New International Version
to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,
New Living Translation
those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood.
English Standard Version
because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.
New American Standard Bible
who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.
King James Bible
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.
Holman Christian Standard Bible
who in the past were disobedient, when God patiently waited in the days of Noah while an ark was being prepared. In it a few--that is, eight people--were saved through water.
International Standard Version
who disobeyed long ago in the days of Noah, when God waited patiently while the ark was being built. In it a few, that is, eight persons, were saved by water.
after they were disobedient long ago when God patiently waited in the days of Noah as an ark was being constructed. In the ark a few, that is eight souls, were delivered through water.
Aramaic Bible in Plain English
These who from the first were not convinced in the days of Noah when the long-suffering of God commanded that there would be an ark, upon the hope of their repentance, and only eight souls entered it and were kept alive by water.
GOD'S WORD® Translation
They are like those who disobeyed long ago in the days of Noah when God waited patiently while Noah built the ship. In this ship a few people-eight in all-were saved by water.
Jubilee Bible 2000
which in the time past were disobedient, when once the patience of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being made ready, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
King James 2000 Bible
Who formerly were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, by which a few, that is, eight souls were saved through water.
American King James Version
Which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
American Standard Version
that aforetime were disobedient, when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water:
Which had been some time incredulous, when they waited for the patience of God in the days of Noe, when the ark was a building: wherein a few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water.
Darby Bible Translation
heretofore disobedient, when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah while the ark was preparing, into which few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water:
English Revised Version
which aforetime were disobedient, when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water:
Webster's Bible Translation
Who formerly were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing, in which few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water.
Weymouth New Testament
who in ancient times had been disobedient, while God's longsuffering was patiently waiting in the days of Noah during the building of the Ark, in which a few persons--eight in number--were brought safely through the water.
World English Bible
who before were disobedient, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, while the ship was being built. In it, few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.
Young's Literal Translation
who sometime disbelieved, when once the long-suffering of God did wait, in days of Noah -- an ark being preparing -- in which few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water;
Parallel CommentariesMatthew Henry's Concise Commentary
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.
Verse 20. - Which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a-preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. Omit the word "once" (ἅπαξ), which is without authority. Wherein; literally, into which; they were saved by entering into it. The last words may mean, "they were carried safely through the water," or, "they were saved by water;" that is, the water bore up the ark (Genesis 7:17, 18). The argument of ver. 21 makes the second interpretation the more probable. The verse now before us limits the area of the Lord's preaching: without it we might have supposed that he preached to the whole multitude of the dead, or at least to all the ungodly dead whose spirits were in prison. Why does St. Peter specify the generation that was swept away by the Flood? Did they need the preaching of the Christ more than other sinful souls? or was there any special reason why that grace should be vouchsafed to them rather than to others? The fact must have been revealed to the apostle; but evidently we are in the presence of a mystery into which we can see only a little way. Those antediluvians were a conspicuous instance of men who suffered for evil doing (see ver. 17); as Christ is the transcendent Example of one who suffered for well-doing. It is better to suffer with him than with them: they are in prison. His chosen are with him in Paradise. But St. Peter cannot rest in the contemplation of the Lord's death as an example; he must pass on to the deeper, the more mysterious aspects of that most stupendous or' events. The Lord suffered concerning sins, for the sake of unrighteous men; not only did he die for them, he did not rest from his holy work even while his sacred body lay in the grave; he went and preached to some whose sins had been most notorious, and most signally punished. The judgment had been one of unexampled awfulness; eight souls only were saved in the ark, many thousands perished. It may be that St. Peter mentions the fewness of the saved to indicate one reason for this gracious visit. It seems that the awful destruction of the Deluge had made a deep impression upon his mind; he mentions it twice in his Second Epistle (2 Peter 2:5; 3:6); he saw in it a solemn anticipation of the last tremendous judgment. Doubtless he remembered well how the Lord, in his great prophetic discourse upon the Mount of Olives, had compared the days of Noah to the coming of the Son of man (Matthew 24:37-39); those words seem to give a special character to the Deluge, separating it from other lesser judgments, and investing it with a peculiar awfulness. It may be that the apostle's thoughts had dwelt much upon the many mysterious problems (such as the great destruction of infant life) connected with it; and that a special revelation was vouchsafed to him to clear up some of his difficulties. These spirits, in prison at the time of the descent into Hades, had