Who were the spirits in prison to whom Jesus “preached”?

//Who were the spirits in prison to whom Jesus “preached”?

QUESTION: If there is no conscious awareness after death, how could the “spirits in prison” be preached to by Christ after his death (1Pet 3:18-20) and how could the good news be “declared also to the dead” (1Pet 4:6)? – Stumper questions for Jehovah’s Witnesses, #41

Perhaps a better question to consider is this: If there is some sort of conscious existence after death, why does the Bible plainly say that the dead are unconscious? Here is what the Bible says: “There is hope for whoever is among the living, because a live dog is better off than a dead lion. For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing at all, nor do they have any more reward, because all memory of them is forgotten.” —Ecclesiastes 9:4-5

dead lion graphicThe lion is considered king of the beasts. Yet, a living dog is better off than a dead lion. And why? Because a dead lion is dead. It can’t move, kill, eat, mate – nothing. And the same eventuality befalls all humans.

Contrary to the universal lie that all religions teach, including animists and pagans, death is the opposite of life. It is the cessation of all things associated with life, foremost of which is consciousness. The dead know nothing because they are unconscious. That is why the Bible uses the expression: “sleeping in death.” And that is why there is to be a resurrection of the dead. A resurrection literally means to “stand up,” as if from a prone position as when sleeping.

So, the question really becomes: Does the Bible contradict itself? If not, why does it say Jesus preached to spirits in prison and the good news was declared to the dead?

Starting with the assumption that the Bible is not contradictory the most logical question to consider is: Who were the spirits to whom Jesus preached? And the answer is easily obtainable in scripture. In fact, it is in the very context of the passage the questioner alluded to and probably why he chose to not quote the entire passage. It reads: “For Christ died once for all time for sins, a righteous person for unrighteous ones, in order to lead you to God. He was put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit. And in this state he went and preached to the spirits in prison, who had formerly been disobedient when God was patiently waiting in Noah’s day, while the ark was being constructed, in which a few people, that is, eight souls, were carried safely through the water.”

There, the passage reveals that the spirits are angels, not departed humans. Where does it say they were angels? If you go to the NWT and click on the reference for “spirits in prison” it hyperlinks you to Jude, which says straight-out: “And the angels who did not keep their original position but forsook their own proper dwelling place, he has reserved with eternal bonds in dense darkness for the judgment of the great day.”

Peter also wrote of this development in his second letter, saying: “Certainly God did not refrain from punishing the angels who sinned, but threw them into Tartarus, putting them in chains of dense darkness to be reserved for judgment. And he did not refrain from punishing an ancient world, but kept Noah, a preacher of righteousness, safe with seven others when he brought a flood upon a world of ungodly people.”

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 6.45.51 PMThe “eternal bonds” and “chains” and Tartarus mean the same thing as prison. The angels who came down before the Flood are also referred to as the sons of God in the sixth chapter of Genesis.

The restraint imposed upon the angels who rebelled likely prevents them from materializing again, as they did before the Flood. Apparently when the Deluge began the angels were forced to dissolve their flesh and leave their wives and sons behind to drown in the raging waters. After returning to the spirit dimension Jehovah condemned them as outcasts of his family in heaven. They became Satan’s angels – demons, who are bent on misleading mankind away from the truth, as they await their final fate during the great day.


But in what sense did Jesus preach to those wicked spirits? Since the Lord refused to have any dealings with demons when he was on the earth, telling Satan to “go away” and commanding the demons to be silent when they spoke to him through the human victims they possessed, it is out of the question that Christ had any kind words for the spirits in prison, or any words at all.

demonsHis preaching to them was not in the form of a spoken sermon. As the context makes clear, Jesus was put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit. His death was brought about by the demons. But his being made alive was by the power of God and it signified that Christ had accomplished his mission and pleased God. One of the primary reasons Jesus was required, not just to die, but to die and excruciating, agonizingly painful death, was to answer Satan’s taunt that no man would give his soul to God.

Jesus’ death and resurrection sealed Satan’s fate. His angels’ too. The offspring of the woman was faithful and recovered from his heel wound inflicted by the serpent. So, Christ’s very presence in the spirit realm sent the spirits in prison the message, loud and clear: Your doom is sealed!

