Ask Your Preacher
“Unshackling The Truth”Categories: NEW TESTAMENT
I have been talking to four or five theologians, and none of them know as much about the Bible as you guys do. I had one tell me something that wasn't even right. I showed him Scripture. But anyway, I thought you guys might appreciate the fact you know more about the Bible than theologians. My question is: 1 Peter 3:19, who are the spirits in prison?
Looking For The Key
Dear Looking For The Key,
Thanks for the kind words! We’re just glad we can be of help. 1 Pet 3:18-19 is a very difficult passage, and there are a number of different interpretations of what it means that Jesus “preached to the spirits in prison”. Some believe it refers to Jesus literally descending into the darkest depths of Hades to preach to those awaiting eternal punishment, but this directly contradicts other Scriptures where Jesus specifically says He was going to Paradise (Lk 23:43). Either Jesus was wrong, or that interpretation of 1 Pet 3:19 is wrong – we here at AYP will trust that Jesus knew where He was going after death.
The other options for that verse are numerous, but the two most likely are:
- That the spirits in prison were the people that Jesus preached to before or after His resurrection. Those enslaved to sin are most definitely imprisoned spirits (Jhn 8:34).
- The other likely option is that Jesus, through Noah (2 Pet 2:5), preached to the pre-Flood world and showed longsuffering to them, just as He does to us today. After all, 1 Pet 3:20 identifies the “spirits in prison” as those who were disobedient during the days of Noah. Most likely, 1 Pet 3:18-20 is making the case that Jesus has always been patient with the disobedient (even before He lived on this planet as a man), but unless we choose Christ, we will perish just like those of the pre-Flood world.