Why Did Jesus Go To Hell

What Jesus Really Said About Heaven and Hell

Everyone dislikes thinking about death, yet there are moments when we have no option but to confront it. As the infection spreads, hospitals become overcrowded, and systems become overburdened. Survival is the most pressing of our concerns, both personally and nationally. Many individuals – including the apparently healthy – have, however, found themselves confronted with the shadow of death itself, which has become our daily companion, despite our best efforts to ignore it the majority of the time.

While NBC’s huge hit comedy seriesThe Good Place was the most recent and most memorable effort, the humor even there was founded exactly in horror, as Eleanor Shellstrop and her pals desperately tried to avoid the eternity they earned in the Bad Place and its unending torments.

After learning he will spend forever groveling in dust and being devoured by worms, Gilgamesh writhes with misery in the epic poem The Epic of Gilgamesh.

The prospect of endless sorrow, on the other hand, makes many people shiver.

In the globe, there are more than two billion Christians, with the great majority of them believing in the existence of a heaven and a hell.

In spite of an increasing number of “nones,” Americans continue to expect a version of the options shown in The Good Place: independent of religious affiliation, 72 percent believe in a genuine paradise and 58 percent believe in a literal hell, according to the Pew Research Center.

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The great majority of these individuals understandably believe that this is what Jesus personally told them. However, this is not the case. Neither Jesus nor the Hebrew Bible, which he translated, supported the notion that departed souls went to either paradise or everlasting punishment. Ancient Jews, in contrast to the majority of Greeks, historically did not think that the soul could exist independently of the body. The opposite was true for them; they saw the soul as more like “breath.” Adam, the first human being God created, began as a lump of clay, then God “breathed” life into him after that (Genesis 2: 7).

  • Afterwards, everything was reduced to dust and ashes.
  • It is not true that when we cease breathing, our breath does not leave our body.
  • In the same way, the “soul” does not continue to exist outside of the body, where it may experience postmortem joy or anguish.
  • It is assumed by the Hebrew Bible itself that the deceased are simply dead—that their corpse rests in the grave and that they will never regain awareness again.
  • However, in the majority of cases, the term “Sheol” is just a synonym for “tomb” or “grave.” It’s not a location where people really go to hang out.
  • The fact that there was no life at all, and so no family, friends, talks, food, drink – and even communion with God – made death so depressing: nothing could make an afterlife existence more pleasant since there was no life at all, and hence no wonderful afterlife existence.
  • To be honest, the most one could aspire for was an enjoyable and exceptionally long life in the here and now.

The belief that there was something beyond death—a form of justice to come—began to spread among Jewish philosophers some two hundred years before the birth of the Messiah.

However, the flaws in that line of reasoning were immediately apparent: God’s own people Israel suffered repeatedly, brutally, and frustratingly as a result of natural disasters, political crises, and, most significantly, military defeat.

Some philosophers came up with a solution that described how God would bring about justice, but one that did not require eternal happiness in a paradise above or eternal pain in a hell below, as had previously been proposed.

In spite of the fact that God is the ultimate master of the universe, he has temporarily ceded authority of this planet for an unexplained cause.

Heaven and earth are about to be thrown into chaos when God intervenes to destroy everything and everyone who stands in his way, and to usher in a new kingdom for his loyal followers, the Kingdom of God, a paradise on earth.

Indeed, God will breathe life back into the dead, bringing them back to earthly existence, and God will bring all the dead back to life, not just the virtuous, to be with him forever.

The crowd who had stood in the path of God will also be raised.

During the time of Jesus, this notion of the impending resurrection dominated the outlook of Jewish thought in general.

The end of time is approaching quickly.

God will soon annihilate everything and everyone who stands in his way, and a new order will be established on the planet.

All of the others will be wiped out.

Unlike other Jewish leaders, Jesus preached that no one will inherit the glorious future kingdom by strictly adhering to all of the Jewish laws in their most minute details; or by meticulously following the rules of worship involving sacrifice, prayer, and the observance of holy days; or by pursuing one’s own purity by fleeing from the vile world and the tainting influence of sinful others.

  1. For the most part, this is placing God first in one’s life, despite personal difficulties, and dedicating one’s time and energy to the benefit of others, even when doing so is extremely difficult.
  2. (Leviticus 19:18).
  3. In the same way that the Good Samaritan helped anybody in need, genuine love includes assisting everyone in need, not just those in your chosen social circles, as depicted in the parable of the Good Samaritan.
  4. Only a small number of individuals are.
  5. It’s no surprise that it’s easier to get a camel through a needle than it is for the wealthy to get entry into the kingdom.

Although Jesus does not explicitly mention “Hell” in the Sermon on the Mount, standard English translations suggest that he does so sometimes — for example, in his cautions that anybody who labels another a fool, or who permits their right eye or hand to transgress, will be put into “hell” (Matthew 5:22, 29-30).