aforetime been disobedient. The Greek word (ἀπειθήσασι) means literally "disbelieving;" but here, as in 1 Peter 2:7 and elsewhere, it stands for that willful unbelief which sets itself in direct opposition to the will of God. They were guilty of unbelief, and of the disobedience which results from unbelief. Noah was a "preacher of righteousness" (2 Peter 2:5, where the Greek word is κῆρυξ, the substantive corresponding with the verb ἐκήρυξεν here); the vast structure of the ark was a standing warning as it rose slowly before their eyes. The long-suffering of God waited all those hundred and twenty years (Genesis 6:3), as now the Lord is "long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). But they heeded neither the preaching of Noah nor the long-suffering of God; and at last "the Flood came, and took them all away. So shall also the coming of the Son of man be." Eight only were saved then; they doubtless suffered for well-doing; they had to endure much scorn and derision, perhaps persecution. But they were not disobedient. "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house." The eight were brought safe through (διεσώθησαν); they were saved through the water; the water bore them up, possibly rescued them from persecution. But the rest perished; the destruction of life was tremendous; we know not how many thousands perished: they suffered for evil-doing. But the degrees of guilt must have varied greatly from open pro-faulty and hostility to silent doubt; while there were many children and very young persons; and it may be that many repented at the last moment. It is better to suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing; but even suffering for evil-doing is sometimes blessed to the salvation of the soul; and it may be that some of these, having been "judged according to men in the flesh," now "live according to God in the spirit" (1 Peter 4:6). For it is impossible to believe that the Lord's preaching was a "concio damnatoria." The Lord spoke sternly sometimes in the days of his flesh, but it was the warning voice of love; even that sternest denunciation of the concentrated guilt and hypocrisy of the Pharisees ended in a piteous wail of loving sorrow. It cannot he that the most merciful Savior would have visited souls irretrievably lost merely to upbraid them and to enhance their misery. He had just suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust: is it not possible that one of the effects of that suffering might have been "to bring unto God" some souls who once had been alienated from God by wicked works, but had not wholly hardened their hearts; who, like the men of Tyro and Sidon, Sodom and Gomorrah, had not the opportunities which we enjoy, who had not been once enlightened and made partakers of the heavenly gift and the powers of the world to come? Is it not possible that in those words, "which sometime were disobedient," there may be a hint that that disobedience of theirs was not the "eternal sin" which, according to the reading of the two most ancient manuscripts in Mark 3:29, is the awful lot of those who have never forgiveness? The Lord preached to the spirits in prison; that word (ἐκήρυξεν) is commonly used of the heralds of salvation, and St. Peter himself, in the next chapter, tells us that "the gospel was preached (εὐηγγελίσθη) to them that are dead." The gospel is the good tidings of salvation through the cross of Christ. The Lord had just died upon the cross: is it not possible that, in the moment of victory, he announced the saving power of the cross to some who had greatly sinned; as at the time of his resurrection "many bodies of the saints who slept arose"? There is one more question which forces itself upon us - What was the result of this preaching? Did the spirits in prison listen to the Savior's voice? Were they delivered from that prison where they had been so long confined? Here Scripture is almost silent; yet we read the words of hope in 1 Peter 4:6, "For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit." The good news was announced to them that they might live; then may we not dare to hope that some at least listened to that gracious preaching, and were saved even out of that prison by the power of the Savior's cross? May we not venture to believe, with the author of the ' Christian Year,' that even in that dreary scene the Savior's eye reached the thronging band of sou]s, and that his cross and Passion, his agony and bloody sweat, might (we know not how or in what measure) "set the shadowy realms from sin and sorrow free?" It seems desirable to add a brief summary of the history of opinion on this much-controverted passage. The early Greek Fathers appear to have held, with one consent, that St. Peter is here speaking of that descent into Hades of which he had spoken in his first great sermon (Acts 2:31). Justin Martyr, in his' Dialogue with Trypho' (sect. 72), accuses the Jews of having erased from the prophecies of Jeremiah the following words: "The Lord God of Israel remembered his dead who slept in the land of the tomb, and descended to them to preach to them the good news of his salvation." Irenseus quotes the same passage, attributing it in one place to Isaiah, in another to Jeremiah, and adds that the Lord's purpose was to deliver them and to save them (extrahere eos et salvare cos). Tertullian says that the Lord descended into the lower parts of the earth, to make the patriarchs partakers of himself (compotes sui; 'De Anima,' c. 55). Clement of Alexandria quotes Hermas as saying that "the apostles and teachers who had preached the Name of the Son of God and had fallen asleep, preached by his power and faith to those who had fallen asleep before them" ('Strom.,' 2:9). "And then," Bishop Pearson, from whose notes on the Creed these quotations are taken, continues, "Clement supplies that authority with a reason of his own, that as the apostles were to imitate Christ while they lived, so did they also imitate him after death, and therefore preached to the souls in Hades, as Christ did before them." The earliest writers do not seem to have thought that any change in the condition of the dead was produced by Christ's descent into Hades. The Lord announced the gospel to the dead; the departed saints rejoiced to hear the glad tidings, as now the angels rejoice over each repentant sinner. Origen, in his second homily on 1 Kings, taught