Did Jesus Go to Hell? Part 3: The Question is Finally Answered
2 Peter 2:4-6 For if God spared not the angels that sinned [a specific sin], but cast them down to hell [Tartarus], and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;…
As we've been discussing, there were certain of the fallen angels who crossed boundaries that God punished by placing them into chains in an underworld prison known as Tartarus.
In this next passage, I'm connecting Tartarus to the prison where the spirits were "preached" to; in order to make that connection, two thoughts must be addressed: (1) who or what are the spirits, (2) what does this word preach mean?
1 Peter 3:19-20 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
I believe these two thoughts are critical to our proper understanding of this passage because a popular interpretation has been that these spirits represent human beings who lived in the Old Testament. And the preaching that was taking place was to give them an opportunity to accept the message specifically related to Jesus and His sacrifice.
So the idea once again would be that, because the blood of bulls and goats could not remove sin, these Old Covenant believers had to make a decision about Jesus for themselves.
One of the main concepts that we've attempted to teach throughout the life of this Bible study is that there is a common thread that weaves the covenants together. The common thread I speak of is the promise of Messiah and the observance of sacrifice for the atonement of sin (Leviticus 17: 11). As God has moved forward through the years of human history, He has brought these promises to a single focal point, which Paul stated that he was determined to preach:
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;…
1 Corinthians 2:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
So the promises of God were fulfilled in Christ, but what we must understand is that God's promises for humanity were given immediately after the fall through the instruction that the seed of the woman would crush the serpent's head (Genesis 3:15); in addition to the seed, the first sacrifice was given in the garden by God as a covering for Adam and Eve's sin, so while we know that Old Testament sacrifices couldn't completely do away with the penalty of sin, we do know that man's connection point to God has always been through faith. And more specifically, the object of faith required was the sacrifice for sin's atonement.
With all that said, it should be pointed out that people in the Old Testament times were saved based upon their faith in God's plan of redemption as it was revealed at that point in time.
I said all that to make this point: the Old Testament people were either believers in God's plan or they weren't. If they weren't believers, they were with the rich man in this place called torments, and if they were believers, they were in the place known as Abraham's bosom waiting for the day when the atonement of sin would be completed. Therefore, there is no need for extra preaching specifically from Jesus to make sure they were onboard with God's plan. They were on board with God's plan, and they were simply waiting for the completion, waiting for the sacrifice of the promised one, so they could be led by Jesus from Abraham's bosom into the presence of God now that their sin was atoned.
So then who are the sprits and what is the point?
The word spirit is literally pneuma, which means breath or wind. It's where we get our word pneumatic, describing power tools that are driven by air. It's where we also get our word pneumonia.
The word pneuma, when used in a singular sense can be used to describe God, man, angels, or demons, depending upon the context in which it's being used:
John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. [God]
Luke 1:47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. [human]
Matthew 12:43 -- When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. [demon]
Hebrews 1:7 And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. [angels]
Through this last verse, we can see at least when the word spirits is used; pneuma can also be referring to angels.
I've made a list and placed it into the back of your notes showing all of the times the word "spirits" is used in the New Testament. All of this work is being done to show you the truth that the word spirits can be used to describe angels as well as humans, and so from there, we are left with the task of determining, which one fits the context of our passage.
As we pointed out early on in tonight's study, the Old Testament saints were saved by looking forward to Messiah and keeping their faith in the sacrifice for forgiveness until He came; therefore, the "preaching" that was done to these spirits wasn't necessarily a preaching for conversion, but as we will see, it was a proclamation or announcement of truth in general.
One last point to make regarding how this sin could have happened with these angels. We already addressed this scripture last week, but Hebrews 13:2 explains that angels can take upon themselves the form of humans to the point that humans can't tell the difference:
Hebrews 13:1-2 Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
But by comparing two other scriptures, we gain further proof of this thought:
Jude 1:6-7 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation [oiketerion], he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
The Greek word for house is oikos. This word used here oiketerion is built from the root of oikos, describing in some sense a house or dwelling place.
Now compare the same word for house here as it refers to humans.
2 Corinthians 5:1-4 For we know that if our earthly house [oikia] of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building [oikodome] of God, an house [oikia]not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house [oiketerion] which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.
