1 Peter 3:18-22 Heavenly Resolve
Jesus Christ had heavenly resolve. He was willing to suffer for our sins, for everyone’s sins (the righteous and unrighteous.) The thought is that Christians, when they suffer for well-doing, are following in Christ’s steps.1
Jesus used a heavenly resolve to die for our sins so that we could come to God. (1 Peter 3:18)
The death of the Messiah did not destroy Him, and death will not destroy the suffering and persecuted believer.2 This verse shows that Peter saw Christ’s death as much more than an example. Its main purpose was to “bring us to God,” that is, to put us in a right relationship with God.3
Jesus used a heavenly resolve to be made alive in the spirit. (1 Peter 3:18)
When Jesus died physically, He was very alive spiritually. His spirit was given to God on the cross. So although Jesus died, He was still very much alive.
Jesus used a heavenly resolve to judge the angels (1 Peter 3:19)
When Jesus died, He committed His spirit to God. His body died, but His spirit continued. In this passage as well as 2 Peter and Jude, we have an explanation about where Jesus went when He died. He went to where these bad angels were who did this horrible act of disobedience. The place was Tartarus, a prison in hell. This prison is reserved for disobedient angels. Jesus preached to these fallen angels.
Along with other theologians, Arnold Fruchtenbaum notes the background for this event:
They included the fallen angels of Genesis six, and the spirits of the human generation of Noah’s day. As evidence of God’s patience, for 120 years they were preached to while the ark was being built, but they were disobedient. The intermarriage of fallen angels and human women was the Satanic attempt to corrupt the Seed of the Woman of Genesis 3:15 in order to thwart the purpose of the first coming. Now that the Messiah has come and died for sin, it shows that the Satanic attempt to corrupt the Seed of the Woman has failed. This was the proclamation made to the spirits in prison. 4
R. A. Torrey also helps to explain the implications of this difficult passage:
The clear implication of all this is that the spirits to whom Jesus preached when He went to the abode of the dead were the angels that sinned in the days of Noah and were then in prison in consequence of that sin.5
2 Peter 2:4-5
Just as Noah preached to an unregenerate and disbelieving generation, Jesus would go preach to the demons that made that generation disobedient. What did He preach? He proclaimed that He was able to foil Satan’s plan. Although these disobedient angels tried to thwart that plan, Jesus was still able to accomplish it. He did not preach salvation to fallen angels. He preached victory over these fallen angels.
THE MOST DIFFICULT PASSAGE IN THE BIBLE (1 Peter 3:20-21)
Ark –> “Saved In It” –> Water (3:20)
Resurrection –> Pledge –> Baptism (3:21)
The Ark was God’s Vehicle for salvation for the Noah and his family. The ark rose over the waters of judgment to save God’s people – the people who pledged to follow him in faith. This was in contrast to the people who did not pledge to follow God. These people, including angels, were disobedient and were judged.
In the same way, the resurrection is God’s Vehicle for salvation for you and me. The resurrection saves us when we pledge or appeal to God in faith. Baptism corresponds to the waters of judgment.
Water was the judgment in which people died. God judged the earth, and specifically the disobedient angels. God used water to execute His judgment. Jesus, in contrast, by His resurrection, makes this same water a symbol of salvation. Instead of being a death, water becomes a symbol of life for people who pledge to follow Jesus Christ.
According to Peter, baptism is “an appeal to God.” That is, baptism is the cry of faith to God. In that sense and to that degree, it is part of God’s means of salvation.6
Because of Jesus’ heavenly resolve, God gave Him the power over these angels, authorities, and powers. This is similar language to Ephesians 6:10. The point is that Jesus’ patient heavenly resolve helped Him to eventually have complete power over the demons of darkness.
That same heavenly resolve can help you and me today. When I feel powerless, I need to know that Jesus is All-Powerful.
1 Curtis Vaughan, “1 Peter,” in The Teacher’s Bible Commentary, ed. H. Franklin Paschall and Herschel H. Hobbs (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1972), 789.
2 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Messianic Jewish Epistles: Hebrews, James, First Peter, Second Peter, Jude, 1st ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2005), 361.
3 Curtis Vaughan, “1 Peter,” in The Teacher’s Bible Commentary, ed. H. Franklin Paschall and Herschel H. Hobbs (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1972), 789.
4 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology, Rev. ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1994), 1000.
5 R. A. Torrey, Difficulties in the Bible: Alleged Errors and Contradictions (Willow Grove: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing, 1998).
6 John Piper, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: a Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002), 131–132.