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1 Peter 3

1 Peter 3:19 KJV (With Strong’s)

ho (Greek #3588)
the definite article; the (sometimes to be supplied, at others omitted, in English idiom)
KJV usage: the, this, that, one, he, she, it, etc.
Pronounce: ho
Origin: ἡ (hay), and the neuter τό (to) in all their inflections
en (Greek #1722)
"in," at, (up-)on, by, etc.
KJV usage: about, after, against, + almost, X altogether, among, X as, at, before, between, (here-)by (+ all means), for (... sake of), + give self wholly to, (here-)in(-to, -wardly), X mightily, (because) of, (up-)on, (open-)ly, X outwardly, one, X quickly, X shortly, (speedi-)ly, X that, X there(-in, -on), through(-out), (un-)to(-ward), under, when, where(-with), while, with(-in). Often used in compounds, with substantially the same import; rarely with verbs of motion, and then not to indicate direction, except (elliptically) by a separate (and different) preposition.
Pronounce: en
Origin: a primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state), and (by implication) instrumentality (medially or constructively), i.e. a relation of rest (intermediate between 1519 and 1537)
hos (Greek #3739)
the relatively (sometimes demonstrative) pronoun, who, which, what, that
KJV usage: one, (an-, the) other, some, that, what, which, who(-m, -se), etc. See also 3757.
Pronounce: hos
Origin: ἥ (hay), and neuter ὅ (ho) probably a primary word (or perhaps a form of the article 3588)
kai (Greek #2532)
and, also, even, so then, too, etc.; often used in connection (or composition) with other particles or small words
KJV usage: and, also, both, but, even, for, if, or, so, that, then, therefore, when, yet.
Pronounce: kahee
Origin: apparently, a primary particle, having a copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force
he went
poreuomai (Greek #4198)
middle voice from a derivative of the same as 3984; to traverse, i.e. travel (literally or figuratively; especially to remove (figuratively, die), live, etc.); --depart, go (away, forth, one's way, up), (make a, take a) journey, walk.
Pronounce: por-yoo'-om-ahee
and preached
kerusso (Greek #2784)
to herald (as a public crier), especially divine truth (the gospel)
KJV usage: preacher(-er), proclaim, publish.
Pronounce: kay-roos'-so
Origin: of uncertain affinity
unto the spirits
pneuma (Greek #4151)
a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively, a spirit, i.e. (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, demon, or (divine) God, Christ's spirit, the Holy Spirit
KJV usage: ghost, life, spirit(-ual, -ually), mind. Compare 5590.
Pronounce: pnyoo'-mah
Origin: from 4154
en (Greek #1722)
"in," at, (up-)on, by, etc.
KJV usage: about, after, against, + almost, X altogether, among, X as, at, before, between, (here-)by (+ all means), for (... sake of), + give self wholly to, (here-)in(-to, -wardly), X mightily, (because) of, (up-)on, (open-)ly, X outwardly, one, X quickly, X shortly, (speedi-)ly, X that, X there(-in, -on), through(-out), (un-)to(-ward), under, when, where(-with), while, with(-in). Often used in compounds, with substantially the same import; rarely with verbs of motion, and then not to indicate direction, except (elliptically) by a separate (and different) preposition.
Pronounce: en
Origin: a primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state), and (by implication) instrumentality (medially or constructively), i.e. a relation of rest (intermediate between 1519 and 1537)
phulake (Greek #5438)
a guarding or (concretely, guard), the act, the person; figuratively, the place, the condition, or (specially), the time (as a division of day or night), literally or figuratively
KJV usage: cage, hold, (im-)prison(-ment), ward, watch.
Pronounce: foo-lak-ay'
Origin: from 5442

