3:21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you. Baptism is a sign and seal of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. The startling statement that baptism “saves you” shows how close is the relationship between the sign and the reality it signifies. Noah’s physical salvation through the waters of the Flood prefigured the waters of baptism and the salvation they signify. Baptism symbolizes judgment on sin in the death of Christ and then also renewal of life (Rom. 6:4). The floodwaters were judgment to the wicked, and at the same time physical salvation for the just, Noah and his family.
not as a removal of dirt from the body. Lest his readers mistakenly attribute a magical or mechanical power to the sacrament, Peter states that the means of salvation is not performance of the external rite, but what it symbolizes—union with Christ in His death and Resurrection.