"Descent into Hell"


#1

One non-Christian writer mentioned in a recent book that the “Descent into Hell” expressed by the Apostles Creed was only an additional belief added in the 6th century. He maintains that the idea of Jesus descending into hell was not held by the early Fathers–and that the Apostles Creed was created much later than Apostolic times. He also mentions that the descent into hell is not mentioned in the Nicene Creed. How do we know that Jesus’ descent into hell was an early Christian belief? Where is there evidence of this belief?


#2

1Pe 3:18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water.

The “prison” described here could be Purgatory, or it could be the hypothetical “limbo of the fathers,” but I think this is what the creed is referring to-- not to our modern idea of Hell.

My understanding is that the “hell” in the Creed is analogous to the Hebrew “Sheol–” a place where dead spirits went, not to be punished or rewarded, but just to be dead. I think that’s why this phrase of the Creed is sometimes expressed as “descended to the dead” instead.

Of course, I'm sure the early Church also understood had a conception of something like what *we* think of when we hear "Hell." But they must have expressed it differently.  Either way, this verse shows that Christians had the idea of Christ going into some kind of "prison" way back in the first century.

#3

Of course, I’m sure the early Church also understood had a conception of something like what we think of when we hear “Hell.” But they must have expressed it differently. Either way, this verse shows that Christians had the idea of Christ going into some kind of “prison” way back in the first century.

Yeah, I understand that the Church’s position is that Christ, in His human soul and divinity, descended to where the “just” dead went (“Abraham’s Bosom”) and preached the word to them. However, this is not really clear in the gospel narratives, and the only real demonstration I know of is 1 Peter 3.18, which you quote. I’m just wondering if anyone like Iraneaus, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Cyprian of Carthage, etc. had anything to say about this descent. Even something from Augustine would be fruitful. Thanks! :slight_smile:


#4

Here is another Scripture: [font=Arial]Eph 4:8[/font][font=Arial] Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” 9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)[/font][font=Arial][/font]

[font=Arial] [/font]


#5

[quote=Madaglan]Yeah, I understand that the Church’s position is that Christ, in His human soul and divinity, descended to where the “just” dead went (“Abraham’s Bosom”) and preached the word to them. However, this is not really clear in the gospel narratives, and the only real demonstration I know of is 1 Peter 3.18, which you quote. I’m just wondering if anyone like Iraneaus, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Cyprian of Carthage, etc. had anything to say about this descent. Even something from Augustine would be fruitful. Thanks! :slight_smile:
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[quote= 1 Peter 4:6]For this is why the gospel was preached even to the dead, that though judged in the flesh like men, they might live in the spirit like God.
[/quote]

[quote= Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 4, Chap. 27, Para. 2]The Lord descended into the regions beneath the earth, announcing there the good news of His coming and of the remission of sins conferred upon those who believe in Him.
[/quote]


#6

:cool:

Thanks for the references!


#7

[quote= THE SYMBOL OF RUFINUS, c. 404 A.D.]I believe in God, the Father almighty, invisible and impassible, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit, was crucified under Pontius Pilate and was buried. He went down to the dead. On the third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. From there He shall come to judge the living and the dead. And in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Church, the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection of the body.
[/quote]


#8

[quote=Madaglan]Yeah, I understand that the Church’s position is that Christ, in His human soul and divinity, descended to where the “just” dead went (“Abraham’s Bosom”) and preached the word to them. However, this is not really clear in the gospel narratives, and the only real demonstration I know of is 1 Peter 3.18, which you quote. I’m just wondering if anyone like Iraneaus, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Cyprian of Carthage, etc. had anything to say about this descent. Even something from Augustine would be fruitful. Thanks! :slight_smile:
[/quote]

Paul did in the book of Ephesians 4:8-9 8 Therefore He says:*"When He scended on high,**He led captivity captive,*And gave gifts to men."
9 (Now this, “He ascended”–what does it mean but that He also *first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)


#9

This is directly from Part I of the Catechism. I posted this on another thread. Not sure if that is what from which this question stemmed (stupid English language). But follow the links to scripture, it should help.

**Paragraph 1. CHRIST DESCENDED INTO HELL

**632 The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was “raised from the dead” presuppose that the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection.477 This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ’s descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead. But he descended there as Saviour, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there.478

633 Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, “hell” - Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek - because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God.479 Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into “Abraham’s bosom”:480 "It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Saviour in Abraham’s bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell."481 Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.482

634 "The gospel was preached even to the dead."483 The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfilment. This is the last phase of Jesus’ messianic mission, a phase which is condensed in time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christ’s redemptive work to all men of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made sharers in the redemption.

635 Christ went down into the depths of death so that "the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live."484 Jesus, “the Author of life”, by dying destroyed "him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and [delivered] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage."485 Henceforth the risen Christ holds “the keys of Death and Hades”, so that "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth."486


#10

[quote=Madaglan]One non-Christian writer mentioned in a recent book that the “Descent into Hell” expressed by the Apostles Creed was only an additional belief added in the 6th century. He maintains that the idea of Jesus descending into hell was not held by the early Fathers–and that the Apostles Creed was created much later than Apostolic times. He also mentions that the descent into hell is not mentioned in the Nicene Creed. How do we know that Jesus’ descent into hell was an early Christian belief? Where is there evidence of this belief?
[/quote]

I hope you like the anonymous author of the Theologia’s take on Christ’s descent into hell as the mark of the very real flesh and blood journey of all his followers.

ccel.org/t/theo_ger/theologia17.htm


#11

In either case, the clause in question was the last one to be added to the Creed


#12

Further to those two quotations from Rufinus & the pseudo-Athanasian creed: in either case, the clause in question was the last one to be added to the Creed


#13

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