He Descended into Hell

One day after church my husband asked why we say that Jesus “descended into Hell” in the Apostles Creed. We recite this creed every Sunday, and I never gave it much thought. I didn’t know the answer. He talked with his mom about it as well. She told a co-worker, who then wrote up a bunch of verses to show that Christ did indeed go to “Hell” after He died on the cross. Then she gave the verses to the hubby and I. Normally that would be the end. They were good verses, bring fairly obvious in the surface to answer the question. But it started me on a quest. I know what I have been taught in church (background, I was raised Baptist – fire, brimstone, walking gnashing of teeth eternal damnation). It got me thinking and I started digging into the original Greek & Hebrew words. 


Number of times the word ‘Hell’ occurs in the following Bible Versions

400 The Latin Vulgate 86 24 110
1611 King James Version 31 23 54
1884 Hanson’s New Covenant n/a 0 0
1891 Young’s Literal Translation 0 0 0
1900 Twentieth Century New Testament n/a 0 0
1901 American Standard Version 0 13 13
1902 Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible 0 0 0
1903 Weymouth’s New Testament n/a 0 0
1917 Jewish Publication Society Bible OT 0 n/a 0
1942 Emphatic Diaglott Greek/English Int. n/a 0 0
1952 Revised Standard Version 0 17 17
1976 Restoration of Original Sacred Name 0 0 0
1978 New International Version 0 14 14
1982 New King James Version 19 13 32
1983 Concordant Literal NT n/a 0 0
1998 Tanakh/The Complete Jewish Bible 0 n/a 0
2004 Holman Christian Standard Bible 0 12 12

So based on this chart, even the translators seem to disagree on the usage of the word “Hell” in their versions. This post only focuses on the words Death, Grave, Sheol and Hades, and a bit on Tararus. The verses given do not go into Gehenna, which is for another post.

  • Sheol occurs 65 times in the Hebrew Manuscripts of the Old Testament, and it means the grave (the place of the dead) or the pit, as correctly translated in almost all modern versions of the Bible since the KJV.
  • Hades occurs 11 times in the Greek Manuscripts of the New Testament and it is the direct equivalent of the Hebrew word sheol; thus it also means the grave or the pit. This is how most modern versions of the Bible translate hades.

I used Blue Letter Bible to look up the original texts. Now it is based out of the KJV so it will mention “hell, hades” as translated. But they should have been properly translated as already defined above. (side note – the Jewish Tanakh has no mention of “hell, hades” and Hebrew is their first language) Note: I am not writing to prove or disprove the concept of Hell. That is beyond the scope of this post. I am just putting down the thoughts and discoveries made while digging into the original text.



OK, Time to get started. In this section, I have the verses that we were given to prove that Jesus did descend into “Hell.” After each verse is the translation of the original word that most often is interpreted as Hell or Death.

Isaiah 53: 5-9

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

  • Grave is קֶבֶר qeber  –  a sepulchre:—burying place, grave, sepulchre.
  • Death is מָוֶת mâveth, maw’-veth; from H4191; death (natural or violent); concretely, the dead, their place or state (hades); figuratively, pestilence, ruin:—(be) dead(-ly), death, die(-d).  The root word is וּת mûwth, mooth; a primitive root; to die (literally or figuratively); causatively, to kill:—× at all, ×crying, (be) dead (body, man, one), (put to, worthy of) death, destroy(-er), (cause to, be like to, must) die, kill, necro(-mancer), × must needs, slay, × surely, × very suddenly, × in (no) wise.

This verse is a prophecy of the Messiah, fullfilled in Yeshua. He was kill on the cross. He died just like every other human person in the world. The wicked is all humanity due to our sin nature. The rich die same as the poor. Death does not respect a person’s wealth. It comes for all alike.

Genesis 2:16-17

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

  • מוּת mûwth, mooth; a primitive root; to die (literally or figuratively); causatively, to kill:—× at all, ×crying, (be) dead (body, man, one), (put to, worthy of) death, destroy(-er), (cause to, be like to, must) die, kill, necro(-mancer), × must needs, slay, × surely, × very suddenly, × in (no) wise.


When God said you shall die, He did not add a side note saying and after you die, you go to heaven or hell.  Just curious as to why that was not originally laid out in the beginning for all humanity. I mean, the concept of Hell would be an incentive to follow God right? Follow Him or burn forever in eternity? But all that is mentioned is Death. Humanity originally was not created to experience death, spiritually or physically. 




Luke 23:43

43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

  • παράδεισος parádeisos, par-ad’-i-sos; of Oriental origin (compare H6508); a park, i.e. (specially), an Eden (place of future happiness, “paradise”):—paradise.

Mentioned in only 2 other verses:

2Co 12:4

How that he was caught up into paradise, G3857 and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

Rev 2:7

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise G3857 of God.

(Sorry, still learning HTML and can’t figure out how to remove these boxes haha). These are the only 3 times the word paradeisos is used. And never with a mention of “hell” as an alternative place. If Yeshua actually did see the thief on the cross in paradise, then why didn’t he say something to the other thief? If Yeshua actually went to “Hell” (fire and brimstone) to suffer for our sins, why didn’t He tell the other thief something like “I will suffer with you in Hell” ? Also, check out this verse:

John 20:17


p id=”yiv2536886939yui_3_16_0_ym19_1_1464272000171_3933″ dir=”ltr”>Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

  • ἅπτομαι háptomai, hap’-tom-ahee; reflexive of G681; properly, to attach oneself to, i.e. to touch (in many implied relations):—touch.


