Preaching Series on 1 Peter (3 of 5)

Third in a 5-week Narrative Lectionary preaching series on 1 Peter

Man contemplating diverging pathways
Photo by Vladislav Babienko on Unsplash; licensed under CC0.

July 24, 2022

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Commentary on 1 Peter 3:13-22

Week 3 (July 24, 2022)

Preaching text: 1 Peter 3:13–22; accompanying text: Matthew 5:3-10

This passage is a springboard into delineating the practices of Christian diaspora people. It focuses on the actions and deeds of Christian members regardless of the ethical habits of their larger environments. Within this section and also beyond it, religious practices of baptism (1 Peter 3:21), preaching (1:12, 25; 4:11; see also 3:10), prayer (3:7; 4:7), and others are highlighted.

This section sketches the moral field of believers. It juxtaposes good actions (1 Peter 3:6, 10-11, 13, 16-17, 21) versus bad actions (3:9-13, 17). It distills conceptions of good and evil to probe habits in the maintenance or deterioration of Christian fellowship. Read each occurrence of the word “you” in its second-personal plural Greek form. Readers should avoid the interpretive misstep of understanding the letter as addressed to individual religious actors. In this section, 1 Peter is addressing the collective “you all.”

Thus, when it appeals to baptism as a standard practice in 3:21, it is conceiving of it as a community experience. It depicts baptism as vital experience in the flourishing of the collective. When the letter declares God “has given us a new birth” (1 Peter 1:3, 23; 2:2; 3:20–22), or “you have been born anew” (1 Peter 1:18), or “commit…to a trustworthy Creator” (4:19), it situates baptism as a feature in the Christian pattern of life. 

Baptism, in the life of Diaspora Christianity, represents an active, public proclamation of the community’s new orientation. The reference to baptism as a saving act (ho … antitypon) in 3:21 invokes the story of Noah. It recalls matters of water, salvation and mindfulness of God as found in other biblical locations such as Hebrews 10:22.

Read commentary on Week 4 (July 31, 2022).