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First Urban Christians 122

Faith of Noah

StepsWayne A. Meeks writes in "The First Urban Christians - The Social World of the Apostle Paul" that the expectation would of course be more relevant to some kinds of cultic activities, such as those of the traditional Roman household, than to others, such as city cults in which the heads of the Christian household families might occasionally have obligations. Unity would be more enforceable in a smaller household than in a larger one.✞

Patriarchal Family

Likewise in the General Epistles Christian household families are social units to which salvation often comes. Hebrews 11.7 says, "By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith." Here the writer makes reference to Noah building an ark for the salvation of his "house." Although this was in the first instance a physical salvation rather than a spiritual one, Hebrews is clearly applying it in a spiritual direction. 1 Peter 3.19-22 also makes the same spiritual point, "After being made alive, [alternately "but made alive in the spirit, in which also"] he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits, 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, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also, not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. [alternately "but an appeal to God for a clear conscience"] It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him." This emphasis is on Noah's faith. The rest of Hebrews 11 emphasizes how the Old Testament family of God also exercised faith.✞

"Christian Household Families"
by Ron Meacock © 2017

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