Lectionary Year B
March 12, 2000
I Peter 3:18-22

Step II: Disposition


(JA) Vv.18-19 are set off and indented in the Nestle text suggesting from the outset that this is poetry or some other genre distinguishable from the rest of the pericope. The structure of these verses supports the suggestion: "that" ("hoti") at the beginning functions as quotation mark introducing pre-existing material or perhaps as a causal link to the previous verses.

Metric balance: statement - qualifying interjection - statement/ purpose clause - two more qualifying interjections with "on the one hand/on the other hand" ("men"/"de" clauses) symmetry.

(ST) Concern here that taken alone this part could be understood as "gnostic" dualism] - final statement as prepositional clause.

Is the subject of the poetic/hymnic (?) piece "Christ"... and thereby related to the Christological hymn/midrash of 2:21 with its similar "hoti" clause? (in anticipation of step III?).

This is in fact the third of three Christological sections in the letter (1:18-21; 2:21-25; and here [cf. Goppelt I Peter Commentary p. 247]). In what setting would one in the early church speak poetically or sing about Christ exactly this way?

Do "on behalf of" formulas occur elsewhere too? I.e., are there other places in I Peter which discuss the price of redemption; the blood of the sinless One who "suffers on behalf" to lead to God.

What is the force of the "in which" or "in whom" of v. 19? Who are the "spirits in prison" to whom he ("Christ") having gone preached?

Is this the scriptural support for the "descent into hell" part of the Apostles' Creed? (JA) cf. also 4:6; (FS) Eph. 4:8-10).

(ME) Dating issue: are "creeds" late developments in Christianity?

Vv. 20-22 set off differently but may also contain poetic/hymnic elements (cf. pronominal beginnings at vv. 21 and 22).

Why the particular reference here to the time of Noah and the Flood as "antitype" ("antitypon")? ST - transl. as "archetype"?

(ST) Unmistakable water/baptism link. Probably an important wordplay link in vv. 20-21: "delivered" and "saves" (same root word in Greek).

Unusual and probably key is also the phrase "entreaty into God" in v. 21. Is it a noun version of the technical term verb for ethical (parenetic) appeal (cf. e.g. the root in classical expression at I Thess. 4:1)? Or does it relate to the realm of "legal" or "contract" terminology? (Cf. Bo Reicke)

Does the reference to the "resurrection of Jesus Christ" at the end of v. 21 return the writer/reader/listener to the identity of the "Christ" reference at v. 18 as the resurrected One?

Troubling: is post-resurrection baptism for the church different from baptisms during Jesus' ministry? V. 22 in any case places the whole in the confessional arena of sovereignty and lordship for the "who" which holds these two last verses together (originally there was of course no number "22" between these statements).

Clear intent of "sitting at the right hand of God." Finally, the "being subject" (to him) term is the same technical term root so prominent in ethical statements elsewhere (follow up in steps III and IV?). Is this another potential link to 2:21ff?



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