Jesus Christ

 

 

21. I was reading the third chapter of the first epistle of Peter and when I arrived at verse 19 I was a little perplexed because it’s not very clear to me; furthermore the concept is confirmed in Peter 4:6. 1 Peter 3:19-20, “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, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water”. 1 Peter 4:6 “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit”

 

 

 

Sister, the above mentioned words of Peter refer to the descent of Jesus (by the Spirit) into the lower parts of the earth after His death, for immediately before verse 19 we read: “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 have said ‘into the lower parts of the earth’ because Paul says that Jesus after His death descended into the lower parts of the earth; here are his words: “Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?” (Ephesians 4:9). As you can see, Paul calls the place where Jesus went after His death ‘the lower parts of the earth’.

However, Peter calls it prison, for he says that Jesus went and preached unto the spirits in prison. What spirits does he speak of? He speaks of those spirits that in the days of Noah refused to heed Noah’s message, who is called “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5) by the Scripture. Therefore Jesus, by the Spirit, went to preach to the dead of a specific generation, and not to the dead of all the past generations. Some say that this preaching of Jesus refers to the preaching of Noah, through the Spirit of Christ speaking in him, to the people of his generation; but the above mentioned passages do not support this thesis for they affirm that the preaching took place after Jesus was put to death and that the message was addressed to some spirits or dead people. Therefore, we must accept those words of Peter just as they are written.

What did Jesus preach to those dead people? The Gospel, for Peter states: “For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit” (1 Peter 4:6). That ‘also’ confirms what I said before, that is to say, the Gospel was not preached to people who were physically alive but spiritually dead, but to people who were physically dead.

Now let me explain the reason why Jesus went to preach the Gospel even to the dead. Peter says that the reason is this: “That they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit” (1 Peter 4:6). I confess it is not easy to explain these words of Peter because they seem to say that those dead people were saved, thus those people after their death had another chance to repent of their sins. However, we can’t accept this interpretation for the following reasons; first, because according to what the Scripture teaches, after death a man has no chance to repent and to believe in order to be saved, as it is written: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27); and secondly because if God had given that chance to those people who had died in the days of Noah, excluding all the other people who had died in their sins during the other generations, He would have committed an injustice. For instance, couldn’t Jesus have gone to preach the Gospel even to the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah? Therefore, we must see that we don’t make the same mistake made by the Mormons, who teach – on the basis of those words of Peter – that sinners have another chance to be saved after death. For according to Mormons, there are even some Mormon missionaries who go into the prison to preach the Gospel (obviously the so called restored Gospel of Joseph Smith, which is another Gospel) to the dead!! What does this expression ‘that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit’ mean then? We believe it means that the preaching of the Gospel made by Jesus in the lower parts of the earth was made in order to prove to the living that those people were dead according to men in the flesh, yet in the eyes of God they continued to live spiritually, in that for Him the dead people continue to live. We have come to this conclusion because just before the Scripture says: “Who [those who speak evil of us] shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead” (1 Peter 4:5) and also: “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead” (1 Peter 4:6). In other words, the Scripture says ‘God is ready to judge also the dead (and not only the living), who, therefore, even though they are not on the earth any longer, will not escape the judgement of God because for God they continue to live, for this is confirmed by the fact that Jesus Christ preached even to the dead’. The purpose of that preaching of Jesus Christ, therefore, was not to convert those dead people. After death there are no more opportunities to hear the Gospel and to believe and to be saved from one’s sins. It is written: “He that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16), and also: “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). Keep these passages before your eyes whenever you meditate on the above mentioned words of Peter concerning the preaching of Jesus to the dead.

 

 

 

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