Did Jesus Go to Hell?
As a point of clarification, once this two part series is complete, you will realize that there has been a concerted effort by the enemy of God to corrupt God’s plan of redemption; therefore, the purpose of these two weeks is to give you a better overall understanding of the Bible and to remind that we are in a war!
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
In these verses, there are two main thoughts:
(1) There was a change that took place in the spiritual realm for the Old Testament saints. Previously, when they died, they went to a place of the departed souls where there was a waiting period for them before they could be brought to heaven. The terminology, ...led captivity captive...explains this thought, because the words captivity and captive are very similar in their origins and essentially mean exactly that. These Old Testament saints were captive in a location in the underworld because:
For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
The OT saints were held captive in this location because the plan for God's remission of sins had not been completed. But Jesus was the fulfillment of the sacrificial system, and His blood satisfied the just demands of God.
Now, in this Ephesians passage, what is taking place is the thought that these OT saints were captive and waiting, and now, with God's plan for sin being completed; they were released from this captivity and made captives of Christ where He brought them into the presence of God.
Now, that Jesus has completed the payment required for sin when a person dies, their eternal spirit departs to one of two places. If they're saved (In Christ), they're absent from the body and present with The Lord and their body awaits the day of its resurrection and glorification.
Most people are confused about the concept and terminology the Bible uses regarding the place we call hell, but let's try to bring some clarity.
There are several words used interchangeably to describe the place of departed souls. Regarding the Old Testament, there are words such as grave, death, Hades, but the main word we often think of is "hell," more specifically we are often associating these thoughts with eternal damnation, and how it's used in the New Testament when it's associated with eternal fire:
Through this story in Luke about the rich man and Lazarus, we learn that there are at least two different parts to "hell." And while there are two more concepts about Hell that we will need to delve into, we'll start here.
-- There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
Lazarus was in the place of departed souls known as Abraham's bosom. We would also believe that this is the place referred to as Paradise by Jesus when He spoke to the thief on the cross:
43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.
Abraham's bosom and Paradise was the place where the Old Testament saints who were followers of God departed until Jesus brought them with Him to glory.
Once Jesus died on the cross, and the debt of sin was paid in full, because the blood of the OT sacrifice couldn't remove the debt of sin: Hebrews 10:4
4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
Once again, Jesus at that point was able to lead captivity captive. In other words, He brought their departed souls to heaven, and there they await the resurrection of their bodies.
So in this first passage, we learn these truths:
(1) before the cross, the Old Testament saints, who were saved through faith in the sacrificial system, were kept in a place called Abraham's Bosom or Paradise until Jesus' blood accomplished what the blood of bulls and goats could not.
(2) the departed souls of people that were not believer's in God's way are in a place this story calls torments.
One other important concept that wasn't necessarily addressed in this story is that there is no more Abraham's Bosom, there is no Paradise, and there is no Purgatory! You make your decision for God today on this side of the grave. Once again to be absent from the body is to be present with The Lord.
Before we get into the last idea of hell, fire, and brimstone, we need to cover one more concept about the thought of hell.
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.
And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
2 Peter 2:4
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
It's my personal belief that all these passages have in common disobedient angels that are being held in chains in a prison known as "hell."
Now, the word hell in the original language has a meaning all its own. The word here is Tartarus. Because some of this is going to be such a new thought to some of you, I want to make sure that I do my best to explain.
The New Testament was written in a specific type of Greek. In times past, there were two types of Greek. One was known as Koine Greek, meaning common, and the other was known as Classic Greek. The New Testament was written in the Koine Greek. Now, it's important for us to understand that the Greek language was already in place before the New Testament writers wrote the New Testament. Therefore, these words were already in place and existed.
In some cases, the words kept the same meaning, but in other cases, when the New Testament writers used the words, the meaning changed. For instance, last week, when we talked about walking worthy, I told you about how the word lowliness was viewed by the Grecian culture as degrading and behavior only worthy of a slave. In contrast, the New Testament writers used it as an adjective to describe someone walking worthy of the title Christian.
