1 Peter 3:18
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.

New Living Translation
Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.

English Standard Version
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

Berean Study Bible
For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body, but made alive in the spirit,

Berean Literal Bible
because Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, so that He might bring you to God, having been put to death indeed in the flesh, but having been made alive in the spirit,

New American Standard Bible
For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;

King James Bible
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:

Holman Christian Standard Bible
For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God, after being put to death in the fleshly realm but made alive in the spiritual realm.

International Standard Version
For the Messiah also suffered for sins once for all, an innocent person for the guilty, so that he could bring you to God. He was put to death in a mortal body but was brought to life by the Spirit,

NET Bible
Because Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, to bring you to God, by being put to death in the flesh but by being made alive in the spirit.

New Heart English Bible
Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God; being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Because The Messiah also died once for the sake of our sins, The Righteous One in the place of sinners, to bring you to God, and he died in body and lived in his Spirit.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
This is true because Christ suffered for our sins once. He was an innocent person, but he suffered for guilty people so that he could bring you to God. His body was put to death, but he was brought to life through his spirit.

New American Standard 1977
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 spirit;

Jubilee Bible 2000
For the Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in spirit,

King James 2000 Bible
For Christ also has once suffered 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:

American King James Version
For Christ also has 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:

American Standard Version
Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God; being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;

Douay-Rheims Bible
Because Christ also died once for our sins, the just for the unjust: that he might offer us to God, being put to death indeed in the flesh, but enlivened in the spirit,

Darby Bible Translation
for Christ indeed has once suffered for sins, [the] just for [the] unjust, that he might bring us to God; being put to death in flesh, but made alive in [the] Spirit,

English Revised Version
Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God; being put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the spirit;

Webster's Bible Translation
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 made alive by the Spirit:

Weymouth New Testament
because Christ also once for all died for sins, the innocent One for the guilty many, in order to bring us to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit,

World English Bible
Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God; being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;

Young's Literal Translation
because also Christ once for sin did suffer -- righteous for unrighteous -- that he might lead us to God, having been put to death indeed, in the flesh, and having been made alive in the spirit,
Study Bible
Suffering for Righteousness
17For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body, but made alive in the spirit, 19in which He also went and preached to the spirits in prison…
Cross References
John 16:10
in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see Me;

Romans 5:2
through whom we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

2 Corinthians 13:4
For He was indeed crucified in weakness, yet He lives by God's power. And though we are weak in Him, yet by God's power we will live with Him to serve you.

Ephesians 3:12
In Him and through faith in Him we may enter God's presence with boldness and confidence.

Colossians 1:22
But now He has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy, unblemished, and blameless in His presence--

Hebrews 9:14
how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, purify our consciences from works of death, so that we may serve the living God!

Hebrews 9:26
Otherwise, He would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But now He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

Hebrews 9:28
so also Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await Him.

Hebrews 10:10
And by that will, we have been sanctified through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

1 Peter 2:21
For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His footsteps:
Treasury of Scripture

For Christ also has 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:

Christ.

1 Peter 2:21-24 For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for …

1 Peter 4:1 For as much then as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm …

Isaiah 53:4-6 Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did …

Romans 5:6-8 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for …

Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, …

2 Corinthians 5:21 For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might …

Galatians 1:4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this …

Galatians 3:13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse …

Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, …

Hebrews 9:26,28 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world…

the just.

Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: …

Matthew 27:19,24 When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, …

Acts 3:14 But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer …

Acts 22:14 And he said, The God of our fathers has chosen you, that you should …

James 5:6 You have condemned and killed the just; and he does not resist you.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our …

that.

Ephesians 2:16-18 And that he might reconcile both to God in one body by the cross, …

being.

1 Peter 4:1 For as much then as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm …

Daniel 9:26 And after three score and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but …

Romans 4:25 Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.

2 Corinthians 1:24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of …

2 Corinthians 13:4 For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he lives by the …

Colossians 1:21,22 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by …

but.

