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Doctrine of Jesus Descent into Hell

The abode of the dead terminology in the bible Hebrew: sheol Greek: hades Latin: infera In terms of cosmology (structure of the universe), the location (the abode of the dead) was seen to be under the earth. A variety of myths existed in the ancient world regarding visits of heroes, and even gods, to the underworld. During the intertestament period, some writers started to conceptualize the real of the dead as one of the lower heavenly regions. In the apostolic period, the church fathers began to speculate on two matters; 1) what happened in between Jesus death and the resurrection (since it was believed that Jesus was dead for three days) and2) what about those righteous who died prior to Christ, what happened to them? This resulted in the view that after his death, Jesus descended to the realm of the dead and rescued the righteous of Israel. Texts used in support of this comes from Matt 12:40 and Eph. 4:2. (At this point reference to 1 Peter was not used.) Moving along in history, it appears as though Clement of Alexandria (late 2nd C) was the first to draw on 1 Peter passage as a point of reference. Ideas that were developed during that time in reading the passage: According to Clement the righteous were not only those of Israel but those pagan righteous as well. Origen further linked this passage to the salvation of everyone (universal salvation). Christs descent into Hades began to appear in the creeds of the 4th C. And moving on to the Middle Ages, the notion was taken even further to the extent of harrowing hell (depicted in their art) where Christ was believed to have waged war in hell against the fallen angels and Satan and won. Some of the text in the NT that were used to develop this understanding (although it should be pointed out that none of these directly concerned with any activity of Christ in Hades): Matt 27:52-53; Rev 1:18; Acts 2:24-32 Conclusion Thoughts:

1. This is a developing doctrine. Reasons for development:

That at Christs death there was a defeat of the evil powers (Col 2:15; Heb 2:14) What happened to the righteous Christ must have suffered the same fate of people when he died as well.

2. Gathering of the texts (especially 1 Peter) were wrongly used. There were faulty exegesis in using them. 3. There are no NT text that can be used to argue exhaustively and persuasively the doctrine of Jesus descending into hell. Therefore, it is unlikely that this doctrine favors any recognition to be what Christians believe and teach. (A fuller treatment of 1 Pet 3:18-22 in response to how it is used as argument for this doctrine will be posted later)