WHO WENT PREACHING AND WHEN & WHERE DID HE PREACH?
In this article, we shall ask questions about the following items: (a) Who went preaching? (b) When did he go preaching? (c) Where did he go preaching? (d) In what state of being did Christ go preaching? and (e)What is the meaning of the term “preach”?
A. Different Translations
1. King James Version, “19-By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20a- Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, …”
2. New King James Version, “19-by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20a- who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared…”
3. American Standard Version, “19-in which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison, 20a– that aforetime were disobedient, when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing,…”
4. Revised Standard Version, “19-in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20a-who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark,…”
5. New Living Translation, “19-So he went and preached to the spirits in prison – 20a-those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat.”
6. Harold Littrell (1994), “19-In which also he went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20a-Who once were disobedient when the longsuffering of God waited in the days when Noah was preparing the ark,…”
7. Mabuting Balita Biblia (1980), “19-Sa kalagayang ito, pinuntahan niya at inaralan ang mga espiritung nakabilanggo. 20a-Iyan ang mga espiritung ayaw sumunod nang sila’y matiyagang hinihintay ng Diyos noong panahon ni Noe, samantalang ginagawa nito ang daong.”
8. Baro Naimbag a Damag Biblia (1996), “19-ket iti daytoy a kasasaadna napan nangasaba kadagiti naibalud nga espiritu. 20a-Dagitoy ti espiritu dagiti saan a nagtulnog idi tiempo ni Noe idinto a siaanus ti Dios a nangur-uray kadakuada bayat ti pannakaaramid ti daong.”
B. Who Went Preaching?
It is important that we determine who went to preach. Is it the Holy Spirit in person or Christ in person? The KJV and NKJV employ the preposition “by” which some would like to connect with the capitalized Spirit (the Holy Spirit) so the conclusion is that the Holy Spirit went to preach. But is there any reason that it should be the Holy Spirit and not Christ?
But if the preposition employed is “in” so that the prepositional phrase is “made alive in the spirit” then it becomes clear that the subject is the one who died in the flesh and was made alive in the spirit and that refers to our Lord Jesus. And notice that in v. 19 it is clear that in that state of being in the spirit the subject person went to preach. This undoubtedly refers to the Lord Jesus and not the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit was never made alive in the spirit.
C. When Did He Go Preaching?
It is also important that we determine the time frame of the preaching activity. Was it in ancient time during the 120 years period when the giant ark was being constructed by Noah and his sons or was it between the time that Christ was buried and the time of his resurrection (6pm of Friday and 6am of Sunday, Roman time)? Please note the state of being and the time frame from verse 18 to verse 19. In relation to the time of preaching, please note the expressions in v.20: “sometime were disobedient” “formerly were disobedient” “aforetime were disobedient” “formerly did not obey””disobeyed God long ago” “once were disobedient” “sa kalagayang ito” “iti dayta a kasasaadna” should give you the time frame.
D. Where Did He Go Preaching?
Determine also the place of preaching: was it in the plains of Mesopotamia in the general area of Iran and Iraq today or was it in Hades, the abode of the disembodied spirits? If you notice the flow of the events you can determine the place of preaching. Note there is the state of being in the flesh, in that state of flesh he was put to death, but he was made alive in the spirit, in that state of being as alive in the spirit, he went to preach to those in prison. Those in prison are described as “formerly” “aforetime” “once were disobedient”. Is it correct grammar to use the terms formerly, aforetime, once were disobedient with its past tense if the preaching was in the time frame of Noah’s days? If the preaching was in the place of the ark construction in the days of Noah should not the description of the spirits in prison be in the present tense and not past tense? On the other hand, if the preaching was done by Christ in Hades while he was in Hades for a few days, is the description that the spirits in prison are “formerly disobedient” “once were disobedient” “aforetime disobedient” correct?
