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Hellacious Hermeneutics ... or "Why're we so serious about the Bible"?

Discussion in 'Controversial Christian Theology' started by 2PhiloVoid, Oct 6, 2021.

  1. TheWhat?

    TheWhat? Ate all the treats

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    That is the general idea of it, yes.

    And for you too, through faith in Christ.
     
  2. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Floating along on a Fragment of Faith ! Supporter

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    My take is going to begin by acknowledging that this is a kind of vague reference within these verses to begin with. It's not clear as to what Peter is talking about, and just as it turned out there wasn't really much we could learn about the nature of the 'Mark of Cain,' I think we'll only do just a little better with these verses. But, rather than assume that, I'll just proceed to apply some heremeneutical awareness and exegesis to this verse.

    In handling this issue, what I'm going to do, as we did before with the previous topic, is to recognize that the verses 1 Peter 3:18-20 sit within concentric circles of larger, multiple contexts:

    * Firstly, I know straight off that the New Testament wasn't written in English, so I'll probably need to look at the Greek text(s) as best I can and not just at English translations.

    * Secondly, this comment about "Christ visiting the spirits in prison" is a digression from a larger primary statement that the author (Peter) is making in this passage, and as far as I can tell that passage begins at 1 Peter 3:6 and goes to 1 Peter 4:19. This larger statement also sits within the larger structure of the entire letter and seems to be an explication of the introductory points that Peter makes in his opening statements in 1 Peter chapter 1, with the digression made at 3:18-20 & then again at 4:6 offering additional comments in follow up to the theme he presents at 1:10-12.

    * Thirdly, I am aware from various commentaries that there are roughly 3 different traditional interpretations of this passage, and my awareness of this indicates that this may truly be a vague enough passage that, like with the 'mark of Cain,' we're going to find there's just not enough information given for us to fully understand exactly what was being referenced by Peter. But we can try our best.​

    Are you with me on this approach so far? We're going to ask of the passage a little more beyond just "Who, what, when, why, where or how." :cool:
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2021
  3. misput

    misput jimd

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    Your best is what I am looking for.
     
  4. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Floating along on a Fragment of Faith ! Supporter

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    Ok then, let's continue on with our hermeneutical and exegetical analysis...as best we can. Moving on from what I've already briefly noted above (in post #262), the next (4th) thing I'm going to do is bring in the Greek text and see what scholars can tell us about it. And at this stage, I prefer to move in small steps and not try to take in too much all at once, so I'm going to 'spell out' 1 Peter 3:19 specifically in Koine Greek and see what we can make of it all by itself through a word-study, and then later we can see how its overall meaning is contextualized by the rest of both the full letter of Peter and by other scholarly insights ...

    [English-NASB] ... in which He also went and made proclamation to the spirits in prison,
    [Greek] ... ἐν ᾧ καὶ τοῖς ἐν φυλακῇ πνεύμασιν πορευθεὶς ἐκήρυξεν,
    [ultra - literal] ... in which also to the in prison spirits having gone he preached


    So, in looking at this text, we have to consider what it is we think is being referred to by the terms and by the sentence structure, and this is a Lexical project, one in which I know I'll need some scholarly assistance in order to hopefully gain some solid clarfication (if that's even possible). In my attempt to interpret this clause, I'm going to hone in on two terms for the moment: (φυλακῇ / phulaké / prison) & (πνεύμασιν / pneumasin / spirits).

    And I'm going to ask questions as to the usages and semantics of these terms: what do these terms typically refer to when used in either other books of the Bible or in other literature which was contemporary to the time in which 1 Peter was written? Why might the writer of 1 Peter have used these terms and not other terms that may offer some form of synonym?

    As I just stated, since I'm by no means a lexical scholar of Koine Greek studies, nor a literary genius, it's at this point that I next move to looking at what is said about this verse or passage in various commentaries, and when I go to this fifth step, I'm specifically bringing in the following sources (although I fully realize other fellow Christians may wish to use different commentaries they have at their disposal). The only thing I'd advise here as a hermeneuticist is to be mindful that we have nearly 2,000 years worth of commentators who may have offered opinions and insights on this verse and we need to keep in mind that they won't necessarily agree with one another). But for the sake of hermeneutical transparency in this effort here, I'll list my sources out before moving on:

    Encylopedia of Bible Difficulties (1982) - Gleason L. Archer

    Hard Sayings of the Bible
    (1996) - Walter Kaiser Jr., Peter H. David, F.F. Bruce & Manfred T. Brauch

    The IVP Bible Background Commentary - New Testament (1993) - Craig S. Keener

    Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (1996) - W.E Vine, Merril F. Unger & William White, Jr.

