Did Jesus go to hell after he died

Jesus descended into hell

The meaning of hell

Hell is translated from these three words: “Hades”,  “Geenna”, and “Sheol”. Below are the definitions for these three words.

HADES {hah’-dace} (as negative particle) hell, grave

  • name Hades or Pluto, the god of the lower regions
  • Orcus, the nether world, the realm of the dead
  • later use of this word: the grave, death, hell
  • In Biblical Greek it is associated with Orcus, the infernal regions, a dark and dismal place in the very depths of the earth, the common receptacle of disembodied spirits.
  • Usually Hades is just the abode of the wicked, Lu. 16:23, Rev. 20:13,14;
  • a very uncomfortable place.

GEENNA {gheh’-en-nah}

  • hell, hell fire
  • Hell is the place of the future punishment call “Gehenna” or “Gehenna of fire”. This was originally the valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where the filth and dead animals of the city were cast out and burned; a fit symbol of the wicked and their future destruction.

SHEOL {sheh-ole’}

  • sheol, underworld, grave, hell, pit
  • Sheol – the OT designation for the abode of the dead
  • place of no return
  • without praise of God
  • wicked sent there for punishment
  • righteous not abandoned to it

The location of hell

See the scriptures below. In Ezekiel 26:20 (English-NIV) it says:
then I will bring you down with those who go down to the pit, to the people of long ago. I will make you dwell in the earth below, as in ancient ruins, with those who go down to the pit, and you will not return or take your place in the land of the living.

Notice that this scripture indicates that some people are dwelling in the Earth below (the pit).

Ezekiel 31:16 (English-KJV)
I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to hell with them that descend into the pit: and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, shall be comforted in the nether parts of the earth.

Again Hell (sheol, underworld, grave, hell, pit) is referred to as being in the earth.

Luke 16:19-28 (English-NIV)
19 There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.
20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores
21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.
23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.
24 So he called to him, `Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.
25 But Abraham replied, Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.
26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.
27 He answered, `Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house,
28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.

Remember that these are the recorded words of Jesus himself.
Taken literally it suggests that the world of the dead is/was divided into two regions. One for the wicked and the other for the righteous.
The wicked are in torment in hell and the righteous are/were in peace with Abraham.
There was/is a chasm between the two places that stopped either side from crossing to the other, yet they could/can still communicate with each other.

Did Jesus go to hell after he was crucified?

Matthew 12:40 (English-NIV)
For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

This scripture is quite blatant about the fact that Jesus went to the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.

If this is the case then how do the words of Jesus spoken to the thief on the cross make sense.

Luke 23:42-43 (English-NIV)
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
43 Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

The point I am making here is that Jesus was in the heart of the earth for approximately three days, after that he walked the earth for a short time and then he was lifted up into heaven.
So if the reference to Paradise was heaven, then when Jesus said to the thief on the cross “that he would be in paradise with him today” would have to be a contradiction because Jesus was in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.

The only way that both scriptures can be explained without contradiction is to say that Paradise was also in the heart of the earth like Hell.
Do you find this hard to believe?
Doesn’t Luke 16:19-28 say the same thing. We just read earlier in those verses that when Lazarus died he went to Abraham’s side and the rich man went to hell. In hell the rich man looked up and could see Lazarus being comforted at Abraham’s side. But neither could cross over to the other side because of a huge chasm.

Further evidence for the location of hell

Ephesians 4:9 (English-NIV)
8 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.”
9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions ?
10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.

The focal point for the word ascended and descended is the earth itself.
In verse 9 it says that he descended to the lower earthly regions

Why did Jesus go to hell?

Hebrews 2:14 (English-NIV)
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil.

Revelation 1:18 (English-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 behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

These scriptures indicate that Jesus was dead and is now alive, he also has the Keys of death and hell. We can see clearly that Jesus mission to destroy the power that the devil had over death was a success.

1 Peter 3 (English-NIV)
18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,
19 through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison
20 who disobeyed 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,

This scripture says that Jesus preached to disobedient spirits in prison who died before the flood of Noah.
Although I do not understand the full ramifications of this verse, it does make sense that when Jesus defeated death, he could have proclaimed his victory to the wicked spirits in Hell. In other words he heralded their soon coming judgement, and then of course he set the righteous spirits free to abide in Heaven. It doesn’t necessarily mean that Jesus gave the wicked a second chance to repent as the New Testament scriptures are quite blatant about the fact that you can only repent while you are alive on the Earth.

