It is Finished!


All Scripture Quotations are from the King James Bible


By Dr. Ken Matto


When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.  (John 19:30)


I am writing this article three days before Good Friday 2019.  The Lord Jesus Christ was crucified and one of the attendants gave Jesus some vinegar which would only have increased his thirst but as soon as he received it, he said, “It is Finished.”  This is a very important saying that Jesus made.  First of all, his days of suffering were now over as he gave up the ghost and physically died.


Before I comment on John 19:30, I want to dispel a belief which is very common today among churches and Christians yet is nowhere found in the Bible.  It is the belief that after Jesus died, he went to hell


For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: {19} 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. (1 Peter 3:18-20)


Here we have three verses which have been very misunderstood and really used in outrageous ways. I have heard these verses misused for over 39 years by those who insist that after Christ died, He went to Hell to preach to the spirits in prison, those of the fallen angels and unbelievers. However, this is far from Biblical truth. When the Lord Jesus died on the cross, He committed His spirit unto His Father and His body went into the grave.



And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. (Luke 23:46)



And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. (Luke 23:53)


There are no contradicting Scriptures which teach that anything else happened. 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.” 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; (2 Peter 2:5)


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!


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. (Romans 8:9)


{10} Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:  {11} Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.  (1 Peter 1:10-11)


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.


Notice 1 Peter 1:10-11 which state that the Spirit of Christ was in the Old Testament Prophets which preached the grace which would come by Christ.  The idea that the Holy Spirit did not indwell Old Testament Saints is totally disproven by these verses.  With the Spirit of Christ in them, they could now preach whatever the Lord would tell them to.


Remember That Noah Found Grace in the Eyes of the Lord


But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. (Genesis 6:8)


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.


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)


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.


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. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)


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.


Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: (Colossians 1:13)


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.


But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. (Romans 6:22)


Section Summary

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 as we read in Colossians 1:13. 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.


Now let us return to John 19:30.  When the Lord Jesus stated that “it” is finished it marked the end of his sufferings as we noted before but the major teaching stemming from that verse is the fact that God’s salvation plan was now complete, in that all that the feasts were looking forward to, all that the prophets spoke about and the teachings of Jesus himself.  The free will movement believes that when Christ died, he opened the gates for anyone to walk through and that salvation was now available to the “whosoever.”


Unfortunately this is another serious error being taught by the free willers because if you notice what the Lord said, “It is finished.”  He did not say, it is beginning.  So what was finished?  The Lord Jesus Christ came to save his people.  And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.  (Matthew 1:21)  This is where the doctrine of Limited Atonement comes in.  Jesus died for his people and not for the whole world.  When he died, the Elect were now saved and sealed because Christ fulfilled the demands of God’s righteous law on their behalf.


{21} Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;  {22} Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.  (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)


In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,  (Ephesians 1:13)


And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.  (Ephesians 4:30)


These are the ones who were named by God from the foundation of the world to inherit salvation.  Christ came to specifically die for his Elect and as we previously read there is no way Christ died for everyone in the world or else everyone will be saved.  This is the error of the free will movement as it is built upon randomness which if one studies the creation and the Bible will not find any.  Can you imagine the universe existing by random chance?  Don’t they call that the Big Bang which is totally ridiculous?  Can you imagine if the sun was not controlled by God but by randomness?  What would keep the sun from getting closer to the earth and burning it up?  How about the fact that the sun rises and sets the same way every day, is this according to randomness or according to God being in control? Why God has saved some and not others is a mystery.  One thing we must keep in mind and free willers ignore this principle too and that is, that man was the one who walked away from God in sin, God did not walk away from the human race.  If he did we would all be going to hell.  The great miracle is that God chose to save a great multitude from the penalty of hell.  He didn’t have to he could have just allowed the human race to die out by attrition. 


I have a study on line called “The Last Will and Testament of Christ”* and you will see according to the Scriptures that it will be legally impossible for anyone who is not named in it to have salvation.  Once Christ died, his last will and testament was now in force and included only those who were named in it, that is, the Elect of God.  And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.  (Revelation 21:27)  Since unbelievers cannot regenerate themselves, then they are classified as defilers, liars, and those who perform abominations.  There is the separation that only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life are qualified to go into heaven.


Let us look at three verses which illustrate the reality that a believer’s name is already written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.


Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.  (Luke 10:20)


The words “are written” are in the aorist tense.  The aorist tense is a tense which indicates a past action.


And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.  (Revelation 21:27)


The words “are written” are in the perfect tense.  The perfect tense is a primary tense because it emphasizes the present, or ongoing result of a completed past action.  Remember, Christ was slain in principle from the foundation of the world and therefore the Lamb’s book of Life was completed before the foundation of the world.


Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  (Matthew 25:34)


The words “prepared for you” are in the perfect tense which is the result of a past action which was completed.  Keep in mind that in the order of the narratives when Luke 10:20 and Matthew 25:34 were penned, it was still before the time of the cross which means what is in view is the past action of the believer being named for salvation and a place being prepared for them in heaven.  When you prepare for a wedding, do you prepare say for 100 guests and then throw open the doors for the whole town to come?  Of course not, you prepare for those 100 invited guests and that is all you paid for.  Just like Christ who paid for the sins of his Elect and that was it!


*Last Will and Testament of Christ