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Cross References


Ministry on This Verse

By which.
 in our text, lest it might be understood by the imaginative or the superstitious, grace furnished the qualification "in which" [Spirit] He proceeded, not into the prison, as some have conceived, but preached to the spirits that are in prison. They were living men on earth when the Spirit pleaded with them in Noah's days while preparing the ark. (1 Peter 3:19-20 by W. Kelly)
 The believing Jews were few in number, and Christ was theirs only according to the Spirit. By the power of that Spirit He had been raised up from the dead. It was by the power of the same Spirit that He had gone-without being corporeally present-to preach in Noah. (1 Peter 3 by J.N. Darby)
 In considering this expression to mean the Spirit of Christ in Noah, we only use a well-known phrase of Peter’s; for he it is, as we have seen, who said, “The Spirit of Christ which was in the prophets.” (1 Peter 3 by J.N. Darby)
 “He went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” When? “When once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah while the ark was a preparing.” The Holy Spirit used Noah as “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5) to these now-disembodied spirits who had been “disobedient” and whose bodies perished in the flood. (Help on Hard Verses by A.C. Brown)
 These people who now are spirits in prison once walked the earth as men and women in Noah’s day and through Noah’s lips Christ in Spirit (or, the Spirit of Christ) spoke. They were disobedient, hence their present imprisonment in hades, the unseen world. (1 Peter 3 by F.B. Hole)
 How the Spirit of Christ? We have seen in the first chapter of this epistle that very expression (ch. 1:10-11). The Spirit of Christ in the prophets could write Scripture, and then search Scripture. So the Spirit of Christ in Noah could proclaim the gospel to the antediluvians, while they were men on the earth.  In Genesis 6 God says, “My Spirit shall not always strive with man.” This is the very word....The spirits of these men are in prison now, because they were disobedient to the word preached to them then. (Our Pathway of Suffering by W.T.P. Wolston)