that the Lord, descending into Hades, brought the souls of the holy dead, the patriarchs and prophets, out of Hades into Paradise; no souls could pass the flaming sword till he had led the way; but now, through his grace and power, the blessed dead who die in the Lord enter at once into the rest of Paradise - not yet heaven, but an intermediate place of rest, far better than that from which the saints of the old covenant were delivered. In this view Origen was followed by many of the later Fathers. But St. Peter says nothing of any preaching to departed saints. Christ "went and preached," he says, "unto the spirits in prison, which sometime were disobedient." Hence Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine, and others were led to suppose that the Lord not only raised the holy dead to a higher state of blessedness, but preached also to the disobedient, and that some of these believed, and were by his grace delivered from "prison." Some few, as Cyril of Alexandria, held that the Lord spoiled the house of the strong man armed (σεσύλητο τῶν πνευμάτων ὁ ᾅδης), and released all his captives. This Augustine reckoned as a heresy. But in his epistle to Euodius (Ep. 99 and 164) Augustine, much exercised (as he says, "vehementissime commotus") by the difficulties of the question, propounded the interpretation which became general in the Western Church, being adopted by Bode, Thomas Aquinas, De Lyra, and later by Beza, Hammond, Leighton, Pearson, etc. "The spirits in prison," he says, "are the unbelieving who lived in the days of Noah, whose spirits, i.e. souls, had been shut up in the flesh and in the darkness of ignorance, as in a prison [comp. ' Paradise Lost,' 11:723]. Christ preached to them, not in the flesh, inasmuch as he was not yet incarnate, but in the spirit, i.e. according to his Divine nature (secundum divinitatem)." But this interpretation does not satisfy St. Peter's words. The hypothesis that Christ preached through the instrumentality of Noah does not adequately represent the participle πορευθείς; the word φυλακή cannot be taken metaphorically of the flesh in which the soul is confined. If, with Beza, we understand it as meaning "who are now in prison," we escape one difficulty, but another is introduced; for it is surely forced and unnatural to make the time of the verb and that of the dative clause different. The words ἐν φυλακῇ must describe the condition of the spirits at the time of the Savior's preaching. Some commentators, as Socinus and Grotius, refer St. Peter's words to the preaching of Christ through the apostles. These writers understand φυλακή of the prison of the body, or the prison of sin; and explain St. Peter as meaning that Christ preached through the apostles to the Jews who were under the yoke of the Law, and to the Gentiles who lay under the power of the devil; and they regard the disobedient in the time of Noah as a sample of sinners in any age. But this interpretation is altogether arbitrary, and cannot be reconciled with the apostle's words. Other views are - that our Lord descended into hell to triumph over Satan (on which see Pearson on the Creed, art. 5.); that his preaching was a concio damnatoria - an announcement of condemnation, not of salvation (which is disproved by 1 Peter 4:6); that the spirits in prison were holy souls waiting for Christ, the prison being (according to Calvin) "specula, sire ipse excubandi actus;" that they were heathens, who lived according to their light, but in idolatry. We may mention, in conclusion, the monstrous explanation of the heretic Marcion, that they were those who in the Old Testament are called ungodly, but were really better than those whom the Old Testament regards as saints.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Which sometime were disobedient,.... To all the instructions and warnings which God gave them, to all the strivings of his Spirit, and to the ministry of Christ, by Noah; they continued in their profaneness and impiety, and to corrupt their ways, and fill the earth with violence and wickedness; not believing what they were threatened with, or that ever a flood would come upon them, and destroy them: and this "sometime" refers to the time of their being upon earth, who were now in hell; "to the days of Noah"; hereafter mentioned; and which the Syriac version connects with this clause, reading it thus, "who of old were disobedient in the days of Noah"; at which time it was, that Christ, by his Spirit in Noah, went and preached to them: when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah: that is, when God, who is longsuffering and patient, waited on these disobedient ones, in Noah's time, for the space of an hundred and twenty years:
while the ark was preparing; by Noah, according to the directions which God gave him, Genesis 6:14 and which, as R. Tanchuma says (b), was fifty two years a building; others say (c) an hundred years; but Jarchi says (d) it was an hundred and twenty; and which seems most likely, that being the term of time in which God's longsuffering waited on them; during which time Noah was preaching to them, and building the ark:
wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water; the eight persons were, Noah, and his wife, and his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japhet, and their three wives. It is a common tradition with the Jews (e), that besides these, Og, king of Bashan, escaped the flood; and who, they say, is the same that escaped, and told Abraham of Lot's being carried captive by the kings (f); the manner of his escape at the flood they relate thus (g),
"Og came, who was delivered from the men that died at the flood; and he rode upon the ark, and he had a covering upon his head, and was fed with the food of Noah; but not for his worthiness was he delivered, but that the inhabitants of the world might see the power of the Lord;
and elsewhere (h), after this manner, citing those words, "and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark", Genesis 7:23 they add,
"except Og, king of Bashan, who sat on a certain piece of wood which belonged to the scaffolding of the ark, and he swore to Noah, and his sons, that he would be their servant for ever. What did Noah do? he bored an hole in the ark, and every day reached out food to him, and he remained alive, according to what is said, Deuteronomy 3:11 "only Og, king of Bashan", &c.
