This video is to address some recent teachings by others on YouTube who are saying that after Jesus died on the cross, He then entered into hell, where He suffered torment to finish paying for our sins. According to these videos, Jesus died and then descended into hell, where He literally suffered the fires of hell in our place to finish paying for our sins, because that’s what God requires as payment for sin. How about it? Did Jesus enter hell and suffer torment after He died? What does God’s Word say? Let’s look into it.
When we look at this topic, there are two questions we have to answer:
- Did Jesus descend into hell after He died?
- If He did, then why did He do it, for what purpose?
Regarding the first question as to whether Jesus descended into hell after He died, the answer is yes. In Acts chapter 2, Peter quoted Psalm 16:10, applying it directly to Christ, when he said:
“Because Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” (Acts 2:27 KJV)
Peter even repeated it a second time just a few verses later, to make doubly sure to us that he was talking about Christ:
“He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hell, neither His flesh did see corruption.” (Acts 2:31 KJV)
Both David in Psalm 16 and Peter in Acts chapter 2 said that Christ would not be left in hell, which means Christ did in fact go into hell after He died.
Paul also confirmed this in Ephesians 4, where he wrote about Christ:
“…When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?” (Ephesians 4:8-9 KJV)
Paul clearly taught that after Jesus died, he first descended into the lower parts of the earth, the realm of the dead. He entered into hell. We’ll look at the meaning of the word “hell” and its location in a minute.
Also, the Apostles Creed, dating as far back as A.D. 140 and taught for centuries in the church says,
“I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. He descended into hell; The third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead…”
Both Scripture and this early creed of the church clearly taught that Christ descended into hell. There’s no question about that, which brings us to our second question:
Why did Jesus enter into hell? Was it to finish paying for our sins by suffering the fires of hell?
This is where a number of well-meaning Christians have stumbled and come to a dangerously wrong conclusion – namely, that after Jesus died, He descended into hell to suffer torment that is required to finish paying for our sins. After all, Jesus took on our sins and, as our sin bearer, He did descend into hell. Hell is a place of torment. So, Jesus must have suffered torment in hell for our sins. Right?
No! Absolutely not.
As to whether Jesus suffered torment in hell, I want to say up front an emphatic NO! This is completely erroneous teaching, that Jesus had to suffer in hell to finish paying for our sins. Let’s first look at why this is bad teaching and then look at the real reason why Jesus went into hell after He died.
First, why is saying that Jesus suffered in hell bad teaching?
I’m making a big deal of this because it is not only bad teaching, but dangerous teaching. It’s dangerous because it takes our eyes off of, and in fact denies, what truly does save us.
We are NOT saved by Jesus’ suffering in hell to pay for our sins. His suffering is not what saves us. We’re saved by the blood of Christ shed on the cross. The notion that these videos present is that God’s punishment for sin requires suffering torment in hell to satisfy His wrath. Therefore, that’s what they say Jesus did for us, suffering the very fires of hell in our place. The problem is that this is not taught anywhere in Scripture.
What does the Bible say saves us? It’s not Jesus’ suffering. It’s His blood, the blood of the perfect, spotless Lamb of God spilled out for us as the perfect sacrifice for our sins on the cross. Listen to these verses about the blood of Christ that saves us:
“In whom we have redemption THROUGH HIS BLOOD, even the forgiveness of sins:” (Colossians 1:14 KJV)
“And, having made peace THROUGH THE BLOOD OF HIS CROSS, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself…” (Colossians 1:20 KJV)
“Much more then, being now JUSTIFIED BY HIS BLOOD, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” (Romans 5:9 KJV)
“… ye were not redeemed with corruptible things…But with THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST:” (1 Peter 1:18-19 KJV)
Notice that it is His blood, shed on the cross that brings us peace. End of story. That’s what redeems us. That’s what saves us. That’s what satisfies God’s wrath against us on account of our sins.
Why is this teaching of Jesus suffering in hell so dangerous?