  1. However, the name does not allude to a perpetual tormenting region, but rather to an infamous valley just outside the walls of Jerusalem, which was widely considered by many Jews at the time to be the most unholy, god-forsaken area on earth.
  2. For anyone who died in the ancient world (whether they were Greek, Roman, or Jewish), being refused a proper burial was the harshest punishment they could get after death.
  3. Souls would not be tortured in that place, according to Jesus.
  4. The emphasis that Jesus places on the complete destruction of sinners may be found throughout his teachings.
  5. There are two paths to “life.” One is narrow and demands an arduous road, yet it leads to “life.” That is a route used by few.
  6. However, it results in “destruction.” It is an extremely essential term.
  7. In the same way, Jesus compares the coming kingdom to a fisherman who brings in a vast net of fish (Matthew 13:47-50).

He does not subject them to torture.

Alternatively, the kingdom might be compared to a person who collects the plants that have grown in his or her field (Matthew 13:36-43).

These do not burn indefinitely.

Other verses, on the other hand, may appear to imply that Jesus believed in the afterlife.

Some are referred to as sheep, while others are referred to as goats.

These are welcomed into the “kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,” as the Bible states.

Upon first glance, that surely sounds like a hellish creation of the public imagination.

They are not “eternal joy” and “eternal misery,” as some people believe.

As a result, annihilation is the penalty.

This is due to the fact that the fire never goes out.

And what is the significance of the term “eternal” punishment?

These individuals will be exterminated for all time.

In this way, Jesus followed in the footsteps of a long line of respectable philosophers who have refused to accept the notion that a benevolent God would torture his beings for all eternity.

Yet neither Jesus nor his early Jewish disciples taught about the torments of hell; rather, they originated among later gentile converts who did not believe in the Jewish concept of a future resurrection of the dead, as did the apostle Paul.

A large number of Greek intellectuals, dating back at least to Socrates’ time, have advocated for the notion of the immortality of the soul.

Following the example of gentile Christians, later Christians who emerged from these groups embraced this viewpoint for themselves, reasoning that since souls are made to survive forever, their final destinies will do the same.

As a result of this innovation, an unsatisfactory combination of Jesus’ Jewish beliefs with those found in elements of the Greek intellectual tradition has resulted.

Nonetheless, in a fascinating and comforting sense, Jesus’ own beliefs on either eternal recompense or full destruction are similar to Greek notions that were taught more than four centuries before Jesus.

His “Apology” (that is, “Legal Defense”), which was recorded by his most renowned pupil, Plato, is still available for reading today.

He is, on the contrary, energised by the prospect of going from this world to the next.

On the one hand, it may result in the deepest, most uninterrupted slumber that anyone could ever conceive.

It may, on the other hand, imply the presence of a conscious being.

It would mean continuing on with life and all of its joys while avoiding all of its suffering.

As a result, there are no poor options in the afterlife, just good ones.

Two thousand and four hundred years later, with all of our improvements in our knowledge of our world and human existence within it, certainly we can conclude that both Jesus and Socrates were correct about a great many things.

We should pay attention to what he has to say.

Of course, none of us can predict what will happen to us after we leave this world of transience behind.

On the one hand, we may lose our consciousness since we will no longer be concerned about anything in this world.

Both scenarios result in the cessation of all suffering.

To that end, the greatest teacher of the Greeks and the founder of Christianity agreed on the following: when we finally depart from this earthly realm, we may have something to look forward to, but we have absolutely nothing to be afraid of.

Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife, Ehrman’s latest book from which this essay is adapted, is available now. TIME Magazine has more must-read stories.

