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What Does the Bible Say About..Spirits in Prison?

"Christ was put to death in the body but made alive by the spirit , through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison" my question is : what happened to those spirits after the teaching of gospel by Christ` spirit? And again where are those spirits presently?


The full passage you mention reads as follows:

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: 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, The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him. (1 Peter 3:18-22)

That is one long, complicated sentence. The main point of the sentence is that Christ suffered for doing good. Peter does add some things of importance within the sentence. For instance he says that immersion in water saves us by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He also mentions what you are asking about.

During the days of Noah everyone was “under watch” or “under guard” (the real meaning of the phrase the King James Version translated as “in prison”). These people refused to listen to the preaching of Jesus through Noah. Verse 20 says that only eight souls were saved. Genesis chapters 6-9 tell of the flood. It says there that everyone except Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives, died. So the answer to your question about what happened to them is that they died in the flood.

Where are they now? Wherever our souls go between death and the judgement. They are awaiting the final judgement as we all are.

Incidentally, the emphasis of that part of the sentence is that Jesus preached to them by the same spirit that raised him from the dead. Paul told the Ephesians (6:17) that the Spirit is the word of God. So when Noah preached to these people, it was God’s word that he was preaching, God’s spirit that he was trying to impart to them. Their minds were imprisoned or guarded by Satan so they would not accept the spirit of God offered to them by Jesus through Noah. So they died, physically and spiritually.

The questioner replied:

I thank you for your attempt, Tim O`Hearn. Your contribution is so useful BUT it seems your answer is not solved my question. N.B. You have said that Noah preached to those people but their minds were imprisoned by Satan and as a results they are physically and spiritually dead. Ok, that is fine, BUT it seems they were given a second chance when Jesus` spirit visited their imprisoned spirits. MY QUESTION on that case is what happened to those spirits because Jesus` spirit could not just visit those spirits without a Godly purpose?

Since God and Jesus preached righteousness to them for 150 years, they clearly had second and subsequent chances to repent. My view is that when Noah preached to them that was the same as Jesus preaching to them, since it was all done by the God’s Spirit, his word. Jesus visited them with a godly purpose—trying to get them to repent and be saved from the coming flood.

Whether they were guarded by Satan or their own desires, or whether those can be separated, is not something I will take a firm stand on. Peter is clearly referring to the people living in Noah’s time as the “spirits in guard.” That they chose not to listen to the preaching of the Holy Spirit resulted in their deaths during the flood. They were given a century and a half of second chances, but only eight people followed God.