     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2021
  5. misput

    misput jimd

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    Great, I know of some of these commentators you have listed.
     
  6. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    Obviously definitions of words are important. But for this passage (spirits in prison) the commentaries I looked at were more about usage by this author and contemporaries. Both felt that "spirits" is wording not typically used of dead people. Also the author showed signs of being influenced by the Enoch literature. The word "preached" could be used of denunciation as well as trying to save someone. The conclusion was that the spirits were most likely evil supernatural entities involved before Noah (the specific identity differed), and the "preaching" was demonstrating Christ's condemnation of and mastery over them.
     
  7. Der Alte

    Der Alte This is me about 1 yr. old. Supporter

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    1 Peter 3:18-20
    18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
    19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison,
    20 because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.​
    First neither hades nor the grave are ever called "prison" and "prison" is never called hades/the grave, anywhere in the NT.
    Jesus' earthly ministry is given in Luke
    Luke 4:17-19
    17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
    18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives* and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
    19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."​
    Jesus's mission did not include preaching to the dead either in the grave or hades. The word translated" captives" means "prisoners of war."
    If the proclaiming in 1 Peter 3:19 was to redeem those in prison, whatever Peter meant by that, then it was a failure only 8 were saved and they were alive when they were saved, not dead.
    Added to previous post.
    Note, 1 Peter was written to former pagan Christians, not Jewish converts to Christianity. How do I know? Strangers scattered throughout all pagan areas.
    1 Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, ​
    These areas would have little to no knowledge of the Old Testament or Jewish practices. So instead of looking for Jewish context we should rather try to understand how pagans would have understood 1 Peter.
     
  8. biblelesson

    biblelesson Active Member

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    My response was not to you, but to fervent. This is the post I was responding to.

    My response to you is in another post below where I said you were not understanding so I would leave the issue alone:

    What I mean about you not understanding is, although God’s sovereign choice was to choose Jacob and not Esau while they were children and neither had done anything wrong, He chose Jacob base on His foreknowledge of which child would carry forth the blessings of Abraham.

    These scriptures relate to God’s foreknowledge:

    Isaiah 46:10 - Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

    Jeremiah 1:5 - Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

    Romans 8:29, "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."

    Romans 9:17
    For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

    You must consider the type of people both brothers were. Based on God’s foreknowledge, even before the children were born, God chose the one that would walk humbly before Him, the one He wanted to continue the blessings of Abraham, through Isaac, Jacob, continuing through King David, and finally Jesus. Jesus Had to be born from the tribe of Israel, be given the throne of David, and be the blessed seed (not seeds) of Abraham. Galatians 3:16-29, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.”

    So, one of the children born to Isaac, Esau or Jacob had to have the same Spirit as Abraham and as Jesus. Esau did not and God knew this before Esau was born.

    So, yes, based on God’s foreknowledge, and sovereign choice before the children had done any wrong, He chose the one that Jesus would come through. Based on Esau’s ways, that God did not approve of, the blessing of Abraham could not have gone through him. That’s why God change the order of things with their mother, to give the younger child the blessing instead of the older child.

    It takes more than just one scripture to understand what’s going on.
     
  9. misput

    misput jimd

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    Isa 42:7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

    John Gill Isa. 42 7. To open the blind eyes, &c.] Of the idolatrous Gentiles, who were spiritually blind, and knew not the wretchedness of their case; the exceeding sinfulness of sin; their need of a Saviour, and who he was; as they did, when their eyes were opened by means of the Gospel sent among them, through the energy of the divine Spirit; for this is a work of almighty power and efficacious grace:

    to bring out the prisoners from the prison; who were concluded in sin, shut up in unbelief, and under the law, the captives of Satan, and held fast prisoners by him and their own lusts, under the dominion of which they were:
    and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house: of sin, Satan, and the law; being under which, they were in a state of darkness and ignorance as to things divine and spiritual. The allusion is to prisons, which are commonly dark places. Vitringa, by the "prisoners," understands the Jews shut up under the law; and by those in "darkness" the Gentiles, destitute of all divine knowledge.

