1 Peter 3:19

In which also (en wi kai). That is, in spirit (relative referring to pneumati). But, a number of modern scholars have followed Griesbach's conjecture that the original text was either Nwe kai (Noah also), or Enwc kai (Enoch also), or en wi kai Enwc (in which Enoch also) which an early scribe misunderstood or omitted Enwc kai in copying (omoioteleuton). It is allowed in Stier and Theile's Polyglott. It is advocated by J. Cramer in 1891, by J. Rendel Harris in The Expositor (1901), and Sidelights on N.T. Research (p. 208), by Nestle in 1902, by Moffatt's New Translation of the New Testament. Windisch rejects it as inconsistent with the context. There is no manuscript for the conjecture, though it would relieve the difficulty greatly. Luther admits that he does not know what Peter means. Bigg has no doubt that the event recorded took place between Christ's death and his resurrection and holds that Peter is alluding to Christ's Descensus ad Inferos in Acts 2:27 (with which he compares Matthew 27:52 ; Luke 23:34 ; Ephesians 4:9 ). With this Windisch agrees. But Wohlenberg holds that Peter means that Christ in his preexistent state preached to those who rejected the preaching of Noah who are now in prison. Augustine held that Christ was in Noah when he preached. Bigg argues strongly that Christ during the time between his death and resurrection preached to those who once heard Noah (but are now in prison) and offered them another chance and not mere condemnation. If so, why did Jesus confine his preaching to this one group? So the theories run on about this passage. One can only say that it is a slim hope for those who neglect or reject Christ in this life to gamble with a possible second chance after death which rests on very precarious exegesis of a most difficult passage in Peter's Epistle. Accepting the text as we have, what can we make of it? He went and preached (poreuqei ekhruxen). First aorist passive (deponent) participle of poreuomai and first aorist active indicative of khrussw, the verb commonly used of the preaching of Jesus. Naturally the words mean personal action by Christ "in spirit" as illustration of his "quickening" (verse Ephesians 18 ) whether done before his death or afterwards. It is interesting to observe that, just as the relative en wi here tells something suggested by the word pneumati (in spirit) just before, so in verse Ephesians 21 the relative o (which) tells another illustration of the words di udato (by water) just before. Peter jumps from the flood in Noah's time to baptism in Peter's time, just as he jumped backwards from Christ's time to Noah's time. He easily goes off at a word. What does he mean here by the story that illustrates Christ's quickening in spirit? Unto the spirits in prison (toi en pulakh pneumasin). The language is plain enough except that it does not make it clear whether Jesus did the preaching to spirits in prison at the time or to people whose spirits are now in prison, the point of doubt already discussed. The metaphorical use of en pulakh can be illustrated by 2 Peter 2:4 ; Jude 1:6 ; Revelation 20:7 (the final abode of the lost). See Hebrews 12:23 for the use of pneumata for disembodied spirits.