In this passage, the same concept is being used to describe the bodies of humans. Believers on earth are in a transition, something isn't quite right. In our fallen state, our physical bodies are decaying; however, spiritually, our spirit man desires to be clothed with our glorified body. The earnest of the Spirit is a down payment of what is to come. It's enough to make the true believer hungry for the fulfillment.
But the main point to be made is that this word in the Greek is being used to describe the changing of bodies. Whereas, the believer is longing to be clothed upon by his glorified body, these angels in some way left their angelic state, assuming a form to inter marry with human women, resulting in, as we have discovered, a hybrid race called the Nephilim.
So did Jesus go to hell?
Yes and no!
He went to Hell in the sense that during the three days He was in the grave, before His resurrection, He entered the underworld and took care of some things that had to be finished.
It appears from my understanding that what would have happened is that He would have gone to Abraham's bosom and said, "The Messiah you waited for was me. I have come and accomplished the Father's will. Whereas, the blood of bulls and goats in the Old Testament couldn't remove your sin, My sacrifice has accomplished the Father's will. And now I'm leading captivity captive. In other words, "I'm (Jesus) bringing you Old Testament saints home with me to glory, but wait here just a second, because I have one other thing I have to do first."
Then He descended to Tartarus and heralded a truth to these spirits in prison who had rebelled so long ago. "Your plan failed. Your attempt to stop the plan of redemption didn't work, I was manifest in the flesh as the seed of the woman. And I offered my spotless life as ransom for the sins of the sons of Adam. And in a couple more thousands of years, there will be a finality brought to your evil plans."
So what were they (fallen angels) attempting to accomplish by crossing these boundaries. What was their purpose?
These angels were trying to destroy the seed. And the enemy will try to destroy the seed.
Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
From the moment this proclamation went forth, the serpent knew that there would be an offspring from the woman (Jesus was 100% God, while at the same time, He was 100% man) who would crush his head, which denotes a destruction of his power and authority. Therefore, a tactical move was made, attempting to corrupt the seed of the human race and taint it with a mixture of something that was other than human.
Furthermore, it should be understood that from this day moving forward, the enemy of God has been relentless in his attempt to destroy the seed of God's promise regarding the redemption of the human race:
Pharaoh (Exodus 1:15-17)
The story of Joseph (Genesis 45:4-8)
Haman (Esther 3:1-6)
Herod (Matt 2:14-16)
Why is this important for us to know?
1 Corinthians 6:3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
I have made this point before, but it's something that I believe we must keep upon the forefront of our minds. Somewhere in the pre-Adamic past, Lucifer, Jesus called him Satan, shook his fist in the face of God, and said, "I will be like the most high. I will exalt my throne above the stars of heaven (Isaiah 14:13,14).
Now, we have to understand that God knew all along this would happen in advance. He knew that Lucifer would fall. He knew that Adam would go the way of the serpent (1 Peter 1:18). As a matter of fact without a true choice free will cannot be exhibited. Now, man is faced with a legitimate choice each and everyday on whether or not he will serve God or not.
I cannot help but think about the fact that these celestial beings saw the glory of God and were even in His presence, experiencing His magnitude; yet, somehow, they chose instead to be worshiped rather than giving worship to the worthy one.
God is going to use us, frail, inferior humanity, who cannot see the glory of God with physical eyes, and have therefore been asked to believe by faith to bring judgment on the rebellious angels. I don't know if we will be used as witnesses on the eternal witness stand or how it works, but somehow, He will use is who couldn't see to judge them who could see.
Now, do you see why it's so important for us to understand how to walk in the finished work of Christ? Because, God is desiring, so badly, a people who will believe His Word, walk in His victory, and begin to see the big picture. What's the big picture? God's creating an eternal family for the purpose of eternal fellowship, and at some point, when He's done giving birth to that family, He's going to bring evil to an end, and He's chosen to use us as part of that plan. We represent Him in the land. We stand as lights in the midst of the darkness, living a life of separation for the world to see that there's a different way to go.
That's why I keep saying that I want my spirit to love Jesus more than my flesh loves sin because He's been cheated on enough, and I don't want to be the next one to bring reproach upon His name!
Comparison of how word spirits is translated differently as demon, men and angels depending on the context in the scripture: