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1 Peter 3:8--4:19

Context
Suffering for Doing Good

3:8 Finally, all of you be harmonious, 1  sympathetic, affectionate, compassionate, and humble. 3:9 Do not return evil for evil or insult for insult, but instead bless 2  others 3  because you were called to inherit a blessing. 3:10 For

the one who wants to love life and see good days must keep 4  his tongue from evil and his lips from uttering deceit.

3:11 And he must turn away from evil and do good;

he must seek peace and pursue it.

3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are 5  upon the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer.

But the Lord’s face is against those who do evil. 6 

3:13 For 7  who is going to harm you if you are devoted to what is good? 3:14 But in fact, if you happen to suffer 8  for doing what is right, 9  you are blessed. But do not be terrified of them 10  or be shaken. 11  3:15 But set Christ 12  apart 13  as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess. 14  3:16 Yet do it with courtesy and respect, 15  keeping a good conscience, so that those who slander your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame when they accuse you. 16  3:17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if God wills it, 17  than for doing evil.

3:18 18 Because Christ also suffered 19  once for sins,

the just for the unjust, 20 

to bring you to God,

by being put to death in the flesh

but 21  by being made alive in the spirit. 22 

3:19 In it 23  he went and preached to the spirits in prison, 24 

3:20 after they were disobedient long ago 25  when God patiently waited 26  in the days of Noah as an ark was being constructed. In the ark 27  a few, that is eight souls, were delivered through water. 3:21 And this prefigured baptism, which now saves you 28  – not the washing off of physical dirt 29  but the pledge 30  of a good conscience to God – through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 3:22 who went into heaven and is at the right hand of God 31  with angels and authorities and powers subject to him. 32 

4:1 So, since Christ suffered 33  in the flesh, you also arm yourselves with the same attitude, because the one who has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin, 34  4:2 in that he spends the rest of his time 35  on earth concerned about the will of God and not human desires. 4:3 For the time that has passed was sufficient for you to do what the non-Christians 36  desire. 37  You lived then 38  in debauchery, evil desires, drunkenness, carousing, drinking bouts, 39  and wanton idolatries. 40  4:4 So 41  they are astonished 42  when you do not rush with them into the same flood of wickedness, and they vilify you. 43  4:5 They will face a reckoning before 44  Jesus Christ 45  who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. 4:6 Now it was for this very purpose 46  that the gospel was preached to those who are now dead, 47  so that though 48  they were judged in the flesh 49  by human standards 50  they may live spiritually 51  by God’s standards. 52 

Service, Suffering, and Judgment

4:7 For the culmination of all things is near. So be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of prayer. 53  4:8 Above all keep 54  your love for one another fervent, 55  because love covers a multitude of sins. 56  4:9 Show hospitality 57  to one another without complaining. 4:10 Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another 58  as good stewards of the varied grace of God. 4:11 Whoever speaks, let it be with 59  God’s words. 60  Whoever serves, do so with the strength 61  that God supplies, so that in everything God will be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong 62  the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

4:12 Dear friends, do not be astonished 63  that a trial by fire is occurring among you, 64  as though something strange were happening to you. 4:13 But rejoice in the degree that you have shared in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed 65  you may also rejoice and be glad. 66  4:14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory, 67  who is the Spirit of God, 68  rests 69  on you. 4:15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or thief or criminal or as a troublemaker. 70  4:16 But if you suffer as a Christian, 71  do not be ashamed, but glorify 72  God that you bear such a name. 73  4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house 74  of God. And if it starts with us, what will be the fate 75  of those who are disobedient to the gospel of God? 4:18 And if the righteous are barely saved, what will become of 76  the ungodly and sinners? 77  4:19 So then let those who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator as they do good. 78 

1 tn There is no main verb in this verse (Grk “Finally, all [ ] harmonious”), but it continues the sense of command from the previous paragraphs.

2 tn Grk “not returning…but blessing,” continuing the sense of command from the preceding.

3 tn The direct object “others” is omitted but implied in Greek, and must be supplied to suit English style.

4 tn Grk “stop.”

5 tn The verbs are implied but not expressed in this verse: “the Lord’s eyes [ ] on the righteous and his ears [ ] to their prayer, but his face [ ] against those who do evil.”

6 sn Verses 10-12 are a quotation from Ps 34:12-16.

7 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “For” to indicate that what follows gives an explanation.

