Wednesday: Preaching to the Spirits in Prison
Read 1 Peter 3:13-20. How did Christ preach “to the spirits in prison … in the days of Noah”? (See also Genesis 4:10.)
Commentators who believe in the natural immortality of the soul usually point out that Christ preached “to the spirits in prison” (1 Peter 3:19, NKJV) while He was still resting in the tomb. For them, His disincarnated spirit went into hell and preached to the disembodied spirits of the antediluvians.
Yet, this fanciful notion is biblically unacceptable because there is no second opportunity of salvation for the dead (Hebrews 9:27-28). So, why would Jesus preach to those who had no more chance of salvation?
Meanwhile, and most importantly, this theory contradicts the biblical teaching that the dead remain unconscious in the grave until the final resurrection (Job 14:10-12; Psalm 146:4; Eccles. 9:5, Eccles. 9:10; 1 Corinthians 15:16-18; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15).
Also, if this verse were really saying that Jesus, while bodily in the tomb, went down to hell and preached to the wicked antediluvians, why did only they hear His message? Were no other lost people burning in hell with them? Why did only the antediluvians hear Him preach?
It is also senseless to suggest that Christ preached to the fallen angels who had been disobedient in Noah’s day. While the “spirits in prison” are described as having been disobedient “formerly” (1 Peter 3:19-20, , NKJV), the Bible speaks of the evil angels as still disobedient today (Ephesians 6:12, 1 Peter 5:8). Furthermore, the fallen angels are “kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day” (Jude 6, NIV), without any opportunity of salvation.
We should notice that in 1 Peter 3:1-22 the “spirits in prison” of verse 19 are identified in verse 20 as the “disobedient” antediluvians in the “days of Noah.” The term spirit (Greek pneuma) is used in this text, and elsewhere in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 16:18, Galatians 6:18), in reference to living people who can hear and accept the invitation of salvation. The expression “in prison” obviously refers not to a literal prison, but to the prison of sin in which the unregenerate human nature is found (Romans 6:1-23, Romans 7:7-25).
Christ’s preaching to the impenitent antediluvians was accomplished through Noah who was divinely instructed by God (Hebrews 11:7) and became a “preacher of righteousness” to his contemporaries (2 Peter 2:5). Peter’s verses were written in the context of what it means to be faithful; they are not a commentary on the state of the dead.
The religious doctrine built on the verse of 1 Peter 3:19 refers to a Jesuit theology along with other Catholic doctrines mixed with Greek mythology that teaches the natural immortality of the soul. This, purgatory, and limbo are not found in scriptures of the Holy Bible.
The meaning of 1 Peter 3:19 states that Christ, through the Holy Spirit, preached to spirits who were in prison. In other words, you and I are spirits (a living soul), and if we’re not saved then we’re imprisoned by the devil. The story of Peter's imprisonment (Acts 12:5-11) where the angel came to set him free is like how the devil imprisoned us by our sins, and the only person who can break us free from the controls of the devil and the shackles of sin is Christ. Isaiah 61:1 explains the ministry of Christ in setting the captives free and opening the prison door to them that are bound, simply saying that the work of Christ was to save people just like how Noah was preaching for people to be saved from the Great Flood. This same Spirit in Noah’s days is how Jesus aims to save people whose spirits were imprisoned by the devil and sin. The verse is not talking about how their ghosts were in hell, chained up, or anything of sorts.
Well, between Friday sunset and Saturday sunset, Jesus was dead asleep in the tomb to honor the Sabbath rest. Jesus said “It is finished” (John 19:30); then He kept the Sabbath day holy according to the commandment that He had commanded, Himself (Exodus 20:8). Jesus didn’t change the Sabbath day to the first day of the week (no scriptural evidence for that). Even his disciples and followers kept the Sabbath after Jesus died and placed His body in the tomb, as found in Luke 23:53–56; John 19:42; John 20:1 (the 1st day of the week begins on Saturday evening after the Sabbath). It was important for Jesus to keep the Sabbath holy even in His death, which makes the importance of keeping the Sabbath even greater. You will find the Seal of God in the Sabbath Commandment.
