Join Michael Patton, Tim Kimberley and Sam Storms as they discuss whether Christ went to hell or not. The Apostle’s Creed says he did. What do you think Michael, Sam, and Tim will say? Find out here.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    5 replies to "Theology Unpluged: Problem Passages – Did Jesus Go To Hell? – 1 Peter 3:18-22"

    • Michael Davis

      Nice discussion guys.

      I’m surprised Acts 2:27 was not mentioned:
      “For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.”

      A distinction needs to be made between Hell and Hades – between the ANE view of the underworld (Hades, Sheol) and the eternal lake of fire (what we think of hell today). There seems to be different sections of Hades – place of torment, Abraham’s bosom, and Tartarus (prison for the fallen sons of god)

      2 Peter and Jude draw from wording used in the Book of Enoch – which deals with the fallen sons of god. So I agree with Sam that 1 Peter spirits refers to those sons of god.

      Ephesians is dealing with a variation of docetism – that Jesus and Christ were 2 different persons (1 human, 1 spirit). False teachers were saying that Jesus descended into Hades and Christ into heaven. That’s why Paul says “the same one”. Obviously I can’t go into detail about that here but the context of Ephesians and the Psalm it’s based on supports the idea.

    • Irene

      Very interesting!  I have a few questions now…

      1) You all were pretty much in agreement that Jesus didn’t go to THE hell. (I don’t think he did either.). But I didn’t hear any specific reason for this other than the “lake of fire” hell is still not “open for business”.  So is there a reason I missed?

      2) I’ll show my ignorance here–if Jesus didn’t go to capital “H” Hell, what does this mean for the substitution atonement theory?  I ask because that would mean sinners would have an eternity in a place Jesus never even was—that Jesus didn’t experience their entire punishment.

      3) So, your best guess interpretation you arrived at by the end of the discussion is incompatible with the corresponding clause in the Apostles Creed, and I didn’t hear any resolution regarding this aspect of your interpretation. You are ok with dropping or changing this clause of the creed?

      4). Come on, now!  (:  Not even a mention of the Limbo of the Fathers??  As the most traditional, probably most widely held interpretation population wise, doesn’t it deserve a mention?  
      You mentioned “spirits” not meaning human spirits because the word is no where else used like that, but is that alone a strong enough reason to jettison the traditional meaning? And a related question:  Is the Limbo of the Fathers, distinct from the Catholic Purgatory, incompatible with Calvinism?  If so, why?

      5) How you arrived at your conclusion seems a little “iffy” to me. You took one obscure passage in Genesis 6 and used it heavily to derive meaning from another obscure passage in 1 Peter 3 (at the same time dismissing out of hand the traditional meaning of 1 Peter 3.) You all are the trained theology guys, but this throws up red flags in my mind. In retrospect, are you really satisfied with interpreting like that?  Is it ok to do that? And a related question:  are you really that confident in your interpretation of Gen 6?

      6) Other related verses I wish you would have touched…

    • tory

      I have a question concerning the location of the spirits in prison. Peter describes it as being hell, I’m aware that this in the greek is tarturus , which from what I understand is borrowed from greek mythology and refers to bottomless pit. Where is this place? Is it in heaven? Next I just want to throw out a thought here that is connected with this verse and the one in genesis 6. If the sons of God are infact demonized humans who lived before the flood, and there sins with women brought about the flood. The flood would have killed the humans these demons were inhabitig so these demons would be flushed out, like a forced exorciscim. So with these demons removed from their human hosts they would be confined to hell? Which is where? The upper atmosphere maybe? if it is in the heavenly sphere then would it mean that just by jesus ascending up through their territory invading it so to speak he was showing his triumph over them?

    • Irene

      6) Other related verses I wish you would have touched on:

      Zechariah 9:11
      Thou also by the blood of Thy Testament hast sent forth Thy prisoners out of the pit.

      Acts 2:24–Peter again!
      God hath raised up Christ, having loosed the sorrows of hell, as it was impossible that He should be holden by it.

      Psalm 89:49
      What is man, that he should live and not see death?  Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol?

      Revelation 2:18 (prisoner/key motif)
      And I hold the keys of death and Hades. 

      I think that 1 Peter 3 passage would support a Part 2 podcast!  Thanks for the discussion. 

    • Melroy Karat

      All of us have falling short of the Glory of God. Wages of Sin is DEATH. First of all let us understand , This Death that the Bible talk Is it Physical Death? or is it SPIRITUAL DEATH. According to what I understand after reading the bible It is SPRITUAL DEATH, which is being SEPERATION FROM GOD. Also called HELL. JESUS paid that wages of SIN once and for all for all Human Being by that Spritual Death, being seperated from God the father, that is in Hell. On the 3rd day Jesus rose from Hell (Spitual death). In fact Jesus does not allow Mary to get hold of Him because He had not accended to the father as yet.In fact in what I understand when reading the Bible, Jesus had ALSO Preach to the Abode of the dead Souls(Sheol) Souls of dead. That meams Jesus has being to TWO DIFFERENT realm. And the Souls of who Jesus wanted to Saved were also risen from Sheol after Jesus was Rison from Hell. Jesus Paid the wages of Sin in Hell. I may be wrong but this is what I am being able to understand after reading only from the Bible. Its is not written anywhere in the bible that Jesus Paid the Price of Sin in Hell. After all we are talking about Salvation from Hell. Jesus Is the only one who Preach about the Kingdom of God, and He is the only one who preach of Hell. Jesus is the only one who has being to hell. No Mankind has being to hell Yet.I would even go to the extreme of saying if Jesus did not go to Hell then NO Mankind would have Salvation from Hell.

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