Because it denies the all-sufficiency of the blood of Christ to save us. If Jesus had to not only die on the cross but then suffer in hell to finish paying for our sins, then His blood shed on the cross was not sufficient to save us. More was required. It’s saying that Jesus had to die on the cross but then after that also suffer in hell. If that suffering in hell was required to pay for our sins, then the blood itself would not be sufficient on its own. Yet over and over, Scripture says it’s the blood of the cross that saves us, justifies us and brings us peace with God.
We’re not saved by Jesus’ suffering at all, not on the cross or in hell. We’re saved by His blood, shed on the cross. His blood is the one essential element for saving our souls. We see this all the way back in the Old Testament book of Leviticus:
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” (Leviticus 17:11 KJV)
We’re not saved by Jesus’ suffering. We’re saved by His blood. Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross, is what saves us. It’s what makes atonement for our souls. It’s what pays for our sins. It is what redeems us, the payment price that is made before a Holy God to buy us back from the dead, so that we can have life. His blood shed on the cross pays for our sins. His resurrection then gives us new life.
Paul said of Jesus:
“Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” (Romans 4:25 KJV)
His blood made atonement for our souls and cleansed us so that we are forgiven. His blood paid for our offenses. It is then through His resurrection that we too can not only be forgiven but also have eternal life.
So, that’s why this teaching going around on YouTube about how Jesus suffered in hell is so dangerous. If you believe that, then you are saying that His blood is not sufficient to save you. That’s blasphemy. Either His blood is sufficient to save you or it’s not. God’s Word says it is. And if it is, then nothing else is required, including suffering in hell.
Then, why did Jesus descend into hell, into the lower parts of the earth, if it wasn’t to suffer the torment of hell? To answer that, let’s first understand what Scripture means by the term, “hell.”
Scripture speaks of both a temporary place called hell and a permanent place called hell. Let’s look at the temporary place first, which is referred to in the Old Testament using the Hebrew word, Sheol, meaning the underworld, the realm of the dead. Many believe that Sheol exists in the center of the earth, simply because of its meaning, the underworld, and the verse that we looked at in Ephesians 4 where Paul says that Christ first descended into the lower parts of the earth.
Sheol, translated into English as grave, hell or pit, is the temporary realm of the dead. Scripture describes it as having a great divide that runs down the middle, separating it into two parts. On one side, there is a place referred to in New Testament using the Greek word “hades,” which is translates as “hell,” or “grave.” It is a place of punishment and burning.
Across the divide is place referred to in Scripture as “Paradise.” You’ll also see the term “Abraham’s bosom.” It is a place of comfort.
In the Old Testament, both the unrighteous and the righteous went to Sheol when they died. The unrighteous went to hades to suffer torment. The righteous went to Paradise to experience comfort. The righteous did not go directly into heaven, because the way into heaven had not yet been opened. The way into heaven, of course, is the blood of the cross. Jesus hadn’t come yet to make atonement for sin by dying on the cross. Until that happened, no one was allowed into heaven. So they went instead into Paradise, where they were comforted and found rest until the time of Christ, where Christ’s sacrifice on the cross opened the door for them to enter heaven itself.
We see this description of Sheol, the realm of the dead, with its divided halves most clearly in Jesus’ story of the rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. Some think this is a parable, but Jesus never called it that. He never used figurative language that He did when He told parables. No, this is a story of a rich man who died and a beggar named Lazarus.
“There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.” (Luke 16:19-26 KJV)
This is the picture of Sheol, the temporary realm of the dead. The unrighteous rich man went to Hades or hell, where he suffered torments, while Lazarus went to Paradise or Abraham’s bosom, where he experienced comfort. The way into heaven via the cross wasn’t opened yet, so for every single person who died prior to the cross, that’s where their soul went, to one side or the other. And they waited there until the time of Christ.
After Christ died on the cross, before He ascended into heaven, Paul said Christ:
“descended first into the lower parts of the earth?” (Ephesians 4:8-9 KJV)
Why did He go there? We’ve already shown in Scripture that sin was paid for by His blood shed on the cross. So, He didn’t need to suffer in the fires of hell to finish paying for sin. Then why did He go there?
