Life-Study of 1 Peterby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In the previous message we covered the matters of sanctifying Christ as Lord in our hearts, having a good conscience, Christ dying concerning sins, the righteous on behalf of the unrighteous, and Christ, being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in spirit and going in His enlivened and empowered spirit to make a proclamation to the spirits in prison, to the rebellious angels. In this message we shall pay special attention to what Peter says in verses 20 and 21 concerning baptism.
Verse 20 says, “To those once disobedient, when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were brought safely through by water.” According to verses 19 and 20, Christ made a proclamation to “those once disobedient.” These disobedient ones are different from the eight souls spoken of in this verse. The disobedient ones are angelic beings, not human beings.
In verse 20 Peter says that in the ark prepared by Noah eight souls “were brought safely through by water.” The Greek means to “arrive safe into a place of security through difficulty or danger,” as in Acts 27:44 (Darby). The Greek words rendered “by water” literally mean through water. Water was the medium through which the saving was accomplished. The ark saved Noah and his family from God’s judgment, the destruction of the world by the flood. But the water saved them from the corrupted generation and separated them unto a new age, just as the water of the Red Sea did to the children of Israel (Exo. 14:22, 29; 1 Cor. 10:1-2) and the water of baptism to the New Testament believers (1 Pet. 3:21).
In the Old Testament the waters of the flood at the time of Noah and the waters of the Red Sea both typify baptism. The ark saved Noah and his family from God’s judgment, from the punishment of God’s condemnation that came by the flood. But the water saved them and separated them from that corrupted age and brought them into a new age to begin a new life on a new earth.
In the book of Exodus the children of Israel passed through the Red Sea. The waters of the Red Sea were a judgment upon Pharaoh and his Egyptian army. Pharaoh and his armies were drowned in that water of judgment. But that same water separated the children of Israel from Egypt, separated them from the corrupted world. As Noah and his family were separated from their corrupted generation by the waters of the flood, so the children of Israel were separated from the corrupted world, typified by Egypt, by the waters of the Red Sea.
In the New Testament we also have water, the water of baptism. Baptism saves us from the world and separates us from it.
In verse 21 Peter says, “Which figure also now saves you, baptism, not a putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the appeal of a good conscience unto God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” As we shall see, this verse does not teach baptismal salvation. Therefore, we do not hold the belief that the waters of baptism put away the filth of the flesh. But, according to this verse, baptism is the appeal of a good conscience unto God.
The words “which figure” refer to water in the preceding verse, which is a figure of the water of baptism. This indicates that Noah and his family’s being in the ark and passing through the flood was a type of our going through baptism. The water of the flood delivered them out of the old manner of life into a new environment. In like manner, the water of baptism delivers us out of the inherited vain manner of life into a manner of life in resurrection. This is the main emphasis of this book. Christ’s redemption for us was for this (1:18-19). This was accomplished by His death and accepted and applied to us in baptism by the Spirit through His resurrection. Now our daily walk should be in the Spirit of the resurrected Christ, a walk that lives Christ in resurrection through the life power of His Spirit (Rom. 6:4-5). This is a new and excellent manner of life that glorifies God (1 Pet. 2:12).
Baptism itself does not and cannot put away the filth of our flesh—the dirt of our fallen nature and defilement of fleshly lust. The erroneous teaching concerning baptismal salvation based upon this verse and Mark 16:16 and Acts 22:16 is corrected here. Baptism is only a figure. Its reality is Christ in resurrection as the life-giving Spirit, who applies to us all that Christ has passed through in His crucifixion and resurrection, making these things real in our daily life.
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