(Before I start my study today, I need to apologize for my two-day absence. We had a major computer glitch, which my talented husband has jerry-rigged until he can figure what else needs to be done. I’m so thankful for his abilities to fix stuff!
I also want to say ahead of time that this verse and the next have been the subject of much study and controversy. I do not claim to have the definitive answer. I will only do the best I can to explain it in simple terms–hard to do for such a complex subject.
I Peter 3: 19. “By which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison;”
Peter, in the previous verse, says that Jesus, quickened (made alive) by the Spirit, which enabled Him to go and preach to the spirits which were in prison.
Who were those spirits? I believe they were the souls of all who believed God, through faith,. They had died before our salvation was complete, but their faith justified them. They were not in the place of torment. They were sheltered “in Abraham’s bosom,” waiting for their release when Jesus came to take captivity captive; and I believe they knew Who He was when He appeared in Sheol and preached the gospel of the risen Christ to them. What an amazing time that must have been! To see the risen Spirit of the Son of God standing before them! To hear from His own lips the fulfillment of the promise of eternal life in heaven! I believe they were silent as He spoke. I believe there was great rejoicing and praise to Him as He made clear what was about to happen.
Some believe that Jesus went to preach to the demonic spirits in Hades. He went to announce that death had been defeated, and that the final judgment for sin was still to come. It was not an evangelistic message He preached, but one to make clear that He had gained the victory over sin and death.
I find this position difficult to justify on several levels. The most important is that Jesus would have had nothing to offer the demons beyond the surety of their coming torment in the Lake of Fire.
I like this quote from a Bible commentator I admire:
“What His message was we are not told. Why only those disobedient in the days of Noah are mentioned is not stated. What the purpose or result of Christ’s preaching was, is not revealed. On all these points we may form our own conclusions, but we have no authority for anything approaching dogmatic teaching.” (Morgan)Morgan, Blue Letter Bible
3 thoughts on “He. . Preached. . .to the Spirits”
It is frustrating to all of us who want more study of tough topics. No one really knows the answers so they either ignore the passage, or they suck something out of their theological thumbs that is merely opinion. Somethings we will never know and we have to leave it at that. After all, the secret things do belong to the Lord. Deut. 29:29 We hold but a thimble full of knowledge next to God’s infinite store of knowledge. May as well admit it. I hope your computer starts behaving again. My IT son in law gives me solution number 1 is always turn it of, shut it down, even upplug it or turnoff the power strip, leave it for at least five minutes and restart. If I don’t do that first, he won’t help me! But last year, my computer required a whole new system. It crashed. Big time. Fortunately, I store most of what I do in cloud storage, and although I lost a little bit of into, nothing major. Gary’s replly to me: “It happens.” Shrug shoulders. But even living 12 hours away, he helped me through the situation!
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I have a son-in-law much closer, a true computer genius. I hate to bother him if we can figure it out here. So many people ask him to just “take a look” at their computers!
If God is silent, we do not have a need to know. Nor do we have a right to draw conclusions, or to criticize those who disagree with us.
Someone said that there is PLENTY of Bible teaching on which the Bible is utterly clear…enough to occupy us. Why, then, are we so apt to obsess over the obscure things?
Human nature, I guess.
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