WHEN and WHERE and WHY CHRIST WENT TO PREACH TO SPIRITS IN PRISON (#1)

By Eusebio A. Tanicala

For several Sundays this past month of April, I taught Bible lessons on the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. This first Sunday of May, I emphasized the meaning and details of 1 Peter 3:18-20. I want to share with you some thoughts on this passage which will run in a series. Ten questions will be answered in this series which are:
Question #1: How should too pneumati be rendered – small s OR capital S, and will the preposition be “by” “in” “through” “with” or “according to”?

Question #2: Who went to preach to the spirits in prison?
Question #3: What is the meaning of the term “preach” in the passage?
Question #4: What is the content of the act of preaching?
Question #5: What was the intention of this said act of preaching?
Question #6: Where did the preacher go preach?
Question #7: When did the preacher go preach?
Question #8: Who was the audience of this preaching?
Question #9: How is the period of preaching related to the period of disobedience?
Question #10: How should the flow of events contained in the passage be arranged?

Important Suggestion: When you make a deeper study of the text, it is helpful to include using the United Bible Societies Greek New Testament (Third Edition). This volume is reputedly the best among the Greek texts because it incorporates analyzes of all available textual manuscripts and references. Don’t limit yourself to the Greek text used by the translators of the 1611 and the revisors in 1886-1887 of the Authorized King James Version (KJV). And don’t limit yourself to your ONE favorite version in the English language in your analysis of the passage.

I took the pain of reproducing from 31 versions the important part of the passage under consideration. I hope that everybody’s favorite version is cited below. Please keep on reviewing these different versions as you make your analysis.

1. NIV – “… He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went
and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days
of Noah while the ark was being built.”

2. KJV – “… being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and
preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing…”

3. NKJV – “… being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit by whom also He went and
preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared . . .”

4. ASV – “…being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also he went and
preached unto the spirits in prison, in which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison, that aforetime were disobedient, when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah…”

5. NLT – “He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit (or spirit). So he went and
preached to the spirits in prison—those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently
while Noah was building his boat”

6. The Living Bible – “… But though his body died, his spirit lived on, and it was in the spirit that he
visited the spirits in prison and preached to them – spirits of those who, long before the days of Noah,
had refused to listen to God, though he waited patiently for them while Noah was building the ark…”

7. NASB – “but made alive in the spirit; in which also he went and made proclamation to the spirits now
in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah,during the construction of the ark …”

8. ESV – “but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because
they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being
prepared…”

9. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language – “…was put to death and then made alive – to
bring us to God. He went and proclaimed God’s salvation to earlier generations who ended up in
the prison of judgment because they would not listen. You know, even though God waited patiently
all the days that Noah built his ship…”

10. Complete Jewish Bible – “…He was put to death in the flesh but brought to life by the Spirit; and in
this form he went and made a proclamation to the imprisoned spirits, to those who were disobedient
long ago, in the days of Noach, when God waited patiently during the building of the ark,…”

11. New Century Version—“… His body was killed, but he was made alive in the spirit. And in the
spirit he went and preached to the spirits in prison who refused to obey God long ago in the time of
Noah. God was waiting patiently for them while Noah was building the boat…”

12. New English Translation Bible – “… by being put to death in the flesh but by being made alive in
the spirit. In it he went and preached to the spirits in prison, after they were disobedient long ago
when God patiently waited in the days of Noah as an ark was being constructed…”

13. God’s Word Translation – “His body was put to death, but he was brought to life through his spirit.
In it he also went to proclaim his victory to the spirits kept in prison. They are like those who
disobeyed long ago in the days of Noah when God waited patiently while Noah built the ship….”

14. RSV – “…being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; in which he went and preached
to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah,
during the building of the ark…”

15. The Living Bible – “…But though his body died, his spirit lived on, and it was in the spirit that he
visited the spirits in prison and preached to them – spirits of those who, long before in the days of
Noah, had refused to listen to God, though he waited patiently for them while Noah was building the
ark…”

16. NASB – “…having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went
and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of
God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark…”

17. Young’s Literal Translation – “… having been put to death indeed, in the flesh, and having been
made alive in the spirit, in which also to the spirits in prison having gone he did preach, who
sometime disbelieved, when once the long-suffering of God did wait, in days of Noah –an ark being
preparing…”

18. Darby Bible – “… being put to death in flesh, but made alive in [the ] Spirit, in which also being he
preached to the spirits [which are] in prison, heretofore disobedient, when the longsuffering of God
waited in [the] days of Noah while the ark was preparing…”

19. Bible in Basic English—“…being put to death in the flesh, but given life in the Spirit; By whom he
went to the spirits in prison, preaching to those who, in the days of Noah, went against God’s orders;
but God in his mercy kept back the punishment, while Noah got ready the ark …”

20. Douay-Rheims Bible – “…being put to death indeed in the flesh, but enlivened in the spirit, in which
also coming he preached to those spirits that were in prison; which had been sometime incredulous,
when they waited for the patience of God in the days of Noe, when the ark was a building:…”

21. New Testament in Modern Speech (Weymouth) – “… He was put to death in the flesh, but made
alive in the spirit, in which He also went and proclaimed His Message to the spirits that were in
prison, 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,…”

22. World English Bible – “…being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which he
also went and preached to the spirits in prison, who before were disobedient, when God waited
patiently in the day of Noah, while the ark was being built…”

23. AMP – “… In His human body He was put to death, but He was made alive in the spirit, In which He
went and preached to the spirits in prison, [The souls of those] who long before in the days of Noah
had been disobedient, when God’s patience waited during the building of the ark…”

24. Good News Translation – “…He was put to death physically, but made alive spiritually, and in his
spiritual existence he went and preached to the imprisoned spirits. These were the spirits of those
who had not obeyed God when he waited patiently during the days that Noah was building his
boat…”

25. Holman Christian Standard Bible – “… after being put to death in the fleshly realm but made alive
in the spiritual realm. In that state He also went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison who
in the past were disobedient, when God patiently waited in the days of Noah while an ark was being
prepared…”

26. Wuest NT – “… having in fact been put to death with respect to the flesh [His human body], but
made alive with respect to the spirit [His human spirit], by which [human spirit] also having
proceeded, He made a proclamation to the imprisoned spirits who were at one time rebels when the
long-suffering of God waited out to the end of the days of Noah while the ark was being made
ready…”

27. NRSV – “… He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and
made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited
patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark…”

28. TEV – “… He was put to death physically, but made alive spiritually, and in his spiritual existence he
went and preached to the imprisoned spirits. These were the spirits of those who had not obeyed God
when he waited patiently during the days that Noah was building his boat…”

29. English Study Bible (NT) — “…being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; In which
also he went and preached to the spirits in prison, Who once were disobedient when the longsuffering
of God waited in the days when Noah was preparing the ark…”

30. Baro Naimbag a Damag Biblia “… Napapatay iti bagi ngem napagungar iti espiritu, ket iti daytoy a
kasasaadna napan nangasaba kadagiti naibalud nga espiritu. 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…”

31. Magandang Balita Biblia – “…Siya’y namatay ayon sa laman, at muling binuhay ayon sa
Espiritu. Sa kalagayang ito, pinuntahan niya at inaralan ang mga espiritung nakabilanggo. Iyan ang
mga espiritung ayaw sumunod nang sila’y matiyagang hinihintay ng Diyos noong panahon ni
Noe…”

Let’s together study and deepen our knowledge of God’s word. This study is like putting together hundreds of puzzle pieces that is centered in Christ’s death which brings humanity back to God. It is an important study. #

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