What can be accomplished in three days?
The website www.gotquestions.org has the following question:
"Where was Jesus for the three days between His death and resurrection?"
In Matthew 12 Jesus tells the doubters to believe by faith, not because of signs.
39 He answered, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks
for a miraculous sign! But none will be given
it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish,
so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
41 The men of
the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.
. . . Those Who Repent with Less Evidence . . . . Jesus had already been providing signs,
opponents were disputing their validity . . . The whole of Matthew 12:39-45 constitutes Jesus'
response to his opponents' charges (wicked . . . generation in vv. 39, 45 frames the section).
Jesus explains that his generation needs no greater sign that he is from God than his own message . . .
Let’s follow Scripture from Jesus not yet ascending Heaven
to Jesus ascending to Heaven
42 Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into
43 Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."
Hence, “paradise” is a form of “Heaven.” 1 Peter and 2 Peter contain passages regarding
Noah’s preaching that saves Noah and seven others:
1 Peter 3:17-20 (NIV): Jesus’s message preached through Noah to the spirits in prison:
17 It is better, if
it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for
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,
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,
4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent
them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons
to be held for judgment;
5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah,
a preacher of righteousness, and seven others;
17 Jesus said, "Do not hold on
to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers
and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' "
10 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on
oath that he would place one
of his descendants on his throne.
31 Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned
to the grave, nor did his body see decay.
32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.
9 After he said this,
he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in
white stood beside them.
11 "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus,
who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him
go into heaven."
8 This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led
captives in his train and gave gifts to men."
9 (What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions?
10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to
fill the whole universe.)
Question: What happened on the third day? Why is this important to me?
More can be found reading Luke 16:19-31; and Revelation 20:12-15.
The following websites were referenced on Jan. 12, 2007:
Any questions or updates? Please contact Jeff at email@example.com
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was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury
20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores
21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
"The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried
him to Abraham's side. The rich man
also died and was buried.
23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.
24 So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger
in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'
25 "But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things,
while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.
26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go
from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.'
27 "He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house,
28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'
29 "Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.'
30 " 'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'
said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be
if someone rises from the dead.' "
12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the
throne, and books were opened.
Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to
what they had done as recorded in the books.
13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them,
and each person was judged according to what he had done.
14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.
15 If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
The website www.gotquestions.org has the following:
Question: "Where was Jesus for the three days between His death and resurrection?"
Answer: 1 Peter 3:18-19 states, "For Christ also suffered
once for sins, the just for the unjust, that
He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also
He went and preached to the spirits in prison."
The phrase, "by the Spirit," in verse 18 is exactly
the same construction as the phrase, "in the flesh."
So it seems best to relate the word "spirit" to the same realm as the word "flesh." The flesh and spirit are Christ's flesh and spirit. The words "made alive by (in) the spirit," point to the fact that Christ's sin-bearing and death brought about the separation of His human spirit from the Father (Matthew 27:46). The contrast is between flesh and spirit, as in Matthew 27:46 and Romans 1:3-4, and not between Christ's flesh and the Holy Spirit. When Christ's atonement for sin was completed, His spirit resumed the fellowship which had been broken.
First Peter 3:18-22 describes a necessary link between Christ's suffering (verse 18) and His glorification (verse 22). Only Peter gives specific information about what happened between these two events. The word "preached" in verse 19 is not the usual word in the New Testament to describe the preaching of the gospel. It literally means to herald a message. Jesus suffered and died on the Cross, His body being put to death, and His spirit died when He was made sin. But His spirit was made alive and He yielded it to the Father. According to Peter, sometime between His death and His resurrection Jesus made a special proclamation to "the spirits in prison."
To begin with, Peter referred to people as "souls" and not "spirits" (3:20). In the New Testament, the word "spirits" is used to describe angels or demons, not human beings; and verse 22 seems to bear out this meaning. Also, nowhere in the Bible are we told that Jesus visited hell. Acts 2:31 says that He went to "Hades" (New American Standard Bible), but "Hades" is not hell. The word "Hades" refers to the realm of the dead, a temporary place where they await the resurrection. Revelation 20:11-15 in the NASB or the New International Version give a clear distinction between the two. Hell is the permanent and final place of judgment for the lost. Hades is a temporary place.
Our Lord yielded His spirit to the Father, died, and at some time between death and resurrection, visited the realm of the dead where He delivered a message to spirit beings (probably fallen angels; see Jude 6) who were somehow related to the period before the flood in Noah's time. Verse 20 makes this clear. Peter did not tell us what He proclaimed to these imprisoned spirits, but it could not be a message of redemption since angels cannot be saved (Hebrews 2:16). It was probably a declaration of victory over Satan and his hosts (1 Peter 3:22; Colossians 2:15). Ephesians 4:8-10 also seems to indicate that Christ went to “paradise” (Luke 16:20; 23:43) and took to heaven all those who had believed in Him prior to His death. The passage doesn’t give a great amount of detail about what occurred, but most Bible scholars agree that this is what is meant by “led captivity captive.”
