The Just Suffering for the Unjust

September 26, 2018 at 9:45 am | Posted in I Peter | 5 Comments
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For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

I Peter 3:18

The “Spirit” here is capitalized in the King James Version, and several other, though not all, translations. The capitalization leads the reader to believe that the Spirit being referenced is the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, but could Christ have had a “spirit” other than the Holy Spirit? Matthew 26:41, Romans 1:3-4, Luke 23:46, and James 2:26 would seem to indicate that Jesus, in His full humanity, did have a spirit, although I still believe that I Peter 3:18 is talking about the Holy Spirit.

The term “quickened” means “made alive,” although “resurrection” normally refers to a physical body.

By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

I Peter 3:19

There has been much conjecture and dispute over the identity of these “spirits in prison.” I do not believe that they are lost sinners in hell. “Spirits” might mean some type of beings, but “souls” would be the way to refer to human beings.

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.

I Peter 3:20

“Preached” in 3:19 is thought to be “proclamation” rather than “convincing” or “exhorting” as in “preaching the Gospel,” so it is possible that the spirits are fallen angels, perhaps the demons who influenced the “sons of God” into mating with the “daughters of men” in Genesis 6. Christ would not have “preached” salvation to lost sinners or to fallen angels, and the Bible does not say that Christ went to the place of everlasting torment we call hell, although many people mistakenly derive that idea from:

He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

Acts 2:31

This verse is actually quoting David in Psalm 16:10, speaking of sheol, the realm of the dead.

Some commentators believe that Christ went to preach to the Old Testament saints in the afterlife (“Abraham’s Bosom”) between His death on the Cross and His Resurrection, but this is not likely. Most Scripture supports absence from the body as being present with the Lord for believers.

Unbelievers are separated from God after death, and their damnation is finally determined at that point, although they have not yet been finally judged and cast into the lake of fire.

To understand I Peter 3:20 it is crucial to look at the context.

For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

I Peter 3:17-18

The theme is “suffering.”

Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.

Psalm 68:18

This verse is quoted in the New Testament also:

Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

Ephesians 4:8

Christ made a public display of defeating Satan – a “triumph” is what the people in ancient Rome would have called it – but this public display is what we call the Crucifixion and the Ascension. It is not something that occurred during the the time when Jesus was in the grave – or wherever His Spirit was before His body was resurrected. I Peter 3:19 does say He went and preached unto the spirits in prison, but I think that is talking about His Spirit preaching through the obedience of Noah in the days of Noah. That is why Noah is brought up next.

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.

I Peter 3:20

Elsewhere, the Holy Spirit had Peter call Noah a preacher of righteousness.

For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

II Peter 2:4-5

The Holy Spirit – Christ’s Spirit – preached through the actions of Noah, preaching condemnation, but also righteousness, through Noah’s obedience.

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. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

I Peter 3:20-21

The same waters that condemned the world saved Noah, which is pictured in New Testament baptism. The same grave that tried to condemn Christ – and made it look like a victory for Satan – turned around and brought about Christ’s ultimate victory, as He used it to “preach” (“proclaim”) His authority and power over EVERYTHING having to do with sin: death, hell, the grave, principalities, powers, this world’s authorities, flesh, fallen angels, Satan.

Remember, we’re talking about suffering: the just suffering for the unjust. Christ could have beaten all His enemies without suffering, but He wanted to save the unjust: you and me.

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  1. […] Would a lifetime of what we call “suffering” be worth it to see God’s glory? It’s not even close! Just a GLIMPSE would far outweigh all suffering. […]

  2. […] and Inheritance in Marriage (I Peter 2:25-3:7) * 14. How to Fight Evil (I Peter 3:8-16) 15. The Just Suffering for the Unjust (I Peter 3:17-21) 16. The Most Obvious Difference between Jesus and Us (I Peter 3:18) 17. […]

  3. […] Lord, help us to be focused, to keep our mind on You. Help us not to separate what we learn from what we do. Help us to remember Your ways and Your Person. Help us to remember Your people, Your church, and the lost. Help us to remember that our afflictions are light considering our blessings, and definitely light compared to what You suffered for us. […]

  4. […] was a preacher of righteousness. In obedience to God, he built the ark that, upon the waters of the world-wide flood, saved the […]

  5. […] It has been surmised that, perhaps, Jesus specifically used Lazarus’s name to prevent the emptying out of Abraham’s Bosom, or even sheol. […]


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