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Session 6 - 1 Peter 3:19-20 - Always Ready - Day 4

Posted on October 5, 2016 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Session 6 – 1 Peter 3:19-20 – Always Ready – Day 4


First of all, let us just state that people have debated verse 19 for centuries. We do not claim to have a definitive answer to the questions that arise from this verse. We will present several points of view and explain which we lean toward.


1 Peter 3:19 In that state He also went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison 20 who in the past were disobedient, when God patiently waited in the days of Noah while an ark was being prepared. In it a few—that is, eight people—were saved through water.


Reformation Study Bible:

3:19 proclaimed to the spirits in prison. Four main interpretations of vv. 19, 20 may be mentioned: (a) Christ as preincarnate and preaching through Noah (2 Pet. 2:5) to the people before the Flood (Gen. 6–8). Noah called them to repentance, but they disobeyed and are now imprisoned. The point of Peter’s argument would then be that as God vindicated Noah then, He would vindicate Christians now. (b) Christ’s preaching in the short interval between His death and Resurrection, during a “descent into hell.” It is said that Christ announced His victory to the spirits of Noah’s wicked contemporaries confined in the realm of the dead. (c) A similar idea is that Christ proclaimed His victory to fallen angels, often identified with the “sons of God” of Gen. 6:2, 4 (cf. Job 1:6; 2:1), in their place of confinement. (d) Christ proclaiming His victory to fallen angels after the Resurrection, at the time of His Ascension into heaven. The point of the last three interpretations is that just as Jesus was vindicated, so too Christians will be vindicated.


We lean toward scenario b – Jesus declaring his victory to the wicked people of Noah’s day since verse 20 goes on to reference Noah and the flood. However, there is a point of view brought to us by an avid student of the Bible and confirmed by one of Susan’s former professors at Oral Roberts University, Dr. Samuel Thorpe. This is that Hades had two sides – one for the evil, and one for the righteous. Jesus proclaimed His victory over the grave to those who died in unbelief. Then He gathered up those who were righteous, who had believed and awaited God’s promise, and took them to dwell with Him in the heavenly places.


This is supported by the following passage:


Matthew 27:51-53 (KJV) 51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.


We are not told if these saints were then translated immediately to heaven after they witnessed to the truth of Jesus or if they subsequently died again. Either way, after Jesus’ resurrection, there is no more talk of believers going to a holding place such as Hades. Instead, Paul teaches that we are immediately with the Lord upon our earthly death:


2 Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.


A passage that supports the idea of two sides or compartments of Hades is the story of Lazarus the beggar and the rich man. Lazarus was on the good side with Abraham and the rich man was allowed a glimpse of him from the bad side. There was a chasm between them which neither could cross. Lazarus is described as being in Abraham’s bosom, not in the presence of the Lord. However, he was at peace while the rich man was in torment. To me this says Abraham and Lazarus were not yet in heaven but on the good side of Hades. (Luke 16)


Noah and his family were saved through the flood because they trusted God and entered the ark. How does any of this apply to us as believers in Jesus? Noah and family were saved by trusting, believing, and banking on God’s word to Noah. We are saved by placing total trust in the “ark” of Jesus and His finished work on the cross. Was Jesus giving the people on the evil side of Hades a second chance to repent and believe? No. He was proclaiming His victory to them. The opportunity for redemption is only available while we remain on earth in our earth-suits. Once the last breath has sighed out of the body, the person has no further opportunity to trust in Jesus.


Question: Have you placed your total trust in the saving grace offered to you by the Lord Jesus Christ? Jesus died to pay the price for your sin. He was raised to life and is seated at the right hand of God the Father. He said of Himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto Father but by me.” (John 14:6 KJV) Your next breath is not promised – a truth brought home to us recently. We urge you to surrender to the call of Jesus today.


Chew on this: If you are already a believer, you need to be sharing the gospel at every opportunity. Pray for boldness to do so.