The bible gives us the meaning and understanding of a resurrection. A resurrection is defined as you are still you (the same person), but with a new glorified resurrected body created to last forever to live in the new heaven and new earth (1 Corinthians 15:35-58,1 Corinthians 13:12).
From your comment about Jesus honouring the Sabbath, does that simply means that though he was dead but he was aware of the the Sabbath which also is in contradiction of the verse that says the dead knows nothing at all ?? Please help to understand
Very good question. How could a dead person keep the Sabbath? And why did Jesus work every Sabbath what He was alive? Does keeping the Sabbath mean that we should do nothing?
I had a look at this passage in an interleaved Greek New Testament as well as a number of modern translations. I am not an expert in the nuances of NT Greek so this is only a personal opinion. I find that the passage is more illustrative than prescriptive. It is illustrating the patience of God (or the Holy Spirit if you prefer) with the antediluvian people. This is in spite of the fact that only eight people were saved.
As nearly always, context provides a better understanding of the intention of the writer.
Jesus is "The Lamb Slain before this Earth was formed." Jesus preached via His Holy Spirit about this via His true believers before Noah and then through Noah. Sin is "A Prison" for the unbelievers before the flood and even now and those who make sin their lifestyle. And even though Jesus became one of us and died as planned for sin, we can still lose out if we do not allow the Holy Spirit to be our guide and to help us give up sin in our lives and free us from "The Prison of Sin."
Just wondering if another meaning could be used for 1 Peter 3:19, as well as the ‘prison of sin’.?.
Waiting for a goal/promise, especially if being persecuted during that period of time, can feel like a “prison” when there is no escaping the persecution. Could this verse be referring to how the 8 (living) souls (breathing persons) felt during the 125 year wait for the flood?
Could this be a symbol of how end-time saved persons might feel when teaching of true salvation while living in persecution?
I suppose that suffering for living for God and apart from sin as a lifestyle can be like a prison too, look at what Joseph had to suffer from his own brothers and from the false accusations of idol worshippers, and look at what Moses had to put up with in his service for the True God, and look at what King David had to put up with in his own life as a sinner and those who were out to ruin his service for the True God, and I could go on and on all the way to now in "The Latter Days," and personally for myself. But the "Preaching for the spirits in prison when Noah was building the Ark," is more of an analogy of God's Holy Spirit via His Son Jesus and the Third Person of the God Head, than our own suffering in our service for Him.
I was contemplating this lesson’s text in connection with Roman’s 8:11 and Ephesians 2:4-5, as well as looking at the context of the verse itself.
Peter is talking about persecution of people who are trying to be a witness for Christ. These people are probably very discouraged because it seems no one is listening and responding to their witness. Instead, they are being persecuted. Is it worth trying to witness? Where is the power of the Holy Spirit?
Think of Jesus at a time when it seemed everyone was against Him. He stayed on course and died for all. Remember the same Holy Spirit that raised Christ from the dead. That same power works to raise sinners into newness of life. Does it seem like He is no longer working? Remember Noah faithfully preaching before the flood came. He was not on his own, for that same Holy spirit was there working on the hearts of people pleading, offering all His power to lift them out of their sin and lead them to life.
Noah faithfully did his part. The Holy Spirit was there faithfully doing His work. But only eight were saved. Like in Noah’s day, we too are facing judgment. All will face that judgment. The Holy Spirit is faithfully drawing people. But God does not force anyone. The final choice is left for each person.
God’s people are to continue to witness and live for Christ even if it seems no one is listening: even if persecution is reaped. Continue to do good, witnessing for the Lord. Our part is not how many we can convince. Our part is to do good in our witness for Christ.
I see only "One Judgment" that all people have to face and that is the judgment that the Apostle Paul speaks of in Hebrews 9:26-28. Here Paul is clear that man dies once and then comes judgment, but Jesus also died once in man's place to save him from that judgment. Salvation is via Jesus for eternal life when He returns as a Saving King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Thank you so much. You helped me understand it in a simple way.
I thank you so much and God bless You all Andrew from Kenya