But this is all a mere fiction; and equally fabulous is the account the Arabians give, who say (i) that eighty persons, together with Noah, were taken into the ark, among whom was Jorham, their father; for there were no more than eight persons saved; and this is the apostle's sense; and agreeably the Syriac version renders it, "and eight souls" "only entered into it, and were saved by water"; and we are told by some of the eastern writers (k), that when these eight went out of the ark, they built a city, which they called Themanin, which, in the Arabic language, signifies "eight", according to their number. The ark was a type of Christ, into whom whoever enters by faith, or in whom whoever believes, shall be saved; but as they that entered into the ark were but few, so are those that enter in at the strait gate, or believe in Christ; and they that went into the ark were saved by the water bearing up the ark, even by that by which others were destroyed; as the very same thing, for different reasons, is the cause or means of destruction and salvation; so Christ is set, for the fall and rising of many, is a stumblingblock to some, and the power and wisdom of God to others; and the Gospel, and the ministers of it, are the savour of life unto life to some, and the savour of death unto death to others. This instance of the dispensation of the providence of God to the old world is very appropriately, though by way of digression, introduced by the apostle; showing, that in times past, as then, God's usual method has been to afford the outward means to ungodly men, and to bear with them long, and then bring down his vengeance upon them, and save his own people; and this suffering saints might depend upon would be their case, and therefore should bear their afflictions patiently,
(b) In Pirke Eliezer, c. 23. (c) Elmacin. Hist. apud Hottinger. Smegma Orient. l. 1. c. 8. p. 249. (d) In Gen. vi. 15. (e) Targum Jon. in Deuteronomy 3.11. T. Bab. Nidda, fol. 61. 1.((f) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 42. fol. 37. 2. Targum Jon. & Jarchi in Genesis 14.13. (g) Targum Jon. in Genesis 14.13. (h) Pirke Eliezer, c. 23. (i) Pocock. Specim. Hist. Arab. p. 38. (k) Eutychii Annal. p. 43. Elmacin. Hist. l. 1. c. 1. p. 12. Patricides, p. 10. Apud Hottinger, Smegma Orient. l. 1. c. 8. p. 251, 252.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
20. once—not in the oldest manuscripts.
when … the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah—Oldest manuscripts. Greek, "was continuing to wait on" (if haply men in the hundred twenty years of grace would repent) until the end of His waiting came in their death by the flood. This refutes Alford's idea of a second day of grace having been given in Hades. Noah's days are selected, as the ark and the destroying flood answer respectively to "baptism" and the coming destruction of unbelievers by fire.
while the ark was a-preparing—(Heb 11:7). A long period of God's "long-suffering and waiting," as Noah had few to help him, which rendered the world's unbelief the more inexcusable.
wherein—literally, "(by having entered) into which."
eight—seven (the sacred number) with ungodly Ham.
souls—As this term is here used of living persons, why should not "spirits" also? Noah preached to their ears, but Christ in spirit, to their spirits, or spiritual natures.
saved by water—The same water which drowned the unbelieving, buoyed up the ark in which the eight were saved. Not as some translate, "were brought safe through the water." However, the sense of the preposition may be as in 1Co 3:15, "they were safely preserved through the water," though having to be in the water.
1 Peter 3:20 Additional Commentaries
Suffering for Righteousness
…19in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 21Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you-- not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience-- through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,…
Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years."
The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.
But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.
So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons' wives.
Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
Which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
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Alphabetical: a ago all ark being brought built construction days disobedient disobeyed during eight few God in is it kept long Noah of once only patience patiently people persons safely saved that the through waited waiting was water were when which while who
NT Letters: 1 Peter 3:20 Who before were disobedient when God waited (1 Pet. 1P iP i Pet) Christian Bible Study Resources, Dictionary, Concordance and Search Tools