9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
Here we have a clear enough statement that Christ entered Hell at His crucifixion but those who assert that He suffered in Hell in our place are wrong as He went there to preach to the captives.
1 Peter 3:18 ¶ 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.
There is a physical Hell, a place of suffering and torment, that is, in type, a jail or prison, a holding place until the end when all of those who have rejected Christ’s free offer of salvation spend their time after death until death and Hell itself are thrown into the lake of fire.
Revelation 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
But Christ has the keys to both.
Revelation 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
There are those that say that there was a Paradise, a place of rest, next to Hell, until Christ set the occupants free and took them to Heaven. They refer to these verses before the Crucifixion.
Luke 16:19 ¶ There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 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; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 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. 25 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. 26 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. 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
(As an aside, notice the condition of the man in Hell. He asks for mercy but does not repent of his wickedness. He still believes the poor Lazarus is his inferior and should serve him. He does not beg to be freed from his prison but only to be comforted. He doesn’t want his brothers to come there. Why, because he is compassionate and doesn’t want them to suffer as he is? Or with his lack of repentance and arrogance could there be some other reason? Perhaps a dread of being faced with what they probably have against someone as wicked as himself? Those in Hell know that it is a just punishment. Their true nature comes out, their bitterness, their wrath, their arrogance, and their lack of repentance and their rejection of salvation even though, “one,” that is Christ, arose from the dead.)
In spite of the statement that there is a, “great gulf,” between Paradise and Hell, these authorities claim that they were next to each other.
There are also these statements on the Cross.
Luke 23:42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
Based on these verses the authorities mentioned claim that Jesus took Paradise to Heaven with Him, as Paul and John both attest that this is now where the Paradise of God is.
2Corinthians 12:4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
Revelation 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 of God.
Hell is referred to as a prison and here Satan is released from this prison for a time before being cast into the Lake of Fire.
Revelation 20:1 ¶ And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. 4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. 7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. 9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. 10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
There are several places in the book of Isaiah where the prison is mentioned as well, which could be a prophetic reference to Hell.
Isaiahs 42:7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
Isaiah 49:9 That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places.
Isaiah 61:1 ¶ The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
Regardless of any distinctions between Hell before Christ’s Crucifixion or after, Hell is a real place. It is referred to as not only a prison, but a bottomless pit.
First, for Satan’s destination;
Isaiah 14:15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
And for the unsaved Gentiles of the Old Testament;
Ezekiel 32:21 The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell with them that help him: they are gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword. 22 Asshur is there and all her company: his graves are about him: all of them slain, fallen by the sword:23 Whose graves are set in the sides of the pit, and her company is round about her grave: all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which caused terror in the land of the living.
And in the Tribulation to come;
Revelation 9:1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit 2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit….11 And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.
Revelation 11:7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
Revelation 17:8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
Revelation 20:1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand….3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
What is a pit without a bottom that has sides? It would appear to be a circle, which is what the center of the earth, or the heart of the earth would be. Hell, then, is far beneath our feet but we would not see it with our eyes if we could drill that far and probably not hear it with our ears, as it is not physical things bound there but souls of men, awaiting judgment.
The Hebrew word, Sheol, is translated as both grave (31 times) and Hell (31 times) and the pit (3 times). There are those who play the Hebrew game like those who play the Greek game who insist that it should always be translated as, “the grave,” rendering verses like the following totally gibberish.
Deuteronomy 32:22 For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.
A fire in the lowest grave? What in the world would that mean?
Psalm 18:5 The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.
What pain is there in the grave, if you’re dead and your bodily sensations have ceased?
Psalm 116:3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.
Those who play the Greek game would not translate Hades, the Greek word, as Hell, because to the Greeks, Hades was the place of the dead spirits, not necessarily a place of punishment as it is said to be over and over again in the Bible. Jesus Himself likened it to a place of burning as in the place outside of Jerusalem where trash was burned and there was a continual fire. There are several dozen references made by Jesus to fire and everlasting fire and unquenchable fire in the gospels as the destination of many.But you will find that Bible commentators and philosophers who are going to Hell often try to air condition it first.
Hell is real. The Lake of Fire unquenchable for eternity is real. It is the natural destination of all human beings. But, there is hope. Trust, believe in, and believe the Lord Jesus Christ.