Welcome to the FOURTH installment of Isaac Hunter’s Online Bible Study, a systematic analysis of the 66 books of the protestant bible.
This is an online class, organized informally and asynchronously. There are no sign-ups needed, no grades to be got, just a clear analysis of the bible and it’s peculiar and fantastically supernatural message for us from outside the bounds of creation and time itself. So, check back in often as new episodes will arrive each week.
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Reading the Text
We are finishing another book in this episode, so please take some time to read through the section we are focused on, 1 Peter 3-5. This will serve as a good reminder and foundation as we work through the text.
Submissive Wives, Servant Husbands, the Allotted Witness
Peter jumps into controversy (at least modern) by instructing γυναίκες (G1135) “women, wives” to be υποτασσόμεναι (G5293) “subordinate, to obey” their husbands (even those who do not believe). They are instructed to do so for unbelieving men so that they might be won to the faith for the believing wife’s conduct.
This passage is often met with knee-jerk agitation and sometimes ferocious aggression in modern times, with stark opposition from political and sororal organizations. I simply leave this passage as it stands, on it’s own merit. Enough has already been said, and more words here will be of no use in convincing anyone that has not already been convinced (Luke 16:27-31).
Inner Beauty, OT Example, Co-Heirs
Peter goes on to advise women do not dress up only on the outside, but that they also focus on the inner person, being a quiet and gentle spirit the beauty others recognize. This was how Sarah and other women of the Old Testament behaved (and is an example).
Men, and husbands in particular, are not left with a clean slate here. Rather, Peter advises they should συνοικούντες (G4924) “reside together, dwell with” their wives according to, again, γνώσιν (G1108) “full knowledge,” since their wives are considered the ασθενεστέρω (G772) “weaker” of the two.
Here again, this passage is often met with intense and sometimes hostile reaction. I simply leave it to speak for itself. The literal interpretation of the bible is and has been for awhile now, under signification persecution. It will one day (most likely one day soon) be an illegal message. It does not make it less true – but it will make it much more powerful when preached to the lost.
For all those who are critical of the above, let me point out that Peter, in the very next phrase, elevates women to the position of συγκληρονόμοι (G4789) “co-heirs, participants in common” with men concerning grace. So, there is truly no subservient position (other than what has been misaligned and abused by fallen man over the centuries), but the two are joint-heirs in Christ.
For, Peter warns us, if the men do not treat their wives with this privileged position, their prayers may be hindered. What an insight.
Keep in mind, it does not say that the men should treat their wives as such, because they are deserving of it. No. They simply should do so out of the “full knowledge” they have. What is that full knowledge? It is the knowledge of Christ’s sacrifice for all of humanity, in hope that none would perish, but that everyone would have eternal life. This is our example, that we should likewise die for our wives, so that they might live.
One Mind, Suffering for Good, Preaching to the Dead
Does Peter tell us that we should each have our own opinion and our own personal interests?
He states we should be of “one mind.” We should have συμπαθείς (G4835) “compassion, commiserate, fellow-feelings” for each other. Brotherly love. Accommodating.
But, as is typical of men, who are vengeful, and this we should abstain. We should bless one another, for this will remove the desire for others to do us harm.
This is a theme that runs not only throughout the bible, but explicitly through the gospel message. If you suffer for doing good, you are blessed.
Peter tells us we should not be afraid.
In fact, he tells us that in everything we do, we should hold God up as sanctified in our hearts – always ready to give a defense to anyone who asks about the reason for our hope in Christ.
This hope should not be boastful, nor prideful, but should originate from meekness and fear.
In the end, if we focus only on doing good, then our detractors will have nothing negative to say about us except for our faith in the gospel.
Peter reminds us, it’s better to suffer for doing good than to suffer for doing evil. For, this is the way Jesus suffered for us, paying for our sins, the just sacrificed for the unjust, putting us to death in the flesh so that we would then be made alive in the spirit.
Then Peter makes a peculiar remark, sending the speculative theologists into a frenzy over the centuries.
Jesus went to the spirits in prison, preaching to them also, since God had placed them there after his longsuffering in the days of Noah, while the ark was being constructed, but eventually destroyed all life save 8 on the boat.
Who in the world was Peter referring to?
The disembodied spirits of the Nephilim? I doubt this, as they have no chance of salvation, being abominations.
Did he mean the lost human souls who were asleep after drowning?
Or, did he refer to the fallen angels of Genesis 6, who left heaven to cohabitate with earthly women?
Those angels are imprisoned in Tartarus, of which, Mickleson’s entry for Tardtarus states it is the deepest dungeon of Hades, known also as the Abyss.
We find demons begging Jesus not to command them to go into the abyss (Luke 8:31), and we see the lost in Hades (the Abyss) after death (before Judgment).
So, the most likely prison Jesus went to to preach to the lost would be Hades or the Abyss (but not those imprisoned in Tartarus, which was reserved for the Fallen Angels).
This would stand to reason that he preached Christ to all those who died in their sin before Christ died on the cross, though, this is high speculation and a profound mystery.
Baptism, Lusts of the Flesh, the End at Hand
Peter does state the flood is now an antitype which saves us, meaning baptism. Though, as some misunderstand it, it is not the physical act of being dunked that matters as much as the clear conscious before God and Christ, in the image of the resurrection, as Christ ascended into heaven and now sits at the right hand of the Father.
All has been put in subjection to Christ, except for the earth and those who are on it, as these still remain under the control and authority of Satan.
So, in Peter’s estimation, because Christ suffered for us in the flesh, we, in turn, be prepared to do likewise, having escaped sin, we should no longer live by the lusts of the flesh, but by and for the will of God.