If Jesus had been with God the Father in paradise then why did He say this to Mary when He arose? These verses show that Yeshua fully experienced Death. He died and went to Sheol (the grave, the pit). He was in the grave for 3 days. After that, He rose again and ascended back to His rightful place with His Father. 




Eph 4:8-10

Wherefore he saith, 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?10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

  • Lower – κατώτερος katṓteros, kat-o’-ter-os; comparative from G2736; inferior (locally, of Hades):—lower.     κάτω kátō, kat’-o; (compare G2737); adverb from G2596; downwards:—beneath, bottom, down, under.
  • Parts –μέρος méros, mer’-os; from an obsolete but more primary form of μείρομαι meíromai (to get as a section or allotment); a division or share (literally or figuratively, in a wide application):—behalf, course, coast, craft, particular (+ -ly), part (+ -ly), piece, portion, respect, side, some sort(-what).
  • Earth – γῆ gē, ghay; contracted from a primary word; soil; by extension a region, or the solid part or the whole of the terrene globe (including the occupants in each application):—country, earth(-ly), ground, land, world.

 He descended into the earth, the grave. Again showing that Yeshua actually died. He didnt just go into a coma for 3 days.



Heb 2:9, 14-15

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man….14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

See also Romans 6.

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

  • θάνατος thánatos, than’-at-os; from G2348; (properly, an adjective used as a noun) death (literally or figuratively):—X deadly, (be…) death

Again, these verses show that all humanity are subject to the punishment of Death for our sins. Through Yeshua’s death, He destroyed Death once and for all. We no longer need to live in fear of death. We have salvation through His redemptive sacrifice.


1 Peter 3:18-20

18 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:19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;20 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.

  • Death – θανατόω thanatóō, than-at-o’-o; from G2288 to kill (literally or figuratively):—become dead, (cause to be) put to death, kill, mortify.
  • Prison φυλακή phylakḗ, foo-lak-ay’; from G5442; a guarding or (concretely, guard), the act, the person; figuratively, the place, the condition, or (specially), the time (as a division of day or night), literally or figuratively:—cage, hold, (im-)prison(-ment), ward, watch.

See also 2 Peter 2:4-5

For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eightpeople, a preacher of righteousness, …”

  • ταρταρόω tartaróō, tar-tar-o’-o; from Τάρταρος Tártaros (the deepest abyss of Hades); to incarcerate in eternal torment:—cast down to hell

This verse is actually referring to the “sons of God” (angels) of Genesis 6:1-9. These fallen angels had sexual relations with the daughters of men. God punished them by chaining them in prison and covered them with rock. Check out the Book of Enoch. They are being kept there until the final judement day. I hope to one day write a post about these fallen angels. If you want a few links to read up on it, check out my Pinterest board – Peel Another Layer


1 Peter 4:6

For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

νεκρός nekrós, nek-ros’; from an apparently primary νέκυς nékys (a corpse); dead (literally or figuratively; also as noun):—dead.

Is this actually going to preach to the dead? Or is it metaphorically preaching to those of us “dead in sin” to be brought to salvation through Yeshua, through which we can live according for God by the Holy Spirit? The beginning of the chapter speaks of being dead to the flesh and living in the spirit as Christ did.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. (Romans 6:8-12


Ok so we are done with the verses that were given. Next, the example of Daniel was provided to prove that Yeshua actually went to “Hell.”

Daniel & the Lion’s den.

Daniel was not actually in the Lion’s den for 3 days or nights. God shut the mouths of the lions so they wouldn’t kill Daniel. By Jesus’ death and resurrection, the devil no longer has power over us, neither does death. In that respect, God has shut the devil’s mouth. As believers, we no longer have to fear death or the devil.

Jonah, another foreshadow of Jesus, was in the belly of the whale for 3 days and nights. See http://www.myredeemer.org/foreshadows/jonah/index.shtml for a beautiful picture of Jesus. He mentions in chapter 2 that his soul descended into “Sheol”

  • שְׁאוֹל shᵉʼôwl, sheh-ole’; or שְׁאֹל shᵉʼôl; from H7592; hades or the world of the dead (as if a subterranean retreat), including its accessories and inmates:—grave, hell, pit.

 “Sheol, ” refers to the grave or the abode of the dead.

Jonah died and was brought back to life. Just as Jesus. He then brought the news of salvation to Ninevah, just as Yeshua brought salvation to all mankind.

Matthew 12:38-40

38 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.


Here are a few other verses that I found while going through this search.

Rom 5:12

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

  • θάνατος thánatos, than’-at-os; from G2348; (properly, an adjective used as a noun) death (literally or figuratively):—X deadly, (be…) death.

1 Cor 15:55 

“Oh DEATH where is thy sting? Oh GRAVE where is thy victory?

  • θάνατος thánatos, than’-at-os; from G2348; (properly, an adjective used as a noun) death (literally or figuratively):—X deadly, (be…) death.
  • ᾅδης háidēs, hah’-dace; from G1 (as negative particle) and G1492; properly, unseen, i.e. “Hades” or the place (state) of departed souls:—grave, hell.

John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life

  • ἀπόλλυμι apóllymi, ap-ol’-loo-mee; from G575 and the base of G3639; to destroy fully (reflexively, to perish, or lose), literally or figuratively:—destroy, die, lose, mar, perish.

So to conclude, Yeshua did experience Death. Now, based on the previous verses and their definitions, I don’t know if I can say that He actually descended into “Hell” as a place of fire, damnation, and eternal punishment. Time to dig a little deeper. But even if I don’t have an answer, I can still be thankful. Thanks be to God the Father that he send his Son, Jesus Christ to conquer Death and the Grave, so that through Him we will have everlasting LIFE.

http://www.creationswap.com/media/659 photo credit


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