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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Peter 3:18

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;

Adam Clarke Commentary

Christ also hath once suffered - See the notes on Romans 5:6; Hebrews 9:28; (note).

Put to death in the flesh - In his human nature.

But quickened by the Spirit - That very dead body revived by the power of his Divinity. There are various opinions on the meaning of this verse, with which I need not trouble the reader, as I have produced that which is most likely.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https: 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins - Compare the notes at 1 Peter 2:21. The design of the apostle in the reference to the sufferings of Christ, is evidently to remind them that he suffered as an innocent being, and not for any wrong-doing, and to encourage and comfort them in their sufferings by his example. The reference to his sufferings leads him 1 Peter 3:18-22 into a statement of the various ways in which Christ suffered, and of his ultimate triumph. By his example in his sufferings, and by his final triumph, the apostle would encourage those whom he addressed to bear with patience the sorrows to which their religion exposed them. He assumes that all suffering for adhering to the gospel is the result of well-doing; and for an encouragement in their trials, he refers them to the example of Christ, the highest instance that ever was, or ever will be, both of well-doing, and of suffering on account of it. The expression, “hath once suffered,” in the New Testament, means once for all; once, in the sense that it is not to occur again. Compare Hebrews 7:27. The particular point here, however, is not that he once suffered; it is that he had in fact suffered, and that in doing it he had left an example for them to follow.

The just for the unjust - The one who was just, ( δίκαιος dikaioson account of, or in the place of, those who were unjust, ( ὑπὲρ ἀδίκων huper adikōnor one who was righteous, on account of those who were wicked. Compare the Romans 5:6 note; 2 Corinthians 5:21 note; Hebrews 9:28 note. The idea on which the apostle would particularly fix their attention was, that he was just or innocent. Thus, he was an example to those who suffered for well-doing.

That he might bring us to God - That his death might be the means of reconciling sinners to God. Compare the notes at John 3:14; John 12:32. It is through that death that mercy is proclaimed to the guilty; it is by that alone that God can be reconciled to people; and the fact that the Son of God loved people, and gave himself a sacrifice for them, enduring such bitter sorrows, is the most powerful appeal which can be made to mankind to induce them to return to God. There is no appeal which can be made to us more powerful than one drawn from the fact that another suffers on our account. We could resist the argument which a father, a mother, or a sister would use to reclaim us from a course of sin; but if we perceive that our conduct involves them in suffering, that fact has a power over us which no mere argument could have.

Being put to death in the flesh - As a man; in his human nature. Compare the notes at Romans 1:3-4. There is evidently a contrast here between “the flesh” in which it is said he was “put to death,” and “the Spirit” by which it is said he was “quickened.” The words “in the flesh” are clearly designed to denote something that was unique in his death; for it is a departure from the usual method of speaking of death. How singular would it be to say of Isaiah, Paul, or Peter, that they were put to death in the flesh! How obvious would it be to ask, In what other way are people usually put to death? What was there special in their case, which would distinguish their death from the death of others? The use of this phrase would suggest the thought at once, that though, in regard to that which was properly expressed by the phrase, “the flesh,” they died, yet that there was something else in respect to which they did not die. Thus, if it were said of a man that he was deprived of his rights as a father, it would be implied that in, other respects he was not deprived of his rights; and this would be especially true if it were added that he continued to enjoy his rights as a neighbor, or as holding an office under the government. The only proper inquiry, then, in this place is, What is fairly implied in the phrase, the flesh? Does it mean simply his body, as distinguished from his human soul? or does it refer to him as a man, as distinguished from some higher nature, over which death had no power Now, that the latter is the meaning seems to me to be apparent, for these reasons:

(1) It is the usual way of denoting the human nature of the Lord Jesus, or of saying that he became in carnate, or was a man, to speak of his being in the flesh. See Romans 1:2; “Made of the seed of David according to the flesh.” John 1:14; “and the Word was made flesh.” 1 Timothy 3:16; “God was manifest in the flesh.” 1 John 4:2; “every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God.” 2 John 1:7; “who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.”

(2) so far as appears, the effect of death on the human soul of the Redeemer was the same as in the case of the soul of any other person; in other words, the effect of death in his case was not confined to the mere body or the flesh. Death, with him, was what death is in any other case - the separation of the soul and body, with all the attendant pain of such dissolution. It is not true that his “flesh,” as such, died without the ordinary accompaniments of death on the soul, so that it could be said that the one died, and the other was kept alive. The purposes of the atonement required that he should meet death in the usual form; that the great laws which operate everywhere else in regard to dissolution, should exist in his case; nor is there in the Scriptures any intimation that there was, in this respect, anything special in his case. If his soul had been exempt from whatever there is involved in death in relation to the spirit, it is unaccountable that there is no hint on this point in the sacred narrative. But if this be so, then the expression “in the flesh” refers to him as a man, and means, that so far as his human nature was concerned, he died. In another important respect, he did not die. On the meaning of the word “flesh” in the New Testament, see the notes at Romans 1:3.

But quickened - Made alive - ζοωποιηθεὶς zoōpoiētheisThis does not mean “kept alive,” but “made alive; recalled to life; reanimated.” The word is never used in the sense of maintained alive, or preserved alive. Compare the following places, which are the only ones in which it occurs in the New Testament: John 5:21 (twice); John 6:63; Romans 4:17; Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:36, 1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Timothy 6:13; 1 Peter 3:18; in all which it is rendered “quickened, quicken, quickeneth;” 1 Corinthians 15:22, “be made alive;” 2 Corinthians 3:6, “giveth life;” and Galatians 3:21, “have given life.” “Once the word refers to God, as he who giveth life to all creatures, 1 Timothy 6:13; three times it refers to the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit, or of the doctrines of the gospel, John 6:63; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Galatians 3:21; seven times it is used with direct reference to the raising of the dead, John 5:21; Romans 4:17; Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:22, 1 Corinthians 15:36, 1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Peter 3:18.” See Biblical Repos., April, 1845, p. 269. See also Passow, and Robinson, Lexicon. The sense, then, cannot be that, in reference to his soul or spirit, he was preserved alive when his body died, but that there was some agency or power restoring him to life, or reanimating him after he was dead.

By the Spirit - According to the common reading in the Greek, this is τῷ Πνεύματι tō Pneumati- with the article the - “the Spirit.” Hahn, Tittman, and Griesbach omit the article, and then the reading is, “quickened in spirit;” and thus the reading corresponds with the former expression, “in flesh” ( σαρκὶ sarkiwhere the article also is lacking. The word “spirit,” so far as the mere use of the word is concerned, might refer to his own soul, to his divine nature, or to the Holy Spirit. It is evident:

(1) that it does not refer to his own soul, for:

(a)as we have seen, the reference in the former clause is to his human nature, including all that pertained to him as a man, body and soul;

(b)there was no power in his own spirit, regarded as that pertaining to his human nature, to raise him up from the dead, any more than there is such a power in any other human soul. That power does not belong to a human soul in any of its relations or conditions.

(2) it seems equally clear that this does not refer to the Holy Spirit, or the Third Person of the Trinity, for it may be doubted whether the work of raising the dead is anywhere ascribed to that Spirit. His special province is to enlighten, awaken, convict, convert, and sanctify the soul; to apply the work of redemption to the hearts of people, and to lead them to God. This influence is moral, not physical; an influence accompanying the truth, not the exertion of mere physical power.

(3) it remains, then, that the reference is to his own divine nature - a nature by which he was restored to life after he was crucified; to the Son of God, regarded as the Second Person of the Trinity. This appears, not only from the facts above stated, but also:

(a) from the connection, It is stated that it was in or by this spirit that he went and preached in the days of Noah. But it was not his spirit as a man that did this, for his human soul had then no existence. Yet it seems that he did this personally or directly, and not by the influences of the Holy Spirit, for it is said that “he went and preached.” The reference, therefore, cannot be to the Holy Spirit, and the fair conclusion is that it refers to his divine nature.

(b) This accords with what the apostle Paul says Romans 1:3-4, “which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh,” that is, in respect to his human nature, “and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness,” that is, in respect to his divine nature, “by the resurrection from the dead.” See the notes at that passage.

(c) It accords with what the Saviour himself says, John 10:17-18; “I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.” This must refer to his divine nature, for it is impossible to conceive that a human soul should have the power of restoring its former tenement, the body, to life. See the notes at the passage. The conclusion, then, to which we have come is, that the passage means, that as a man, a human being, he was put to death; in respect to a higher nature, or by a higher nature, here denominated Spirit ( Πνεῦμα Pneumahe was restored to life. As a man, he died; as the incarnate Son of Gods the Messiah, he was made alive again by the power of his own Divine Spirit, and exalted to heaven. Compare Robinson‘s Lexicon on the word Πνεῦμα PneumaC.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https: 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

Because Christ also suffered for sins once, 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;

Suffered for our sins ... The great atonement of Christ is denoted by this. Paine pointed out that there are visible in this epistle "three stands of Peter's thought about the atonement."[26] It is compared to the paschal lamb (1 Peter 1:19), the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 (1 Peter 1:24), and to the scapegoat (1 Peter 1:24).

Suffered for sins once ... "Once" is the great New Testament word from the Greek [@hapax], meaning "once for all."Hebrews 9:26); (2) Christ's death (Hebrews 9:28); (3) the deliverance to mankind of the faith (Jude 1:1:3); (4) the offering of Christ's blood in heaven (Hebrews 9:12,26); (5) the appointment to die (Hebrews 9:27); (6) God's shaking the earth and the heavens so as to remove them (Hebrews 12:27); and (7) the suffering of Christ for sins (1 Peter 3:18).

The righteous for the unrighteous ... Let it be strictly observed that Peter in this does not say, "That he might bring God to us," but "that he might bring us to God." There was nothing in the atonement that was designed to change God in any manner; for it was men who needed to be changed. The separation between God and man "is one-sided."[28] The suffering of Christ was not to satisfy God but for the purpose of getting the attention of rebellious men. God already loved humanity before the atonement was even possible.

Put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit ... The first clause is clear enough being a reference to the crucifixion of our Lord; but there is a wide disagreement among scholars as to the meaning of "made alive in the spirit."

Made alive ... It is amazing that some read this as if it meant "kept alive," or "continued alive"; whereas the true meaning of the words, as in the text, is "made alive," resurrected! "In the New Testament, these words are never used in the sense of maintained alive, or preserved alive."[29] Therefore, these words must be understood to mean the resurrection of the Son of God from the grave, the same being the only way in which Jesus Christ was ever "made alive."

But who did the making alive? This also is easily resolved. It was achieved by "the spirit of holiness" (Romans 1:4), as Paul said, significantly using the expression in connection with "the flesh" of Christ which was of the seed of David, much as Peter referred to "flesh" which was crucified. It was through that same "eternal spirit" that Christ offered himself to God (in the crucifixion) (Hebrews 9:24); and by that very same Holy Spirit that he was conceived in the womb of Mary (Matthew 1:20). In fact, the very Spirit which indwelt Christ throughout his earthly sojourn was the Holy Spirit dwelling in him without measure (John 3:31), and so uniquely associated with Christ that the Holy Spirit could not even come to the earth to dwell in the apostles until Christ should go back to heaven! (John 16:7). There is thus little doubt, therefore, that it was the Holy Spirit who raised Christ from the dead, and the translators could have saved a lot of misunderstanding if they had capitalized Spirit in this passage. We reject the intricate arguments from the "antithesis" in the Greek text which is said to refute this; because, as Barnes said, "So far as the mere use of this word (spirit) is concerned, it might easily refer to his own soul, to his divine nature, or to the Holy Spirit."[30] Men who speak learnedly about the alleged difference between the divine nature of Christ, his human soul, and the blessed Holy Spirit which was in Christ throughout his earthly sojourn are unconvincing.

But, did not Christ declare that he himself would raise himself up from the grave (John 10:17)? Yes, indeed; but there are hundreds of examples in the New Testament where something done by one member of the Godhead is attributed to another member of it. The resurrection of Christ is also ascribed to the Father (1 Corinthians 6:14; 2 Corinthians 4:14; Ephesians 1:20), thus being ascribed to all three, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

[26] Stephen W. Paine, Wycliffe Bible Commentary, New Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), p. 977.

[28] A. J. Mason, op. cit., p. 420.

[29] Albert Barnes, Barnes' Notes on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1953), p. 176.

[30] Ibid.

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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https: Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins,.... Not his own, for he committed none, but for the sins of his people; in order to obtain the remission of them, to make reconciliation for them, and to take and put them away, and finish and make an end of them; which sufferings of his, on account of them, were many and great: he suffered much by bearing the griefs, and carrying the sorrows of his people, whereby he became a man of sorrows, and acquainted with griefs, from his cradle to his cross; and from the temptations of Satan, being in all points tempted, as his members are, though without sin; and from the contradiction of sinners against him, in his name, credit, and character, abusing him as the worst of men; and he suffered in his soul, from the wrath of God, and curses of the law, which lay upon him; and in his body, by many buffetings, scourges, wounds, and death itself, even the death of the cross; and which being the finishing part of his sufferings, is chiefly here meant. The Alexandrian copy reads, "died for you"; and the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions read, "died for our sins"; and this he did once, and but once; he died once, and will die no more; he was offered up once, and will be offered up no more; there is no more offering, or sacrifice for sin; the reason is, because his one offering is sufficient to take away sin, which the legal sacrifices were not, and therefore were often offered; and the reason why this his one offering, or once suffering and dying, is sufficient, is, because of his divine nature, or eternal Spirit, by which he offered himself, and gave infinite virtue to his sacrifice and satisfaction: now, this is an argument for suffering patiently; since Christ, the head, has also suffered, and therefore, why not the members? and since he has suffered for their sins, therefore they should not grudge to suffer for his sake; and seeing also their sufferings are but once, in this life only, and as it were but for a moment, and not to be compared with his sufferings for them; and especially when it is considered what follows:

the just for the unjust; Christ, the holy and just one, who is holy in his nature, and righteous in his life and actions, which were entirely conformable to the righteous law of God, and upright and faithful in the discharge of his office, and therefore called God's righteous servant; he suffered, and that not only by unjust men, by the Jews, by Pilate, and the Roman soldiers, but for and in the room and stead of unjust men, sinners, and ungodly, who were destitute of righteousness, and full of all unrighteousness; and since he did, it need not be thought hard, or strange, that sinful men should suffer at the hands of others; and still it should be borne with the greater patience, since Christ not only suffered for them, but since an end is answered by it, as is here suggested:

that he might bring us to God; nigh to God, who, with respect to communion, were afar off from him; and in peace and reconciliation with him, who were enemies to him by wicked works; and that they might have freedom of access, with boldness, unto God, through his precious blood, and the vail of his flesh; and that he might offer them unto God, as the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions render it; as a sacrifice acceptable unto God, presenting them to him unblamable and unreproveable in his sight; that he might bring them into his grace and presence here, and, as the great Captain of their salvation, bring them to him in glory hereafter:

being put to death in the flesh; in the human nature: flesh includes the whole of human nature, both body and soul; for though the body only dies, yet death is the dissolution of the union between them both; and such was Christ's death; for though the union between the two natures continued, yet his body and soul were disunited; his body was left on the cross, and his soul, or Spirit, was commended to God, when his life was taken from the earth, and he was put to death in a violent manner by men:

but quickened by the Spirit; raised from the dead by his divine nature, the Spirit of holiness, the eternal Spirit, by which he offered himself, and by virtue of which, as he had power to lay down his life, so he had power to take it up again; when he was also justified in the Spirit, and all the elect in him. Now, as the enemies of Christ could do no more than put him to death in the flesh, so the enemies of his people can do no more than kill the body, and cannot reach the soul; and as Christ is quickened and raised from the dead, so all his elect are quickened together, and raised with him, representatively, and shall, by virtue of his resurrection, be raised personally, and live also; which is no inconsiderable argument to suffer afflictions patiently, and which is the design of this instance and example of the sufferings, death, and resurrection of Christ.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https: 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, 19 the just for the unjust, 20 that he might bring us to God, 21 being put to death in the m flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

(18) A proof of either of the rules, by the example of Christ himself our chief pattern, who was afflicted not for his own sins (which were none) but for ours, and that according to his Father's decree.

