In 1 Peter 3:20 – 21 the Bible says “this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also.”  What is Peter referring to ? What is “This water”? and what does it symbolize?


“This water” is a reference to the water of the flood.  The same whater which deluged the world and destroyed life as a judgement on the sin of mankind is the water which saved Noah and his family.    It is a bit difficult to see how the symbolism works exactly.   How were they saved by water?  It seems that the water judged–that it did not save anyone.  It seems they were saved FROM the water, not BY the water.  I can remember at one time being confused how the meaning worked hrer.  However, I believe that what Peter is saying is that they passed through the water, and thus were saved from the judgment that was falling on all men.  In the same way, we pass through water and are saved from judgment for our sins.  So, Peter says, the water (of the flood) symbolizes (the water of) baptism which, when we pass through it, saves us like Noah and his family were saved.  Peter then says it (ie the water of baptism) now saves you, not by cleaning the outside, but by cleaning the inside, through the power of the resurrection.   In other words, the same power which raised Jesus from the dead will raise us from spiritual death.  When we passed through the water, we passed from a state of condemnation to a state of cleansing and salvation.   The connection of baptism, resurrection and salvation is a common theme in scripture (Romans 4:25, 1 Cor 6:14, Romans 6:4, Col 2:12 and many more).

John Oakes

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