Imprisoned Spirits?

1 Peter 3 19 a

Q. Who were the imprisoned spirits in 1 Pet 3:19?

A. The identity of the imprisoned spirits is given in the immediate context:
1 Pet 3:19-20 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared,

V20 indicates the spirits are those who disobeyed in the days of Noah. Noah’s story is recorded in Genesis 6:
Gen 6:1-2 Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.
• Gen 6:4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

In Noah’s days the “sons of God” took “daughters of men” as wives, and bore children called Nephilim. Who are these “sons of God” and Nephilim? The term “sons of God” appears 3 other times in the Bible, and is translated “angels” in the NIV.
Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.
• Job 2:1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD.
• Job 38:7 When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Nephilim appears twice in Num 13:33, and means “fallen ones”. They were giants, as revealed in the verse itself:
Num 13:33 There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”
So the evidence points to [fallen] angels having sexual relations with human women who gave birth to giants as a result. Some commentators believe “sons of God” simply meant godly men, but that appears unlikely as godly men taking daughters of men as wives do not reproduce giants.

A further corroboration is in:
Jude 6-7 And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.
These angels did not keep their own angelic domain, indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh. They crossed the boundary and engaged in sexual relations with human women, producing giants as offspring. This perversion led to their being kept in eternal bonds for judgment. The wickedness of man and continual evil further led to the Flood blotting out man as punishment.

In conclusion, after Jesus’ resurrection He went to proclaim victory over the fallen angels who sinned by cohabiting with women during Noah’s days. Not all scholars agree with this view but I believe the above best fits all available evidence.

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