When Did Jesus Go To Hell

Theology Thursday: Where Did Jesus Go When He Died?

Dr. Valerie J. De La Torre contributed to this article. When it comes to Jesus Christ, who is the second member in the Trinity, the second article of the Apostles’ Creed is a broader grouping of assertions that are centered on him. This section reveals Christ’s birth, suffering, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, as well as his predicted return to judge all of mankind (Matthew 25:31-46). In order to understand the short word that proclaims that Jesus “descended into hell,” we must first understand what it means.

We discover early references to Christ experiencing human mortality, whether viewed literally or symbolically, which makes it a fascinating factor to consider (Acts.

So, what exactly happened to Jesus when he passed away?

Did Jesus Go to Hell?

The area referred to as “hell” in this creedal declaration was formerly referred to in the Bible asGehenna, which means “the land of the dead” in Greek. It is seen as a region of perpetual torment for individuals who are rejected at the final judgment. The Hebrew name Sheol is used to describe the location in the Old Testament, and it alludes to the grave — a place far removed from God’s presence where the virtuous and the wicked both stay — in the Old Testament. As a result, the issue must be raised as to whether this is the location where Jesus was taken after his death.

  • According to a subsequent interpretation, this site of descent represents Christ’s victory over the Kingdom of Satan, which was accomplished in death.
  • That is, the promise of the approaching judgment at Christ’s return, in which the final victory over death and evil will be revealed, is supported by this second viewpoint.
  • Although a later medieval opinion argued once more that only Christians of the pre-Christian time were in fact recipients and beneficiaries of Christ’s preaching in Hades, as intimated in Matthew 27:52 and again in Hebrews 12:23, this position was rebutted by a later medieval view.
  • In other words, the anguish of the crucifixion alone was a vicarious suffering of what it could be like to be separated from God in hell.

Resolution in the Context

When spoken as part of one’s baptismal vows in ancient times, this credo was intended to draw attention to the Trinitarian nature of the ceremony, and we must examine this fact. This was seen as a profoundly symbolic and representational experience of dying and rising, which it was. The old life was now dead, and the new life was now being physically performed in the same way that Jesus’ death and dying, as well as his resurrection from this real grave experience, had been modeled. It seemed like life had triumphed over death all over again.

When considering this essential portion of the Apostles’ Creed, let us also take into consideration an updated version of the phrase which states: “he descended to the grave.” In the following creedal statement, the emphasis is on Christ’s resurrection on the third day, which points to the larger picture of this creedal declaration as a whole, and leaves no mistake as to its goal.

As a result, we can argue that Jesus came from the highest reaches of heaven only to descend to the lowest depths of hell on our behalf, ensuring that this would never become our permanent home.

Check out all of the articles from Theology Thursday and make sure to check back each week for a new installment.

These are the author’s own views and opinions, and they do not necessarily reflect those of Grand Canyon University. The views and ideas stated in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the university. Any sources that were quoted were up to date at the time of publication.

Did Jesus go to hell between His death and resurrection?

QuestionAnswer Currently, there is a considerable degree of uncertainty around this subject. According to the Apostles’ Creed, which declares, “He descended into hell,” the belief that Jesus went to hell after His death on the cross is essentially derived from this verse. The Bible contains several passages in which Jesus is described as going to “hell,” depending on how the passages are interpreted. Prior to delving into this topic, it is critical to grasp what the Bible has to say regarding the realm of the dead.

  • Sheol/hades, according to other passages in the New Testament, is a transitory realm where souls are held while they await the final resurrection and judgment.
  • The lake of fire serves as a permanent and ultimate repository for the souls of the dead.
  • Many people refer to both hades and the lake of fire as “hell,” which can lead to a lot of misunderstanding.
  • As described in Matthew 11:23–18, Luke 10:15–16:23, and Acts 2:27–31, sheol/hades was a realm divided into two divisions—a region of blessing and a place of condemnation.
  • The abodes of the rescued and the abodes of the lost are divided by a “huge gap” (or abyss in Hebrew) (Luke 16:26).
  • The aspect of sheol/hades that deals with judgment has remained constant.
  • Is it true that Jesus died and went to sheol/hell?