Romans 1:4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit …

Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you…

(18) For Christ also.--This gives a reason for thinking it no such formidable thing to suffer when one is innocent. It has been tried before, and the precedent is encouraging. "It is," says Archbishop Leighton, "some known ease to the mind, in any distress, to look upon examples of the like or greater distress in present or former times . . . As the example and company of the saints in suffering is very considerable, so that of Christ is more than any other, yea, than all the rest together." If King Messiah (note that he does not call Him Jesus) could endure to be cut off (but not for Himself), was it for any one who clung to the promises to shrink from the like test?

Hath once suffered.--Even if we retain the verb, it should be suffered, not "hath suffered," it is all past now; but much the better reading is died, which leaves no doubt about the meaning of "suffering" in 1Peter 3:17. And this He did "once." In this significant word St. Peter strikes out the main argument of a great portion of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 9:27; Hebrews 10:10). The thought that Christ suffered or died "once" conveys comfort to these Christians for several reasons: (1) because His death has, once for all, taken all terror from an innocent death; (2) because no Christian will have to die more than one death; (3) because one death, so soon over for ever, contains the further idea of happiness and peace beyond. The word "to die" in Greek is often used in a penal sense--"to be put to death"--and is to be so taken here.

For sins.--When the Apostle says "Christ also," he raises a comparison between Christ and the Christian martyr. Now the parallel does not merely consist in the fact that both "suffer" or are put to death. Both are put to death but once. Both are put to death innocent: the martyr "while well-doing," Christ acknowledged to be "just." But this does not exhaust the likeness. The Messiah is said to be put to death "for sins." Now this expression "for sins" (literally, in connection with sins) is that which is used to mean "as a sin-offering." (See Romans 8:3; Galatians 1:4; Hebrews 10:6; Hebrews 10:8; Hebrews 10:18; Hebrews 10:26; Hebrews 13:11; 1John 2:2; 1John 4:10.) If, therefore, "Christ also was put to death as a sin-offering," it is implied that, in a sense, the Christian martyr is also a sin-offering, and (though in an infinitely lower degree) dies, like Him, "just for unjust." This is a fresh encouragement to St. Peter's first readers to meet death bravely. In what sense they can be sacrifices for other men's sins we shall consider presently.

The just for the unjust.--That preposition "for" contains a volume of theology. Though it is not so weak a word as the one which occurs in the phrase "for sins," it does not express the notion of substitution. (Comp. Note on 1Peter 2:21.) It is simply "on behalf of." As a substitute for the unjust, we make bold to say that (according to Holy Scripture, and the primitive fathers, and the conscience of man) neither the martyrs nor Christ Himself could have made atonement; "on behalf of" other men, the martyrs could very easily be said to die. It is, perhaps, a pity that the definite article has been inserted in our version. Though, of course, our Lord is the only human being who can in strictness be called just, St. Peter means the word here to cover others besides Him; "Christ also died, a just man on behalf of unjust men."

That he might bring us to God.--Or, better, bring you; though it cannot be stated peremptorily in this case that such is the reading. (See Note on 1Peter 1:12.) The substantive derived from this verb appears as "access" in Romans 5:2; Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12. A most important doctrinal passage. St. Peter says not a word about the Atonement in its effect upon the mind of the Father towards man. Though there is, no doubt, some deep truth in the phrase which occurs in the second of the Thirty-nine Articles--"suffered . . . to reconcile His Father to us"--it is a side on which the New Testament writers do not much dwell. It is too high a mystery for our minds to reach. The phrase is itself not Scriptural. The New Testament, as has been well pointed out, never even speaks of the reconciliation as mutual. The quarrel is treated as one-sided, so far, at least, as in connection with the Atonement. When, then, our Lord was put to death as a sacrifice for sins--a righteous man on behalf of unrighteous men--St. Peter explains these terms by the expression "in order that He might bring you to God," not "in order that He might bring God to you." The voluntary death of a righteous man upon the cross, in the calm calculation that nothing else would so attract sinful men to Himself, and thus to the Father who sent Him (John 12:32--this is the aspect of the Atonement which St. Peter sets forth. Perhaps on another occasion he might have set forth a different aspect; but now he is still thinking of the effect of Christian conduct upon the outer world, and his object is to make the C1Peter 3:14).

