Commented Bible Passages

These Bible meditations are meant as a way of seeking God in silence and prayer in the midst of our daily life. During the course of a day, take a moment to read the Bible passage with the short commentary and to reflect on the questions which follow. Afterwards, a small group of 3 to 10 people can meet to share what they have discovered and perhaps for a time of prayer.

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1 Peter 3:18-22: Hoping for Everyone
Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits—to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him. (1 Peter 3:18–22)

Several times, the first letter of Peter presents the sufferings of Christ as a model for Christians. They should not let themselves be upset or astonished that what happens to Jesus happens to them, too. Rather, they should rejoice that they are united to him in this way.

But in the present passage, the passion of Jesus is not an example; it is unique: “he suffered once for sins.” His sufferings are incomparable; they have the power to bring the guilty into communion with God. Jesus, the righteous one, suffered for the unrighteous. Here, Christians are not with him by following his example of patience and forgiveness, but they are found on the side of the unrighteous, those whom Christ “brings to God.”

Jesus suffered in his human weakness, which he shared with us. But he did not remain in death; he was “made alive in the Spirit.” As a result of his unbreakable unity with God in the Holy Spirit, he lives in God forever.

Christ lived for others, he suffered for others and he is eternally alive for others. In his earthly life, Jesus proclaimed liberation to captives. Now, transcending space and time by his death and resurrection, he announces liberation to those who, by their opposition to God, were locked up in the prison of death. That prison, sometimes called hell, is not necessarily a place, but rather the isolation that makes a life of communion with God and others impossible.

The generation of the flood was considered to be particularly perverse. If the proclamation of the Gospel is for it too, that means there is hope for everyone. The mention of the flood emphasizes both the continuity and the newness of salvation brought by Christ. Traditionally, the flood was understood as a saving action of God: God washed clean the earth, which had been infested by violence. But whereas God saved the righteous man Noah by removing him from the violence of the unrighteous, the righteous man Jesus experienced that violence by dying for the unrighteous. The flood washed away sin by destroying the sinners together with it, whereas baptism brings back into friendship with God all those who trust in him as a result of the resurrection of Christ, which brings a new life to birth.

To be “at God’s right hand” mans that Jesus is not only alive but that he reigns with God. The Risen Christ is not inactive; he constantly goes looking for those who are far from God. He reigns over the angels and other invisible powers, in other words the forces that guarantee the world order, the laws of nature as well as the principles that control psychic, social, political and economic life. Nothing of all that can separate anyone from the love of Christ any longer.

- What encouragements can we find in this presentation of Christ? What hope does it awaken?

- How does knowing that Christ visits every human being in their nights and their prisons change my way of looking at others?

- Is it reasonable to hope for everyone?

Other bible meditations:

Printed from: - 19 August 2019
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