Some of the misunderstanding has originated from texts such as Psalm 16:10–11, which is translated as follows in the King James Version: “For thou wilt not abandon my soul to the depths of hell; nor wilt thou allow thine Holy One to be corrupted.

The term “the grave” or “sheol” would be a more accurate translation.

As a result, in various editions of the Bible, translators are not consistent or accurate in their rendering of the Hebrew and Greek terminology for the afterlife, hell, and the afterlife after death.

This is a profoundly unbiblical notion to have.

It was His spilt blood that was the means by which we were cleansed from sin (1 John 1:7–9).

His sacrifice for us was sin: “God caused him who had no sin to be sin for us, in order that through him we could become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

As Jesus was on the verge of death, He said, “It is completed” (John 19:30).

His soul/spirit was sent to Hades (the place of the dead).

Jesus’ agony came to an end at the time of His death.

He then anticipated the resurrection of His body and His ascension into glory, both of which would occur at the same time.

Is it true that Jesus went to hell? No. Is it true that Jesus died and went to sheol/hell? Yes. Questions regarding Jesus Christ (return to top of page) Is it possible that Jesus spent time in hell between His death and resurrection?

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He Descended into Hell, or Did He?

The Apostles’ Creed is one of the oldest ancient confessions of the Christian faith. To this day, it is still in use by a large number of Protestant groups as well as the Roman Catholic Church, among others. In spite of this, it has a particular phrase that has sparked much dispute throughout history. The creed is as follows: I believe in God the Father Almighty, the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth, and I believe in the Holy Spirit. I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, as revealed in the Bible.

  1. He was sent into the depths of hell.
  2. He has climbed to the throne of God the Father Almighty and is now sitting at the right hand of the Almighty.
  3. For the sake of my own salvation, I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic (or Universal) Church, the communion of saints, the forgiving of sins, the resurrection of the body, and a hereafter in which we will live forever.
  4. It is the statement “he fell to hell” that has been the source of ongoing debate in the church for centuries.
  5. Is it possible that he truly went to hell?
  6. Let’s take a look at this crucial and intriguing issue in further detail.
  7. When the question “Did Jesus genuinely fall into hell?” is posed, we must first clarify the concepts used in the discussion.

Jesus didn’t go to that place.

As a result, when early Christian writers wrote things like “He went to hell” or “He descended to the dead,” they were referring to this.

His body was laid to rest, and his spirit was transported to the land of the dead.

One such phrase is “the abyss,” which appears in Romans 10:7.

“Paradise,” for example, is a representation of the last resting place of the virtuous dead.

Then there are words like as “Gehenna” and “Hades,” which relate to the location where the unrighteous dead are buried.


What Do You Think of 1 Peter 3?

The text reads as follows: For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order that he might reconcile us to God, having been put to death in the flesh but raised to life in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they had previously refused to obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, namely, eight persons, were brought safely through water.

Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has ascended into heaven and is sitting at the right hand of the Father, with angels, authorities, and powers subjected to him, baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

  1. Jesus’ descent is mentioned here, but Peter also speaks about the entire path of Christ’s obedience—his life, death, and resurrection—in this passage.
  2. If you take that term to apply to the time period between Christ’s death and resurrection, it refers to the time when Christ went out and “announced” his triumph over Satan, death, and all evil, which was accomplished via his substitutionary death.
  3. At one point during the fall, it’s almost as if Jesus is shouting, “Hey everybody, I won!” and proclaiming his victory to everyone there in the land of the dead.
  4. In 1 Peter 3, he is preaching it to people who live under the surface of the earth.
  5. At the end of both 1 Peter 3 and Philippians 2, we see that he is being recognized as Lord by all people in heaven, on earth, and under earth—that is, the place where the dead are interred.
  6. Jesus is referred to as “King” in that country as well.
  7. What makes Jesus the King that he is?
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According to author Michael Heiser’s book The Unseen Realm (which I do not endorse in its whole), this land of the dead is actually a representation of the dominion of the serpent as described in the Old Testament.

During his ascension, Jesus kicked down the gates of the kingdom of the serpent, demonstrating that he is also King there.

God, in the person of Jesus, penetrated even the realm of death and announced his victory as he descended into the depths of the earth.