  • Most of these individuals understandably believe that this is what Jesus himself preached. It is not the case, however. It is not supported by either Jesus or the Hebrew Bible that he translated that departed souls go to paradise or suffer for all eternity. Traditional Jewish beliefs, in contrast to those held by the majority of Greeks, held that the soul could exist independently of the body. The opposite was true for them
  • They regarded the soul as more like “breathing.” Initially, Adam, the first human being God created, was nothing more than a lump of clay, into which God then “breathed” life (Genesis 2: 7). When Adam’s breathing stopped, he was still alive. Afterwards, everything was reduced to nothing more than dust and ash. According to ancient Jews, this was true for all of humanity. It is not true that when we stop breathing, our breath does not leave our bodies. It simply comes to a halt. In the same way, the “soul” does not continue to exist outside of the body, where it could experience postmortem pleasure or discomfort. It is no longer in existence. It is assumed by the Hebrew Bible itself that the deceased are simply dead—that their body lies in the grave and that there is no consciousness whatsoever after death. It is true that some poetic authors, such as those who wrote the Psalms, use the mysterious term “Sheol” to describe a person’s new location in their poetry. Although Sheol is often used as a synonym for “tomb” or “grave,” it is not always the case. Not many people actually go to this location. Traditional Israelites did not believe in life after death, only in death after death, as a result of this belief. The fact that there was no life at all, and thus no family, friends, conversations, food, drink – and even communion with God – made death so mournful: nothing could make an afterlife existence sweet because there was no life at all. In God’s eyes, the individual would be forgotten, and the individual would be unable to even worship. To be honest, the best one could hope for was an enjoyable and especially long life right now. Jewish thought, on the other hand, gradually evolved over time, albeit without the inclusion of the concept of an afterlife. The belief that there was something beyond death—a kind of justice to come—began to spread among Jewish thinkers about two hundred years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Jews had long held the belief that God was the supreme ruler over the entire world and all people, both living and dead, for thousands of years. There were, however, obvious flaws in that line of thinking, as God’s own people Israel suffered from natural disasters, political crises, and, most significantly, military defeat on an almost constant basis. Why does God’s people suffer so much tragedy if he loves them and is sovereign over the entire world, you might wonder. Some thinkers came up with a solution that explained how God would bring about justice, but one that did not involve eternal bliss in a heaven above or eternal torment in a hell below, as had previously been suggested. That there are evil forces in the world aligned against God and determined to afflict the people of God was the premise of this new theory of evil. For some unexplained reason, God has temporarily relinquished control of this world, despite the fact that he is the ultimate ruler of all. There is only a limited amount of time left for the forces of evil to act. Heaven and earth are about to be thrown into chaos as God intervenes to destroy everything and everyone who stands in his way, and to usher in a new realm for his true followers: the Kingdom of God, a paradise on earth. This new earthly kingdom will be available not only to those who are alive at the time of its establishment, but also to those who have died. This is particularly significant. Certainly the dead will be brought back to life by God, allowing them to resume their earthly existence, and God will do so for all of the dead, not just those who have done good. The multitudes who had stood in opposition to God will also be raised, but for a different reason: to be shown the error of their ways and to be judged by God himself. Their existence will be erased from the face of the earth once they have been shocked and filled with regret – but it will be too late. During the time of Jesus, this view of the impending resurrection dominated Jewish thought and practice. Furthermore, it was the point of view that he himself advocated. A short while from now, the universe will be terminated. The coming of God’s earthly Kingdom is “near” (Mark 1:15). God will soon demolish everything and everyone who stands in his way, and he will build a new order on the planet as a result of this destruction. For the rest of their lives, those who enter this realm will live in a utopian state of mind. Those who oppose us will be wiped out entirely. Jesus, on the other hand, put his own spin on it. To the contrary of what other Jewish leaders taught, Jesus preached that no one will inherit the glorious future kingdom by strictly adhering to all of the Jewish laws in their most minute details
  • Or by meticulously following the rules of worship involving sacrifice, prayer, and the observance of holy days
  • Or by pursuing one’s own purity by fleeing from the vile world and the tainting influence of sinful others. Instead, according to Jesus, individuals who are completely devoted to the most prevalent and dominating teachings of God’s law will be granted entry into the earthly utopian state. Simply put, this is placing God first in one’s life despite personal difficulties and dedicating one’s time and energy to the benefit of others, even when doing so is extremely challenging. People who have not been living lives of total selfless love need to repent and return to the two “biggest commandments” of Jewish Scripture: a profound love for God (Deuteronomy 6:4-6) and a dedicated love for one’s neighbor (Deuteronomy 6:13-15). (Leviticus 19:18). Despite the fact that it appears to be straightforward, it is not. In the same way that the Good Samaritan helped everyone in need, genuine love includes assisting everyone in need, not just those in your chosen social circles, as seen in the story of the Good Samaritan. When it came to the poor, outcasts, immigrants, those on the margins, and even the most despised opponents, Jesus was the most concerned person. There aren’t many of them. Those who have a comfortable life and a lot of money, in particular. That explains why it is easier to get a camel through a needle than it is to get the wealthy into the kingdom. A surprising number of people today would be startled to find that Jesus believed in a corporeal everlasting existence here on earth, rather than in endless joy for souls, and that he did not believe in a location of perpetual pain known as hell. Although Jesus does not explicitly mention “Hell” in the Sermon on the Mount, standard English translations suggest that he does so sometimes — for example, in his cautions that anybody who labels another a fool, or who permits their right eye or hand to transgress, will be put into “Hell” (Matthew 5:22, 29-30). It should be noted that none of these verses directly allude to the concept of “hell.” “Gehenna” is the term that Jesus employs. However, the name does not allude to an endless tormenting region, but rather to an infamous valley just outside the walls of Jerusalem, which was widely regarded by many Jews at the time as the most impure and god-forsaken spot on earth. Ancient Israelites conducted child sacrifices to foreign gods there, according to the Old Testament, and the Lord God of Israel had condemned and abandoned the site as a result. For those who died in the ancient world (whether they were Greek, Roman, or Jewish), being refused a proper burial was the harshest punishment they could get after their deaths. A disgusting scenario was constructed by Jesus based on this viewpoint: the bodies of those who were excluded from the kingdom would be rudely thrown into the most desecrated landfill on the earth. Souls would not be tormented there, according to Jesus’ words. They’d just cease to exist as a result of the change. It is clear from Jesus’ teachings that he is focused on the complete destruction of sinners. He claims that there are two gates through which people must pass (Matthew 7:13-14). There are two paths to “life.” One is narrow and demands an arduous road, but it leads to the other. That is a route taken by just a small number. As a result, it is often used since it is broad and simple. The result is “destruction,” on the other hand. It is an extremely essential term. Terrorism does not result from choosing the incorrect route to begin with. Jesus compares the coming kingdom to a fisherman who hauls in a vast net, then he goes on to explain (Matthew 13:47-50). Then, after separating the excellent from the bad, he retains the good and tosses out the bad fish. His treatment of them is not torturous. Nothing happens to them
