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In the NIV and the Berean Study Bible (apparently the most literal Bible translation according to its website) versions, 1 Peter 3:21 reads:

"and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also--not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ"- NIV

"And this water symbolizes the baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body, but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ"- BSB

But as one can recall from the Flood narrative, the waters of the Flood were what killed people. So how could Christians be saved by the mechanism of divine judgement? And how does baptism "judge"?

Am I missing something here or is this a genuine translation issue? In other versions, I could better understand what the verse was trying to say (I.e. just as baptism was the means for a believer to make their pledge towards God, people joining Noah in the ark was their means to make their pledge that they believed in Noah and were willing to follow God):

Examples:

"There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ"- NKJV

"The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ"- KJV

"Baptism, 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"- ESV

"Whereunto baptism being of the like form, now saveth you also: not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the examination of a good conscience towards God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ."- Douay Rheims

  • "He will baptize you in fire" (Matthew 3:11) comes to mind - maybe baptism is supposed to hurt – b a Sep 1 '19 at 10:46
  • The waters saved Noah and his family from the grotesque situation in the antediluvian world. The waters were salvation to them. – Nigel J Sep 1 '19 at 15:56
  • Now I understand. So they were purified from the sins of the antediluvian world because of the Flood? – AngelusVastator Sep 2 '19 at 4:49
  • The safe containment of the ark preserved them from the killing waters. The killing waters destroyed the old world. Once the killing waters abated, there was a new world for Noah and his family to safely dwell in. – Nigel J Sep 5 '19 at 7:51
  • Seems practical when you realise that the Nephilim plagued Noah's world in Genesis 6 – AngelusVastator Sep 5 '19 at 13:36
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How do the waters of Noah's flood correspond to baptism (1 Peter 3:21)?

The whole earth was covered with water. All wicked people were wiped out.

When the earth was flooded people either lived or died. That was the judgement. If you didn't follow what God said and weren't in the ark with Noah, then you died.

When you are baptised in water this "represents" your sin being washed away. The water baptism shows outwardly what a person has chosen inwardly. The earth being flooded in Noah's time revealed who actually followed God and who didn't.

Jesus walked on the water in Matthew 14, Mark 6 and John 6 showing he was above judgment and he is our "ark" which saves us. If we are in him, then we are also, by God's grace, above judgement.

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The correlation is that the water saved those eight physical lives by keeping the ark afloat above the deluge. In this sense, they were "saved by water." It corresponds to baptism because, putting faith in the sacrament whereby we recieve "forgiveness of sins," (Acts 2:38) by we escape the coming judgement, and save our spiritual lives. As with the ark, where only those who boarded the ark were saved, baptism is preached unto all as their escape (Mark 16:16). In each case, the water isn't the thing which saves in itself, but trust (πιστις—faith) in God's means—which happens to be water in both cases.

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1 Peter 3:20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

knowing that salvation is not a work but a matter of faith alone. Noah didn't build an ark and then decide to have faith. Noah had faith and that faith compelled him to build an ark. Just like that ark saved Noah as a result of faith, baptism is the physical sign that you already had a faith in God

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Romans 6:4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.5For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.

Jews were required to perform cleansing rituals, mikvot, after contact with unclean objects, like dead bodies. The text teaches that believers are not to confuse baptism with those cleansing rituals. Rather baptism was an expression of the right response to God's call to come out of Egypt, selfish living. Believers were to be confident that God could save from a risky step, like cutting all ties to the world system, which required serving selfish interest, which was unpleasant, but necessary to survive in that environment.

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