[B-Greek] 1 Peter 3:20-21

Iver Larsen iver at larsen.dk
Sat Mar 11 11:56:56 EST 2006

> Iver  Larsen says
> "Since hO is a neuter  pronoun I prefer to see it not as referring to the
> immediately preceding word but to the whole preceding sentence..."

> [RR]: Why
> doesn't  it refer to the water which is neuter in  Greek.  How could Peter  make it
> any clearer that  the antecedent is the water just mentioned?

My point is that the antecedent is not clear. It could gramatically be either the neuter word hUDWR, or it could be the 
thing/concept of the previous sentence. The neuter hO can mean "that thing which". Then I was drawing on the context to 
suggest that the reference may well be the whole concept rather than just water.

> Again,  Iver writes,
> "It  can hardly be  the water that saves."
> [RR:] Are you  speaking merely as a grammarian or a  theologian?

I was speaking from the viewpoint of grammar and logic in the context of Noah and the ark. I thought it was obvious that 
Noah was not saved BY the water but THROUGH it (DI' hUDATOS).

> [RR:] The focus in 1 Pet. 3:20, 21 is upon  the water, not upon the ark regardless how significant
> the ark was in the family's safety.

How do you decide what is the focus? I admit that there is some disagreement about how word order indicates focus. If 
you believe in sentence final focus, I can see that you might suggest that "water" is in focus. I believe in 
left-position relative focus. If we look at the sentence:


while an ark was being prepared in(to) which a few, that is eight, souls were saved through water, which (thing) is a 
type/picture/illustration/example (of that which) now saves you, too, (namely) baptism.

As far as I can see the key word is saved, not water. I consider hUDATOS to be in the least prominent, most 
script-predictable position.
The text is complicated both because of awkward grammar and the somewhat unclear adjective ANTITUPOS. It only occurs 
twice in the GNT in Heb 9:24 and here. In both cases the meaning seems to be a physical, concrete 
picture/image/illustration/foreshadowing of a later spiritual reality.

It seems to me that the topic is primarily salvation and secondarily obedience as the basis for salvation. Behind the 
ark is Noah's obedience in spite of ridicule from the disobedient majority. The pysical salvation of Noah and his family 
through the water is a picture or foreshadowing of the spiritual salvation through the water of baptism.

Grammatically, I take ANTITUPON to be a predicate to hO, which again IMO goes back to the event of physical salvation by 
the ark through the water. The spiritual reality foreshadowed by this picture would then be BAPTISMA. I noticed that the 
text does not talk about the water of baptism, but the event of baptism.

> [RR:] Peter is making an analogy  between  the
> deluge and baptism.  That much is  clear.  Even the  anti-sacramentalist, ATR
> says,  "Which also (o` kai).  Water just mentioned. After a true  likeness
> (antitupon).  Water in baptism now as an  anti-type of Noah's deliverance by
> water"  (WP)

It is not that clear. It seems to me that the analogy is "being saved while going through some water."
In your quote, the English word "by" is ambiguous. Water is not the agent for Noah's deliverance, but the circumstance 
though which he is delivered/saved. From your quote, it does appear that I indeed disagree with ATR, based on the 
grammar and logic rather than theology.
But the text is not a simple one to tackle, and I am not asking you to agree with me. I am just giving my perspective.

Iver Larsen

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