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Preaching To The Spirits In Prison. (1 Pet. 3:18-22 ). Paul’s Epistles.

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paul s epistles
Paul’s Epistles

2 Pet. 3:15-16:15and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

You, too Peter!!!

a difficult passage
A Difficult Passage

Martin Luther: “This is a more wonderful text and a darker saying than almost any in the New Testament, so that I do not rightly know what St Peter means.” (Quoted in Anthony Hanson, “Salvation Proclaimed,” The Expository Times, Jan. 1982, 93:100)

a difficult passage1
A Difficult Passage

John Feinberg: “As one approaches the commentaries on this passage, he is met by a veritable maze of positions. Not only is there variation in understanding of the overall meaning of the passage, but there is also variety in interpretation of almost every element in it.” (“1 Peter 3:18-20, Ancient Mythology, And The Intermediate State,” Westminster Theological Journal, 1986, 48:306)

a difficult passage2
A Difficult Passage

R. T. France: “The whole passage has given rise to more monographs, additional notes, and excursuses than almost any other. Yet there is probably no more agreement about its exegesis now than there ever has been.” (“Exegesis In Practice: Two Samples,” New Testament Interpretation: Essays on Principles and Methods, 1977, 264)

1 peter 3 18 20
1 Peter 3:18-20

NKJV:18For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in theflesh but made alive by the Spirit, 19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah….

NASB: 18For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah….

the context suffering
The Context: SUFFERING
  • 3:14: But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed….
  • 3:17: For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
  • 3:18: For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust….
  • 4:1: Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,
interpretation must fit context
Interpretation MustFit Context

R. T. France: “Our exegesis must then be consistent with this context. Verses 18-22 must have something relevant to say to those facing fierce hostility in the name of Christ. It is the fault of many interpretations of the passage that they ignore this requirement, and so accuse the author of inserting an irrelevant doctrinal digression in the middle of his exhortation.” (Bold emphasis added, “Exegesis In Practice: Two Samples,” New Testament Interpretation: Essays on Principles and Methods, 1977, 265-266)

important questions
Important Questions
  • Who are the “spirits in prison”?
  • Who did the preaching?
  • When was this preaching done?
  • What was the content of this preaching?
  • Where was the prison?
  • What is the relevance to the context?
christ s suffering 1 pet 3 18
Christ’s Suffering(1 Pet. 3:18)
  • Christ also suffered
  • Once
  • For sins (cf. Rom. 8:3)
  • The just for the unjust
  • Bring us to God
  • Put to death in the flesh
christ s triumph 1 pet 3 18 22
Christ’s Triumph(1 Pet. 3:18-22)
  • Made alive in the spirit
  • In which
  • Also He went
  • Preached
  • Spirits in prison
  • Formerly were disobedient
flesh spirit 1 pet 3 18
Flesh & Spirit(1 Pet. 3:18)
  • Jesus’ body vs. Jesus’ soul
  • Jesus’ body vs. Holy Spirit
  • Human nature vs. Divine nature
  • Physical realm vs. Spiritual realm
flesh spirit body soul
Flesh & Spirit – Body & Soul
  • Mt. 26:41: “The spirit indeed is willing, but the fleshis weak.” (cf. Mk. 14:38)
  • Lk. 24:39: “…a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”
  • Jn 3:6: That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
  • 2 Cor. 7:1: “…let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.”
flesh spirit body hs
Flesh & Spirit – Body & HS
  • Jn 3:6: That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
  • Gal. 5:16-17: 16…Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh;
  • Gal. 6:8: For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
flesh spirit physical spiritual realms
Flesh & Spirit:Physical & Spiritual Realms
  • Gal. 3:3: Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?
  • Gal. 4:29: But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now.
  • 1 Tim. 3:16: …God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit,
put to death vs made alive 1 pet 3 18
Put To Death Vs. Made Alive(1 Pet. 3:18)
  • Physical death vs. Vivification
  • Physical death vs. Resurrection
translating the dative case 1 pet 3 18
Translating The Dative Case(1 Pet. 3:18)
  • Either: “by [the] flesh” and “by [the] Spirit”
  • Or: “in [the] flesh” and “in [the] spirit” (cf. ASV, NASB, RSV, NRSV, YLT)
  • Not: “in [the] flesh” and “by [the] Spirit” (cf. KJV, NKJV)
translating the datives 1 pet 3 18
Translating The Datives(1 Pet. 3:18)

