I am apart of a Bible study that is going through the book of 1 Peter. It has been enlightening at times and challenging as well. We have gotten to the halfway point of 1 Peter, chapter 3. There was one verse that really challenged me that I thought I would share with you all.
1 Peter 3:18 says, “For Christ also suffered once and for all for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he (Christ) might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.”
The first part of this verse bares some interesting remarks. “For Christ also suffered once and for all for sins.” First and foremost, we must recognize that there is, in fact, a “kai” in this passage. Since the “kai” is an adverb and not a conjunction, it must be translated as an “as” or an “also.” Some translators do not translate the “kai” but the significance of the “kai” here is important. Even though the “kai” is before the normative, it is usually translated after the nominative. In this case, we translate it as, “Christ also.”
Next we have this strange word that has been translated as “suffered” or “died” – depending on which translation you use. Which one is more correct? The term “epathen” refers to the following terms: “to suffer, endure, undergo; experience.” It is a classical Greek term that carries a connotation of “experiencing a sensation or an impression (usually a painful experience).” Why do some translators translate “epathen” as “died?” The main reason is due to what Christ has done for us – He died so that we can live. This is the significance of the passage. When we teach on this passage, we must include His death for us on the cross. We must also do the passage and the Peter some justice by translating the passage well. In this case, it would be more correct to say “suffered” rather than using “died.”
Finally, “once and for all” is one word that means… once and for all. It really means what it says. The term is called “apex.” It also carries the connotation that there is no need for anything else to match it or beat it. It is once and for all – period.
The righteous is Christ – the unrighteous is humanity.
The term, “he might bring us to God” reflects John’s righting. Christ said He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life and that no one comes to the Father but through Him.” Once again, we see how this is all played out through Christ. Only Christ can bring us to the Father and Christ’s suffering for us has made that way possible.
When Christ died in the flesh, we also died with Him in the flesh – symbolically. This understanding is a reference to the book of Romans. Paul says that, “We have died with Christ. And, if we have died with Christ, we will surely be resurrected with Him” (paraphrased). The mater here is that only Christ’s suffering could accomplish this end for us.
This is why I really enjoy this verse. There is a lot to dig out of one simple, yet extraordinary thought. What is most humbling is that Peter probably could fully comprehend what he was writing as he wrote it. He believed what he wrote and had faith that Christ is who He said He was. The sure magnitude of the verse though is truly amazing. Christ suffered once and for all for my sins – for your sins – so that I can be brought to the Father. Through Christ’s suffering, I have died and have been resurrected – a new creation – reborn. It was and is the only sacrifice that matters and it will never be repeated again. This is good news to be sure. And I hope that it encourages you to share it with others. I hope you will memorize this verse, not for the sake of being pious or prideful. But because it lives in you – That you and I will embrace the Gospel and ultimately show forth the Gospel in the flesh. God bless.