1 Peter 4:5-6 (English-NIV)
5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
6 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

This scripture could relate to the above scripture as they are only one chapter apart ie Jesus preached to the dead.
This scripture also seems to say that the Gospel was preached to the dead and they were given a chance at life, but it can also be interpreted to say that the disobedient who are dead actually heard the gospel when they were alive, and the reference to the dead is to say that they were dead at the time of the scripture, ie now dead, but were actually alive when they heard the gospel.
I have added these two verses as they relate to Jesus death and journey to the world of the dead, but I do repeat the statement I made earlier, and that is that I do not understand the full ramifications of these two verses.

Matthew 27:50 – 52 (English-KJV):
50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

Death is defeated

After Jesus died many of the dead saints arose and walked the earth and appeared to many.
This seems to suggest that Jesus freed the dead saints from a sleep, so he probably went to the place of the dead and set them free. These saints would have been in Paradise, see Luke 16:19-28 (quoted earlier). Remember that Jesus also rose from the dead and walked the earth before being taken up into Heaven. These saints of old that walked the earth probably were raised to heaven as well. There is no suggestion in the Bible that these saints continued to live amongst mankind.

The fact that the dead rose at the same time as Jesus resurrection is a fulfillment of what Jesus said would happen in John 5:28-29 (English-NIV)

28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice
29 and come out–those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.

The resurrection of the saints

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (English-NIV)
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.

Notice that the dead rise first, and at some stage all those believers who are still living will join the dead to meet the Lord.
Jesus victory over death has enabled the saints who have died to by pass Hades and go to Heaven as he did, this was a result of the victory over the devil; who had the power of death. Jesus took the keys of death and hell from him, as we read earlier Revelation 1:18.
Today when the righteous die, they go straight to heaven, but the wicked remain in the grave/hell until the great day of judgement. See Revelation 20:11-14 (English-NIV)

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.
13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.
14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.

There is no record of the righteous in heaven before Jesus death except for the Mount of Transfiguration where Elijah and Moses appeared with Jesus in heavenly glory. See Luke 9:29-31. But these two persons were exceptions. Elijah never saw death, he was taken up into Heaven while he was alive therefore by passing the holding place where Abraham dwelt, see 2 Kings 2:11
As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.

Moses was also an exception. Jude 1:9 says
But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

Here we see that Michael the Archangel and the devil fought over Moses body.
Each probably laying claim to why they could have it. The devil probably argued that it couldn’t be taken because he had the Power over death at that stage. Needless to say it doesn’t say who won, but that fact that Moses appeared in glory next to Jesus side in the Mount of Transfiguration shows us the outcome of this dispute.

Going on now we find the following scripture.

Revelation 1:5 (English-NIV)
and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,

This scripture points out that Jesus is the first born from the dead. This suggest that there must be other people born from the dead to follow. Matthew 27:50 – 52  compliments this. Only the power of God can raise the dead and this is what it means to be Born Again. The power that raised Jesus from the dead will also raise all those who belong to God when they die.

Corinthians 15 22-28 English-NIV)
22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.
24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.
25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
27 For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ.
28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

This scripture reveals a great mystery, that mystery being “all in Christ live”. First Jesus, then the firstfruits, then those that belong to Jesus at his coming. Then the end will come when Jesus destroys all dominion and authority. The last enemy is death. This will result in God the Father being able to dwell in all.

This fits in well with the teaching that Jesus went to Hell, so as to be victorious over Hell, and therefore destroying the One who had Power over death, namely the Devil.


It makes scriptural sense when Jesus died that he went to Hell and defeated death and took the Keys of death and Hell from Satan who had the power of death. This victory means that Jesus defeated death in a bid to make all things subject to him. Death was the last enemy that needed to be conquered and now Jesus has been exalted to the highest position in heaven by God. This victory has enabled all those who belong to God to be raised from the dead with the same power. Jesus is waiting for all his enemies to be made a footstool at his feet.Then  he will give his Kingdom to his Father that the Father may dwell in all.

Hebrews 1:13
13 To which of the angels did God ever say,
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet”?
14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

Hebrews 10:12-14
12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

Much  of the work that is left is for the Church to complete, including preaching the gospel of the Kingdom  to all the world. Then the end shall come.

Is hell eternal?

Did you know that Hell is not forever because it is thrown into the Lake of Fire. God is going to destroy the Heavens and Earth with fire after the Millennium, and with this same fire, he destroys the wicked. Further, it he destroys the Earth and Hell is inside the Earth then Hell as a dwelling place would surely also be destroyed. See these next three scriptures for confirmation. Or read this related writing:

2 Peter 3:7 (English-NIV)
By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

Revelation 21:1 (English-NIV)
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.

Revelation 20:14 (English-KJV)
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

© 1999 - 2018 Heaven Net


Log in with your credentials


Forgot your details?


Create Account