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The Spirits in Prison.

The Spirits in Prison.

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Published by glennpease
BY PATON J. GLOAG, D.D,


James i. 9, 10.
BY PATON J. GLOAG, D.D,


James i. 9, 10.

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Published by: glennpease on Mar 18, 2013
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THE SPIRITS IN PRISON.
BY PATON J. GLOAG, D.D, I Peter iii. 18-20.Aiithorised Version. — Being put to death in the flesh, butquickened by the spirit : by which also He went and preachedunto the spirits in prison; which sometime were disobedient, when,once the long-sufifering of God waited in the days of Noah.Revised Versio7i. — Being put to death in the flesh, butquickened in the spirit ; in which also He went and preachedunto the spirits in prison, which aforetime were disobedient,when the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah.St. Peter, in his Second Epistle, observes, in refer-ence to the Epistles of his brother apostle Paul, that" there are in them some things hard to be under-stood " (2 Pet. iii. 16), a statement which must appearundeniable to every one who is in the least acquaintedwith the writings of the great apostle of the Gentiles.There are in his Epistles many difficult passageswhich have puzzled expositors, and given rise to-endless diversities of interpretation. There are243244 Exegetical Studies.revelations of divine mysteries, such as predestina-tion, election, and free will, which transcend thecapacities of the human intellect. There is acertain obscurity of style, an involved train of thought which it is often difficult to disentangle.And there is a mode of reasoning which, althoughintelligible to Orientals, appears strange to ourWestern minds. But the observation not only holdsgood with regard to St. Paul's Epistles, it is noless true with regard to the writings of the apostlewho made the remark. In St. Peter's Epistles thereare also " things hard to be understood." Our textis a notable instance ; hardly any passage in theNew Testament is more difficult of comprehension,or has given rise to a greater diversity of mean-ings. These obscurities in Scripture are an exerciseto our faith ; we are to walk up to the light whichwe have, and to practise trust when the light failsus. They are also a valuable exercise to our intel-lectual faculties, an incitement to the study of theScriptures, and to the endeavour to find out thetrue meaning of the word of God. And they teachus humility, showing that there is much in revelationwhich we do not comprehend, and that there are
 
boundaries to human knowledge in the word as wellas in the works of God.There are two changes in the reading of our pas-sage which are undoubtedly correct, and are admittedby all critics. The article r&J before irvev^iaTi is omittedin all the best MSS. ; and instead of the unsupportedThe Spirits 211 Prison. 245reading aira^ e^eSe^ero (probably a conjecture of Erasmus), the MSS. and versions have aTre^eSe^ero.With reference to the translation, the Revised ishere to be preferred to the Authorised Version.7rvev/u,aTt, is m spirit ; iv w, is in wJdch ; ttotc, is afore-time or perhaps rather formerly ; aTre^eSix^ro is not" once waited," but was waiting. So that the passageis to be rendered : " Being put to death in flesh, butquickened in spirit ; in which also He went andpreached unto the spirits in prison, which wereformerly disobedient, when the long-suffering of Godwas waiting in the days of Noah."The meaning of the context is obvious. St. Peteris exhorting believers to endure suffering for thesake of religion with patience, and even with acertain degree of cheerfulness. "If," says he, "yesuffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye." Toyou belongs the beatitude which the Lord conferredon those who are persecuted. " Be not afraid of theirterror, neither be troubled." If you have a goodconscience toward God, if the cause for which yousuffer is a righteous cause, you have no reason to beashamed, but rather to glory in your afHictions. " Itis better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer forwell doing than for evil doing." And as an encourage-ment to them to hold out and not to despond amidtheir sufferings, he adduces the example of Christ :"for Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the justfor the unjust, that He might bring us to God, beingput to death in the flesh, but quickened in the spirit."'246 Exegetical Studies.He like you suffered for well doing, the just One forthe unjust ; but His death was succeeded by life,although He was put to death as regards the flesh,He was quickened as regards the spirit. And thenfollow the words which form our exposition, which areappended as a statement of what Christ did in thespirit, in which He was quickened : "In which (spirit)also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison,which were formerly disobedient, when the long-
 
suffering of God was waiting in the days of Noah."The exegesis of the passage is as follows : — Thereis an antithesis between the two datives aapici andTTvevixarL ; an antithesis which is elsewhere frequentlyfound in Scripture (Rom. i. 3, 4 ; Col. ii. 5 ; i Tim.iii. 16; I Pet. iv. 6). They can only be understoodadverbially ; they " mark the sphere to which thegeneral predicate is to be thought of as restricted." ^As regards His flesh Christ was put to death, but asregards His spirit He was quickened. Hence thewords can only admit of the translation, "put to deathin the flesh, but quickened in the spirit." It is also tobe observed that the words aapKi and irvev^iari arewithout the article, and are therefore to be understoodgenerically not specifically. " Quod ad caniein" ob-serves Alford, " the Lord was put to death ; quod adspiritum, He was brought to life. His flesh was thesubject, recipient, vehicle of inflicted death; HisSpirit was the subject, recipient, vehicle of restored^ Winer's Grammar of the New Testament, p. 270, Moulton's Transla-tion.The Spwits in Prison. 247life. What is asserted is not that the flesh died, andthe Spirit was made alive ; but that quoad the fleshthe Lord died, quoad the Spirit He was made alive.He, the God-man, Christ Jesus, body and soul, ceasedto live in the flesh, began to live in the Spirit ; ceasedto live a fleshly mortal life, began to live a spiritualresurrection life." Most recent expositors understandby irvevixan the human spirit of Christ ; that whilstChrist's flesh was in the grave. His spirit in a disem-bodied state went to Hades and preached to the spiritsin prison. Others interpret it of His divine nature.Christ was put to death in the flesh, in His humannature; but quickened in Spirit, in His divine nature.His human nature {crap^) rendered Him capable of suffering and death ; His divine nature {irvevixa) wasthe source and sphere of His eternal life.^ The wordquickened (^(ooTroLTjOeh) does not mean preserved orremained alive, but made alive, the antithesis to beingput to death ; some refer it to the existence of thespirit of Christ in a state of separation from the body,others to His resurrection life (John v. 21 ; Rom. iv.17). 'Ev w, in zvhich — i.e., iv Trvevfiari, namely, in thesame spirit in which He was quickened, whether,according to some expositors, His human spirit, or,according to others. His divine nature. Kal, also or^ It is to be observed that the resurrection of Christ is uniformlyascribed in Scripture not to Christ's human spirit, but to the power orSpirit of God (Acts ii. 4 ; Rom. iv. 24 ; vi. 4 ; viii. 1 1 ; .x. 9 ; i Cor.vi. 14 ; XV. 15 ; 2 Cor. iv. 4 ; xiii. 4 ; Gal. i. i ; Eph. i. 20 ; Col. ii.

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