King James Bible Believers


Three Days and Three Nights,

Christ in the Underworld


D. Root



There is disagreement between King James Bible believers as to exactly where Christís soul resided between the crucifixion and the resurrection. The purpose of this paper is  to determine "What saith the scripture?" concerning this subject.

Christ was wholly God and wholly man. As a man he had a body, soul, and spirit, as we all have.

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:23

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

According to the Bible his body, soul, and spirit each went to different places. His body was placed into the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea.

  • Matthew 27:57

When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple:
60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.


His spirit returned to God the Father.

  • Luke 23:46

And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

The facts of the disposition of his body and spirit are straight forward and undisputed. The whereabouts of his soul during that time however are not agreed upon. Letís look at one of the last things that Christ said on the cross before he died.

  • Luke 23:42

And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Christ told the thief who believed on him, that he and Christ would be in paradise together that day. This must be a reference to Christís soul, as we already know the whereabouts of his body and spirit.

Paul mentions being caught up to paradise but this was of course after the resurrection of Christ.

  • 2 Corinthians 12:2

I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

When Mary Magdelene first saw Christ in the garden he indicated that he had yet to ascend. In other words, if Paradise had indeed been up at that time, then Christ hadnít been there yet. This would not concur with what he told the thief.

  • John 20:17

Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Christ had testified to exactly where he would spend those three days and three nights.

  • Matthew 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.

Some of the brethren contend that the "heart of the earth" is the grave and that this verse is a reference to Christís body not his soul. This would be a poor metaphor, indeed, if the grave was the "heart of the earth." That the "heart" of something as huge as the earth would be barely under its "skin" belies a common sense definition. And this is not the only verse that the doubters need to change in order to obscure the destination of Christís soul during those three days and three nights. They change a key word and its meaning in these next verses.

  • Acts 2:27

Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

  • Acts 2:31

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

In order to prove that Christ did not go to a burning hell the brethren do one of two things.

Some go the Greek and claim that the word translated hell (hades) actually means "grave" and thus these verses are also about Christís body and not his soul. Some of the brethren who use this tact also believe that Christís soul never went down at all. They believe that paradise has always been up and that this is where Christ and the thief went.

In the Old Testament the Hebrew word "sheol" refers to the place of the dead and is not perfectly synonymous with the English word "hell." Therefore, it is variously and correctly translated as "hell", "grave", or "pit." When Job prayed (Job 14:13) to God to hide him in the grave (sheol), he was not asking to be sent to hell. The King James translators, under Godís specific direction, translated each "sheol" as the Lord would have it, so that we might understand what he would have us know.

"Hades," on the other hand, is consistently translated as "hell," with one exception in I Corinthians 15:55 where it is translated as "grave." Yet even in this exception it is still identified with the enemy and is not a neutral term for the place of the dead. The English word "hell" is used twenty-two times in the New Testament. In seven of those verses the word "fire" actually occurs while in the others it is absolutely implied. Biblically speaking "hades" is synonymous with the English word "hell" and is not synonymous with the neutral Hebrew word "sheol" the place of all the dead.

People who equate "sheol" with "hades" say that the English word "hell" is the name of the entire underworld, and that while Christ went down he went to Abrahamís bosom and never to the burning hell. These brethren admit to Christís descent but they must change the English Bible definition of the word "hell" in order to keep him from the flames.

As King James Bible believers both of these tact's are unacceptable The Greek is never an improvement on the plain English, and the English word must be defined by the Bible itself. With this introduction letís see if the Bible can thoroughly explain where Christís soul was during those three days and three nights.

Letís begin in reverse order and see if the Bible confirms the fact that paradise was, indeed, down in the "heart of the earth." Is there any indication as to where the souls of Old Testament saints went when they died? An incident in I Samuel reveals one such example.

         1 Samuel 28:11

Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel.
12 And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul.
13 And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.
14 And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.
15 And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up?

There is no question as to the veracity of this passage. The witch at Endor was surprised because it was actually Samuel who came up and not one of her familiar spirits. This was not Samuelís body, but his soul. His question to Saul indicated the direction of his travel and the consequences of Saulís request. Samuel was "disquieted." Another passage in Job is also extremely telling.

  • Job 3:11

Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?
12 Why did the knees prevent me? or why the breasts that I should suck?
13 For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept: then had I been at rest,
14 With kings and counsellors of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves;
15 Or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver:
16 Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light.
17 There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest.
18 There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor.
19 The small and great are there; and the servant is free from his master.

There are many elements in this passage that will be looked at one at a time.


  • Job 3:11

Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?
12 Why did the knees prevent me? or why the breasts that I should suck?

Job was speaking of the death of his body at birth and of his "giving up the ghost" or having his spirit return to God. Remember the Holy Ghost is also called the Holy Spirit.

  • Job 3:13

For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept: then had I been at rest,

Although the bodies of the saints are also said to sleep, in the context of the next verses it is obvious that Job is speaking of more than just his body. These next verses show that Job must be speaking of his soul and that would parallel what Samuel said in the first passage about his being disquieted.

These next three verses indicate with whom Job would have expected to be if he had indeed died at birth. The verses show that he could not have been speaking of his body. That would have been an extraordinary burying place that encompassed "kings and counsellors of the earth" and "princes" who were rich and babies who had died early. This cannot be a reference to the body, but to his soul.

The first verse has two possibilities It could be a reference saved earthly rulers but the word "desolate" leads me to think that these men are lost.

  • Job 3:14

With kings and counsellors of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves;

  • 2 Chronicles 30:7

And be not ye like your fathers, and like your brethren, which trespassed against the LORD God of their fathers, who therefore gave them up to desolation, as ye see.

  • Psalm 73:19

How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors.

This would mean that the souls of both the lost and saved were in close proximity in the same general area. This will be discussed again later.

The next verse could easily represent those Old Testament saints who were saved. A prince is the son of a king. And these princes had gold and silver.

  • Job 3:15

Or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver:

And the last verse would represent the innocents who would join the saved at their deaths. The Lord, the righteous judge, does not send those unaccountable, with no knowledge of good and evil, to burn in hell.

  • Job 3:16

Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light.

So these three verses would show the three kinds of people who die: the lost, the saved, and the innocent. These verses are speaking of their souls.

This last verse could also substantiate that the first verse was a reference to the lost.

  • Job 3:17

There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest.

"There the wicked cease from troubling." The wicked are "there" and can no longer cause trouble. The weary saved are "there" and can be at rest.

Those who want the Old Testament saints to go up to paradise cite two examples to try to prove their point - Enoch and Elijah.

  • Hebrews 11:5

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

  • 2 Kings 2:11

And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

Detractors say that these two examples are not exceptions to the rule but proof that Old Testament saints went up to heaven to be with God at death. While they will recognize Bible types of their own choosing, they fail to see the obvious typology here, because it contradicts their belief that paradise has always been up.

The Lord is a master of writing, and the Bible is full of parables, metaphors, types, and similitudes

  • Hosea 12:10

I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets.

Enoch is obviously a type of Church Age saint who will be raptured.

  • Hebrews 11:5

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

He was translated (raptured) and had a "testimony."

  • 1 Corinthians 1:6

Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus

Church Age Christians have a testimony and will be raptured. Look at a prophecy concerning Enoch.

  • Jude 1:14

And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,

Look at what Paul says.

  • 1 Thessalonians 3:13

To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

Enoch is a type of raptured Christian and thus is an exception to the rule. Remember both Enoch and Elijah were taken to heaven bodily. This fact alone shows that they are exceptions. It was not routine for the bodies of Old Testament saints to be whisked to heaven when they died. And for that matter neither Enoch nor Elijah died. Elijah was not only taken bodily into heaven but he also appeared on the mount of transfiguration with the Lord. The Bible also says that he will return during the Tribulation to be killed. His exception is obvious to all but those but would not see it.

There is much more evidence that Christ went down into the "heart of the earth." He had two jobs to do there. At his death Christ had two keys in his possession.

  • Revelation 1:18

I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

He had two keys for two separate compartments which will be continued to be proven. When the Old Testament saints died their souls went down (as Samuel) to await their Saviour. The lost, however, died and went to hell. Christ had the keys to both places. Keys would fit in gates. Specifically gates with bars.

  • Matthew 16:18

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

This verse is much easier to understand then most people think. Jesus is the Rock and the foundation of the Church.

  • 1 Corinthians 10:4

And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

  • 1 Corinthians 3:11

For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Letís look at the last part - "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." The identity of "it" in this verse is crucial. First of all, "it" is in hell. Hell has locked gates like any prison, but these gates will not prevail over "it." There has never been a time, and never will be a time where the Church is in hell. But the "Rock", the Lord Jesus Christ was there. When one understands that the "gates of hell shall not prevail against " the Rock, it makes perfect sense. There is no question that Christ descended into hell, into the heart of the earth. But he had the key to the gate so he could get out.

  • Acts 2:27

Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

  • Matthew 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.