    I found this by searching the word prison and going to John Gill commentary for an explanation.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2021
  10. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Floating along on a Fragment of Faith ! Supporter

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    Following from what I've set out so far above, and taking into consideration a few addtional things that others have added in, the next thing is to look at the various usages of the greek words for prison, spirits and, also, preached in 1 Peter 3:19 in order to see the range of meanings that it had in the time in which this letter was written.

    Because there are so many variable parts--multiple words that affect the meaning of each other depending on the grammar structures and syntax of the sentences they're in--and various possible intertextual relationships among portions of a literary work, we have to be careful in our interpretive investigation. In doing this kind of study, we have to go back and forth, revisiting, connecting and reconnecting these relationships among words, sentences and ideas as we build toward the 'meaning' we think the text is likely attempting to convey, and this movement is, as some of us already know, is typically referred to as the "Hermeneutical Circle [or Spiral]."

    1) (φυλακῇ / phulaké / prison) -- After perusing the lexical lists of usages that are exhibited within various passages of the Bible, and in looking at the range of definitions reported, it seems that this term designates the idea of a "long-term confinement," and it seems the English term 'prison' is essentially what is being referred to more or less.

    2) (πνεύμασιν / pneumasin / spirits) -- As above, in looking at this word's usages, it seems to usually refer to non-human persons, such as the Holy Spirit, or also demonic beings, or disobedient angels. The meaning will depend on how the term is qualified by the grammatical usage and other literary qualifiers.

    3) (ἐκήρυξεν / ekēryxen / preached [proclaim]) -- Also as above, in looking at this word's usages, we find that unlike other words that could have been used for presenting a message, it means to strongly put forth a message, and the message may or may not be "good news."
    When we've done the basic task of sifting through the ranges of meaning for these words as they were likely to be expressed in their historical linguistic setting of the 1st century, we still haven't finished our hermeneutical venture into understanding what they mean. We still have to look at the various contexts in which they're embedded and connected, and we have to consider, too, intertextual references within and from the outside of not only the whole letter of 1 Peter but also its cultural mileau.

    As it stands at the moment, we'll need to do more since there's not enough information thus far in order to fully understand what is being said by Peter since it wasn't explicitly set out and since we need to remind ourselves that we're nearly 2,000 years removed in time, culture and language from this text, and as I mentioned earlier, in that nearly 2,000 years time, various Christians have posited three competing interpretations of this text.

    Moving on ...
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2021
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  11. Clare73

    Clare73 Blood-bought

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    My mistake. . .
    And that is in express contradiction of Romans 9:11-12:

    "Before the twins were born and had done anything good or bad--
    in order that God's purpose in election might stand,
    not by works (past, present or future) but by him who calls--
    she was told. . ."

    God chose Jacob, not based on his future works, but based only on God's call, for the sake of God's purpose.

    On what authority do you contradict the plain teaching of Romans 9:11-12?
    Isaiah 46:10 - Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

    Jeremiah 1:5 - Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

    Romans 8:29, "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."

    Romans 9:17 - For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.


    Note that all those Scriptures above are about what God does, not what man does, as are the Scriptures following:

    Biblical foreknowledge is not about God looking down the corridors of time and seeing in advance what men are going to do.
    Biblical foreknowledge is about God knowing in advance what he is going to do, because he has decreed that he shall do it.

    "Known to the Lord for ages is his work." (Acts 18:5)

    "This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge." (Acts 2:23)

    "They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen." (Acts 4:28)

    "I foretold the former things long ago,
    my mouth announced them and I made them known;
    then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass." (Isaiah 48:3)

    "Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it.
    In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass,
    that you have turned fortified cities into stones." (Isaiah 37:26)

    See Isaiah 45:21, Romans 11:2; 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 3:17.

    So "knowing in advance what Esau was going to do" is not the Biblical meaning of "foreknowledge."
    Foreknowledge is God knowing in advance what he is going to do, because he has decreed that he shall do it.

    Nor does God's foreknowedge have anything to do with God's choice of Jacob and not Esau.
    To assert such is a clear and manifest contradiction of Romans 9:11-12.
    Why is that when the text expressly states exactly the opposite.
    That is nothing more than your personal addition to the text, which is not just an addition but a complete denial of what the text expressly states. You can't see that?!!!
    It couldn't be any plainer if it were in 3D!
    Or did Jesus come through the one he had chosen from before the foundations of the world?

