in which also to the spirits in prison having gone he did preach,
1 Peter 3:19 Additional TranslationsClarke's Commentary on the Bible
By which - Spirit, his own Divine energy and authority.
He went and preached - By the ministry of Noah, one hundred and twenty years.
Unto the spirits in prison - The inhabitants of the antediluvian world, who, having been disobedient, and convicted of the most flagrant transgressions against God, were sentenced by his just law to destruction. But their punishment was delayed to see if they would repent; and the long-suffering of God waited one hundred and twenty years, which were granted to them for this purpose; during which time, as criminals tried and convicted, they are represented as being in prison - detained under the arrest of Divine justice, which waited either for their repentance or the expiration of the respite, that the punishment pronounced might be inflicted. This I have long believed to be the sense of this difficult passage, and no other that I have seen is so consistent with the whole scope of the place. That the Spirit of God did strive with, convict, and reprove the antediluvians, is evident from Genesis 6:3 : My Spirit shall not always strive with man, forasmuch as he is flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years. And it was by this Spirit that Noah became a preacher of righteousness, and condemned that ungodly world, Hebrews 11:7, who would not believe till wrath - Divine punishment, came upon them to the uttermost. The word πνευμασι, spirits, is supposed to render this view of the subject improbable, because this must mean disembodied spirits; but this certainly does not follow, for the spirits of just men made perfect, Hebrews 12:23, certainly means righteous men, and men still in the Church militant; and the Father of spirits, Hebrews 12:9, means men still in the body; and the God of the spirits of all flesh, Numbers 16:22; Numbers 27:16, means men not in a disembodied state.
But even on this word there are several various readings; some of the Greek MSS. read πνευματι, in spirit, and one Πνευματι Ἁγιῳ, in the Holy Spirit. I have before me one of the first, if not the very first edition of the Latin Bible; and in it the verse stands thus: In quo et hiis, qui in carcere erant, Spiritualiter veniens praedicavit; "by which he came spiritually, and preached to them that were in prison."
In two very ancient MSS. of the Vulgate before me, the clause is thus: In quo et his qui in carcere erant Spiritu venient praedicavit; "in which, coming by the Spirit, he preached to those who were in prison." This is the reading also in the Complutensian Polyglot.
Another ancient MS. in my possession has the words nearly as in the printed copy: In quo et hiis qui in carcere Conclusi erant Spiritualiter veniens praedicavit; "in which, coming spiritually, he preached to those who were Shut Up in prison."
Another MS., written about a.d. 1370, is the same as the printed copy.
The common printed Vulgate is different from all these, and from all the MSS. of the Vulgate which I have seen in reading spiritibus, "to the spirits."
In my old MS. Bible, which contains the first translation into English ever made, the clause is the following: In whiche thing and to hem that weren closid togyder in prison, hi commynge in Spirit, prechide. The copy from which this translation was taken evidently read conclusi erdnt, with one of the MSS. quoted above, as closid togyder proves.
I have quoted all these authorities from the most authentic and correct copies of the Vulgate, to show that from them there is no ground to believe that the text speaks of Christ's going to hell to preach the Gospel to the damned, or of his going to some feigned place where the souls of the patriarchs were detained, to whom he preached, and whom he delivered from that place and took with him to paradise, which the Romish Church holds as an article of faith.
Though the judicious Calmet holds with his Church this opinion, yet he cannot consider the text of St. Peter as a proof of it. I will set down his own words: Le sentiment qui veut que Jesus Christ soit descendu aux enfers, pour annoncer sa venue aux anciens patriarches, et pour les tirer de cette espece de prison, ou ils Pattendoient si long tems, est indubitable; et nous le regardons comme un article de notre foi: mais on peut douter que ce soit le sens de Saint Pierre en cet endroit. "The opinion which states that Jesus Christ descended into hell, to announce his coming to the ancient patriarchs, and to deliver them from that species of prison, where they had so long waited for him, is incontrovertible; and we (the Catholics) consider it as an article of our faith: but we may doubt whether this be the meaning of St. Peter in this place." Some think the whole passage applies to the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles; but the interpretation given above appears to me, after the fullest consideration, to be the most consistent and rational, as I have already remarked.
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
1 Peter 1:11,12 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify...
1 Peter 4:6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh...
Nehemiah 9:30 Yet many years did you forbear them, and testified against them by your spirit in your prophets: yet would they not give ear...
Revelation 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said to me, See you do it not: I am your fellow servant...
Isaiah 42:7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
Isaiah 49:9 That you may say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways...
Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on me; because the LORD has anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek...
Revelation 20:7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
1 Peter 3:19 Parallel CommentariesMessage Preach Preached Preaching Prison Proclaimed Proclamation SpiritsMessage Preach Preached Preaching Prison Proclaimed Proclamation SpiritsTHE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica®.
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