A couple of weeks ago I was at a bible study which went over 1 Peter 3:18-20. Now what I found interesting is the speaker who was leading the Bible study raised the issue regarding this chapter. Apparently, there is some dispute among scholars and fellow believers as far as what happened in this event.

  • Did Jesus descend to save the Saint?
  • Did He descend to talk to demons?

This is what I hope to explain in this article. Let's start with the first argument.

Some people would argue that Jesus descended to save the souls that never head about Him. This sounds like a plausible idea at the surface, but what does the Bible say about salvation?

Ephesians 2:8 tells us that we are saved by the grace of God, through our faith in Him.

It then goes in to explain that faith in the Lord, is a gift from Him. Our faith is not produced by our own mental choice but the sovereign grace of God He gives us faith.

Hebrews 11:4-40 then explains what faith in the Lord looks like. Faith at its core is a special trust in the Lord and all He is.

Genesis 15:6 tells us that it was Abraham's faith that was counted as righteousness.

Since God is a god that never changes, he is always the same yesterday, today and forever. Then so too are his principals. They are perfect. Then even among the time of Jesus, it was faith that saved.

We also know through the story (possibly not a parable, this is the only story Jesus tells that has named characters) of Lazarus, found in Luke 16. That a man who repented of his own sins, after being condemned was informed by Moses that there is no hope for him to receive forgiveness and enter the kingdom of God.

Man is destined to die once, then face judgement.

This comes from Hebrews 9:27. after our physical body dies, we then face the throne of God in judgment. This is our final judgment. If Jesus did indeed go down to preach His gospel to save souls, then Hebrews 9:27 would not be true.

Is it demons?

Another argument people would assume justifies the idea that Jesus descended to testify could be found in Matthew 27:52 "May bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised" (ESV). But it is important to note, this account refers to saints, which are the people of the Lord, while our passage in question speaks of spirits, being that this is a general term we can conclude 1 Peter 3:19 is talking about demonic spirits.

Bakers Commentary writes:

The "imprisoned spirits" (3:19) are not the souls of dead human beings but fallen angels (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). According to Jewish tradition (1 Enoch 6-20), they deceived and corrupted the generation who lived before the flood, teaching them the arts of sin (Genesis 6:4). As a result, they were locked up in prison at the time of the flood, "to be held for judgment (2 Peter 2:4). They were the counterparts of the angels, authorities, and powers (3:22) still active today.

Jesus' preaching to these spirits was not an offer of salvation but a proclamation of his victory - in fact, the announcement of the judgment hanging over them. The spiritual forces behind the greatest corruption the world has ever seen have received their final condemnation at Jesus' hands! Having dealt with them, He finished his journey to heaven and took His place at God's right hand, in full authority over the powers behind the suffering experienced by Peter's readers. However much they may feel themselves to be victims, Christ is the victor!

I hope this has helped you to grasp a better understanding of the biblical interpretation, as well as the spiritual government, I know as I was pondering this verse, before compiling this blog I began to think of other passages that give insight to how the spiritual realm works. It truly is a fascinating thing to think about!