Did Jesus Go To Hell?

Lesson 3.15

Did Jesus go to hell? Begin this lesson in prayer, because there are lots of serious, deep truths to learn today, both distressing and marvelous.

Please read Matthew 25:31-46 before starting GraspingGod.com's free Bible study lessons, #3.15.

Previous lesson: Jesus' Body #3.14.

Preliminary Bible Study Questions:

1) Is hell real?
2) Who is in hell now? Who will be in hell?
3) Did Jesus descend into hell? If so, why?

This Bible Study Series on the Passion of the Christ has been loaded with little known facts, remarkable truths, and eye-opening possibilities. This trend continues today. Describing hell leaves even the greatest wordsmiths frustrated. The Bible exhausts human language in describing hell, which is more horrible than a human can express with mere words.

Hell can only be experienced to understand - words won't suffice. With these limitations noted, let's begin the study.

What Is Hell?

Hell is real and can best be described as the place of eternal punishment for the unrighteous. Hell is the abode of the spiritually and eternally dead angels and humans. The human spirits of those who died without forgiveness reside there currently.

The spirits will be reunited with their souls at judgment day and then sentenced to the lake of fire burning with brimstone (aka eternal hell).

The worst attribute of hell is easy to explain but difficult to grasp. God is not there, nor are any of his good things. The statement about God's presence isn't to be understood in the literal sense, because God is infinite. It's to be understood in the sense that God forsakes hell and the people imprisoned within its confines. God allows none of those dwelling in hell to be aware of his goodness, or any good thing. They will only experience God's wrath.

Some people demand hard evidence for anything in which they choose to disbelieve.

Unfortunately for these skeptics the hard evidence arrives immediately after their death, giving them no help. They have no choice but to become believers at that point in time, however, they are resigned to their place of torment for an eternity. Don't follow these hypocrites who reject God until after it is too late.

God gives faith to believe the Bible, including it's teachings about hell, when you stand up and accept your responsibilities.

Learn about God by reading the Scriptures, repenting, and trusting him while reading.

Escape from hell is available if you devote your life to God's care. As a created human who possesses the power to communicate with God, you're expected to approach him with belief. Do that now if you haven't already done so.

Let's further the study by learning the Bible names for hell. This exercise teaches us more about hell's nature.

List Of the Names Of Hell:

  • Sheol: The Hebrew Scriptures (aka Old Testament) uses this term to refer to the place of the dead (e.g. Psalm 9:17), meaning "the unseen world." God shed very little light on the afterlife before the New Testament.
  • Hades: This is the Greek New Testament equivalent to the Hebrew word "Sheol" (e.g. Acts 2:27-31).
  • Gehenna: This Greek word occurs 12 times in the New Testament - 11 times by Jesus (e.g. Matthew 5:29-30), and once by his brother, James (James 3:6). Jesus sometimes combined the word "gehenna" with fire, calling it hell-fire (e.g. Matthew 5:22). Gehenna is a highly graphic term used to illustrate the eternal burning of sin. Gehenna was Jerusalem's garbage dump found outside the city. It had a constant smoldering burn that produced a terrible stench. Adding 2 plus 2 together, one can assume much the same scenario for the eternal fate of unforgiven sinners.
  • Outer Darkness: This is an interesting term referring to hell found in Matthew and Luke (e.g. Matthew 8:12; Luke 13:28). Agonizing pain will overtake all within the unfriendly confines of this outer darkness. This is the initial abode of torment for those people awaiting judgment day.
  • Lake of fire burning with brimstone: (e.g. Revelation 20:10; 21:8). This type of fire is a non-consuming, purifying fire which burns forever. The lake of fire is the final and eternal abode for all who died without Jesus' forgiveness.

Who Is In Hell?

There is a certain group of fallen angels currently experiencing the deepest, darkest parts of hell.

Genesis 6:1-4 explains that certain fallen angels (aka Sons of God) left their natural domain by having intercourse with human women (Jude 6). Their sinful actions severely angered God. The unholy unions soon brought wickedness to new depths of depravity.

The righteous prophet Noah preached repentance and coming judgment for 120 years, but no one accepted the offer. God sent the great flood which physically killed the rebellious humans. God also locked the responsible demons in prison (1 Peter 3:19-21). They are awaiting their final judgment day and eternal home in the lake of fire (2 Peter 2:4).

