I. The Several Stages of Christ’s Humiliation and Exaltation (con’d)
E. Christ’s Descent into Hell (p. 314 et. seq.)
1. Is based on 1Pe 3:18-20.
2. According to this passage:
a. Christ, after His quickening (NIV – being “made alive”) in the sepulcher went to place where souls of such men as on earth had remained unbelieving are in prison.
b. So, according to soul and body He went.
c. F.C., S.D. IX 2: “We simply believe that the entire Person, God and Man, after the burial descended into hell”. (quoted p. 314)
3. Re: the order of events and mode of descent.
a. Exact time is that moment which fell between the quickening and the resurrection (as in appearance on earth).
b. Descent was true and real.
(1) Nevertheless not a physical and local motion.
(2) But a supernatural motion.
4. What He did in the prison.
a. Verb is ekeruxen (Gk.).
b. From kerussein (Gk.).
(1) Does not always mean to proclaim the Gospel.
(2) Sometimes re: Gospel, other times Law.
(3) Must determine meaning from context.
(1) For a preaching of judgment, or the Law.
(2) Pertains here to people to whom Word had been preached on earth, for a long time, under warning external circumstances (building of ark).
(3) But they had rejected the Word and perished.
(4) Mt 24:37-39.
(5) Also 1Pe 3 and 4 sets forth admonition to patiently bear in this life the suffering.
(6) (cf 1Pe 3:14-4:7).
5. What He did not do there (and other errors):
a. Preach salvation, or the Gospel to:
(1) All the godless (Marcion).
(2) The godless and the devils (Origen).
(3) To thou who had had no opportunity to hear the Gospel (Gueder).
(4) 1Pe 4:6 appealed to, but:
(a) Refers only to preaching to them while alive.
(b) Is ref. merely to God’s purpose in having Gospel preached.
b. Continue His suffering (Aepinus, Flacius, Frank)
(1) Words do not suggest a suffering of Christ.
(2) Scripture instead attests that
(a) His spirit, after its separation from the body, was in Father’s hand and in Paradise.
(b) Lk 23:43,46.
c. Descent to be taken in a figurative and not in a real sense (Reformed)
(1) Reformed identify descent with His entire state of humiliation.
(2) However, He was “quickened” first.
(3) Also excludes Roman error that He delivered the patriarchs and saints of Old Testament from a legendary limbus patrum.
d. That Peter’s words are no more than a mere reference to the preaching of Noah (Luthardt).
(1) Reference is not to Noah.
(2) Reference is to the historical Christ.
6. Lutherans have interpreted sarki-pneumati in various ways.
a. “in the flesh” or “according to the flesh”.
b. “in the spirit” or “according to the spirit”.
c. Some later Lutheran theologians take:
(1) “in the flesh” as meaning “according to the human nature”.
(2) “in the spirit” as meaning “according to the divine nature”.
d. Luther understood:
(1) “flesh” as in Heb 5:7 where designates, in effect, His state of humiliation (to which “put to death” belongs)
(2) “spirit” as a designation of the spiritual or supernatural life to which the “having been quickened again” belongs, paralleled in 1Co 15:44,45.
e. Pieper prefers Luther’s interpretation.
(1) Based on grammar.
(2) “Roughly speaking, Luther’s interpretation amounts to this: Christ was put to death according to His lowly, earthly mode of subsistence in the state of humiliation and quickened according to His glorious, heavenly mode of subsistence in the state of exaltation. In this glorified stated, as the exalted Savior and Lord, He went and preached to the spirits in prison."”(p.320)
Copyright © 2006 CrossTies Counseling
All Rights Reserved