1Pe 3:19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in
The Jews believed in an underground cavern or chamber divided into two sections – Hell, and Abraham’s bosom and that all who died before Christ’ entered these chambers to await their ultimate fate. Abraham’s bosom was also called Paradise.
From Wikipedia: According to 1st century Jewish beliefs, the dead were gathered into a general tarrying-place, the sheol of the Old Testament, and the Hades of the New Testament writings (cf. Luke 16:22, in the Gr. 16:23). Here, the righteous occupied an abode or compartment of their own which was distinctly separated by a wall or a chasm from the abode or compartment to which the wicked were consigned. The latter was a place of torments usually spoken of as Gehenna (cf. Matthew 5:29-30; 18:9ff, Mark 9:42 sqq. in the Latin Vulgate)- the other, a place of bliss and security known under the names of "Paradise" (cf. Luke 23:43) or "the Bosom of Abraham" (Luke 16:22-23). The afterlife as portrayed in the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus fits this concept of the Bosom of Abraham.
We need not exhaust any time debunking this error; we could do that with the three words Christ spoke before dying: “It is finished.”
But what does the scripture mean? By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Who are these imprisoned spirits to whom Christ preached? In retail sales, they say for success, you need three things: Location, location, location. In the study of scriptures, a wise man once said: “Context, context, context.”
When? While the ark was preparing. In the days of Noah, before the flood. That’s the context of the verse, and that too is where we must find our answer.
Adam and Seth had a prophecy concerning the destruction of the earth. Scripture doesn’t record it for us, but Jewish historian Josephus writes:
And that their inventions might
not be lost before they were sufficiently known, upon Adam's prediction
that the world was to be destroyed at one time by the force of fire, and
at another time by the violence and quantity of water, they made two
pillars, (10) the one of brick, the other of stone: they inscribed their
discoveries on them both, that in case the pillar of brick should be
destroyed by the flood, the pillar of stone might remain, and exhibit
those discoveries to mankind; and also inform them that there was
another pillar of brick erected by them. Now this remains in the land of
Siriad to this day.
The Flood of Noah did not come as a surprise. It had been preached on for four generations. But something strange happened when Enoch was 65, from which time "he walked with God." Enoch was given a prophecy that as long as his son was alive, the judgment of the flood would be withheld; but as soon as he died, the flood would be sent forth. Enoch named his son to reflect this prophecy. The name Methuselah comes from two roots: muth, a root that means "death" ; and from shalach, which means "to bring," or "to send forth." Thus, the name Methuselah signifies, "his death shall bring." And, indeed, in the year that Methuselah died, the flood came. Methuselah was 187 when he had Lamech, and lived 782 years more. Lamech had Noah when he was 182. The Flood came in Noah's 600th year. 187 + 182 + 600 = 969, Methuselah's age when he died. It is interesting that Methuselah's life was, in effect, a symbol of God's mercy in forestalling the coming judgment of the flood. It is therefore fitting that his lifetime is the oldest in the Bible, symbolizing the extreme extensiveness of God's mercy.
Historians speculate Noah had no desire to take a wife or bring children into a world everyone knew was to be destroyed. But then, finally, at the ripe old age of 500… Gen 5:32 And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
After the Jews spent their traditional seven days mourning the death of Methuselah, it began to rain. Eight souls were saved in the flood by the Ark. Modern theologians will tell you Noah begged and pleaded for folks to join him on the ark to be saved. After all, he was a “preacher of righteousness.”
Gen 5:28 And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat
Gen 5:29 And he called his name Noah, saying, This [same] shall
comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the
ground which the LORD hath cursed.
Gen 5:30 And Lamech lived after he begat Noah five hundred ninety
and five years, and begat sons and daughters:
About to die. No escape. No law or schoolmaster to instruct them on what lies ahead. The scriptures inform us Noah was preaching righteousness, but probably more so by obedience and godly living than by street preaching, so how were the untold numbers of God’s children instructed in grace, eternity, the three that bear record in Heaven and their salvation? Christ told them:
1Pe 3:18 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:
Wouldn’t you call knowledge of pending physical death, no law to guide you, no preacher to comfort you, no hope and no understanding, prison?
Brother Royce Ellis