Being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.--The interpreters of this sentence may be classified in two groups, according as they understand the fact referred to in the second clause to be (1) the resurrection of Christ, or (2) something which took place between His death and His resurrection. Now, if we could accept the translation in the English Bible, "by the Spirit," it would be pretty obvious to accept (1); and we should point to such passages as Romans 1:4; Romans 8:11, to show that the resurrection of Christ was due to the action of the Holy Ghost. It would not be possible to follow Oecumenius, Calvin, Beza, and Leighton, in taking "the flesh" to mean generally the human nature of Christ, and "the Spirit" by which He was quickened to mean His own divine nature; for Christ has a human spirit as truly as a human body and soul, and it would be heresy to call His divine nature His spirit, as though it occupied in Him the position which is occupied in men by the human spirit. But, as a matter of fact, we cannot translate it "quickened by the Spirit." It is literally, killed indeed in flesh, but quickened in spirit. Now, how can "quickened in spirit" be a description of the Resurrection? It cannot be answered (with Huther) that the "spirit" here means the resurrection body; for though that is indeed a spiritual body, yet it is playing fast and loose with words to identify "spirit" and "spiritual body." If the resurrection body be only spirit, where is the resurrection? Neither would the antithesis be correct between "flesh" and "spirit," if by "spirit" is meant the new form of body given at the Resurrection. Or, again, taking "spirit" in its true sense of the inward incorporeal self, could the Resurrection be described as a quickening of it? True, the spirit itself will gain in some way by its re-incorporation (2Corinthians 5:4); but as the spirit has been alive all along, but the flesh has been dead, the contrast would be very forced to express death and resurrection by "killed in flesh, but quickened in spirit," instead of saying rather "killed in flesh, but soon quickened in the same." Thus we are driven to (2). As a matter of fact, there is nothing in the words to suggest an interval between the quickening and the killing. They both are parts of the same act, and both are used to explain the word "died." It is a kind of apology for having used the word death at all (for we have seen that St. Peter's object is to help the future martyrs to despise death, 1Peter 3:14): "Died, do I say? yes, killed in flesh, it is true, but actually quickened to fresh energies in spirit by that very act of death." (Comp. our Lord's charge to the Twelve, Matthew 10:28.) But how can His death be said to have been a quickening of His human spirit? Some take the word to mean simply "preserved alive," a word almost identical, being used apparently in that sense in Luke 17:33, Acts 7:19. The notion, however, would be too weak here; some energetic action seems required to balance "being killed." That St. Peter is speaking of something not altogether peculiar to Christ, but common to men, may still be inferred from his saying "Christ also." The doctrine, then, seems to be (as Bengel and others say) that the spirit, set free from the body, immediately receives new life, as it were, thereby. To purely spiritual realities it becomes alive in a manner which was impossible while it was united to the flesh. The new powers are exemplified in what follows immediately. So long as Christ, so long as any man, is alive in the flesh, he cannot hold converse with spirits as such; but the moment death severs flesh and spirit the spirit can deal with other spirits, which Christ proceeded forth with to do.

