Sunday, May 28, 2006

Are the "Spirits in Prison" Those in Purgatory?

A Roman Catholic asks:

Anyway, please educate me CM, what does it mean when St. Peter wrote that ... Christ preached to the Spirits in prison? For sure our Lord cannot be in Hell, and not in Heaven for why would the Spirits still be in prison? Wouldn't this correspond to a middle way?

My response:

Even though I have answered this in other threads, I would be more than happy to oblige. Let’s look at the verse:

1 Peter 3:18-20For Christ also once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, indeed being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit; in which also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, to disobeying ones, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared (in which a few, that is, eight souls were saved through water).

In context, immediately one notices that the verses aren’t, in the least, purgatorial and speaks in specifics. Who are these “spirits in prison”? They are the antediluvians, those who disobeyed during the days of Noah as the verse plainly states. There is nothing in the verse that gives credence to the concept of purgatory because it states nothing resembling a purgatory. Now, it states that Christ was put to death, but His “spirit” was made alive. IOW, this event happened in between His crucifixion and resurrection when His spirit descended into Sheol (Hades) and preached the will of God to the spirits there. In Luke 16:20-31, Jesus gives insight into the places of the dead by telling us his story of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Dives, if you believe the traditional name of this man). Both went to Sheol (Hades in the Greek), but to two distinct places within Sheol. Lazarus went to what is known as Abraham’s Bosom or “paradise” (Luke 23:43), the place of the OT saints, while Dives went into the hell of the damned. There was a “gulf” between these places where one couldn’t cross to the other side (Luke 16:26). Since Christ is the only way to the Father (John 14:6) the Old Testament saints could not enter the Father’s kingdom until He came, thus they remained in Sheol in a place of “comfort” (Luke 16:25) which was called Abraham’s Bosom (Rome calls this “limbus patrum” or “limbo of the fathers”). When Christ died, He went into Abraham’s Bosom and proclaimed the gospel to the souls there. Just as in Luke 16, those within the hell of the damned could hear Christ proclaim this gospel to the saints in Abraham’s Bosom, and this gospel brought freedom to the saints in the Bosom, but to those in the hell of the damned, it condemns them all the more. Thus, it can be said that Christ preached to the “spirits in prison.” Yet, as you can plainly see, none of these “spirits” were in a purgatory, but the righteous were within Abraham’s Bosom and the wicked were within the hell of the damned. The “spirits” in Abraham’s Bosom were released a few days after the Resurrection where they appeared to many (Matthew 27:52-53).


No comments:

Who links to my website?