Catholics/1st peter 3:18-4:6


I am a protestant who is well aware of the fact that a lot of protestant theology is constructed simply to go against catholic theology whether it is right or wrong. My question on 1st Peter 3:18 - 4:6 is that I would like to know exactly, according to catholic theology, who Christ preached to and for what purpose. Thank you very much.

Pete, except for Catholic dogma, there is usually quite a bit of debate within Catholic theology. The debate hinges upon not only personal belief but also recent trends in Biblical scholarship.

So having said that, the New American Bible says that 4:6 could refer to (a) Christ teaching people in prison or (b) to Christians who have since died.

The New Jerome Biblical Commentary says that 3:18-4:6 may refer to the "archetypal angelic sinners...who instigated original sin" (p. 906). It also notes Augustine's interpretation: "Christ in his divine preexistence, preached through Noah to the sinners of the flood" (p. 907).

The Jerome Biblical Commentary says that the dead of 4:1-6 should not be "facilely identified" with the imprisoned spirits of 3:19 (p. 367).

Catholic scholars also note the debates with regard to the authorship of 1 Peter.

I hope this answer serves as a springboard for your inquiry. You might want to pursue it here:


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Michael Clark, Ph.D.


I'm a progressive Catholic--not a liberal, conservative nor a single-minded critic of Catholicism. I simply believe that adults in the 21C should use the mind God gave them and not just repeat ancient and medieval modes of thinking.

I can probably help with questions that intelligently and respectfully question those aspects of Catholicism that are not infallible. But if you're looking for someone to vigorously defend or perhaps refute Catholicism as a whole, that's not me. So please ask another expert.


I run an educational website and know what the web has to offer. I might suggest hyperlinks and/or book titles as I have a Ph.D. in Religious Studies and a considerable personal library.

Print Media:
My table from "Religions and Cults" at is reproduced with permission in L. Lindsey, S. Beach and B. Ravelli, Core Concepts in Sociology, 2nd ed., p. 157

World Wide Web:
My online article "Letter to God" coauthored with Buddhist monk, E. Raymond Rock, appears on several different spirituality-based websites, including

I've interviewed, as a Christian, a self-proclaimed mystic:

My articles appeared at the former New View magazine and are published at

Ph.D. in Religious Studies
M.A. in Comparative Religion
B.A. Hon. in Psychology/Sociology
For more info, please see my CV and letters of recommendation and my blog at

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