Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Debate with "seal" on Jesus' Descent Into Hell: Part 2

Uh, that would contradict 2 Peter 2:5 clearly fam, b/c Peter says in that Passage that God didn't spare the men the Righteous Preacher Noah preached to.
I know that no one besides the 8 was spared from the flood. I already acknowledged that in my last post:
  • "Sure, everyone else died in the flood. I realize that only eight were saved by the ark."
But, that doesn't mean that Jesus could not have preached to some of these souls who died in the flood (and thus, saved their souls). As you'll hopefully see, the "prison" (which I believe is Hades) is a place where something like that could, and did, happen.....and it was entirely just.

How does that show consistency in God's Character and Justice to drown countless people and save his Elect and then go preach to them in Hell???
First of all, he is not saving anyone who was damned. If he was, then that would certainly be unjust. However, I'm not speaking of Gehenna. I'm referring to Hades.

In Jewish and New Testament thought, Hades (or heb. Sheol) is the abode of the dead (cf. Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology; Easton's Bible Dictionary; Jewish Encyclopedia). All who died, both righteous and the wicked, went there. Gehenna, on the other hand, is the firey pit, the place of the damned (cf. Easton's Bible Dictionary, Jack Van Impe's Dictionary of Prophecy Terms). When Jesus descended into Hades, he saved the righteous and sent the wicked to Gehenna. (cf. Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology). Since then, Gehenna is the place where all wicked souls reside.

Now that you know the nature of Hades, the following syllogism will make sense:

1. Jesus only descended into Hades for the righteous.
2. Some of the souls who died in the flood were preached to in Hades ("the prison") by Jesus. Therefore:
3. Some of the souls who died in the flood were ultimately counted among the righteous, and:
4. Jesus' preaching to these souls from the flood was just.

There is no doubt that everyone who died in the flood was a sinner. So, God is just in bringing the flood upon them. But, if any of them repented before the waters swallowed them up, or if their sin was not of a mortal nature, then they would be counted among the righteous in Hades, and Jesus would be just in preaching to them there.

Infact, that passage of Scripture never even brings up that Christ went into Hell to preach to anyone, you are infering that into the text.
I'm using the context of Scripture (which I will provide shortly) and Tradition (cf. Apostles' Creed). You can call that "inferrence" if you like. I call it sound exegesis (but I'd rather not get into a debate on what "sound exegesis" is).

Show us where it says that Christ went into hell and preached.
That Jesus descended into Hades is supported by several Scripture passages.

Jesus was like us in all things, but sin (Heb 2:17; 4:15). The descent into Hades was something that every soul experienced, and Jesus did too. But, we need not worry about who shall go down to save him from this abyss (Rom 10:6-8). Thankfully, He was not abandoned there like David was (Acts 2:27-31). Instead, he conquered it! He preached the gospel even to the dead (1 Pet 4:6) and he ascended from that place, leading with him a host of captives (Eph 4:8). He now holds the keys to death and Hades (Rev 1:17-18), and we have the courage to say, "O death (thanatos), where is thy victory? O death (Hades), where is thy sting?" (1 Cor 15:55).

Knowing all this, and knowing the belief of ancient Christians, it is easy to see how 1 Pet 3:18-20 is another reference to this event.

What does it mean by Spirits in prison, the Greek rendering of the word doesn't refer to Hell.
Actually, it refers to Hades quite nicely, insofar as phulake (the Greek word for "prison") describes "the place where captives are kept" and that's what Hades is.

Before Christ came on the scene we were all in Prison. So what Prison did Christ come to? It was Earth not Hell or Hades, that's not even found in that text. Peter is making clear comparisons here from Noah to Christ, and Christ's Death, Resurrecction to Baptism.
Oh, I'll be the first to admit that Peter sees the events of the flood as a symbol of Baptism. But, it's not enough to say that "the prison" is simply a reference to mankind on Earth.

Look at the passage again:

1 Pet 3:18-22
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;
19 in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison,
20 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.
21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.

First of all, Peter refers to a separation of Jesus flesh and spirit in vs. 18. This can only describe his death on the cross and his three days in the tomb. It was as a spirit that he went and preached. Secondly, he preached to spirits. So, we have Jesus, as a spirit, preaching to other spirits. This can only describe the descent into Hades that I have been defending.

Also, just because he sees the flood event as a symbol of baptism, that doesn't mean that he is speaking metaphorically of the flood event. He can speak literally about what happened then and still make his point about baptism. Jesus really did die for all. He really did preach, in spirit, to the spirits of those who died in the flood. The 8 in the ark really were saved through water. This real event symbolizes baptism, in which we are saved through water too. Nothing about the construction of the passage, or Peter's reason for referring to the flood, forces us to believe that when he said the word "prison" he was speaking metaphorically about the Earth.

I can already anticipate some of your objections to this, but I'll let you voice those. If you would like an excellent Protestant defense of Jesus' descent into hell, see Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Descent Into Hell.

Pax Christi,


  1. Another way of thinking about this passage is to realize that it also demonstrates that Our Lord Jesus Christ was fully human. He chose to go to the place where all the dead will go. Rather than waiting in glory, he chose to wait with those who have gone on and offer them the same salvation he has offered us.

    Bryan @ THEOdyssey

  2. Yes, I introduced that idea when I used the passages from Hebrews, but it does deserve emphasis.

  3. Oh...oops...I didnt finish reading before I decided to run my mouth


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