What do we mean when we say in the Apostles’ Creed that Jesus descended into hell?

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In approaching this question, we must examine the word hell. Usually, when we hear the word hell, we immediately think of the place of eternal damnation for those who have rejected God in this life and have committed mortal sins without repentance.

However, in the Old Testament, hell (or sheol in the Hebrew texts or Hades in Greek texts) referred to “the place of the dead.” (Interestingly, our English word hell is derived from a Germanic name for the place of the dead in Teutonic mythology.) This hell was for both the good and the bad, the just and the unjust. It was the nether world, a region of darkness. In the later writings of the Old Testament, a clear distinction is made between where the good resided in hell and where the bad were, the two being separated by an impassable abyss. The section for the unjust was named Gehenna, where the souls would suffer eternal torment by fire.

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1 Comment

  1. My understanding, that Jesus descending to Hell, after he died on the cross,…….to save all that believed in God, in the OT.In the New Testament, Christ conquered Death, Hell, and the Grave…so we may have Eternal Life! There is no difference between Jew or Greek,for the same Lord, over all,should be saved!


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