Wayne Grudem: “It would…be somewhat unusual if the same grammatical structure used in parallel parts of the same sentence were meant to be understood differently (i.e. put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit).” (“1 Peter,” Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, 226)

in which
“In Which”
  • “In which” is a relative pronoun referring to “spirit”
    • “In which”
    • “By which”
    • “In whom”
    • “By whom”
  • “In which” means “on which occasion”

“spirit”

“spiritual realm”

“(Holy) Spirit”

also he went
“Also He Went”
  • Christ’s preexistence (1 Pet. 1:10-11)
  • Christ’s descent to Hades (Lk. 23:43; Acts 2:25-32)
  • Christ’s ascension (Mk. 16:19; Lk. 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-11; 2:33)
preached kerusso
“Preached”(kerusso)

The Gospel

Other Things

  • Repentance(Mt. 3:1-2)
  • Gospel of kingdom (Mt. 4:23)
  • Kingdom of heaven (Mt. 10:7)
  • Liberty(Lk. 4:18)
  • Kingdom of God (Lk. 9:2)
  • Christ(Acts 8:5)
  • Word(Acts 10:37)
  • Secrets (Lk. 12:3)
  • Healings(Mk. 1:45)
  • Moses(Acts 15:21)
  • Moral principle(Rom. 2:21)
  • Another Jesus (2 Cor. 11:4)
  • Circumcision (Gal. 5:11)
  • Question(Rev. 5:2)
prison phulake
“Prison”(phulake)
  • Ignorance & sin
  • Physical body
  • Hades
  • Tartarus
  • Lower heavens
christian s attitude 1 pet 4 1 6
Christian’s Attitude(1 Pet. 4:1-6)
  • The Attitude Christians Should Adopt (4:1)
  • The Christians’ Former Life In Sin (4:2-3)
  • The Reaction Of Unbelievers To The Christian’s New Life (4:4)
  • The Judgment Of These Unbelievers (4:5)
  • The Preaching Of The Gospel To The Dead (4:6)
interpretations of 1 pet 3 18 20
Interpretations Of1 Pet. 3:18-20

EnochPreached In The Underworld

enoch
Enoch
  • Translated &did not see death (Gen. 5:24; Heb. 11:5)
  • Prophesied about ungodly false teachers (Jude 3-4, 12-15)
  • Preached to fallen angels(1 Enoch 12:1-6; 13:1-10; 14:1-8; 16:1-4)
  • 1 Enoch serves as the background
an emended text
An Emended Text

“But, a number of modern scholars have followed Griesbach’s conjecture that the original text was either Nōe kai (Noah also), or Enōch kai (Enoch also), or en hōi kai Enōch (in which Enoch also) which an early scribe misunderstood or omitted Enōch kai in copying homoioteleuton).” (Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 6:116-117)

enoch preached
Enoch Preached

Moffatt: “18Christ himself died for sins, once for all, a just man for unjust men, that he might bring us near to God; in the flesh he was put to death but he came to life in the Spirit 19(It was in the Spirit that Enoch also went and preached to the imprisoned spirits who had disobeyed at the time when God’s patience held out during the construction of the ark in the days of Noah….”

enoch preached1
Enoch Preached

Goodspeed: “18For Christ himself died once for all, for sin, an upright man for unrighteous men, to bring us to God, and was physically put to death, but he was made alive in the Spirit. 19In it Enoch went and preached even to those spirits that were in prison, who had once been disobedient, when in Noah’s time God in his patience waited for the ark to be made ready….”

interpretations of 1 pet 3 18 201
Interpretations Of1 Pet. 3:18-20

Christ Preached In Limbo

interpretations of 1 pet 3 18 202
Interpretations Of1 Pet. 3:18-20

Christ Preached Through The Apostles

chronological sequence
Chronological Sequence
  • Death:“put to death in the flesh” (3:18)
  • Vivification or Resurrection: “made alive in the spirit” (3:18b)
  • Descent or Ascension: “He went” (3:19)
  • Preaching:“preached to the spirits in prison” (3:21)
  • Ascension: “who has gone into heaven” (3:22a)
  • Coronation: “at the right hand of God” (3:22b)
interpretations of 1 pet 3 18 203
Interpretations Of1 Pet. 3:18-20

