Did Jesus Go to hell after He died?

First of all, may I encourage you to read the answers to last week's question: According to the Bible are there two different kinds of hell? To be found at:

Last week we discovered that people do not go to hell when they die. Hell is reserved for the unrighteous after judgment day when "hades" or "sheol" (the dwelling place of the unbelievers) will be thrown into the lake of fire (see Rev 20:14-15).

However, when people die they go to "sheol" (in Hebrew) or "hades" (in Greek), which refers to the realm of the dead. We also discovered last week that "sheol" or "hades" is divided in two parts: one for the wicked and one referred to "Abraham's bosom" or "heaven" for the righteous. So this week's question should be modified to: Did Jesus go to the part reserved to the wicked of "hades" or "sheol"?

Some people believe that Jesus went and preached to the wicked that had died and did so right after His death on the cross. They base this on this text:

1 Peter 3:19-20: "He went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water." NIV

It is important to look at the context of a text to thoroughly understand it; otherwise false conclusions could be reached. Let us do this now:

1 Peter 3:13-17 "13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." 15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil."

The introductory context is an exhortation from the apostle Peter to do good to the people around us. He encourages the Christians of Asia Minor to "suffer for what is right", this being much better than "doing evil".

1 Peter 3:18 "18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit," He then points out that Christ suffered and died for them with the purpose "to bring" them (and us for that matter) "to God".

Notice that the text doesn't stop at His death. It also talks about His resurrection where he was "made alive by the Spirit".

Now the apostle Peter introduces us to the text in question:

1 Peter 3:19 "19 through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison 20 who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also-not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand-with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him."

Just looking at the context, we have a problem assuming that Jesus preached to "the spirits in prison" at His death. After mentioning the fact, the apostle Peter points out that Jesus was "made alive by the Spirit". Jesus was resurrected through the power of the Holy Spirit. And it's "through" the Holy Spirit that he preached to "the spirits in prison".

Now who are these "spirits in prison"?

We have learned from the text that they are those "who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built". It's a very specific group of people and clearly not referring to all those who are in the part of "hades" or "sheol" reserved to the wicked.

Notice also that nowhere does it say that these spirits accepted Jesus' preaching. If He went to "hades" and preached there, His preaching was futile.

If you look further, the apostle Peter is not putting the emphasis on preaching to these "spirits in prison", but on the fact that Noah and seven others "were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also-not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God."

In mentioning the triumph of Jesus at His resurrection, Peter refers to Noah and his family who "were brought safely through the water". Why would this be important to the readers of Asia Minor, to whom Peter was writing this letter? Because these once-pagan readers are now being ostracized for being Christians, and they are reminded that Noah and his family underwent the same kind of suffering. Noah persevered, although the whole world was also against him. He and his family were saved. The rest of the world was not.

Now baptism serves the same function. How? 1 Peter 3:21 "It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." NIV In other words without Jesus' resurrection, baptism would be useless! It is not the outward washing that saves, referred by "not the removal of dirt from the flesh". Baptism is a "pledge" or an "answer" to God "from a good conscience". It's our identification with Christ that saves, not the act of baptism by itself.

The apostle Peter is encouraging the Christians of Asia Minor to persevere although they may be suffering. He then points out that Jesus suffered as well for their salvation and so did Noah and his family just before the flood, and they were "brought safely through the water". Suffering is just an inconvenience compared to the glorious salvation obtained for us by Jesus Himself.

Looking at the context, we can only assume that the apostle Peter was referring to Noah being led by God's Spirit to preach to those in his time. It is Noah's preaching that is referred to here. His preaching was not his own, but came through God's Spirit from the Holy One Himself: Jesus Christ. The people in Noah's time were "in prison" of their own sins and addictions. This kept them from accepting salvation from the flood. This is in agreement with many Bible scholars:

"It would then be implied here, that though the instrumentality of Noah was employed, yet that it was done not by the Holy Spirit, but by him who afterward became incarnate." (from Barnes' Notes http://www.studylight.org/com/bnn/view.cgi?book=1pe&chapter=003 )

"John Owen, Calvin's translator and editor (John Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, p. 116, note), cites the explanation adopted by Beza, Doddridge, Macknight, and Scott, that the time of the action was in the ministry of Noah, when Christ by the Spirit ("by which") preached through Noah to the wicked who at Peter's later writing were spirits in Hades. And all this while the longsuffering of God waited, delaying the flood. The reference to the time spent in building the ark seems to corroborate this interpretation. Reference to the small number of those saved would encourage the "little flock" in Asia." (from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary)

"The inhabitants of the antediluvian world, who, having been disobedient, and convicted of the most flagrant transgressions against God, were sentenced by his just law to destruction. But their punishment was delayed to see if they would repent; and the long-suffering of God waited one hundred and twenty years, which were granted to them for this purpose; during which time, as criminals tried and convicted, they are represented as being in prison-detained under the arrest of Divine justice, which waited either for their repentance or the expiration of the respite, that the punishment pronounced might be inflicted. This I have long believed to be the sense of this difficult passage, and no other that I have seen is so consistent with the whole scope of the place." (from Adam Clarke's Commentary http://www.studylight.org/com/acc/view.cgi?book=1pe&chapter=003)

The most poignant evidence that Jesus did not go to the part reserved to the wicked of "hades" or "sheol" is the following text pronounced by Jesus Himself while hanging on the cross. He was addressing this promise to the thief on the cross who asked Him to remember him when He would come into His kingdom.