Who is in hell?

Non-believers who physically die enter the horrors of hell. They wait, being tormented in their spirit, for their personal day of reckoning.

The lost person languishes in outer darkness, waiting for his or her judgment day and subsequent sentencing to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15). The dead person will be called to experience the shameful judgment, having all of his or her sins exposed. Jesus will then say something similar to this, "Depart from me, you evildoer, into the flames created for the devil and his angels."

The embarrassed, hopeless creature will then be escorted to the lake of fire burning with brimstone. It is the wicked person's final home.

The flames will burn forever (Revelation 20:14-15).

The sad and terrible irony is that each person judged and sentenced to hell becomes a believer in Jesus Christ. He gets the hard evidence he so desperately demanded during his physical lifetimes. However, that belief is too late, doing him no good, leaving him to eternally utter in anguish, "I am such a fool. I should have believed before I died."

Let's go deeper in learning about Jesus and hell now.

Did Jesus Go To Hell?

Peter's Acts 2 sermon is proof positive that Jesus experienced hell. Acts 2:24 states, "But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip."

Spiritual death was "horrible" for Jesus. Something happened, something terrible happened to him during his death - it's undeniable.

Jesus on the cross was forsaken by God while darkness fell across the land (Mark 15:33-34).

God is light, there is no darkness in him (1 John 1:5); therefore, when God removed himself and turned his face from Jesus (Psalm 34:16), it left both Jerusalem and Calvary shrouded in darkness.

Earlier, Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, despairing the imminent punishment, begged for God to create another way - any way in which the two wouldn't be separated.

In the end, Jesus' love for his Father and his people won the day. God's will was done.

Christ was strengthened by an angel to withstand the terrible judgment forthcoming from God. The crucifixion of Jesus commenced and he was soon nailed to the cross.

God forsook the cursed Lamb, and Jesus' spirit was cast into outer darkness for three hours. The New Covenant was ratified by God as the darkness covered the sacrifice.

J.Oswald Sanders states, "The bitterest ingredient in the cup of his suffering had been the midnight gloom that enveloped not only his body but also his soul, when his Father made the iniquity of us all to meet on him (Isaiah 53:6). Three hours of torture at the hands of his creatures were succeeded by the infinitely darker three hours into which an eternity of suffering was compressed." (The Incomparable Christ: The Person and Work of Jesus Christ, Moody Press, 1971, p.198).

Jesus was always one with God the Father, so there are no human comparisons with the horrible fate he suffered. No one else knows the height, depth, and length of the love Jesus shared with his Father before their separation. They were in perfect union forever, then suddenly Jesus was abandoned and alone - cursed as a sinner.

Although physically alive, his spirit experienced the horrors of outer darkness (aka hell). There was no goodness, no love, no light, and no known presence of God. Jesus suffered emotional trauma which words can't begin to describe.

Finally, the three hours of punishment in outer darkness was complete. Knowing now that his sacrifice was accepted, Jesus cried in relief, "It is finished!" His earthly work was complete.

With one final gasp, Jesus willingly gave up his spirit, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." Jesus' spirit returned to his Father in paradise (Luke 23:43).

J. Oswald Sanders, again, "Transcendent joy must have flooded him as his spirit rose from the miasmas of earth's sin to the warmth and crystal purity of the celestial air. His was no reluctant farewell to the scene of his suffering and humiliation." Let's include these words of Jesus to finish the thought (John 17:5).

Sunday morning finally came and the world found out that Jesus rose from the grave. People now know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. But, each person must believe in him.

Jesus Preached In Hell

Following Christ's sacrifice (Colossians 2:15), and subsequent resurrection, Jesus went to hell to preach the victory. Jesus and hell shouldn't even be mentioned in the same sentence, however, he had some spiritual work to do.

Jesus visited the prisoners in hell, triumphantly proclaiming to the fallen angels that their schemes to ruin God's redemptive plan were defeated.

First of all, the nation of Israel had been guarded, protecting the lineage in which Jesus would enter. Jesus was born in the flesh, and lived the perfect life.

Finally, after suffering a terrible punishment for the sins of mankind, Christ died and rose from the grave.

