Did Jesus ever go down to Hell?


#1

This is an unusual question because I honestly can't find any source verifying that anyone has ever read/seen this except me. Nonetheless, I have a vague memory of hearing or reading that Jesus went to hell and defeated the devil before he rose from the dead. Is this true? If so, what is the source/traditional origin for/of this belief? Thanks.


#2

[quote="NovusAugustus, post:1, topic:321032"]
This is an unusual question because I honestly can't find any source verifying that anyone has ever read/seen this except me. Nonetheless, I have a vague memory of hearing or reading that Jesus went to hell and defeated the devil before he rose from the dead. Is this true? If so, what is the source/traditional origin for/of this belief? Thanks.

[/quote]

This is a very interesting question and I am sure that we will get a variety of thoughts and opinions. Sacred Scripture does not explicitly say that Christ went into what we think of as hell (the Hebrew word Gehenna I believe). It does imply or perhaps outright says that he went to the abode of the dead. (Hebrew Sheol, in Greek Hades). I pretty much accept this as true too. However,.....I heard some where that Christ came and took the keys of hell and death, which he holds in the Book of Revelation, from Satan. Now whether he went to Gehenna to do this, I don't know. I would also be interested to know if anyone else has heard this. And Happy Easter everyone!


#3

[quote="NovusAugustus, post:1, topic:321032"]
This is an unusual question because I honestly can't find any source verifying that anyone has ever read/seen this except me. Nonetheless, I have a vague memory of hearing or reading that Jesus went to hell and defeated the devil before he rose from the dead. Is this true? If so, what is the source/traditional origin for/of this belief? Thanks.

[/quote]

One must understand the Jewish concepts as Jesus used them in HIs teaching. The Jews believed in "paradise", a place where the souls of the righteous dead awaited the savior. It is sometimes referred to as the place of the dead, or sheol, but is distinguished from Gehenna/hell/the lake of fire where the unjust dead suffer.

2 Peter 2:9-10
the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment

1 Peter 4:5-6
5 But they will have to give an accounting to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is the reason** the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead,** so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does.

Peter implies that those souls who never knew God were included in this preaching.

Eph 4:9-10
When it says, "He ascended," what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth?

Some of the souls that awaited Him were raised when He was, and we presume accompanied Him into heaven.

John 5:28-29
28 Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and will come out — those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

Matt 27:51-53
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53 After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many.


#4

I believe that idea is in Dante’s Inferno, but it’s been a while since I read it.

–Jen


#5

It’s the wording of the Apostles Creed :confused:

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen

Does that not mean it is an article of faith that He did so?

Sarah x :slight_smile:


#6

From the catechism:

631 Jesus "descended into the lower parts of the earth. He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens."476 The Apostles' Creed confesses in the same article Christ's descent into hell and his Resurrection from the dead on the third day, because in his Passover it was precisely out of the depths of death that he made life spring forth:

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.478 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 Savior, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there.479

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.480 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":481 "It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham's bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell."482 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.483

634 "The gospel was preached even to the dead."484 The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfillment. 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."485 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."486 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."487

The following is from one of the readings from the Office of Readings for Holy Saturday. The only reference I have found is Ancient Homily about Holy Saturday:

The Lord's descent into hell

"What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.

Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam's son.

The Lord goes in to them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: 'My Lord be with you all.' And Christ in reply says to Adam: ‘And with your spirit.’ And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.

‘I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.

‘I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.

‘For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden.

‘Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image.

'See the scourging of my back, which I accepted in order to disperse the load of your sins which was laid upon your back. See my hands nailed to the tree for a good purpose, for you, who stretched out your hand to the tree for an evil one.

`I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side, for you, who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side healed the pain of your side; my sleep will release you from your sleep in Hades; my sword has checked the sword which was turned against you.

‘But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.

"The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness; the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages."


#7

[quote="atheistgirl, post:5, topic:321032"]
It's the wording of the Apostles Creed :confused:

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; **he descended into hell**; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen

Does that not mean it is an article of faith that He did so?

Sarah x :)

[/quote]

Yes...but it is not the hell we think of today.