We spent our past lost, in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and in all sorts of abominable idolatries. When we turn from such, the world will gossip about and degrade us. But, all who do so will give an account to God in the end (Matthew 12:36, Romans 14:12; Hebrews 4:13).
Here it is again. Peter confirms, Christ preached the gospel to the dead.
There is no greater phrase spoken than this: παντων δε το τελος ηγγικεν “the end of all things is at hand.”
Be Serious, Minister as Gifted, Besetting Trials
Because it is almost over, we should all the more be serious, watchful in our prayers (meaning we must actually devote time consistently to prayer).
All the more so, we should fervently love one another, for this – somehow – covers a multitude of sins (how this actually works I haven’t a clue).
We are to be hospitable without grumbling. And, of the gift we have each received, she should be good stewards of it, using it to minister to each other.
In whatever you say, say it as if it were God speaking through you. If you minister, do so with the ability God has provided.
In whatever you do, let God be glorified (1 Corinthians 10:31; Col 3:23-24).
But, Peter reminds us not to be shocked or embittered by fierce trials that beset us. Rather, we should rejoice in this, taking part in Christ’s suffering. If we do, when judgment day arrives, we will be joyfully associated with Christ.
Suffering, Good Behavior, Christ’s Glory
So, if we are discriminated against because of our faith in Christ, we are blessed. If others speak evil against us because of Christ, they are considered blasphemers. But, through our character and behavior, he is glorified.
Because of this, Peter tells us, we should not be guilty of murder, of theft, of evildoing, or of being a busybody. We should only suffer as Christians for our testimony of Christ (that he died for us and was resurrected). Not because we are social justice warriors, feminists, or any other kind of political activists. There are no causes on earth that we should pursue save Christ crucified. Let there be no argument for detractors other than “he believes in Christ.”
True Leadership, Examples, Crown of Glory
Peter then turns his attention to the leadership of the church (keep in mind, this is the authentic leadership of the biblical church, not the modern pastorate, which is a fabrication derived from the episcopate of the Catholic Church by evangelicalism. True church leadership is derived from Ephesians 4:11-16 and has always been a plurality).
To this group of servants, Peter encourages them to shepherd the flock of God among them, serving to επισκοπούντες (G1983) “oversee, inspect, be diligent and watchful” (note, they are serving not ruling over) and not by αναγκαστώς (G317) “compulsion.” They should not κατακυριεύοντες (G2634) “lord it over” them, but should, instead, become an τύποι (G5179) “example, model” for the flock.
Doing such, when Christ appears, they will receive a crown of glory that will never fade.
Submission, Casting Cares, Roaring Lion
Likewise, Peter states, the young should submit to the old. All should be submissive to each other. We should be clothed in humility (in this alone, we could endeavor for a lifetime and never come close).
We are instructed to cast our cares onto him, for he cares for us (Matthew 6:25-34).
Peter tells us to be sober, vigilant. For, the devil, our adversary and accuser (Revelation 12:10; Job 1:9; 2:5) roams about the earth, roaring like a lion, seeking whom he may devour.
We should, therefore, stand against and resist him in faith, knowing the same sufferings we endure are being experienced by the rest of the church.
But, if you do suffer, God will perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you. We’ve been called by Christ to his eternal glory.
Until the next study.
Answer the following questions below, then submit them using the Assignment Submission form at the bottom of this page.
- Why is the world so against submissive wives and servant husbands? Who is ultimately behind this opposition? Are there any status differences between men and women? How does each rate according to the gospel?
What does the model between man and wife resemble? What is the model between believers? How should we treat each other?
What should we suffer for? What accusation should they bring against us? How should our character and behavior reflect the message of Christ?
Who were the spirits in prison that Jesus preached to? Please support your position with Scripture.
If Peter thought the end of all things was at hand, and should thus be serious and watchful, how much more serious should we be today?
What are signs of true leadership among the church body? How are leaders in the modern religious organizations the opposite of this? Should there be a paid clergy (please support with Scripture)?
The Benefits of Solitude
There is no better example for solitude than John the Baptist, who spent what we can assume the majority of his life in the desert (Luke 1:80) preparing for his future mission – announcing the Christ to the world (Matthew 3:1-6) and ending the record of the Old Testament prophets (Matthew 11:13; Luke 16:16). He reminds many of, and may have had in his own mind as an example, another hermit prophet, Elijah (1 Kings 17:2-6), who, like John, lived in a deserted place for a time, drank only water from a stream and was fed bread and meat twice a day by ravens.
Imagine the implication of an entire life spent in the desert, alone. Most in this day and age cannot remain still and silent for a few moments, let alone an entire hour, day, week, month, year?
There were, likewise, at the time, a number of examples for silent, isolated asceticism in the Jewish faith. Nazirites took on explicit vows from Old Testament times, even to the time of Paul (Numbers 6:2-8; Acts 18:18; 21:24;). The Essenes, an Apocalyptic Jewish sect, were also not only responsible for preserving much of the Old Testament, but also lived an ascetic, monastic lifestyle in the desert landscape.
But, is silence and solitude necessary for the modern Christian?
I would say, look only to Jesus, who, too, spent an inordinate amount of time on his own, specifically for the purpose of prayer (Matthew 3:1-6; 6:1-34; 14:13, 23; 26:36-39; Luke 4:42; 5:16; 6:12; Mark 1:35; 6:31).
If Jesus needed to do this – the Son of God, who was the incarnate, physical manifestation of God – how much more would we need the same?
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Assignment Submission Form
Submit your answers to the Assignment Questions using this handy submission form below. Please include the questions with your answers. All submissions will be personally responded to. Some will be shared in future studies.