“He Preached To the Spirits in Prison”—1 Peter 3:18-20

Peter explains the missionary work of Noah here, whilst explaining the sacrifice of Jesus for sins.

Vs. 18 says, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God…” The word “also” is to link Christ to the martyr (see vv. 13-17). He too faced the same things we face today. He suffered for righteousnesss sake, having done nothing wrong.

Observe also that He suffered ONCE. This is in contrast with the sacrifices of the Law, which needed to be offered CONTINUALLY (see Heb 7:26-27, 9:25, 10:12).

Jesus died for sins, not His, but ours (Rom 8:3, Gal 1:4, Heb 10:6-18, 13:11-12, 1 John 2:2, 1 John 4:10). He was just, yet He gave Himself for us (the unjust), to bring us to God.

Romans 5 says “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, THROUGH WHOM ALSO WE HAVE ACCESS by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (vv. 1-2).

Ephesians 2:18 says, “For through Him WE BOTH HAVE ACCESS by one Spirit to the Father.” In the third chapter of the same book, Paul says, “In whom (i.e. Christ) WE HAVE BOLDNESS AND ACCESS with confidence through faith in Him” (vs. 12).

Jesus is God’s suffering Servant, Who dies to bring men closer to God. But He is also raised from the dead, vs. 18 continues:

…being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit…

His resurrection was made possible by the Spirit.

Romans 1:4 (NKJV)

4 and declared to be the Son of God with power ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT of holiness, BY THE RESURRECTION from the dead. 

Romans 8:11 (NKJV)

11 But if THE SPIRIT OF HIM WHO RAISED JESUS FROM THE DEAD dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

It was by this same Spirit that He preached to “the spirits in prison.

Vs. 19 says, “By whom (i.e. the Spirit) also He went and preached to the spirits in prison.

This does not mean He preached to those spirits AFTER their death. These spirits are NOW in prison. They refused His preaching, while still on the Earth.

So the text may be better read this way:

By whom also He went and preached to the spirits (who are now) in prison.

These “spirits” were those men preached to during the time of Noah. The Spirit of Christ, speaking THROUGH Noah, preached to the men who existed in his day;

Vs. 20 says, “Who (i.e. these spirits) FORMERLY WERE DISOBEDIENT, when once the Divine longsuffering waited IN THE DAYS OF NOAH, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.

Noah heralded the Gospel for 120 years (Gen 6:3), yet these men rejected him. They were actually rejecting the Lord who spoke through Him, Peter says.

Those Noah preached too are now “in prison,” that is, the grave, which is likened to an insatiable prison, always demanding more and more of the dead (see Pro 27:20).

So Jesus did not descend into hell to preach to the unsaved (dead men can no longer hear preaching). Peter speaks here of the events leading to the Flood (Genesis 6-8). It was through Noah that the Spirit of Christ preached to those spirits (or men) now in prison (i.e. dead in the grave).


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2022.


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *