1. 3:13-17. In what spirit should the Christian:
(a) face suffering ‘for what is right’, and
(b) explain his faith and hope to a hostile questioner?
2. 3:18-4:3. What were the nature, purpose and issue of Christ’s suffering?
How, in consequence, ought we to face, and to spend, the rest of our earthly lives?
- 3:14. Such suffering should be regarded not as one’s unhappy lot, but as an added privilege. Cf. 4:13, 14. It means one is the object of special divine favour. Cf. Luke 1:48. If God so wills it (3:17), such suffering must be for some good reason and purpose. See 3:18; 4:1.
- 3:18b-20. After his death on the cross Christ was at once able, as one alive in the spirit, to go and proclaim his triumph to the rebellious and imprisoned evil spirits who had involved men in sin and judgment.
- 3:20. In the ark Noah and his family were ‘saved through water’, i.e., brought safely through the judgment of God that fell on a sinful world.
- 4:6. This is best understood as meaning that this is why the gospel was preached during their earthly lives to those believers who are now dead.