  • They simply perish. Alternatively, the kingdom might be thought of as a person who collects the plants that have grown in his or her garden (Matthew 13:36-43). He saves the excellent grain, but he burns the weeds in a hot fire to make room for more good grain. There is a time limit on how long they will burn. It seems as though they have been engulfed by fire and are no longer alive. Other verses, on the other hand, may appear to imply that Jesus believed in the existence of hell. Particularly noteworthy is the statement of Jesus that all countries would gather for the final judgment (Matthew 25:31-46). It is said that some of them are sheep, while others are thought to be goats. These are the (good) sheep — those who have assisted others who are in need – those who are hungry, sick, destitute, or alien. The “kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” welcomes these people into its fold. As a result of their refusal to assist people in need, the (wicked) goats are sentenced to “eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels,” which means they will burn forever. Initially, that sounds like the devil of popular imagination, and it surely is. However, as Jesus finishes his argument, he clarifies that the opposing destinies are “eternal life” and “eternal damnation.” “Everlasting joy” and “eternal suffering” are not the same thing. Death, not agony, is the polar opposite of living. Therefore, destruction serves as punishment. But what is the significance of “everlasting fire” in this context? This is due to the fact that the fire will never go out! Flames, not torments, are the only thing that lasts forever. What is the significance of the term “eternal” punishment? For the simple reason that it will never come to an end. These individuals shall be eliminated off the face of the earth for all time! Even if it isn’t nice to think about, it will have no negative impact after it is complete. As a result, Jesus joined a very long line of serious thinkers who have refused to accept the notion that a benevolent God would torture his beings for all of eternity in the hereafter. Fire and brimstone preaching, which subsequent followers often attributed to Jesus himself, was a latecomer to the Christian scene, having emerged decades after Jesus’ death and been fine-tuned to a fine pitch in the teachings of fire and brimstone. Yet neither Jesus nor his initial Jewish disciples taught about the torments of hell
  • Rather, they originated among later gentile converts who did not believe in the Jewish concept of a future resurrection of the dead, as was the case with the early Christians. Greek culture and the notion that souls are immortal and would endure death influenced the development of these later Christians. A large number of Greek intellectuals, dating back at least to Socrates’ time, have advocated for the concept that the soul is eternal. Despite the fact that the human body will die, the human spirit will not and will not be able to die. Following the example of gentile Christians, later Christians who emerged from those circles embraced this viewpoint for themselves, reasoning that since souls are made to survive forever, their final destinies will do the same. Either eternal happiness or endless agony will await the chosen ones on the other side. Jesus’ Jewish beliefs and those found in elements of the Greek intellectual heritage have been combined in an unsatisfactory way in this invention. A bizarre mix, one that was shared neither by the early Christians, nor by the ancient Greek elite who came before them. Nonetheless, in a fascinating and comforting sense, Jesus’ own beliefs on either eternal reward or full destruction are similar to Greek notions that were preached more than four centuries before. During his trial before an Athenian jury on capital charges, Socrates presented the concept in the most memorable way. Because it was written down by his most renowned pupil, Plato, the text of his “Apology” (also known as “Legal Defense”) may still be seen on the internet. As a matter of fact, Socrates proclaims outright that he has no need to be concerned about the impending execution. The prospect of leaving from this life, on the other hand, gives him a burst of energy. Death will come in one of two forms for Socrates. However, on the one hand, it may result in the deepest, most restful slumber that anyone could ever hope to experience. A decent sleep, on the other hand, who doesn’t like? The presence of a conscious being on the other hand, is possible. That would also be beneficial, perhaps much more so. It would mean continuing on with life and all of its delights but avoiding all of its pains and difficulties. Having unending debates about serious themes with well-known philosophers from his history would be a dream come true for Socrates, the most famous seeker of truth in the classical world. There are no negative decisions to make in the afterlife
  • Just excellent ones. In the face of death, there was no sense of horror or even dread in his eyes. Two thousand and four hundred years later, with all of our improvements in our knowledge of our world and human existence within it, we may safely conclude that both Jesus and Socrates were correct about a great many things. We should commit ourselves to the benefit of others, especially the poor and needy, the ill and afflicted, the outcasts and aliens, during our brief existence, according to Jesus’ teaching. This is someone who should be taken into consideration. Nevertheless, Socrates was probably definitely correct in his assessment of the situation. Of fact, none of us has any idea what will happen to us once we leave this realm of transience and become immortal. However, his two most feasible alternatives remain the same. As a result of no longer having to care about anything in this world, we may lose our consciousness, to some extent. Socrates perceived it as a peaceful deep slumber, but Jesus regarded it as eternal annihilation. There will be no more suffering in any circumstance. But it’s possible that something better is still to come, a better place, a happier place. To that end, the greatest teacher of the Greeks and the father of Christianity agreed on the following: when we finally leave this earthly sphere, we may perhaps have something to look forward to, but we have absolutely nothing to be afraid of. Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife, which is the title of Ehrman’s latest book and the source material for this article. TIME Magazine has more must-read articles.
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The great majority of these individuals understandably believe that this is what Jesus himself preached. That, however, is not the case. Neither Jesus nor the Hebrew Bible, which he translated, supported the notion that departed souls go to either paradise or eternal torment. Ancient Jews, in contrast to the majority of Greeks, traditionally did not believe that the soul could exist apart from the body. They, on the other hand, regarded the soul as more akin to “breath.” Adam, the first human being God created, began as a lump of clay, and then God “breathed” life into him through the Word of God (Genesis 2: 7).

