“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, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.”I Peter 3:19-20
Because this comes up every year, I’m reposting because this book provides such a comprehensive explanation to the question "Where did Christ go and what was he doing between His death and resurrection?"
“The Darkness and The Glory: His Cup and The Glory From Gethsemane To The Ascension” was written by Dr. Greg Harris, Professor of Bible Exposition at The Master’s Seminary and author of The Cup and the Glory and The Stone and the Glory. This book comes with a hearty endorsement by Dr. John MacArthur and it is an important work for more reasons than just solving the frequently misunderstood passage in I Peter. The broader scope of the Darkness and the Glory encompasses the entire glorious work of Christ through His death burial, resurrection and ascension.
Dr. Harris presents a convincing explanation for the case that Christ went to the Abyss after His crucifixion and before His resurrection in order to make a proclamation to the demonic spirits imprisoned there. He provides detailed Scriptural documentation which spans the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation proving not only this point but also meticulously explaining the reasons why.
Dr. Harris explains how a subset of demons were cast into the Abyss when God destroyed the earth through the Flood. The world was destroyed not only because it was evil, but also because demons had cohabited with women as part of a master minded collusion by Satan from the beginning after God had declared:
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Gen. 3:15
It was the intention of Satan from the outset to destroy the Seed of the woman in order to prevent it from rising up and destroying him. His first attempt at trying to accomplish this came about through the slaying of Abel and the disqualification of Cain, yet God raised up and preserved the godly line of Seth. This was documented through all of those lengthy genealogy records (which we often find boring), for the very purpose of protecting and preserving the Promised Seed that would one day be brought forth in that manger in Bethlehem.
At the conclusion of his dissertation Dr. Harris provides us with a “logical paraphrase of some of the content of Jesus proclamation” that can be deduced. Here is a portion of Harris’ speculative edict that Christ could have made to the “spirits in prison”:
“You in your wickedness colluded with the Evil One to prevent the birth of the Promised Seed of Woman who would crush the serpent’s head from every becoming a reality (Gen. 3:15). I declare to you today that the seed lineage the Father first pronounced in the Garden continued long after the Flood was a distant memory to mankind. The seed genealogy persists even to this very day, in spite of every effort of darkness to the contrary. The Seed first promised by Yahweh lives on – while you remain confined in pits of darkness. The primary reason that the Seed lives on is that God Almighty does not give help to angels, but He does give help to the seed of Abraham (Heb.2:16), a progeny of the seed lineage you never met. Thus the lineage from which the One Seed would come remains; nourished, protected, fully capable of bringing for the One who will give rest to the cursed earth and regain what Adam originally lost.
...Similar in many ways to you once abandoning your own domain to cohabit with Adam’s race, I Myself now enter your abode-not from heaven but from earth. You entered the world of flesh; the Promise of God did as well, but in a way sanctioned and predetermined by the Trinity (Acts 2:23; I Pet 1:18-20)”
In summary, this book inspires a deep sense of awe for the Savior we worship and a richer understanding of the incomprehensible work He accomplished at the Cross.
*(1) "The Darkness and the Glory: His Cup and the Glory from Gethsemane to the Ascension" by Greg Harris; Kress Christian Publications 2008