(19) An argument taken by comparison: Christ the just, suffered for us that are unjust and shall it grieve us who are unjust, to suffer for the cause of Christ.

(20) Another argument being partly taken of things coupled together, that is, because Christ brings us to his Father that same way that he went himself, and partly from the cause efficient: that is, because Christ is not only set before us for an example to follow, but also he holds us up by his power in all the difficulties of this life, until he bring us to his Father.

(21) Another argument taken from the happy end of these afflictions, in which Christ also goes before us both in example and power, as one who suffered most grievous torments even to death, although but only in one part of him, that is, in the flesh or man's nature: but yet became conqueror by virtue of his divinity.

(m) As touching his manhood, for his body was dead, and his soul felt the sorrows of death.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https: 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Confirmation of 1 Peter 3:17, by the glorious results of Christ‘s suffering innocently.

For — “Because.” That is “better,” 1 Peter 3:17, means of which we are rendered more like to Christ in death and in life; for His death brought the best issue to Himself and to us [Bengel].

Christ — the Anointed Holy One of God; the Holy suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust.

also — as well as yourselves (1 Peter 3:17). Compare 1 Peter 2:21; there His suffering was brought forward as an example to us; here, as a proof of the blessedness of suffering for well-doing.

once — for all; never again to suffer. It is “better” for us also once to suffer with Christ, than for ever without Christ We now are suffering our “once”; it will soon be a thing of the past; a bright consolation to the tried.

for sins — as though He had Himself committed them. He exposed Himself to death by His “confession,” even as we are called on to “give an answer to him that asketh a reason of our hope.” This was “well-doing” in its highest manifestation. As He suffered, “The Just,” so we ought willingly to suffer, for righteousness‘ sake (1 Peter 3:14; compare 1 Peter 3:12, 1 Peter 3:17).

that he might bring us to God — together with Himself in His ascension to the right hand of God (1 Peter 3:22). He brings us, “the unjust,” justified together with Him into heaven. So the result of Christ‘s death is His drawing men to Him; spiritually now, in our having access into the Holiest, opened by Christ‘s ascension; literally hereafter. “Bring us,” moreover, by the same steps of humiliation and exaltation through which He Himself passed. The several steps of Christ‘s progress from lowliness to glory are trodden over again by His people in virtue of their oneness with Him (1 Peter 4:1-3). “To God,” is Greek dative (not the preposition and case), implying that God wishes it [Bengel].

put to death — the means of His bringing us to God.

in the flesh — that is, in respect to the life of flesh and blood.

quickened by the Spirit — The oldest manuscripts omit the Greek article. Translate with the preposition “in,” as the antithesis to the previous “in the flesh” requires, “IN spirit,” that is, in respect to His Spirit. “Put to death” in the former mode of life; “quickened” in the other. Not that His Spirit ever died and was quickened, or made alive again, but whereas He had lived after the manner of mortal men in the flesh, He began to live a spiritual “resurrection” (1 Peter 3:21) life, whereby He has the power to bring us to God. Two ways of explaining 1 Peter 3:18, 1 Peter 3:19, are open to us: (1) “Quickened in Spirit,” that is, immediately on His release from the “flesh,” the energy of His undying spirit-life was “quickened” by God the Father, into new modes of action, namely, “in the Spirit He went down (as subsequently He went up to heaven, 1 Peter 3:22, the same Greek verb) and heralded [not salvation, as Alford, contrary to Scripture, which everywhere represents man‘s state, whether saved or lost, after death irreversible. Nor is any mention made of the conversion of the spirits in prison. See on 1 Peter 3:20. Nor is the phrase here ‹preached the Gospel‘ ({(evangelizo}), but ‹heralded‘ ({(ekeruxe}) or ‹preached‘; but simply made the announcement of His finished work; so the same Greek in Mark 1:45, ‹publish,‘ confirming Enoch and Noah‘s testimony, and thereby declaring the virtual condemnation of their unbelief, and the salvation of Noah and believers; a sample of the similar opposite effects of the same work on all unbelievers, and believers, respectively; also a consolation to those whom Peter addresses, in their sufferings at the hands of unbelievers; specially selected for the sake of ‹baptism,‘ its ‹antitype‘ (1 Peter 3:21), which, as a seal, marks believers as separated from the rest of the doomed world] to the spirits (His Spirit speaking to the spirits) in prison (in Hades or Sheol, awaiting the judgment, 2 Peter 2:4), which were of old disobedient when,” etc. (2) The strongest point in favor of (1) is the position of “sometime,” that is, of old, connected with “disobedient”; whereas if the preaching or announcing were a thing long past, we should expect “sometime,” or of old, to be joined to “went and preached.” But this transposition may express that their disobedience preceded His preaching. The Greek participle expresses the reason of His preaching,inasmuch as they were sometime disobedient” (compare 1 Peter 4:6). Also “went” seems to mean a personal going, as in 1 Peter 3:22, not merely in spirit. But see the answer below. The objections are “quickened” must refer to Christ‘s body (compare 1 Peter 3:21, end), for as His Spirit never ceased to live, it cannot be said to be “quickened.” Compare John 5:21; Romans 8:11, and other passages, where “quicken” is used of the bodily resurrection. Also, not His Spirit, but )His soul, went to Hades. His Spirit was commended by) Him at death to His Father, and was thereupon “in Paradise.” The theory - (1) would thus require that His descent to the spirits in prison should be after His resurrection! Compare Ephesians 4:9, Ephesians 4:10, which makes the descent precede the ascent. Also Scripture elsewhere is silent about such a heralding, though possibly Christ‘s death had immediate effects on the state of both the godly and the ungodly in Hades: the souls of the godly heretofore in comparative confinement, perhaps then having been, as some Fathers thought, translated to God‘s immediate and heavenly presence; but this cannot be proved from Scripture. Compare however, John 3:13; Colossians 1:18. Prison is always used in a bad sense in Scripture. “Paradise” and “Abraham‘s bosom,” the abode of good spirits in Old Testament times, are separated by a wide gulf from Hell or Hades, and cannot be called “prison.” Compare 2 Corinthians 12:2, 2 Corinthians 12:4, where “paradise” and the “third heaven” correspond. Also, why should the antediluvian unbelievers in particular be selected as the objects of His preaching in Hades? Therefore explain: “Quickened in spirit, in which (as distinguished from in person; the words “in which,” that is, in spirit, expressly obviating the objection that “went” implies a personal going) He went (in the person of Noah, “a preacher of righteousness,” 2 Peter 2:5: Alford‘s own Note, Ephesians 2:17, is the best reply to his argument from “went” that a local going to Hades in person is meant. As “He CAME and preached peace” by His Spirit in the apostles and ministers after His death and ascension: so before His incarnation He preached in Spirit through Noah to the antediluvians, John 14:18, John 14:28; Acts 26:23. “Christ should show,” literally, “announce light to the Gentiles”) and preached unto the spirits in prison, that is, the antediluvians, whose bodies indeed seemed free, but their spirits were in prison, shut up in the earth as one great condemned cell (exactly parallel to Isaiah 24:22, Isaiah 24:23 “upon the earth … they shall be gathered together as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison,” etc. [just as the fallen angels are judicially regarded as “in chains of darkness,” though for a time now at large on the earth, 1 Peter 2:4 ], where 1 Peter 3:18 has a plain allusion to the flood, “the windows from on high are open,” compare Genesis 7:11); from this prison the only way of escape was that preached by Christ in Noah. Christ, who in our times came in the flesh, in the days of Noah preached in Spirit by Noah to the spirits then in prison (Isaiah 61:1, end, “the Spirit of the Lord God hath sent me to proclaim the opening of the prison to them that are bound”). So in 1 Peter 1:11, “the Spirit of Christ” is said to have testified in the prophets. As Christ suffered even to death by enemies, and was afterwards quickened in virtue of His “Spirit” (or divine nature, Romans 1:3, Romans 1:4; 1 Corinthians 15:45), which henceforth acted in its full energy, the first result of which was the raising of His body (1 Peter 3:21, end) from the prison of the grave and His soul from Hades; so the same Spirit of Christ enabled Noah, amidst reproach and trials, to preach to the disobedient spirits fast bound in wrath. That Spirit in you can enable you also to suffer patiently now, looking for the resurrection deliverance.

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https: 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Because Christ also died (οτι και Χριστος απετανενhoti kai Christos apethanen). So the best MSS.; later ones επατενepathen (suffered). The example of Christ should stir us to patient endurance.

For sins (περι αμαρτιωνperi hamartiōn). “Concerning sins” (not his, but ours, 1 Peter 1:18). ΠεριPeri (around, concerning) with αμαρτιαςhamartias in the regular phrase for the sin offering (Leviticus 5:7; Leviticus 6:30), though υπερ αμαρτιαςhuper hamartias does occur (Ezekiel 43:25). So in the N.T. we find both περι αμαρτιωνperi hamartiōn (Hebrews 5:3) and υπερ αμαρτιωνhuper hamartiōn (Hebrews 5:1).

Once (απαχhapax). Once for all (Hebrews 9:28), not once upon a time (ποτεpote).

The righteous for the unrighteous (δικαιος υπερ αδικωνdikaios huper adikōn). Literally, “just for unjust” (no articles). See 1 Peter 2:19 for the sinlessness of Christ as the one perfect offering for sin. This is what gives Christ‘s blood value. He has no sin himself. Some men today fail to perceive this point.

That he might bring us to God (ινα ημας προσαγαγηι τωι τεωιhina hēmās prosagagēi tōi theōi). Purpose clause with ιναhina with second aorist active subjunctive of προσαγωprosagō and the dative case τωι τεωιtōi theōi The MSS. vary between ημαςhēmās (us) and υμαςhumās (you). The verb προσαγωprosagō means to lead or bring to (Matthew 18:24), to approach God (cf. προσαγωγηνprosagōgēn in Ephesians 2:18), to present us to God on the basis of his atoning death for us, which has opened the way (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 10:19.)

Being put to death in the flesh (τανατωτεις μεν σαρκιthanatōtheis men sarki). First aorist passive participle of τανατοωthanatoō old verb (from τανατοςthanatos death), to put to death. ΣαρκιSarki is locative case of σαρχsarx quickened in the spirit (ζωοποιητεις δε πνευματιzōopoiētheis de pneumati). First aorist passive participle of ζωοποιεωzōopoieō rare (Aristotle) verb (from ζωοποιοςzōopoios making alive), to make alive. The participles are not antecedent to απετανενapethanen but simultaneous with it. There is no such construction as the participle of subsequent action. The spirit of Christ did not die when his flesh did, but “was endued with new and greater powers of life” (Thayer). See 1 Corinthians 15:22 for the use of the verb for the resurrection of the body. But the use of the word πνευματιpneumati (locative case) in contrast with σαρκιsarki starts Peter‘s mind off in a long comparison by way of illustration that runs from 1 Peter 3:19-22. The following verses have caused more controversy than anything in the Epistle.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https: Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

The just for the unjust

But the Greek without the article is more graphic: just for unjust.

In the flesh

The Greek omits the article. Read in flesh, the material form assumed in his incarnation.

In the spirit

Also without the article, in spirit; not as A. Vby the Spirit, meaning the Holy Ghost, but referring to his spiritual, incorporeal life. The words connect themselves with the death-cry on the cross: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” Huther observes, “Flesh is that side of the man's being by which he belongs to earth, is therefore a creature of earth, and accordingly perishable like everything earthy. Spirit, on the other hand, is that side of his being according to which he belongs to a supernal sphere of being, and is therefore not merely a creature of earth, and is destined to an immortal existence.”

Thus we must be careful and not understand spirit here of the Spirit of God, as distinguished from the flesh of Christ, but of the spiritual nature of Christ; “the higher spiritual nature which belonged to the integrity of his humanity” (Cook).

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https: Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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:

For — This is undoubtedly best, whereby we are most conformed to Christ. Now Christ suffered once - To suffer no more.

For sins — Not his own, but ours.

The just for the unjust — The word signifies, not only them who have wronged their neighbours, but those who have transgressed any of the commands of God; as the preceding word, just, denotes a person who has fulfilled, not barely social duties, but all kind of righteousness.

That he might bring us to God — Now to his gracious favour, hereafter to his blissful presence, by the same steps of suffering and of glory.

Being put to death in the flesh — As man.

But raised to life by the Spirit — Both by his own divine power, and by the power of the Holy Ghost.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https: 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

Verse 18

Quickened; raised to life.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https: 1878.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