What about 1 Peter 4:6, which states: “But these people will render an account to the one who is ready to judge those living and those dead. In fact, this is why the good news was declared also to the dead, so that although they are judged in the flesh from the standpoint of men, they might live in harmony with the spirit from God’s standpoint.”

The apostle had described the main characteristics of a world alienated from God. Such persons are dead in God’s sight. Elsewhere the apostles spoke of persons who did not know God as being dead —spiritually dead. For example, Paul wrote to the Ephesians: “Furthermore, God made you alive, though you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you at one time walked according to the system of things of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.”

zombieJesus even used the metaphor when he said “let the dead bury their dead.” Obviously, Jesus was not alluding to some sort of invasion by zombie gravediggers. He was simply referring to persons who chose not to follow him as being dead.

Also, in the third chapter of Revelation Jesus spoke of being spiritually dead, when he said: “These are the things that he says who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars, ‘I know your deeds, that you have the name that you are alive, but you are dead. Become watchful, and strengthen the things remaining that were ready to die, for I have not found your deeds fully performed before my God.'” (By the way, this is an effective scripture to share with the Evangelicals who may chide Jehovah’s Witnesses for believing that Christians are required to perform works or deeds, that salvation isn’t just gift-wrapped like a Christmas present.)

So, the good news was declared to the dead then, and it is being declared now. Those who give heed will live. And those who are spiritually dead when the great day of Jehovah commences will become literally dead for all eternity.


2016-12-08T15:10:24+00:00 April 20th, 2016|Answers|24 Comments
  • Merton

    Just some thoughts that people might want to investigate in their own way.

    The ‘good news being declared to the dead’ could readily be understood that those who accept the good news ‘come to life’. Aren’t we all classed as dead (although living) until we receive the good news? If you don’t have everlasting life, your death is a forgone conclusion, by accepting the good news you move from death to life.

    The ‘spirits in prison’ is also interesting. Aren’t we all classed as in bondage to sin? Aren’t we a prisoner to the flesh until we decide to walk by the spirit and are liberated from prison and free (to sin no more)?

    Just something to ponder.

    • Merton

      I meant to say regarding spirits in prison that after Christ was resurrected he spent 40 days with his disciples and others, no doubt teaching them many things and opening their eyes somewhat to the scriptures.

      • if you are not spiritually Conscious I would think that would be considered spiritually dead but I don’t think that all of us would be considered dead in the way you put it for example if a person is spiritually Conscious then he is spiritually alive.

        • Bklyn Kevin

          Jesus said “Happy are those “conscious” of their spiritual need,
          Matthew 5:3 A. “Whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty at all, but the water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water bubbling up to impart everlasting life. John 4:14.

    • Bklyn Kevin

      Then Jesus went on to say to the Jews who had believed him: “If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32,
      However this scriptural principle does not apply to the demons who are in Tartarus.

      And the angels who did not keep their original position but forsook their own proper dwelling place, he has reserved with eternal bonds in dense darkness for the judgment of the great day. Jude 1:6.

      • well put kevin. you all must excuse me I have the general thought in my head concerning an explanation but I am not as well versed when expressing my thoughts in writing lol.

        • Bklyn Kevin

          Leonard your comment was very encouraging and expressed very well, in fact your comments encouraged me to put my 2¢ in so to speak,
          so I added a scripture to compliment your comment .

          And let us consider one another so as to incite to love and fine works. Hebrews 10:24.A.

          • thank you that’s very encouraging and uplifting.

    • you have an interesting way of viewing matters merton. if you keep seeking the truth I can surely see Jehovah to bless you with truth. keep on then seeking Jehovah and his kingdom first and he will bless you.

  • you bring out some very interesting facts in this articale Robert I really enjoyed reading it and yes this is how I have understood this subject just as you have written it. it can get a little confusing but not hard to understand. thank you.

    • ewatchman

      Apparently it is hard for some to understand. Google “preach to spirits in prison” or something similar and check out some of the nonsense that “theologians” put out there.

