Thursday, December 18, 2008

Did Jesus Go To Hell? An Explanation

The Apostle's Creed states that Jesus descended into hell. I've read less common alternate versions that say that he descended into hades, or descended to the dead. But did Jesus go to hell? I've never really heard an adequate explanation of this. I've read several books on the creed, with scores of comments and reference verses for every statement in the creed - except this one. I've also never seen any reference to it in the most important book of all, the bible.

I recently posted my concern on John Armstrong's blog as a comment, with one reply. Just today Andrew Sandlin posted this question with a letter reply to somebody who asked him, giving a different reply than the one on John's blog. Whatever the answer, something was lost in history, and the answer to this isn't cut and dried like the other statements in the creed.


  1. I say the Creed each week in Church and I either leave it out or say "descended to the dead". Perhaps that is the "Bible Answer Man's" influence over me:) It doesn't sit right, but have never taken the time to really study it. I guess I just assumed - "today, you'll be with me in paradise" meant he wasn't going to be in Hell.

  2. the creed translated properly says hades not hell, and therefore it is referring to his going to the paradise (as he told the thief) side of hades. its purpose in the creed is to affirm the reality of his soul as "he was buried" affirms the reality of his flesh. "Dead and buried, he descended into hades" shows that he had a real body that died and was buried and a real soul that descended to hades. This is also how Peter uses it in Acts 2, "his soul was not left in hades," note the emphasis on soul. So those who are trying to say that Jesus got broiled in hell for your sins are making the creed say something totally foreign to its intent. The creed is all about affirming historicity and the reality of Jesus' humanity over against the claims of Gnosticism and Mythicism.