RE: 1 Peter 3:15-22. These verses of Scripture say Christ, went and preached to spirits in prison--1) Souls in prison, 2) while the ark was a preparing. Some believe the three days Christ was in the grave he went and preached to those in prison in a spiritual form. Would you please comment on this?
One of the principles of Bible interpretation is to interpret a passage in light of other clear Bible teaching. Based upon the clear teaching in Luke 23:43 that Jesus was going to be in "paradise" and based upon the passage in Luke 16:19-21 that there is a great divide between the spirits of the righteous and the unrighteous, we conclude that after a person has died, their ultimate destination (whether heaven or hell) is sealed. That is, as soon as a person dies, then that person will know their ultimate destination. Having this in mind, it does not make much sense to say that Jesus during the three nights that He was in the tomb, preached the gospel to departed spirits. Why would He preach to them? What would He say? Wouldn't this imply some kind of second chance? If so, then that would be inconsistent with the other clear teaching of the Bible such as: Hebrews 9:27, "And it is appointed unto men once to die but after this the judgment." It would also contradict passages such as Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death." How can one say that after death comes judgment and if one dies in sin he must suffer eternal death if there is a second chance? What about the story of the covetous man in Luke 12:15-21. God said that the same night of his death, his soul would be required. What about the parable of the 10 virgins who were not let in after the coming of the bridegroom because they were not ready (Matthew 25:1-13)? What about the parable of the talents where the men were judged based upon how they used their talents in this life (Matthew 25:14-30)? What about the concept of being judged based upon the deeds that we do in THIS life (Ecclesiastes 12:14; Matthew 12:36; John 5:29; Romans 14:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10)? Further, if there is a second chance, why should we even preach the gospel? Why not just all wait until after we die and then accept the gospel? So whatever this passage teaches, it does not teach that there is a second chance for salvation after death. So what does it teach?
If we look back to 1 Peter 1:9-10 we see that Peter is talking about salvation. He says in verse 11 that the Spirit of Christ was in the prophets and that they preached concerning two things 1) Christ's suffering, and 2) the glories to follow. When we get to 1 Peter 3:18 we have a similar idea. First, it was by the Spirit of Christ that the preaching was done. This preaching was done at a specific time in history, while Noah was building the ark. What was their response to this preaching? They were disobedient. They did not believe and act upon the preaching that Christ, through Noah, presented to them. What was their fate? They were cast into "prison" to await the coming judgment--they are NOW spirits in prison. So what does this verse mean? It means that the Spirit of Christ preached to the men and women before the flood. Peter describes these men and women as spirits who are NOW in prison, though they were regular people during the days of the flood who were disobedient to the Spirit of Christ.