  1. Afterwards, it was just ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
  2. When we stop breathing, our breath remains in our lungs.
  3. Likewise, the “soul” does not continue to exist outside of the body, where it could experience postmortem pleasure or pain.
  4. The Hebrew Bible itself assumes that the dead are simply dead—that their body lies in the grave and that they will never have consciousness again.
  5. Most of the time, however, the term “Sheol” is simply a synonym for “tomb” or “grave.” No one actually goes to this location.
  6. That is what made death so depressing: nothing could make an afterlife existence more pleasant because there was no life at all, and thus no family, friends, conversations, food, drink – and even no communion with God – because there was no life at all.
  7. The best that could be hoped for was a healthy and particularly long life right now.

About two hundred years before Jesus, Jewish thinkers began to believe that there had to be something more than death—a kind of justice that was yet to come.

However, the flaws in that way of thinking were immediately apparent: God’s own people Israel suffered repeatedly, painfully, and frustratingly as a result of natural disasters, political crises, and, most significantly, military defeat.

Some thinkers came up with a solution that explained how God would bring about justice, but it did not involve eternal bliss in a heaven above or eternal torment in a hell below.

Despite the fact that God is the ultimate ruler of all, he has temporarily relinquished control of this world for an unknown reason.

Eventually, God will intervene in earthly affairs in order to destroy everything and everyone who stands in his way, and in order to establish a new realm for his true followers, a Kingdom of God, a paradise on earth.

Certainly the dead will be brought back to life by God, allowing them to resume their earthly existence, and God will do so for all of the dead, not just the righteous.

Once they have been shocked and filled with regret – but it will be too late – they will be permanently erased from the face of the earth.

It was also the point of view that he himself embraced and advocated.

In the earthly realm, God’s Kingdom is “near” (Mark 1:15).

Those who enter this kingdom will be able to live in a utopian state for the rest of their lives.

However, Jesus added his own spin to the concept.

Instead, according to Jesus, those who are completely dedicated to the most pervasive and dominant teachings of God’s law will be granted access to the earthly utopia.

It is necessary for people to repent and return to the two “greatest commandments” of Jewish Scripture: a deep love for God (Deuteronomy 6:4-6) and a committed love for one’s neighbor (Deuteronomy 6:13-14).

This may appear to be simple, but it is not.

Jesus was particularly concerned about the poor, the outcasts, the foreigners, the marginalized, and even the most despised of his opponents.

Those who have a good life and a lot of money, in particular.

Most people today would be startled to find that Jesus believed in a corporeal everlasting existence here on earth, rather than in endless pleasure for souls, and that he did not believe in hell as a place of perpetual pain.

These verses, on the other hand, do not truly allude to “hell.” The term “Gehenna” is used by Jesus.

According to the Old Testament, it was here that ancient Israelites performed child sacrifice to other gods, and it was here that the God of Israel had condemned and deserted them.

This viewpoint was elaborated by Jesus into a horrific scenario, in which the bodies of those who were excluded from the kingdom would be rudely thrown into the most desecrated dumping site on the face of the globe.