The most important reason is that it provides a clear picture of why the old heresy of Apollinarianism is not real.

To put it another way, according to Apollinarian philosophy, Jesus was merely a material creature on earth, in terms of his human nature, during his time here.

And what better theory to use to oppose this error than the concept of Jesus’ descent, which holds that Jesus, according to his human soul, deliberately went to the region of the dead and declared triumph there?

According to my research, the emphasis placed on the descending clause in successive revisions of the Apostles’ Creed may have been due to the church’s ardent opposition to Apollinarianism at the time.

As a result, it is significant in terms of soteriology.

During his ascension, Jesus was victorious over the dominion of the adversary.

In his slide, he wasn’t attempting anything novel.

In the face of death and the world of the dead, he has achieved victory by his death on the cross.

In addition to his victory over death and, thus, his capacity to raise us from the grave and into new life in him, this substitution has a number of other consequences.

In many cases, the arguments opposing this belief are based on statements made by Jesus at his crucifixion.

First and foremost, in John 19:30, Jesus declares, “It is finished.” This was right before he was killed.

When Jesus stated, “It is completed,” he was referring to the completion of his active obedience.

There was nothing further that could be done in that situation.

Because death is a component of the punishment for sin, he is effectively dead during his descent.

He took our place and endured the brunt of our wrath.

He wasn’t attempting anything new this time.

As a result of what I’ve already done, here’s what happened: “I’m the winner!” His accomplished labor on the cross was applied to his physical existence, his post-resurrection teaching and ministry, and the domain of the earth after his resurrection.

Christ now has complete authority over all things as a result of his sinless life and atoning death.

The applications of what he has already done to save people in every realm of reality—under the earth, on the earth, and in the heavens—are as diverse as the people he has saved.

Several metaphorical terms are used in Scripture to refer to the righteous compartment of the place of the dead, one of which is “paradise,” as you may recall.

When the dead are waiting for the resurrection, they’re waiting—to use the Bible’s spatial, metaphorical language—“down” in the place of the dead.

Now, because of Jesus’ resurrection, the nature of paradise has changed.

So today, we talk about goingupto heaven, because that’s where Jesus is, and that’s where the righteous dead are.

Everybody would have acknowledged, “Yes, Jesus wentdownto the place of the dead, to paradise, to the righteous compartment, because he was righteous.” Now, however, because of the resurrection and ascension, things have changed.

Now, Christ has come into the midst of the righteous.

When we die, we talk about going up to heaven, rather than down to the place of the dead, because the nature of the place of the dead has changed.

Emerson and Dr.


Clark chair of Christian Leadership, and dean of Theology, Arts, and Humanities at Oklahoma Baptist University.

He is the author of“He Descended to the Dead”: An Evangelical Theology of Holy Saturday(IVP Academic, 2019). (IVP Academic, 2019). Dr. Emerson holds a Ph.D. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Did Jesus Go to Hell?

QUESTION: Did Jesus go to Hell or was he saved? ANSWER:More precisely, did Jesus spend any time in hell between the time of His death on Good Friday and the time of His resurrection on Easter Sunday? The Apostles’ Creed declares that Jesus, the Son of God, died for our sins “he was crucified, died, and was subsequently buried He was sent into the depths of hell. On the third day, Jesus resurrected from the dead once more.” The Athanasian Creed says of Jesus, “Who suffered for our salvation, fell into hell, and rose again the third day from the grave,” which is a reference to his resurrection.

The quick answer to this question is “No.” The long answer is “Yes.” When it came to word choice, the biblical authors were more accurate than some of our Bible translators or creed writers.

(Greek is the language in which the original manuscripts of the New Testament of the Bible were composed.) (Matthew 25:41) Hell, also known as thelake of fire and the perpetual fire, was created for the Devil and his henchmen and will be populated by all the unrighteous after the final judgment (Matthew 25:41).

