By JANA HENRY|CONTRIBUTOR
I’m going to assume that if you are reading this post, then you are actually in the process of memorizing I Peter 3:18-22. Let’s pause for a minute and think about that. You have 11 weeks of scripture memory “under your belt,” so to speak, week 12 in the works, with 5 more to go after that. You are almost there!
I remember when I started to memorize Ephesians last year. That daunting feeling that there was no way I would be able to commit to memory such a large amount of scripture. Each week, when I came to a new portion, I thought, “Oh no! This is going to be the one where it all falls apart.” Towards the end though, I was not only retaining but seeing how the Word was speaking to my everyday life. The scriptures were actually speaking to the circumstances of my life. WOW! Now I was eager to reach the end, and when I did, I realized that it wasn’t merely a whole bunch of words that I memorized, but it was the doctrine, the context, the message of Ephesians that I had digested and had informed my way of thinking.
This is why I was so excited about memorizing I Peter this year. It was not so I could add another notch in my memory belt, but I truly wanted to conform my life to Christ and I saw that memorizing God’s Word, especially large chunks of it, were a very edifying means of grace in my life. I hope you are seeing that same fruit in your life as you endeavor to hide I Peter in your heart. I would truly love to hear from you how scripture memory has been speaking to your life thus far. Send me an email, or stop me in the halls at church; I truly want to know. It is so encouraging to me!
Now, on to Week 12.
I Peter 3:18-22, especially verse 20, has been thought by many commentators to be one of the most difficult passages of scripture to interpret. So, I am not going to attempt to interpret, except to say that we should always interpret harder passages in light of the clearer ones. I believe that’s called the analogy of faith. Regarding this passage of scripture, we know the following things to be clear in Scripture:
- The Bible does not teach the doctrine of purgatory (a holding place for those who died in faith, but who need more grace to complete their journey to heaven).
- The Bible does not support the teaching that Jesus went to hell.
- Baptism does not save us. The Bible teaches us that by grace alone, through faith alone, in the risen Lord Jesus Christ alone, we are saved.
Now, having settled that, let’s see how we can get this portion of scripture hidden and sealed in our hearts.
Verse 18-20 is one long sentence with 9 commas. So, let’s take it in 9 sections
(18) For Christ also suffered once for sins, (‘For’ is like ‘because.’ Once is key thought)
the righteous for the unrighteous, (think of the great exchange)
that he might bring us to God, (why he suffered for sins- not a maybe)
being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, (what happened)
(19) in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, (spirit X 2)
(20) because they formerly did not obey,
when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah,
while the ark was being prepared,
in which a few,
were brought safely through water.
There are so many parts to this verse. I found that focusing on the first word of each clause to be helpful for getting it all down and in order. The main clause to remember is “when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah.” Even though the verse isn’t about Noah, that is the word that comes to mind when I think about the verse. As I am reciting from memory, my brain says, “Next is the Noah verse.”
The remaining two verses 21 & 22, are also one sentence
which corresponds to this,
now saves you,
not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience,
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
(22) who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God,
with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
Baptism is the subject in vs 21 and Jesus Christ in vs 22. Again, try memorizing the first word of each part, and then adding what goes after it. It might help you keep this long sentence straight in your head.
Keep up the good work! Until next week…