So, all that to say, the Bible isn’t entirely clear what exactly Christ did for the three days between His death and resurrection. It does seem, though, that He was preaching victory over the fallen angels and/or unbelievers. What we can know for sure is that Jesus was not giving people a second chance for salvation. The Bible tells us that we face judgment after death (Hebrews 9:27), not a second chance. There isn't really any definitively clear answer for what Jesus was doing for the time between His death and resurrection. Perhaps this is one of the mysteries we will understand once we reach glory.
David J. Stewart at www.jesus-is-savior.com states:
There has been much
debate amongst scholars and preachers over the centuries as to where Jesus went
He died on the cross. His body was placed and sealed in the tomb, but where did his soul and sprit go?
1. Jesus went to hell with the damned--Acts 2:31 quotes David from Psalm 16:10 saying “He seeing this
before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His
soul was not left in HELL,
neither His flesh did see corruption.”
2. Jesus went to paradise in Hades--I Peter 3:18 & 19 tell us “...being put to death in the
flesh, but quickened by His Spirit: By which also He went and preached unto the
SPIRITS IN PRISON...”. Also Ephesians 4:9, “...He also descended first into the
lower parts of the earth?”.
3. Jesus went to heaven--Luke
23:42, “And Jesus said unto him, Verily
I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in
. . . Though they are correct that the word “hell” most often comes from the Hebrew “Sheol” or the Greek “Hades” . . .
. . . Matthew 12:40 speaks of Jesus being “three days and three night in the heart of the earth,” just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly. . . .
. . . What about those “spirits in prison” that Jesus preached to according to I Peter 3:19 & 20. Simply put, the people in Noah’s day were a “disobedient” people (vs. 20). Jesus through the Holy Spirit had preached through Noah unto them. The Holy Spirit is referred to in Romans 8:9 as the "Spirit of Christ." They weren’t actually in prison but as the scriptures teach, their “spirits” were in prison. A prison of spiritual blindness and hardness of heart because of their own willful perverseness and sin. Such is the case with many today. God had been “longsuffering” for 120 years while Noah preached and built the ark. No one was saved other than Noah’s immediate family. Will you listen to Jesus preaching?
The website www.allaboutjesuschrist.org states:
Jesus in hell - Where did He go while His body was in the tomb?
Some believe that while Jesus' body was in the tomb, His spirit was in hell. Scripture does not support that position when it is taken in context and we look at the meaning of the word "hell." In the Old Testament, the place of the dead or the place of departed souls was called "Sheol." It was to this place that all souls of the dead went to await resurrection.
In the New Testament, we find the story of Lazarus and the rich man who both died and went to Hades (Luke 16:19-31). The King James translates the Greek word "hades" as hell but most other translations use the Greek word. Hades had two separated parts. Those who died in faith believing in God's promise waited for the resurrection in Abraham's Bosom. Those who died spiritually separated from God wait in torment for the resurrection unto death, or eternal separation from God. The rich man was on the torment side and Lazarus was in Abraham's Bosom, which was called "paradise" by the LORD Jesus Christ when He addressed the thief who found faith the day Jesus was crucified (Luke 23:42-43).
We are not given all of the details about where Jesus was during the time between His burial and resurrection morning, but we can say that Jesus did not descend into hell, which is the final abode of the lost. The word "Hades and Sheol" do not mean hell and so we cannot place the Spirit of Jesus in hell while His body was in the tomb. We do know that Jesus did not see the corruption that man goes through in the grave (Psalm 16:10-11) even through Jesus said that He would spend three days and night in the "heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:40).
We know that Jesus did go and "preach unto the spirits in prison" (1 Peter 3:19). The use of the word "spirits" and not souls in this passage would seem to indicate that these were not the unsaved. Rather, it would seem that these are not human at all. The word used by Peter in this passage that is translated "prison" means a cage, a guarding, ward, or imprisonment. Scripture tell us that unclean spirits are "chained" in prison. "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment" (2 Peter 2:4). The word translated "hell" here is not the Greek word "hades" but is the Greek word "tartarus" meaning abyss or the lowest regions. This could very well be the "gulf" that was fixed between the place of torment and Abraham's Bosom (Luke 16:26).
Therefore this preaching of Jesus in hell was probably a message of victory over Satan and those spirits held prisoner in chains, not in hell itself where souls wait, but in the abyss beneath. This truth is reinforced by a passage in Ephesians that also speaks about Christ leading captivity captive. "Wherefore He saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things" (Ephesians 4:8-10). Leading captivity captive seems to refer to Jesus taking all those that waited in
Although we cannot be completely dogmatic about all of the events of the three days, we do know that Jesus in hell is not a Biblical concept. We can say that Jesus' body was recognizable by the women that came to the tomb so the facial disfiguration that occurred during His scourging must have gone and Jesus told the women not to touch Him because He had not yet "ascended" to the Father (John 20:17). However, that same day at evening Jesus appeared in the midst of the disciples and invited Thomas to not only touch Him but to reach into His side (John 20:27). In this life we look through a glass darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12) and all of the answers to the questions that arise may not satisfy us completely, but what a comfort to know that one day we shall know as we are known (1 Corinthians 13:12).