Did  Jesus go to Hell?                                                    SCROLL 2.pngSCROLL 2.png

 

Introduction   Did Christ go to Hell when He died on the cross of Calvary?  It is amazing that this heretical-sounding question is even asked and considered by some theologians [1].  Perhaps this confusion surrounding Christ's death stems from the Roman catholic church's "Apostles' Creed", where we find the statement that "Christ descended into Hell" [1].  Christians need not be confused by all this, they only have to know where to look to get the right understanding.  Therefore, let us abandon any reliance on man-made dogma [2] like the Apostles' Creed and consider bible scripture with the major focus on Jesus Christ's own words.   At the very outset, one must clearly define some terms, starting principally with the word hell itself, for if an incorrect rendering for hell is accepted, then heresies are sure to follow.

Hell      Hell is defined in Strong's Concordance as Sheol in Hebrew and as Hades in the Greek, and is overwhelmingly described as a place of eternal punishment for those who have rejected God in the scriptures.  At no time has Paradise ever been considered to be Hell in the scriptures.  As depicted below, Hades used to contain two compartments, that of Hell and that of Paradise. But Paradise was relocated to Heaven when Christ took its righteous inhabitants to Heaven with Him after His resurrection [see Resurrection ].  All righteous believers from that moment on have gone straight to Heaven upon death, and not gone to any place in the heart of the earth [2 Corinthians 5:6]. 

Paradise      Paradise has been located in various places at different times.  Specifically, we encounter Paradise located in

  • the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve were initially [Genesis 2:15]
  • the heart of the earth across from Hell  [Luke 16:19-26]
  • the heart of the earth when Jesus died on the cross  [Luke 23:39-43]
  • Heaven when Jesus took the captives home  [Ephesians 4:8 and Resurrection
  • the third heaven where the Apostle Paul was caught up to [2 Corinthians 12:2-4]
  • the New Jerusalem in eternity future  [Revelation 22:1,2]

 

Strong's Concordance defines Paradise as "an Eden" in [Genesis 2:15]. Another name for Paradise could be Abraham's bosom when it was located in the heart of the earth right across from Hell [Luke 16:19-26]. On the cross, Jesus told the repentant sinner "To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise"[Luke 23:39-43]. He did not tell him that He would see him in Hell.  For centuries, even all the way back to righteous Abel, all those that had died in faith were captives, or prisoners, in the heart of the earth in Paradise, except for Enoch and Elijah, who were in Heaven. The souls in Paradise could not be admitted into Heaven, for their sins had not been completely covered.

It was only when Jesus applied His blood to the Ark of the Covenant [which had been merged with the true Ark of the Testament in the Holiest in Heaven] that their sins were atoned for such that they were allowed to enter Heaven [a fuller explanation regarding this is in Sin, the Law, and the Blood].  When Jesus resurrected, He took these prisoners to Heaven with Him [Ephesians 4:8 and Resurrection].  A prominent feature of Paradise/Garden of Eden was the tree of life.  However, when Adam fell, God prohibited him and everyone else from eating of it and living forever.  But the tree of life will be restored by God in the New Jerusalem, where God's initial purpose for the fruit of this tree will once again be in effect  [Revelation 22:1,2]. 

Hades and the Grave   It is understandable that in a very few instances Christians might get confused regarding Hades.  The matter is not helped when Webster's Dictionary defines Hades as the abode of the dead in Greek mythology.  Moreover, Strong's Concordance defines Hades as the place (state) of departed souls, but then adds hell and grave.  The reference to hell, however, is circular, for hell is the primary word whose definition is being sought.  The only way to clear all this confusion is to read the words of Jesus as He recounts an actual event that had occurred in Hell, a real place, a place of torment, in a real location (in the heart of the earth), and across a great gulf from Paradise which could not be crossed [Luke 16:19-26]. 

As concerns grave, however, it is best to start from the word grave itself, where we see that Strong's Concordance defines it as a place of interment, a sepulcher, or a tomb. Clearly, then, the place of a grave is not located in the heart of the earth.  In some places, grave may refer to Hades itself, but the understanding is left to the reader to place it in its proper context [e.g., saved souls were never in hell].  Reverend C.I. Scofield mistakenly refers to the "graves" of the Valley of Dry Bones army as "nations" in Ezekiel 37However, these graves are literal graves, and the event concerns the literal resurrection of these people [please see the fifth manifestation of The Seven Resurrections of God for clarification]Consider the following diagram: 

 

             HADES,  the Place of Departed Souls in the Heart of the Earth (Luke 16:19-26)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christ's Descent into the Heart of the Earth     When Jesus went to Paradise for three days and three nights, He preached the gospel to those who had died in faith in God, all the way back to Abel. In a perversion of scripture, some contend that this proves that Christ preached to the lost souls in Hell!  References to the dead in the scriptures do not always refer to the lost.  A good example is found in Revelation 20:5, where God will close out the first resurrection of the saved by resurrecting the millennial righteous - those who will come to accept Christ as their Savior during the millennial rule of Christ [the sixth manifestation of The Seven Resurrections of God]. 

Christ's Ascension into Heaven after He Resurrected    As noted previously above and in Resurrection and also in Sin, the Law, and the Blood,  Jesus ascended unto the Father in Heaven early in the morning on the first day of the week after He resurrected and entered into the Holiest in the Heavenly Tabernacle by His own blood and completed the final atonement for the sins of all mankind once and for all:

But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. Hebrews 9:11,12

When Jesus died on the cross, He said, "It is finished"[John 19:30].  By His sacrifice, Jesus completed the Act of Atonement that granted eternal life for all believers:

But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.  For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.  Hebrews 10:12-14

Therefore,  any religious ritual that purports to provide cleansing from sin is a  heresy of the highest order.  Jesus will not be crucified again and again at any priest's whim:

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.  Hebrews 6:4-6

So whatever motive is behind the statement that Jesus went to Hell, the simple answer is no, He did not, nor has any saved soul ever gone to Hell.  References in the scriptures that involve saved souls and Hell are referring to Paradise, the compartment of Hades across from Hell.                         

                                                                                              References

 

[1]  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrowing_of_Hell

[2] Webster's Dictionary defines dogma to be 1) something held as an established opinion 2) a point or view or tenet put forth as authoritative without adequate grounds, and 3) a doctrine or body of doctrines concerning faith or morals formally stated and authoritatively proclaimed by a church.  Synonym: DOCTRINE   Transparently, dogma is not scripture, and thus is not Christian doctrine.   The Roman catholic church's Apostles' Creed is simply the Roman catholic church's opinion of its religious beliefs; but the truth of the gospel of Christ must be established according to actual biblical scripture.   

 

 

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