They would just cease to exist.

He claims that there are two gates that people must pass through at one point (Matthew 7:13-14).

Other is wide and simple, and as a result is frequently used.

Torture does not result from choosing the incorrect road.

After going through the fish, he decides which ones to retain and which ones to discard.

They simply pass away.

He saves the good grain, but he burns the weeds in a hot fire to get rid of them.

They are devoured by fire and subsequently vanish from existence.

Most importantly, Jesus mentions that all nations will gather for the ultimate judgment (Matthew 25:31-46).

These are the (good) sheep — those who have aided those in need – those who are hungry or sick or destitute or a foreigner.

The (wicked) goats, on the other hand, have refused to assist people in need, and as a result, they have been sent into “the everlasting fire reserved for the devil and his angels.” Initially, that sounds like the devil of popular imagination, and it is.

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There is no such thing as “eternal joy” and “eternal misery.” Death, rather than agony, is the polar opposite of life.

But what is the significance of the phrase “everlasting fire”?

The fires, not the torments, will burn eternally.

Because it will never come to an end.

It’s not nice to think about, but it won’t hurt you after it’s through with.

Eternal torment was a latecomer to the Christian scene, having emerged decades after Jesus’ death and been fine-tuned to a fine pitch in the preaching of fire and brimstone that subsequent followers sometimes attributed to Jesus himself, according to some scholars.

Their forefathers were influenced by Greek culture, which held that souls were immortal and would thus endure death.

Despite the fact that the human body will die, the human spirit will not and cannot.

Either eternal happiness or eternal agony will be the result.

It was an odd mix, a point of view shared neither by the early Christians nor by the ancient Greek elite who came before them in time.

Socrates himself articulated the concept most eloquently while on trial before an Athenian jury for death punishment.

Socrates asserts unequivocally that he has no need to be afraid of the death penalty.

Socrates will die in one of two ways.

And who doesn’t like a good night’s sleep?

That would also be beneficial, if not much more so.

For Socrates, the most famous seeker of truth in the ancient world, it would entail continuous discussions about difficult themes with well-known intellectuals from his own time.

Death was not a cause of panic, or even dread, for the characters in this story.

Jesus taught that we should devote our limited lives to the wellbeing of others, particularly the poor, the needy, the ill, the downtrodden, the outcast, and the immigrant.

But Socrates was probably definitely correct in his own way as well.

However, his two alternatives remain the most realistic.

Socrates viewed it as a lovely deep slumber, but Jesus considered it as eternal annihilation.

There may be more to come, a better place to be, a happier place to be.

Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife, from which this article is taken, is Ehrman’s latest book. More must-read articles from Time magazine

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.

  • He was sent into the depths of hell.
  • He has climbed to the throne of God the Father Almighty and is now sitting at the right hand of the Almighty.
  • 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.
  • It is the statement “he fell to hell” that has been the source of ongoing debate in the church for centuries.
  • Is it possible that he truly went to hell?
  • Let’s take a look at this crucial and intriguing issue in further detail.
  • 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.

(e.g.

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?

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 kingdom 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 are waiting “down” in the place of the dead, to use the Bible’s spatial and metaphorical language.

The nature of paradise has altered as a result of Jesus’ resurrection, which took place on Easter Sunday.

As a result, we’re talking about going to heaven today since that’s where Jesus is and where the righteous dead are, respectively.

“Yes, Jesus went down to the place of the dead, to paradise, to the righteous compartment, because he was righteous,” would have been the universally acknowledged conclusion.

As a result, the spatial language shifts.

He’s in the throne room of heaven, and the rest of the angels have accompanied him there.

Please keep in mind that Dr.

Brian Arnold go into further detail about this subject on Episode 25 of Faith Seeking Understanding.

Matthew Emerson is a professor of religion at Oklahoma Baptist University, where he also holds the Floyd K.

He is the author of “He Descended to the Dead”: An Evangelical Theology of Holy Saturday, which was published in 2008. (IVP Academic, 2019). Dr. Emerson graduated with honors from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he earned his Ph.D.

Theology Thursday: Where Did Jesus Go When He Died?

According to tradition, it is one of the oldest ancient confessions in the Christian church. Many Protestant denominations, as well as the Roman Catholic Church, continue to use it to this very day. Nonetheless, it contains a specific phrase that has sparked much debate throughout history, including today. Voicing the creed, in its simplest form: It is my firm belief in God, the Almighty Father, who is the Creator of all things in heaven and on earth. In Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, I place my faith.

  1. He was cast into the depths of Hades.
  2. The Lord Jesus Christ has ascended into heaven and is now seated at God the Father’s right hand.
  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 an afterlife in which I will not perish.
  4. The phrase “he descended to hell” has been the source of much debate in the church for many years now.
  5. Does it appear that he went to hell on a literal journey?
  6. So let’s take a closer look at this crucial and fascinating question.
  7. “Did Jesus actually descend into hell?” is a question that requires a definition of terms before we can answer it.