  • Since Jesus’ Second Coming, there is no scriptural indication that anybody has traveled there or will travel there until that time (Revelation 19:11-16).
  • The alternative Greek term is Hadas, which means “destroyer” (from which we get the English wordHades).
  • Prior to Jesus’ ascension, the spirits of all humans were exiled to the underworld, or Hades.
  • After His crucifixion, Jesus made His way into this area (Acts 2:25-31 in which Peter quotes from Psalm 16:9-10).
  • This might also refer to Jesus’ sojourn to Hades prior to His ascension into heaven.
  • He will be expelled from the world once the last judgment is rendered (Revelation 20:14).
  • The early church claimed that Jesus was crucified and afterwards resurrected from the dead.

140), the sentence “He fell into Hell” did not exist, and it also did not appear in the later Nicene Creed (A.D.

It appears to have been a late addition to the game (perhaps around A.D.

The term initially occurred in the Creed of Aquileia, which means “Creed of Aquileia” (4th century, in the Latin wordsdescendit in inferna- descended into Hades).

So, what’s the deal with the addition?

381), according to one theory.

For the church, on the other hand, Jesus’ death had to be a real death and an effective sacrifice for sin in order for it to be a true death and an effective sacrifice.

As early as the Middle Ages, the terms Hell and Hades had gotten muddled, and it was believed that Jesus had been sent into the depths of Hell.

Did Jesus Go to Hell Between His Death and Resurrection?

We know from Jesus’ response to the thief that when someone dies, they are instantly brought into the presence of the Father. Luke 23:42 states: “Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise,” referring to the moment of death. This remark also informs us that Jesus died and was resurrected by His Father. Beyond that, we know virtually nothing about Jesus’ whereabouts over those three days. It’s important not to read too much into a parable or narrative, as this might lead to confusion.

Did Jesus Go to Hell? Bible Verses for this Theory

1 Peter 3:18-20 is the scripture of Scripture most frequently cited by people who believe in the existence of hell. “Because Christ also died for sins once and for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God waited in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, namely, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.” “In which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison,” they say, referring to the verses in question.

  • According to legend, Jesus descended into Hell and preached to the souls of the damned.
  • There is no indication in the Bible that a lost soul who has died receives a second opportunity at redemption.
  • However, there is another reading of this verse that is more logical.
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Interpreting the Scripture

Jesus was crucified in the body, yet he was raised to life by the Holy Spirit after his death. The term “brought alive” is a passive verb, which means that someone other than Jesus was responsible for bringing Jesus back to life. Either Jesus was brought back to life by the Spirit, or He was brought back to life by His spirit. In either case, the Spirit had to have played a role. The chapter then goes on to tell us who these souls in prison are: they are those who did not listen to Noah (who was preaching repentance to the world in the power of the Holy Spirit under the direction of God at the time of his imprisonment).

However, just eight persons heeded the warning and were saved—”brought safely through the floodwaters” The term “jail” is used in a metaphorical sense.

Furthermore, a wide gap has been established between us and you, in order that anyone who seek to pass over from here into you will not be able to do so, and that none who wish to cross over from there will be able to do so.” Jesus did not go to hell for those three days, according to the Bible, which is not mentioned anywhere else.

Most people believe Jesus’ physical body stayed in the tomb, just as ours will remain in the grave once we die.

The distinction is that God did not allow Jesus’ body to degrade like other people’s bodies did.

Other Bible Verses and Sources Used to Support the Hell Theory

Other Bible scriptures, such as Romans 10:6-7, Ephesians 4:8-9, and Acts 2:27, that have been cited to support the belief that Jesus went to hell between his crucifixion and resurrection have also caused confusion. However, as discussed in this ZondervanAcademic.com article, these verses are frequently taken out of context and given meaning that is not intended by the author. The Apostle’s Creed was later amended to include the phrase “and he fell into hell.” Did Jesus Descend into Hell Before He Was Resurrected?, a film by Garrett Kell, explored this question.

Did Jesus go to Hell before His physical resurrection?

The issue of the day concerns the activities of Jesus before to His bodily resurrection from the dead: Did Jesus spend time in Hell prior to his physical resurrection? What exactly did Jesus do in Hell prior to His resurrection, if He did really go there? Due to the fact that this concept has led to a range of theological mistakes, let us examine the truth as revealed in the Bible. 1 Peter 3:18-20 is the verse that lies at the center of this discussion. We will specifically address Peter’s assertion in verse 19: “.by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in jail.” We will also discuss the phrase “.by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison.” In order to comprehend the larger argument that Peter is making, it is crucial to understand the context in which the passage was written: Peter is assisting Christians in understanding that suffering for the purpose of righteousness will result in blessing from God.