18.] because (not ‘for:’ it does not only render a reason, but lays down the reason why Christian suffering for well-doing is blessed) Christ also (as well as yourselves if ye be so called as to suffer) suffered for sins (the thought is somewhat similar to that in ch. 1 Peter 2:21, but the intent of it different: there, it was as an example to us that the sufferings of Christ were adduced: here, it is as a proof of the blessedness and advantage of suffering for well-doing, that proof being closely applied to us by the fact that that suffering was undertaken on our behalf, and that blessedness is our salvation. περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν I distinctly hold, with Wiesinger, to come in, as a point of comparison between Christ and ourselves, under the καί,—against most Commentators, among whom are De Wette and Huther. Considering St. Peter’s love of antanaclasis (using the same term in two meanings), of which we have already had several examples, e. g. 1 Peter 3:9; 1 Peter 3:14-15, I have no hesitation in applying the παθεῖν περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν the one time to Christ, the other to ourselves, though His suffering for sin, and ours, are two very different things. He, the sinless One, suffered περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν, for sins; as a sacrifice for sin, as a sinner, made sin for us, dying the death of a criminal: we, though not sinless, yet ἀγαθοποιοῦντες, are to suffer if God’s will so will it, περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν, for sins which we are supposed to have committed, and as sinners. To miss this, is to miss one of the cardinal points of the comparison) once (“from this ἅπαξ, through the καί,” as has been beautifully said (Besser, in Wies.), “a beam of comforting light falls on the sufferings of Christians.” He suffered once: His sufferings are summed up and passed away: He shall suffer no more. And we are suffering ἅπαξ: it shall be soon so thought of and looked back upon. For this reason doubtless, and not as Œc. to shew τὸ τοῦ παθόντος δραστήριόν τε καὶ δυνατόν, nor as Pott, al., to contrast the sufferings of Christ as in Hebrews 10:1-2, with the often-repeated sacrifices of the O. T., is ἅπαξ inserted), a just person ( δίκαιος is purely predicative: not as E. V. ‘the just,’ which again loses the point of comparison) on behalf of unjust persons (this again, though the resembling tints are beginning somewhat to fade off, is another point of comparison: He suffered, just, righteous, ὑπὲρ ἀδίκων: He represented, He was offered for, the unjust, the unrighteous: and so we in our turn, though in a far less deep and proper meaning, when we, being δίκαιοι (1 Peter 3:12), suffer as ἄδικοι, though not in any propitiatory sense ὑπὲρ ἀδίκων. We have similar uncertainty and play of meaning where the same subject is treated Romans 6:10-11, τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ ἀπέθανενζῇ τῷ θεῷ, οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς λογίζεσθε ἑαυτοὺς νεκροὺς μὲν εἶναι τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ, ζῶντας δὲ τῷ θεῷ: where the two expressions, though they have a common meaning of small extent, are in their widest and most important references of necessity widely divergent), that (with this ἵνα we leave the comparison, as far as suffering is concerned, returning to it presently for a moment with the θανατωθείς, and pass up to the μακαριότης of His innocent suffering, and to that which makes it so glorious and precious to us, as the ground of all our blessedness in suffering) He might bring us near to God (“ut nos, qui abalienati fueramus, ipse abiens ad Patrem, secum una, justificatos adduceret in cœlum, 1 Peter 3:22, per eosdem gradus quos ipse emensus est, exinanitionis et exaltationis. Ex hoc verbo Petrus, usque ad cap. 1 Peter 4:6, penitus connectit Christi et fidelium iter sive processum (quo etiam ipse sequebatur Dominum, ex ejus prædictione, John 13:36) infidelitatem multorum et pœnam innectens.” Bengel: who also remarks on τῷ θεῷ, “Deo id volenti. Plus notatur per dativum quam si diceretur ad Deum”), put to death (this participial clause conditions the ἵνα προσαγάγῃ, giving the manner of that bringing us near to God) indeed in the flesh (of this there can be no doubt, and in this assertion there is no difficulty. σαρκί is adverbial; it was thus, in this region, under these conditions, that the death on the cross was inflicted: His flesh, which was living flesh before, became dead flesh: Christ Jesus, the entire complex Person, consisting of body, soul, and spirit, was put to death σαρκί), but made alive (again) in the spirit (here there may seem to be difficulty: but the difficulty will vanish, if we guide ourselves simply and carefully by the former clause. ‘Quod ad carnem,’ the Lord was put to death: ‘quod ad spiritum,’ He was brought to life (for this, and not “remained alive,” must be insisted on as the meaning of ἐζωοποιήθη). His flesh was the subject, recipient, vehicle, of inflicted death: His spirit was the subject, recipient, vehicle, of restored life. But here let us beware, and proceed cautiously. What is asserted is not that the flesh died and the Spirit was made alive; but that ‘quoad’ the flesh the Lord died, ‘quoad’ the Spirit He was made alive. He, the God-man Christ Jesus, body and soul, ceased to live in the flesh, began to live in the Spirit; ceased to live a fleshly mortal life, began to live a spiritual resurrection life. His own Spirit never died, as the next verse shews us. “This is the meaning, that Christ by His sufferings was taken from the life which is flesh and blood, as a man on earth, living, walking, and standing in flesh and blood … and He is now placed in another life and made alive according to the Spirit, has passed into a spiritual and supernatural life, which includes in itself the whole life which Christ now has in soul and body, so that He has no longer a fleshly but a spiritual body.” Luther. And Hofmann, Schriftb. ii. 1. 336, says, “It is the same who dies and the same who is again made alive, both times the whole Man Jesus, in body and soul. He ceases to live, in that that, which is to His Personality the medium of action, falls under death; and He begins again to live, in that He receives back this same for a medium of His action again. The life which fell under death was a fleshly life, that is, such a life as has its determination to the present condition of man’s nature, to the externality of its mundane connexion. The life which was won back is a spiritual life, that is, such a life as has its determination from the Spirit, in which consists our inner connexion with God.” It is impossible, throughout this difficult and most important passage, to report all the various shades of difference of opinion which even the greater expositors have given us. I shall indicate only those which are necessary to be mentioned as meanings to be distinguished from that which I advocate, or as errors likely to fall constantly under the eye of my readers. Of this latter class is the rendering of the E. V. here, “by the Spirit,” which is wrong both grammatically and theologically: the explanation of Œc., Calov., al., τουτέστιν ἀναστὰς ἐκ νεκρῶν τῇ τῆς θεότητος δυνάμει: ἀνέστη γὰρ ἐκ νεκρῶν οὐχ ὡς ἄνθρωπος, ἀλλʼ ὡς θεός: and that of Grot. that πνευματι = ἐκ δυνάμεως θεοῦ, 2 Corinthians 13:4):

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https: 1863-1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

18For Christ also It is another comfort, that if in our afflictions we are conscious of having done well, we suffer according to the example of Christ; and it hence follows that we are blessed. At the same time he proves, from the design of Christ’s death, that it is by no means consistent with our profession that we should suffer for our evil deeds. For he teaches us that Christ suffered in order to bring us to God. What does this mean, except that we have been thus consecrated to God by Christ’s death, that we may live and die to him?

There are, then, two parts in this sentence; the first is, that persecutions ought to be borne with resignation, because the Son of God shews the way to us; and the other is, that since we have been consecrated to God’s service by the death of Christ, it behoves us to suffer, not for our faults, but for righteousness’ sake.

Here, however, a question may be raised, Does not God chastise the faithful, whenever he suffers them to be afflicted? To this I answer, that it indeed often happens, that God punishes them according to what they deserve; and this is not denied by Peter; but he reminds us what a comfort it is to have our cause connected with God. And how God does not punish sins in them who endure persecution for the sake of righteousness, and in what sense they are said to be innocent, we shall see in the next chapter.

Being put to death in the flesh Now this is a great thing, that we are made conformable to the Son of God, when we suffer without cause; but there is added another consolation, that the death of Christ had a blessed issue; for though he suffered through the weakness of the flesh, he yet rose again through the power of the Spirit. Then the cross of Christ was not prejudicial, nor his death, since life obtained the victory. This was said (as Paul also reminds us in 2 Corinthians 4:10) that we may know that we are to bear in our body the dying of Christ, in order that his life may be manifested in us. Flesh here means the outward man; and Spirit means the divine power, by which Christ emerged from death a conqueror.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https: 1840-57.

Scofield's Reference Notes


Sin. (See Scofield "Romans 3:23").

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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on 1 Peter 3:18". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https: 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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:

Ver. 18. That he might bring us] To reconcile and bring men again to God was the main end of Christ’s coming and suffering. This is the wonderment of angels, torment of devils, &c.

The just for the unjust] Oh, the vile dulness of our hearts, that cannot be duly affected herewith! Behold, here was piety scourged for the impious man’s sake, wisdom derided for the fool’s sake, truth denied for the liar’s sake, justice condemned for the unjust man’s sake, mercy afflicted for the cruel man’s sake; life dies for the dead man’s sake. What a suffering was that, when the Just suffered for the unjust, with the unjust, upon unjust causes, under unjust judges, and by unjust punishments, &c. Euripides saith it is but righteous that they that do things not good should suffer things not pleasant; but what had that innocent "Lamb of God" done?

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https: 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

1 Peter 3:18

Christ Suffering for Sins.

I. Observe that St. Peter says, "Christ suffered for sins"—not merely suffered, but suffered for us—that is, clearly for our sins, for the sins of mankind. These were, in some way, the cause of His sufferings. If the sins had not been, His sufferings had not been. However strange the connection may seem, a connection undoubtedly there is between the sins which have been committed from the time of Adam until now and the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross under Pontius Pilate. Perhaps the connection between the sins of mankind and the sufferings of Christ is made more striking by the word "once." Christ hath once suffered for sins. Sins may be committed often, nay, are being committed continually, but Christ died once and for all; that one event stands by itself; it is unique in the world's history; it can never be repeated; it need never be repeated.

II. A wonderful efficacy is attributed to Christ's sufferings. We are accounted righteous for the merits of Christ, and not for any merits of our own. Teacher and Example was Christ; but He was something more than this. Our sense of need and infirmity teaches us that, in order to be the Physician of souls, in order to supply a cure for the great universal disease of humanity, Christ must be something different from, and entirely beyond, a Teacher and Example. We want to hear of something concerning pardon of sins, something concerning reconciliation, something concerning being brought back to God. And this the Apostles preached in the name of their Lord; peace through the blood of His cross was their message, a propitiation for sin, a ransom from slavery, salvation for the lost, life for the dead—this was what they had to announce as the Gospel for mankind.

Harvey Goodwin, Parish Sermons, vol. v., p. 305.

References: 1 Peter 3:18.—Homilist, 2nd series, vol. ii., p. 416; F. Wagstaff, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiv., p. 179; Preacher's Monthly, vol. vii., p. 369; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. v., p. 29. 1 Peter 3:18-20.—Ibid., vol. vii., p. 114.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https:

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

1 Peter 3:18. First, mention of the death of Christ by way of giving the reason.

ὅτι καὶ χριστὸς ἅπαξ περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν ἔπαθε [ ἀπέθανε]] ὅτι is connected with the idea immediately preceding, and gives the ground of the κρεῖττον; καὶ χριστός (as in chap. 1 Peter 2:21) places the sufferings which the Christians have to bear, as ἀγαθοποιοῦντες, side by side with the sufferings of Christ, περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν, so that καί must be taken as referring not to ἔπαθε [ ἀπέθανε] only (as is done by most commentators, among them de Wette), but, as the position of the words ( περὶ ἁμαρτ. before ἔπαθε) clearly shows, to περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν ἔπαθε [ ἀπέθανε] (Wiesinger, Brückner, Schott). Hofmann’s application of it to the whole “statement here with respect to Christ” is open to objection, from the fact that in what follows there are elements introduced which go too far beyond the comparison here instituted. Christ’s sufferings were on account of sin, and such also should be the sufferings of the Christians.(193) This does not preclude the possibility of His sufferings having had a significance different from what theirs can have. This peculiar significance of Christ’s sufferings is marked by δίκαιος ὑπὲρ ἀδίκων, or, as Schott holds, by ἅπαξ. ἅπαξ gives prominence to the fact that in relation to His subsequent life ( θανατωθείςζωοποιηθείς) Christ’s suffering took place but once, as in Hebrews 9:27-28 (Hofmann: “once it took place that He died the death He did die, and what followed thereon forms, as what is enduring, a contrast to what passed over but once”); doubtless not without implying the secondary idea, that the sufferings of Christians take place only once also, and come to an end with this life.(194)

περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν, which states yet more indefinitely the purpose of Christ’s sufferings: “on account of sin,” finds a more precise definition in what follows.

δίκαιος ὑπὲρ ἀδίκων, “as the just for the unjust;” comp. Romans 5:6 : ὑπέρ, equivalent to, in commodum, is not in itself, indeed, equal to ἀντί; but the contrast here drawn between δίκαιος and ἀδίκων suggests that in the general relation, the more special one of substitution is implied (Weiss, p. 261); comp. chap. 1 Peter 2:21. The omission of the article is due to the fact that the apostle holds it of importance to mark the character of the one as of the other.

ἵνα ἡμᾶς προσαγάγῃ τῷ θεῷ] gives the purpose of ἔπαθεν [ ἀπέθανε], which latter is more closely defined by that which immediately precedes and follows; προσάγειν does not mean “to sacrifice;” (Luther, Vulg.: ut nos offerret Deo), neither “to reconcile;” but “to bring to,” i.e. “to bring into communion with God,” which goes still beyond the idea of reconciliation; the latter presupposes Christ’s death for us; the former, the life of Him who died for us. Weiss maintains, without sufficient reason (p. 260), that the word here points to the idea of the Christians’ priesthood (chap. 1 Peter 2:5). The verb occurs here only; the substantive προσαγωγή, Romans 5:2; Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12.(195)

θανατωθεὶς μὲν σαρκί, ζωοποιηθεὶς δὲ πνεύματι] This adjunct does not belong to ἔπαθεν (de Wette), but to προσαγάγῃ (Wiesinger); it is subjoined, in order to show prominently how the προσάγειν can take place through Christ; the chief stress is laid on the second member. According to Schott, both participles are to be considered as “an exposition of ἅπαξ;” this assumption is contradicted, on the one hand, by the distance between them and the latter word; and, on the other, that they must necessarily be attached to a verb.

The antithesis between the two members of this sentence is strongly marked by μὲνδέ. The datives σαρκί, πνεύματι, state with reference to what the verbal conceptions θανατωθείς, ζωοποιηθείς holds good; “they serve to mark the sphere to which the general predicate is to be thought of as restricted” (Winer); comp. 1 Corinthians 7:34 : ἁγία καὶ σώματι καὶ πνεύματι; Colossians 2:5 : τῇ σαρκὶ ἄπειμι, τῷ πνεύματι σὺν ὑμῖν εἰμι. Schott explains—somewhat ambiguously—the datives “as general more precise adverbial definitions,” which state “what is of determinative importance in both facts,” and “the nature of the actual condition produced by them.”

πνεύματι is by some understood instrumentally; incorrectly, for σαρκί cannot be taken thus; the two members of the clause correspond so exactly in form, that the dative in the one could not be explained differently from the dative in the other, as Wiesinger, Weiss, von Zezschwitz, Brückner, Schott, and Fronmüller justly acknowledge.

σαρκὶπνεύματι; this antithesis occurs frequently in the N. T.; with reference to the person of Christ, besides in this passage, in Romans 1:3 : κατὰ σάρκακατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης, and 1 Timothy 3:16 : ἐν σαρκὶἐν πνεύματι (cf. also chap. 1 Peter 4:6).

The antithesis of the two conceptions proves it to be erroneous to assign to the one term a sphere different from that of the other, and to suppose σάρξ to mean the body of Christ, and πνεῦμα the Spirit of God. Antithesis clare ostendit quod dicatur in alia quidem sui parte aut vitae ratione mortificatus, in alia autem vivificatus (Flacius). It must be observed that both are here used as general conceptions (Hofmann), without a pronoun to mark them as designations applicable only to Christ; for which reason σάρξ cannot relate exclusively to the human, and πνεῦμα to the divine nature of Christ.(196) As general conceptions (that is, as applicable not to Christ alone, but to human nature generally), σάρξ and πνεῦμα must, however, not be identified with σῶμα and ψυχή.(197) For σάρξ; is that side of human nature in virtue of which man belongs to the earth, is therefore an earthly creature, and accordingly perishable like everything earthly; and πνεῦμα, on the other hand, is that side of his nature by which he belongs to a supernatural sphere of existence, is not a mere creature of earth, and is accordingly destined also to an imperishable existence.(198)

Wiesinger (with whom Zezschwitz agrees) deviates from this interpretation thus far only, that he understands πνεῦ΄α, not as belonging to the nature of man, “but as that principle of union with God which is bestowed upon man at regeneration.” This deviation may arise from the reluctance to attribute a πνεῦμα to man as such (also in his sinful condition); as, however, according to Peter, the souls of the departed are πνεύ΄ατα (1 Peter 3:19), it is thus presupposed that an unregenerate man also possesses a πνεῦ΄α during his earthly existence. It must also be observed that σάρξ and πνεῦ΄α are here not ethical antitheses, but are contrasted with each other as natural distinctions.

θανατωθεὶςζωοποιηθείς] θανατόω incorrectly interpreted by Wahl here, as in other passages of the N. T., by capitis damno, morti addico; for although it may sometimes occur in this sense in the classics, still in the N. T. it means only to kill. By θανατωθεὶς σαρκί, then, the apostle says of Christ, that He was put to death in His earthly human nature (which He along with all the rest of mankind possessed(199)), i.e. at the hand of man by the crucifixion.

