Very interesting. I had heard this but never understood why Yeshua went to minister in Hell if the dead were already judged.
My understanding is that BC all dead went to Sheol, the grave, a semi-common holding place.
After Christ, the dead either went to Heaven or Hell. As He told the thief on the cross, today they would be in Paradise together.
You should consider adding Luke 17:19-31 to the list. The way I understand it, the belief that Yeshua descended into Sheol/Hades is rooted within the idea that there were once two compartments: one for the righteous, one for the condemned. After His ascension, the compartment for the righteous was vacated. Those who believe in an intermediate afterlife can now legitimately say that after death we go to be with the Lord (2 Cor 5:8; Phil 1:23), as opposed to all of the dead going to Sheol.
I am not convinced that Sheol is just another synonym for “the grave.” Hebrew has its own terminology for a place of burial, most especially kever. In Isaiah 14, we see that the king of Babylon is cast out of his kever, only to be joined by the shades of other kings in Sheol.
I haven’t studied the language of the Apostles’ Creed in depth, but I’ve always thought that hell/hades refers to some abode of the dead, not as a place of torment. Unlike John, I do think sheol refers to the grave, though perhaps in poetic usage, describes an intermediate state (though John does raise a good point).
Either way, the important thing we must emphasize is the “dead-ness” of the Master after the crucifixion, which is what the author’s of the Apostles’ Creed were trying to emphasize. He truly died. In experiencing death, he conquered it.
Without a true death, there can’t be a real resurrection.
I think it may be helpful to consider that this touches on two distinct dimension: our existence (limited by space and time) and God’s existence (permeating our existence, but not limited to it). The key point of reference is the passage from one dimension to the other (which even though is not easily determined, can shed light on answers we give to these question).
It is a better reading to understand it as a descent to the “underworld” or “Sheol”(as everyone seems to realize). However, that leaves questions since those earlier concepts were not that precisely defined. But one understanding (perhaps the most common among the early church) is that He went to the “sheol of the righteous” and “liberated” them so they could enter paradise. This is often joined to the idea of original sin and that even the old testament “saints” couldn’t enter heaven until Christ redeemed the world and made remission for original sin. That falls apart as a “necessary” state of affairs because God is outside time etc. as other commenter noted. Although perhaps that was the “normal” state of affairs unless God granted a particular grace. For example, in Catholic doctrine, Christ’s redeeming act was applied to Mary at her conception , in other words before His redeeming act took place “in time”. She was “baptized” at conception just because God willed it. Just threw that in there for fun.
Some Interesting things are put here. What Todd says is based on 1Pe3:18-19. (isn’t it?) That states: “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;..” And: 1Pe4:6: “For unto this end was the gospel preached even to the dead, that they might be judged indeed according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” Though I think its hard to understand these text.
Another difficult aspect Todd brings is the relation time/eternity/predestination.
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