  1. Jesus Christ, according to St.
  2. It is evident from merely reading these passages that Peter is referring to Christ’s atoning death on the cross and His subsequent resurrection from the dead, both of which end in sinners being restored to a right relationship with God in the process of salvation.
  3. We must not separate the meaning of verse 19 from Peter’s prior teaching about Jesus’ suffering on the cross and His resurrection from the dead in order to properly read our phrase that provides an answer to our issue today.
  4. After His death on the cross, Peter states, “by whom also He went.” and points out that He went in His Spirit after His death.
  5. In the third place, Peter claims that Jesus gave this declaration “to the spirits in prison” who had defied God during the days of Noah.
  6. Why would Jesus do anything like this?

Indeed, God wishes to announce this truth across the entire globe, as well as throughout the heavens, and even from the depths of Hell itself if necessary. Greetings from the Lord!

Did Jesus Really Descend to Hell?

When it comes to Jesus’ descent into hell, there is a statement in the Apostles’ Creed that says such. Is it true that he went there in person? —DEBRA BLACK, of Alton, Illinois, writes in to express her gratitude. “I believe that Jesus. went into hell,” according to the Apostles’ Creed, which is spoken by millions of Christians across the world every Sunday. One Christian institution, on the other hand, had to eliminate this item from a series of chapel lectures on the Apostles’ Creed a few years ago because none of the 12 professors of Bible and theology agreed with the statement.

  1. It appears to be an echo of Acts 2:31, and it appears to be there solely to underline the point that Jesus’ death was genuine and full.
  2. When the Apostles’ Creed was first written in English in the fifteenth century, “hell” referred to the state of hades as a whole, rather than the final condition of the lost (which Jesus referred to as gehenna), as it has always meant.
  3. The Bible provides us with relatively little information regarding Jesus’ physical and emotional state between his death and resurrection.
  4. In Ephesians 4, the Incarnation is most certainly being alluded to, while 1 Peter 4:6could be referring to any preaching of the gospel.
  5. Some argue that the phrase in 1 Peter 3 should not be read literally; rather, it should be seen as a metaphor, communicating in pictorial form the concept that salvation is universal in scope.
  6. Others disagree with this.
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Christ Suffered for Our Sins, but He Didn’t Go to Hell for Them

The Apostles’ Creed is considered to be one of the most important expressions of Christian faith. Every Sunday during church services all throughout the world, faithful chant it without hesitation. However, there is one component of the creed that is likely to cause misunderstanding and distrust. It is a confusing confirmation that Christ “descended to hell” that is sandwiched between its depiction of the events of Good Friday (“He was crucified, died, and was buried”) and Easter Sunday (“On the third day he rose again from the dead”).

  1. Professor of biblical theology at Oklahoma Baptist University, Matthew Emerson, wants to concentrate our attention on the period of time between Christ’s death and resurrection.
  2. Professor Brad East of theology at Abilene Christian University spoke with Emerson about what happened (and didn’t happen) on Holy Saturday—and what it all implies for our religious beliefs.
  3. It is my contention in the book that Christ suffers a human death, just as all humans do.
  4. Consequently, he goes through the process of dying like any other human being.
  5. His presence at the location serves to announce his triumph over the powers of death.
  6. Another aspect of Christ’s victory is the liberation of the Old Testament saints from captivity, which is another aspect of his victory.
  7. Is it possible to list some typical misunderstandings concerning the notion of descent?
  8. Many individuals object to the wording used in the Apostles’ Creed because it appears on the surface to indicate that Jesus is the Son of God.
  9. There are two other significant cautions to be mentioned.
  10. It does not give a means for everyone in hell to go out of their misery.
  11. It has absolutely nothing to do with the concept of purgatory.

As a result, it is critical to emphasize: In no way does the descent imply that Christ was tormented in hell, nor does it suggest that universalism or the Roman Catholic view of purgatory are incompatible with one another, whether we’re discussing the traditional view of purgatory or the innovative way in which Balthasar connects the descent to purgatory.