Verse 18. - For Christ also hath once suffered for sins; rather, because Christ also once suffered. Two of the oldest manuscripts read "died;" but "suffered" corresponds best with the previous verse. The connection is - It must be better to suffer for well-doing, because Christ himself, the All-innocent One, thus suffered, and they who so suffer are made most like unto him. The apostle refers us again to that transcendent Example which was ever before his eyes (compare the close parallel in Hebrews 9:26-28). Christ suffered once for all (ἅπαξ); so the sufferings of the Christian are soon over" but for a moment." For sins (περί); concerning sins, on account of sins; he, himself sinless, suffered concerning the sins of others. The preposition περί is constantly used in connection with the sin offering in the Septuagint (see Leviticus 6:25, Σφάξουσι τὰ περὶ τῆς ἁμαρτίας; comp. Leviticus 5:8-11, etc.; also Hebrews 10:6, 8, 18, 26). The Just for the unjust; literally, just for unjust. There is no article. The apostle began to speak of the death of Christ, both here and in 1 Peter it., as an example; in both places he seems to be led on by an instinctive feeling that it is scarcely seemly for the Christian to mention that stupendous event without dwelling on its deeper and more mysterious meaning. The preposition used in this clause (ὑπέρ) does not necessarily convey the idea of vicarious suffering, as ἁντί (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; comp. also 1 Timothy 2:6) does; it means simply "in behalf of," leaving the character of the relation undetermined; here the context implies the particular relation of substitution (comp. Romans 5:6; also St. Peter's description of our Lord as "the Just," in Acts 3:14). That he might bring us to God. The Vatican and other manuscripts read "you." St. Peter opens out one of the deeper aspects of the death of Christ. The veil that hid the Holiest was then rent in twain, and believers were invited and encouraged to draw near into the immediate presence of God. The verb used here is προσάγειν; the corresponding substantive (προσαγωγή) occurs in Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12; also in Romans 5:2. In those places it is rendered "access" - we have access to the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ. Being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit. The Greeks words are, Θανατωθεὶς μὲν σαρκὶ ζωοποιηθεὶς δὲ πνεύματι, the article τῷ inserted before πνεύματι in the received text being without authority. We observe the absence of any article or preposition, and the exact balance and correspondence of the two clauses. The two datives must be taken in the same sense; it is impossible to regard one as the dative of the sphere, and the other as the dative of the instrument; both are evidently datives of "the sphere to which a general predicate is to be limited" (Winer, 31:6. a); they limit the extent of the participles (comp. 1 Corinthians 7:35; Colossians 2:5). Thus the literal translation is, "Being put to death in flesh, but quickened in spirit." For the antithesis of "flesh" and "spirit," common in the New Testament, comp. Romans 1:3, 4, "Made of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness;" and 1 Timothy 3:16, "Manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit;" see especially the close parallel in 1 Peter 4:6, "That they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit." It seems to follow, from the opposition of flesh and spirit, and from a comparison of the passages quoted above, that by πνεῦμα in this verse we are to understand, not God the Holy Ghost, but the holy human spirit of Christ. In his flesh he was put to death, but in his spirit he was quickened. When the Lord had said, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit;" when he bowed his head, and gave up the spirit; - then that spirit passed into a new life. So Bengel excellently says, "Christus, vitam in semet ipso habens, et ipse vita, spiritu vivere neque desiit, neque iterum coepit; sed simulatque per mortificationem involucre infirmitatis in carne solutus erat, statim vitae solvi nesciae virtus modis novis et multo expeditissimis sese exserere coepit." Christ, being delivered from the burden of that suffering flesh which he had graciously taken for our salvation, was quickened in his holy human spirit - quickened to new energies, new and blessed activities. So it shall be with those who suffer for well-doing; they may even be put to death in the flesh, but "if we die with him, we shall also live with him." It is far better (πολλῷ μᾶλλον κρεῖσσον) to depart and to be with Christ, to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. They that are Christ's shall, like their Master, be quickened in the spirit; they pass at once into the new life of Paradise; their works follow them thither; it may be, we cannot tell, they will be employed in blessed work for Christ, being made like unto him not only in some degree during their earthly life, but also in the intermediate state of rest and hope. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins,.... Not his own, for he committed none, but for the sins of his people; in order to obtain the remission of them, to make reconciliation for them, and to take and put them away, and finish and make an end of them; which sufferings of his, on account of them, were many and great: he suffered much by bearing the griefs, and carrying the sorrows of his people, whereby he became a man of sorrows, and acquainted with griefs, from his cradle to his cross; and from the temptations of Satan, being in all points tempted, as his members are, though without sin; and from the contradiction of sinners against him, in his name, credit, and character, abusing him as the worst of men; and he suffered in his soul, from the wrath of God, and curses of the law, which lay upon him; and in his body, by many buffetings, scourges, wounds, and death itself, even the death of the cross; and which being the finishing part of his sufferings, is chiefly here meant. The Alexandrian copy reads, "died for you"; and the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions read, "died for our sins"; and this he did once, and but once; he died once, and will die no more; he was offered up once, and will be offered up no more; there is no more offering, or sacrifice for sin; the reason is, because his one offering is sufficient to take away sin, which the legal sacrifices were not, and therefore were often offered; and the reason why this his one offering, or once suffering and dying, is sufficient, is, because of his divine nature, or eternal Spirit, by which he offered himself, and gave infinite virtue to his sacrifice and satisfaction: now, this is an argument for suffering patiently; since Christ, the head, has also suffered, and therefore, why not the members? and since he has suffered for their sins, therefore they should not grudge to suffer for his sake; and seeing also their sufferings are but once, in this life only, and as it were but for a moment, and not to be compared with his sufferings for them; and especially when it is considered what follows:

the just for the unjust; Christ, the holy and just one, who is holy in his nature, and righteous in his life and actions, which were entirely conformable to the righteous law of God, and upright and faithful in the discharge of his office, and therefore called God's righteous servant; he suffered, and that not only by unjust men, by the Jews, by Pilate, and the Roman soldiers, but for and in the room and stead of unjust men, sinners, and ungodly, who were destitute of righteousness, and full of all unrighteousness; and since he did, it need not be thought hard, or strange, that sinful men should suffer at the hands of others; and still it should be borne with the greater patience, since Christ not only suffered for them, but since an end is answered by it, as is here suggested:

that he might bring us to God; nigh to God, who, with respect to communion, were afar off from him; and in peace and reconciliation with him, who were enemies to him by wicked works; and that they might have freedom of access, with boldness, unto God, through his precious blood, and the vail of his flesh; and that he might offer them unto God, as the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions render it; as a sacrifice acceptable unto God, presenting them to him unblamable and unreproveable in his sight; that he might bring them into his grace and presence here, and, as the great Captain of their salvation, bring them to him in glory hereafter:

being put to death in the flesh; in the human nature: flesh includes the whole of human nature, both body and soul; for though the body only dies, yet death is the dissolution of the union between them both; and such was Christ's death; for though the union between the two natures continued, yet his body and soul were disunited; his body was left on the cross, and his soul, or Spirit, was commended to God, when his life was taken from the earth, and he was put to death in a violent manner by men:

but quickened by the Spirit; raised from the dead by his divine nature, the Spirit of holiness, the eternal Spirit, by which he offered himself, and by virtue of which, as he had power to lay down his life, so he had power to take it up again; when he was also justified in the Spirit, and all the elect in him. Now, as the enemies of Christ could do no more than put him to death in the flesh, so the enemies of his people can do no more than kill the body, and cannot reach the soul; and as Christ is quickened and raised from the dead, so all his elect are quickened together, and raised with him, representatively, and shall, by virtue of his resurrection, be raised personally, and live also; which is no inconsiderable argument to suffer afflictions patiently, and which is the design of this instance and example of the sufferings, death, and resurrection of Christ. 18. Confirmation of 1Pe 3:17, by the glorious results of Christ's suffering innocently.

For—"Because." That is "better," 1Pe 3:17, means of which we are rendered more like to Christ in death and in life; for His death brought the best issue to Himself and to us [Bengel].

Christ—the Anointed Holy One of God; the Holy suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust.

also—as well as yourselves (1Pe 3:17). Compare 1Pe 2:21; there His suffering was brought forward as an example to us; here, as a proof of the blessedness of suffering for well-doing.

once—for all; never again to suffer. It is "better" for us also once to suffer with Christ, than for ever without Christ We now are suffering our "once"; it will soon be a thing of the past; a bright consolation to the tried.

for sins—as though He had Himself committed them. He exposed Himself to death by His "confession," even as we are called on to "give an answer to him that asketh a reason of our hope." This was "well-doing" in its highest manifestation. As He suffered, "The Just," so we ought willingly to suffer, for righteousness' sake (1Pe 3:14; compare 1Pe 3:12, 17).

