Question: The Apostles Creed says that Jesus “descended into hell.” I’ve read your rejection of the Hagin/Copeland teaching that Jesus was tortured in hell by Satan. Did Jesus descend into hell or not? I searched and searched the Scriptures and asked several pastors about this and still have no satisfactory answer.
Response: In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word sheol, meaning the place of the dead, is translated “hell” at times and at other times simply as “grave.” In telling the fate of the rich man and the beggar, Lazarus, Jesus taught that before the Cross there were two compartments in sheol: one for the lost, and one for the saved, called “Abraham’s bosom” (Lk 16:22). To the latter Christ went in death, as did the one thief crucified with Him, to whom He said, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Lk 23:43). There He proclaimed to the redeemed the good news of His death having paid for their sins. Those in the place of the damned could hear what Jesus said (see Lk 16:23-31); and He may even have addressed a few words specifically to them. Thus Peter writes, “He preached to the spirits [of the dead] in prison [sheol]; which sometime were disobedient…in the days of Noah” (1 Pt 3:19-20). After His resurrection, Jesus took the souls and spirits of the redeemed to heaven (“when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive” – Eph:4:8). Now the souls and spirits of the redeemed, upon death, go immediately to be with Christ (“absent from the body, present with the Lord” – 2 Cor:5:6-8), from whence He will bring them to rejoin their resurrected bodies at the Rapture (1 Thes:4:13-18).