  1. Where, in your opinion, did Calvin depart from the path?
  2. Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli are the others with whom I feel the least sympathy.
  3. In Calvin’s view, the descending clause relates to Jesus’ bodily and mental agony on the cross on Good Friday, rather than to whatever he achieved between his death and resurrection.
  4. He was suffering the wrath of God on behalf of those who had sinned against him.
  5. In the book, I speculate on some of the reasons for Calvin’s pioneering work in this field, but I acknowledge that they are mostly conjectural.
  6. However, I believe he is guilty of tossing the baby out with the bathwater in this case.
  7. What aspects of his interpretation of the descent clause do you find objectionable?

You may get a feeling of his dissatisfaction just by reading the title.

His primary issue, of course, is that people have been made to believe that Jesus was tormented in hell on Holy Saturday, which he believes is untrue.

There is no biblical support for the notion that Jesus was tormented in hell on Holy Saturday, according to the Bible.

So, to summarize, Balthasar feels that the descending phrase relates to Christ having a vision of death, which is diametrically opposed to a vision of salvation (the beatific vision).

That point of view, like Grudem’s, strikes me as biblically and theologically problematic.

Rather than the church’s historic interpretation of the Apostles’ Creed and its descending clause, I feel he is mistaken in conflating Balthasar’s twentieth-century invention with that of the church.

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In this verse, Peter claims that Christ was “put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit” (v.

19), a phrase that is famously difficult to understand and interpret.

For what it’s worth, in my book, I argue that this text is most likely a reference to Christ’s descent in some form, but I acknowledge that I may be completely incorrect.

There is no compelling reason to interpret Christ’s ascension solely through the lens of 1 Peter.

The first set of texts to keep in mind is those that speak of Jesus experiencing death in the same way that all human beings do.

You could also include the parable of Lazarus and the rich man from Luke 16:19–31 or Jesus’ statement to the thief on the cross: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise”.

A second set of verses concerns Jesus proclaiming victory over the powers of death.

You could also mention Matthew 16, which promises that the “gates of Hades will not overcome” the church.

These are probably some of the toughest to interpret correctly.

Another instance is Ephesians 4:8–10, when Paul quotes from Psalm 68:18, saying that when Christ “ascended on high, he took many captives”.

In the book, I acknowledge that scholars disagree about the exact meaning of these verses, but I believe there’s a strong argument to be made that Paul is talking about liberating these captives from the underworld or place of the dead, rather than the earth itself.

As we’ve discussed already, evangelical unease with the doctrine of descent is often a product of unease with the specific wording of the descent clause in the Apostles’ Creed.

Is it possible that parts of them could be in error?

In other words, the church’s creeds have no authority in and of themselves.

The creeds can be wrong.

Yet because of their rootedness in Scripture they have stood the test of time, in different places and across different traditions, and so we’re obliged to give them a certain weight.

We should be very cautious, therefore, about wanting to overturn any particular creedal phrase.

How does the doctrine of descent help shed light on other essential areas of Christian doctrine?

Historically speaking, the descent clause was stated in the creeds most explicitly when the church was facing the threat of Apollinarianism.

(There’s more to it, of course, but that’s the basic gist.) But if Christ descended to the place of the dead via his human soul, which is what the descent clause is affirming, then Apollinarianism collapses.

We risk missing out on how the church has understood the Incarnation as a redemption of the whole person, body and soul.

If Christ in his humanity is body and soul, then human beings must be body and soul.

I’m not necessarily comfortable calling this a “separation” between body and soul, because I still think there is a connection that remains.

Speaking of this intermediate state, you’ve referred before to ancient notions of cosmology that would have influenced people in Bible times as they pondered what happens to the souls of the dead.

In the ancient world, around the time the New Testament was written, there was an understanding that the world—or, in our terms, the universe—existed in three tiers: the heavens, the earth, and the underworld.

Human beings live here on earth.

There’s a lot of spatial language attached to this understanding of the world.

A lot of times we have this impression that ancient people were ignorant and unsophisticated about such matters, whereas we are enlightened and scientific.

I’m far from sure that a Jewish person of this period would have thought, for instance, that you could really dig a trench to the underworld.