ζωοποιέω does not mean “to preserve alive,” as several commentators explain, e.g. Bellarmin (de Christo, lib. iv. cap. 13), Hottinger, Steiger, and Güder;—this idea, in the Old as in the New Testament, being expressed by ζωογονεῖν and other words (see Zezschwitz on this passage); but “to make alive” (de Wette, Wiesinger, Weiss, Zezschwitz, Schott, Köhler,(200) Hofmann, and others); it often applies to the raising up of the dead; cf. John 5:21; Romans 4:17; 1 Corinthians 15:22, etc. In this sense alone does ζωοποιηθείς answer the preceding θανατωθείς. Bengel: vivificatio ex antitheto ad mortificationem resolvi debet. The latter idea assumes the anterior condition to have been one of death, whilst the former—in contradiction to θανατ.—would presuppose one of life. Christ then, according to the apostle, entered into the actual state of death, that is, in so far as the σἀρξ pertained to Him, so that His life in the flesh came to an end;(201) but from death He was brought back again to life, that is, was raised up, as far as the πνεῦμα pertained to Him, so that the new life was purely pneumatical. But the new life began by His reuniting Himself as πνεῦμα to His σῶμα, so that thus this σῶμα itself became pneumatical.(202)

According to Bengel, with whom Schmid (bibl. Theol.), Lechler, and Fronmüller agree (comp. also Hahn, neutest. Theol. I. 440), ζωοποιηθείς does not refer to the resurrection of Christ, but to His deliverance from the weakness of the flesh, effected by His death, and, based upon this, his transition to a higher life (which was followed by the resurrection).(203) Against this, however, is to be observed: (1) That the going of His πνεῦμα to the Father, connected with His death (Luke 23:46), is, as little as His ascension, spoken of in Scripture as “a becoming quickened;” (2) That as in θανατωθείς the whole man Christ is meant, the same must be the case in ζωοποιηθείς; and (3) That this view is based on what follows, which, however, if rightly interpreted, by no means renders it necessary. Buddeus is therefore entirely right when he says: vivificatio animae corporisque conjunctionem denotat.(204)

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https: 1832.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 Peter 3:18. Being put to death in the flesh, &c.— By the flesh, in which our Lord was put to death, must be understood his body, which was nailed to the cross till he expired; and by the Spirit, the holy and ever-blessed Spirit of God. See the Inferences.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https: 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

These words are brought in as a strong argument, why Christians that suffer wrongfully should bear it patiently; it was our Saviour's own case; he that had perfect innocency and unspotted righteousness, suffered in the severest manner for us that were unrighteous, that he might reconcile us to God, being put to death in the flesh, that is, in our human anture, but quickened by the Spirit, or raised to life again by the power of his godhead; it doth therefore well become all his followers cheerfully to undergo all manner of sufferings for him, which they meet with in their duty to him.

Note here, 1. Christ did not barely suffer for our good, but he suffered in our stead: he is not only said to suffer for us, but to suffer for our sins, that is, the punishment of our sins; for no man was ever said to suffer for sin that did not undergo and endure the punishment of sin.

As the sin-offering under the law is called an offering for sin, because it did expiate the guilt of sin, by dying in the place and stead of the offender; in like manner, when the death of Christ is called an offering for sin, what can it import, but that he suffered to make atonement for sin in our place and stead? The just for the unjust; if these words do not imply the substitution of Christ as our surety, and his suffering the punishment due to our sins, what words can express it?

Note, 2. That the great end of Christ's bitter death and bloody sufferings, was to bring all those for whom he died unto God; now Christ's bringing us to God imports our apostasy from him, and our inability to return to him; that sin unsatisfied for, which was the great bar to keep us from him, is mercifully removed by him, and that our chief happiness consists in the enjoyment of him.

Being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: As if St. Peter had said, "Though Christ suffered for our sins, and was put to death in his human nature, or flesh, yet he was quickened and made alive by the Spirit, in which, or by which Spirit, he went and preached to the spirits in prison, which in the days of Noah were hardened in sin and disobedience, whilst the long-suffering of God endured them, and waited for their repentance no less than an hundred and twenty years, whilst the ark was making and preparing, and Noah preached to them; yet so impenitent were they to the very last, that only eight were saved in the ark."

Note here, 1. That the old world before the flood were in prison whilst here on earth, being in bondage and captivity to sin and Satan, held in the chains of their lusts, and in the bondage of their iniquity; such as are in bondage to sin, are captives in Satan's prison: the old world was also in prison whilst on earth, as having received from God the sentence of destruction, and were reserved as in prison, against the day of slaughter, if they repented not within an hundred and twenty years.

Note, 2. That Christ by his Spirit did preach to the old world in the ministry of his prophets, Enoch and Noah; and his Spirit did chide with them and reprove them, in order to their bringing to repentance.

Note, 3. That those refractory and hardened sinners, for despising the offers of grace made to them, were for their disobedience clapped up in the prison of hell, suffering the vengence of eternal fire; such as were cast into prison in Noah's time, were all fast in St. Peter's time: there is no picking the locks of hell gates, no breaking through the walls of the fiery Tophet; hell has a door to take in, but none to let out.

Note, 4. That though Christ by his Spirit preached to the spirits in prison, yet it was not when they were in prison, I mean in the prison of hell, but when here on earth; there are no sermons in hell, no conditions of happiness proposed, no tenders of salvation propounded there; Christ preached to these prisoners to prevent their imprisonment, Christ preached to these men, who were now in prison, that they might not have been imprisoned.

Note lastly, That the obstinate infidelity, and sottish stupidity, of the old world, was amazing, that after an hundred and twenty years' preaching, no more than eight persons should be persuaded into the belief of the world's destruction.

From the beginning we find that the prophets of God had cause to complain that few have believed their report: do not the ministers of God now groan to God, that they run in vain, and labour in vain, and spend their strength for nought? From the beginning it has been so.

Lord! if thou honourest any of us with better success, and givest us to see the fruit of our labours in the lives of our people, help us to set the crown of praise on the head of thine own grace, and say Non nobis, Comine, non nobis, &c. "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory."

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https: 1700-1703.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae



1 Peter 3:18. Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.

“SUFFERINGS, of whatever kind, are not in themselves joyous, but grievous:” nevertheless they may on some occasions become a source of joy and triumph. If, for instance, they be inflicted for righteousness’ sake, and we have the testimony of our conscience that we suffer for well-doing, we may then unfeignedly rejoice in them, as on other accounts, so especially because they render us conformable to our Lord and Saviour. This thought was suggested by St. Peter as a rich source of consolation to the persecuted Christians of his day: nor can we have any stronger incentive to patience and diligence in every part of our duty, than the consideration of what Christ has done and suffered for our sake.

The words before us lead us to contemplate,

I. The nature of Christ’s sufferings—

We speak not of their quality, as corporeal, or spiritual, but of their nature as described in the text. They were,

1. Penal—

[Some affirm that the sufferings of Christ were only to confirm his doctrine, and to set us an example: but these ends might have been equally answered by the sufferings of his Apostles [Note: If there was nothing penal in our Lord’s sufferings, his example was not near so bright as that of many of his disciples; since he neither met his sufferings with so much fortitude, nor endured them with such triumphant exultation, as many of his followers have since done. But if they were the penalty due to sin, his apparent inferiority is fully accounted for.]. But they were the punishment of sin: and the wrath of God due to sin, was the bitterest ingredient in them. We had merited the curse and condemnation of the law: and he, to deliver us from it, “became a curse for us [Note: Galatians 3:10; Galatians 3:13.].” “He suffered for sins;” and though his punishment was not precisely the same either in quality or duration, as ours would have been, yet was it equivalent to our demerit, and satisfactory to the justice of an offended God.]

2. Vicarious—

[It was not for any sin of his own that Jesus was cut off [Note: Daniel 9:26.]: he was “a Lamb without spot or blemish [Note: 1 Peter 1:19.],” as even his enemies, after the strictest scrutiny, were forced to confess [Note: John 18:38; John 19:6.]. He died, “the just for, and in the room of, the unjust [Note: ὑπὲρ, this imports substitution. See Romans 5:7. in the Greek.]:” the iniquities of all the human race were laid upon him [Note: Isaiah 53:6.]: he was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities, and the chastisement he endured was to effect our peace [Note: Isaiah 53:4.]. He, who was innocent, became a sin-offering for us, that we, who are guilty, might be made righteous in him [Note: 2 Corinthians 5:21.].]

3. Propitiatory—

[The death of Christ, like all the sacrifices under the Jewish law, was an atonement for sin. It is continually compared with the Jewish sacrifices in this view [Note: Heb. passim.]. We say not, that the Father hated us, and needed to have his wrath appeased by the interposition of his Son (for the very gift of Christ was the fruit of the Father’s love [Note: John 3:16.]); but we say, in concurrence with all the inspired writers, that when it was necessary for the honour of the Divine government that sin should be punished, either in the offender himself or in his surety, Christ became our surety, and by his own death made a true and proper atonement for our sins, and thus effected our reconciliation with God [Note: Ephesians 5:2 and 1 John 2:2.]. On any other supposition than this, the whole Mosaic ritual was absurd, and the writings of the New Testament are altogether calculated to deceive us.]

From considering the nature of our Lord’s sufferings, let us proceed to notice,

II. The end of them—

His one great design was to bring us to God:

1. To a state of acceptance with him—

[We were “enemies to God in our minds by wicked works;” nor could we by any means reconcile ourselves to God: we could not by obedience; because the law required perfect obedience: which, having once transgressed the law, we could never afterwards pay: nor could we by suffering, because the penalty denounced against sin was eternal, and consequently, if once endured by us, could never be remitted. But, when it was impossible for us to restore ourselves to God’s favour, we were reconciled to him by Christ’s obedience unto death [Note: Colossians 1:21-22. Romans 5:10.]; and to effect this reconciliation was the very end for which he laid down his life [Note: Ephesians 2:16.].]

2. To the enjoyment of his presence in this world—

[The holy of holies was inaccessible to all except the high-priest; nor could even he enter into it except on the great day of annual expiation [Note: Hebrews 9:7-8.]. But at the very instant of our Lord’s death, while the Jews were worshipping in the temple, the vail was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, and the most holy place was opened to the view of all [Note: Matthew 27:50-51.]. This was intended to declare, that from henceforth all might have the freest and most intimate access to God [Note: Ephesians 2:13; Ephesians 2:18.]. All are now made priests unto God [Note: Revelation 1:6.]; and, in this new and living way, may come to his mercy-seat to behold his glory, and to enjoy his love [Note: Hebrews 10:19-22; Hebrews 12:18-24.].]

3. To the possession of his glory in the world to come—

[It was not only to save us from condemnation, but to exalt us to everlasting happiness, that Jesus died. The salvation which he procured for us, is a “salvation with eternal glory [Note: 2 Timothy 2:10.].” The robes in which the celestial spirits are arrayed, were washed in his blood [Note: Revelation 7:14.]; and all the ransomed hosts unite in ascribing to him the felicity they enjoy [Note: Revelation 5:9-10; Revelation 5:12.]. Nothing short of this could answer the purposes of his love [Note: John 17:24.]; and the accomplishment of this was the ultimate end of all he suffered [Note: Hebrews 2:9-10.].]

Before we conclude this subject, let us contemplate—

1. How great is the love of Christ to our fallen race [Note: Who would do any thing like this for a fellow-creature? Romans 5:7-8. Neither Moses, Exodus 32:32; nor St. Paul, Romans 9:3. thought of any thing like this. See the Discourse on Romans 9:1-5.]!

2. How cheerfully should we endure sufferings for his sake [Note: Compare ver. 14. with the text, and Hebrews 13:12-13 and Acts 5:41.]!

3. How inexcusable will they be who continue still at a distance from their God [Note: John 15:22. ΰfortiori, and Hebrews 2:3.]!

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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https: 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

1 Peter 3:18. ὄτι, because) That is better, by means of which we are rendered more like to Christ, in death and in life: for His passion brought the best issue (result) to Himself, and the best fruit to us.— χριστὸς, Christ) The Holy One of the holy. These are neatly turned expressions: Christ for sins, the just for the unjust.— ἅπαξ, once only) never again to suffer hereafter. It is better for us also to suffer once with Christ, than for ever without Christ.— περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν, for sins) just as though He Himself had committed them.— ἔπαθε, suffered) and that too in such a way, that His enemies slew Him on account of His confession. But His preaching was not thereby hindered; for He discharged that office, both before the day of His death, and on the day of His death, and immediately after His death.— δίκαιος, the Just) [Who has accomplished good for us in a most pre-eminent way, 1 Peter 3:17.—V. g.] Why should we not suffer on account of justice? 1 Peter 3:14.— ἵνα ἡμᾶς προσαγάῃ, that He might bring us) that He Himself, when He departed to the Father, might justify us, who had been alienated from God, and might bring us to heaven (1 Peter 3:22) together with Himself, by the same steps of humiliation and exaltation which He Himself passed through. From this word as far as ch. 1 Peter 4:6, Peter closely connects together the path or progress of Christ and the faithful (by which path he himself also was following his Lord, according to His prediction, John 13:36), intertwining therewith the unbelief and punishment of the many.— τῷ θεῷ, to God) who willed it. More is signified by the Dative than if he had used a Preposition [ πρὸς θεὸν], unto God.— θανατωθεὶς, being slain by death) as though He now had no existence. Peter shows us how our προσαγωγὴ, access to God, was effected.— σαρκὶ, in the flesh) The flesh and the spirit do not properly denote the human and divine nature of Christ: comp. ch. 1 Peter 4:6; but either of them, so far as it is the principle and fixed condition of life, and of the working which is in conformity with it, whether it be among mortals, of however righteous a character it may be; or with God, even that which is in glory: Romans 1:4, note. To the former state the soul in the body is more adapted; to the latter, the soul either out of the body, or when united with the glorified and spiritual body: 1 Corinthians 15:44.— ζωοποιηθεὶς, quickened) This process of quickening ought to be explained as antithetical to that of being put to death. As to the rest, Christ having life in Himself, and being Himself the life, neither ceased, nor a second time began, to live in spirit: but no sooner had He by the process of death been released from the infirmity which encompassed Him in the flesh, than immediately (as illustrious divines acknowledge) the energy of His imperishable life began to exert itself in new and most prompt modes of action. Wisely therefore does Hauber refer the burial of our Redeemer in some way to His exaltation, in the Contemplations about the Burial of Jesus Christ, p. 8. Comp. the dissertation of Essenius, p. 10. This quickening, and in connection with it His going and preaching to the spirits, was of necessity quickly followed by the raising of His body from the dead, and His resurrection from the tomb, 1 Peter 3:21. Christ liveth unto God, Romans 6:10. Comp. the phrase according to God, ch. 1 Peter 4:6. The discourse of our Lord, John 6., which Peter had received in a becoming manner, John 6:68, had been fixed in the heart of Peter; and with that portion, and especially John 6:51; John 6:53; John 6:62-63, may be compared that which Peter writes, 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Peter 1:19; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 Peter 3:22; 1 Peter 4:1.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https: 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

For Christ also hath once suffered; in opposition to the legal sacrifices which were offered from day to day, and from year to year, Hebrews 7:27 9:25; and Hebrews 10:12: and this shows, as the perfection of Christ’s sufferings, (in that they needed not be repeated), so our conformity to him in deliverance from ours; that as Christ underwent death (the principal part of his sufferings) not often, but once only, and then his glory followed; so likewise, if in this life we suffer for righteousness’ sake, according to Christ’s example, there remains no more suffering for us, but we shall be glorified with him, 2 Timothy 2:12.

For sins; i.e. for the expiation of sin. This is another argument for patience under sufferings, that Christ by his sufferings hath taken away the guilt, and freed us from the punishment, of sin; so that our sufferings, though they may be not only by way of trial, but of correction, yet are not properly penal or vindictive.

The just for the unjust; and therefore well may we, who are in ourselves unrighteous, be content to suffer, especially for his cause and truth.

That he might bring us to God; i.e. reconcile us to God, and procure for us access to him with freedom and boldness, Romans 5:2 Ephesians 3:12.

Being put to death in the flesh; his human nature, frequently in Scripture called flesh, as 1 Peter 4:8 John 1:14; and though his soul, as being immortal, did not die, yet he suffered most grievous torments in it, and his body died by the real separation of his soul from it.

But quickened by the Spirit; i.e. his own Godhead, John 2:19 John 10:17,18. The former member of this sentence speaks of the subject of his death, his flesh, which was likewise the subject of his life in his resurrection; this latter speaks of the efficient cause of his life, his own eternal Spirit.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https: 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

In the flesh; in his human nature.

Quickened; made alive again; raised from the dead.

By the Spirit; his own divine Spirit. John 10:17-18.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". "Family Bible New Testament". https: American Tract Society. 1851.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

18. ὅτι καὶ Χριστός. The καί suggests that Christians are only called upon to do what Christ also did, namely, to suffer innocently. But St Peter at once expands the idea by shewing the blessed results of Christ’s sufferings.