8 sn The Greek construction here implies that such suffering was not the norm, even though it could happen, and in fact may well have happened to some of the readers (cf. 4:4, 12-19).

9 tn Grk “because of righteousness.”

10 tn Grk “do not fear their fear,” referring to those who cause their suffering. The phrase “their fear” may mean “what they fear” (subjective genitive), but in a situation of persecution it more likely means “fear of them” (objective genitive).

11 sn A quotation from Isa 8:12.

12 tc Most later mss (P Ï) have θεόν (qeon, “God”) instead of Χριστόν (Criston; “Christ”) here. But Χριστόν is widely supported by excellent and early witnesses (Ì72 א A B C Ψ 33 1739 al latt sy co), and as a less common idiom better explains the rise of the other reading.

13 tn Or “sanctify Christ as Lord.”

14 tn Grk “the hope in you.”

15 tn Grk “but with courtesy and respect,” continuing the command of v. 15. Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.

16 tn Grk “when you are spoken against.”

17 tn Grk “if the will of God should will it.” As in 3:14 the Greek construction here implies that suffering for doing good was not what God normally willed, even though it could happen, and in fact may have happened to some of the readers (cf. 4:4, 12-19).

18 sn This passage has been typeset as poetry because many scholars regard this passage as poetic or hymnic. These terms are used broadly to refer to the genre of writing, not to the content. There are two broad criteria for determining if a passage is poetic or hymnic: “(a) stylistic: a certain rhythmical lilt when the passages are read aloud, the presence of parallelismus membrorum (i.e., an arrangement into couplets), the semblance of some metre, and the presence of rhetorical devices such as alliteration, chiasmus, and antithesis; and (b) linguistic: an unusual vocabulary, particularly the presence of theological terms, which is different from the surrounding context” (P. T. O’Brien, Philippians [NIGTC], 188-89). Classifying a passage as hymnic or poetic is important because understanding this genre can provide keys to interpretation. However, not all scholars agree that the above criteria are present in this passage, so the decision to typeset it as poetry should be viewed as a tentative decision about its genre.

19 tc The variants here are legion (B. M. Metzger produces eight variants in a nice layout of the evidence [TCGNT 622]). Most of these variants involve pronouns, prepositions, or word order changes, but the major problem involves whether Christ “suffered” (ἔπαθεν, epaqen) or “died” (ἀπέθανεν, apeqanen). The witnesses that read ἀπέθανεν are Ì72 א A Cvid Ψ 0285 33 614 630 945 1241 1505 1739; the witnesses that read ἔπαθεν are B L P 81 Ï. Although the external evidence slightly favors ἀπέθανεν, such may be a secondary reading. Intrinsically, ἔπαθεν both fits the context better, especially the verbal link between v. 17 and v. 18 (note in particular the introductory causal ὅτι [{oti, “because”] and the emphatic καί [kai, “also”]), and fits the author’s style (1 Peter never uses ἀποθνῄσκω [apoqnhskw], but uses πάσχω [pascw] 11 other times, more than any other NT book). However, scribes would most likely realize this, and might conform the verb in v. 18 to the author’s typical usage. It may be argued, however, that scribes tended to alter the text in light of more common NT idioms, and did not have as much sensitivity to the literary features in the immediate context. In this instance, it may not be insignificant that the NT collocates ἀποθνῄσκω with ἁμαρτία (Jamartia, “sin”) seven other times, though only once (1 Cor 15:3) with a meaning similar to what would be demanded here, but collocates πάσχω with ἁμαρτία in only one other place, 1 Pet 4:1, where the meaning also detours from what is seen here. All in all, a decision is difficult, but ἔπαθεν is to be preferred slightly.

20 sn The reference to the just suffering for the unjust is an allusion to Isa 53:11-12.

21 tn Greek emphasizes the contrast between these two phrases more than can be easily expressed in English.

22 sn Put to death in the flesh…made alive in the spirit. The contrast of flesh and spirit is not between two parts of Christ’s person (material versus immaterial) but between two broader modes of existence: the realm of unregenerate earthly life versus eternal heavenly life. The reference may not be to the Holy Spirit directly, but indirectly, since the Spirit permeates and characterizes the spiritual mode of existence. However, ExSyn 343 (n. 76) states “It is often objected that the Holy Spirit cannot be in view because the two datives of v 18 (σαρκί, πνεύματι [sarki, pneumati]) would then have a different syntactical force (sphere, means). But if 1 Pet 3:18 is a hymnic or liturgical fragment, this can be no objection because of ‘poetic license’: poetry is replete with examples of grammatical and lexical license, not the least of which is the use of the same morpho-syntactic categories, in parallel lines, with entirely different senses (note, e.g., the dat. expressions in 1 Tim 3:16).”

