The Just for the Unjust (1 Peter 3:18)


Remember when I said a few posts ago that the New Testament authors couldn’t stop talking about what Jesus did for us on the cross? Well, here we go again! Peter has just finished telling us in verses 13-17 to be brave and endure suffering for righteousness’ sake. Before that, he reminded us in verses 8-12 to be kind and forgiving of others, not returning evil for evil. And before that, he encouraged wives with unbelieving husbands to witness to their unsaved spouses by living holy lives marked by gentle, submissive spirits, while reminding husbands to treat their wives with honor and understanding. Now Peter once again gives us the why for these godly behaviors in verse 18. We should be willing to suffer for the sake of others because that’s exactly what Jesus did for us on the cross. He was the righteous one and we were the unrighteous sinners. He was willing to suffer for us even to the point of laying down His life. We were selfish, sinful people. We did not love and obey the God who had made us. We did not deserve His mercy and grace. But He showed us His love by sending Jesus, the just one, to take our place, the unjust ones. By dying on the cross for our sins, Jesus absorbed all of the holy wrath and condemnation that should have fallen on us for all eternity. That miracle changed our destiny and our souls forever. Through our faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection, we received a new nature as God put His own Holy Spirit in us.

And now we have the power and opportunity to suffer on behalf of those who have not yet received the salvation we thankfully enjoy. It’s our turn to be the just sacrificing ourselves for the unjust. We aren’t perfect like Jesus, but we are spiritually clothed in His righteousness and charged to act as His representatives offering the gospel of peace to the lost people around us. We may not be called to die so that others can be saved, but we are called to live in a way that encourages others to be saved. We live holy, humble lives so that others might be brought into a redeemed relationship with God through Christ as we have.

The Text (1 Peter 3:18)

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,

Background and Observations

• The concept of Jesus dying for sinners as a substitute is called the “atonement.” He actually took our place in absorbing the just wrath of God for our sins. God could not just overlook our sins – they had to be paid for with the blood of His Own Son. This sacrifice in our place made it so we could be “at one” with God, being placed in a right relationship with Him through faith.

• Jesus died in His human nature, or the “flesh,” but it was His God nature, called in verse 18 “the Spirit,” which raised His body from the dead. Understanding “the Spirit” in this verse as referring to Christ’s deity will help us make sense of tomorrow’s more difficult to understand passage (verses 19-22). Be sure to check out tomorrow’s post for the connection!

Questions to Think About

1. How are you handling the sufferings and trials of your life right now? How could today’s verse help you handle them better?

2. Confession is an important part of our walk with God. Take some time to think about the sins that you have committed today or this week. Ask God to help you see how much He has forgiven you of through the cross. Let Him turn your confession into joy and thanksgiving as you appreciate His mercy and grace again.

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

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