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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:

New Defender's Study Bible Notes

3:20 days of Noah. It was “in the days of Noah” when this flagrant disobedience of the angels took place, resulting in this severe punishment.

3:20 ark was a preparing. During the “days while the ark was a preparing,” Noah preached righteousness to the demon-controlled people of his generation (note II Peter 2:5), and God was “longsuffering.” But none heeded, and only eight were spared in the ark when the Flood came.

3:20 saved by water. These eight (Noah, his three sons, and the four wives) were “saved by water” (this could also be translated “through water”) in the sense that they were saved from the deadly moral and spiritual pollution that had engulfed the antediluvian world after the demonic invasion. The waters bore up their ark of safety, even as these same waters destroyed the old world and their old lives.

3:21 like figure. Thus both the flood, with its ark of safety, and baptism, with its emergence from the waters of “burial,” are “like figures” of the wonderful reality of the death and resurrection of Christ, as well as the death to sin and new life of the believer. Baptism in and of itself would at most be only a bath for washing off the filth of the flesh, but when experienced as a testimony of one’s saving faith in the atoning death and justifying resurrection of the Lord Jesus, it becomes “the answer of [or, better, “appeal for”] a good conscience toward God (see also Hebrews 9:14) secured forever by Christ’s resurrection.

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