    Is divine reality man-centered God-centered?
    I say. . .first of all it takes believing what the Scripture plainly states in order to understand it correctly.
    You don't make it past the first step and, therefore, cannot understand it correctly.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2021
  12. biblelesson

    biblelesson Active Member

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    The latter is what I was explaining in my post, which is what you stated, "Biblical foreknowledge is about God knowing in advance what he is going to do, because he has decreed that he shall do it." All of the foreknowing of God is based on His Sovereign purpose, and of course not man's.

    Base on God's foreknowledge pertaining to salvation, certain events had to take place which involved specific people whom God chose "that election would stand." Meaning the promise to Abraham which cannot be disannuled, which therefore "stand" based on the events that took place to assure that the promise could not be disannuled.

    Meaning, to assure the election stand, that is the promise made to Abraham, which cannot disannul, Galatians 3:17, the electing of Issac and not Ishmael represents the two covenants, where Issac pertains to the covenant we are under now in Christ, and Ishmael represents the law. And, the electing of Jacob and Esau represents the promise to Abraham being of faith, and not of works, that is being neither good nor bad, which under the new covenant, our salvation is based on God's grace and not our efforts of good or bad. The promise was made to Abraham and his seed, therefore, in keeping with the promise God made to Abraham, certain events which represent that promise, which "stands" and cannot be disannuled, took place through Abraham's son Issac and grandson Jacob.

    It is important to know that because the promise made to Abraham is salvation based on faith, and not work of the law, therefore, so that the "election stand" (Belief according to Abraham's faith, and not of works of the law), Abraham's son Isaac and grandson Jacob pointed to Christ.

    So, for example with Jacob and Esau, God knew which child He would reject and which child He would accept before they were born, all based on His foreknowledge of their behaviors, however, to make His elections stand (the promise He made with Abraham and His offering salvation as a free gift in Christ), He made his choice about the children while they were still in the womb, while still having done anything wrong. This is also why the promise was made to Abraham before the law came into affect 400 years later, that the promise could not be disannuled when Christ came. Because where there is no law, sin cannot be inputed. So the promise was made before the law came into affect, and the children were chosen before they could do any wrong, all for the purpose of assuring that the "election stand."
     
  13. biblelesson

    biblelesson Active Member

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    Have you considered that during the time of Noah, there was no law. Where there is no law, sin cannot be inputted, Romans 5:13, so those who died during the time of Noah, they were in a sort of prison. They were not in hell, and they were not in Abraham’s bosom, as they “ the spirits” had to await Christ - to preach salvation to them, 1 Peter 3:19-22.

    However, those who were under under the Law of Moses and who died were either taken by the angels to Abraham’s bosom, Luke 16:22, or to hell.

    But this was not the case for those who died without a law: that is the law of Moses.

    And because salvation or condemnation can only be through Christ, he went and preached to those in that state, “spirits in prison” because there was no law for them.

    Here is a site that at least explains why sin is not imputed to those during Noah’s time.

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/redeeminggod.com/sin-is-not-imputed-where-there-is-no-law/amp/
     
  14. Clare73

    Clare73 Blood-bought

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    Actually, Paul is not teaching in Galatians 4:24-26 that Isaac and Ishmael actually represent the two covenants, such as the sacrifices actually represented Jesus' sacrifice, he is simply using the events to illustate a theological truth.
    Actually, Paul states what the election of Jacob was, and it was not to represent the ineffectiveness of works, good or bad, to righteousness. It was so that God's purpose would stand in election (of Mary?).
    That is not the promise made to Abraham.
    The promise made to Abraham was twofold: an unconditional grant of land, and a conditional promise to be the God of Abrham and his descendants if they were faithful to God. That covenat was forever broken when they crucified the Lord of Glory.
    Isaac and Jacob did not point to Christ anymore than Abraham did.
    The promise (Genesis 12:3) pointed to Christ
    This is a very contorted illogical rationale having nothing to do with the NT teaching of Romans 9:10-13, and in total disagreement with it.
    The law was given about 650 years after God's promise (Genesis 12:3) to Abraham.
    The promise to be their God (Genesis 17:7) was forever annulled (disannuled = not annulled = in force) when they murdered (Acts 7:52) God's one and only Son.

