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I am looking for a contextual answer on the meaning of v. 21, particularly what is the object that "Saves" (is it the figure of the flood? the obedience in the figure of the flood? is it baptism it self? is it the resurrection of Jesus alone?). Also in this statement Peter is making as a whole, what is the meaning of the context concerning the conscience and the connection to Baptism and the flood of Noah's parallels?

1Pe 3:15  But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:  1Pe 3:16  Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.  1Pe 3:17  For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.  1Pe 3:18  For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:  1Pe 3:19  By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;  1Pe 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.  1Pe 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:  1Pe 3:22  Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him. 

Thanks for the thoughts and efforts!

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    Just as the waters of the Flood physically obliterated all sinful humans, so also the waters of baptism obliterate all that which is sinful within humans, not by actual drowning, as with the Flood, but by cleansing. What type of cleansing ? Spiritual, rather than physical. The immersions and emersions represent Christ's descent into the grave, and His eventual resurrection from the dead. – Lucian Sep 16 '19 at 2:27
  • Is the object which saves water? – Lowther Sep 16 '19 at 3:05
  • To the extent to which it washes the soul as well, and not just merely the body, yes. – Lucian Sep 16 '19 at 3:08
  • is this not refuted in the caveat of " not the putting away of the filth of the flesh" ? – Lowther Sep 16 '19 at 3:11
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    Disclaimer is "I don't know", but it is a passage I've read countless times along with Peter 1&2 which are so powerful. I do wonder if the appeal of a good conscience is meant more like what in English would be a "sober and heart-centered appeal to God", after much reflection. Maybe the harsh reality of baptism in a locale of Christian Persecution helps: baptism isn't a whim. The water means you have decided that Christ is worth death. There is no turning back at that point. The baptized may not make it a week afterward – Richard7 Sep 17 '19 at 21:17
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Introduction

Water Baptism

When we are baptised, we are submerged into water (symbolising our burial with Christ) in the name of the Trinity and then we are raised up (symbolising our resurrection with Christ). (cf. Romans 6:1-6, Matthew 28:19)

Washing of Water Water (a medium of cleansing) is the symbol of our union with Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

The water in Christian baptism is a mere symbol of cleansing. The word (gospel) cleanses us per Eph. 5:26.

The Living Water

Those who believe in the name of the Son of God are the ones who were born of water even of the Spirit.

John 1:12-13 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.Which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 3:5-7 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again

John 7:37-39 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

Baptised through faith

When you get baptised, you are being united with Christ both in his burial and resurrection by faith in God --- not by the literal act of washing itself just as you are not literally circumcised physically by Christ. You believed and baptism represents your faith in God.

Colossians 2:11-12 11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

Baptism now saves you

The great deluge waters somehow saved Noah and his family out from the evil world they are in. In 2 Peter 3, the Apostle connects the waters of the deluge that covers the whole world from the waters in the Genesis creation. It is now made clear that Peter was connecting the deluge waters that saves and the Holy Spirit in 1 Peter 3.

  1. (saved by water) The waters saved Noah and his family from the evil world of their time.

  2. (baptism doth also now save us) Water baptism saves us away from the world. We are called and sent by Christ out from the world.

  3. (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh) The act of water baptism isn't salvific per se. Having good conscience/behaviour is from the heart by the Spirit (3:15, 3:18)

  4. (but the answer of good conscience toward God) Baptism is your answer (3:21 reply to God) because you have good conscience (as you sanctify the Lord in your heart) and because you have this good conscience, you can answer (3:15 reply to every man) who is asking us about Christ who is in us. In this sense, baptism is our testimony that we are not of the world anymore, effectively saving us from the current evil age, having been translated from darkness into his marvelous light through the Holy Spirit who is in us.

  5. (by the resurrection of Jesus Christ) Water baptism powerfully rescues us out from the world as we have baptism as the testimony of our faith in the risen Christ the Lord.

2 Peter 3:5-6 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished

Genesis 1:1-2 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

1Pe 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 1Pe 3:16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. 1Pe 3:17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. 1Pe 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 1Pe 3:19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 1Pe 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. 1Pe 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: 1Pe 3:22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

Conclusion

Exegetical analyses had shown that water baptism in 1 Peter 3:21 is about salvation out from the world. We can answer --- both God and men --- that we are indeed not from this world because of (1) our good conscience toward God and because of (2) our good behaviour in Christ, (3) when we sanctify Christ the Lord in our hearts, by the Holy Spirit who gives us life.

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  • Thank you, great thoughts, mostly exegesis regarding the text. However, would you elaborate on the "object which saves" in the text? – Lowther Sep 15 '19 at 23:31
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Acts 8:36As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?”