Jesus did not travel to that location.

Consequently, it was this that the early Christian writers meant when they wrote phrases such as “He descended to hell” or “He descended to the dead.” These people were referring to the fact that Jesus died in the same way that everyone else did.

It is possible that the New Testament is referring to what we would call “the intermediate state” when it refers to the place of the dead.

Romans 10:7, for example, speaks of “the abyss.” However, the New Testament makes use of specific terms in other places.

“Abraham’s bosom” is a term that appears in Luke 16 that is also related.

Essentially, the Old and New Testaments both teach that there is one place of the dead that is divided into two compartments: the righteous compartment (e.g., paradise, Abraham’s bosom, etc.) and the unrighteous compartment (e.g., hell, the lake of fire, etc) (e.g.

1 Peter 3: What’s the Deal with That?” We must now consider 1 Peter 3:18–22 in light of Jesus’ descent, a passage that not only sheds significant light on the subject, but has also been the subject of much debate throughout church history.

Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has ascended into heaven and sits 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.

  1. Jesus’ descent is mentioned here, but Peter also speaks about the entirety of Christ’s obedience, including his life, crucifixion, and resurrection.
  2. This is the time period between Christ’s death and resurrection, and it is during this time that Christ went out and “proclaimed” his victory over Satan, death, and all evil that he had obtained through his substitutionary death.
  3. The descent almost appears to be a “Hey everybody, I win!” moment for Jesus, who is preaching his victory to everyone in the place of the dead.
  4. Those who live beneath the surface of the earth are the recipients of his message in 1 Peter 3.
  5. According to both 1 Peter 3 and Philippians 2, he is recognized as Lord by all those in heaven, on earth, and beneath the earth—that is, in the realm of the dead.
  6. And there, Jesus is referred to as “King.” This is explained in detail in 1 Peter 3.
  7. Afterward, he went to the ground and declared his victory.

As he made his way down to the earth, Jesus kicked the gates of the kingdom of the serpent down and demonstrated that he was also King there.

God, in the person of Jesus, entered even the kingdom of death and declared his victory as he descended into the depths of the sea.

In accordance with Apollinarianism, when God the Son took on human flesh but did not take on a human soul, God the Son became incarnate.

In reality, he was only aware of his physical body and the procedures that allowed it to function properly.

In the early church, it had a significant impact on their lives.

As an added bonus, when explaining Jesus’ descent, the early church stressed something we already discussed: that Jesus is King over everything, even the realm of death.

The fact that Jesus was born into a family tells us something about what his atoning deed achieved for our sake.

He was able to do so because of the labor he had previously done on the cross.

As an alternative, he was using what he had previously done in the domain of the dead.

In the face of death and the realm of the dead, he has triumphed 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 ramifications.

This idea is frequently challenged using Jesus’ statements said during his crucifixion as justification.

For starters, there is Jesus’ proclamation in John 19:30, immediately before he died, “It is done.” “If Jesus’ work of salvation was truly completed, why did he need to descend to the land of the dead?” some would wonder.

And he died the death that we all deserve because he lived the beautiful life that we are unable to live our own.

See also:  Who Invented Jesus

He put his labor to reality via his fall, resurrection, and ascension.

As a result of his death on the cross, Jesus bore the penalty of sin and the wrath of God.

However, as he descended, he applied his completed work to the realm of the dead, proclaiming triumph that he had already achieved.

“Hey everybody down here, guess what?

His ascension is a continuation of what he has already accomplished; both his reign and his physical ascension are a result of what he has already done.

This isn’t a fresh set of activities he’s taken in order to save his life.

In addition, the passage from Luke 23:43, in which Jesus tells the thief on the cross, “Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise,” is frequently cited as a second counter-argument.

The graveyard, where human spirits are buried, cannot be dug up and discovered by digging.

Rather than going “up” to heaven, when Jesus dies, he goes “down.” Fortunately, as a result of Jesus’ resurrection, the character of paradise has shifted significantly.

As a result, we’re talking about going to heaven today since that’s where Jesus is and where the righteous dead are, too.

“Yes, Jesus went down to the region of the dead, to paradise, to the righteous compartment, since he was righteous,” would have been the universally agreed conclusion.

As a result, the spatial language shifts slightly.

And they’re right there with him in the throne room of heaven.

PLEASE NOTE: On Episode 25 of Faith Seeking Understanding, Dr.

Brian Arnold go into further detail about this subject.

Clark Chair of Christian Leadership and the Dean’s position in the School of Theology, Arts, and Humanities.

An Evangelical Theology of Holy Saturday, “He Descended to the Dead,” is written by him (IVP Academic, 2019). A doctorate in theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary has been conferred upon him.

