Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Did Jesus Go To Hell?

The Apostles creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, 
creator of heaven and earth. 
I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, 
suffered under Pontius Pilate, 
was crucified, died, and was buried; 
he descended to the dead. 
On the third day he rose again; 
he ascended into heaven, 
he is seated at the right hand of the Father, 
and he will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. AMEN.

Depending on which version your congregation says, Jesus may have descended to the dead, or he may have descended into hell. The latin version says "descendit ad inferna" which is hell. This makes it the most controversial statement in the Apostle's Creed. Some denominations consider it optional or refuse to include it at all. The Greek version has "he descended unto κατώτατα (the lower regions)" which is more palatable, but it still begs the question - between His death and resurrection where did Jesus go? 

For one thing, we know that he went to paradise and he took one criminal with him when He went to paradise
42 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom! 43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
But did Jesus go anywhere else, or did He rest in Paradise before returning to us? Paul hints that Jesus did more than go to Paradise.
7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, And He gave gifts to men.” 9 (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) (Ephesians 4:7-10)
So did Paul hint at Jesus descending into hell? First of all, we need to know what hell really is because there's a lot of words that are thrown around the Bible which many people think is hell
HELL In common usage, this term refers to the place of future punishment for the wicked. The word properly translated “hell” in the New Testament is the Greek Geenna or Gehenna, a place in the Valley of Hinnom where human sacrifices had been offered and where continuous burning of rubbish made it an apt illustration of the eternal lake of fire (cf. Matthew 5:22).
SHEOL The general idea of this word is “the place of the dead” including the grave (cf. Numbers 16:30,33; Psalm 16:10), and the unseen place of those who have departed from this life, the place of departed spirits of both the righteous (Genesis 37:35) and the wicked (Proverbs 9:18).
HADES This word is basically the New Testament counterpart of the Sheol. It refers to the unseen world in general, but specifically to the abode of the unsaved dead between death and the final judgment at the great white throne (cf. Luke 16:23 and Revelation 20:11-15). It differs from hell in that it is temporary while hell is permanent.
LAKE OF FIRE Refers to the eternal state of the wicked who are forever separated from God and consigned to a special abode of suffering because of their rejection of Christ or their lack of the righteousness of Christ. It is equivalent to and identified with the second death in Revelation 20:14.    (source)
So it can't be Hell or the Lake of Fire because they are a future  resource, which leaves us with Sheol and Hades which are pretty much the same thing. Acts 2:31 tells us that Jesus actually went to Hades:
he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay
And Peter tells us what happened when He got there
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits - 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water (1 Peter 3:18-20)
Who were these imprisoned spirits? In the New Testament, the word spirits is used to describe angels or demons, not human beings. Jude 1:6 may give us a hint
And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day,
So Jesus went to speak to imprisoned fallen angels from the days of Noah. The sin the spirits in prison committed could be the one in Genesis 6:1-4, which records the “sons of God” mating with the “daughters of men” and producing a race of giants. Could it be that the demons who cohabited with human women were imprisoned by God to prevent them from repeating that sin and to discourage other demons from trying it? That's certainly one possibility, but the truth could be far from this. What is certain is that Jesus was not there to save them, 
For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. (Hebrews 2:16)
What is important is that Jesus came here and allowed himself to be sacrificed for our sins to save us.


  1. William Barclay is known to be quite liberal in his theology, especially when it comes to giving natural explanations for many miracles. However, he is also known to be good when it comes to explaining the Greek language, the cultures of the time, as well as history. His excellent book, "The Apostles' Creed for Everyman," has some good understanding of this passage.

    To begin with, the passage about descending into Hell didn't show up in any credal statement until the "Symbol of Sirmium" in AD 359/360, and the first appearance of it in the "Apostles' Creed" was in 570. Between those dates it also showed up in the Athanasian Creed but not in the Nicene Creed.

    Barclay says the proper translation would be Hades, as with Acts 2:27 when quoting Psalm 16:10, and as you note it is the equivalent of Sheol, which simply means the land of the dead. And he notes that originally Hades is the name of the king of the land of the dead, and that's how he shows up in Revelation.

    By saying that Jesus descends to the place of the dead they were saying that he was really dead. He says that when Tyrannius Rufinus (AD340-410) wrote his commentary on the Roman creed he noted that the phrase was missing but that it didn't matter because it merely meant "dead and buried."

    Barclay's supporting passages that it is merely the land of the dead include those you cite. He points out the theology taught over those years was that the intention of the phrase was to demonstrate that Jesus was truly dead, and it was in response to those who claimed Jesus was too holy and divine to feel pain and death.

    Interesting is that cites that Calvin taught that Jesus did indeed go to Hell to bear the "penalties and the pains and the tortures and the punishments in our stead." Sounds much like Joyce Meyer's teaching (and that of other WOF heretics) which claims that Jesus went to hell and was beat up by the devil in order to pay for our sins.

    1. There's a bunch of stuff that I dug up but left out because I couldn't find good corroborating information - like what Jesus said to the spirits he spoke with. Some resources say it's a declaration of Victory "I won, you loose" kind of thing. Other sources say He collected the saints that died before him and took them to heaven. I didn't want to go too far out into the weeds fearing I'd end up like Joyce Meyer.