ἅπαξ means “once for all” not “once upon a time” which would require ποτέ. Cf. Romans 6:10, “the death that He died He died unto sin once (ἐφάπαξ).” Again in Hebrews 9:26 Christ’s sacrifice for the doing away of sin once offered (ἅπαξ) is contrasted with the oft-repeated sacrifices of Judaism.

There are numerous coincidences of thought between this section of St Peter and Romans 6, and the idea here seems to be that Christ’s death was the termination of the regime of sin, cf. 1 Peter 2:24, 1 Peter 4:1.

Christ’s death was “suffering for evil-doing” because it did pay the inevitable penalty of sin, not His own but that of others. Your sins, says St Peter, were included in Christ’s death and it was intended to set you free from sin. Therefore “suffering for evil-doing” is no longer a necessary penalty for you if you are in Christ, but at the same time suffering for well-doing may help to make your freedom from sin more real.

ἀπέθανεν is read by א AC and all the VSS. and is adopted by W.H. and R.V. marg. instead of ἔπαθε, which is read by BKLP, A.V. and R.V. The MSS. evidence is fairly evenly divided. If ἀπέθανε was the original reading it might be altered to ἔπαθε to match the preceding πάσχειν, cf. also 1 Peter 2:21, 1 Peter 4:1. On the other hand ἔπαθε might be changed into ἀπέθανε to match θανατωθείς which follows. Either reading would give a good meaning but ἅπαξ suits ἀπέθανε best.

περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν. Cf. Galatians 1:4; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10. Elsewhere ὑπὲρ ἁμαρτιῶν is used. περὶ ἁμαρτίας is used in the LXX. for “the sin-offering,” cf. Hebrews 10:6; Hebrews 10:8; Romans 8:3.

δίκαιος is used as a special epithet of Christ in one of St Peter’s speeches, Acts 3:14, cf. 1 John 2:1, “Jesus Christ the righteous,” and James 5:6, ἐφονεύσατε τὸν δίκαιον may possibly refer to Christ.

προσαγάγῃ probably means present, give access to the presence of God, cf. προσαγωγή, Romans 5:2; Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12. In the LXX. προσάγειν is frequently used of presenting victims as an offering to God. So here Christ in offering Himself as our sin-offering might be regarded as offering us to God. Again in the LXX. it is used of presenting Aaron and his sons for the priesthood, and this idea would also suit St Peter’s conception of Christians as “a royal priesthood” 1 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 2:9. But in all these O.T. passages the primary idea of the verb is “to bring near,” and in this verse the context is not sufficiently explicit to shew that the word is used in a sacrificial or priestly sense.

ὑμᾶς is read by B. 31. Syr. Arm. and W.H. and probably means “you Gentiles,” cf. Ephesians 2:13.

The T.R. and both A.V. and R.V. read ἡμᾶς which would include all Christians.

θανατωθείς. The verb is used of the Jews condemning our Lord to death, Matthew 26:59; Matthew 27:3; Mark 14:55.

ζωοποιηθεὶς is contrasted with θανατοῦν in 2 Kings 5:7, “Am I God to kill and to make alive?” In the N.T. it is used in John 5:21 of God and the Son raising and quickening the dead, cf. Romans 4:17; Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Galatians 3:21. In 1 Timothy 6:13, T.R. it is used of God quickening all things. In John 6:53 the spirit is described as “quickening” in contrast with the flesh, and in 2 Corinthians 3:6 the spirit giveth life as contrasted with the old law of “the letter.”

In this verse the T.R. reads τῷ πνεύματι evidently meaning “the Holy Spirit,” so A.V. “quickened by the Spirit.” For this rendering we might compare Romans 8:11.

But here, as in 1 Peter 4:6, σάρξ and πνεῦμα are contrasted and the meaning is that by the death of His human flesh the human spirit of Jesus was, as it were, born into a new spiritual existence. It was alive all through His earthly life but was limited by the restrictions of the flesh until it was set free by death, cf. Luke 12:50, “I have a baptism to be baptized with and how am I straitened till it be accomplished.” Even the body of the Risen Lord was a spiritual (πνευματικόν) body, as our resurrection bodies will be, cf. 1 Corinthians 15:44, but St Peter seems to regard Christ’s new spiritual activity as beginning immediately after death and even before His resurrection.

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"Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https: 1896.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

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:

On the interesting subject of Christ's suffering for sins, when he made his soul an offering for sin, and in which he acted, as the substitute and sponsor for his people, our souls may well dwell forever. It is a subject to be begun in this life, but never to be finished to all eternity. The Holy Ghost in this scripture, hath very blessedly explained somewhat of the manner of Christ's offering, when he saith, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit. I say somewhat of the manner: but our furthest researches, in the present unripe state of our spiritual apprehensions, can go but a very little way. I shall venture to offer my views of his difficult passage to the Reader. But I only propose them as mine, not to decide, but to enquire. Here, as in all other places of this Poor Man's Commentary, where there is supposed to be any obscurity, and the enlightened children of God, see through different mediums; I simply offer my views, but I leave the Reader, under the Holy Ghost's teaching, to form his own.

And first. Christ is here said, to be put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit. Very little doubt can arise from these words, but that by the flesh is meant, Christ's human nature. And it should seem as plain, that as Christ alone is here spoken of, by the Spirit is meant, his divine nature; that is, his Godhead. And in confirmation, it should be observed, that Christ himself declared this before his death; when he said to the Jews, destroy this temple, meaning the temple of his body; and I will raise it up in three days, John 2:19. And the Holy Ghost, by Paul, taught the Church of the Romans, that Christ was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead, Romans 1:4. Had Christ not been a quickening Spirit, and had not his own power and Godhead gone forth, in this act of raising himself from the dead, his resurrection would not have declared him to have been the Son of God with power. We perfectly well understand that as the offering up of Christ was through the eternal Spirit, and all the persons of the Godhead were engaged in their several office-characters, in that high transaction; so we as perfectly understand, that all the Persons of the Godhead concurred, and co-operated, in the glorious act of Christ's resurrection. See 1 Corinthians 6:14; John 11:25; 1 Timothy 3:16. But in this beautiful scripture now before us, there can be but little doubt, that it is Christ personally considered who is spoken of; being put to death in the flesh, that is, his human nature, and quickened by the Spirit, that is, his divine. It is Christ only that is here spoken of.

Secondly. The subject meets us very blessedly again, in another view. The Son of God, having taken into union with himself, that holy portion of our nature, Hebrews 2:16, which contained in it the seed of holiness, for every individual member of his mystical body, constituting the Church; and having offered himself an offering for sin by his death on the cross, he not only raised himself from the dead, by his own quickening power, but, at the same time, raised and exalted this holy portion of our nature, his own personal body, to the possession of all divine perfections. By virtue of his eternal power and Godhead, he communicated to this human nature he had assumed into union with his divine, a glory surpassing all creation. The scripture expresseth it in those unequalled words; For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, Colossians 2:9. So that in this mysterious union of Person, God and Man. Christ hath all the attributes of eternity, independency, sovereignty, and glory. For so it is written: As the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; and hath given him authority to execute judgment also; because he is the Son of man, that is God-Man Mediator. Not as the Son of God only; for, as such, nothing could be given him; because he possessed in himself, from all eternity, in common with the Father and the Holy Ghost, all divine perfections. But it is as God-Man Mediator, whereby he hath all power given him in heaven, and in earth. See John 5:26-27 and Commentary.

Thirdly. From the two foregoing statements, we next arise to a third, growing out of the former; in the blessedness of which Christ's whole body, the Church, is included; namely, that by virtue of this union of Christ's human nature with his divine, Jesus, by his quickening Spirit, communicates to all his members in his mystical body, all things that pertain to life and godliness, 2 Peter 1:3. For here lies the blessedness of the Church's union with her Lord Jesus, in his twofold nature, not only possesseth this personal glory, which is peculiarly his own, and incapable of being possessed by any other, or communicated to any other; but, as Head of his body the Church, he hath a power to communicate all communicable grace, here, and glory above, to the several members which constitute his mystical body. He hath, (as he said himself,) power over all flesh, to give eternal life, to as many as the Father hath given him, Joh 17. And it is this, which makes Jesus so peculiarly endeared, and blessed to his people. Hence, as a quickening Spirit, Christ is said to raise our bodies, spiritual bodies, which by creation are natural bodies; and sown as such, when they return to the earth. So that, what was sown in dishonor, shall be raised in glory. For as in the first Adam of the earth, we have borne the image of the earthy; so in the second man, which is the Lord from heaven, and the last Adam so called, and who was made a quickening Spirit, we shall bear the image of the heavenly, 1 Corinthians 15:42-49. And this beautiful scripture, which gives so clear an illustration of the doctrine, is yet further explained, by another part of the sacred writings, where the Holy Ghost by the same Apostle, in allusion to Christ as a quickening Spirit, saith, He shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working, whereby he is able, even to subdue all things unto himself, Philippians 3:21.

Reader! pause, if but for the moment, to remark, what a world of holy joy and comfort ariseth out of this one view of Christ, as a quickening Spirit. How often doth the child of God feel, and groan under the workings of sin! And how sweet sometimes the prospect of the grave is, where sleeping in Jesus, we shall lay down all the sorrows and distresses, arising from these workings of sin; yea, and all sin together! But here is a prospect of blessedness, even going beyond that. While we look to Jesus as a quickening Spirit, we look through the grave, and beyond it, dying in union with his Person, we become the blessed dead, concerning whom John heard a voice from heaven, declaring them blessed, because they die in the Lord, Revelation 14:13. And here Jesus, beheld as a quickening Spirit, secures their blessed resurrection, because, they who die in the Lord shall arise and live in the Lord, Hence, both living and dying, they are the Lord's. And the Holy Ghost gives his gracious testimony to the same, as well as marks the vast change, which shall then take place. He shall change our vile body, and fashion it like unto his glorious body. Jesus, who quickened his own body, will quicken yours. It went down to the grave a natural body. It shall come up a spiritual body. It was sown in corruption; it shall be raised in glory. It doth not yet appear, saith John, what we shall be, but we know, that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, 1 John 3:2. Like him! Reader! do not overlook this. Those vile bodies of ours, which by reason of sin, are so unlike him now, shall be like him then. And though we know not now, what we shall be, Jesus both knows now, as he will know then; and loves us now, as he will love us then. Oh! that every truly regenerated child of God would have this always in remembrance! What, though the body of sin and death distress you daily, yea, will continue to distress you, with its weaknesses, corruptions, and sins, to the last hour; yet when Jesus calls your spirit home, and leads your body down to the house appointed for all living, it shall then distress no more. How many of the Lord's exercised ones is Jesus daily, hourly, calling home, whose bodies called forth the groan but just before Jesus called home the spirit? Oh! for grace and faith, to be always in lively exercise, under the full assurance, that how unlike soever our bodies are to Jesus at death, we shall be like him in our resurrection. Amidst all that is unlovely, and unloving in our bodies now, they are still the property, and must always be the care of the all lovely, and all loving Jesus. His, is to preserve them through life, to watch over them in death, to quicken them at the great rising day, and to present, both body, soul, and spirit, to himself, Father, and Spirit, faultless before the presence of his glory, with exceeding joy, Jude 1:24. Let every child of God, in the prospect of this unquestionable truth, cry out, with him of old, and say: As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness. I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness, Psalms 17:15.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https: 1828.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘Because Christ also suffered for sins once, 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,’

Once again we learn that when the Christian faces suffering he must bear in mind that Christ also suffered for sins. Suffering for righteousness’ sake is nothing new. It has been a part of following Christ from the beginning (see Matthew 16:24; John 15:20; John 16:2; Acts 14:22; compare Hebrews 11). The fact that Peter says that He suffered for sins ‘once’, brings out that this suffering refers specifically to the cross. The Messiah suffered once as ‘the Righteous One’ (Acts 3:14; Acts 22:14; Hebrews 9:26; Hebrews 9:28) on behalf of the unrighteous (the Obedient One on behalf of the disobedient), and He did so in order that He might be our Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 12:24) and bring us to God, by shedding the blood of the covenant for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:28). Compare the picture in Hebrews 9:11-12; Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:19-20 which also speaks of His suffering, and the way back to God that results from it.

‘On behalf of’ (huper) indicates that He died in our place both as our substitute (Mark 10:45) and as the representative of all Who are His elect. It is to be noted here that our approach to God is made possible through His suffering, not through His resurrection, for without that suffering in which He bore our sin we would not be able to approach God. But His resurrection is then the evidence that He has accomplished His purpose and defeated the powers of darkness. It is the source of our confidence and of the life that we receive as a result.

The cross and the resurrection regularly go together, and we have here the emphasis that Christ Himself was ‘put to death in the flesh’, so that His life on earth was over. But then we also have the emphasis that He was ‘made alive in the spirit’. This was the indication that death had been defeated. The new life that He would give to all who became His was just beginning. His suffering was the action of men as they thought that they had done with Him (although within the purposes of God), His resurrection was the action of God. It does not say that He ‘became alive in the spirit’ but that He ‘was made alive in the spirit’. Thus after men had put Jesus to death, God ‘made Him alive in the spirit’. In other words although His body was dead, God gave Him a new spiritual body through which His spirit could live (1 Corinthians 15:44-45). This can only refer to the resurrection. (The same is also true if we translate ‘was made alive by the Spirit’. In fact it makes little difference for spiritual life is always finally the result of the Spirit’s working).

The verb ‘made alive’ is elsewhere used similarly in order to indicate resurrection. See for example 1 Corinthians 15:22; John 5:22. Compare also Romans 1:4. And in the context here the term ‘spirit’ signifies ‘supernatural’ life. Consider for example the parallel of the ‘spirits in prison’. Their supernatural existence is seen as in contrast with the supernatural spiritual life that He has received. See also 1 Corinthians 15:45, where He is made a ‘lifegiving spirit’; Hebrews 12:23, where we learn of ‘the spirits of righteous men made perfect’ who are in the after-life; Romans 1:4 where Jesus is ‘declared to be the Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead’; John 6:63, where ‘it is the spirit that makes alive, the flesh is of no profit, the words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life’. Thus there is no reason for doubting that we have here a description of Christ’s resurrection (1 Peter 1:3; 1 Peter 1:21; 1 Peter 2:4) following His death (1 Peter 1:2; 1 Peter 1:19; 1 Peter 2:24). It would be totally unlike Peter not to mention the resurrection here (compare 1 Peter 1:3; 1 Peter 1:21; 1 Peter 2:4; 1 Peter 3:21), especially as he then goes on to describe the enthronement.

‘In the spirit.’ The idea is that He arose with a spiritual body in renewed spiritual life (1 Corinthians 15:44). This is not contradicted by Luke 24:39. There Jesus was not denying that He was ‘spirit’ (we know that in fact He is spirit - John 4:24), He was denying that he was a ‘ghost’. Thus we must not see Him there as denying that He had risen as a ‘supernatural’ spirit in a spiritual body, but simply as denying that He was a mere phantasm.

Alternately we may see ‘in the spirit’ as meaning ‘by the Spirit’, with the life of the Spirit contrasted with human life. Some would object that the parallel of ‘flesh’ with ‘spirit’ excludes this idea, but a similar parallel between flesh and the Holy Spirit can be found in Galatians 5:16 ff. and would make good sense here. On the other hand there it is the pull of ‘sinful flesh’ that is contrasted with the work of the Spirit, whereas here there would appear to be the deliberate intention of contrasting the death of His sinless human flesh with the making alive of His spirit as in 1 Corinthians 15:44-46, where it also refers to the resurrection. However, whichever way we view it, to be made alive by God is certainly to be made alive by the Spirit.