    And the land promise was fufilled under Solomon (1 Kings 4:21, 24-25).
    There are no promises remaining to unbelieving Isreal.
    However, none of this is either Biblical or ratonal.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2021
  15. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Floating along on a Fragment of Faith ! Supporter

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    Keeping the previous points in mind, the next thing we likely need to do is consider the first few "layers" of literary contexts in which 1 Peter 3:19 is situated.

    Since we know that 1 Peter 3:19 is just a phrase and is a part of a larger flow of thought being expressed by the writer, we'll need to see how 3:19 connects with the rest of the passage conceptually, and then we'll need to do your best to observe how this passage is used in the structure of the overall letter.

    The first thing we notice when looking at is 3:19 that (and for those who know English Grammar better than I do, correct me) we find a prepositional phrase introducing a relative clause in the middle of a large compound sentence, and it amplifies what was said just previous to it (in this case, verse 3:18).

    So as a point of discussion, how do you think we should read 3:18 and 3:19: to indicate what?

    Then we'll need to finish out the immediate thought and see how 3:19 flows into 3:20 since it's all one combined thought. And when moving to verse 3:20 we find another phrase which is used to explicate the object of 3:19 (i.e. the spirits in prison). What do we notice in this structure? Is it a parallelism, or is it merely an addendum to clarify? (That's a discussion question...)
     
  16. Bruce Leiter

    Bruce Leiter A sinner saved by God's astounding grace and love

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    It's just a means to an end: Understanding Scripture correctly leads us to know the true God more fully to follow him more correctly.
     
  17. misput

    misput jimd

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    You are past my understanding, you got it from here : )
     
  18. misput

    misput jimd

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    This is my take so far, Peter is saying Christ in the spirit preached through Noah to those unbelievers in Noah's day which now (in Peter's day) are spirits in prison. Unbelievers, whether in the flesh and spirit (alive) or in the spirit only (dead) are in a prison of sin.

    It's about belief vs unbelief like most of scripture. The disobedient ones are the ones in prison.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2021
  19. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Floating along on a Fragment of Faith ! Supporter

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    Yeah, I tend to lean in the same direction as you to some degree when taking the full passage from 3:8 to 4:19 into consideration and seeing that 4:6 seems to possibly mirror back some of this as Peter writes. At 4:6, we see Peter saying:

    For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the Spirit.
    The problem here in associating all of the possible referents of meaning in 4:6 with 3:18-20 is that it's not clear that "the dead" is being specifyied as an exact parallel to the "spirits in prison." It may be these phrases are synonymous, but they also might not be; and the "spirits in prison" may instead be referring to some kind of fallen angels rather than to disobedient people who disobeyed in the time leading up to the Flood account.

    So, we more or less have three [maybe four] interpretations to mull over, none of which seem to be given comprehensive treatment by what we find in Peter's first letter:

    1) The one that you and I lean toward, i.e. Christ in the spirit preached through Noah to those unbelievers in Noah's day which now (in Peter's day) are spirits in prison.

    or
    2) Christ, upon His death on the Cross and in the interim time until His Resurrection, went and proclaimed victory over fallen, non-human spirits who have been incarcerated in Hades since the time of Noah.

    or
    3) Christ, upon His death on the Cross and in the interim time until His Resurrection, went and proclaimed salvation to all the dead in Sheol/Hades who had died up until that point (and perhaps giving Universalists a nod toward the idea that there are second chances even after the death of our mortal bodies).​

    At this point, Hermeneuticists might analyze the Greek language in these verses more, and some may suggest that this passage is given by Peter in connection with similar allusions to what we find about 'spirits' made in Jude and 2 Peter, reflecting some stories we find in 1 Enoch.

    With all of these things to consider, I think the final interpetation for 1 Peter 3:18-20 fairs only a little better than our attempts did for figuring out a possible meaning for the 'Mark of Cain.' But that's how these things go ... :cool:

    What we DO KNOW is that Peter thought this little side note about Jesus 'preaching' to spirits in prison was useful to accentuate the main message of this passage about how Christians need to brace themselves in Christ and be prepared for possible suffering in His Name, with patience and virtue.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2021
  20. misput

    misput jimd

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    Very good!
     
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