The word of God plainly says that the soul of Jesus Christ went down into hell when He died on the cross (Acts 2:27), but does that mean He had to suffer torment in hell to pay the full price of our sins?
That’s what some believe and teach, but I don’t agree with them. Christ went down into hell after He died on the cross, but I do not believe He burned in the fires of hell. Here are three main reasons that I don’t believe He did.
1. The Bible doesn’t say that Christ Suffered in Hell
Those that teach Christ burned in hell must read that into the Bible because it is not there. Here are some of the main passages they misuse to support their view:
- Peter referred to the “pains of death” (Acts 2:24) – The only cross-reference concerns the death of a SAINT (Ps. 116:1-5, 12-15 – notice that the “pains of hell” was felt while he was still alive).
- The typology of the Passover sacrifice (Ex. 12:3-14) – God did not say, “When I see the flesh of the lamb roasting in the fire, I will pass over you.” Paul did not say, “Christ our Passover was roasted in the fire for us” (1 Cor. 5:7). They roasted the lamb, so they could eat it. Eating the lamb is symbolic of believing on Christ (Jn. 6:47, 54, 63). If it pictures suffering, it would be His suffering on the cross (“I thirst”). Sacrifices were burnt, but it was the blood that covered sins.
- The soul of Christ was made an offering for sin (Isa. 53:10) – This does not prove He suffered in hell. He was made to be sin for us on the cross (2 Cor. 5:21).
2. Hell Included a place of Comfort before the Resurrection of Christ
Hell is the place of the dead located in the heart of the earth. Without going to the Hebrew or Greek (sheol. Hades, etc…), here is how I know from the King James Bible that hell has not always been exclusively a place of torment:
- OT saints equated deliverance from death as being delivered from hell (Ps. 18:1-6; 86:11-13; 116; 139:7-10). The prophet Jonah went to hell (Jonah 2)
- There was no detailed revelation concerning the place of the dead in the OT. Israel was an earthly people with promises of blessing in the land. They did not have a heavenly hope. Hell was mysterious to them. That is why they spoke of the sorrows of death and hell.
- Christ taught there was a place of comfort in the heart of the earth (Lk. 16:19-31).
- Christ went into the heart of the earth when He died on the cross (Matt. 12:40; Eph. 4:9).
- Christ said He would be in paradise on the day of His death (Lk. 23:43).
- Paradise is now in the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:1-4). There are three references to paradise in the Bible: past = under the earth; now = above the earth; ages to come = on the earth (Rev. 2:7).
3. Christ paid the full Price of our Sins on the Cross
The scriptures are clear when it comes to our sins and Christ’s payment for them all:
- On the cross, Christ said, “It is finished” (Jn. 19:28-30). Some point out that He said, “I have finished…” before the cross (Jn. 17:4), but that was concerning His earthly ministry (v.8). On the cross, all things were accomplished concerning His prophesied suffering.
- Christ suffered the full wrath of God on the cross (Matt. 26:39; 27:45-46). He went through spiritual suffering on the cross, not just physical and emotional suffering (Ps. 22:1-21).
- Yes, He had to rise on the third day after He said, “It is finished,” but the price of redemption was paid in full on the cross (Rom. 3:24-25; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14). He was raised for our justification (4:25).
- The gospel of Christ is the preaching of the CROSS (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:18; 15:3-4). Regarding salvation, Paul spoke of the blood of Christ (9x’s), His death (24x’s), and the cross (10x’s), but never hell.
- The apostles preached the blood, not fire (Heb. 9:22-28; 1 Pet. 1:19; 2:24; 3:18)