Did Christ Suffer in Hell?

by Pastor Kevin Sadler

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The simple answer to this question is no.

The erroneous teaching goes like this: After His crucifixion, the Lord’s body was placed in a tomb, and His spirit went to hell. There He suffered all the torments of hell that we would have suffered. But Satan, death, and hell could not hold Him. Acts 2:24-27 is used to support this position: “Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that He should be holden of it. For David speaketh concerning Him…Therefore did My heart rejoice, and My tongue was glad…Because Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption.” It is taught that because Christ was not Himself deserving of punishment, the Lord was resurrected from hell and the grave by the power of God. Some will even go so far as to say that you have to believe that Christ suffered in hell to be saved.

This is a dangerous doctrine. It is actually an attack against the Cross of Christ. The word “hell” in Acts 2:27 is translated from the Greek word hades. Hades is in the center of the earth. At the time of Christ’s death, it had two compartments: Abraham’s bosom and torment. We see this in the account of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. After they died, Lazarus was in paradise in Abraham’s bosom (v. 22). The rich man was “in hell [hades]…in torments” (v. 23).

Christ fully faced the judgment of God against our sins upon His Cross during the three hours of worldwide darkness (Luke 23:44). As He did, Christ experienced the realities of hell at the Cross: separation from the Father, darkness, torment, thirst, and the fire of God’s wrath against sin. He was our blessed Substitute at the Cross; He paid sin’s penalty for us and took God’s wrath in our place. When Christ cried out, “It is finished” (John 19:30), He meant that the payment for sin was complete and paid in full. To say that Christ also needed to suffer the penalty for sin in hell for three days and three nights is to teach otherwise.

For three days and three nights our Lord was in the center of the earth (Matt. 12:40). We learn where His soul went after He died when He told the believing thief on the cross beside Him, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). He did not go to hell when He died. He did not suffer in torment in hades. His spirit descended into the paradise section of hades where the spirit of the penitent thief went also. Three days later, He rose again from the dead, triumphant over sin and death!

To the Reader:

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