What “Spirits” Did Yahushua Preach To?
There exist certain passages in scripture which are rarely mentioned in church.
Those seeking souls who take seriously the word of their Creator will find such passages for the first time and be puzzled… wondering what they could mean in the big picture of all they have been taught about their Bibles.
They seem out of place, inconsistent, even left field when they are discovered amongst the more well known themes in which they have been educated by their pastors.
When one brings these questions to church leaders, the responses are often just as puzzling. As if one had come to their Minister asking him to excuse away some incredibly taboo subject matter, the reaction received often comes with uncomfortable looks and short answers which don’t answer much.
Out of the more discomfiting of seemingly “weird” bible passages has grown the art of “apologetics”. I dislike the term immensely, as well as the concept… apologetics… exactly what, I ask, should be necessary to apologize for in the Word of our Elohim?
As if we must do some fast talking to keep at bay the arguments of non-believers against the questions they have, with apologies to the “odd” bits and pieces in scripture which Christian leadership has tried to tip-toe around.
No… they don’t need our apologies, YHWH certainly doesn’t need us to apologize for Him – and believers need answers, not excuses.
Let there be no verse unturned, I say… whether it fits into the criteria of the faith most believers have accepted or not… there is a perfectly good reason for these strange passages to be present, and it behooves us to know what those are.
One of those mysterious little tidbits occurs in a book written by a man who decidedly pulled no punches when it came to being outright with some of the lesser known bible topics of the present day.
I have no doubt that YHWH used Peter, and his especially point blank way of stating the truth, to preserve some knowledge that people would have otherwise found much more difficult to reveal in the modern age.
Here is that most interesting passage:
“For the Anointed also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to Yahuwah, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom He also went and preached to the spirits in prison who formerly were disobedient when once Yahuwah’s patience waited in the days of Noah while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.”
- 1 Peter 3:18-20
I can guess that few people who have seriously read the bible, with an intent to understand it, have not stopped at this statement and reread it, wondering to themselves what on Earth Peter is talking about.
What spirits? What prison? Why was He preaching to them? If those curious souls then went searching for answers in Christian apologetics, they likely came up with a response which resembled one of these three:
1. It’s wholly symbolic… it’s speaking figuratively of people’s spirits being captive to sin.
2. Yahushua went to the spirits of those who died prior to Him coming so that they too might receive the gospel and come to Him.
3. Yahushua went to proclaim His victory to fallen angels, and to point out their own defeat to them.
The problem with any of these answers is that each of them spawns more questions than they answer…
1. I flatly reject calling anything in scripture symbolic that He didn’t call symbolic, especially in light of specific details mentioned here, like the time frame of the days of Noah.
If that’s incorrect, then virtually anything we want to call symbolic is up for grabs, and so is what it symbolizes.
That answer not only doesn’t answer to these verses, but puts everything in the bible in question.
2. The second answer fails in this way… there is of course, no biblical precedent for dead humans being given a second opportunity to repent past their own physical lives.
As is stated clearly in scripture… even those without the Law had a conscience to answer to which was a law in itself.
The knowledge of a future Messiah, and belief in that future fulfillment, was to the ancient world what believing on His past appearance is to the modern one.
3. The third answer at least makes sense in identifying the spirits involved.
The only group of spirits who fit the description “the spirits in prison who formerly were disobedient when once Yahuwah’s patience waited in the days of Noah while the ark was being prepared..” are the rebel Watchers.
The reference to the time frame fits them, as they were those fallen angels who were present on Earth at exactly that point in history and they were subsequently imprisoned prior to the deluge.
They are the only group of rebel angels who were imprisoned in this way… no biblical evidence can support the notion of Satan or his followers being bound from activity upon the earth at any time prior to the Millennial reign.
“And when all their sons shall be slain, when they shall see the perdition of their beloved, bind them (the Watchers) for seventy generations underneath the earth, even to the day of judgment, and of consummation, until the judgment, the effect of which will last for ever, be completed.”