J. N. Darby Translation

in which also going he preached to the spirits which are in prison,

W. Kelly Translation

in [virtue of] which also he went and preached to the spirits in prison11,

WK Translation Notes

-20 [whole verses]: Though the original text is not doubtful but sure, the interpretations of ancients and moderns are for the most part precarious and misleading. Why was this? It may be helpful, and it is instructive, to note the unusual uncertainty of the ancient versions. The Greek is linguistically plain, the construction grammatically clear: why, then, should the rendering be variant and confused but by ideas imported from without? So early was the tendency to bad interpretation instead of faithful translation. Thus the Vulgate has, without authority, "erant" in verse 19, and "qui" in 20, but the atrocity of "expectabant Dei patientiam," which led so many Romanists into error in the Middle Ages and to the present day; for so it stands in the Tridentine standard of authentic Scripture, impudently false, yet unabashed in its open inconsistency with the passage itself. The Pesch. Syr. was similarly unfaithful in the first errors of the Latin, renders φ. by "Sheul," and falsely paraphrases the rest thus, "while the long-suffering of GOD commanded that he (Noah) should make the ark upon the hope of their conversion, and eight souls only entered therein and were saved in the waters." The Philox. or Harcleian Syr. is much nearer the truth, as it avoids the error in 19, as "In this to the imprisoned spirits also He went, He evangelized," which is sufficiently loose, though not in quite the same way. But verse 20 is well translated except in giving a finished instead of a continuous force to the preparation of an ark. Again, the Aeth. adds "Holy" to "Spirit" in 18, and like Pesch Syr. adds "held" or "shut up" to 19. The Erpenian Arabic is everywhere free, and seems peculiar in "departed to the spirits which were shut up," which goes beyond and verges into interpretation, if not misinterpretation. One may remark here that πορ. in verse 22 has εἰος οὐρανὸν, whereas in verse 19 there is a careful avoidance of εἰς ᾄδου or any equivalent, which has been overlooked by those who have argued for the force of 19 from 22. In the Armenian there is little or nothing that calls for notice here. (Preaching to the Spirits in Prison, p. 5-6)
[whole verses]:... the ancient versions are too loose to render any help worth naming. Without discussing now whether the Peschito does (as Bode and others assert) or does not use scheiul for the grave as well as hades, it is plain that "lived" in spirit is faulty for ζωοποιηθεὶς, and that to leave out "in [or in the power of] which," substituting a mere connective particle "and," is far from the truth. "To the souls which were kept" may after a fashion represent τοῖς ἐν φ. πν., the addition of "in hades" or "scheiul" being unwarranted. There are other inaccuracies; but let this suffice. Far better here is the Philoxenian Syriac, which is thus rendered by White, "morte affectus quidem carne, vivificatus autem spiritu. In quo et spiritbus, qui in domo custodiae sunt, profectus praedicavit: Qui non obediverant aliquando, quum expectabat longanimitas Dei in diebus Noe," etc. The Arabic (Pol.) and the Vulgate alone give correctly the beginning of the verse, the Erpenian Arabic and the Aethiopic being as loose as the Peschito Syr. The Aeth. adds "holy" to "Spirit", but it does not follow, as Bishop Middleton seems to think, that the other ancient versions did not understand exactly the same sense, though they very properly did not add the word "holy" so as to define their rendering more than the original text. The Memphitic, according to Wilkins, is no better than the rest. This is his version: "mortuus quidem in carne, vivens autem in Spiritu. In hoc Spiritibus [S. sic] qui in carcere abiit evangelizavit. Incredulis aliquando," etc. (Preaching to the Spirits in Prison, p. 37-38)
preached:... "cried aloud" is an impossible rendering of ἐκήρυξεν. The passage quoted from the Hecuba of Euripides (145) proves nothing of the sort. To invoke is not to "cry aloud" as a sufferer. In the very few classical instances where the word bears the peculiar meaning of invocation, κ. has an object which determines the sense, whereas here it is without one. But its New Testament meaning is to preach or publish; and the reason alleged for a variation here (that it is the only place in which it refers to one who was in a state of suffering) is a mere and unfounded assumption. There is no more real ground to deny an active subject here than anywhere else in the New Testament....
The attempt also to gather support from the supposed derivation of κηρύσσω from the Chaldaic כְּרז; proves rather the contrary, for Daniel 5:29 in no way supports the notion of crying out in suffering. Nor is it true that the word ἐκήρυξεν should be followed by an objective case, if the apostle had been desirous of impressing on our minds the definite notion of publishing the gospel; for if Mark 16:15 expresses the gospel, Mark 1:38 leaves it out, and yet who can doubt the meaning? So does Mark 3:14, nay, even chapter 16:20—the very context to which Dr.
[Bartle] appeals to the contrary. The rest of the New Testament would still more fully disprove the notion, but what we have referred to is surely enough....
Now it is obvious that the Greek does not intimate that Christ cried aloud (even if the word could bear this meaning, which would rather be ἔκραξεν) in prison; it tells us of the imprisoned spirits of those contemplated in Christ’s κήρυγμα or rather κήρυξις by the Spirit. To bear the desired meaning ἐν φυλακῆ must have been put with ἐκήρυξεν, instead of being entrenched in its present position apart, as it is most firmly. Further, it is equally an error to suppose that the original text can possibly mean "among the spirits," etc. Were the words "ἐν φ. Μετὰ τῶν πνευμάτων, κ. τ. λ.," there would be something answering to what is set out in his English: as it is, there is not even a distant resemblance. (Preaching to the Spirits in Prison, p. 102-104)
The collocation of the Greek (τοῖς ἐν φυλακῇ πνεύμασιν) is decisive, that the true connection is not between the preaching, but the spirits and the prison. (Christian Annotator 1:255)
spirits in prison:... it is certain that τοῖς ἐν φυλακῇ πνεύμασιν can signify "that are in prison" as naturally at least as "that were" there: only the necessity of the context could really justify the latter sense. But if the context favor "that are," it is the simple unforced bearing of the phrase. And that it does favor it should be plain from ἀπειθήσασίν ποτε ὄτε, κ. τ. λ., which points to an antecedent time of guilt as the ground of their being now imprisoned. (Preaching to the Spirits in Prison, p. 11; see also p. 21)
spirits in prison: Now what are the facts of the usage of φυλακή Primarily it means the act of watching; hence (2) the persons that watch or guard (as in Latin and English); (3) the time; (4) the place, not only where those watching are posted, but (5) where others are kept as in ward or prison. Such (with the moral application of taking heed, and being on one’s guard, from keeping in ward) are the chief senses in which the word was employed by the Greeks. The New Testament has it once in the first sense (Luke 2:8), once in the second (Acts 12:10), five times in the third (Matt. 14:25; 24:43; Mark 6:48; Luke 12:38 twice), and forty times in the fifth sense, including not only 1 Peter 3:19 but Rev. 18:2, where it is in the Authorized Version translated "the hold of every foul spirit and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird," all evidently equivalent to the meaning of "prison," which is used even of Satan’s place of temporary detention. Never elsewhere does the Holy Spirit use it in the more general signification of a mere "place of safe keeping." Is there any special reason in our text why it should here be so rendered? The assigned ground of custody being the former disobedience of the spirits thus restrained, there ought to be no hesitation in accepting the English Version as fully justified,... (Preaching to the Spirits in Prison, p. 34-35)
spirits in prison: It is a strange notion, adopted by Calvin (it is to be hoped, without a single intelligent follower), that φυλακὴ here means a watch-tower, whence he supposed the saints to have been awaiting the Messiah. (Preaching to the Spirits in Prison, p. 45)