Suffering in Baptism?

by Perry Hall

Amid Peter discussing suffering and judgment, he mentions, "baptism now saves" (I Peter 3:21). Contextually, what baptism saves us from is God's judgment on a sinful world. The context from 3:14-4:19 is "Suffering and Judgment." However, there are many ways baptism cannot save us from suffering because baptism is inherently tied to suffering.


  1. Historical Suffering - By identifying with Jesus, we historically identify with his death and suffering on the cross (I Peter 3:18).
  2. Emotional Suffering - By identifying with Jesus, we suffer emotionally, knowing the world will suffer judgment (I Peter 3:19-20).
  3. Spiritual Suffering - By identifying with Jesus, we reject our former lives, causing spiritual suffering as we deny ourselves (I Peter 4:1-2).
  4. Societal Suffering - By identifying with Jesus, the world rejects us, causing our societal suffering (I Peter 4:13-16).

The advantage of context is learning deeper truths that do not contradict surface truths. "Baptism now saves you" (I Peter 3:21) is about suffering and not suffering.

  1. Jesus died for the unrighteous. However, Jesus' dying was also by the unrighteous. They judged Jesus wrongly and persecuted Him.
  2. Now, bring in the audience to whom Peter is writing. Being Christians, they, too, suffered wrongly (I Peter 4:16).
  3. Now, bring in the flood analogy. That world was wicked and judged Noah wrongly.
  4. What does God do? He saves Noah's family by judging those judging.

Can you separate the ark from the flood? No. "Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you ... through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (I Peter 3:21). The people to whom Peter wrote, when they had been baptized, identified them with Jesus and Noah.

What does baptism save us from contextually? God's wrath and judgment on the ungodly because we appeal to God for a clean conscience. So baptism now saves us from death through the resurrection because the resurrection saved Jesus from death.

Just like you can't separate Noah from the ark and the waters, don't separate baptism from Jesus's resurrection. And don't separate baptism from its context - suffering and judgment.

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