Sunday, December 13, 2015

Got Questions: Did Jesus Go To Hell?
Question: "Did Jesus go to hell between His death and resurrection?"

Answer: There is a great deal of confusion in regards to this question. The concept that Jesus went to hell after His death on the cross comes primarily from the Apostles’ Creed, which states, “He descended into hell.” There are also a few Scriptures which, depending on how they are translated, describe Jesus going to “hell.” In studying this issue, it is important to first understand what the Bible teaches about the realm of the dead.

In the Hebrew Scriptures, the word used to describe the realm of the dead is sheol. It simply means “the place of the dead” or “the place of departed souls/spirits.” The New Testament Greek equivalent of sheol is hades, which also refers to “the place of the dead.” Other Scriptures in the New Testament indicate that sheol/hades is a temporary place, where souls are kept as they await the final resurrection and judgment. Revelation 20:11–15 gives a clear distinction between hades and the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the permanent and final place of judgment for the lost. Hades, then, is a temporary place. Many people refer to both hades and the lake of fire as “hell,” and this causes confusion. Jesus did not go to a place of torment after His death, but He did go to hades.

Sheol/hades was a realm with two divisions—a place of blessing and a place of judgment (Matthew 11:23; 16:18; Luke 10:15; 16:23; Acts 2:27–31). The abodes of the saved and the lost are both generally called “hades” in the Bible. The abode of the saved is also called “Abraham’s bosom” (KJV) or “Abraham’s side” (NIV) in Luke 16:22 and “paradise” in Luke 23:43. The abode of the unsaved is called “hell” (KJV) or “Hades” (NIV) in Luke 16:23. The abodes of the saved and the lost are separated by a “great chasm” (Luke 16:26). When Jesus died, He went to the blessed side of sheol and, from there, took the believers with Him to heaven (Ephesians 4:8–10). The judgment side of sheol/hades has remained unchanged. All unbelieving dead go there awaiting their final judgment in the future. Did Jesus go to sheol/hades? Yes, according to Ephesians 4:8–10 and 1 Peter 3:18–20.

Some of the confusion has arisen from such passages as Psalm 16:10–11 as translated in the King James Version: “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption . . . . Thou wilt show me the path of life.” “Hell” is not a correct translation in this verse. A correct reading would be “the grave” or “sheol.” Jesus said to the thief beside Him, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43); He did not say, “I will see you in hell.” Jesus’ body was in the tomb; His soul/spirit went to be with the blessed in sheol/hades. Unfortunately, in many versions of the Bible, translators are not consistent, or correct, in how they translate the Hebrew and Greek words for “sheol,” “hades,” and “hell.”

Some have the viewpoint that Jesus went to “hell” or the suffering side of sheol/hades in order to further be punished for our sins. This idea is completely unbiblical. It was the death of Jesus on the cross that sufficiently provided for our redemption. It was His shed blood that effected our own cleansing from sin (1 John 1:7–9). As He hung there on the cross, He took the sin burden of the whole human race upon Himself. He became sin for us: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). This imputation of sin helps us understand Christ’s struggle in the garden of Gethsemane with the cup of sin which would be poured out upon Him on the cross.

As Jesus neared death, He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). His suffering in our place was completed. His soul/spirit went to hades (the place of the dead). Jesus did not go to “hell” or the suffering side of hades; He went to “Abraham’s side” or the blessed side of hades. Jesus’ suffering ended the moment He died. The payment for sin was paid. He then awaited the resurrection of His body and His return to glory in His ascension. Did Jesus go to hell? No. Did Jesus go to sheol/hades? Yes.

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Simply Linda said...

Of course he went to Hades...I will have to ask Dave---as Baptists, we were taught Hades and Hell the same(I am confused). Interesting....thanks Sparky for the thought....many Blessings to you sweet friend.

Victor S E Moubarak said...

The thing is; the Bible was not written in English and there have been many translations and interpretations over the years. So we get confused about details such as this one.

But also consider this. There are many men in the world who, after years of marriage, still cannot understand their wives. So what chance have we got to understand something written two thousand years ago in a language we probably don't understand fully.

The other day I spoke to my dog and he didn't understand me either. He's a French poodle. So I spoke to him in French. He bit me.

God bless.

Ed Bonderenka said...

I like the article, it expresses what I've been teaching for years. And people always act surprised.

Jesus told the thief on the cross, "This day you will be with me in Paradise."
Paradise was Abraham's Bosom. The holding cell for "righteous" souls.
Jesus went to Paradise to preach to those that "were in prison" so that they could believe and be set free.
I'm willing to bet that some of the "hardened criminals" there were unable to believe Him (probably the ones on the torment side) due to the hardness of their hearts.
This is how Jesus "took captivity captive".
It is heresy to believe that Jesus had to suffer in hell for our sins, as some believe. I could name names.
I had another thought, but I lost it when my wife interrupted with a question about computer programming.

Ed Bonderenka said...

Got it. The three days may have been necessary for him to convince (preach to) the captives, convincing them from Scripture that he wasn't just another prisoner, but that He had fulfilled the prophecies concerning the Messiah (cue Handel).

Sparky said...

@Simply Linda ~ It's an interesting study. I learned the difference whilest studying about "rightly dividing the Word of truth ..."
@Victor ~ You never fail to crack me up.
@Ed Bonderenka ~ Quite right! And thanks for the link to Handel's Messiah. It's one of my favorites and I didn't realize it's at YouTube. I guess everything is nowadays.
Hope your day is blessed folks. ~:)

Wiregrass Steve said...

My understanding on this subject, Christ went to Hades to take those in the "Bosom of Abraham", those already counted righteous by faith, to heaven. Now that Jesus had paid the the full penalty for the sins of mankind for all eternity these souls could now come into the presence of God, there sins washed clean by the Savior's blood. The souls in Hades were saved for the same reason as we are today, having received righteousness through faith and not by works. Just as the scriptures say, Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness.

Patsy said...

We just had a study on this very thing.