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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT
1 PETER 3
Ver. 1. Let wives, &c. In the first six verses he gives instructions to married women. 1. By their modest and submissive dispositions to endeavour to gain and convert their husbands, shewing them such a respect as Sara did, (whose daughters they ought to esteem themselves) who called Abraham her lord, or master; (Gen. xviii. 12.) 2. To be modest in their dress, without vanity; 3. That women take the greatest care of the hidden man, i.e. of the interior disposition of their heart, which he calls the incorruptibility of a quiet and a meek spirit; 4. Not fearing any trouble, when God's service or the duty to their husbands require it. Wi.
Ver. 7. Husbands, &c. His advice to husbands: 1. To carry themselves towards their wives with knowledge, prudence, and discretion; 2. Not in any imperious manner, but treating their wives with respect and honour, though a wife be the weaker vessel both in body and mind; 3. Considering themselves and their wives to be joint heirs with them of God's graces and favours, both in this world and the next; 4. That their prayers and duty to God be not hindered, neither by too great a fondness and compliance, nor by disagreements and dissensions. Wi.
Ver. 8. Be ye all of one mind. These instructions are not only for man and wife, but for every one, to whom in general these virtues are recommended. And every one's duty is comprised in these few words of Ps. xxxiii. "Turn away from evil, and do good. . . . The eyes of the Lord are upon the just. . . . But the countenance of the Lord is against them that do evil things," &c. Nothing can hurt you, and you need fear no menaces, no terrors, if with zeal you follow and adhere to what is good. Wi.
Ver. 15. Always ready to satisfy, &c. S. Peter would have every Christian, according to his circumstances and capacity, ready to give general reasons of his faith and hope of salvation, both to infidels and heretics that refuse to believe. Wi.
Ver. 18. Christ . . . being put to death indeed in the flesh, dying on the cross for our sins, but brought to life by the spirit. By the spirit here some understand Christ's divine spirit, and power of his divinity, by which he soon raised himself again from death to an immortal life by his glorious resurrection. But others by the spirit rather understand Christ's soul, by which he never died, which always remained united to his divine person, and which the third day he again reunited to his body. Wi.
Ver. 19. In which (to wit, soul or spirit) also he came, and preached to those spirits who were in prison. The true and common interpretation of this place seems to be, that the soul of Christ, after the separation from the body and before the resurrection, descended to a place in the interior parts of the earth, called hell in that which we call the apostles' creed, (sometimes called Abraham's bosom, sometimes Limbus Patrum, a place where were detained all the souls of the patriarchs, prophets, and just men, as it were in prison) and preached to these spirits in this prison; i.e. brought them this happy news, that he who was their Redeemer was now come to be their deliverer, and that at his glorious ascension they should enter with him into heaven, where none could enter before our Redeemer, who opened as it were heaven's gates. Among these were many who had been formerly at first incredulous in the time of Noe, who would not take warning from his preparing and building the ark, but it may be reasonably supposed that many of them repented of their sins when they saw the danger approaching, and before they perished by the waters of the deluge, so that they died at least not guilty of eternal damnation; because, though they were sinners, yet they worshipped the true God, for we do not find any proofs of idolatry before the deluge. These then, and all the souls of the just, Christ descended to free from their captivity, from their prison, and to lead them at his ascension triumphant with him into heaven. The Church of England cannot quarrel with this exposition, which seems altogether conformable to the third of their thirty-nine articles, which at present runs thus: "As Christ died for us, and was buried, so also it is to be believed that he went down into hell." It is thus expressed in the articles under queen Elizabeth, an. 1562; and in the articles put out ten years before, an. 1552, in the fourth year of king Edward the sixth, the words were: "that the body of Christ lay in the grave until his resurrection, but the spirit which he gave up was with the spirits which were detained in prison, or in hell, and preached to them, as the place in S. Peter testifieth." Dr. Pearson on the fifth article of the creed, writes thus: "There is nothing which the Fathers agree in more, than as to a local and real descent of the soul of Christ into the infernal parts, unto the habitation of the souls departed. . . . This was the general opinion of the Church, as may appear by the testimonies of those ancient writers, who lived successively and wrote in several ages, and delivered this exposition in such express terms as are not capable of any other interpretation." Thus Dr. Pearson. He cites the Fathers. See the edition, an. 1683, p. 237. Wi. — Prison. See here a proof of a third place, or middle state of souls: for these spirits in prison, to whom Christ went to preach after his death, were not in heaven, nor yet in the hell of the damned; because heaven is no prison, and Christ did not go to preach to the damned. Ch. — S. Austin, in his 99th epistle, confesses that this text is replete with difficulties. This he declares is clear, beyond all doubt, that Jesus Christ descended in soul after his death into the regions below, and concludes with these words: Quis ergo nisi infidelis negaverit fuisse apud inferos Christum? In this prison souls would not be detained unless they were indebted to divine justice, nor would salvation be preached to them unless they were in a state that was capable of receiving salvation.
Ver. 21. Baptism, &c. That is, the ark was a figure of baptism, which saveth you from the death of the soul; and as no one was saved from the waters of the deluge but those few eight persons who were in the ark, so no one can enter into heaven if he hath not been baptized, or hath had a desire of it when come to the use of reason. And such persons as are capable of knowing what they receive, must come with the dispositions of faith and a true repentance, which is here called the examination (lit. the interrogation) of a good conscience, who therefore are examined whether they believe in one God and three Persons, &c. Wi. — Baptism is said to be the like form with the water by which Noe was saved, because the one was a figure of the other. — Not the putting away, &c. As much as to say, that baptism has not its efficacy, in order to salvation, from its washing away any bodily filth or dirt; but from its purging the conscience from sin: when accompanied with suitable dispositions in the party, to answer the interrogations made at that time, with relation to faith, the renouncing of Satan with all his works, and the obedience to God's commands. Ch.
Ver. 22. Jesus now as our Redeemer, and as man, sitteth on the right hand of God, (see Mark xvi. 19. Coloss. i. Heb. i. 3. &c.) having swallowed up (devoured or destroyed) death; having conquered and triumphed over the devil, sin, and death, that by his grace and his merits we might become heirs of eternal life; and is gone into heaven, Angels, &c. being made subject to him. Wi.