The hell referred to in the creed is also known as Abraham's Bosom or Paradise or Sheol.

Someone had posted the references in the CCC....:thumbsup:


#8

[quote="atheistgirl, post:5, topic:321032"]
It's the wording of the Apostles Creed :confused:

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; **he descended into hell**; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen

Does that not mean it is an article of faith that He did so?

Sarah x :)

[/quote]

"There is no salvation outside the Catholic Church" does NOT mean there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. Likewise, "He descended into hell" does NOT mean he descended into hell. Hope that clears some of the confusion!:p Poll church-goers on what "hell" means in this particular instance, and be amazed at the vast majority who genuinely think Jesus went to "regular" hell (i.e.the abode of demons and the damned).


#9

catholicworldreport.com/Blog/2143/full_text_pope_francis_easter_urbi_et_orbi_message.aspx#.UVh9shcZzTo This same love for which the Son of God became man and followed the way of humility and self-giving to the very end, down to hell – to the abyss of separation from God – this same merciful love has flooded with light the dead body of Jesus and transfigured it, has made it pass into eternal life. Jesus did not return to his former life, to earthly life, but entered into the glorious life of God and he entered there with our humanity, opening us to a future of hope.

Pope Francis preachs that Christ descended into hell - “to the abyss of separation from God.” If you are interested read Hans Urs von Balthasar on this.


#10

[quote="NovusAugustus, post:1, topic:321032"]
This is an unusual question because I honestly can't find any source verifying that anyone has ever read/seen this except me. Nonetheless, I have a vague memory of hearing or reading that Jesus went to hell and defeated the devil before he rose from the dead. Is this true? If so, what is the source/traditional origin for/of this belief? Thanks.

[/quote]

Read the Gospel of Saint Peter and you'll find that Christ did indeed descend to Hell to free all the righteous souls and left behind nothing but a crucifix, much like He did here on earth.


#11

[quote="atheistgirl, post:5, topic:321032"]
It's the wording of the Apostles Creed :confused:

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; **he descended into hell**; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen

Does that not mean it is an article of faith that He did so?

Sarah x :)

[/quote]

Oh. I feel so embarrassed. I combed through several creeds because I remembered seeing it in a creed but I forgot the Apostle's Creed. Thanks. I think my memory of this phrase is from my childhood when we used to say the Apostle's Creed at mass more, back before the revision. The Nicene Creed, oddly enough, just says he was buried and rose from the dead--no mention of a descent into Hell.

So what I have learned is that the confusion about this belief comes from the Jewish understanding of "hell"--basically, that they didn't understand hell as we do. I guess what I'm confused about is why Christ had to go there. Was it necessary for him to go there in order to show that Satan had no power over him even in Gehenna? In that way, Christ defeated sin both on Earth and below before returning to Earth in order to preach this victory one last time before ascending into Heaven. Does that seem mostly correct?


#12

[quote="NovusAugustus, post:11, topic:321032"]
what I have learned is that the confusion about this belief comes from the Jewish understanding of "hell"--basically, that they didn't understand hell as we do. I guess what I'm confused about is why Christ had to go there. Was it necessary for him to go there in order to show that Satan had no power over him even in Gehenna? In that way, Christ defeated sin both on Earth and below before returning to Earth in order to preach this victory one last time before ascending into Heaven. Does that seem mostly correct?

[/quote]

Yes and no. They did understand it as we do, that there was a place for the righteous dead, called Abraham's Bosom, or as Jesus said to the thief on the cross "paradise". Jesus also calls this condition "prison", which corresponds to the Latin terminology of Purgatory (place of purgation).

In the OT, when righteous souls died (unless they were immediately taken up such as Enoch and Elijah) they were understood to rest in Abraham's bosom (the place of the righteous dead). However, they could not attain heaven because the gates of heaven were shut until the Son of Man opened them at the time of His ascension.

There were some that did not know God, but lived according to their conscience. Those persons heard the Gospel from Christ when He descended to them after His crucifixion.

1 Peter 4:5-6
5 But they will have to give an accounting to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does.

Remember in the story of Lazarus Jesus says:

Luke 16:26-27
26 Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.'

