1 Peter 3:19-22
1 Pet 3:19-20 (KJB)
By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; {20} Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
Now we come upon two verses which have been so misunderstood over the years. The popular teaching is that Christ went to hell to preach to the spirits in prison. If there were conscious souls in Hell at that time, there would be no purpose in bringing them the Gospel, since they would all be under condemnation and could never be saved. Christ did not go to Hell but He endured the equivalency of an eternity in Hell to pay for the sins of the Believers. One thing we must realize that God never does anything which lacks purpose. The key to understanding this passage is found in verse 20. There we read about Noah who is called “preacher of righteousness.” (2 Peter 2:5)
(2 Pet 2:5 KJV) And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;
While Noah was preparing the ark, he was also preaching about the coming judgment. This is why he is called “a preacher.” There is one great principle found in verse 20 and I have it pasted in my Bible when I clipped it out of something many years ago, “Noah was faithful to God’s message even though there were no results.”
This is something that we must keep in mind. Many of us want to see instant results when we witness to someone. This is not always the case. Sometimes it does happen but very rarely. We are to remain faithful and vigilant even if there is no visible fruit. Now what does it mean that Christ preached to the spirits in prison? Jesus did not walk the earth at that time, so how could He have preached to the spirits
in prison? The answer is simple. The Spirit of Christ was in Noah!
(Rom 8:9 KJV) But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
Let us look at the very end of 1 Peter 3:18, “but quickened by the Spirit:” Isn’t every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ quickened (made alive) by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? We read this in Romans 8:9. The same Spirit quickened the Old Testament Saints as well as all those on the New Testament side of the cross. The Lord Jesus is not walking on earth today, yet He is preaching to the world through His regenerated Saints by the quickening of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is called the “Word of God” and it is through the Word of God we bring the Gospel.
Remember that Noah found Grace in the eyes of the Lord?
(Gen 6:8 KJV) But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
Grace in the life of a person is what? Salvation! Noah was a saved individual who preached the word of Christ to his generation. So then what is the prison that is in view? In Isaiah 14, we read about Satan, that he would not open the house of his prisoners.
(Isa 14:12-17 KJV) How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! {13} For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: {14} I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. {15} Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. {16} They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; {17} That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?
Isaiah 14:12-17 speaks about Satan and his desire to be like God. In verse 17, the Bible states that he did not open the house of his prisoners. Did Satan have a physical place where he locked up all his prisoners? The answer, of course, is no. The prison being spoken of here is the prison of unbelief. Satan will not allow any of
his prisoners to hear and understand the Gospel.
(2 Cor 4:3-4 KJV) But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: {4} In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
Satan’s desire is to keep all those who are unbelievers as unbelievers by blinding their minds to the truth of the Gospel so salvation will not take place. While Satan will control many people until the last day, God has committed to save many and those that God will save will hear the Gospel and become saved which means they have been removed from the prison house or the power of Satan.
(Col 1:13 KJV) Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
Now let us go back to the time of Noah. What does this translate into? It means that Noah was preaching to all the unbelievers for the duration of the building of the ark. We have seen that those in spiritual prison are the unsaved. When a person becomes saved, they become free.
(Rom 6:22 KJV) But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
So the prisoners that Christ was preaching to were all the unbelievers at the time of Noah, through Him indwelling Noah with the Holy Spirit. They were not in any special place but were all walking around the earth. How does this apply to us today? Well, it is the same principle, because all the unbelievers are still in spiritual prison and the only way a person becomes free from that prison is by receiving a full “Heavenly Pardon.” Once this takes place, they are transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of God. (Col 1:13 KJV) Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: When we look at 1 Peter 3:18-20, we see how much deeper they are than just a “homily in hell.” These verses speak of the beauty of salvation which we can all thank God for this day. For we were once a prisoner but now we are set at liberty.
1 Pet 3:21 (KJB)
The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
Peter now makes it clear that water baptism does not save any individual. Remember in verse 16 we read about a conscience toward God. That is the same word used in this verse and it points to the fact that a person must be saved by Christ and indwelled with the Holy Spirit. The baptism that Peter has in view is being baptized into the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us look at six verses which illustrate this type of baptism the believer must be baptized with to be saved.
(Rom 6:3 KJV) Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
(Acts 11:16 KJV) Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
(Luke 12:50 KJV) But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!
(Mark 10:38-39 KJV) But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? {39} And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:
(Gal 3:27 KJV) For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
1 Pet 3:22 (KJB)
Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.
Authorities - Those in authority
Made subject - Having been made subject
After the Lord Jesus Christ finished His earthly task, He went back to heaven and sat on the right hand of God. He once again resumed His authority as King of Kings as all those beings, who have power and authority, both in Heaven and Earth have been made subject unto Him. Christ has overcome, and now He has the authority to aid believers so they will also overcome. This is a theme which is prevalent in all seven churches in Revelation 2-3. The believer, through the Lord Jesus Christ, will be able to overcome the world.