1 Peter 3:20

1 Peter 3:20

to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice *

January 02, 2020 – Thursday

1 Peter 3:20  NIV

 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water

1 Peter 3:20  NASB

 20  who once were disobedient,  when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.


Having trouble making sense of this verse, I looked at Ellicott’s Commentary which stated the literal interpretation of the beginning of the verse is to men who once upon a time were disobedient. That sent me looking for published versions which would approximate this. Both the NIV and the NASB do a good job of presenting the idea, but only a few versions had once and I chose NASB for its usage of the word once. However, NIV’s use of long ago also captures the idea of once upon a time. Of course referencing the days of Noah tells us explicitly it was a long time ago.

But let’s address the people who were disobedient. Meyer’s NT Commentary states the use of disobedient is too inexact and the Greek has the meaning of unbelief involving resistance.  This fits well with Strong’s definition: to disbelieve (willfully and perversely):—not believe, disobedient, obey not, unbelieving. Meyer also points out Several commentators assume that not all unbelievers in the days of Noah are meant, but those only who, at first indeed unbelieving, had still repented at the last moment when the flood came upon them.  And this seems to fit with the preceding two verses

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive, He went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits

In addition we learn from Meyer the thoughts which follow stress not so much on the judgment which overcame the unbelievers in flood as it did the deliverance of the few. Nonetheless, those who were disobedient were those who would not believe what Noah told them over a period of 120 years while he built the ark and as a result of their disbelief never came to repentance. The water, that ended the lives of the unbelievers, lifted up the ark and thus saved Noah and his household.

Personally, I see a warning for us in our own time, when judgment seems so long in coming to realize God is still greatly patience and long suffering. Judgment will come and we need to be about the business of living as Christians seeking God’s will in our lives. When judgment comes, just as it did in Noah’s day, there will be many who will realize the truth too late. Let us be witnesses that show the truth so more may be saved.

RileyD, nwJ
(to obey is better than sacrifice /obedience is better than sacrifice)


* To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.   (1 Samuel 15:22(