Monday, October 27, 2008

The Exegetical Opportunity of a Lifetime

"For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed 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, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him" (1 Peter 3.18-22).

If for some reason you have ever dreamed of being a theologian/preacher, then this is your lucky week! Our current sermon series at Woodward Park called "Our Place in this World" focuses on Peter's first letter. And in our journey through Peter's first letter, we've reached this conundrum of a text.

This text has been called, by no less a scholar of Scripture than Martin Luther, as: "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 certain just what Peter means."

But next Sunday, I'll be expected to have an answer, regardless of the difficulty inherent within this passage.

So, don your theologian/preacher hat and give it your best shot. Send me an email and let me know what you think Peter is saying. What is his point? Who are the spirits in prison? Did Jesus descend into hell between his death and resurrection? Was Jesus preexistent in the person of Noah? Is it something else altogether?

My email is or Send me your insights and wisdom, as I'm collecting as much as possible this week.