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.

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”).

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • It is my contention in the book that Christ suffers a human death, just as all humans do.
  • Consequently, he goes through the process of dying like any other human being.
  • His presence at the location serves to announce his triumph over the powers of death.
  • Another aspect of Christ’s victory is the liberation of the Old Testament saints from captivity, which is another aspect of his victory.
  • Is it possible to list some typical misunderstandings concerning the notion of descent?
  • 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.
  • There are two other significant cautions to be mentioned.
  • It does not give a means for everyone in hell to go out of their misery.
  • 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.

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 collection of texts to keep in mind is those that speak of Jesus suffering death in the same way that all human beings experience.

The tale of Lazarus and the wealthy man (Luke 16:19–31) and Jesus’ speech to the thief on the cross (John 18:36) are both appropriate additions.

A second series of lines is concerned with Jesus’ declaration of triumph over the forces of death and destruction.

Additionally, you may cite Matthew 16, which predicts that the “gates of Hades” would not be able to overpower the church.

These are, without a doubt, the most difficult to understand and interpret accurately.

The book of Ephesians 4:8–10 has a quotation from Psalm 68:18, which states that when Christ “ascended on high, he carried many prisoners” (p.

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

  • For the reasons we’ve already covered, evangelical dissatisfaction with the idea of descent is frequently a result of dissatisfaction with the exact phrasing of the descent clause in the Apostles’ Creed.
  • Is it conceivable that any of the information in them is incorrect?
  • To put it another way, the church’s creeds are not authoritative in and of themselves; rather, they are only authoritative to the extent that they are true to the Scriptures.
  • They are not without flaws and are not flawless.
  • The church’s long history is not represented by one-time events such as a pastor’s sermons, which, even if they are faithful to Scripture, do not bear the weight of the church’s long tradition.
  • The most appropriate answer is to re-examine the Scriptures to ensure that we haven’t overlooked anything.
  • The fact that Christ came down to earth has profound consequences for our understanding of Christology.

This is the heresy of God the Son taking on a human body but not a human soul, as is commonly believed.

Consequently, if we discount the descending clause, we run the danger of overlooking important insights about the way in which the church has grasped the human essence of Christ throughout history.

Also affected is the doctrine of humanity in its many manifestations.

In addition, if Christ’s descent reveals what death is like for all humans, then it must entail the cessation of life in the body, followed by the soul’s departure to the place of the dead.

However, according to the doctrine of Christ’s descent, when we die, we reach an intermediate state in which the soul retains consciousness.

What role do you think Scripture plays in drawing on that cosmology when it depicts where people “go” after death?

The gods live up in the heavens.

And the dead live in the underworld.

Various schools of ancient philosophy held that you may reach the underworld through specific portals, which were known as access points.

However, I believe that drawing this conclusion is erroneous.

When it comes to describing the underworld, both the Old and New Testaments employ a great deal of figurative language, and the variety of examples leads me to believe that the Jews of this era were not thinking of it as a “place” in the traditional sense of a location accessible by ordinary human means.

  • God, who is spirit, is supposed to have a specific dwelling place, either in the skies or in the temple, where he may be found.
  • Even while I believe the Scriptures are accurate in their depiction of these events, we must be careful not to interpret figurative language as proof of a belief in physical worlds that match to the metaphorical language.
  • Heaven (or Abraham’s bosom) is reserved for the virtuous, whereas Gehenna, Hades, Sheol, and the abyss are all used to depict the place where the unrighteous are destined.
  • They are unable to express their gratitude to God at the temple.
  • He has not left the righteous compartment of the place of the dead, where he continues to be present.
  • However, it is precisely what occurs throughout the descent.
  • This is the only way that paradise can be changed.

Even if they are not subjected to the torments of hell, the Old Testament saints have frequently been depicted as languishing in a kind of prison after death, according to Christian tradition.

In all honesty, I feel that death is a form of incarceration.

As a result, until that job is completed, the dead are still considered to be imprisoned in some sense.

The termLimbus Patrum (also known as “Limbo” in popular usage) refers to a place where Old Testament saints were imprisoned until Christ arrived and freed them from their imprisonment.

As a result, throughout the book, I’m attempting to convey the message that “This is not suffering.” This is not the same as being separated from God.” Death, on the other hand, is a jail.

Is there anything more you’d want to say regarding Christ’s descent before we wrap things up?

It informs us that Jesus, like all of us, had an encounter with death.

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 understand the doctrine of Christ’s descent, we can see that it is a remarkably hopeful doctrine to believe in.

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.

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.

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.

The Bible provides us with relatively little information regarding Jesus’ physical and emotional state between his death and resurrection.

In Ephesians 4, the Incarnation is most certainly being alluded to, while 1 Peter 4:6could be referring to any preaching of the gospel.

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.

Others disagree with this.

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