that he might bring us to God—together with Himself in His ascension to the right hand of God (1Pe 3:22). He brings us, "the unjust," justified together with Him into heaven. So the result of Christ's death is His drawing men to Him; spiritually now, in our having access into the Holiest, opened by Christ's ascension; literally hereafter. "Bring us," moreover, by the same steps of humiliation and exaltation through which He Himself passed. The several steps of Christ's progress from lowliness to glory are trodden over again by His people in virtue of their oneness with Him (1Pe 4:1-3). "To God," is Greek dative (not the preposition and case), implying that God wishes it [Bengel].

put to death—the means of His bringing us to God.

in the flesh—that is, in respect to the life of flesh and blood.

quickened by the Spirit—The oldest manuscripts omit the Greek article. Translate with the preposition "in," as the antithesis to the previous "in the flesh" requires, "IN spirit," that is, in respect to His Spirit. "Put to death" in the former mode of life; "quickened" in the other. Not that His Spirit ever died and was quickened, or made alive again, but whereas He had lived after the manner of mortal men in the flesh, He began to live a spiritual "resurrection" (1Pe 3:21) life, whereby He has the power to bring us to God. Two ways of explaining 1Pe 3:18, 19, are open to us: (1) "Quickened in Spirit," that is, immediately on His release from the "flesh," the energy of His undying spirit-life was "quickened" by God the Father, into new modes of action, namely, "in the Spirit He went down (as subsequently He went up to heaven, 1Pe 3:22, the same Greek verb) and heralded [not salvation, as Alford, contrary to Scripture, which everywhere represents man's state, whether saved or lost, after death irreversible. Nor is any mention made of the conversion of the spirits in prison. See on [2619]1Pe 3:20. Nor is the phrase here 'preached the Gospel' (evangelizo), but 'heralded' (ekeruxe) or 'preached'; but simply made the announcement of His finished work; so the same Greek in Mr 1:45, 'publish,' confirming Enoch and Noah's testimony, and thereby declaring the virtual condemnation of their unbelief, and the salvation of Noah and believers; a sample of the similar opposite effects of the same work on all unbelievers, and believers, respectively; also a consolation to those whom Peter addresses, in their sufferings at the hands of unbelievers; specially selected for the sake of 'baptism,' its 'antitype' (1Pe 3:21), which, as a seal, marks believers as separated from the rest of the doomed world] to the spirits (His Spirit speaking to the spirits) in prison (in Hades or Sheol, awaiting the judgment, 2Pe 2:4), which were of old disobedient when," etc. (2) The strongest point in favor of (1) is the position of "sometime," that is, of old, connected with "disobedient"; whereas if the preaching or announcing were a thing long past, we should expect "sometime," or of old, to be joined to "went and preached." But this transposition may express that their disobedience preceded His preaching. The Greek participle expresses the reason of His preaching, "inasmuch as they were sometime disobedient" (compare 1Pe 4:6). Also "went" seems to mean a personal going, as in 1Pe 3:22, not merely in spirit. But see the answer below. The objections are "quickened" must refer to Christ's body (compare 1Pe 3:21, end), for as His Spirit never ceased to live, it cannot be said to be "quickened." Compare Joh 5:21; Ro 8:11, and other passages, where "quicken" is used of the bodily resurrection. Also, not His Spirit, but His soul, went to Hades. His Spirit was commended by Him at death to His Father, and was thereupon "in Paradise." The theory—(1) would thus require that His descent to the spirits in prison should be after His resurrection! Compare Eph 4:9, 10, which makes the descent precede the ascent. Also Scripture elsewhere is silent about such a heralding, though possibly Christ's death had immediate effects on the state of both the godly and the ungodly in Hades: the souls of the godly heretofore in comparative confinement, perhaps then having been, as some Fathers thought, translated to God's immediate and heavenly presence; but this cannot be proved from Scripture. Compare however, Joh 3:13; Col 1:18. Prison is always used in a bad sense in Scripture. "Paradise" and "Abraham's bosom," the abode of good spirits in Old Testament times, are separated by a wide gulf from Hell or Hades, and cannot be called "prison." Compare 2Co 12:2, 4, where "paradise" and the "third heaven" correspond. Also, why should the antediluvian unbelievers in particular be selected as the objects of His preaching in Hades? Therefore explain: "Quickened in spirit, in which (as distinguished from in person; the words "in which," that is, in spirit, expressly obviating the