This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when He held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for He was looking ahead and including them in what He would do in this present time. (NLT)
Through the passing over of the sins that had taken place before, in the forbearance of God, for a demonstration of His righteousness in the present time, (LITV)
This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over and ignored former sins without punishment. (AMP)
To make clear his righteousness when, in his pity, God let the sins of earlier times go without punishment; (BBE)
In the past he was patient and overlooked people’s sins; but in the present time he deals with their sins, (GNB)
In his patience God waited to deal with sins committed in the past. He waited so that he could display his approval at the present time. (GW)
Is that enough verses from different translations to enable you to get the picture? Over looking past sins? Does God really do that? What is being said here? I like the New Living Translation of this verse. I think the sense is much clearer. “God was being fair when He held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for He was looking ahead and including them in what He would do in this present time”. The system for handling sin had not been revealed. The temporary fix of sacrifices offered regularly was never the ultimate plan. Christ’s once for all sacrifice was the plan. God’s mercy was in place to hold those who were not yet covered by the new covering in Christ’s blood until the time was right. Yet somehow God in His mercy could forebear and hold that in tension until the time of their redemption was truly at hand. I.e. the Christ had come and paid the price.
The writer to the Hebrews (Heb 9:1-12) talks about the old system pointing to present time and the new system. The old system is not able to cleanse the consciences of the people. But Christ with his own blood has entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever. No wonder God was waiting patiently and looking toward the moment when the perfect sacrifice will cover sin once for all.
What is then interesting is in looking at the verses in 1 Peter 3:18-20 where Peter writes “He was raised to life in the Spirit. So He went and preached to the spirits in prison — those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat.”
There is much debate on these verses over what is meant here. We only have these verses and so much conjecture is used.
- Who received the message? The living or the dead?
- What does “preached” mean? [Κηρύσσω] also means to proclaim.
- What was said to these spirits?
- What was the expected outcome?
- Was Christ preaching to convert souls in hell or was he proclaiming now is the time of redemption?
- Is he telling this to the souls of men in torment or the evil powers of hell?
- Is he hoping that they will repent and be saved?
- Are these souls getting a second chance? That gives you something to ponder.
Hebrew 9:27 indicates that there are no second chances for those already dead. We must hold all of this in tension in making our assessment of the meaning of these passages.
That gives you enough for the moment to chew on. I am still ruminating on this truth of Scripture too. So I won’t presume to tell you what to think when for me it is still in process. Yes there are some things in the Bible that have to be held in tension or left on the shelf or in the too-hard-box for another time. Did you know you are allowed to do that? Some day you will know as you are known – perfectly. But on this side of eternity there are allowed to be some things which remain in the too hard category.
Let me leave you with some thoughts from Matthew Henry’s commentary on this thought from Peter.
From the whole we learn that:
- God takes exact notice of all the means and advantages that people in all ages have had for the salvation of their souls; it is put to the account of the old world that Christ offered them his help, sent his Spirit, gave them fair warning by Noah, and waited a long time for their amendment.
- Though the patience of God waited long upon sinners, yet it will expire at last; it is beneath the majesty of the great God always to wait upon man in vain.
- The spirits of disobedient sinners, as soon as they are out of their bodies, are committed to the prison of hell, whence there is no redemption.
- The way of the most is neither the best, the wisest, nor the safest way to follow: better to follow the eight in the ark than the eight millions drowned by the flood and damned to hell.
Do you want to be right or in a relationship?Anon
If you can laugh at it, then you can live with it.Anon