A Spectacle to Men and Angels

“When Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father into thy hands I commend my spirit, and having said thus, he gave up the ghost” —Luke 23:46

THE word ‘ghost’ in this verse of scripture is a translation of the Greek word ekpheo, which means to expire or stop breathing. In simple terms it means that Jesus died, since this is what happens when one ceases to breathe. Realizing he had reached the moment of death, Jesus made a statement which was in harmony with the fact. He said to his Heavenly Father, “Into thy hands I commend my spirit.” His ‘spirit’ was the power of life which now was rapidly ebbing away.

Jesus commended his life to God because his Heavenly Father had promised to resurrect him from the grave (the condition of death) if he faithfully carried out his mission on earth. Prior to his crucifixion, he was given the assurance that he had indeed been faithful. Being thus assured of a resurrection, Jesus used his last ounce of strength to proclaim his victory over death. God confirmed and amplified those dying words, by causing the veil of the Temple to be ‘rent in the midst’, signifying that by his son’s death as a ransom, a way had been opened for those estranged to come back into his presence.

The circumstances of the entire scene were so impressive that even a Roman centurion was caused to cry out in awe, “Certainly this was a righteous man, and all of the people that came together at that sight, beholding the things that were done, smote their breasts.”—vss. 47,48

The question is often asked, “If Jesus was really dead until the time of his resurrection, how was it possible for him to preach to the spirits in prison during the interim?” The Apostle Peter tells us who these spirits are. We quote, “Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but made alive [quickened] by the Spirit; by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison, which sometimes were disobedient when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water.”—I Pet. 3:18-20

Thus we see that the spirits to whom Jesus preached were those who were disobedient before the Flood. In his second epistle, Peter identifies these same spirits as angels who sinned, and who because of their sins, were restrained, or imprisoned. (II Pet. 2:4) The Apostle Jude also identifies them as the angels who, in the days of Noah, sinned and consequently fell from divine favor. (Jude 6,7) In reality then, these spirits in prison are the fallen angels, and not human beings at all.

The key to understanding how Jesus preached to the fallen angels is in the fact that, as the text shows, it was not after his death that he did the preaching, but by his death and by his resurrection. That is the way it is stated in the passage. In other words, what Peter says is, that Jesus’ faithfulness in dying for the world, and God’s reward of raising him from the dead, was like a sermon to the fallen angels, a great object lesson projected to them, by which was revealed the fact that obedience to the Creator and his laws is the only true way to life and happiness. In harmony with the well-known saying that actions speak louder than words, certainly this was a very powerful sermon to the fallen angels.

Christ, by his actions, preached an object lesson to both men and angels; he died the Just for the unjust; he was put to death flesh. His flesh he gave for the life of the world. (John 6:51) But he was quickened; he was resurrected from the dead. He became the first to break the bands of death. He proved that obedience to God is indeed the basis of eternal life.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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