Baptism is a mark, recognising an act of belief. The Ethiopian eunuch believed Christ was the Rest, the destination, the state, the means, by which a believer becomes a blessing to the world, and could ask for the mark.

Salvation is not "going to heaven". There is very little information in Scripture about the afterlife, and whatever views Israel held was mostly influenced by being exposed, while in exile, to the views of the Babylonians. Even today, there is no halakhic, compulsory, Orthodox, view about the afterlife and Jews are free to believe whatever they want about it.

First century believers were more interested in the promise God made to Abraham, that his children could hope to have a noble vocation, to be blessings to the world, to be a Light to the Nations. So Christians were considered to be saved, if they began the process of drinking from the Rock, growing in faith, and finally entering “Rest”, becoming that blessing, the journey started by being baptised, and completed by obeying God’s voice when He called for a decision.

In other words, what WILL save is obedience, learnt from suffering, experienced when baptised:

1 Peter 4:12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.

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Hebrews 5:8Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.

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Matthew 4:1Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. 3And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’”

Bible interpretation is difficult, because the information is complex, and polyvalent, containing many different ideas in one passage. It is like looking at a tree. You get information about the trunk, branches, roots as they appear and disappear among the leaves and the undergrowth, like different threads in a tapestry. The tree is not the branch. If you want information about what the tree is, you must first isolate and extract all information about the branch, the trunk, the roots and maybe even the leaves. This happens in the study of the Atonement, which has different interpretations : penal substitution, satisfaction, ransom, moral exemplar, Christus Victor, etc. These are branches, but not the tree. What term explains the Atonement comprehensively?

Another example is blood. Blood carries oxygen to the different parts of the body, so it helps in respiration. It also carries nutrients, so it part of the nutrition system. It sends white blood cells to fight infection, so it immunises. The comprehensive explanation of the function of the blood in our bodies is that it is a carrier, a vector, for all the entities that do respiratory, nourishment, immunisation, etc. duties.

So I have been careful to explain that the object that saves is obedience. In order to deal with the idea that baptism also clears your conscience, I provided an answer in another, older thread. Unfortunately, it is in the Christianity section, so did not appear close to this answer.

In what manner did Christian baptism differ from ritual washing as part of Jewish Teshuva (repentance.)

I repost it here:

Teshuva is performed in a pool, in addition to the ritual cleansing required for the various contaminations listed in Torah: contact with dead bodies, men with emissions of semen, menstruating women, etc. There is no teachings about teshuva in the Tanakh, and its observance would not have been possible in the wilderness. It was formed through tradition, and also became a necessary ritual for conversion to Judaism.

Baptism is NOT cleansing from contaminations either listed above, or more. It is a mark signifying compliance by the candidate, that he has believed that Christ is the Rest promised by God to Abraham, the destination, the shelter, the harbour, the city, the country, where the candidate can stop from his labours, can end his travelling. Prompted by his conscience, with his judgment taking all things into consideration, including God's display of great saving acts, like Abraham's rescue from the kings who kidnapped Sarah, and Israel's rescue by the water flowing from the Rock. Every believer will experience rescue. Now God accepts his clearing his conscience of any guilt that he has not obeyed.

1 Peter 3:21Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

The effect of this baptism is that the believer is immediately inducted into a course of edification, building up of faith. God created calamities, dangerous situations like famines and then rescued. You can see this happened with Abraham, and the children of Israel in the wilderness. Whilst Abraham learnt obedience through suffering, Israel did not. But even Abraham and many other successful heroes of faith did not receive the Rest promised. They were to be fulfilled only together with those who did receive the Rest.

Hebrews 11:13All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.

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Hebrews 11:39And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.

All Scripture from the NASB.

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  • Your answer is entirely eisegetical, I'm voting it down unless it is removed and you comply with what I asked to be done to the text of 1Peter chapter 3 – Lowther Sep 15 '19 at 14:13
  • You asked what is the object which saves. It isn't baptism, it is obedience to the command that baptism reveals, since disobedience led to Israel not entering Rest. – Seeker Sep 16 '19 at 5:10
  • The Context of 1 Peter 3 is the focus I'm interested in in this question. I am not interested a doctrine of baptism, but in an Exegetical look at 1 Peter 3 only. Thanks – Lowther Sep 16 '19 at 11:18
  • Baptism by itself does not save as shown by the baptism of Judas, Simon the Sorcerer, and Ananias and Sapphira. 1 Peter 3:21 teaches that it is baptism that now saves, but how? By initiating the process of salvation, by informing what God desires of us. It is a broad usage of the word "save", since that salvation is conditional on other factors too, like obedience to God's call, to pick up the cross, so that the world may know that He is with those who do so, when He rescues. – Seeker Sep 16 '19 at 12:19

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