Luke 23:43 "Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." NIV

When Jesus died He went to the part of "hades" or "sheol" called "paradise" and so did that thief on the cross next to Him. He never went to the part reserved to the wicked.

That He went to "hades" is confirmed in Acts 2:31 "He looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY." NASU

Jesus died with a purpose: to bring us to God (see 1 Peter 3:18). John 3:16-17: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." NIV He died for you. Why? Because He cares for you and wants to be your friend. He died so that you could have eternity in front of you. Not an eternity in suffering and misery, but eternity in happiness and peace. Unbelievable but true. All you need to do to receive this is accept His offer. You need to welcome Him into your life and experience His power that leads to total freedom from any addictions. Why won't you do this now by accepting His call at: http://www.answers2prayer.org/saviours_call.html

Rob Chaffart


Acts 2:31

31. He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

Ephesians 4:8-10

8. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

9. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?

10. He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

When he ascended up on high" refers to the ascension of Christ. At that time He led the saints of the OT, which refers, I believe, to the redeemed of the Old Testament who died. Christ took these believers with Him out of Hell, Hades, or Sheol into the very presence of God when He ascended. What ever this place was called, Jesus went there for a purpose and that was to take the saints to heaven.

Some theologians believe that Jesus went to hell and preached to the people for one last chance at salvation. I find no scripture to back that theory. The Apostles Creed says he descended to hell. Some scriptures in the OT suggest that also but it's hard to really tell. Others feel that when we die we are just sleeping until the resurrection.

In His Love Rev. Whit


I believe Jesus did go to hell for us. He paid the price for our redemption. 1 Peter 1:18-23.

"1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 1:20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 1:21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."

He was in the center of the earth. Matthew 12:40

"12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Science tells us that te center of the earth is a flaming inferno.

He preached to the antedeluvian people who were in hell. 1 Peter 3:18-22.

"3:18 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: 3:19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 3:20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 3:22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him."

Yours, because of Calvary,

Delmer G. Lawson


Jesus was born a man to go through all that man would go through. The Apostles creed directly states that he descended into hell.

I believe in God the Father almighty

Maker of Heaven and Earth.

And in Jesus Christ His only Son

 our Lord Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost

Born of the Virgin Mary S

uffered under Pontius Pilate

Was crucified dead and buried.

He descended into Hell.

The third day he rose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven

and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost

The Holy Christian Church

The Communion of Saints

The Forgiveness of Sins

The Resurrection of the Body

And the Life Everlasting. AMEN.



Yes He did!!! He took the keys to hell and death from Satan.

Wendell Blackburn


Yes! He did .He preached in hell and risen on the
third day.

Kok Phoebe


Yes Jesus went to Hell after He died. He traveled there to take away the keys of death away from Satan. He went there to set free those who were held there from the Old Testament who need to be released. Because He went there I will not have to go there for He set the captives free. I am free from the power of the second death because of what He has done.



My response to this month's Bible Question: "Did Jesus go to Hell after He Died?" Is a resounding YES! The Bible tells us that after he died, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ went to Hades (Hell), but being the Son of God and Himself God, hell could not hold him. The reason for Jesus going to hell is simply the fact that the aggregate sins of the entire world was placed upon him on the Cross of Calvary. Had he died without taking on the sins of the world, Jesus certainly would not have tasted hell as he did.

Jesus' taste of hell clearly manifests the doom of unrepented sinners after death. I John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, He (Jesus) is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Thanks for making me one of the subscribers to the Illustrator.


D. Onesimus Banwon

Receive our free newsletters

The Illustrator: This daily newsletter is dedicated to encouraging everyone to look towards Jesus as the source of all the solutions to our problems. It contains a daily inspirational story, a Bible verse and encouraging messages. HTML and plain text versions available. 


The Nugget: Published three times a week, this newsletter features inspirational devotionals and mini-sermons dedicated to drawing mankind closer to each other and to Christ.

Visit Answers2Prayer

Subscribe Here:
The Illustrator
The Nugget

Your email:

Be aware that you will receive a confirmation message. Once you receive it, please click on the link mentioned in the email.


About Answers2Prayer  Bible Studies 

Healing  Prayer Contact Us