And in the ·spirit [or Spirit] he went and preached to the spirits in prison [C probably either fallen angels, imprisoned by God (see Gen. 6:1–4; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6) or the spirits of the people who rejected Noah’s preaching; see v. 20]
If it is the will of God that you should suffer it is really better to suffer unjustly than because you have deserved it. Remember that Christ the just suffered for us the unjust, to bring us to God. That meant the death of his body, but he came to life again in the spirit. It was in the spirit that he went and preached to the imprisoned souls of those who had been disobedient in the days of Noah—the days of God’s great patience during the period of the building of the ark, in which eventually only eight souls were saved in the flood. And I cannot help pointing out what a perfect illustration this is of the way you have been admitted to the safety of the Christian “ark” by baptism, which means, of course, far more than the mere washing of a dirty body: it means the ability to face God with a clear conscience. For there is in every true baptism the virtue of Christ’s rising from the dead. And he has now entered Heaven and is at God’s right hand, with all angels, authorities and powers subservient to him.
He went and proclaimed God’s salvation to earlier generations who ended up in the prison of judgment because they wouldn’t listen. You know, even though God waited patiently all the days that Noah built his ship, only a few were saved then, eight to be exact—saved from the water by the water. The waters of baptism do that for you, not by washing away dirt from your skin but by presenting you through Jesus’ resurrection before God with a clear conscience. Jesus has the last word on everything and everyone, from angels to armies. He’s standing right alongside God, and what he says goes.