Only Jesus was able to cross this chasm and return again.


#13

[quote="guanophore, post:12, topic:321032"]
Yes and no. They did understand it as we do, that there was a place for the righteous dead, called Abraham's Bosom, or as Jesus said to the thief on the cross "paradise". Jesus also calls this condition "prison", which corresponds to the Latin terminology of Purgatory (place of purgation).

In the OT, when righteous souls died (unless they were immediately taken up such as Enoch and Elijah) they were understood to rest in Abraham's bosom (the place of the righteous dead). However, they could not attain heaven because the gates of heaven were shut until the Son of Man opened them at the time of His ascension.

There were some that did not know God, but lived according to their conscience. Those persons heard the Gospel from Christ when He descended to them after His crucifixion.

1 Peter 4:5-6
5 But they will have to give an accounting to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does.

Remember in the story of Lazarus Jesus says:

Luke 16:26-27
26 Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.'

Only Jesus was able to cross this chasm and return again.

[/quote]

Very interesting! Thank you. So the other half of this is that the Jews believed unlawful/wicked people went to the lake of fire? Did these people have the Gospel proclaimed to them or were they out of luck because they had already rejected their conscience?


#14

[quote="triumphguy, post:9, topic:321032"]
Pope Francis preachs that Christ descended into hell - "to the abyss of separation from God." If you are interested read Hans Urs von Balthasar on this.

[/quote]

Is hell not separation from God?


#15

[quote="LightFromLight, post:14, topic:321032"]
Is hell not separation from God?

[/quote]

It is.

That's how far God went in order to save and redeem us.

Read Hans Urs von Balthasar. He's tough to read, but worth it!:thumbsup:


#16

This is what I was able to find for another thread asking a similar question:


#17

Here is a citation from Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma:

After His Death, Christ's soul, which was separated from His Body, descended into the underworld. (De fide.)
The underworld is the place of detention for the souls of the just of the pre-Christian era, the so-called vestibule of hell (limbus Patrum).


#18

Jesus didn't go to Princess Bride Hell
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ONA733WL0kg/UKBq_FCqOmI/AAAAAAAACg4/gQRj1Vqz2Ns/s1600/princess_bride_280.jpg
"Nearly Hell"

He went to real Hell - per Ratizinger, Balthasar etc.


#19

[quote="fred_conty, post:17, topic:321032"]
Here is a citation from Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma:

After His Death, Christ's soul, which was separated from His Body, descended into the underworld. (De fide.)
The underworld is the place of detention for the souls of the just of the pre-Christian era, the so-called vestibule of hell (limbus Patrum).

[/quote]

Yes he went to the limbo of the fathers, that is a matter of faith we must believe.

Your terminology of his soul going there is somewhat troubling. Jesus has two natures, human and divine. His soul was indeed separated from his body during his entombment. However, his soul is not the same as his divine nature, which seems to be the logical implication of the wording you used. His soul is part of his human nature ( man is body and soul, and Jesus is fully man). So I would say, Jesus, descended to the limbo of the fathers, not just his soul. Or perhaps his divine nature in union with his human soul descended there.


#20

[quote="tafan, post:19, topic:321032"]
Yes he went to the limbo of the fathers, that is a matter of faith we must believe.

Your terminology of his soul going there is somewhat troubling. Jesus has two natures, human and divine. His soul was indeed separated from his body during his entombment. However, his soul is not the same as his divine nature, which seems to be the logical implication of the wording you used. His soul is part of his human nature ( man is body and soul, and Jesus is fully man). So I would say, Jesus, descended to the limbo of the fathers, not just his soul. Or perhaps his divine nature in union with his human soul descended there.

[/quote]

Here is a citation from Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma:

After His Death, Christ's SOUL, which was SEPARATED from His Body, descended into the underworld. (De fide.)

Death means that body and soul separate. The body is in such bad condition that it can no longer maintain a body, and that is when the soul leaves or separates from the body.
Christ's human soul, separated from his human body went into the underworld, not his human body. His human body remained in the tomb until Easter morn when the body and soul were rejoined and he rose from death alive.

Just some thoughts.


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