1 PETER 3
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15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
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:
19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
20 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 SPIRITS IN PRISON"
This is a mere synonym for the men now in hades, or the death state, of which you may be satisfied by carefully reading the context.
"By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison, which sometime were disobedient when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing.-(1 Pet. iii, 19, 20.)
Now who were disobedient in the days of Noah? The men who were contemporary with him. Hence "spirits" and "men" are in this case equivalent. What was the condition of those men at the time of Peter's writing? They were dead and in their graves, and gone to nothing. Hence "prison" is interchangable with grave, of which we have illustration in Isaiah xxiv, 22; Zech. ix, 11, 12.
The grave is certainly a prison of the most effective description; there is no escape from it, and dead men wasted to nothing in it, may, with a retrospective glance at their having once lived, be well described as "spirits."
When were these disobedient men preached to by the spirit? The answer is, "in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing." The spirit preached through Noah, who is styled "a preacher of righteousness."-(2 Pet. ii, 5.) This was "the spirit of Christ which was in the prophets," (1 Pet. i, 2), and in Noah amongst the rest.
The anointing spirit, of which Jesus of Nazareth was the complete embodiment, (being God manifest in the flesh), was common to all the servants, messengers and prophets of ancient times. Hence, the spirit which quickened Jesus in his resurrection, and developed a saving name through him, was the same power, influence, or agency that operated through Noah in proclaiming a salvation which Peter says was a figure of that to be achieved through Christ.-(2 Peter vi, 21.)
If it be asked why Peter should suddenly diverge from Christ to Noah, the context would suggest that he did so to show the parallel between the two dispensations, thus: There was preaching in Noah's time, and preaching in the apostles' time; disobedience in both; salvation in both; by water in both.
If you contend that Peter means that Christ in a disembodied state, went to hell during the three days he was in the grave, and preached the gospel to the immortal souls of those who were drowned at the flood, you involve yourself in strange difficulties. Christ did not go himself, observe; he went by the spirit, and preached, &c. Why by the spirit? Did he inspire some devil in hell to preach the gospel? and why was the preaching confined to the souls drowned at the deluge, when, according to the theory in question, hell had received countless millions of souls since the flood, all as wicked, and all as much in need of the supposed privilege?
But in truth, these difficulties are perfectly gratuitous. There is no hell, no disembodied state, no immortal souls. These are myths of paganism. The truth of the matter we have endeavoured to set forth.
Your other questions anon. Forbear with the delay that has taken place, which you seem to regard unfavourably. Remember that these exertions are put forth amid labour and travail, and are not the pastime of leisure.
The Ambassador of the Coming Age, Dec 1867. p319.
21 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:
Under Moses' law, if a man touched a grave, or a bone, or a corpse, he contracted a defilement, from which he could not be cleansed under a week. This was styled "filth of the flesh" (1 Pet. 3:21) and typified the real nature of all bodies coming forth from the grave. The "flesh" of these is that peculiar constitution of their substance which forms its earthiness. The subject of such a nature, however excellent a character he may be, or may have been, is materially defiled, or unclean.
Therefore, nothing born of a woman is clean, even though it have been begotten in her substance by the power of the Spirit (Job 14:4; 25:4). Now, this is a principle of the knowledge revealed to us, and is of universal application. It obtains in relation to Jesus himself. In Gal. 4:4, Paul says, the Son of the Deity sent forth, "was made of a woman, made under the law". The body so made and born was therefore unclean materially and Mosaically; and could no more "enter heaven itself to appear in the presence of Deity for us" (Heb. 9:24) in that nature, than that flesh and blood should inherit his kingdom (1 Cor. 15:50).
Would any one intelligent in the Word affirm that an unclean body, made yet more unclean by becoming a corpse, and therefore defiling to every one who touched it, becomes clean by being put into an unclean place, and lying there for three days, less or more? Would the simple fact of that corpse coming to life in a tomb which its presence had Mosaically defiled, and walking out of it, make it a clean body, or nature? If it be replied that it would, why then was not Lazarus, whom Jesus raised, clean of nature? If it be replied, "he was"; then Jesus was not the "first out of a resurrection of dead ones" (Acts 26:23).
But, passing through the grave cleanses no one. They who emerge thence, "come forth" with the same nature they carried into it; and therefore their coming forth is Resurrection. If the same kind of body did not come forth that was buried, it would not be Resurrection, but only surrection, as in the case of the first man. Jesus "rose AGAIN" (1 Cor. 15:4); his coming forth was therefore resurrection. He rose again the same Jesus that was buried, only that instead of being dead, he was alive again.
This precious "blood of sprinkling, which speaks better things than the blood of Abel," the sanctifying blood of the covenant shed for the remission of the sins of many (Heb. xii. 24: x. 29,22; Matt. xxvi. 28) is the principle which makes the Yahweh-Name sin cleansing, or a covering for the hiding of sin, so that the believer upon whom the name is invoked, may have "no more conscience of sins," or, as Peter expresses it, may have "the answer of a good conscience toward God" (1 Pet. iii. 21).