In the end it would be unwise of us to speculate too much on something which we cannot possibly fully understand, but it is difficult to see ‘made alive in the spirit’ as referring to some kind of experience that happened before the resurrection. Peter is hardly likely to be suggesting that not only had Jesus’ body died, but His spirit had also died in such a way as to need to be made alive again even prior to the resurrection. He would be well aware that Jesus had commended His spirit to God (Luke 23:46) and that when the body died the spirit did not die but returned to the God Who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7). His point here is rather therefore to emphasise the activity of God in the unique work of ‘making alive the spirit in a spiritual body’ through the resurrection following physical death (compare Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2-3; John 5:28-29).

We can in fact compare for this whole process the credal hymn cited by Paul in 1 Timothy 3:16. ‘He Who was manifested in the flesh (He was put to death in the flesh), vindicated in the spirit (He was made alive in the spirit), seen of angels (He proclaimed His victory to angels, here seen in terms of the spirits in prison), preached among the nations (just as when, while the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, Noah as the preacher of righteousness preached to the nations), believed on in the world (the response of a good conscience towards God), received up in glory (Who is on the right hand of God, having gone into Heaven, angels and authorities and powers being made subject to Him)’. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Peter may be patterning his arguments on a similar credal hymn, while applying them in such a way as to get over his point.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https: 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

18. Christ also—As well as yourselves.

Once—Once for all; perhaps also intimating that their suffering might be in like manner, once, or at least that soon they would look back upon it in that light.

Suffered—On the cross, freely, voluntarily, doing the will of God, and for no fault of his own.

For sins—On account of, or in relation to, sins, that is, in expiation of them. The preposition περι, for, radically signifies around, in the relation of circumference to centre, the action being from above. (See Curtius, 466, 5.) It represents Christ throwing himself down upon and around sins in such a manner that the falling curse of the broken law would surely strike him. In the Septuagint, περι αμαρτιων is used more than sixty times to represent sin-offerings. Its use here shows that Christ made atonement for sins, by suffering in the stead of those for whom he offered himself a sacrifice.

The just—Rather, A just person for unjust persons; one righteous man for a world of the unrighteous. The terms just and unjust express a relation to law, and are exact opposites. Christ, the innocent and guiltless, died as a condemned criminal in the stead of the wicked and guilty. The preposition υπερ, here rendered for, is used to represent a bending over one to protect, defend, and avert injury. (Winer, 47, 5, 50.) Christ did this by letting the injury fall upon himself, interposing between the stroke of justice and the sinner, and receiving in his own person, in the stead of the guilty, a suffering on account of sin. This, surely, was most blessed suffering in well doing; and his followers may well take courage to suffer patiently in his cause. But a still more glorious view is presented, showing the intent of this suffering.

That he might bring us to God— Does this mean that he might bring us, after the final judgment, together with himself into heaven? Or, that he might bring us into a state of reconciliation and communion with God in this world? Dean Alford, quoting Bengel, adopts the former view, as though it were the only possible one; and it evidently accords with his interpretation of what follows. It is true that Christ will bring all saved souls to heaven; but it does not seem to be taught here. We prefer the second view, as bringing the death of Christ into close connexion with its results, as in 1 Peter 1:3; 1 Peter 1:21; 1 Peter 2:24; Colossians 1:21, and elsewhere. It also precisely accords with the use of the noun προσαγωγη, access, in Romans 5:2; Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12; and, further, sustains the parallel in 1 Peter 2:21. Indeed, it is what our Lord said, (John 12:32,) that if he were lifted up he would draw all unto himself.

Being put to death—Aorist: Having been put to death. The participles θανατωθεις and ζωοποιηθεις are connected with bring us to God, as explanatory of the means whereby we, unjust, alienated, and afar off, are brought into peace with him. Besides the antithesis between them, there is another between σαρκι and πνευματι. The clause literally reads, put to death indeed in flesh, but quickened in, or by, spirit. As to put to death, there is no difficulty.

Flesh—If this word means Christ’s body, then spirit must mean his human spirit, which, as we shall see, the word quickened will not allow; yet the assumption that as only the body died, σαρξ must perforce signify body, has led to the wildest vagaries in both interpretation and theology. The word is a common one to designate our Lord’s entire humanity, embracing both body and soul. “The Word was made flesh.” John 1:14. “Of his loins according to the flesh.” Acts 2:30. “Of the seed of David according to the flesh.” Romans 1:3. “In the likeness of sinful flesh.”

Romans 8:3. “God was manifest in the flesh.” 1 Timothy 3:16. “Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.” 2 John 1:7. Compare John 17:2; Acts 2:17; Romans 3:20; Ephesians 2:15; 1 Peter 1:24; 1 John 4:2, for a similar use of the word. Christ was put to death as a man. Death dealt with him as with any other man, separating, in the usual way, the soul from the body, and subjecting him to all the conditions of dying. No reason appears, therefore, for a specific statement that he died in his body, leaving as true in his special case the universal fact that the spirit did not die. The meaning, then, is, he was put to death in his human nature.

Quickened—The word so translated is used in eleven other places in the New Testament. In seven, John 5:21, (twice;) Romans 4:17; Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 1 Corinthians 15:36; 1 Corinthians 15:45, it refers to the resurrection of the dead; in three, John 6:63; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Galatians 3:21, to giving spiritual life; and once, 1 Timothy 6:13, to God as the life-giver. In every case it means to make alive, to give life where it before had ceased to be, or had not been, which, indeed, is the exact signification of the word. Those expositors who understand by πνευμα the human spirit, are compelled here to invent new definitions for this word. Some, like Steiger and Bloomfield, understand preserved alive, which the word never means; and which would only make St. Peter record a fact common to all who die, as a singular phenomenon in the case of Christ. Wordsworth says, “His human spirit, being liberated by death from the burden of the flesh, acquired new life by death; it gained new powers of motion,” etc. This is undoubtedly true, and no less universally true of all souls on their escape from the body; but the word never means an increase of life where life already exists. Alford correctly insists that the word means “brought to life;” but he explains, Christ “ceased to live a fleshly mortal life, began to live a spiritual resurrection life,” which, true enough as to the first half, has no foundation in fact for the second half until the morning of the third day. The plain and necessary meaning of quickened is, that something pertaining to our Lord, which had once lived, was restored to life, or that something that had never lived was brought into being and connected with him. Of the latter we have no intimation, and the former was realized in his resurrection from the dead. Any other meaning destroys the antithesis.

The Spirit—This refers (1) to our Lord’s human spirit, (2) to the Holy Spirit, or (3) to his divine nature. As to the first, the human spirit of Christ had not died; it, therefore, was, not made alive. Doubtless on its emancipation from the body by death it became more free and untrammelled; but neither this nor any supposed change in the mode or sphere of its existence fulfils the condition required in made alive. It follows that spirit is not the object of the participle quickened. Nor had Christ’s human spirit any power to raise him from the dead, which, as we have seen, quickened signifies. (2.)

It would not be dogmatically erroneous to understand the word of the Holy Spirit, although no express passage ascribes the resurrection of Christ to him. For, though God raised him from the dead, it is a well-known truth that God’s works are wrought by the Holy Ghost; and we are taught that Christ “cast out devils by the Spirit of God,” (Matthew 12:28;) gave “commandments unto the apostles through the Holy Ghost,” (Acts 1:2;) and by his Spirit inspired the prophets, chap. 1 Peter 1:11. But, (3.) we prefer to understand Christ’s divine nature, partly because it fills out the contrast, and partly because whatever is done by the Holy Spirit is in reality his work. Thus he will raise believers at the last day, (John 6:40; John 6:44; John 6:54;) but St. Paul teaches that it will be done by the indwelling Holy Spirit in them. Romans 8:11. This rounds out the double antithesis: put to death indeed as to his human nature, but made alive by his divine nature. It is urged, (as in Lange,) as a grammatical objection to this view, that the two datives are evidently parallel, and must have the same sense. The reply is, that this is a begging of the whole question that compels quickened to take a meaning which it never has; and that the true rule is, that the force of the datives is fixed by the meaning of the two participles. The resurrection is referred to again in 1 Peter 3:21, but in another connexion and for another purpose, namely, to show how baptism saves; and, besides, it is too remote for the present inquiry as to how the suffering of Christ brings us to God. Our Lord was put to death, and thus made atonement, but his dying simply expiated sin. As God-man he was dead; and, though his human soul still lived in union with his divine nature, while held in the bonds of death he was powerless to apply the benefits of his dying. By his resurrection he became “Lord both of the dead and living,” (Romans 14:9,) and won that power. An exact parallel is, “Was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” Romans 4:25. Thus St. Peter and St. Paul agree.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https: 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

"For" connects 1 Peter 3:18-22 with13-17 , but "Christ also" recalls and resumes the example of Jesus Christ that Peter cited in 1 Peter 2:21-25. Peter used the same phrase to introduce Jesus Christ as an example of suffering there. Suffering for doing good is the point of comparison in both passages.

"Once for all" emphasizes the complete sufficiency of Jesus Christ"s sacrifice. It does not need repeating (as in the Roman Catholic mass) or adding to (by any human works, cf. Romans 6:10; Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 9:26; Hebrews 9:28; Hebrews 10:10). The emphasis is on the finality of His sacrifice ("once for all," Gr. hapax) rather than on the extent of the atonement ("for all").

His was also a vicarious sacrifice: the just One died for the unjust ones ( 1 Peter 1:19; 1 Peter 2:21-24; 1 Peter 4:1; cf. Isaiah 53:11; Matthew 27:19; Luke 23:47; Romans 5:6-10; 1 John 2:1; 1 John 2:29; 1 John 3:7). The purpose of Jesus Christ"s death was to bring us into fellowship with God.

". . . no other NT writer has this active picture of Jesus leading the Christian to God. But it fits with Peter"s usual conception of the Christian life as an active close following of Jesus ( 1 Peter 2:21; 1 Peter 4:13)." [Note: Davids, p136.]

The phrase "having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit" has received several different interpretations.

Some interpreters believe that "flesh" refers to the material part of Jesus Christ"s person and "spirit" to the immaterial part. [Note: E.g, Lenski, p159; John Albert Bengel, New Testament Word Studies, 2:746; B. C. Caffin, "I Peter," in The Pulpit Commentary, p133; A. J. Mason, "The First Epistle General of Peter," in Ellicott"s Commentary on the Whole Bible, 8:420; J. W. C. Wand, The General Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude , p100; and Robertson, 6:116.] Supporters of this view argue that we should regard "flesh" and "spirit" as two parts of the Lord"s human nature (cf. Matthew 26:41; Romans 1:3-4; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 Corinthians 5:5). The contrast then would be that Jesus" body ("flesh") died, but His immaterial part ("spirit") experienced resurrection. The problem with this view is that an article precedes neither "flesh" nor "spirit" in the Greek text. The absence of the article usually stresses the quality of the noun. This would not be normal if Peter meant to contrast Jesus" body and His spirit. He would have included an article before each noun. The absence of the articles suggests a special meaning of "flesh" and "spirit." Furthermore Jesus" resurrection involved both the material and immaterial parts of His person, not just His spirit.

Another view is that we should take the Greek nouns (sarki and pneumati, translated "in the flesh" and "in the spirit") as instrumental ("by the flesh" and "by the spirit") rather than as dative. The contrast, according to this interpretation, is between wicked men, who put Jesus to death by fleshly means, and the Holy Spirit, who raised Him. However, the Greek dative case ("in the flesh") is probably what Peter intended here rather than the instrumental case ("by the flesh"). This is probably a dative of respect. [Note: F. Blass and A. Debrunner, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 197.] It is not who was responsible for Jesus" death and resurrection that is the issue but how Jesus suffered death and experienced resurrection. Moreover if "spirit" means the Holy Spirit, its meaning is not parallel with "flesh."

A third view is that "flesh" refers to Jesus" death and "spirit" refers to His resurrection. The weakness of this view is that it is redundant. Peter said, according to this view, that Jesus was put to death in death and that He was made alive in resurrection.

A fourth view sees "flesh" as describing Jesus" pre-resurrection condition (following the Incarnation) and "spirit" as referring to His post-resurrection condition. Peter used the same terminology in 1 Peter 4:6 where he referred to Christians who had died but were now alive. I prefer this view.

"As in Rom. i3f.; 1Tim. iii16 , flesh and spirit do not here designate complimentary parts of Christ, but the whole of Christ regarded from different standpoints. By flesh is meant Christ in His human sphere of existence, considered as a man among men. By spirit is meant Christ in His heavenly spiritual sphere of existence, considered as divine spirit (see on111); and this does not exclude His bodily nature, since as risen from the dead it is glorified." [Note: Kelly, p151. Cf. Davids, p137-38.]

""Flesh" and "spirit" do not refer to two "parts" of Christ, i.e, his body and his soul; nor does the "spirit" refer to the Holy Spirit or Christ"s human spirit. Rather, "flesh; refers to Christ in his human sphere of life and "spirit" refers to Christ in his resurrected sphere of life (cf. [William J.] Dalton, [Christ"s Proclamation to the Spirits,] pp124-24; TDNT, 6:417 , 447; 7:143)." [Note: Blum, p242. Cf. Fanning, p444.]

"If "flesh" is the sphere of human limitations, of suffering, and of death (cf. 1 Peter 4:1), "Spirit" is the sphere of power, vindication, and a new life (cf. [F. W.] Beare, [The First Epistle of Peter: The Greek Text with Introduction and Notes, p.] 169). Both spheres affect Christ"s (or anyone else"s) whole person; one cannot be assigned to the body and the other to the soul ...

"The statement that Christ was "made alive in the Spirit," therefore, means simply that he was raised from the dead, not as a spirit, but bodily (as resurrection always is in the NT), and in a sphere in which the Spirit and power of God are displayed without hindrance or human limitation (cf. 1 Peter 1:21)." [Note: Michaels, p205. Cf. Selwyn, p197.]

Jesus Christ became the Victor rather than a victim. All who trust Him share that victory (cf. 1 Peter 3:13-17). This verse is an encouragement to Peter"s readers that even though Jesus died because He remained committed to God"s will, He experienced resurrection. Therefore we should remain faithful with the confident hope that God will also vindicate us.

