One year, our family visited the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter in Kentucky. This incredible full-scale replica of Noah’s Ark answers questions such as “What about the dinosaurs?” and “How did they keep the ship clean?”
For Peter, Noah and the Flood were an important representation of Christ’s work of redemption (v. 18). Jesus suffered once because that was sufficient, unlike the repeated sacrifices of the Old Testament (Heb. 7:26–27). His death was substitutionary and made possible our peace with God (see Rom. 5:1–2).
In this passage we are told that, after His Resurrection, Christ “went and made proclamation [of His victory] to the imprisoned spirits” (v. 19). Who were these spirits? “Those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built” (v. 20). They might be the people who rejected Noah’s message, now in hell, or fallen angels, the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:1–4 (see also 2 Peter 2:4–5). Given how the passage ends—with “angels, authorities and powers in submission” to Christ (v. 22), the latter choice seems to fit better. But if you are puzzled, you aren’t alone! The Moody Bible Commentary calls these verses “possibly the most difficult NT passage to interpret.”
Both Noah’s Ark and baptism provide a picture of salvation (vv. 20–21). Just as the Ark saved people from the judgment of a massive flood, water baptism symbolizes our salvation from eternal judgment. In both, water represents death, but in the second, it also represents spiritual rebirth and eternal life. Baptism represents the “pledge of a clear conscience toward God,” that is, a public commitment of faith to live worthy of Christ’s salvation.
>> Have you followed the Lord Jesus in baptism? Baptism is an outward sign of an inward reality. If you’ve never been baptized, we encourage you to discuss it with your pastor or another church leader (see Rom. 6:1–4).
For those pursuing baptism, give them insight into this act of obedience. When we publicly proclaim our faith, use our testimony to encourage others. Lead us on a path of ever-increasing submission to You.