Scripture gives us two reasons why Jesus went into hell (Shoel). First, Peter tells us that He went to the Hades side of Sheol to preach to the disobedient spirits in Hades that are lost.
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: by which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” (1 Peter 3:18-20 KJV)
We won’t get into the story of Noah in this video, but if you go back and read it, as well as in the book of Jude, it talks about spirits which left their angelic state in rebellion against God. God punished them by placing them in Hades or hell, the same place unrighteous people are being held to this day. Jesus went there and preached. Scripture doesn’t reveal what He preached, but I’ll bet it was a victory proclamation. Jesus’ victory on the cross was our freedom from sin. But to those in hell, it sealed their fate to where there was now no getting out of the judgment God had in store for their rebellion. I believe Jesus preached the victory of the cross and the now surety of God’s judgment against the wicked. If any of those souls or spirits in Hades had even an ounce of hope in them that they would escape, Jesus’ preaching ended that hope. God’s judgment against the wicked would stand forever.
But Jesus didn’t just go into Hades to preach to the lost. He also went to set free the captives that were being held in Paradise.
In Luke 23, while on the cross, Jesus spoke this to the thief that was crucified next to Him:
“And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, to day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43 KJV)
Jesus wasn’t talking about heaven. He used the word, “Paradise,” referring to that comfort side of Sheol.
Why did Jesus go into paradise? Paul tells us in Ephesians 4, that same passage that says He first descended into the lower parts of the earth. Paul says:
“…When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men…” (Ephesians 4:8 KJV)
The way into heaven had not yet been opened for the righteous, not until Jesus shed His blood on that cross. With that ransom now paid, Jesus went into Paradise to claim all those righteous people who died in faith that were still separated from God, who had not yet entered into heaven.
Who were these righteous people? Those who died believing in that God Himself would redeem them. They believed in Christ, without knowing yet His Name.
Before the cross, people were saved the same way as today: by faith in Christ. Throughout history, there are not multiple ways to be saved, multiple paths of salvation. People were not saved one way before the cross and then by faith in Jesus after the cross. There are not multiple plans of salvation, only one.
“…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” (John 14:6 KJV)
In this statement, Jesus eliminated all other paths to being saved. There always has been, is now, and always will be only one plan of salvation, and that is by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
Old Testament saints, for example, were not saved by obeying the Law, for God’s Word says:
“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20 KJV)
No one was ever saved by obeying God’s Law. The Law was given to teach us that we are sinners before a perfectly holy God. The Law was necessary to convict us of sin to show us that we need a Savior, Jesus. There is one and only one way to be saved for all time taught in Scripture and that is through faith on Christ, believing that He is God’s Son Who died in your place to pay for your sins and then was raised from the dead three days later.
People in the Old Testament were saved the same way as we are today, by believing on Christ, only, they did not fully understand that it would be God in the flesh, in the Person of Jesus Christ, Who would die on the cross for them. They just believed that God would redeem them and save them without fully understanding how. We see this clearly in Job 19:25, where Job said:
“For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:” (Job 19:25 KJV)
The book of Job is reportedly the oldest book of the Bible. Throughout that book, Job speaks a lot about his own righteousness. But Job did not believe he would be saved by his own righteousness or obedience to the Law. He confessed right here that his source of righteousness and the reason he would be saved was through his faith in God. He confessed that he needed a redeemer. To redeem means to buy back that which was lost. Job’s faith was that His Redeemer lives and would stand on the earth. He didn’t know that His Redeemer was named Jesus. But he believed and looked forward to the day when God Himself would redeem him. He looked forward to the cross, without fully understanding the cross.
