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Was Noah a Preacher?

Peter calls Noah a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5). I don’t think he was preaching just to his own family. People would have asked, “Why are you building an ark?” Noah would have told them. The unbelievers had their chance to repent and believe. I hold to the interpretation of Genesis 6:3 that understands the 120 years to be the length of time that God gave the people to repent and believe before the flood came. If they had believed, we could always have had a bigger boat.

In his commentary on 2 Peter, Thomas Schreiner writes, “We are also told that Noah was ‘a preacher of righteousness.’ The description here elicits interest because the Old Testament never informs us that Noah preached to his contemporaries. The idea that Noah entreated his generation to repent, however, is common in Jewish tradition (Josephus, Ant. 1.74; Jub. 7:20–29; Sib. Or. 1:128–29, 150–98; cf. 1 Clem 7:6; 9:4). As Josephus said, ‘But Noah, indignant at their conduct and viewing their counsels with displeasure, urged them to come to a better frame of mind and amend their ways’ (Ant. 1.74). That Noah proclaimed God’s righteousness is a fair deduction from the Old Testament itself, since it is quite unlikely that he did not share with his contemporaries why he was building the ark” (The New American Commentary).

Written by Chad Bird, 1517 Scholar in Residence