Christ Died Once for All – I Peter 3:18-22

The key to understanding this difficult passage or any passage in the Bible is to remember that “context is king.” In other words, always take the interpretation that best fits the context and that is consistent with other teachings throughout the Bible.

Here are some of the thoughts of one who has studied our passage and has prayerfully sought to understand and apply its truth:

“A wonderful text is this, and a more obscure passage perhaps than any other in the New Testament, so that I do not know for a certainty just what Peter means.” Martin Luther

I. Christ Died Once for All That He Might Bring Us to God (3:18a)

II. Christ Died Once for All That We Might Be Faithful in Our Witness (3:18b-21)

Three main interpretations of our passage

A. Christ died in the flesh & in the spirit went to preach the gospel to the human spirits of those who were alive in the days of Noah giving them a second chance.

B. Christ died at the hands of men and was raised by the Holy Spirit and in the power of that same Holy Spirit the preincarnate Christ preached the gospel through Noah to his contemporaries.

C. After Christ physical death and before His bodily resurrection, His spirit went to declare His victory over sin to a group of fallen angels who were imprisoned awaiting judgment for their role in leading Noah’s generation into sin.

III. Christ Died Once for All That He Might Rule from Heaven (3:22)

“The history of the church is to be the history of Christ repeated: she is to be betrayed, she is to be scourged, she is to be falsely accused and spitted on; she may have her crucifixion and her death; but she shall rise again. Her Master rose, and like him she shall rise and receive glory. You can never kill the church till you can kill Christ; and you can never defeat her till you defeat the Lord Jesus, who already wears the crown of triumph.” Charles Spurgeon