In the case of this word Tartarus, this word was already in existence and had a specific meaning. Its meaning was connected to a place in the underworld, which imprisoned the gods who crossed lines and had sexual relationships with mortals and from there hybrid type heroes were birthed. One example would be Hercules.
So that is the name of this word Tartarus. I don't want to spend much more time on this tonight, but let us say that the connection between these three verses, the thought of chains, the thought of prison, and the thought of hell [Tartarus] all have a common link with these fallen angels.
So now we've learned about three different locations in hell. Abraham's bosom, which is gone now. torment, where unbelieving souls await the great white throne judgment, and Tartarus, which has some connection to chained up angels and a story about hybrids.
By the way, maybe we should mention the concept of Babel and why there are so many similarities across the globe regarding stories. For instance: flood stories, mother child deities, pyramids and ziggurats, which seem to be built the same in ancient times whether in Egypt, Babylon, or South America, and as we will discuss next week, this story about Tartarus.
My point is that there were certain things that were well known to the people who existed before the Tower of Babel where the languages were confused. God confused the languages for multiple reasons, but the main reason for our concern tonight was so that humanity would obey the command He gave Noah, which was to replenish the earth. Instead, what they had done was stayed together and rebelled against God.
As these people groups began their nomadic journeys across the globe, they all had eerily similar stories that the Bible explains all these people groups would have known, because they were things God had revealed to humanity before the languages were confused. Yes, the stories may vary slightly in some cases, but usually where they vary is when they depart from the truth of God's word.
So what story are we to believe. Well, God did a wonderful thing right after the confusion of the languages and the separation of the nations. He called a man named Abraham out from the nations, and He made a nation for Himself, and through this nation, He gave His word and He chronicled the real version of these occurrences, and all these other nations were worshiping false god, which are fallen angels and demon spirits. So God has told His story through His people Israel and the church, and that’s the truth.
The last concept regarding hell is a place called Gehenna. It is also known as the lake of fire or the last death.
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul:but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off:it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
In both of these passages the word for hell in the Greek is Gehenna, speaking of the lake of fire, also known as the final judgment.
The word Gehenna comes from a real place that was on earth. This name comes from the valley of Hinnom, which was located south of Jerusalem. In ancient days, when Israel cheated on God by serving false gods, they made their children walk through the fire in this valley as they worshiped the false god known as Molech. Furthermore, during Jesus' time, it was used as a refuse place, where carcasses were burned along with other garbage.
With this in mind, you can now get a visual of what Jesus is talking about when He's teaching on hell. He's giving them a visual of what this place is going to look like.
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
Just to make a point, hell was never intended for human beings. God has always had a plan to save sinners. The purpose for hell was to judge Satan and his fallen angels.
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
So Gehenna is the place of final judgment.
But I don't want to leave you on a sad note because Hell doesn't await the child of God. The grave won't be able to hold the Christian down, because our Jesus was victorious. Jesus told Martha that He was the resurrection and the life. When we resurrect, we will receive a glorified body, and we will live eternally with our Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:6-8
Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:42-44
So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
2 Corinthians 5:1-5
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house 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. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.
1 John 3:2
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
He has gone before as the firstborn from the dead:
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
He told Martha that He was the resurrection:
Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
What does it mean that we will be as He is? Well, it doesn't mean that we will be gods. Instead, it's descriptive of His glorified body. In some way, our glorified body, will be like His after our resurrection from the dead.
What was His glorified body like?
Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.
He still had the wounds of the cross! Also, notice the doors were shut and He appeared. In His glorified body, He operated above the laws of physical matter.
Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.
He has bones and flesh, but there is no mention of blood. I can't prove this, but I believe the reason why is because, on earth, the life of the creature is in the blood, and in the resurrection, the life will be in the Spirit of God.