This verse is "one of the shortest and simplest [?!], and yet one of the richest summaries given in the New Testament of the meaning of the Cross of Jesus." [Note: J. M. E. Ross, The First Epistle of Peter, pp151-52.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https: 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

1 Peter 3:18. Because also Christ died once for sins, a righteous one for unrighteous ones, in order that he might bring us to God. There are two varieties of reading to notice here. Documentary evidence is pretty evenly balanced between the verb ‘suffered’ and the verb ‘died.’ Although the Revised Version retains the former, the latter is preferred by the majority of textual experts (Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Westcott and Hort, Gebhardt). Instead of ‘bring us to God’ (which is accepted by the Revised Version and most critics), ‘bring you to God’ is adopted by Westcott and Hort. Christ’s suffering or dying is represented to have taken place on account of sin, in the matter of sin, or in respect of sin; for the preposition used here has this general sense. It is said to have taken place also ‘once,’ once for all and no more (cp. Romans 6:10; Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 9:28). This may possibly embody the idea that this suffering or dying superseded the necessity of all further suffering or dying of the same kind, either on the part of Christ Himself or on that of Christians (so Schott). It is rather introduced, however, to suggest the difference between the suffering or death, however bitter that was, as finished shortly and once for all, and the continuous power and blessedness of the life which was its issue. Still greater force is given to this by the use of the simple historical tense ‘died,’ which throws all that was painful in Christ’s instance completely into the past. But Christ’s suffering or dying is also described as that of ‘a righteous One for unrighteous ones.’ A different preposition is now used for the ‘for,’—one meaning in behalf of or, to the advantage of. It is possible that in the present connection, where the righteous and the unrighteous are set so decisively over against each other, this idea of suffering in behalf of others may pass over into, or imply, that of suffering in the place of others. Weiss, e.g. (so also Huther), recognises the idea of substitution at the basis of the statement, in so far as ‘the contrast, which is made so prominent between the righteous and the unrighteous, necessarily produces the idea that the suffering which was endured in behalf of these, ought really to have been endured by the righteous themselves’ (Bib. Theol. of the New Testament, i. p. 232, Clark’s Trans.). The more general idea, however, is the one distinctly in view here, and thus there is warning mingled with the encouragement which is conveyed by Christ’s case as Peter here presents it. If it is right to speak, as Besser does, of the little word ‘once’ as letting ‘a beam of comforting light fall on the sufferings of Christians,’ this clause reminds them of the necessity of making sure that their sufferings be not of the kind which their own fault induces, but rather of the kind righteously borne with a view to the good of others. The particular good which Christ set before Him as the object of His suffering or dying was the bringing us to God; by which is meant introducing us to God, giving us admission, or the right of direct access, to God. This is the sense which the cognate noun has in the few passages in which it is found, viz. Romans 5:2, Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12; and here, too, the idea is neither that of presenting us an offering to God (so the Vulgate, Luther, etc.). nor that of simply reconciling us to God, but (as it is rightly understood by Huther, etc.) that of introducing us to actual fellowship with God. This verse, therefore, establishes a certain analogy between Christ and Christians, in so far as He was made subject to suffering not less than they, and was made so not for His own fault but for that of others. This analogy is used, however, in support of the previous statement as to its being a better thing to suffer for good than for evil. Hence, having immediately in view the advantage or good which suffering for righteousness’ sake brings with it, Peter goes at once (as formerly in chap. 1 Peter 2:22, etc.) beyond the elements of similarity which might present the suffering Christ as an example to suffering Christians. He touches on more than one thing which gave Christ’s sufferings a value all their own. They were of the unique order which (as the ‘once’ implies) neither required nor admitted repetition. And the gain which they secured, by which also they pre-eminently illustrate the good which suffering for righteousness’ sake yields, and how preferable it is to suffer, if suffer we must, for well-doing rather than ill-doing, was the otherwise unattainable boon of a direct approach for sinners to God, a free intercourse with God.

put to death indeed in flesh, but quickened in spirit. Two things are here affirmed to have taken effect on Christ, when He suffered or died in order to bring us into this fellowship with God. These, however, are so balanced that the one appears simply as the preliminary to the other, and the attention is concentrated on the latter. The one is rightly given as a ‘being put to death;’ for the term does not mean, as some suppose, merely being condemned to death (compare its use, e.g., in Matthew 26:59; Matthew 27:1; Romans 8:36; 2 Corinthians 6:9, etc.). The other is correctly interpreted not as a ‘being kept alive’ (which idea is expressed in the New Testament by different terms), but as a ‘being quickened’ or ‘made alive;’ the word being that which is elsewhere (John 5:21; Romans 4:17; 1 Corinthians 15:22, etc.) applied to the raising of the dead to life. To the two things are added definitions of two distinct spheres in which they severally took effect. These are conveyed each by a single noun, which has almost an adverbial force here, viz., ‘in flesh,’ i.e fleshly-wise, or, as regards the natural, earthly order of life; and ‘in spirit,’ i.e spirit-wise, or, as regards the higher spiritual order of life. Those two terms are analogous to other antithetical phrases which are applied to Christ, such as ‘according to the flesh’ and ‘according to the spirit of holiness’ (Romans 1:3), manifest ‘in the flesh,’ and judged ‘in the spirit’ (1 Timothy 3:16). They point to two different forms of existence, a natural, mortal form of existence associated with flesh, and a supernatural, immortal form of existence associated with spirit,—in other words, a perishable, corporeal life, and an imperishable, spiritual or incorporeal life. As regards the one, He ceased to live it by being put to death. As regards the other, He continued to live it, and to live it with new power, by being quickened. The A. V., therefore, is entirely at fault in rendering the second clause ‘by the Spirit,’ as if the reference were to the Holy Spirit and to Him as the Agent in Christ’s resurrection. In this, too, it has deserted the versions of Wycliffe, Tyndale, Cranmer, Geneva, and Rheims, which all give ‘in spirit’ or ‘in the spirit.’

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https: 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

1 Peter 3:18. The advantage of suffering for well-doing is exemplified in the experience of Christ, who gained thereby quickening (1 Peter 3:21) and glory (1 Peter 3:22). How far the pattern applies to the Christian is not clear. Christ suffered once for all according to Hebrews 9:24-28; the Christian suffers for a little (1 Peter 3:10). But does the Christian suffer also for sins? St. Paul and Ignatius speak of themselves as περίψημα περικαθάρματα; compare the value of righteous men for Sodom. But even if Peter contemplated this parallel it is quite subordinate to the main idea, in which (spirit) even to the spirits in prison he went and preached them that disobeyed once upon a time when the patience of God was waiting in the days of Noah while the ark was being fitted out.… The spirits who disobeyed in the days of Noah are the sons of God described in Genesis 6:1-4. But there as in the case of Sarah St. Peter depends on the current tradition in which the original myth has been modified and amplified. This dependence supplies an adequate explanation of the difficulties which have been found here and in 1 Peter 3:21, provided that the plain statement of the preaching in Hades is not prejudged to be impossible. The important points in the tradition as given in the Book of Enoch (vi.–xvi. cf. Jubilees v.) are as follows: the angels who lusted after the daughters of men descended in the days of Jared as his name (Descent) shows. The children of this unlawful union were the Nephilim and the Eliud. They also taught men all evil arts so that they perished appealing to God for justice. At last Enoch was sent to pronounce the sentence of condemnation upon these watchers, who in terror besought him to present a petition to God on their behalf. God refused to grant them peace. They were spirits eternal and immortal wi.o transgressed the line of demarcation between men and angels and disobeyed the law that spiritual beings do not marry and beget children like men. Accordingly they are bound and their children slay one another leaving their disembodied spirits to propagate sin in the world even alter it has been purged by the Flood. But Christians believed that Christ came to seek and to save the lost and the captives; all things are to be subjected to Him. So Peter supplements the tradition which he accepts. For him it was not merely important as connected with the only existing type of the Last Judgment or an alternative explanation of the origin and continuance of sin but also as the greatest proof of the complete victory of Christ over the most obstinate and worst of sinners.— ἐν sc. πνεύματι: as a bodiless spirit in the period between the Passion (18) and the Resurrection-Ascension (22).— καί, even to the typical rebels who had sinned past lorgiveness according to pre-Christian notions.— τοῖς ἐν φυλακῇ πνεύμασιν, the spirits in prison, i.e., the angels of Gen. l.c. who were identified with my spirit of Genesis 6:3, and therefore described as having been sent to the earth by God in one form of the legend (Jubilees, l.c.). The name contains also the point of their offending (Enoch summarised above); cf. 2 Peter 2:4; Judges 1:6; and the prophecy of Isaiah 51:1 (which Jesus claimed, Luke 4:8 f.), κηρῦξαι αἰχμαλώτοις ἄφεσιν. These spirits were in ward when Christ preached to them in accordance with God s sentence, bind them in the depths of the earth (Jub. 1 Peter 5:6).— ἐκήρυξεν = εὐηγγελίσατο, cf. Luke 4:8. Before Christ came, they had not heard the Gospel of God’s Reign. Enoch’s mediation failed. But at Christ’s preaching they repented like the men of Nineveh; for it is said that angels subjected themselves to Him (1 Peter 3:22, cf. ὑποτάσσεσθαι, throughout the Epistle.— ἀπειθήσασίν ποτε, their historic disobedience or rebellion is latent in the narrative of Genesis 6. and expounded by Enoch; cf. 1 Peter 2:7)., 1 Peter 3:1, 1 Peter 4:17. In LXX ἀπ commonly = rebel ( מרה).— ἀπεξεδέχετομακροθυμία, God’s long-suffering was waiting. The reading ἅπαξ ἐξεδέχετο is attractive, as supplying a reference to the present period of waiting which precedes the second and final Judgment (Romans 2:4; Romans 9:22) The tradition lengthens the period of πάρεσις (Romans 3:25); but St. Peter limits it by adding while the Ark was being fitted out in accordance with Gen. If Adam’s transgression be taken as the origin of sin the long-suffering is still greater. The idea seems to be due to ἐνεθυμήθην, I reflected, of the LXX, which stands for the unworthy anthropomorphism of the Hebrew I repented in Genesis 6:6. Compare for language James 5:7; Matthew 24:37 f.; Luke 17:26 f.— εἰς ἣν, sc. entered and.— ὀλίγοι κ. τ. λ. St. Peter hints that here in the typical narrative is the basis of the disciple’s question, εἰ ὀλίγοι οἱ σωζόμενοι (Luke 13:23).— ὀκτὼ ψυχαί so Genesis 7:7; ψ. = persons (of both sexes), cf. Acts 2:41, etc. The usage occurs in Greek of all periods; so נפש in Hebrew and soul in English.— διεσώθησαν διʼ ὕδατος, were brought safe through water. Both local and instrumental meanings of διʼ are contemplated. The former is an obvious summary of the whole narrative; cf. also διὰ τὸ ὕδωρ (Genesis 7:7). The latter is implied in the statement that the water increased and lifted up the ark (Genesis 7:17 f.); though it fits better the antitype. So Josephus (Ant. I., iii. 2) says that “the ark was strong so that from no side was it worsted by the violence of the water and Noah with his household διασῴζεται”. Peter lays stress on the water (rather than the ark as e.g., Hebrews 11) for the sake of the parallel with Baptism (Romans 6:3; cf. St. Paul’s application of the Passage of the Red Sea, 1 Corinthians 10:1 f.).

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https: 1897-1910.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary



In quo (spiritu) Greek: en o (pneumati) veniens Greek: poreutheis, profectus. As to the different expositions of this place, see Estius, Cornelius a Lapide, &c. which also Dr. Pearson sets down at large. The late Protestant writers, as may be seen in Dr. Hammond and Dr. Wells, expound this place so as to signify no real descent of Christ's soul into hell, or to any infernal place, but only that his divine spirit sent Noe [Noah] to preach to the spirits in the prison of their body, (i.e. to those wicked men who lived in the days of Noe) to exhort them to repentance. But this exposition, as Dr. Pearson observed, is against the general opinion of the Church and the ancient Fathers; and of which St. Augustine said, (Epis. 163. tom. 2. p. 574) Quis nisi infidelis negaverit, fuisse apud inferos Christum?

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https: 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

1 Peter 3:18 ‘For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;’

‘For Christ’-Lest anyone think that suffering for the right thing is a vain and thankless task. Suffering for doing the right thing can accomplish much! Jesus is the ultimate example of suffering for righteousness (); being zealous for what is good (3:13); suffering for well-doing (3:17), and we are to follow in His steps (2:21-25).

‘died for sins’-For the sins of others (John 1:29; Isaiah 53:6; Isaiah 53:8; Isaiah 53:11). So let us stop complaining when we suffer because someone else abused their freewill. Jesus also suffered for the wrong and selfish choices of others!

‘once for all’-‘used of what is so done as to be of perpetual validity and never need repetition’ (Thayer p. 54) (Hebrews 9:28 ‘so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many..’). Points to Note: 1. Jesus remains the only sacrifice for sin-in any time or in any culture (Mark 16:15-16). Christianity therefore will remain the only relevant and real way to eternal life. 2. Nothing will replace the sacrifice of Jesus. Another remedy for sin will not be found. 3. Jesus died and suffered ONCE. Thus the Lord’s Supper is not a re-sacrifice of Jesus. It is not a ‘mass’. Rather, it is a remembrance. 4. Another route or Savior will not be given for those who reject Jesus. 5. The sacrifice of Jesus doesn’t lose it’s effectiveness with the passing of time. His sacrifice is just as powerful in the 21st Century as it was in the First Century.

‘the just for the unjust’-(Romans 5:6-8). He suffered for what others had done. He had no sins of His own (2:22). We will never realize the true evil and selfishness of our own sins, until we accept the fact that the punishment Jesus endured, was the punishment we deserved. Remember those truths next time you are tempted to sin or tempted the downplay the significance of a sin.

‘in order that He might’-Notice the word “might”. There will be people who refuse God’s offer of salvation. Jesus didn’t die for a select group of people destined for salvation. Rather He died for all (1 Timothy 2:6), He died for people who might or might not accept Him.

‘bring us to God’-‘Bring’-‘to open a way of access’ (Thayer p. 543) (Romans 5:1-2; Ephesians 2:16-18; Hebrews 10:19-20). Jesus remains the only means of access to the Father (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

‘having been put to death in the flesh’-Jesus really died on the cross. An illusion wasn’t on the cross, rather, Jesus suffered all the pain associated with being in a physical body. His death was painful and real! (John 1:14) I think that even some Christians erroneously think that being crucified wasn’t as painful for Jesus as it would be for mere humans. That isn’t true. Jesus didn’t go into some state of mental meditation which enabled detachment from His body (John 19:28).

‘but made alive in the spirit’-Points to Note: 1. What died on the cross was His body “the flesh”. By the way, note that the word “flesh” doesn’t inherently mean something that is sinful. 2. What was inside that body didn’t die, i.e. the spirit (Matthew 27:50; Luke 23:46). 3. When Jesus re-entered that body in the tomb, life returned to His physical body. ‘the spiritual nature of Christ’ (Vincent p. 656). 4. The passage is not teaching that only the ‘spirit’ of Christ was resurrected, for the spirit of Christ never died! Rather, Jesus is an eternal, self-existent spirit (Hebrews 9:14), Who can re-enter a dead physical body at will (John 10:18 ‘…I have authority to take it up again.’)

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https: 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

hath. Omit.

suffered. The texts read "died".

for = concerning. App-104.

sins. App-128.

Just. App-191.

bring. See Acts 16:20.

in the flesh = in flesh. No art. or preposition. Dative case.

quickened. See Romans 4:17.

by the Spirit = in spirit. No preposition. (Dative case), and though the Authorized Version has the art. it is rejected by all the texts. App-101. The reference is to the resurrection body, and the contrast is between His condition when He was put to death and when He rose from the dead.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https: 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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:

Confirmation of 1 Peter 3:17, by the glorious results of Christ's Suffering innocently.

For - "Because." That is "better," 1 Peter 3:17, by which we are rendered more like Christ in death and life: for His death brought the best issue to Himself and to us (Bengel).

Christ - the Anointed Holy One of God: the Holy suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust.

Also - as well as yourselves (1 Peter 3:17). Compare 1 Peter 2:21 : there His suffering was made an example to us; here, a proof of the blessedness of suffering for well doing.

Once - for all: never again to suffer. It is "better" for us also once to suffer with Christ, than forever without Christ (Bengel). We now are suffering our "once;" it will soon be a thing of the past: a bright consolation.

For sins - as though He had Himself committed them. He incurred death by His "confession" (1 Timothy 6:13); as we are called on to 'give an answer to him that asketh a reason of our hope.' This was "well doing" in its highest manifestation. As He suffered, "the Just," so we ought willingly suffer "for righteousness' sake" (1 Peter 3:12; 1 Peter 3:14; 1 Peter 3:17).

That he might bring us to God - us, "the unjust," justified together with Himself in His ascension to the right hand of God (1 Peter 3:22). Thus Christ's death draws men to Him (John 12:32); spiritually now, in our access into the Holiest, opened by Christ's ascension; literally hereafter. "Bring us" by the same humiliation and exaltation through which Himself passed. The several steps of Christ's progress are trodden over again by His people, they being one with Him (1 Peter 4:1-3). "To God" [ Theoo (Greek #2316), dative, implying more than pros (Greek #4314) Theon (Greek #2316)] - namely, that God wishes it (Bengel).

Put to death - the means of bringing us to God.