When he died, he didn’t go into heaven, because the cross hadn’t happened yet. But he also didn’t go into the punishment side of Sheol called Hades or hell. He went into Paradise, just like the beggar Lazarus did in the story of the rich man. Job was not allowed to go into heaven itself, because the price of his redemption, which is Jesus’ life-blood shed on the cross, had not yet been paid. So, he entered into this holding area called “Paradise” until Christ came and paid for his sins on the cross with His blood.
Then, after the cross, after sin was paid for in full, Jesus entered into Paradise to bring Job and all others like him, who had died in faith, with Him into heaven. With Jesus’ life-blood shed on the cross, the payment had finally been made and the door to heaven was now open. Jesus went into that realm of paradise to set those captives free and bring them into heaven.
“Wherefore He saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” (Ephesians 4:8 KJV)
When Jesus died, after preaching to the lost in Hades, He went directly into Paradise and led those captives out of Paradise into heaven. Now, paradise exists in heaven itself. Paul confirms this in 2 Corinthians chapter 12, where he speaks of himself as the man who was:
“… caught up to the third heaven. … caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” (2 Corinthians 12:2, 4 KJV)
Paradise has been moved. It’s now in heaven with God. And it’s all because of the blood of Christ, shed on the cross that paid our ransom and opened the door for us to go into heaven itself.
Today, after the cross, that side of Sheol that formerly was Paradise is empty. There’s no longer any reason for it. Christ led the captives out of there into heaven. No one remains there.
When a believer in Christ dies today, that believer goes immediately to be with Christ in heaven, the new Paradise. Paul wrote:
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:” (Philippians 1:21-23 KJV)
After the cross, a believer who dies goes immediately to be with Christ in heaven.
But those who die today without ever having trusted on Christ for salvation still go to that side of Sheol called Hades or hell; a place of punishment and burning, the very same place of torment that the rich man entered into and is still there to this very day.
Up to now, we’ve been talking about hell as being Sheol, a temporary realm of the dead made up of two parts: Hades and Paradise. But there is also a permanent place called hell. This permanent place of hell is referred to in Scripture using the Greek word, “gehenna,” meaning hell or hell fire. It’s derived from the literal place outside of Jerusalem where they took dead animals and trash to be burned. It refers to a place of fire. Similarly, this permanent place of judgment is also called the “Lake of Fire” and the “Second Death,” both from Revelation 20. Only the unrighteous, the unsaved go there.
Whenever Jesus spoke of destruction in hell, He always used the word, “gehenna.” Jesus said in Matthew 10:
“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (gehenna).” (Matthew 10:28 KJV)
Jesus referred to that final place for the wicked also called hell, the Lake of Fire.
If we look at our prophetic timeline, we see that the final trial of those still residing in the temporary realm of Sheol called Hades will occur at the Great White Throne Judgment, which happens after the 7-year tribulation that’s about to start, after Christ’s return, and after Christ’s 1,000 year millennial reign on Earth. Up until the Great White Throne Judgment, every single person who dies in their sins is kept in that same place of Sheol called Hades or hell, awaiting that final trial, that final judgment.
This temporary place of Hades or hell is not the same as the hell described as the Lake of Fire, for Scripture says in Revelation 20:
“And death and hell (Hades) were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:14-15 KJV)
If Hades is thrown into the Lake of Fire, then Hades cannot be the Lake of Fire. After the Great White Throne Judgment happens for those who die in their sins without ever having trusted on Christ for salvation, then Hades also will be empty and will be no more. Everyone in Hades along with Hades itself will be thrown into the Lake of Fire, the permanent hell.
Think of Hades as a temporary holding cell, a place where prisoners are kept who are awaiting trial. It’s your local jail where they reside until they appear before the Judge for trial. It’s not the final prison they go to after trial. That final place is the Lake of Fire. That’s the difference. Hades is just a holding place along the way while they wait for their trial. Both places are rightfully called hell in the King James version, because they are both a place of burning for the wicked. But one is temporary, before trial, while the other is the permanent place they go after the Great White Throne Judgment.
