Verse (Click for Chapter)
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.
Berean Standard Bible
who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In the ark a few people, only eight souls, were saved through water.
Berean Literal Bible
at one time having disobeyed, when the longsuffering of God was waiting in the days of Noah, of the ark being prepared, in which a few--that is, eight souls--were saved through 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.
New King James Version
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.
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.
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.
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.
who once were disobedient, when the great patience of God was waiting in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons [Noah’s family], were brought safely through the water.
Christian Standard Bible
who in the past were disobedient, when God patiently waited in the days of Noah while the ark was being prepared. In it a few—that is, eight people —were saved through 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.
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:
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.
Contemporary English Version
They had disobeyed God while Noah was building the boat, but God had been patient with them. Eight people went into that boat and were brought safely through the flood.
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.
Good News Translation
These were the spirits of those who had not obeyed God when he waited patiently during the days that Noah was building his boat. The few people in the boat--eight in all--were saved by the 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.
Literal Standard Version
who sometime [ago] disobeyed when once the long-suffering of God waited, in [the] days of Noah—an ark being prepared—in which few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water,
New American Bible
who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through 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.
New Revised Standard Version
who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water.
New Heart English Bible
who before were disobedient, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, while the box-shaped vessel was being built. In it, few, that is, eight souls, were saved by means of 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;
Additional Translations ...
ContextSuffering for Righteousness
…19in whom He also went and preached to the spirits in prison 20who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In the ark a few people, only eight souls, were saved through water. 21And this water symbolizes the baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body, but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,…
So the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days shall be 120 years."
Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great upon the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was altogether evil all the time.
Noah, however, found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
And every living thing on the face of the earth was destroyed--man and livestock, crawling creatures and birds of the air; they were blotted out from the earth, and only Noah and those with him in the ark remained.
So Noah came out, along with his sons and his wife and his sons' wives.
Those who embraced his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to the believers that day.
Or do you disregard the riches of His kindness, tolerance, and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you to repentance?
Treasury of Scripture
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.
Genesis 6:3,5,13 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years…
Isaiah 30:18 And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.
Romans 2:4,5 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? …
Romans 9:22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
Matthew 24:37-39 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be…
Luke 17:26-30 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man…
Genesis 6:14-22 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch…
Hebrews 11:7 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; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
Genesis 7:1-7,13,23 And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation…
Genesis 8:1,18 And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged; …
Matthew 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Genesis 7:17-23 And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth…
2 Corinthians 2:15,16 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: …
Ephesians 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
Which sometime were disobedient.--The absence of the definite article here in the Greek (contrary to St. Peter's usage in participial sentences--e.g., 1Peter 1:5; 1Peter 1:7; 1Peter 1:10; 1Peter 1:17) makes it possible to think that the spirits mentioned in this verse are not co-extensive with those in prison. It is, literally, to men who once upon a time were disobedient. Our Lord preached to the whole class of spirits in prison, of all times and races; and then, to magnify the bounty of this act, St. Peter instances a particular group of them, who were the most marked criminals of any, and whose case suggested a useful application. He has a reason for using the word "disobedient." It would not describe all sinners, but those who had heard and been convinced by the word of God, but refused to accept it. (See Note on 1Peter 3:2.) This was the case with those to whom Noah preached (2Peter 2:5); and, in spite of their "disobedience," Christ, after His innocent and sacrificial death, went in spirit and preached a gospel to them. Now, let it be recollected that St. Peter's object through the whole of this section is to encourage the Hebrew Christians to be ready, through a good conscience, for a brave martyrdom, if need be. They are to think how their deaths, like Christ's, may bring their persecutors to God. Nay--he seems to imply--their very spirits going forth into the world of spirits may conceivably carry a gospel of some kind even to Hebrew relatives who have passed away, like those Antediluvians, in the "disobedience" which was characteristic of the Jews. St. Clement of Alexandria, who derives the notion from the Shepherd of Hermas, gives his belief that the Apostles also, when they died, preached to those who had died before them; and though there is little that throws light on our occupation in the intermediate state, it can hardly be pronounced impossible for some spirits to be allowed to follow Christ's example there by preaching to spirits in prison. Many expositors, afraid of the consequences of admitting that there could be a possible gospel for men who died impenitent, have supposed that the imprisoned spirits to whom Christ went were the less wicked people destroyed by the Flood; others that they were those who had some motions of penitence when the rain began to fall; but these ideas are foreign to the text, which only tells us that they "were disobedient," and adds nothing to extenuate their crime. They are a typical instance of men who died "as evil doers" (1Peter 3:17). . . . 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.
Parallel Commentaries ...
Verb - Aorist Participle Active - Dative Masculine Plural
Strong's 544: To disobey, rebel, be disloyal, refuse conformity. From apeithes; to disbelieve.
Strong's 4218: At one time or other, at some time, formerly. From the base of pou and te; indefinite adverb, at some time, ever.
Strong's 3753: When, at which time. From hos and te; at which too, i.e. When.
Noun - Genitive Masculine Singular
Strong's 2316: A deity, especially the supreme Divinity; figuratively, a magistrate; by Hebraism, very.
Verb - Imperfect Indicative Middle or Passive - 3rd Person Singular
Strong's 553: To expect eagerly, wait for eagerly, look for. From apo and ekdechomai; to expect fully.
Noun - Nominative Feminine Singular
Strong's 3115: Patience, forbearance, longsuffering. From the same as makrothumos; longanimity, i.e. forbearance or fortitude.
Strong's 1722: In, on, among. A primary preposition denoting position, and instrumentality, i.e. A relation of rest; 'in, ' at, on, by, etc.
Noun - Dative Feminine Plural
Strong's 2250: A day, the period from sunrise to sunset.
Noun - Genitive Masculine Singular
Strong's 3575: (Hebrew) Noah. Of Hebrew origin; Noe, a patriarch.
[while the] ark
Noun - Genitive Feminine Singular
Strong's 2787: A box, i.e. The sacred ark and that of Noah.
was being built.
Verb - Present Participle Middle or Passive - Genitive Feminine Singular
Strong's 2680: From kata and a derivative of skeuos; to prepare thoroughly; by implication, to construct, create.
Strong's 1519: A primary preposition; to or into, of place, time, or purpose; also in adverbial phrases.
Personal / Relative Pronoun - Accusative Feminine Singular
Strong's 3739: Who, which, what, that.
a few [people],
Adjective - Nominative Masculine Plural
Strong's 3641: Puny; especially neuter somewhat.
Demonstrative Pronoun - Nominative Neuter Singular
Strong's 3778: This; he, she, it.
Adjective - Nominative Feminine Plural
Strong's 3638: Eight. A primary numeral; 'eight'.
Noun - Nominative Feminine Plural
Strong's 5590: From psucho; breath, i.e. spirit, abstractly or concretely.
Verb - Aorist Indicative Passive - 3rd Person Plural
Strong's 1295: From dia and sozo; to save thoroughly, i.e. to cure, preserve, rescue, etc.
Strong's 1223: A primary preposition denoting the channel of an act; through.
Noun - Genitive Neuter Singular
Strong's 5204: Water. And genitive case, hudatos, etc. From the base of huetos; water literally or figuratively.
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NT Letters: 1 Peter 3:20 Who before were disobedient when God waited (1 Pet. 1P iP i Pet)