“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. And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you — not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet.3:20-21). This text reveals that the episode of the flood was a picture, so Noah is also a picture.
It is understood that Noah typified Jesus Christ, that is, he was a picture of Jesus, based in Matt.24:37. When Jesus said, “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah”, the picture does not fit, for the savior Noah was saved, and all humanity died; and with Jesus, half of the condemned will be saved: “Then there shall be two men in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and the other will be left” (Matt.24:40-41).
Therefore, let us compare the two events to know with clarity if Noah was a picture of Jesus, or of another Bible character.
1. Noah preached justice and condemnation, while Jesus caused himself to be condemned in the place of the condemned. Concerning Noah, Peter declared: “[Jehovah] did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly” (2 Pet.2:5). Concerning the sacrifice of Christ, Paul said: “He made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor.5:21). This text explains that Jesus took the sins of men and died in their place to make us righteous before God. The righteousness of Noah is not a picture of the righteousness of Christ, for they are opposite.
2. The grace of Jehovah was for the righteous Noah alone, for Jehovah said: “Enter the ark, you and all your household; for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time” (Gen.7:1). “But Noah found favor in the eyes of Jehovah” (Gen.6:8). The grace of Jesus is not for the righteous, but for sinners, lost and condemned. Paul said: “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all” (1 Tim.1:15). And the Lord Jesus himself revealed his mission, saying: “For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt.9:13). Therefore, it is proven that the grace of the Father is for all, while the grace of Jehovah was only for the righteous. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men” (Titus 2:11). The grace of Jehovah was for the righteous, and for the sinners, disgrace. “Jehovah keeps all who love Him, but all the wicked, He will destroy” (Ps.145:20). (But he did not keep David, neither Solomon).
3. Noah, authorized by Jehovah, condemned the whole world to death by the flood. We read this in Heb.11:7. Jesus, on the contrary, did not condemn anyone. “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him” (John 3:17). Now, if the ministry of Noah was the ministry of condemnation, and the ministry of Jesus was not a ministry of condemnation, Noah was the picture of another, and by no means a picture of Jesus. The apostle Paul makes the issue in the letter to the Romans very clear. “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men” (Rom.5:18). The condemnation to which Paul refers was that of the universal flood. Noah is not, therefore, a picture of Jesus Christ.
4. Noah prepared an ark for the salvation of his family and himself from death (Gen.6:13-14; 7:1). Jesus could prepare his church only through his own death and the death of his family (his disciples)! “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Eph.5:25). “And someone said to Him, ‘Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.’ But he answered the one who was telling Him and said, ‘Who is My mother and who are My brothers?’ And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, ‘Behold My mother and My brothers!’” (Matt.12:47.49). — His disciples were all martyrs so that, in the presence of persecutions, the church could grow. Noah and his ark are not pictures of Jesus and his church.
5. According to the purposes of Jehovah, Noah and his family entered the ark with the animals and beasts, and Jehovah shut the door from the outside, in order that no one would be saved (Gen.7:16). After the death of Jesus, and by the sacrifice of the apostles, the door of the church was opened to all peoples. The key that opened this universal door is the cross. It is definitely proven that the ark of Noah is not a picture of the church, in the same way as Noah is not a picture of Jesus. It is obvious, though, that Noah is a picture of another Savior that should have come and did not come, but is expected by many.
6. There was a baptism in the flood, and all who were baptized, that is, were submerged in the waters of the flood (for baptism means immersion), physically died. In the baptism of Jehovah, the method of doing away with sin was killing the sinner. Let us read the text of Peter: “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” (1 Pet.3:20). Those eight, that were not immersed, were saved. In the baptism of Christ, the ones that are immersed will be saved. “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). Following along the text of Peter we read: “And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of the dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience — trough the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet.3:21). The goals of the two baptisms are different. In the baptism of Jehovah, the souls die in order to be stripped of the filth from the flesh; in the baptism of Jesus, the souls obtain a pure conscience, so as to stop sinning, and Christ is killed in the place of the filthy. If the two baptisms are so different as to their goals, why is it written in 1 Pet.3:21 that the baptism of Noah is a picture of the baptism of Christ? The problem lies with the translation, which does not correspond to the Greek original. Let us look at the correct translation, according to Russell Norman Champlin’s commentary: “And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you, which is not the removal of the dirt from the flesh, but…” Therefore, the baptism of Noah is not a picture of Christ, but the baptism of Jesus Christ is a picture of salvation, for baptism obtains a pure conscience in place of the previous and dirty conscience.
7. Noah was a picture of someone who should condemn this world, something that Jesus did not do. Therefore, they were waiting for someone, and there came someone better.
By Pastor Silveira Pereira