All this description of the word “hell” is to make one key point: Namely, that Jesus did not go into hell to finish paying for our sins by suffering the very fires of hell. That teaching is complete error. He did go into hell, that temporary realm of the dead called Sheol, made up of Hades and Paradise. But He did not suffer the fires of hell. He proclaimed victory to those in Hades and He set free the captives in Paradise, taking them with Him when He ascended into heaven. That’s why Jesus went into hell when He died.
While on the cross:
“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:30 KJV)
The phrase “it is finished” is the Greek word teleō (tetelestai) which means “to finish, to end, to complete, execute, conclude, to discharge (a debt).” It was customarily used as an accounting term in that century. A creditor would stamp that word on a bill when it was paid off, proving that the bill was “Paid in full.” You will see many commentaries translating “it is finished” as “paid in full.” If Jesus said, “Paid in full,” as He died on the cross, then there is nothing left to be paid that would require Him to then go to hell to suffer torment.
To say that Jesus had to go into hell to suffer is a denial of the Gospel. It is saying that the blood of Christ shed on the cross is insufficient in and of itself to pay for our sins. It is saying that Jesus’ blood did NOT save us. It was not enough. Instead, His torment in hell is what saved us. That’s error. That’s blasphemy. Scripture doesn’t teach that at all.
So, don’t be misled and take your eyes off of what truly saves you, which is the blood of the cross:
“In whom we have redemption THROUGH HIS BLOOD, even the forgiveness of sins:” (Colossians 1:14 KJV)
“And, having made peace THROUGH THE BLOOD OF HIS CROSS, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself…” (Colossians 1:20 KJV)
“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened (made alive) together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross;” (Colossians 2:13-14 KJV)
Our sins weren’t paid for in hell. They were paid for right there on the cross. Literally, it says our sins were nailed to His cross. If all our sins were nailed to His cross, then there weren’t any more sins left to be paid for by Jesus suffering in hell. His blood is sufficient payment. He is the perfect lamb. Over and over in the Old Testament, it says that a lamb offered for sins must be spotless. That’s why people cannot offer their own blood as payment for sins, because they are not spotless.
Jesus is our perfect, spotless lamb, whose blood cleanses us from all sin. We appropriate that by faith, by believing on Him to save us, believing that His blood was shed for us to pay our debt of sin. That is saving faith. That is what saves us.
Finally, and I’ll close with this:
If you were to die today, where would you go? Would you go to be with Christ in heaven? Or would you go to be in that holding cell called hell, a place of torment, a place of burning? God is a holy God Who will most certainly judge us. The good news is that no matter how badly you have messed up your life or how many mistakes you’ve made, you don’t have to go to that terrible place of torment. There is a way out, but only one way out, and that is through Jesus. There is redemption. There’s life in Christ if you will but take it by believing on Him to save you.
Above all else, make sure you are saved. We are not saved by our own righteousness, by doing good. We are saved only through faith in Christ, acknowledging that we are sinners before God and believing that He died in our place on the cross to pay for our sins. He died for us so that our debt to God is paid in full. And He rose from the dead, showing us that through faith in Him, we can have eternal life. Jesus said:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life.” (John 6:47 KJV)
Salvation = God’s Grace Alone Through Faith Alone In Christ Alone
Believing the Gospel means placing your entire trust in Christ for your salvation, believing that He:
- Died for your sins
- Was buried
- Rose from the dead
As it says in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.
Nothing more. Nothing less. There are no other requirements to be saved than to believe in Jesus. Once you place your faith in Christ for your salvation, you are born again, and you are forever a child of God. Our Father is a good Father Who will never abandon you but will preserve you in the faith and never let you go.
If you are not certain about your salvation, time is getting very late. Don’t take the chance of missing out on God.
Making Sure You Are Saved Is As Easy As ABC
Admit to God that you have sinned.
Believe that Jesus, God’s Son, died to pay for
your sins 100%, was buried and rose from the dead.
Call upon Jesus and ask Him to forgive you and save you.
If you make that decision to call upon Him, God gives you this assurance:
“For whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13 KJV)
Thank you for watching.