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18For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, 19in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison,

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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 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," &c. (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," &c. [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.




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