to save humankind. It was through trusting in God’s promise, God’s power, and God’s plan represented by the water that Noah and his family were saved.
Similarly, the water you enter when you get baptized is a physical expression of God’s promise, God’s power and God’s plan to save you from your sins “by the resurrection of Jesus Christ”. When we enter that water in baptism, we are reminded in a very tangible and powerful way of the salvation God made possible through Jesus.
So baptism is incredibly important. Baptism is how we show that we really trust in God’s promise, God’s power and God’s plan to save us. It is how we show that our consciences have been cleansed and made new by Jesus’ blood. Believing in Jesus and getting baptized go hand in hand.If you say you believe in Jesus but you keep rejecting baptism, you need to question whether you really believe or possess the salvation Jesus made available through His death and resurrection. As Mark 16:16 says, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
1 Peter 3:22 (NIV) 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand–with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.
On verse 22: Jesus suffered more than anyone has ever suffered. Now Jesus is exalted higher than anyone who has ever been exalted. Sitting at God’s right hand, He is the name above every name with authority over everything in heaven and earth. Once a suffering servant, Jesus is now the King of kings. In the kingdom of God, when you suffer as His servant, blessing and exaltation will follow.
King Jesus, You are the Name above every name and the King above every king. May I always be ready to give the reason for why I hope in You. May Your Spirit work in me to preach Your Word to those around me with gentleness, respect, power and authority. And while at times some may ridicule or reject me for preaching about Jesus, thank You that there will also be those who receive You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!