For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. – Mt:12:40
Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father. – Jn 20:17
He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell… – Acts 2:31
And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” – Lk 23:43
By which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison. – 1 Pet 3:19
In Bible school I was taught that Jesus spent 3 days and 3 nights in the Devil’s Hell before he rose from the dead. I was taught that he spent his time there conquering Death & Hell. Some teach that he suffered at the hand of the devil for a time. One of the main scriptures used to support this doctrine is Acts 2:31, but to me this scripture is too vague to support such a doctrine. Another scripture used is Col 2:15, but again, I think it is too vague.
Now, I’m not saying anything definite here, but just in reading the bible myself and thinking about these things, and hearing what others say, I’m inclined to believe that what I learned in bible school might not be exactly right.
Before we start, lets consider some things. You’ll need to look up the scriptures for yourself:
– Jesus’ spirit spent time in a place that was in the ‘heart of the earth’ for 3 days after he died and did not go directly to Heaven. (Mt 12:40, Jn 20:17).
– Jesus told the thief on the cross that TODAY he would be with Him in paradise. Lk 23:43
– Peter said that in Jesus’ death, Jesus went and preached unto the spirits in prison. (1 Pet 3:19)
So where was Jesus? My best thought is that he went to Paradise, just like He told the thief. But paradise is not Heaven where the Father dwells, but a different place. The bible, in Luke 16, talks about a place called Abraham’s bosom. It is a place of comfort that happens to be within yelling distance from the fiery hell (read Lk 16 to understand). The reason I say ‘fiery’ hell is because the word ‘Hell’ in the bible is used a couple of different ways. It’s used to mean the fiery place of torment as we know it, but it is also used to mean, simply, ‘the place of the dead.’ So when the bible says, “His soul was not left in hell,” it doesn’t necessarily mean the fiery hell, but could simply mean ‘the place of the dead, or departed spirits.’
So my point is that Abraham’s bosom and Paradise are the same place and that it is located in the ‘heart of the earth,’ or in ‘hell,’ the place of the departed spirits, right next to the fiery hell were the damned are kept.
Does that makes sense?
Now does that mean that Jesus didn’t swing by the fiery hell to kick the devil’s hiney for a few minutes? I don’t know. Maybe He did or maybe He didn’t. I don’t think it matters. The way He conquered death and hell was by rising from the dead and redeeming mankind. That’s what the bible teaches.
So what did he do in Paradise? He preached! 1 Pet 3:19 says that He preached to the spirits in prison. The word ‘prison’ in the greek simply means a ‘place where captives are kept,’ not necessarily a bad place. Paradise was the place of the righteous dead – those who died before the redemption plan was complete. The thief was one of the righteous dead, and so was Lazarus (Lk 16). So Jesus preached to them the gospel and told them that all things that the scripture had foretold were coming to pass. He told them that soon He would rise from the dead in bodily form and that He was taking them with Him! Glory!
When He ascended up on high, he led a host of captives and he gave gifts to men. Eph 4:8 ESV
Please leave me some comments on what your take is. I’m very interested to know what you may think.