In the flesh - i:e., in respect to the life of flesh.

Quickened by the Spirit. 'Aleph (') A B C, Origen, omit the article. Translate, as the antithesis to "in the flesh" requires, 'IN spirit;' i:e., in respect to His Spirit. "Put to death" in that mode of life; "quickened" in this. Not that His Spirit ever died and was quickened again; but whereas He had lived like mortal men in the flesh, He began to live a spiritual "resurrection" (1 Peter 3:21) life, whereby He has power to bring us to God. Two explanations of 1 Peter 3:18-19, are possible: (1) 'Quickened in Spirit,' i:e., immediately on His release from the "flesh," the energy of His undying spirit-life was "quickened" by the Father into new modes of action, namely, 'in the Spirit He went down

(as subsequently He went up to heaven, 1 Peter 3:22; the same [ poreutheis (Greek #4198)]) and heralded [not salvation, as Alford, contrary to Scripture, which everywhere represents man's state after death irreversible. Nor is mention made of conversion of the spirits in prison. Note, 1 Peter 3:20. Nor is the phrase here 'preached the Gospel' [euangelizoo], but heralded [ ekeeruxen (Greek #2784)]; simply made announcement of His finished work (so [ keerussein (Greek #2784)] Mark 1:45, "publish"); confirming Enoch and Noah's testimony; thereby declaring the condemnation of the diluvian unbelievers, and the salvation of Noah and believers (Birks thinks Christ announced His finished work to those who repented when the flood suddenly came, but who were shut out from the ark): a sample of the opposite effects of the word preached on all unbelievers and believers respectively; also a consolation to those whom Peter addresses, in their sufferings from unbelievers. This case is selected for the sake of "baptism," its 'antitype' (1 Peter 3:21), which seals believers as separated from the doomed world] to the spirits (His Spirit speaking to the spirits) in prison (in Hades or Sheol, awaiting the judgment, 2 Peter 2:4), which were of old disobedient when,' etc.

(2) The strongest argument for (1) is the position of "sometime," "of old," connected with "disobedient;" whereas if the preaching were long past, we should expect "sometime" to be joined to "went and preached." But this transposition may express that their disobedience preceded His preaching. The participle expresses the reason of His preaching, 'inasmuch as they were sometime disobedient'

(cf. 1 Peter 4:6). Also "went" seemingly is a personal going, as in 1 Peter 3:22, not merely in spirit. But see below. The objections are, "quickened" must refer to Christ's body (cf. 1 Peter 3:21, end); for as His Spirit never ceased to live, it could not be "quickened." Compare John 5:21; Romans 8:11, etc., where "quicken" is used of the bodily resurrection. Also, not His Spirit, but His soul, went to Hades. His Spirit, commended at death to His Father, was forthwith "in Paradise."

The theory (1) would thus require that His descent to the spirits in prison should be after His resurrection! Compare Ephesians 4:9-10, which makes the descent precede the ascent. Scripture elsewhere is silent about such a heralding, though probably Christ's death had immediate effects on the state of both the godly and the ungodly in Hades: the souls of the godly, perhaps, then were, as some fathers thought, translated to God's immediate presence; sheol was divided into Paradise and Gehenna (Psalms 16:10; Luke 16:22-26; Luke 23:43). The way into the heavenly Holiest was not made manifest while the Levitical dispensation stood, nor until Christ the Forerunner ascended into heaven (Romans 10:6-7; Ephesians 4:9; Hebrews 9:8; Hebrews 11:40; Matthew 27:51-53; John 3:13; Colossians 1:18). But prison is always in a bad sense in Scripture: so that good spirits cannot be meant here. "Paradise," and "Abraham's bosom," the abode of good spirit in Old Testament times, are separated by a wide gulf from Gehenna, and cannot be "prison." Compare 2 Cor. 21:2,4 , where "paradise" and the "third heaven" correspond.

Also, Why should the antediluvian unbelievers in particular be selected as objects of His preaching in Hades? Explain: Quickened in spirit, in which (as distinguished from in person; "in which," i:e., in spirit, obviating the misconce ption that "went" implies a personal going) He went (in the person of Noah, "a preacher of righteousness," 2 Peter 2:5. Alford's note (Ephesians 2:17) is the best reply to his argument from 'went," that a local going to Hades in person is meant. As 'He CAME and preached peace' by His Spirit in the apostles after His death and ascension, so before His incarnation He preached in Spirit through Noah to the antediluvians (John 14:18; John 14:28; Acts 26:23); "Christ should show" [ katangellein (Greek #2605)], 'announce light to the Gentiles') and preached unto the spirit in prison, i:e., the antediluvians, whose bodies seemed free, but their spirits were in prison, shut up in the earth as one great condemned cell (parallel to Isaiah 24:22-23), 'upon the earth ... they shall be gathered together as prisoners gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison,' etc. (just as the fallen angels are judicially regarded as "in chains of darkness," though for a time at large on the earth, 2 Peter 2:4), where 1 Peter 3:18 has an allusion to the flood, "the windows from on high are open" (cf. Genesis 7:11); from this prison the only way of escape was that preached by Christ in Noah.

Christ, who in our times came in the flesh, in Noah's days preached in Spirit by Noah to the spirits then in prison (Isaiah 61:1, end, "The Spirit of the Lord God hath sent me to proclaim the opening of the prison to them that are bound"). So in 1 Peter 1:11, "the Spirit of Christ" 'testified in the prophets.' His 'Spirit strove' with the antediluvian men, but did not continue to do so, because man was "flesh," and suffered it to quench the Spirit (Genesis 6:3): so now they are "spirits in prison." Then His preaching had little success; now that He is gone to heaven (1 Peter 3:22) the Spirit's power in Him is infinite, owing to the resurrection. To share in this His resurrection power of the Spirit of life, they must be willing to suffer in the flesh. They have a double motive to this set before them:

(1) Christ's example of the blessed effect of voluntary suffering in the flesh;

(2) Christ's accession of power now, as compared with then (Matthew 28:18).

As Christ suffered even to death by enemies, and was afterward quickened in virtue of His "Spirit" (or divine nature, Romans 1:3-4; 1 Corinthians 15:45; 2 Corinthians 13:4), which henceforth evinced its full energy, the first result of which was the raising of His body (1 Peter 3:21, end) from the prison of the grave and His soul from Hades, so the same Spirit of Christ enabled Noah, amidst reproach, to preach to the disobedient spirits fast bound in wrath. That Spirit in you can enable you also to suffer patiently now, looking for the resurrection-deliverance. Be not afraid of suffering from well doing, for death in the flesh leads to life in the Spirit (cf. 1 Peter 2:19-24; 1 Peter 3:17).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https: 1871-8.

The Bible Study New Testament

For Christ himself. "Some are saying that our suffering proves that our cause is bad, and that God is displeased with us. This is not true, as you can see from the fact that Christ himself died for us!" Once and for all. Peter emphasized the completeness of God's work in Christ. A good man for bad men. "He is an example of one who suffered for doing good!" In order. "He did this so that by means of his sin-offering, he might lead you to God." Physically. "As the Logos in human form, he died physically, just as all men do!" Spiritually. Johnson says: "Having life in himself, as soon as the body failed through weakness, the power of the indestructible life began to show itself." Christ actually died physically, Christ was actually made alive spiritually (and his body raised from death). He is both the example and the guarantee of our resurrection! In raising Christ from death, God showed his approval of Christ's act of dying for the sins of the world!!!

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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". "The Bible Study New Testament". https: College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(18) For Christ also.—This gives a reason for thinking it no such formidable thing to suffer when one is innocent. It has been tried before, and the precedent is encouraging. “It is,” says Archbishop Leighton, “some known ease to the mind, in any distress, to look upon examples of the like or greater distress in present or former times . . . As the example and company of the saints in suffering is very considerable, so that of Christ is more than any other, yea, than all the rest together.” If King Messiah (note that he does not call Him Jesus) could endure to be cut off (but not for Himself), was it for any one who clung to the promises to shrink from the like test?

Hath once suffered.—Even if we retain the verb, it should be suffered, not “hath suffered,” it is all past now; but much the better reading is died, which leaves no doubt about the meaning of “suffering” in 1 Peter 3:17. And this He did “once.” In this significant word St. Peter strikes out the main argument of a great portion of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 9:27; Hebrews 10:10). The thought that Christ suffered or died “once” conveys comfort to these Christians for several reasons: (1) because His death has, once for all, taken all terror from an innocent death; (2) because no Christian will have to die more than one death; (3) because one death, so soon over for ever, contains the further idea of happiness and peace beyond. The word “to die” in Greek is often used in a penal sense—“to be put to death”—and is to be so taken here.

For sins.—When the Apostle says “Christ also,” he raises a comparison between Christ and the Christian martyr. Now the parallel does not merely consist in the fact that both “suffer” or are put to death. Both are put to death but once. Both are put to death innocent: the martyr “while well-doing,” Christ acknowledged to be “just.” But this does not exhaust the likeness. The Messiah is said to be put to death “for sins.” Now this expression “for sins” (literally, in connection with sins) is that which is used to mean “as a sin-offering.” (See Romans 8:3; Galatians 1:4; Hebrews 10:6; Hebrews 10:8; Hebrews 10:18; Hebrews 10:26; Hebrews 13:11; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10.) If, therefore, “Christ also was put to death as a sin-offering,” it is implied that, in a sense, the Christian martyr is also a sin-offering, and (though in an infinitely lower degree) dies, like Him, “just for unjust.” This is a fresh encouragement to St. Peter’s first readers to meet death bravely. In what sense they can be sacrifices for other men’s sins we shall consider presently.

The just for the unjust.—That preposition “for” contains a volume of theology. Though it is not so weak a word as the one which occurs in the phrase “for sins,” it does not express the notion of substitution. (Comp. Note on 1 Peter 2:21.) It is simply “on behalf of.” As a substitute for the unjust, we make bold to say that (according to Holy Scripture, and the primitive fathers, and the conscience of man) neither the martyrs nor Christ Himself could have made atonement; “on behalf of” other men, the martyrs could very easily be said to die. It is, perhaps, a pity that the definite article has been inserted in our version. Though, of course, our Lord is the only human being who can in strictness be called just, St. Peter means the word here to cover others besides Him; “Christ also died, a just man on behalf of unjust men.”

That he might bring us to God.—Or, better, bring you; though it cannot be stated peremptorily in this case that such is the reading. (See Note on 1 Peter 1:12.) The substantive derived from this verb appears as “access” in Romans 5:2; Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12. A most important doctrinal passage. St. Peter says not a word about the Atonement in its effect upon the mind of the Father towards man. Though there is, no doubt, some deep truth in the phrase which occurs in the second of the Thirty-nine Articles—“suffered . . . to reconcile His Father to us”—it is a side on which the New Testament writers do not much dwell. It is too high a mystery for our minds to reach. The phrase is itself not Scriptural. The New Testament, as has been well pointed out, never even speaks of the reconciliation as mutual. The quarrel is treated as one-sided, so far, at least, as in connection with the Atonement. When, then, our Lord was put to death as a sacrifice for sins—a righteous man on behalf of unrighteous men—St. Peter explains these terms by the expression “in order that He might bring you to God,” not “in order that He might bring God to you.” The voluntary death of a righteous man upon the cross, in the calm calculation that nothing else would so attract sinful men to Himself, and thus to the Father who sent Him (John 12:32—this is the aspect of the Atonement which St. Peter sets forth. Perhaps on another occasion he might have set forth a different aspect; but now he is still thinking of the effect of Christian conduct upon the outer world, and his object is to make the Christians feel that they too can, in their measure, bring the unjust, the persecuting heathens and Jews, to God by innocent and voluntary deaths. Thus their deaths are carrying on the work of reconciliation; and what Christ did for them (“died for you”) they do for others. Well then may they be called blessed when they suffer (1 Peter 3:14).

Being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.—The interpreters of this sentence may be classified in two groups, according as they understand the fact referred to in the second clause to be (1) the resurrection of Christ, or (2) something which took place between His death and His resurrection. Now, if we could accept the translation in the English Bible, “by the Spirit,” it would be pretty obvious to accept (1); and we should point to such passages as Romans 1:4; Romans 8:11, to show that the resurrection of Christ was due to the action of the Holy Ghost. It would not be possible to follow Oecumenius, Calvin, Beza, and Leighton, in taking “the flesh” to mean generally the human nature of Christ, and “the Spirit” by which He was quickened to mean His own divine nature; for Christ has a human spirit as truly as a human body and soul, and it would be heresy to call His divine nature His spirit, as though it occupied in Him the position which is occupied in men by the human spirit. But, as a matter of fact, we cannot translate it “quickened by the Spirit.” It is literally, killed indeed in flesh, but quickened in spirit. Now, how can “quickened in spirit” be a description of the Resurrection? It cannot be answered (with Huther) that the “spirit” here means the resurrection body; for though that is indeed a spiritual body, yet it is playing fast and loose with words to identify “spirit” and “spiritual body.” If the resurrection body be only spirit, where is the resurrection? Neither would the antithesis be correct between “flesh” and “spirit,” if by “spirit” is meant the new form of body given at the Resurrection. Or, again, taking “spirit” in its true sense of the inward incorporeal self, could the Resurrection be described as a quickening of it? True, the spirit itself will gain in some way by its re-incorporation (2 Corinthians 5:4); but as the spirit has been alive all along, but the flesh has been dead, the contrast would be very forced to express death and resurrection by “killed in flesh, but quickened in spirit,” instead of saying rather “killed in flesh, but soon quickened in the same.” Thus we are driven to (2). As a matter of fact, there is nothing in the words to suggest an interval between the quickening and the killing. They both are parts of the same act, and both are used to explain the word “died.” It is a kind of apology for having used the word death at all (for we have seen that St. Peter’s object is to help the future martyrs to despise death, 1 Peter 3:14): “Died, do I say? yes, killed in flesh, it is true, but actually quickened to fresh energies in spirit by that very act of death.” (Comp. our Lord’s charge to the Twelve, Matthew 10:28.) But how can His death be said to have been a quickening of His human spirit? Some take the word to mean simply “preserved alive,” a word almost identical, being used apparently in that sense in Luke 17:33, Acts 7:19. The notion, however, would be too weak here; some energetic action seems required to balance “being killed.” That St. Peter is speaking of something not altogether peculiar to Christ, but common to men, may still be inferred from his saying “Christ also.” The doctrine, then, seems to be (as Bengel and others say) that the spirit, set free from the body, immediately receives new life, as it were, thereby. To purely spiritual realities it becomes alive in a manner which was impossible while it was united to the flesh. The new powers are exemplified in what follows immediately. So long as Christ, so long as any man, is alive in the flesh, he cannot hold converse with spirits as such; but the moment death severs flesh and spirit the spirit can deal with other spirits, which Christ proceeded forth with to do.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https: 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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:
2:21-24; 4:1; Isaiah 53:4-6; Romans 5:6-8; 8:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 1:4; 3:13; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 9:26,28
the just
Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 27:19,24; Acts 3:14; 22:14; James 5:6; 1 John 1:9
Ephesians 2:16-18
4:1; Daniel 9:26; Romans 4:25; 2 Corinthians 1:24; 13:4; Colossians 1:21,22
Romans 1:4; 8:11

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

No unjust person could suffer and die on behalf of another like him, hence it was necessary for the just Christ to do this. Put to death in the flesh. In order to die it was necessary for Christ to take on a fleshly body. He was quickened or returned to life by the Spirit. The italicized phrase is an important key to the passage of several verses. The Deity or Godhead is composed of three persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These are all equal as being divine and pure, but the Father and Son are the makers and preservers of all things. They accomplish their wonderful works through the services of the Spirit. It should therefore be understood that the leading thought in this and the following verse is What was accomplished for Christ through the instrumentality of the Spirit.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 1 Peter 3:18". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https: 1952.

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