Christ Preached In Hades

flesh spirit
Flesh & Spirit
  • Mt 26:41:41…The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mk. 14:38)
  • Lk 24:39: 39 …Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”
  • Jn 3:6: 6That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
  • 2 Cor. 7:1:1Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
spirit soul
Spirit = Soul
  • Lk 23:46: 46…“Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’” (cf. Acts 7:59)
  • Heb 12:9:9…Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?
  • Num. 16:22:22…“O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and You be angry with all the congregation?”
  • Num. 27:16:16“Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation,
spirit disembodied soul
Spirit = Disembodied Soul
  • Eccl. 12:7: Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it.
  • Heb 12:23: to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect,
    • Cf. Rev. 6:9; 20:4
the dead go to sheol or hades
The Dead Go ToSheol or Hades
  • 1 Sam. 2:6: “The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up.
  • Psa. 89:48: What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah.
  • Pr 9:18: 18But he does not know that the dead are there, That her guests are in the depths of Sheol.
the dead go to sheol or hades1
The Dead Go ToSheol or Hades
  • Isa. 14:9: “Sheol from beneath is excited over you to meet you when you come; It arouses for you the spirits of the dead, all the leaders of the earth; It raises all the kings of the nations from their thrones.
  • Lk. 16:23: 23“In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom.
the ungodly are reserved for punishment
The Ungodly AreReserved For Punishment
  • 2 Pet. 2:9: then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment,
    • The king of Babylon (Isa. 14:15ff)
    • The rich man (Lk. 16:22-23)
conscience existence lk 16 19 31
Conscience Existence(Lk. 16:19-31)
  • Feeling (vv. 23-25, 28)
  • Sight (v. 23)
  • Speech (v. 24)
  • Movement (v. 24)
  • Taste (v. 24)
  • Memory(v. 25)
  • Desire (v. 26)
  • Concern (vv. 27-28)
  • Reasoning (vv. 29-31)
christ went to sheol or hades
Christ Went ToSheol or Hades
  • Psa. 16:10: For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.
  • Acts 2:27:For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
  • Acts 2:31: he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.
gospel preached to the dead
Gospel Preached To The Dead

1 Pet. 4:6: For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

the syriac peshito
The Syriac Peshito

1 Peter 3:19: “And He preached (there) to the souls who were shut up in Sheol, those who had before been disobedient in the days of Noah.” (Quoted in Reicke, The Disobedient Spirits and Christian Baptism, 34)

the church fathers
The “Church Fathers”

B. C. Caffin: “The early Greek Fathers appear to have held, with one consent, that Peter is here speaking of that descent into Hades of which He had spoken in His first great sermon (Acts ii:31).” (“1 Peter,” The Pulpit Commentary, 22:135)

christ s preaching in hades
Christ’s Preaching In Hades
  • The gospel
  • Release of righteous
  • Condemnation
  • Victory and Judgment
righteous in heaven
Righteous In Heaven
  • “Receive my spirit” (Acts 7:55-56, 59)
  • To die is to “be with the Lord” (Phil. 1:23)
  • “Absent from the body” – “present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:6-8)
  • “Spirits of just men made perfect” (Heb. 12:22-24)
  • Righteous dead in heaven (Rev. 6:9-11; 7:9-10, 13-17; 15:1-4)
  • Jesus will bring righteous with Him (1 Th. 3:11-13; 4:13-14)
made alive zoopoieo
“Made Alive”(zoopoieo)
  • Resurrection from the dead (Jn. 5:21a; Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 15:22)
  • Giving spiritual life to those dead in sin (Jn. 5:21b; 6:63; 2 Cor. 3:6; Gal. 3:21)
  • Quickening Abraham’s body to beget Isaac [?] (Rom. 4:17)
  • The sprouting of a seed (1 Cor. 15:36)
  • The giving of life (1 Tim. 6:13)
spirits human souls
“Spirits” = Human Souls???

J. Ramsey Michaels: “A human being may have a spirit (i.e., a soul, or the life within a person; cf. e.g., Matt 27:50; Luke 23:46; John 19:30; Acts 7:59), but it is not normally said that one is a spirit, much less that a group of human beings collectively are ‘spirits’ ….” (“1 Peter,” Word Biblical Commentary, 49:207)

spirits human souls1
“Spirits” = Human Souls???

Gary L. Knapp: ”Elsewhere in the NT, however, when Gk. pneumata occurs alone and unqualified, it never refers to human beings…. Thus He. 12:23 affords little support for this view, since in this verse pneumata is qualified and has an unequivocal human reference. Also, 1 Pet. 3:20 uses Gk. psyche, not pneuma, for human beings.” (ISBE, Rev. Ed., 3:976)

the spirits the dead
The Spirits & The Dead

1 Peter 3:19

1 Peter 4:6

  • “Spirits”(pneuma)
  • “Preached” (kerusso)
  • “Dead”(necros)
  • “Preached” (euangelizo)
preached kerusso1
“Preached”(kerusso)

John S. Feinberg: “Kerysso is a cognate of keryx and has the fundamental meaning of ‘to act as a herald.’ There is nothing implicit in the meaning of the word which suggests the content of the heralding, but only that proclaiming or heralding is done.” (“1 Peter 3:18-20, Ancient Mythology, And The Intermediate State.” Westminster Theological Journal, 1986, 48:325)

preached kerusso2
“Preached”(kerusso)

Albert Barnes: “The word used here… is of a general character, meaning to make a proclamation of any kind, as a crier does, or to deliver a message, and does not necessarily imply that it was the gospel which was preached, nor does it determine anything in regard to the nature of the message. It is not affirmed that he preached the gospel, for if that specific idea had been expressed it would have been rather by another word….” (“James-Jude,” Barnes’ Notes, 177-178)

no second chance
“No Second Chance”
  • After death comes judgment (Heb. 9:27)
  • Dead cannot hope for God’s truth (Isa. 38:18-19)
  • No “second chance” for rich man (Lk. 16:23-26)
  • Give account for things done in body (2 Cor. 5:10)
  • Wicked are reserved for punishment (2 Pet. 2:4-5, 9)
interpretations of 1 pet 3 18 204
Interpretations Of1 Pet. 3:18-20

Christ Preached Through Noah

christ was active before the incarnation
Christ Was ActiveBefore The Incarnation
  • 1 Cor. 10:4: and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 10:9: nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents;
spirit of christ ot prophets
Spirit of Christ &OT Prophets

1 Pet. 1:10-12:10Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.

noah preacher of righteousness
Noah:Preacher Of Righteousness

2 Pet 2:5: and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly;

working through an agent
Working Through An Agent
  • 2 Sam. 12:9: …You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword…and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon.
  • Jn 4:1-2:1Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John 2(though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples),
  • Jn. 14:18: I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
figurative prisons
Figurative Prisons
  • Psa. 142:7: Bring my soul out of prison, That I may praise Your name….
  • Isa. 42:7: To open blind eyes, To bring out prisoners from the prison, Those who sit in darkness from the prison house.
  • Isa. 49:9: That You may say to the prisoners, ‘Go forth,’….
  • Isa. 61:1: …He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
christ preaching through noah fits the context
Christ Preaching Through NoahFits The Context
  • Noah was a minority(cf. 1 Pet. 3:13-14; 4:4, 12-13)
  • Noah was righteous(cf. 1 Pet. 3:10-14, 16-17, 4:3-4)
  • Noah preached boldly (cf. 1 Pet. 3:15)
  • Judgment was coming (cf. 1 Pet. 4:5, 7, 17-18; 2 Pet. 3:10)
  • God was waiting for repentance(cf. 2 Pet. 3:9-10)
translating the dative case 1 pet 3 181
Translating The Dative Case(1 Pet. 3:18)
  • Either: “by [the] flesh” and “by [the] Spirit”
  • Or: “in [the] flesh” and “in [the] spirit”
  • Not: “in [the] flesh” and “by [the] Spirit”
chronological sequence1
Chronological Sequence
  • Death:“put to death in the flesh” (3:18)
  • Vivification or Resurrection: “made alive in the spirit” (3:18b)
  • Descent or Ascension: “He went” (3:19)
  • Preaching:“preached to the spirits in prison” (3:21)
  • Ascension: “who has gone into heaven” (3:22a)
  • Coronation: “at the right hand of God” (3:22b)
interpretations of 1 pet 3 18 205
Interpretations Of1 Pet. 3:18-20

