Have you ever heard it taught that Jesus went to Hell? When Jesus died and they laid him in the tomb, He went down to Hell. While there he preached and took keys from the devil, etc. Some even teach Satan burned and tormented Jesus in Hell for our sins! But where in scripture did it say any of this happened?
Jesus Goes to Hell
Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Acts 2:22-28
To being with, I added extra verses to establish deeper context. Verse 27 has the proof most will need. Peter quoted David from Psalm 16:10. The bible translators used one word to describe hell in the Old Testament. That word is sheol, which means ‘the grave’. The Greek equivalent is hades. In fact, Young’s Literal Translation uses hades as supposed to gehenna or tartaros. I have a more in-depth explanation of Hell in my post titled “Is Hell Hot?“ So yes, Jesus did go to Hell. But since Hell in the OT is the grave, so does everyone who dies! Note the words highlighted in the verses above. Death, Hell, and corruption, in that order, is what everyone experiences at some point. So, where do these other ideas come from?
What Did Jesus Do in Hell?
Well, according to traditional teaching, Jesus did not rest. Jesus (or rather, his soul they say) went to a place in the Earth called Hell. He knocked down the gates, preached to those captive there, and snatched the keys of death and Hell from Satan. If Satan had them, how did he get them and from where/whom did he get them? More on that later. This is according to an often misunderstood Ephesians 4:8-9…
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? Ephesians 4:8-9
If you haven’t read my post “Is Hell Hot?“, give it a quick perusal. Then you will realize that Jesus preach to anyone during his days in the grave. He kept the Sabbath even in death! And descending into the lower parts of the earth means he went to the grave. We’ll get to that in a bit. For now, let’s look at Ephesians. The verse says “When he ascended up on high…” This can only mean when Jesus ascended to the Father. This was after his resurrection. He did nothing while in the tomb. Nor did he take those who allegedly believed on him in Hell to Heaven. Proof?
Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. John 20:17
Jesus did not ascend until after he met with the disciples. Once with the Father, it was then that Jesus completed the act of atonement by sprinkling his blood on the Mercy Seat in Heaven. He secured for us redemption from sin (“he led captivity captive”) and the gift of eternal life (“gave gifts to men”). We all were captives of sin! The only ones who might have gone to Heaven with Christ are those who came out of the grave at His resurrection. I say might because there is not verse I am aware of that states they went to Heaven with Him. Still, they would be the first-fruits of His resurrection. And they are proof that as they rose, so will all the dead in Christ rise!
And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Matthew 27:53
As far as Satan having the keys to death and Hell? Never! You see, Jesus always had the keys. He used them to unlock the prison of death and the grave (Hell) by His own death, burial, and resurrection.
I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. Revelation 1:18
Now, let’s look at this verse:
By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 1 Peter 3:19
Looks like this might be saying that Jesus went to Hell and preached, huh? Not really. First, there’s no mention of Hell. No mention of preaching to the dead. Second, read the next verse.
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. 1 Peter 3:20
This is speaking of those trapped, imprisoned on the other side of the flood! The only hope they had was through the preaching of Noah. Jesus preached to them by the Holy Spirit through Noah so they could have a chance to be saved or be left without excuse.
Did Jesus Leave Anyone Behind In Hell?
Think about this. If Hell is a place filled with torments, and there is a chance to leave, would anyone stay? No one in their right mind would! Jesus would have converted everyone on the spot! No one would have been left behind in Hell. Hell would have been emptied when Jesus rose. And started refilling no sooner than he left! Does that make any sense at all?
Where Does It Say The Devil Is In Hell?
Hmm… I can’t find this one either. Oh! Do you mean these verses?
And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. Revelation 20:1-3
And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Revelation 20:10
The highlighted words seem to describe Hell, don’t they? Here’s the problem. Both verses address future events. So if this was Hell, Satan would not be there yet! The lake of fire is a special event that takes place at the end of the thousand years. In this fire:
- Those who died in their sins pay for them and the fire consumes them. Romans 2:5-6, Revelation 20:7-9, 13-15
- The fire destroys Satan. Ezekiel 28:18, Hebrews 2:14
- God renews Earth from the ashes of the old. 2 Peter 3:10, 12, Revelation 21:1
So, there is not a place of torment in the Earth called Hell where the Devil is. But the bible does tell us where Satan is for certain:
And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. Job 2:2
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. Revelation 12:9
Truth vs Tradition
And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. Mark 7:9
While many might not think this topic of any great significance, it does prove a point. We will hold fast to traditions no matter how much the truth stares us in the face. And many are the traditions of men! And many times we reject truth because it sounds strange or it’s not what we are taught to believe. But almost anything new thing is strange. Do you know what’s even stranger? The truth of God’s Word is not new at all! It’s difficult not to reject or disregard something you’ve never heard before. The entire bible was strange to us once. But one day we made a decision to believe it. It’s hard to know what or who to trust these days. But when it comes down to the Word, we have help in it’s understanding. And the truth will make you free!
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. John 16:13