The writer offers in verse 18 the basis for all that follows in
today’s passage—Christ’s suffering that led to resurrection
and new life for us. Verses 19-20 lend themselves to varying
interpretations. Martin Luther indicated that he couldn’t say
with certainty what the writer meant! (Luther, Commentary
on Peter and Jude, p. 166) Verse 19 brings to mind the creedal
tradition of the church in Christ’s preaching to those in prison
and attending to the souls who died in the flood. No one lies
beyond God’s redemption! Perhaps the best application is this:
Christians follow Christ’s example by living upright lives in the
face of difficulty or opposition. We can do this with confidence
because of Christ’s actions.
The righteous (Christ) died for the unrighteous (believers).
Just as the original recipients of these verses are to maintain a life
of holiness in the midst of opposition, so are we. What does that
mean in a world divided over cultural and societal issues, crippled
by fear of threats and terrorism, plagued by fractured communication,
and filled with hate and distrust? We recall verse 14:
“Do not fear what [the world] fear[s] and do not be intimidated.”
And we go back to our sure redemption through Christ’s
self-sacrifice—suffering, death, and resurrection.
Verses 21-22 move from the image of rescue from the Flood
in verse 20 to the image of baptism. As we recall our baptism
we are challenged to remember our salvation and the impact of
that salvation on our lives. Again we are led back to the charge
that new life in Christ calls us to lead lives of holiness in the
midst of opposition!
God, use the remembrance of my baptism to empower me for endurance in the face of life’s anxiety and distress, and help me discover the meaning of a life of holiness. Amen.
The psalm and the Acts reading address the ways in which the concrete faith claims of the community have credence outside that community. They undertake to make the faith credible to outsiders. On the basis of personal testimony, the psalm invites the nations to share in the new life given by God who has saved. Paul makes concrete confessional claims about Jesus in response to the religious inclinations of his Hellenistic listeners. The Gospel and epistle readings focus on the needs of the church community and seek to offer pastoral consolation. The psalm and Acts readings are a “journey out” to the nations and to attentive nonbelievers. The Gospel and epistle readings are a “journey in” to the life and needs of the church.
• Read Psalm 66:8-20. Recall a time when God did not let your feet slip.
• Read Acts 17:22-31. What are your unknown gods? What are your known gods that become idols in your life? How do they affect your relationship with the God who made the world and everything in it?
• Read 1 Peter 3:13-22. When have you suffered while doing good? What did you learn about God? about yourself?
• Read John 14:15-21. How have you experienced the Advocate’s companionship and guidance?
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