Summary of passage: Peter tells his listeners/readers to live in harmony with one another, be sympathetic, compassionate, and humble, and love each other as brothers. Do not repay an insult with an insult but with blessing for that is what we are called to do. For Psalms says if you want good days and the eyes and ears (attention) of the Lord you must keep your tongue and yourself from evil and live righteously.
You are blessed if you suffer for good. Set Christ apart in your heart. Always be prepared to credit Christ for the hope you have in gentleness and respect (basically give no reason to support slander against you). Better to suffer for doing good than evil.
Christ died to bring you to God. He preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed God in the days of Noah and saved eight through water, the same water that now saves you through Christ’s resurrection.
5a) Live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic; love as brothers; be compassionate and humble; do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult (revenge basically) but with blessing. I need all to tell you the truth.
b) If you repay evil or insult with blessing as you were called to do, you will see good days and the eyes of the Lord will be upon you and he will listen to your prayers.
6) Respond humbly for you are blessed for your suffering. Stand firm in your knowledge that you are set apart and keep Christ as your Lord. And remember this suffering is God’s will.
7) I think the spirits in prison were demonic spirits, fallen angels if you will, whom Jesus visited (the reason why is not given) after his crucifixion but before his first resurrection to the disciples. Genesis 6:1-2, the sons of God is a common terms in the Old Testament for angels. Peter mentions this as an encouragement to the readers of his letter as an example of Christ’s triumph over evil in this world.
Conclusions: Peter and Paul must have been good friends because this passage, again, echoes Paul’s teachings. Remember in the study of Isaiah how it all seemed like gloom and doom and every week it seemed like God’s people were disobeying and being punished? Here in the study of Acts it’s the opposite: it’s all advice (and the same advice in many cases) on how to live.
So instead of being told how bad we are we are being told how to live. At times, it seems as if my mother were talking to me. “Now, honey, don’t insult others when they insult you. Be strong in who you are as a person. Have compassion on that person and some sympathy. You don’t know what they’ve been through in life.”
And we roll our eyes but in the end the repetitiveness of the Truth seeps down into our core and we do become compassionate, sympathetic, and humble human beings who love each other as brothers.
God knows us, doesn’t He?