      • I’m sure there’s so much confusion out there I would not at all be shocked. the shame of it is the misleading and confusion that is in place really does mislead an untold number and that’s why I am very greatful for your site Robert. if I ever need the truth and need to get through all the nonsensical Bologna I can always look up one of your well written articales and unravel the lies and get right to the truth of the matter and set matters straight. I only wish more people would use there reasoning ability and see the truth for what it really is.

      • I think here is an example if I’m reading this correctly it is saying that jesus died but was still alive in the spirit. but when jesus died he went to the grave he had to depend on his father Jehovah to resurrect him.

  • Willie Thames

    These spirits that are in prison, did not Paul refer to them as angels (1 Cor 6:3,4)? Furthermore, If Jude says that they are “reserved ….for the judgment of the great day” then how is it that their fate is already sealed?

    • ewatchman

      The way I understand it the judgment of the great day does not mean that the demons are not judged until then. It has to do with the judgment being carried out.

      As for the chosen ones judging angels, Paul may not have had in mind demon angels. Christ himself has been given all authority over angels. Those who are to rule with him will also have authority over angels. In that respect judging angels doesn’t necessarily mean that the righteous angels will have brought adverse judgment upon themselves, just that they will be under the authority of the 144,000.

  • Liz Robinson

    Robert king are you a witness

    • Darren Wilks

      Hi Liz, Welcome to the forum! Robert answers that question in his
      “about” section in the upper right-hand corner of this web page. Its
      best to read it there because he gives his whole story.

      • Liz Robinson

        Ok, so my question is if he is not a witnesse does,he have a reglion

        • Bklyn Kevin

          On the contrary Brother Robert is A Jehovah’s witness.

          Waiting on Jehovah – My Story Read more.>

        • its common when someone mentions religion, they are clouded what that really means as the world just throws that word around, so its good to have the same idea and understanding what relgion is to the One youre asking so theres no confustion.

          it is Jehovah who mentions that those who seve him are a witness of him.- Isaiah 43:10-12 his people, like Robert, adhere to the bible as the tool Jehovah has provided to draw close to him, as all Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, so that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.

          Jehovah is a spirit. 1-Corinthians 2:12-14 knowing Jehovah personally is realizing we have a spiritial counterpart because we are made from him an in his likeness although we are human. – Matthew 5:3 Genesis 1:26

          having a relationship with Jehovah means following his son Jesus footsteps or in other words to be Christain; Christ-like. – 1-Peter 2:21 that would be the religion of those who are a man/woman of God and belong to him. – James 1:27 James 4:8. 1-Corinthians 13:4-8

          Mark 12:29-31
          1-John 4:6-8

          so the answer to your question is yes.

          here is a video for you – https://m.youtube.com/#/user/ewatchmandotcom

          i hope you watch it to the end

          let us know if you have anymore questions Liz

  • JTK

    Robert is correct in that the Spirits that Christ preached to are those who rebelled in the days of Noah,however the book of Enoch which was omitted from the scriptures by the whore who has took control of the holy scriptures for centuries, holds valuable information about circumstances concerning the days of noah and the future

    in particular what happened to the genetic part human, part angelic spirit hybirds, when the flood came and it being clear from scripture and archaeology that the nephelim also existed post flood
    it answers questions such as where did the evil spiritts that Christ cast out from people originate and where the evil spirits that run the powers of this system actually reside.

    • Richard Long

      I have often wondered what Robert’s opinion would be regarding scripture that is only part of the Ethiopian Orthodox cannon, but cannon none the less. If the rich white guys of the Venetian backed church decided what was cannon, do we trust them. Example: white Jesus. Do any of us really believe that Jesus, a Jew, looked like Jim Caviezel?

      • Bklyn Kevin

        Podcast #19. start listening at time set 29:40
        Consideration of questions related to the deluge regarding the feasibility of all the present species of animals fitting into the ark and the age of the Barringer meteor crater in Arizona. See YouTube Video Just As in the Days of Noah
        Download Episode #19 (Right click SAVE LINK AS)

        • Richard Long

          Right. Confirms my belief that the bible we have now, while telling us everything we need to know for salvation, does not tell us everything there is to know. Whether one should choose to explore beyond that might well depend on their own ability to keep separate knowledge for salvation and knowledge for knowledge?

          Thanks for the link, Kevin. You always come through!

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