1 Peter 3:20 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Peter 3:20, NIV: "to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,"

1 Peter 3:20, ESV: "because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water."

1 Peter 3:20, KJV: "Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water."

1 Peter 3:20, NASB: "who once were disobedient when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water."

1 Peter 3:20, NLT: "those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood."

1 Peter 3:20, CSB: "who in the past were disobedient, when God patiently waited in the days of Noah while the ark was being prepared. In it a few--that is, eight people --were saved through water."

What does 1 Peter 3:20 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Peter has written that Jesus was "made alive in the spirit"" in which" He went and proclaimed something to the "spirits in prison." In this verse, Peter continues by saying that those "spirits in prison" did not obey when God waited patiently. In Noah's days during the construction of the ark, God waited before saving Noah and His family from the flood. Note, just as Jesus did (Matthew 24:37), Peter acknowledges that Noah was an historical figure and Noah's flood was an historical event.

So what could Peter possibly be describing in these verses? What does it mean that Jesus proclaimed to spirits in prison who disobeyed during Noah's time during the construction of the ark. Bible scholars offer several views. Two of the most popular are that the spirit of Jesus preached, through Noah, to those living in disobedience during that time. Another is that Jesus went and declared His victory over death to the fallen angels, now imprisoned, who disobeyed God during that time.

Another persistent view, less biblically supportable, is that Jesus traveled in spirit form after His death and before His resurrection to proclaim something to those in Hades or hell who died before or during the flood. All of these views raise many questions, none of which are easily answered. The bottom line is that we just don't know for sure what Peter means by these verses. What we do know is that Jesus was dead and then made alive, that He suffered and then was made victorious by the Father forever.