1 Peter 3:18-22 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, 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. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
Understanding Scripture can be challenging. It can especially be challenging when certain Scripture has been misinterpreted or analyzed in many fashions over time. These few verses here have several veins of truth that can be explored. Baptism is a significant part of our journey as Christians. Understanding its role is key to affirming and declaring our Salvation in Christ.
Before we can address baptism in the context of what Peter has written, we must interpret what baptism actually is. Baptism is a symbolic picture of the resurrection of Christ as well as our own spiritual renewal. It is literally the submersion of oneself in water as an outward representation and proclamation of the inner submission to Christ as Lord and Savior. It symbolizes Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. When we are under water, it represents the death and burial. When we are raised from the water, it represents His resurrection (Col 2:12). We leave our sin buried and are raised a new creation in Him.
This symbolic expression of the heart is important, but it is not what saves us. Only God can save us through the work of His Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16-17). Verse 20 speaks of Noah’s experience with the Ark. God used water as a symbol to baptize the earth and rid it of evil. The Ark was the vessel used to save Noah and his family.
As we enter verse 21, there can be some confusion if you only read part of it, “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you…”. Peter immediately illustrates that he is not referring to a physical baptism by, “a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God in good conscience, through the resurrection of Christ.” He was speaking of a spiritual truth. When interpreting the Bible we must look to the overwhelming evidence of truth involving the subject matter (Proverbs 11:1, 2 Cor 13:1). We can't allow our incomplete knowledge of one or two verses to direct us to a false doctrine.
Jesus told the repentant thief on the cross that he would be with Him “in paradise”(Luke 23:42-43). The thief was never baptized. 1 John 5:7-8 points to baptism as a testimony of our Salvation. It bears record and witness of our inward spiritual new birth. It is evidence of what’s already occurred. Salvation comes by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus (Romans 10:13).
Be encouraged today. Celebrate baptism as even Jesus Himself did (Matthew 3:13-17). Show your agreement with heavens, report of your decision, but rest assured in your salvation through faith in your declaration and acceptance as Jesus being Lord and Savior over your life.
Titus 3:5 He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
Our next baptism will be on Easter Sunday, April 16th. You can read more about baptism and sign-up to be baptized below.