23 tn Grk “in which.” ExSyn 343 notes: “The antecedent of the RP [relative pronoun] is by no means certain. Some take it to refer to πνεύματι immediately preceding, the meaning of which might be either the Holy Spirit or the spiritual state. Others see the phrase as causal (‘for which reason,’ ‘because of this’), referring back to the entire clause, while still other scholars read the phrase as temporal (if so, it could be with or without an antecedent: ‘on which occasion’ or ‘meanwhile’). None of these options is excluded by syntax. It may be significant, however, that every other time ἐν ᾧ is used in 1 Peter it bears an adverbial/conjunctive force (cf. 1:6; 2:12; 3:16 [here, temporal]; 4:4).” Also, because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.

24 sn And preached to the spirits in prison. The meaning of this preaching and the spirits to whom he preached are much debated. It is commonly understood to be: (1) Christ’s announcement of his victory over evil to the fallen angels who await judgment for their role in leading the Noahic generation into sin; this proclamation occurred sometime between Christ’s death and ascension; or (2) Christ’s preaching of repentance through Noah to the unrighteous humans, now dead and confined in hell, who lived in the days of Noah. The latter is preferred because of the temporal indications in v. 20a and the wider argument of the book. These verses encourage Christians to stand for righteousness and try to influence their contemporaries for the gospel in spite of the suffering that may come to them. All who identify with them and their Savior will be saved from the coming judgment, just as in Noah’s day.

25 tn This reflects a Greek participle, literally “having been disobedient formerly,” that refers to the “spirits” in v. 19. Many translations take this as adjectival describing the spirits (“who had once been disobedient”; cf. NASB, NIV, NKJV, NLT, NRSV, TEV), but the grammatical construction strongly favors an adverbial interpretation describing the time of the preaching, as reflected above.

26 tn Grk “the patience of God waited.”

27 tn Grk “in which,” referring to the ark; the referent (the ark) has been specified in the translation for clarity. Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.

28 tn Grk “which also, [as] an antitype, now saves you, [that is] baptism.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.

29 tn Grk “the removal of the dirt of the flesh,” where flesh refers to the physical make-up of the body with no moral connotations.

30 tn Or “response”; “answer.”

31 tn Grk “who is at the right hand…having gone into heaven.”

32 tn Grk “angels…having been subjected to him.”

33 tc Most mss (א2 A P Ï) add ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν (Juper Jhmwn, “for us”); others (א* 69 1505 pc) add ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν (Juper Jumwn, “for you”), the first hand of א also has ἀποθανόντος (apoqanonto", “since he died”) instead of παθόντος (paqonto", “since he suffered”). But the reading without ὑπὲρ ἡ/ὑμῶν best explains the rise of the other readings, for not only is there confusion as to which pronoun belongs here, but the longer readings, being clarifications, are evidently motivated readings. The shortest reading is found in important and early Alexandrian and Western witnesses (Ì72 B C Ψ 0285 323 1739) and is strongly preferred.

34 sn Has finished with sin. The last sentence in v. 1 may refer to Christ as the one who suffered in the flesh (cf. 2:21, 23; 3:18; 4:1a) and the latter part would then mean, “he has finished dealing with sin.” But it is more likely that it refers to the Christian who suffers unjustly (cf. 2:19-20; 3:14, 17). This shows that he has made a break with sin as vs. 2 describes.

35 tn This verse may give the purpose or result of their “arming” themselves as called for in v. 1b and then the translation would be: “so that you may spend the rest of your time…” But it is better to take it as explanatory of the last phrase in v. 1: what it means to be finished with sin.

36 tn Grk “the Gentiles,” used here of those who are not God’s people.

37 tn Grk “to accomplish the desire of the Gentiles.”

38 tn Grk “having gone along,” referring to the readers’ behavior in time past.

39 tn According to BDAG 857 s.v. πότος the term refers to a social gathering at which wine is served, hence “drinking parties” (cf. TEV, NASB). However, the collocation with the other terms in v. 4 suggests something less sophisticated and more along the lines of wild and frenzied drinking bouts.

