There are some that claim that Jesus spent 3 days in “hell” before being resurrected. Previous posts determined that the common grave of mankind is called “Sheol” in the Old Testament and “Hades” in the New Testament. It would be better to use ASV or NIV in the analysis.  KJV has 54 instances of “hell” and Douay 113; consequently making the definition vague.

Setup of the equation:

1 Thessalonians 5:23King James Version (KJV)

23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

When we die:

Ecclesiastes 12:7King James Version (KJV)

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

Psalm 119:25King James Version (KJV)

25 My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word.

The events around Jesus’ death:

Luke 23:40-43King James Version (KJV)

40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Matthew 27:46-50King James Version (KJV)

46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. 48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. 49 The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. 50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

The events around His resurrection (abbreviated but please read the entire chapters):

John 20:27-29King James Version (KJV)

27 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. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

Luke 24:36-39King James Version (KJV)

36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. 38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? 39 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.

Luke 24:51King James Version (KJV)

51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.

Transformation to a glorious body:

1 Corinthians 15:50-54King James Version (KJV)

50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

Philippians 3:20-21King James Version (KJV)

20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Where we go when we inherit eternal life:

Revelation 21:1-4King James Version (KJV)

21 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Revelation 20:4King James Version (KJV)

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

So what happens in Hades?:

Luke 16:22-24American Standard Version (ASV)

22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and that he was carried away by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: and the rich man also died, and was buried. 23 And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 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 in anguish in this flame.

This happened prior to Christ’s resurrection and ascension into heaven.

Yet the below states the dead know nothing:

Ecclesiastes 9:5-6King James Version (KJV)

For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.

The other possibility is that Hades is dormant between Jesus’ resurrection and the opening of the 4th seal (Rev 6:8) and the dead lie in wait for Judgment Day (Ps 119:25). This is the subject of another topic.

Jesus doesn’t know the hour of His coming:

Matthew 24:36King James Version (KJV)

36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

These articles concern whether or not Jesus went down to Hades for 3 days or not. this article specifically addresses Matt 12:40 this article disputes it. this appears to be in favor.

Some claim that Jesus spent 3 days in ‘hell” or “Hades” based on the below verse:

Acts 2:30-31American Standard Version (ASV)

30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins [a]he would set one upon his throne; 31 he foreseeing this spake of the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he left unto Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.

Acts 2:30-31King James Version (KJV)

30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

ASV is a better translation.

Did He REALLY spend 3 days in Hades before resurrection?

David said the same thing about himself:

Acts 2:25-27American Standard Version (ASV)

25 For David saith concerning him,

[a]I beheld the Lord always before my face;
For he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:
26 Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
Moreover my flesh also shall [b]dwell in hope:
27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul unto Hades,
Neither wilt thou give thy Holy One to see corruption.

Acts 2:29American Standard Version (ASV)

29 Brethren, I may say unto you freely of the patriarch David, that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us unto this day.

It can be deduced that it is David who is being spoke about in Acts 2:30-31.

2:25-31New International Version (NIV)

25 David said about him:

“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
    Because he is at my right hand,
    I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    you will not let your holy one see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence.’[a]

29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay.

It depends on how you read the above passage in NIV…..

KJV rendition would not be appropriate.

Other verses in NT used for that claim:

Matthew 12:40American Standard Version (ASV)

40 for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the [a]whale; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Ephesians 4:7-9American Standard Version (ASV)

But unto each one of us was the grace given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, [a]When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive,
And gave gifts unto men. (Now this, He ascended, what is it but that he also descended [b]into the lower parts of the earth?

1 Peter 3:18-20New International Version (NIV)

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive,[a] he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,

Revelation 1:17-18New International Version (NIV)

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

Looking at Matt 12:40 and Eph 4:7-9, they analyze that Jesus therefore spent 3 days in Hades.  Along this line, Jehovah’s Witnesses and 7th Day Adventists deduce Michael the Archangel is Jesus based on the following:

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17King James Version (KJV)

16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

This verse did not state the archangel descended.  Logical question: If I represent a group of concerned citizens at a gathering, am I the concerned citizens?  Nor did those other verses directly state Hades was the lower parts of the earth.