Old Testament writers frequently used metaphorical language to express heavenly things that were not apparent to the human eye.

Furthermore, human souls are believed to “live” in a specific location after death, despite the fact that their corporeal presence does not occupy any physical area.

It is obvious that an afterlife exists by the time of the New Testament, with various “compartments” for the good and the sinful, to put it another way.

The righteous are physically separated from Israel and God because their bodies have died, and they are no longer alive.

However, this does not imply that they are spiritually separated from God.

However, that place is not what it will become because the Messiah has not yet appeared there.

It is necessary for paradise to alter in order for the Messiah to come in his human soul and subsequently to rise from the dead in his resurrected body.

They are no longer waiting and hoping, since the object of their hope—the resurrected Messiah—is now physically present with them in the presence of the Father and the Son.

What are your thoughts on this rendering?

With the exception of Christ’s redeeming act, there is no way out of that captivity.

As I discuss in the book, I tend to downplay the significance of Christ’s fall, primarily because evangelicals so frequently equate Christ’s descend with Catholic concepts of purgatory.

The thought of separating saints from God in a deeper existential sense, as if they are through pain as they await the Messiah, however, makes me uncomfortably uncomfortable.

The saints of the Old Testament are also in a state of bondage until Christ free them from captivity, in a sense.

To be clear, the descent clause is an extremely pastoral clause, and I want to emphasize that.

In it, we are told that Jesus has walked through the valley of the shadow of death and that he will bring us through to the other side of this difficult passageway.

He has risen from the dead and has triumphed over the very nature of death. No longer is death a threat to us. Death is not in charge; Jesus is in charge. When we comprehend the theology of Christ’s descent, we can see that it is a really optimistic belief to believe in.


The God I believe in is God, the Father Almighty, who is the Creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, who suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried, and who descended into hell after his death. He resurrected from the dead for a third time on the third day. Ascending into heaven and sitting at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, he will come to judge the living and the dead when the time comes.


This raises an important question: how accurate is the Apostles’ Creed’s depiction of this issue in terms of accuracy?

Using the biblical character of Jonah as an example, Jesus proclaims in Matthew 12:40, “Just as Jonah was swallowed up by a colossal fish for three days and nights, so will be the Son of Man for three days and three nights in the center of the earth.” And it is undeniable that when Christ died, he surrendered his spirit (John 19:30).

All that is left is to determine what Scripture means when it talks of Christ descended into the depths of the earth (or the heart of the earth).

Most scholars agree that this deep part of the earth represents the netherworld (i.e., the place wherein the spirits of the dead reside) — it wasn’t until relatively recently that hell began to be associated with the specific location wherein the damned are punished for all eternity (as opposed to the general concept of “hell”).

There are three noteworthy viewpoints to consider:

  1. Christ spent his three days suffering the wrath of God
  2. Christ spent his three days proclaiming his victory over the Satanic kingdom
  3. Christ spent his three days preaching the Gospel to the Old Testament believers who lived in a separate portion of the netherworld
  4. Christ spent his three days preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles who lived in a separate portion of the netherworld

The analogy between Jonah and Christ is advantageous to the first viewpoint in this debate. It is not difficult to understand that, just as Jonah spent his time in suffering in the deep (or the grave), it is possible that Christ too spent time in suffering in the realm of the dead. The apostle Peter states in Acts 2:24 that Christ’s resurrection freed him from the clutches of death “since it was not possible for him to be held or conquered by them” — implying that Christ had been writhing in agony under the weight of death prior to his resurrection.

According to the second viewpoint, Christ is shown as descending into the depths of hell to declare his victory over sin and death.

Death has been conquered.

This is a wonderful photograph.

In this section, we will look at the third and final position, which arises from a problem with interpretation1.

The most difficult question that arises from such an interpretation is one of motivation: why would Christ go out of his way to speak to individuals who had already accepted his message?

It was decided that they were justified in their actions.

While it is possible that Christ presented the Gospel in this manner, it does not appear to be required.

The solemn and joyful responsibility of the Christian then is to let the Scriptures to speak for themselves.

Since it is not an issue of division, every Christian should give his or her brother or sister a little leeway in their interpretation while still preserving godly fellowship that is formed of love and charity.

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