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Jim Henry, Pastor
First Baptist Church
3701 L. B. McLeod Road
Orlando, Florida 32805-6691
Reprinted from Radio Program, "WE BELIEVE"
Program #220, CT 403113
I PETER SERIES, PT. XXIII
"When Christ Preached to Spirits in Prison"
I Peter 3:18b-20:
18 For Christ also died for sins once for
all, the just for the unjust, in order that
He might bring us to God, having been put to
death in the flesh, but made alive in the
19 in which also He went and made
proclamation to the spirits now in prison,
20 who once were disobedient...
Martin Luther said, "This is a strange text, and certainly a more
obscure passage than any other in the New Testament. I still do not
know for sure what the apostle means."
Now, if Martin Luther did not know, I probably won't be able to tell
you, either. But I'm going to give you my opinion.
A preacher-friend of mine wrote a commentary on I Peter, and he said
he came up with 33 different interpretations of this particular small
passage. So mine may be No. 34, but look at it with me. There are
some good things here and I want to u-s-e a series of q-uestionss, which-
we'll try to answer.
QUESTION NO. 1: WHO PREACHED TO THE SPIRITS?
The phrase, "made alive in the spirit," in verse 18, creates a
challenge for us. In Greek manuscripts, there were no capital
letters, so we have no authority to write spirit with a capital "S,"
rather than a small "s." Now, we know our Lord had a real body,
(Matthew 26:26) a real soul (John 12:27), and a real spirit (Luke
He was not God inhabiting a man. He was the true God-man. When He
died (vs. 18) He yielded His human spirit to the Father (Luke 23:46,
James 2:26). But since the Bible goes on to say He was made alive in
the spirit, at some point His spirit (not the Holy Spirit, but His
spirit) must have died. It was probably, as we studied recently,
when He was made sin for us and was forsaken by the Father (Mark
The phrase, then, in verse 18, "made ...
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