Christ Preached To Fallen Angels

spirit s supernatural beings
“Spirits”:Supernatural Beings

Good Spirits

Evil Spirits

  • Angels (Heb. 1:7, 13-14)
  • Seven Spiritsbefore the throne (Rev. 1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 5:6)
  • Spirits & miraculous gifts(1 Cor. 12:10; 14:32)
  • Demons (Mt. 8:16; Lk. 10:17, 20; Rev. 16:14)
  • Unclean spirits (Mt. 12:43, 45; Lk. 11:24, 26)
  • Spirits & false prophesy(1 Tim. 4:1; 1 Jn. 4:1)
  • Spirits in prison (1 Pet. 3:18)
made alive zoopoieo1
“Made Alive”(zoopoieo)
  • Resurrection from the dead (Jn. 5:21a; Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 15:22)
  • Giving spiritual life to those dead in sin (Jn. 5:21b; 6:63; 2 Cor. 3:6; Gal. 3:21)
  • Quickening Abraham’s body to beget Isaac [?] (Rom. 4:17)
  • The sprouting of a seed (1 Cor. 15:36)
  • The giving of life (1 Tim. 6:13)
sons of god angels
“Sons of God” = Angels

Josephus: “[F]or many angels of God accompanied with women, and begat sonsthat proved unjust, and despisers of all that was good, on account of the confidence they had in their own strength; for the tradition is, That these men did what resembled the acts of those whom the Grecians call giants.” (Bold emphasis added, Antiquities of the Jews, 1:3:73)

sons of god angels1
“Sons of God” = Angels

Philo: “‘And when the angels of Godsaw the daughters of men that they were beautiful, they took unto themselves wives of all of them whom they chose.’ Those beings, whom other philosophers call demons, Moses usually calls angels; and they are souls hovering in the air.” (Bold emphasis added, On the Giants, II:6)

fallen angels in 1 enoch
Fallen Angels In 1 Enoch
  • “Spirits” (1 Enoch 15:4, 6, 8)
  • Imprisoned (1 Enoch 18:14; 21:10; 10:1ff)
  • Disobedient (1 Enoch 21:6; 106:13-14)
  • Noah and the flood (1 Enoch 6-10; 65-67; 106:13-17)
sons of god angels2
“Sons of God” = Angels

Kenneth Wuest: “This was the prevailing view of the passage in the ancient synagogue of the Jews. Josephus, Jewish historian of the first century, speaks of the sons of God of Genesis 6 as angels, and in such a way as to indicate that that was the commonly accepted interpretation in his day. It was the view held by Christian theologians for the first three or four centuries of the Church.” (Bold emphasis added, “1 Peter.” Wuest’s Word Studies From The Greek New Testament : For The English Reader, 104)

angels are imprisoned
Angels Are Imprisoned
  • 2 Pet. 2:4: For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;
  • Jude 6: And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;
angels the flood
Angels & The Flood
  • 2 Pet. 2:4-5: 4For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; 5and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly;
angels sin of sodom
Angels & Sin of Sodom

Jude 6-7:6And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; 7as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

christ victory
Christ & Victory

Eph 4:8-10:8Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” 9(Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

