Summary of 1 Pet 3:19–20

summary 1 Pet 3 19 to 20

j) 1 Pet 3:19–20: Evaluate the interpretations concerning Christ making a proclamation to the spirits in prison. Points to consider are listed at the bottom of this page.

  1. Clement of Alexandria’s salvation after death:







  1. Augustine’s view that Christ preached through Noah:







  1. The Apostle’s Creed:






  1. John Calvin:







  1. Ancient Jewish/1890 Christian:






  1. Modern scholars:








Based upon this evidence, what is your conclusion?




Issues to consider:

  1. Clement of Alexandria –

Ÿ          an opportunity to repent while in hell

Ÿ          translates the underworld (Sheol) as “hell”

Ÿ          meaning of the plural word “spirits” in the New Testament (NT)

Ÿ          the word “souls” in 1 Pet 3:20

Ÿ          his interpretation of 1 Pet 4:5–6

Ÿ          meaning of “prison”

Ÿ          Noah’s generation the only one given a second chance

Ÿ          Accessibility of 1 Enoch

  1. Augustine –

Ÿ          no body/soul dichotomy

Ÿ          lack of Greek led to focus on the big theological picture, not on the text itself

Ÿ          Accessibility of 1 Enoch

Ÿ          Christ did not actually go anywhere

Ÿ          Peter does not specifically mention Noah as the preacher

  1. Apostle’s Creed –

Ÿ          a descent into hell in versions prior to 650 AD

Ÿ          Rufinus’s understanding of ad inferno

Ÿ          Arian Creed (ca. 360 AD)

Ÿ          sequence of “put to death,” “made alive,” “after having gone,” and “preached.”

Ÿ          Accessibility of 1 Enoch


  1. Calvin –

Ÿ          importance of Jesus descending into hell due to church fathers

Ÿ          descent into hell was Christ’s torment on the cross

Ÿ          late date of the Apostles’ Creed

Ÿ          post-resurrection preaching

Ÿ          translation of “watch tower” for “prison”

Ÿ          liberation of Old Testament saints between Good Friday and Easter

Ÿ          appearance of Moses and Elijah at the transfiguration

Ÿ          spirits called disobedient by Peter

Ÿ          Accessibility of 1 Enoch


  1. Ancient Jewish/ 1890 Christian –

Ÿ          spirits were fallen angels who engaged in sex with women at the time of Noah

Ÿ          1 Enoch as the tradition behind Peter’s text

Ÿ          location of the fallen angels in 1 Enoch

Ÿ          abandonment of this view by both Jewish and early Christian theologians

Ÿ          identification of the “sons of the gods”


  1. Modern scholars –

Ÿ          identification of the “sons of the gods”

Ÿ          Jesus proclaiming victory over evil spirits after his resurrection

Ÿ          ascension itself as the proclamation

Ÿ          levels of heaven

Ÿ          no mention of the place of the dead in the passage

Ÿ          meaning of “prison” in the NT

Ÿ          Tartarus lower than Hades in Greek thought

Ÿ          definition of “preached” vs. “proclaimed the gospel”

Ÿ          evangelization of spirits in the NT

Ÿ          subjection of evil spirits in v. 22

Ÿ          Accessibility of 1 Enoch

Image via Wikimedia Commons


Go to Salvation through Water (1 Pet 3:20)


[Related posts include Overview of 1 Peter 3:18–22Death in the Flesh but Life in the Spirit (1 Pet 3:18); Interpretive Issues in 1 Pet 3:19–20; Early Church Fathers’ View of 1 Pet 3:19–20; Augustine’s View of 1 Pet 3:19–20; The Apostles’ Creed and 1 Pet 3:19–20; John Calvin’s View of 1 Pet 3:19–20; Ancient Jewish View Applied to 1 Pet 3:19–20; Summary of 1 Pet 3:19–20; Salvation through Water (1 Pet 3:20); An Appeal to God (1 Pet 3:21); and Seated at God’s Right Hand (1 Pet 3:22)]

[Click here to go to Chapter 8: Safely Through (Gen 8:1–19)]