E. In What State of Being Did He Go Preaching?
The Tagalog Bible is clear in saying, “Sa kalagayang ito” pointing to the “made alive in the spirit state of being,” he went to preach. That is also true in the Iloco, “iti dayta a kasasaadna” of being made alive in the spirit he went to preach. Is it right to use the expression “being made alive in the spirit” to refer to Christ’s state of being when Noah was building the ark? Was Christ made alive in the spirit in the days of Noah? I don’t think so. At the time of Noah, Christ was existing in the state of being as pure spirit. The RSV, ASV, NLT, Littrell’s, Tagalog, Iloco clearly refer to the state of being of Christ after Christ was “made alive in the spirit.” Not before he was made alive in the spirit.
F. Meaning of the verb “to preach”
We should also determine the meaning of “keruz” the herald, proclaimer, announcer, preacher. Also the verb “kerusso” which means to cry out, to proclaim, to announce, to preach. Does “preach” always mean orally proclaiming the gospel of Christ’s death, burial, resurrection with a view to persuasion and expectation of conversion? Does it get also the general meaning of simply making a proclamation since there is an absence of a direct object or what kind of message was given in 1 Peter 3:18-20? Could it mean a visual parade of a victorious king or military general concretely displaying his triumph now viewed by the innumerable host on the gallery or highway side? Just like victorious King Saul parading King Agag and the fatted animals?
What we find in our passage is poreutheis ekeruzen ( literally it reads, “having gone he preached”). The simple verb is kerusso which means “to preach.” Note that there is no direct object or there is no description of the kind of message delivered in 1 Peter 3:18-20. Kerusso does not always mean to evangelize with a purpose to convert. An announcement of the birth of a royal child was a good spell or a good news. The announcer of a decree to worship in Daniel 3:4 is called a keruz. Also in Daniel 5:29 we read, “and made a proclamation concerning him.” Daniel being made third ruler of the Kingdom is referred to with the term keraz but the message in Daniel is not the gospel of Christ or something with a view to conversion. King Solomon is also a preacher (Eccle. 1:1 & 12) but he didn’t preacher the gospel of Christ.
After having answered the suggested questions posed in series 1 and 2, you should now be able to make a good conclusion on 1 Peter 18-20. The questions are:
- What is the translation of pneumati? Is it Spirit or spirit?
- What is the translation of the phrase de tu pneumati or de pneumati? Is it by the Spirit, in the Spirit, or in the spirit?
- Who went to preach? Was it Christ in person or Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit or the Holy Spirit in person?
- When was the preaching done? Was it during the days of Noah or between Christ’s burial and before resurrection in 33 A.D. or between Christ’s burial and before ascension?
- Where was the preaching done? Was it in the plains of Mesopotamia in the general area of Iran and Iraq? Or in Hades, the abode of the disembodied spirits?
- What is the meaning of the verb kerusso “to preach” and keruz “the herald, announcer, proclaimer, preacher”? Is it to teach the death, burial and resurrection of Christ with a view to persuasion and conversion? Or does the preaching refer to Christ’s declaration of triumph among those doubting spirits, and could it be that the most stubborn doubters were those of Noah’s time? Since Christ went to Hades according to Acts 2:27, was it not automatic that Christ was seen in a triumphant parade like what happened with Christ on the Palm Sunday in Jerusalem when he was hailed as “King of the Jews”? Could it be that Patriarch Noah organized and served as marshal of the victory parade along the main avenue of Paradise? And the parade was viewed by the telescopic eyes of those in the place of the tortured Rich Man who saw Poor Lazarus in the company of Abraham in Luke 16? If Abraham made a discourse in Luke 16 addressed to the Rich Man, is it not possible that Christ personally made a discourse addressed especially to the formerly stubbornly disobedient people of Noah’s generation who insulted the old man Noah even considering him crazy?
- Was there an expectation of giving a second chance to the audience for conversion in the meaning of “preach” in our current study passage?
- Was there actual conversion to Christ in this preaching of 1 Peter 3:18-20?
I am hopeful that our analysis has contributed to a deeper understanding of the passage. If the questions I have framed for our guidelines are faulty and flawed, please tell me.
Comments and observations are most welcomed. Well researched and well documented articles are appreciated. © Eusebio Tanicala (8.11.10)