The same logic that Jehovah’s Witnesses and 7th Day Adventists use to claim Jesus is an angel by the use of Rev 20:1-2 and comparing 1 Peter 3:18-20 and Rev 1:17-18.  This can simply be disputed with Heb 1:5-6 & 13 that He is not an angel. Realize this is a tangent.

Revelation 20:1-2King James Version (KJV)

20 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,     

So why couldn’t Jesus hand the keys to an angel (such as Michael) and then lock up Satan?

What Hades or Hell is, is another subject. Many articles seem to indicate that Sheol/Hades is multi-level.  The top would contain the righteous dead, the 2nd level would be the not-so-righteous dead (some Catholics believe this is the so-called “purgatory” and use Luke 16:19-31 as a basis), the next level below that is “chains of darkness” in 2 Peter 2:1-4 and then the very bottom is the place where Satan is imprisoned (Rev 20:1-2).

To effectively conclude that “Hades” or the common grave of mankind is in the depths of the earth, it requires detailed study.  It is the realm of the dead based on NIV.

A review of 2 Peter 2:1-4 would indicate those in Tartarus/”chains of darkness” are the false prophets.

Satan does not get imprisoned in the Abyss until Judgment Day (Rev 20:1).  So is Satan freely visiting Hades up until then? If Jesus does indeed have the keys to Hades, this is doubtful.

It would seem that Jesus would visit the righteous dead (including some of those that make up the 144,000) but why would He want to visit the unrighteous or wicked dead?  In conclusion the belief that Jesus descended to hell for 3 days is based on King James or Douay and research indicates that it was a long held belief of Catholicism.  Catholicism also believes that people go directly to hell or heaven if they are good or bad, and to “purgatory” if they need redemption. Is the “paradise” in Luke 23:40-43 in Hades or in the Holy City?  The latter is certain for those that have eternal life. The former could be the section of Hades where the righteous dead reside.

Psalm 119:25 indicates the soul clings to dust.  We know, based on Eccl 12:7 and Matt 27:50 that the spirit returns to God.  Unless one is cremated, the body remains in the funeral home for about a week to 10 days before the burial.  Jesus’ body was entombed for  3 days before resurrection.  So did the soul really cling to dust during that time frame? Eccl 9:5-6 states the dead know nothing (unaware of what is going on in the world).  What about a near-death experience?

So based on the evidence, it is quite possible Jesus did visit Hades or the realm of the dead but only in that section where the righteous dead or lost souls are.  To say He descended to hell for 3 days would be inaccurate given the vagueness of Douay and KJV.

(new development) – noticed a post where someone stated “Jesus lied in Matt 12:40 because He rose on the third morning”; is that true? Not. One needs to read the context around it. The following will refute that.

Matthew 12:39-40King James Version (KJV)

39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 40 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.

The verses cited were Matt 28:1-2, Mark 16:1-4, Luke 24:1-2 and John 20:1-2.  One needs to read them in context again.

Matthew 28:1-6King James Version (KJV)

28 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Mark 16:1-7King James Version (KJV)

16 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.

Luke 24:1-7King James Version (KJV)

24 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

John 20:1-2King James Version (KJV)

20 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.

Jesus stated that his 3 days and 3 nights in the earth are a sign of the prophet Jonas in Matt 12:39.  The word “shall” is a prediction.  If one looks at the other verses, the angel of the Lord is the one who opened the stone door on the tomb.  Also, reviewing Matt 24:36 about Him not knowing the hour of His coming (in regards to Judgment Day), why could that not be applied to this situation? It is true He was resurrected on the third day and it would indicate He had no control as to time of day and claim “Jesus lied” is erroneous.  Given that He also stated in John 10:29 and Matt 14:28 that the Father is greater, this would indicate that – in logical terms, the brain has control over the body.

Jesus KNEW of the 3 days as written below:

Luke 24:46-47New International Version (NIV)

46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.