Skip to comments.Where is Jesus After He Dies? A short Reflection on the Harrowing of Hell
Posted on 03/30/2013 4:18:25 AM PDT by NYer
Where is Christ after he dies on Friday afternoon and before he rises on Easter Sunday? Both Scripture and Tradition answer this question. Consider the following from a Second Century Sermon and also a mediation from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
An Ancient Sermon:
Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. . . He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him – He who is both their God and the son of Eve. . . “I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. . . I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead.” [From an Ancient Holy Saturday Homily ca 2nd Century]
Nothing could be more beautiful than that line addressed to Adam and Eve: I am your God, who, for your sake, became your Son.”
Scripture also testifies to Christ’s descent to the dead and what he did: For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison….For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does. (1 Peter 3:18; 1 Peter 4:6).
Consider also this from the Catechism on Christ’s descent to the dead, which I summarize and excerpt from CCC # 631-635
[The] first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ’s descent into hell [is] that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead.
But he descended there as Savior, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there [1 Peter 3:18-19; 1 Peter 4:6; Heb. 13:20]. Scripture calls [this] abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, “hell” – Sheol in Hebrew, or Hades in Greek – because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God [1 Peter 3:18-19].
Such [was] the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they awaited the Redeemer: It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior …whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell.”[cf Psalms 89:49; 1 Sam. 28:19; Ezek 32:17ff; Luke 16:22-26]
Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.
[So] the gospel was preached even to the dead. The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfillment. This is the last phase of Jesus’ messianic mission, a phase which is condensed in time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christ’s redemptive work to all men of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made sharers in the redemption.
Christ went down into the depths of death so that “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.”[1 Peter 4:6] Jesus, “the Author of life”, by dying, destroyed “him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and [delivered] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage” [John 5:25; Mt 12:40; Rom 10:7; Eph 4:9].
Henceforth the risen Christ holds “the keys of Death and Hades”, so that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”[Heb 2:14-15; Acts 3:15]
“Hell” before Christ’s resurrection was a holding place of the souls of the dead with two compartments, one for the damned and one for he righteous. The righteous compartment was one free of despair, where saints were comforted by each other - as mentioned in Jesus’ parable of the rich and poor man. (the poor man was comforted in Abraham’s bosom.). The two groups could literally communicate with each other, as he rich man and Lazareth did. This would not have been possible in the final Hell to come at the Final Judgement.
Christ freed the awaiting righteous souls from this compartment, leaving the damned to await the Last Judgement, after which they will be cast into Hell with the Devil and his angels.
RE: “Hell before Christs resurrection was a holding place of the souls of the dead with two compartments, one for the damned and one for he righteous.
The Jews have a word for it — SHEOL.
Th Greek speaking people call it — HADES.
Hell is another word altogether — GEHENNA. It is derived from the Hebrew, ‘Ge-Hinnom’, the valley of Hinnom.
A valley of Jerusalem that was used to dump dead animals and waste in. The heaps of refuse were then burned. It was figuratively used to designate ‘a place of eternal dwelling and eternal punishment’.
Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:
Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.
I've been keeping him pretty busy y'all. Sorry 'bout that...
Jesus told the thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”
**Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.
[So] the gospel was preached even to the dead. The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfillment. This is the last phase of Jesus messianic mission, a phase which is condensed in time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christs redemptive work to all men of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made sharers in the redemption.**
This is exactly why I tell people in Scripture studies that Christ did not go directly to heaven — but to Paradise — a waiting place for those who had gone before me. This is so beautiful for Christ to go and get those good people who were waiting for heaven to open.
One of the Gospels talks about the graves being opened and the spirits roaming through Jerusalem. But only the believers could see them!
That shoudl have said
With the mention of Adam in the OP, I’ve always wondered if Noah spoke with Adam much. Seems like I figured out that Noah was about 60 y.o. when Adam died. I may be wrong. That was many years ago.
Are you familiar with the discussion over the comma in that verse?
Is the comma in the Greek?
No, commas were introduced later in translations.