1 Peter 3:18-22
Focused Text: 1 Peter 3:18-22
Many refer to this portion of Scripture as Christus Victor (meaning “Christ the Victor”). This concept focuses on not only Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross, but also on the cross’ accomplishments especially as seen in His resurrection from the grave. Note how Peter weaves the cross and resurrection events into a beautiful picture of Christus Victor.
First, Peter encloses into a single verse (3:18) the following gospel truths: first, Jesus’ death addressed our sin problem (“Christ also suffered once for sins”); second, He died as our substitute (“the righteous for the unrighteous”); third, His work established our relationship with God (“that he might bring us to God”); and lastly, He secured His death’s benefits by His resurrection from death (“being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit”).
Second, in the verses completing this portion (3:19-22) Peter emphasizes the victory accomplished by Jesus on the cross. This begins with the words “he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison” (3:19). What? Who are these “spirits in prison”? We know they must be part of the fallen angels of Satan’s rebellion (see Colossians 2:13-15). And what did Jesus proclaim? That He was alive once again and that He defeated them all on the cross! Wow!
Peter goes on in 3:22 to express Jesus’ victory at the cross; this time He points to the Savior’s entrance into heaven itself where He took the seat of exaltation beside the Father, and how every level of spirit being now submitted to Him. He won!
It is to miss Peter’s message to get distracted by seeking to identify the spirits and their connection to Noah’s era (3:20), as well as to labor over in what sense “Baptism . . . now saves you” (3:21). Suffice it to say that baptism, as an act of obedience after coming to faith in Jesus, delivers us from violating our conscience by refusing baptism.
Remember: Christus Victor!
Take some time to think or talk through the following questions with a view to applying the passage in your own life.
- In what ways do the truths underlying Christus Victor shape my attitudes toward life in general, as well as when going through difficult times? Read 1 Peter 3:13-17 for the context of those to whom Peter wrote. What can I do to use these truths on a tough day?
- Since Jesus proclaimed His victory over fallen spirit beings (=demons), how does this give me confidence in living? See also 1 Peter 5:6-9 for specifics on living successfully when Satan/demons vex me. What preparation for and response to demonic forces are given in this latter passage? How can I do them?
At our Crossing Campus in Pleasanton, our church family is going through a Sunday sermon series 1 Peter: The Sojourner’s Hope. (Audio sermons available online.)
We sincerely believe that the more we interact with and apply God’s Word, the greater impact it will have on our hearts and in our lives. Therefore, we encourage you to make use of these devotionals in your personal or family devotion times as well as small groups.
You can download the full devotional (16 weeks) on our church homepage or pick one up at our Information Desk on Sundays.