And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume X, Number 26 April 15, 2007
In this issue:
The apostle Peter wrote,
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who 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. (1 Pet. 3:18-20)
There are people who take this verse to mean that before Jesus was resurrected he preached the gospel to disembodied spirits who had been disobedient in the days of Noah. That is not what the verse says. To reach that interpretation one must assume that preaching the gospel to spirits in Hades could save them, although the Scriptures are clear that death ends one’s opportunity for salvation (Lk. 16:26-31; Heb. 9:27). Furthermore, why would Jesus preach exclusively to those spirits and not all disembodied spirits?
This passage is used by the Mormons to support their doctrine that the dead will have the chance to hear “the fullness of the everlasting gospel” (i.e., Mormon doctrine), believe and obey it, and progress to their “celestial kingdom.” Integral to this doctrine is their practice of baptizing for the dead, another perversion of the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:29).
What does 1 Peter 3:18-20 teach? When did Jesus preach to imprisoned spirits? How did he do so? How did they respond to this preaching? That is, who was saved as a result of it? And, what applications exist for sinners today?
First, the passage teaches the Son of God died for sinners; “the just for the unjust” (1 Pet. 3:18). In context, this truth is used to comfort and encourage Christians who suffer for their faith (see 1 Pet. 3:13-17). Although Jesus was killed in the flesh, he was resurrected from the dead. Thus, Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4). Please note the Holy Spirit’s participation in the resurrection of Christ, which is used as Peter’s segue to discuss the salvation Jesus accomplished for sinners.
Secondly, please note that Jesus preached to people who had been disobedient during the days of Noah (1 Pet. 3:20). How did Jesus do this? Verse 19 says that he did this by the same Spirit who was involved in his resurrection: “by whom also He went and preached…” The word “by” in verse 19 is the preposition en that “denotes position (in place, time or state), and (by implication) instrumentality” (Strong’s Greek Lexicon). So, by means of the Spirit – not “as a spirit” – Jesus preached to those who sinned in the days of Noah while God’s longsuffering was waiting and while the ark was being prepared (verse 20).
Here it should be noted that the Spirit of God was trying to save the sinners who lived in the days of Noah. “And the Lord said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years” (Gen. 6:3). God was “striving” with men (“to judge, contend, plead”), but they were increasingly choosing sin, until “every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5).
As part of this divine pleading with sinners, Jesus preached to the sinners of Noah’s day. He did so by the Spirit through Noah, a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Pet. 2:5). Noah preached to the unjust. As he built the ark he proclaimed a divinely-inspired message of righteousness and of a judgment to come. Thus, God was preaching to sinners who were living on earth, yet they continued to be “disobedient” 1 Pet. 3:20). Peter says Christ (“by the Spirit” and through the preacher Noah) preached to the disobedient who are now “in prison.” The preaching was to people living on the earth; their disobedience occurred while they were alive on the earth; and the “Divine longsuffering” was being extended to them while they were alive on the earth. Now that they have died, they are “in prison;” God’s longsuffering and salvation is no longer available to them. God ended his struggle with the ungodly and punished them with the flood. Now, God is keeping these “unjust under punishment for the day of judgment” (2 Pet. 2:9). They choose disobedience and were lost; they have no more opportunity to be saved. The spirits who “formerly were disobedient” are now “in prison” (in torment, cf. Lk. 16:28, 23-25). Noah and his family were “saved through water” but the unjust were destroyed by the water.
1. When did Jesus preach to “spirits in prison?” He preached during the days of Noah; not between his death and his resurrection.
2. How did Jesus preach to them? He did so by the Spirit through the word of God that Noah preached. This showed God’s longsuffering and attempt to save sinners.
3. How did they respond to his preaching? They were disobedient; rejecting God’s longsuffering and refusing to repent (2 Pet. 3:9).
4. Who was saved? Noah and his family, who believed and obeyed God.
5. What does this teach us today? It teaches that Christ is trying to save sinners; He died for the unjust and will save those who obey him (Heb. 5:8-9). Like the water that saved Noah, “there is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism” (1 Pet. 3:21). Have you been baptized to be saved? (Mk. 16:16; Ac 2:38)
6. Today is the day of salvation. The gospel will not be preached to you after you are dead; after that is judgment (Heb. 9:27). Mormon works for the dead are futile, and Catholic purgatory gives false consolation to sinners (2 Cor. 6:2). Today is your chance to be saved.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 10:17-25
1. Judah would soon face
God’s wrath because of her sins (Jer. 10:18-20, 22, 25).
I. THE WAY OF LIFE IS NOT IN MAN, Prv. 3:1-2.
A. Physical Life is given by
God, Gen. 2:7 (Acts 17:25, 28); 2 Kgs. 5:7.
II. THE WAY OF MORALITY IS NOT IN MAN, 1 Pet. 4:1-6.
A. Immorality fulfills Evil
Lusts, 4:2-3; 1 Jno. 2:15-17.
III. THE WAY OF TRUTH IS NOT IN MAN, Jno. 14:6.
A. What is Truth? Jno. 18:37;
17:17; Eph. 3:3-4; 4:20-21; 2 Ths. 2:12, 10.
IV. THE WAY OF SOUND DOCTRINE IS NOT IN MAN. (Gal. 1:6-10)
A. Man’s Doctrine is not
God’s, Matt. 15:7-9; Tit. 2:10; Heb. 13:9.
V. THE WAY OF SALVATION IS NOT IN MAN, Acts 4:12.
A. God’s Plan of Salvation, Rom. 6:17-18.
Concl. Our only hope is the Lord, Jer. 17:9-10, 13; Must acknowledge Him to be eternally blessed, Prov. 3:5-6.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Colossians 1:19-23
1. Reconcile: Produce
harmony, return to favor; atonement: “the state of being at one”
(reconciliation, Rom. 5:11).
I. THE FATHER:
A. The Father Planned Our
Redemption in the Son, 1:19-20; Eph. 1:3-4, 7-12; Ro. 5:6-8.
II. HIS SON, JESUS CHRIST:
A. In Him, Col. 1:19.
A. Once Were Alienated (1:21);
Eph. 2:3; 4:17-19 (Matt. 15:18-20).
Concl. Will you “lay hold of the hope” set before you? (Heb. 6:18)
We are hearing a great deal about global warming these days. Scientists are disputing, politicians are maneuvering, and extremists are being extreme. In the mean time, lay people (that’s most of us) are lining up, sometimes with good information, often with emotion outweighing reason.
The Bible has some things to say about this globe and its weather. First, God created the earth for mankind to inhabit (Gen. 1). Therefore, we may safely conclude that the earth will remain until the divine purposes are complete. Moses wrote, “while the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease” (Gen. 8:22).
Life on earth is cyclical, including the globe’s environment. Generations come and go; the sun rises and sets, then rises again; the wind makes its circuit above our heads while the evaporation cycle continues (Eccl. 1:3-8). The weather patterns of this planet are among the great evidences of the power, majesty and intelligence of God, its Creator.
This globe is not going to be destroyed by man, but by God. God has reserved this world for fire, the real “global warming” that should concern us (2 Pet. 3:7, 10-12).
This does not mean we should abuse our environment. It is a blessing from God that we should tend with care (cf. Gen. 2:15).
More than anything, we should tend to our souls according to the will of God who created us and blessed us with life on earth (Eccl. 12:13-14).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 04/17/2007
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA