Does 1 Peter 3:19 Teach That Jesus Preached in Hell?

Peter as soon as of wrote of Pauls letters: There are some issues in them which are laborious to grasp (2 Pet. 3:16). We would say the identical of Peters letters! Right here’s one assertion that has lengthy perplexed readers:

For Christ additionally suffered as soon as for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he may convey us to God, being put to loss of life within the flesh however made alive within the spirit, through which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in jail, as a result of they previously didn’t obey, when Gods persistence waited within the days of Noah, whereas the ark was being ready, through which just a few, that’s, eight individuals, have been introduced safely by water. (1 Pet. 3:1820)

In verse 18, Peter is talking of the loss of life and resurrection of Christ. Jesus was put to loss of life within the fleshthat is, he died in his humanity. And he was raised, made alive within the spirit. However what’s the spirit right here? Some interpreters take it to imply Jesuss human soul. Others say its the situation the place the risen Jesus is now alive. However the pairing of Jesuss resurrection with the spirit signifies that Peter is referring to the Holy Spirit (see Rom. 8:411). Jesus, Peter says, was raised within the energy of the Spirit.

Proclaimed to the Spirits in Jail

If Peter is saying in verse 18 that Jesus was raised from the lifeless by the facility of the Holy Spirit, then hes saying at the start of verse 19 that in [the Spirit], [Jesus] went and proclaimed to the spirits in jail. Many interpreters have taken Peter to be saying that, both between Jesuss loss of life and resurrection or after it, Jesus undertook a preaching marketing campaign.

Who’re stated to be the objects of Jesus’s preaching? The spirits in jail who previously didn’t obey. However who’re these spirits? In line with some, they’re the souls of Outdated Testomony believers, whom Jesus liberated from captivity and introduced with him to heaven. The message that Jesus proclaimshis loss of life and resurrectionis subsequently excellent news to them.

Others have taken these spirits to be condemned souls who rejected Noah millennia earlier. For such people, Jesus is confirming their condemnation by proclaiming his victory over them and all his enemies in his loss of life and resurrection. (Some interpreters have seen Jesus providing a postmortem alternative for religion and repentance to those spirits in jail.)

What Did Jesus Do?

These interpretations have at the very least one factor in frequent. They see Jesus doing one thingdomestically, if not bodilyafter his loss of life and burial however earlier than his ascension and session in heaven. One drawback with such interpretations, although, is that they affirm an exercise of Jesus that seems nowhere else in Scripture. We ought to be cautious about advancing such a declare with out clearer biblical testimony.

An extra drawback with such interpretations stems from Peters description of those spirits as those that previously didn’t obey . . . within the days of Noah, whereas the ark was being ready (v. 20). Why would Jesus liberate just some Outdated Testomony saints from captivity? (And why would Peter describe Outdated Testomony saints on this vogue?) Or, why would Jesus proclaim condemnation to solely a single era of souls in hell, and never others? Every of those interpretations additionally carries its personal liabilities. There is no such thing as a clear testimony in Scripture that Outdated Testomony believers, at their deaths, have been confined to limbus patrum (the limbo of the fathers) till such time as Christ launched them at his resurrection.

Jesuss educating within the Parable of Lazarus and the Wealthy Man factors in a opposite course. At their deaths, the souls of Outdated Testomony believers went instantly into the presence of God (Luke 16:22). There isnt any clear cause why Christ would journey to hell to proclaim his victory to any condemned human soul. And there definitely is not any biblical warrant for a suggestion of salvation to these whove already died. The ultimate judgment, in spite of everything, will keep in mind solely what one has finished on this life, not something finished within the hereafter (1 Pet. 1:17; 2 Cor. 5:10; Heb. 9:27).

Nonetheless others have taken these spirits to be depraved angels over whom Christ triumphed at his resurrection. Jesus is claimed to announce his resurrection conquest over the non secular powers and authorities, who’re certain in infernal captivity. This view might contain a proclamation of victory in hell, however it needn’t. Whereas its true that Jesuss resurrection declared victory over his non secular, demonic enemies (see verse 22), its uncertain Peter had that victory in thoughts in verse 19. Peter seems to grasp the spirits of verse 19 to be human beings when he says they have been disobedient within the days of Noah, whereas the ark was being ready (v. 20).

Higher Interpretation

Theres one other technique to interpret Peters phrases that avoids these difficulties and accounts for the context of those verses inside Peters argument. The one who does the proclaiming of verse 19 shouldn’t be the risen Jesus. Its Jesus who preaches, to make sure, however he preaches within the Holy Spirit. The timing of this proclamation shouldn’t be the window between the loss of life and ascension of Jesus Christ. Its throughout the lifetime of Noah.

What, then, is Peter saying? Hes saying that Noah, in the middle of constructing the ark, bore testimony to the approaching judgment of God. He was the herald of righteousness, as Peter says in his second letter (2 Pet. 2:5). Noah preached within the energy of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit whom Peter has earlier referred to as the Spirit of Christ (1 Pet. 1:10). However the women and men of Noahs era, however Gods persistence in delaying judgment, spurned that proclamation. Due to their former disobedience, they’re presently in jail. That’s, their souls, upon their deaths, have been justly dedicated to hell to be punished for his or her sins.

Be Able to Give an Account

These phrases would have introduced large pastoral encouragement to Peters first readers. A lot of them have been Gentiles, whod been redeemed from nugatory and depraved lives (1 Pet. 1:18, evaluate 4:34; cf. Eph. 2:12). These believers have been being persecuted for his or her religion, a actuality explicitly addressed in 1 Peter 3:817. However this persecution, they have been all the time to be ready to make a protection to anybody who asks you for a cause for the hope that’s in you (1 Pet. 3:1516).

How can believers do that laborious work? In 1 Peter 3:1820, Peter once more factors us to Christ’s loss of life and resurrection for sinners. Believers at present, like Noah of previous, are referred to as to testify to the hope of the gospel earlier than a world that mocks and scorns us in unbelief. We achieve this within the energy of the Holy Spiritthe Spirit of Christ at work in Noahs proclamation ministry, and the Spirit by whom Christ was raised from the lifeless. Our job shouldn’t be futile. The risen Jesus has gained the victory (1 Pet. 3:2122). We should neither concern nor despair (1 Pet. 3:14). Reasonably, we must always in [our] hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy by telling others about him (1 Pet. 3:15).

How good to know our Savior has gained the victory! Peter reminds us to not dwell in view of what our senses inform us, however by what we all know to be true by religion. Jesus is on his throne and at work amongst us by his Spirit. Allow us to be trustworthy and serve him in our era.


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