christ preaching to angels fits the context
Christ Preaching To AngelsFits The Context
  • Preaching was done by Jesus Himself (not through Noah)
  • Preaching was done by Jesus after “being put to death in the flesh” (not in His pre-incarnate state)
  • Preaching was done by Jesus after He was “made alive in the spirit” (i.e. after His resurrection, not during the three day period between His death and resurrection)
christ preaching to angels fits the context1
Christ Preaching To AngelsFits The Context
  • Preaching was to the spirits (i.e. angelic spirits)
  • Preaching was done while these spirits were in prison (not in the days of Noah before they were imprisoned)
  • Preaching was to the spirits who were formerly disobedient
christ preaching to angels fits the context2
Christ Preaching To AngelsFits The Context
  • Preaching was a proclamation of victory over death, not an offer of a second chance to a select few
  • Preaching was appropriate in light of Christ’s subjection of “angels and authorities and powers” (1 Pet. 3:22)
rebuttal material
Rebuttal Material
  • “Sons of God” refers to the righteous (Mt. 5:9; Lk. 20:36; Rom. 8:14, 19; Gal. 3:26)
  • Targums and Rabbinic literature view “sons of God” as human beings
  • Jewish tradition does not uniformly link the sin of angels with the flood
  • No conclusive proof that the angels who sinned (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6) were disobedient in the days of Noah
rebuttal material1
Rebuttal Material
  • Angels do not marry (Mt. 22:29-30; Mk. 12:25; Lk. 20:34-35)
  • Angels do not have opportunity to repent (cf. Heb. 2:16; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6)
  • The setting is that of human life (1 Pet. 3:20)
  • Why did Jesus proclaim victory only to disobedient angels in Noah’s day?
could the sons of god be angels
Could The “Sons Of God” Be Angels?
  • Angels are called “sons of God” (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Dan. 3:25, 28)
  • Angels could take human form (Gen. 18:1-2, 22; 19:1, 15)
  • Angels could eat food (Gen. 18:6-8)
  • Angels in heavendo notmarry (Mt. 22:30; Mk. 12:25; Lk. 20:34-36)
  • What about disobedient angels who come to earth?
christ preaching to angels fits the context3
Christ Preaching To AngelsFits The Context

Phil Roberts: “Peter assures his readers that they can be confident of victory because Christ, in the process of his own suffering and glorification, has already gone and proclaimed victory over (or judgment on) the very evil spirits that contributed to the destruction of the world of Noah – the world that was. Thus they need not fear that another generation of such evil spirits will destroy the salvation that they have in Christ. …. They will be saved by the one ‘who is on the right hand of God, having gone into heaven; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him’ (1 Pet. 3:22).” (“The Spirits In Prison: Three Possible Interpretations.” Unpublished Class Notes, 10)

interpretations of 1 pet 4 6
Interpretations Of1 Pet. 4:6

Christ Preached The Gospel In Hades

rebuttal material2
Rebuttal Material
  • Assumes Christ does preaching
  • Passage rarely linked to Christ’s descent to Hades
  • Ignores apparent chronological sequence
  • Does not fit the context
chronological sequence2
Chronological Sequence
  • Preaching the gospel
  • Being judged by human beings
  • Living in the eyes of God
doesn t fit context
Doesn’t Fit Context

William Dalton: “It seems highly unlikely that, in the midst of this train of thought, the writer should suddenly go off on a tangent, in an effort to explain how Christ can judge ‘the living and the dead’….the general thrust of 1 Peter is not directed to the conversion of the pagan persecutors, but rather to the survival of Christians in a hostile environment.” (Bold emphasis added, Christ’s Proclamation to the Spirits: A Study of 1 Peter 3:18-4:6, 55)

interpretations of 1 pet 4 61
Interpretations Of1 Pet. 4:6

Christ Preached The Good News Of Salvation In Hades

rebuttal material3
Rebuttal Material
  • Assumes Christ does preaching
  • No clear indication that “the dead” refers to the “righteous dead”
  • Preaching cannot lead to judgment of death
interpretations of 1 pet 4 62
Interpretations Of1 Pet. 4:6

The Gospel Was Preached To The Spiritually Dead

rebuttal material4
Rebuttal Material
  • Preaching (aorist) cannot refer to ongoing preaching to the spiritually dead
  • “The dead” (v. 6) should be interpreted the same as “the dead” (v. 5)
interpretations of 1 pet 4 63
Interpretations Of1 Pet. 4:6

The Gospel Was Preached ToThe Living Who Have Since Died

rebuttal material5
Rebuttal Material
  • Obvious meaning of preaching to the dead suggests that the people who heard the preaching were dead at the time
  • Since “the dead” (v. 5) refers to all the dead, “the dead” (v. 6) should refer to all the dead
  • Since the judgment (v. 5) refers to Final Judgment, the judgment (v. 6) should refer to Final Judgment
practical lessons
Practical Lessons
  • Some things in the Bible are hard to understand (2 Pet. 3:15-16)
  • Careful diligent study is required to understand difficult Bible passages
  • Some things are not as simple as they may appear to be (Pr. 18:17)