40 tn The Greek words here all occur in the plural to describe their common practice in the past.

41 tn Grk “in/by which,” referring to the change of behavior described in v. 3. The unbelievers are astonished by the readers’ moral transformation. Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.

42 tn Or “are surprised, are taken aback.” The same verb occurs in 4:12.

43 tn Grk “blaspheming,” giving the result of their astonishment. Here the target of their “blasphemy/vilification” is not God but the Christian.

44 tn Grk “give an account to.”

45 tn Grk “the one”; the referent (Jesus Christ) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

46 tn Grk “since for this purpose the gospel was preached even to the dead,” referring to the purpose described in the clause to follow in v. 6b.

47 sn In context the phrase those who are dead refers to those now dead who had accepted the gospel while they were still living and had suffered persecution for their faith. Though they “suffered judgment” in this earthly life (i.e., they died, in the midst of physical abuse from the ungodly), they will enjoy life from God in the spiritual, heavenly realm because of the gospel (v. 6b). It clearly does not assume a second chance for conversion offered to unbelievers who had died; why would Peter urge people to suffer in this life for the sake of the gospel if he believed that mercy would be extended to all the dead in the hereafter (cf. 2:7-8; 4:1-5, 12-19)?

48 tn Grk “so that they may be judged…but may live.” Greek emphasizes the contrast between these two clauses more than can be easily expressed in English.

49 tn Or “in their earthly lives,” since “flesh” here denotes the physical, earthly life. The phrase “in the flesh” is retained to preserve the links with 3:18 and 4:1 which use the same wording.

50 tn Grk “according to men.”

51 tn Grk “in spirit,” referring to the heavenly, eternal realm of existence (cf. 3:18).

52 tn Grk “according to God.”

53 tn Grk “for prayers.”

54 tn The primary verb of v. 8 is a participle (“having”) but it continues the sense of command from v. 7.

55 tn Or “constant.”

56 sn The statement of v. 8b, love covers a multitude of sins, is proverbial: It is quoted from Prov 10:12 (cf. Jas 5:20). It speaks of the forbearance that comes with love: Christian love is patient and forgiving toward the offenses of a fellow Christian (Matt 18:21-22; 1 Cor 13:4-7).

57 tn There is no main verb in this verse (“showing hospitality” translates the adjective φιλόξενοι [filoxenoi]), but it continues the sense of command from v. 7.

58 tn Grk “serving it to one another.” The primary verb is a participle but it continues the sense of command from v. 7.

59 tn Grk “if anyone speaks – as God’s words.”

60 tn Or “oracles.”

61 tn Grk “if anyone serves – with strength…”

62 tn Grk “is/are.”

63 tn Or “do not be surprised, taken aback.” The same verb occurs in 4:4.

64 tn Grk “at the burning among you, occurring to you for testing.”

65 tn Grk “in the revelation of his glory.”

66 tn The verb “be glad” is used also in 1:6 and 1:8. The verbs of v. 13b are used together in Matt 5:12 and Rev 19:7.

67 tc Many mss, some of them important and early ([א] A P 33 81 323 945 1241 1739 pm bo), add καὶ δυνάμεως (kai dunamew"; “and of power”) here. The shorter reading is supported by Ì72 B K L Ψ 049 pm). Although the evidence is evenly divided, the longer reading looks to be an explanatory or liturgical expansion on the text and for this reason should be considered secondary.

68 tn Grk “the Spirit of glory and of God.”

69 sn A quotation taken from Isa 11:2.

70 tn The meaning of the Greek word used here is uncertain. It may mean “spy, informer,” “revolutionary,” or “defrauder, embezzler.” But the most likely meaning is “busybody, one who meddles in the affairs of others, troublesome meddler.” The translation given in the text is intended to suggest this general idea.

71 tn The verb is implied by the context but not expressed; Grk “but if as a Christian.”

72 tn These are third-person imperatives in Greek (“if [one of you suffers] as a Christian, let him not be ashamed…let him glorify”), but have been translated as second-person verbs since this is smoother English idiom.

73 tn Grk “in this name.”

74 tn Grk “to begin from the house.”

75 tn Or “the end.”

76 tn Grk “where will he appear.”

77 tn The personal references in v. 18 are generic singulars, but they have been changed to the plural in English to maintain consistency with the plurals of v. 17.

sn A quotation from Prov 11:31 (LXX).

78 tn Grk “in doing good.”



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