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In the Apostles' Creed, why does it say Jesus descended into hell?

Caller: I’m talking about the apostles’ creed you know when Jesus descended into hell?

Pastor Doug: Yeah.

Caller: I have a little bit of a problem with the purpose of that. Could you explain the reason that He – you know, prior to His resurrection?

Pastor Doug: Yes – first of all of course, the apostles’ creed is not Scripture.

Caller: Oh ok.

Pastor Doug: The apostles’ creed was sort of a summary of faith. Now the word “hell” does not always mean a place of suffering and torment.

If you understand that the word “hell” means the grave and it says Jesus descended into hell , according to the prophecy of David, well Jesus did go to the grave.

Some people believe that when Jesus died on the cross He didn’t really die, but Christ entered a new dimension and He went and preached to spirits that were being tortured by the devil in Hades to give them another chance. That cannot be supported from the Bible. The Bible is very clear that this life is our only probation. ‘It is appointed unto man [Hebrews tells us] once to die, after this, the Judgment.’ The idea that once you die you get a second chance to accept salvation is totally un-biblical.

So some people have taken the apostles’ creed to support the idea the Jesus didn’t really die on the cross – of course the penalty for sin is death – but He entered another dimension He began to preach to lost souls and when He rose from the dead, He changed back into a human dimension again – um, and that I don’t agree with. They usually use, I think it’s a Scripture in 1st Peter to try to support that. He preached to spirits in prison it says.

Have you heard that before?

Caller: Right, uh-huh.

Pastor Doug: Yeah, but that’s talking about the Lord preaching to those who are in spiritual prison back in the days of Noah. It’s not talking about going to people who are dead.

Caller: Right. So, in other words, we can’t accept that as Biblical truth then that Jesus even went anywhere? I mean He just died and three days later He rose from the dead?

Pastor Doug: He did go to the grave. Remember the word “hell” – in most cases in the Bible – the word “hell”, in the Old Testament especially, is “Sheol” and it means “the grave”. That’s all it means.

Caller: That clears it up then.

Pastor Doug: Ok?

Caller: Ok thank you very much.

Pastor Doug: Good question.

Amazing Facts’ Resource Number: 800-835-6747


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Hell in the Bible

The word “hell” is used 54 times in the Bible. It is translated from several different words with various meanings, as indicated below:
In the Old Testament:
  • 31 times from the Hebrew “Sheol,” which means “the grave”
In the New Testament:
  • 10 times from the Greek “Hades,” which means “the grave”
  • 12 times from the Greek “Gehenna,” which means “a place of burning”
  • 1 time from the Greek “Tartarus,” which means “a place of darkness”


What is Purgatory?

A tradition held by the Catholic Church that teaches people who are not good enough to be worthy of heaven, but not bad enough to deserve hell, suffer in an intermediary state until their sins are purged.

But is it in the Bible? Click here to learn more.

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