objection that "went" implies a personal going) He went (in the person of Noah, "a preacher of righteousness," 2Pe 2:5: Alford's own Note, Eph 2:17, is the best reply to his argument from "went" that a local going to Hades in person is meant. As "He CAME and preached peace" by His Spirit in the apostles and ministers after His death and ascension: so before His incarnation He preached in Spirit through Noah to the antediluvians, Joh 14:18, 28; Ac 26:23. "Christ should show," literally, "announce light to the Gentiles") and preached unto the spirits in prison, that is, the antediluvians, whose bodies indeed seemed free, but their spirits were in prison, shut up in the earth as one great condemned cell (exactly parallel to Isa 24:22, 23 "upon the earth … they shall be gathered together as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison," etc. [just as the fallen angels are judicially regarded as "in chains of darkness," though for a time now at large on the earth, 1Pe 2:4], where 1Pe 3:18 has a plain allusion to the flood, "the windows from on high are open," compare Ge 7:11); from this prison the only way of escape was that preached by Christ in Noah. Christ, who in our times came in the flesh, in the days of Noah preached in Spirit by Noah to the spirits then in prison (Isa 61:1, end, "the Spirit of the Lord God hath sent me to proclaim the opening of the prison to them that are bound"). So in 1Pe 1:11, "the Spirit of Christ" is said to have testified in the prophets. As Christ suffered even to death by enemies, and was afterwards quickened in virtue of His "Spirit" (or divine nature, Ro 1:3, 4; 1Co 15:45), which henceforth acted in its full energy, the first result of which was the raising of His body (1Pe 3:21, end) from the prison of the grave and His soul from Hades; so the same Spirit of Christ enabled Noah, amidst reproach and trials, to preach to the disobedient spirits fast bound in wrath. That Spirit in you can enable you also to suffer patiently now, looking for the resurrection deliverance.3:14-22 We sanctify God before others, when our conduct invites and encourages them to glorify and honour him. What was the ground and reason of their hope? We should be able to defend our religion with meekness, in the fear of God. There is no room for any other fears where this great fear is; it disturbs not. The conscience is good, when it does its office well. That person is in a sad condition on whom sin and suffering meet: sin makes suffering extreme, comfortless, and destructive. Surely it is better to suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing, whatever our natural impatience at times may suggest. The example of Christ is an argument for patience under sufferings. In the case of our Lord's suffering, he that knew no sin, suffered instead of those who knew no righteousness. The blessed end and design of our Lord's sufferings were, to reconcile us to God, and to bring us to eternal glory. He was put to death in respect of his human nature, but was quickened and raised by the power of the Holy Spirit. If Christ could not be freed from sufferings, why should Christians think to be so? God takes exact notice of the means and advantages people in all ages have had. As to the old world, Christ sent his Spirit; gave warning by Noah. But though the patience of God waits long, it will cease at last. And the spirits of disobedient sinners, as soon as they are out of their bodies, are committed to the prison of hell, where those that despised Noah's warning now are, and from whence there is no redemption. Noah's salvation in the ark upon the water, which carried him above the floods, set forth the salvation of all true believers. That temporal salvation by the ark was a type of the eternal salvation of believers by baptism of the Holy Spirit. To prevent mistakes, the apostle declares what he means by saving baptism; not the outward ceremony of washing with water, which, in itself, does no more than put away the filth of the flesh, but that baptism, of which the baptismal water formed the sign. Not the outward ordinance, but when a man, by the regeneration of the Spirit, was enabled to repent and profess faith, and purpose a new life, uprightly, and as in the presence of God. Let us beware that we rest not upon outward forms. Let us learn to look on the ordinances of God spiritually, and to inquire after the spiritual effect and working of them on our consciences. We would willingly have all religion reduced to outward things. But many who were baptized, and constantly attended the ordinances, have remained without Christ, died in their sins, and are now past recovery. Rest not then till thou art cleansed by the Spirit of Christ and the blood of Christ. His resurrection from the dead is that whereby we are assured of purifying and peace.
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