Jesus had a Ministry in the Place of the Dead - Ephesians 4:8-10
September 28, 2023, 8:15 AM

“This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men." (What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)”

According to Acts 2:24-28 it says Jesus went to the grave or Hades. Paul taught this in the Ephesians 4 passage quoted above.

Part of the Apostles Creed says “I believe that Jesus descended into hell.” It is a difficult statement, but probably taken from 1 Peter 3:18-20 “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, through whom also 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,”

These are confusing passages but if you put them together this is what they seem to teach. First, Christ was put to death. Secondly, He went and preached to the spirits in prison who once were disobedient when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah.

It seems that after His death Jesus went and preached to a people in some place. What does that mean? Many commentaries do not agree, so I’ll give my thoughts. First, I believe there was a praise and worship experience unlike anything we have ever seen for the people with Abraham. The Jews also referred to death as gathered unto his people. The Old Testament saints were explained the plan of God and the redemption of the world bought by the Messiah. The departed saints according to Ephesians were then taken up to be with Jesus into the presence of the Father.

Jesus also had another mission. It was to declare judgment on Satan and the demons. They are lost. Jesus won. They were spirits, definitely defeated and prepared now for their final judgment, awaiting their eternal sentence. Those who died in unbelief also heard, saw, and then understood. It seems Christ descended to the place of the dead - Hades to make the good news known.

The conclusion I have come to is that part of Christ’s work, after committing His Spirit to the Father and dying on the cross, was to descend to Hades, take the ‘keys’ to death and Hades, (whether that be symbolic or actual is for us to find out later), and to preach the gospel message to those who were in Hades. Jesus then emptied Paradise, by taking all of those who had fallen asleep in Him up to that point, home to heaven - including the repentant thief.

I believe Jesus went to the place of the dead preaching victory to the saved and judgment, to the lost. He released the souls of faith to heaven with Him in consciousness and glory until the next great event, His return to earth. The imprisoned soul in turmoil remained in their state until the final judgment.

Prayer:   Lord God Almighty, I am humbled by all this.  I give You thanks for all that You have done to redeem me.