He crushed Satan's schemes (Genesis 3:15) and defeated eternal death for faithful humans (1 Peter 3:18).

Jesus possibly proclaimed the victory in hell while in his glorified body, at a time between his resurrection and ascension.

Jesus brought all responsible creatures under his authority after these acts were completed (1 Peter 3:22). He now sits in authority ruling over all the created universe.

Did Jesus Go To Hell? Summary

Did Jesus go to hell? In summary, Jesus experienced hell twice. The Father's presence left him while he hung on the cross - thrusting him into the horrors of outer darkness. He was left alone to suffer whatever torments hell could inflict on his soul. Jesus went to hell in that regard for you and me - he paid the full price for our sins. He suffered hell so you and I won't be summoned there.

Jesus later experienced another area of hell - it's deepest, darkest pits. Jesus descended there in order to proclaim his victory to a condemned group of Satan's demons. All creatures are now privy to Jesus' victorious work on the cross. Everyone is also privy to God's great resurrecting power found through the Holy Spirit. But, "knowing" is only the beginning of believing - make sure to repent and place your faith in Jesus now.

Did Jesus Go To Hell? Grasp This!

Did Jesus go to hell? Yes, twice, but only for short amounts of time. Acts 2:24 confirms Jesus' punishment in hell.

Jesus was sweating blood because his distress was so heightened by the thought of experiencing hell (Luke 22:44). Jesus was only suffering in hell for three hours!

Jude 11 says those who are lost from God will experience great sorrow at their deaths. Dead people will be thrust into hell for eternity. The realization that a person is only one breath away from eternity ought to make him or her sweat drops of blood, like Jesus Christ.

Listen to these few observations about the possibilities immediately after one's death.

The moment a person is cast into outer darkness ALL hope departs.

Do you realize what condition overtakes a person without hope? Depression. Deep, dark sadness rules a person's mind, heart, body, soul and spirit.

The natural joy found in life, within the heart of a person, will be lost forever. A bright outlook on the future also gets eliminated upon entrance to hell.

A healthy, pain-free body becomes the distant past. The fun entertainment one valued, such as sports, games, hunting, television, internet, knitting, shopping, vacationing, and even relaxation, ALL gone forever.

An early morning sunrise or evening sunset will never be enjoyed again. Animals, pets, and plants won't be experienced, but replaced by demons, snakes and maggots.

The joy and fun associated with family and friends will be nonexistent. All the good a person experienced in this short, earthly life will be replaced in full with the horrors of a God-forsaken hell.

Please, my friend, approach your loving God with fear and trembling. God wants to forgive you, please open the door of your heart to him (Revelation 3:20).

Join our next lesson: Jesus' Empty Tomb #3.16.

Did Jesus Go To Hell? Bible Study Questions:

1) Should humans possess a healthy fear of hell? Discuss.

2) Many people dismiss terms such as "burning in hell" as hyperbole created by religious fanatics. How do you address people who trample on the truths found in God's word?

3) What are some of the thoughts that will suddenly race through the minds of those who experience physical death, and the helplessness of being thrust into outer darkness?

Did Jesus Go To Hell? Inspirational Bible Verses:
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. 1 Corinthians 1:30

Did Jesus Go To Hell? Faith Quotes!
Faith is nothing but believing what God promises or says. Whatever remarkable thing we read of happening in the Old or New Testament, we read that it was done by faith - not works, not by a general faith, but by faith directed to the matter in hand. Martin Luther Quotes

Hell Quotes:
Disbelieve hell, and you unscrew, unsettle, and unpin everything in Scripture. J.C.Ryle

If I never spoke of hell, I should think I had kept back something that was profitable, and should look on myself as an accomplice of the devil. J.C.Ryle

The lost enjoy for ever the horrible freedom they have demanded, and are therefore self-enslaved. C.S.Lewis

Did Jesus Go To Hell? Prayers of Thanksgiving:
Dear Lord God. Your holiness demands righteousness from your creatures. We're incapable of that on our own, but you freely give us Jesus' righteousness and we thank you for such a blessing. Jesus made us your friends by his sacrifice on the cross. We pray that more people come to you in repentance and faith, trusting in your word for eternal life in heaven - far removed from the horrors of hell. We owe everything to Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.

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