1 Peter 3:18-20 “..he went and preached unto the spirits in prison..”
1 Peter 3:18-20 (KJV)
18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
Some think this passage refers to Jesus speaking to human beings in hell after His death on the cross.
Others think it refers to Christ’s spirit speaking in the days of Noah to warn of impending judgment and offer salvation to Noah and his family.
Neither is correct or biblical.
Preaching To The Lost Soul Theory
Some believe Jesus descended to hell and preached to lost souls. The words they point to are “in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison.”
First, nowhere in the Bible is there any statement that a lost soul who has died can have a second chance in the afterlife (Heb 9:27).
God has provided this earthly life as the place where all human beings determine who to obey and how they plan to spend eternity. That decision is made by each individual based upon personal conduct (Matthew 16:27; John 5:29, Rom 2:6-10, 1 Corinthians 3:8). Once a person dies, his eternal destiny has been cinched. He is “reserved for judgment” (2 Peter 2:4, 9, 17, 3:7, Hebrews 9:27).
Second, This passage does not claim they were in “hell.” The most likely interpretation of “the spirits now in prison” is similar to those who were slaves to sin in Noah’s day. Just as it was in the days of Noah, when God spoke through other men, Jesus now preaches (through men) to those spirits imprisoned by sin (those individuals who are spiritually dead, because of sin). This passage is talking about living people, not people who have died and are in hell.
Third, this would present several other problems. Why would Jesus go and preach only to those in Noah’s day? Why would Jesus exclude those who died prior to the flood, or those who have died since, and not give every dead person a second chance? Since God is no “respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11), God would not have Jesus go and single out Noah’s generation to be the only recipients of this preaching (Gospel) in the spirit realm.
And finally, what would have been the content of such preaching? Jesus could not have preached the whole Gospel in its entirety. The Gospel includes the resurrection of Jesus (Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 15:4). However, at the time this preaching was supposed to have occurred, Jesus had not yet been raised!
Let’s look at another companion verse that is also used to support this same claim that Jesus entered hell after His death on the cross.
8Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
The view of Jesus descending to hell is further negated by the words of Jesus Himself.
Just before His death, Jesus said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Upon death, His spirit, as all human spirits, went to the Father, not hell (Ecc 12:7).
Jesus’ body was in the grave dead (Rom 10:9, Gal 1:1, 1 Peter 1:21, Rev 1:18) for three days (Mark 8:31), not hell.
Christ Speaking To Noah Theory
Christ did not exist during this time period (the days of Noah) especially if we acknowledge Jesus as the “true” seed of David; that is also why Jesus is not mentioned in the Old Testament.
The transliteration of this passage is confusing the way it has been presented in the KJV, as it is with many other versions.
The most correct and harmonious translation of this passage that I have been able to find is found in:
The Book Of Yahweh.
18 For Messiah has also suffered once for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to Yahweh; we being dead in the flesh, but made alive by the Spirit—
19 He preached to those spiritually dead also,
20 Even as Yahweh, to the disobedient when the patience of Yahweh was waiting in the days of Noah, while an ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, was carried safely through the water.
21 The same figure: baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves us- not as removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to Yahweh for a clear conscience, and of the resurrection of Yahshua Messiah,
22 Who has gone into heaven, and is at the right hand of Yahweh; malakim, authorities, and 8powers having been made subject to Him.
Footnote 8: (– not yet all things Heb 2:8)
If we adopt the above passage for use in the KJV, it could be read as follows:
18 For Christ has also suffered once for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God; we being dead in the flesh, but made alive (quickened) by the Spirit—
19 He preached to those spiritually dead also,
20 Even as God, to the disobedient when the patience of God was waiting in the days of Noah, while an ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were carried safely through the water.
21 The same figure: baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves us- not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, and of the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
22 Who has gone into heaven, and is at the right hand of God; angels, authorities, and 8powers having been made subject to Him.
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