I just did a search on the internet for a Hebrew word and, oddly enough, it brought up a postat your web site titled “You are promoting a serious lie in your treatment of Daniel 12:2”. I couldn’t help but read it, of course. After reading your comment which stated: “There is no biblical evidence, as far as I know, that souls pass from the state of final judgment back to a blessed state”, I remembered two rather odd verses and I was wondering if you could give me your opinion on them and whether they apply to your statement or not. They are as follows:

“…By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah…For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.”  1Pet 3:19-4:6     and

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so ALL Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this [is] my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins…For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.” See Rom 11:25-32

Thank you for your time and help!


You are asking about two of the more difficult passages in the New Testament to interpret–especially the 1 Peter verse. Let me start there.

As for 1 Peter 3:19, this is certainly a difficult passage. On the face, God, through Peter seems to be telling us that Jesus spoke to those “in prison” through the Holy Spirit. The most obvious interpretation of those “in prison” would be the souls in Hades–the place of waiting after death and before final judgment. What is this about? Let me say that I am not sure. With difficult passages, there are a couple of principles to help in interpreting them. First of all, it is useful to look for parallel passages which are similar but more easily interpreted. Second, it can be helpful to ask what the passage does NOT teach, so that certain interpretations can be fairly easily eliminated. With 1 Peter 3:19 the closest I can come to as a parallel or similar passage is from the Parable of Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) in which God tells the Rich man who is imprisoned in Hades that there is a great separation between them and those in Paradise. The rich man asks for God to have pity on him, but seems to be refused. WE learn that this place of waiting is a place of torment. This does not give us a lot to go on, but it might be helpful.

On the second piece of advice, I believe it is fair to say that 1 Peter 3:19 is not teaching that those in Hades get a second chance to repent and be saved. If this were so, then a passage such as Hebrews 9:27 would not make sense: “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” It seems that Hebrews 9:27 is a clearer passage with an obvious meaning. If 1 Peter is not teaching that people in Hades can be saved, then what is it teaching and why did Jesus bother to go there to preach? I will have to admit that I am not really sure. In the context, Peter is talking about the fate of evil persons who refuse the message sent to them by God. I do not see any sign of hope for “the unrighteous” in this passage. So, although I cannot tell you why Jesus preached to these souls, I can say with pretty good confidence that this passage is not teaching that we get a second chance to repent and be saved after we die.

On Romans 11:25-32, it should be interpreted in the light of the message of Romans. The thrust of the book of Romans is that salvation is for the Gentiles too. Whether Jew of Gentile, salvation has always been by faith. “Those who through faith have become righteous shall live.” is a theme verse for Romans (Romans 1:17). The thrust of what Paul seems to be saying is that salvation was first offered to the Jews. Probably you already know that for the first few years the gospel was only presented to the Jews. Only later, after the dramatic events of Acts 10 and 11, did the gospel spread to the Gentiles. Over the course of the next twenty years or so, the number of Jews coming into the Kingdom decreased dramatically (they were experiencing a hardening in part) and the Jews began to persecute the church, while the number of Gentiles saved increased exponentially. Romans is, in part, a reflection on this fact to the Jews who had become jealous of the fact that Gentiles seemed to be coming into the Kingdom ahead of the Jews. Paul is reminding them that this simply was not the case. He also suggests that, now that Gentiles are pouring into the Kingdom, perhaps this might motivate some Jews to accept salvation by faith in Jesus.

Paul then continues to say “And so all Israel will be saved….” Paul is not promising that all those who are born physically Jewish will be saved. That would be the diametric opposite of what he is teaching in Hebrews! Here Paul is talking about “spiritual Israel” which is the church. After speaking to the Jews, telling them that they should not criticize God for accepting the Gentiles (the theme of much of Romans 9 and 10, as well as 11:25), Paul switches his attention to the Gentiles (and perhaps to the Jewish Christians as well) to say that the non-Christian Jews are their enemies with regard to their not accepting the gospel, but the Gentiles should be humble as well. They should remember that salvation came from the Jews, and that they owe a lot to the Jews and should not mock them over the fact, that, at least for a time, the Jews had hardened their heart.

If only Christians in subsequent centuries had obeyed the teaching from Paul. It is a scandal that as early as the second century some Christians were speaking disrespectfully about the Jewish people. Over time, the Christian Church became more and more anti-semitic, bringing shame on Christianity. If he were still there, probably Paul would be “rolling over in his grave” because of the hatred directed by supposed Christians against the Jews. In any case, I see no indicatio in this passage that it is teaching some sort of second chance for Jews to repent after this lifetime and to switch from spiritual death to life.

John Oakes


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