- 1 Enoch 10:15
The second part of this answer does not hold up as well… the assumption that this act of preaching is a declaration of the rebel angels defeat… that it is precisely Not an act of preaching repentance, must by necessity come purely out of assumption, and not an assumption we can support.
In the plain text there is nothing referring to, implying or hinting that the described event is an act of judgment towards those rebels.
This speculation comes purely out of a stubborn refusal of Christian leadership, and Christians generally, to question objectively the possibility of a message of repentance coming to non human creatures.
Yet this is exactly what the passage in question would plainly imply…
The most notable argument which is supposed to back up the claim that certainly no preaching of the gospel occurred here is the Greek word which is used for “preach” in 1 Peter 3:18.
That word “kerysso”, they claim, is a word which is not indicative of a “good” message… but rather just a proclamation which does not imply a message of repentance unto salvation.
These same would argue that the word “euaggelizo” would be the word which would be used if a message of repentance and salvation was the idea.
The literal meaning of the word Kerysso is: to herald, proclaim, publish, proclaim gospel; while the meaning of euaggelizo is: to bring good news, bring glad tidings.
The idea that proponents of the above mentioned theory try to instill, is that Kerysso is a word which is not used in relation to ‘preaching the gospel’ or ‘witnessing a message of repentance’… that it is solely a word used in matters of declaration, which have no end effect of bringing people to salvation; while Euaggelizo is that word which is reserved for such a gospel message.
This entire base line of logic is not just a bit questionable, but indisputably wrong.
Kerysso is, in fact, used 59 times in the New Testament, and every single instance, minus one (or perhaps two, if you really push the boundaries of technicality) is contained in a verse which specifically deals with preaching the gospel unto repentance.
There is no instance of the word being used to communicate a message of damnation.
Euaggelizo is used 51 times, in similar settings.
These two words are also not by far the only two words translated into “preach” in English… the rest are as follows…
diaggello – carry a message abroad, announce, declare to assemblies
laleo – to utter, speak, tell
kataggello – announce, make known, proclaim
didaskalia – teaching, instruction, doctrine
prokerysso – to announce or proclaim beforehand
parresia – open, frank speech, unreserved speaking
dialegomai – to ponder, debate, converse
pleroo – to fill up, render complete, to carry into effect
proeuaggelizomai – to announce good news beforehand
akoe – something heard, oral instruction, report, rumor
Any of these May be used to describe preaching the gospel, though there are surely certain terms we might much more expect to be used to describe a message of judgment than kerysso among these, such as laleo or kataggello. Here are some other examples of verses where kerysso is used:
“The Spirit of Yahuwah is upon Me because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind. To set at liberty those who are oppressed.”
- Luke 4:18
From that time Yahushua began to preach and to say, “Repent! For the kingdom of the sky is at hand!”
- Matthew 4:17
And Yahushua went about all Galiyl, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.
- Matthew 4:23
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations and then the end will come.
- Matthew 24:14
Yahuchanan came immersing in the wilderness and preaching an immersion of repentance for the remission of sins.
- Mark 1:4
So they went out and preached that people should repent.
- Mark 6:12
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
- Mark 16:15
The last verse in that list is very interesting in light of this investigation of 1 Peter 3:18-20…. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”.
A thorough examination of that might be for another discussion, yet we have to ask the obvious about it… what exactly are the “other creatures” to whom the gospel should be preached?
I have a peculiar question which I have sought to know the answer to, and have never gotten. What is the basis of resistance which believers have to the notion of non-human redemption?
The only answer forthcoming seems to be an argument of scripture… that scripture “clearly states” a negation of that possibility.
That has proven to be unfounded in examination of scripture, and so there remains some serious emotionally-based resistance toward the idea.
What would it cost believers if it were true that something besides humans could receive the message of the gospel? I would think it would cost them nothing… and in fact, I would think it would be a welcomed knowledge.