The Evangelical Universalist Forum

What does 1 Peter 3:19 mean?

1 Peter 3:19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;


Hi Caroleem,

My understanding of this verse can be found in the following post: The Intermediate State of the Dead

Hope that helps.

Over the years it has been used to justify postmortem salvation, at least for a few. Personally I’m unsure about it, particularly given verse 20


I think it means basicly what means at face-value.

19 So he went and preached to the spirits in prison—20 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.

It is speaking of Jesus going and preaching to “spirits in prison” in the context of His death and burial. And these “spirits in prison” were the people who had rejected the salvation of God through the ministry of Noah, the most wicked generation every to live in the earth.

Peter further clarifies this just a couple of scentences later when He writes,

“That is why the Good News was preached to those who are now dead—so although they were destined to die like all people, they now live forever with God in the Spirit.”

The Gospel is meant to bring freedom to captives.

I was thinking on this this morning and thinking that I need to change my nomenclature of what happens after death for the lost, instead of “Remedial Punishment”, I believe that they experience “Reality Discipline”! When a person dies they come into the full reality of their present spiritual condition. If they have not been saved, they come into the full reality of this present evil age. The come into the full reality of their separation from God, and being consumed by evil from within and without. And they exist in that state of being until they are saved, delivered from it, as apparently these were delivered in this passage in Peter.

“Reality Discipline”, people can walk in some pretty heavy self-deception, but “Reality Discipline” allows a person to experience the reality of thier bad choices! The more bad choices, the more terrible the reality of it is!

Reality Discipline is a type of Remedial Punishment, but it highlights that the person is experiencing the reality of their bad choices, instead of God inflicting the punishment out of some need to do so.

i’ve no issue with that indicating post-mortem salvation, though i feel you need to have a few unrelated bits of Scripture to confirm it before you can make it a proper doctrine. but now i’m aware of some less specific texts that hint at it, i’m more convinced. before i embraced EU, i was of the opinion that Christ was extending salvation back in time to those people, in a way…and that this indicated post mortem hope for those under the older covenants. this was how i could justify my partial salvation view…i found it beyond logic that God would only give salvation to those who’d lived after Christ, so this verse gave me hope for those who’d died before, and also by extension of the “logic”, those who live now who are unaware of Christ. so i never had to worry about people who’d never heard of Christ, as they’d be given their chance.

part of me did wonder at the time why it was necessary to preach, however. i did think that if they got saved anyway, what’s the point in evangelising and thus giving them a fair chance to be damned! it all makes more sense now, though :smiley:
odd that a belief in ECT and the spread of the new covenant (which i somewhat feared as it would damn people, i thought) would inhibit me from telling people about God! and people think EU and UR stop mission!

but anyways, the thing i wonder is why mention just them specifically: the ones that died before the flood? what about people who came after the flood but before Christ?
or was he making the point that those wicked souls, so evil that God decided to destroy them with a flood, were not beyond the redemption of Christ?
hard to know, but that sounds likely to me.

1 Peter 3 with context in the Message Translation . . .the emphasis isn’t about imprisoned spirits of men . . .it’s about resurrection power of Christ.

Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.

19-22He went and proclaimed God’s salvation to earlier generations who ended up in the prison of judgment because they wouldn’t listen. You know, even though God waited patiently all the days that Noah built his ship, only a few were saved then, eight to be exact—saved from the water by the water. The waters of baptism do that for you, not by washing away dirt from your skin but by presenting you through Jesus’ resurrection before God with a clear conscience. Jesus has the last word on everything and everyone, from angels to armies. He’s standing right alongside God, and what he says goes.

Sorry i take so long to get back to everyone, i don’t mean to ignore you all.
I appreciate your replies, tho i don’t have anything to add at this moment. I may tho in the future… :slight_smile: