1Pe 3:19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
What happened to Jesus after His body was placed in the tomb? There is a very interesting but largely misunderstood passage in 1 Peter 3:19 which gives us an interesting clue.
Saturday of Passion Week our Lord Jesus Christ–at least His physical body–still remained in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.
In terms of the Passion Week chronology, this was the 16th of Nisan, Saturday, the seventh-day Sabbath of the Jews.
And most important to understand and follow, this is “the second day since” “these things were done” (Luke 24:21).
I placed the following notes in the Ultimate Cross Reference Treasury which explain 1 Peter 3:19,
1 Peter 3:19
By which. or, By whom. FS136, +Isa 60:12, By Whom is a reference to the Holy Spirit of 1Pe 3:18 (LNT, fn f). 1Pe 3:16 g. 1Pe 1:11, 12; 1Pe 2:12 g. **1Pe 4:6, Neh 9:30, *2Pe 1:21, Rev 19:10.
he went. Note: Christ, as God, had gone, by his Spirit, inspiring his servant Noah, to denounce the approaching deluge, and preach repentance to incorrigible antediluvians, who perished in their sins, and whose “spirits” were in “the prison” of hell, when the apostle wrote; being confined there till the judgment of the great day. This appears to be the genuine sense of the passage, as it is perfectly agreeable to the whole of the context. Adding to the preceding original Note, this passage does not teach Christ’s alleged “descent into hell,” to preach the gospel to those who had never heard (Eze 16:55), as some mistakenly interpret. In this text only the antediluvians are mentioned as having been preached to: does anyone assert that when Christ allegedly went to hades to preach to the unsaved dead that he selectively preached only to those who had been living in Noah’s day in the time before the flood? Scripture positively forbids the notion that there is any second chance for salvation after death (+*Heb 9:27). Christ upon his death went to paradise, according to his promise to the dying thief (Luk 23:43). James Oliver Buswell, Jr., in Volume Two of his A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion, p. 319, provides this translation: “…Christ once for all died for sins, the Just One for the unjust ones, in order that He might bring us to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but was made alive by the Spirit; in which [Spirit] He went and preached, in the days of Noah, while the longsuffering of God was waiting, while the ark was being built, to [the persons who are now] spirits in prison, to those who at [that] time were disobedient.” He comments, “It is evident, therefore, that Peter does not teach that Christ, during the time when His body lay in the grave, went to any limbus patrum, but rather Peter is emphasizing the fact that it was the Spirit of Christ in the days of Noah and through Noah who was preaching righteousness to those who rejected God’s grace and are lost.” 1Pe 3:22, +*Psa 16:9, 10, 11, Mat 27:52-53 x, Luk 23:34 x, Act 2:27 x, Joh 20:17, Eph 4:9-10 x, Heb 9:12; Heb 9:27.
and preached. or, heralded. Gr. kērussō (S# G2784, Mat 3:1). A different word from 1Pe 4:6; here it is “heralded”; there “evangelized” (F. W. Grant, Numerical Bible). Jesus did not do any preaching in Hades or hell while he was physically dead awaiting resurrection on the third day. There is no basis to suppose there is any reason He would do so. He preached through Noah in Noah’s day. How explain that Jesus preached in hell only to the antediluvians (those who were living before the Flood in Noah’s day): did Jesus single those out and preach only to them? If so, why? Scripture positively forbids the notion that there is any second chance for salvation after death (Heb 9:27). Christ upon his death went to paradise, according to his promise to the dying thief (**Luke 23:43 note). In a note in Lange on Rev 21:8, E. R. Craven remarks “All that the use of kērussō calls for is the proclamation of a fact or facts. These facts, in the case before us, may have been the completion of the work of the atonement, and the consequent deliverance of those who had accepted of Christ under the types of the old economy (p. 377). %1Pe 4:6, Psa 68:18, *Isa 61:1, Jon 3:2; Jon 3:4, Mar 1:45; Mar 5:20; Mar 7:36, Luk 8:39; Luk 12:3, Act 15:21, Rom 2:21, 2Co 4:5, Gal 5:11, +*Eph 4:8; +*Eph 4:9, *2Pe 2:5, Rev 5:2.
spirits. Gr. pneuma, +Luk 24:37, 1Pe 3:22, Col 2:15, +*Heb 12:23, %Rev 6:9; Rev 20:4.
in prison. Gr. phulakē (S# G5438, Mat 5:25). The wicked of Noah’s time who are, at the time of Peter’s writing, in hadēs (cf. 2Pe 2:4 and note r) [LNT, fn h]. =Gen 39:20, Isa 24:22, 23; Isa 42:7; Isa 49:9; Isa 61:1, Mat 5:25; Mat 14:3; Mat 18:30; Mat 25:36, Mar 6:17; Mar 6:27, Luk 2:8; Luk 8:31; *Luk 12:58; Luk 21:12; Luk 23:19, Joh 3:24, Act 5:19; Act 8:3, 2Co 6:5, Heb 11:36, *2Pe 2:4; *2Pe 2:5, *Jud 1:6, Rev 9:1; **Rev 20:7.