Why Did Jesus Descend Into Hell?

Helpful Insights Into Why Did Jesus Descend Into Hell?

Did Jesus really descend into hell? Get realistic answers backed up with facts from the oldest historical book in the world. Why did Jesus descend into hell? Let’s find out!

The Apostle’s Creed remains one of the most controversial statements of faith among Christian denominations in the world today.

This is because of a line in it that states that Jesus descended into hell. Some people believe that he did and rose on the third day after being laid to death, while some other Christians, however, have the school of thought that he didn’t in fact descend to hell.

Since the Bible didn’t explicitly mention Jesus in hell, this has become quite a famous hot topic amongst Christians today. Did he, or did he not?

To properly answer this, the Bible would be the first route in searching for truth. This is however a lost principle among Christians. Instead of inferring and asking a question like “what does heaven look like?”, you could approach such topics and ask questions like, what does heaven look like according to the bible?

The use of historical datings and facts will also be implored in this article, to give a full-fledged articulated answer to what happened after Jesus died.

Jesus descending into Hell, or the harrowing of hell, is often described as Jesus going through the act of saving the souls that were trapped in Hades, and this happened at the point in between his crucifixion on the Cross and his resurrection (Eph 4:9-10).

Did Jesus Go To Hell?

Scripture doesn’t explicitly state that Jesus went to hell after his death. However, a close study of some of the scripture texts denotes that He went to someplace called Hades.

Take, for example, the book of  Acts 2:31;

“He [David], foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.”

This properly denotes that David foresaw the Son of Man’s story of resurrection. “His soul was not left in Hades”, which means his soul actually did descend into Hades but wasn’t left there because He was resurrected on the third day.

However, the common misinterpretations of Jesus going to hell for 3 days scripture is from the mode of translations. That is the transcribing of Greek or Hebrew words to today’s English.

Ancient texts from the Bible verses in the old testament have different translations of the word ‘Sheol’, ‘hades’, and ‘hell’.

Sheol is translated from the old testament as Gehenna in Greek, which means hell in English. This is the place of eternal torment, where damned souls (those who lived and died in sin) go to after death, and the Bible refers to this place through the old testament scriptures.

Christian scholars well versed in translations have explained that the ‘Hell’ Jesus descended into after his death is referred to as Hades.

Hades is described as the holding place of the dead and the direct translation from Greek to English explains it to mean, “descended to those below.” This means Jesus went to the place of the departed dead, and not Sheol, to proclaim good tidings as in 1 Peter 4:9, so as to rescue their souls.

Matt 27:53 directly explains that during Jesus’ death, tombs broke open and the saints were released and resurrected.

Also, in Matt 12:40, the Lord himself foresaw and anticipated his descent into hell. Most of all these scripture texts directly denote that Jesus in fact descended into hell.

Where Did The Idea Of Jesus Descending Into Hell Originate From?

Most speculations of Jesus’ descent into hell were brought about by the Apostle’s Creed, also known as “the rule of faith”, an extended version of the Old Roman Creed that was popularly used as far back as the second century.

This statement of faith was believed to have been put together by the Apostles themselves, although no one can give proper historical data to attest to that.

In the first development of the Apostles Creed, the statement wasn’t added until AD 390 and there are several reasons as to why this statement wasn’t also added in the Nicene Creed.

The Nicene Creed was created in response to Arius’ teachings in the year AD 325. To unite all church denominations present at the time, Constantine gathered the church leaders and created a general statement of faith. This happened before the addition of the Apostles Creed.

Greater prospects for Jesus’ descent into hell are, however, built upon scriptural backings namely 1 Peter 3:18-22 and Ephesians 4:9. These scriptures point out that Jesus descended into hell and this is where biblical scholars draw their school of thought from.

Many churches do not recite the Apostles Creed and even when they do, they pull out that specific line from their recital.

Why Do Some People Think Jesus Descended Into Hell?

Some people believe that Jesus went to hell to release the saints from the old testament to rise with him in the resurrection.

This is because their souls were yet to be judged and that’s why they were kept in Hades, awaiting the Son of Man. He came along to preach to them after his death, which is a requirement for salvation. The Bible clearly states in  John 3:16, that the good news is required for the salvation of any soul.

Most Christians also believe that the full atonement for the wages of sin wouldn’t have been completed if Jesus Christ didn’t go to hell. The souls of the departed wouldn’t have been justified. They do not believe that Jesus stayed fully in this place called Hades but that he did rather quick work.

Why Do Some People Believe That Jesus Did Not Descend To Hell?

Numerous people do not subscribe to Jesus going into the lower parts of the earth to rescue anyone, and they have some strong philosophical views to back up their beliefs.

Most say that Jesus Christ was God in the flesh, and He made hell the domain of Satan and all other beings who were damned from living in sin.

The most popular argument is since Jesus is God in the flesh and is holy, is he capable of going to hell? Although some people have cleared up this argument by properly translating Hades as the hell the Apostle Creed refers to in Greek.

Jesus did not descend into Gehenna.

Jesus Went To Hell Scriptures

Why did Jesus descend into hell? These scriptures have a lot to say!

• 1 Peter 4:6

“For this reason, the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.”

• Ephesians 4:9-10

“Now this, “He ascended”–what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.”

• 1 Peter 3:18-20

“For 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 kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.”

• Matthew 12:40

“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

• Acts 2:31

“He [David], foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.”

Final Thoughts

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are and will always be the bane of every Christian’s salvation.

Disregarding all forms of argument, every child of God must note in unity that Christ gave his life on the Cross so that in return we can have everlasting life with him in eternity.

Luke 23:44-45, gives a detailed description of how the veil of the temple was being torn from top to bottom, signaling to every follower of Christ that they are no longer outside, or far away from God.

They can now come into the presence of God through the blood of Jesus that was shed on the Cross. He now lives inside of the believer, and this is the blessing of intimacy with God everyone who is born of God is entitled to receive. With this knowledge, we are able to offer prayers to Him.

Related thought: quotes on the power of prayers

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