Since Christ is compared to Jonah, letís see if we can learn anything from him.

  • Jonah 1:17

Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Now there is no doubt that Christ died, letís see if these verses confirm that Jonah also died. We have all heard of stories or read tracts where some man was swallowed by some large fish and lived for days in his stomach before he was recused, but was that the case of Jonah? And if so, why would God use a man who didnít die and compare him to Christ who did die?

  • Jonah 2:1

Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly,

Jonah became a "Big Gulp" and was undoubtedly praying "Oh, my God!! Oh, my God!!" as he was being swallowed, and undoubtedly continued until we read the next verse.

  • Jonah 2:2

And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.

Jonah died. He went from the "fishís belly" to the "belly of hell." If this is the literal burning hell (and there is no reason to believe otherwise) then Jonahís prayers are similar to those of the "rich man" in hell in Luke, which we will look at shortly. The difference being that Jonahís prayers are heard and answered. Again, he is an exception to the rule.

  • Jonah 2:3

For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.

This obviously can be interpreted literally, as Jonah was in the ocean, but there is also another application.

  • Psalm 69:15

Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me.

The "pit" is under the water as well as under the land beneath our feet. But the earth is covered with more than three-quarters water so the reference is understandable.

  • Jonah 2:4

Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.

Obviously God can see anyone, anywhere, so this casting "out of thy sight" must mean something else. It is a way of saying that the person is cut off from God. It is very much like "My God, my God, why has though forsaken me?" It is said about these idolaters in Jeremiah.

  • Jeremiah 7:15

And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim.

I believe that this next verse is talking about both Jonahís soul and body because of the more obvious parallel construction of the verse after it.

  • Jonah 2:5

The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.

The water compassed Jonah even to his soul, while his body was wrapped with seed weed. The next verse also shows both body and soul.

  • Jonah 2:6

I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God.

The "bottoms of the mountains" would be where the mountain sits on the oceanís floor. The whale could have taken his body there, but the next part is something else. Here Jonah says that the "earth with her bars was about me for ever." This is a reference to his soul locked in hell, not his being in a whale. This verse also is similar to those already cited in Acts, and here are other verses that are very similar. Remember "pit" refers to either compartment in the "underworld."

  • Isaiah 38:17

Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.
18 For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.

The "grave" would represent physical death while "death" in that verse would be a reference to the soul. The souls of the dead in the Old Testament resided behind gates and bars whether they were in paradise (Abrahamís bosom) or hell. The Lord has never had any trouble disposing of gates and bars, and his keys utterly destroys their effectiveness.

  • Isaiah 45:1

Thus saith the LORD...
2 I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:

  • Psalm 107:16

For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder.

Jonah was "busted out" of hellís prison, but the Lord Jesus Christ had the keys to the gates and just walked out on his own.

Letís look at another common passage with which we are familiar. We will read all the verses and comment when it is appropriate.

  • Luke 16:19

There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

These verses are a strong reminder that Godís sight and our own sight are not the same. Which of us would have thought that the rich man was on his way to eternal torment while the beggar would reside in paradise?

  • 1 Samuel 16:7

But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

The anonymous rich man was lost while Lazarus was saved. Both these men die. This is not a parable but a true story, illustrating a point which the Lord is trying to make. Parables are called parables in the Bible, and the Lord never uses specific names in parables but only general designations.

  • Luke 16:22

And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;

Lazarus died. The Bible doesnít say what happened to his body, but as he had no one to care for him while alive so I doubt anyone cared for him in death. Possibly those dogs who licked his sores even ate him, as Jezebel was eaten. It was his soul that was carried by angelís into Abrahamís bosom. But while the body of the dead rich man was pampered and buried, in death his soul was in agony.

  • Luke 16:23

And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

This one verse is very telling about the nature of a soul. The lost rich man in a burning hell has eyes with which he can see. He can speak and remember. And he can be in torment. When Samuel appeared to Saul he had all his cognizant abilities and could verbally communicate.

Now this rich man can "see" Abraham and Lazarus. The brethren who want paradise to be in heaven say that this sight is supernatural, in that the rich man can see Abraham and Lazarus across the light years of space, and that they can speak to each other with supernatural voices in order to communicate. The Bible, however, defines its own terms. The words "afar off" are used in two ways. Infrequently the phrase is used metaphorically as in "justice standeth afar off." But in the far majority of the cases it is used to refer to distances on the earth. In fact, there is a verse in Job that is strikingly similar to the verse above.

  • Job 2:12

And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.

By letting the Bible define itself we must conclude that hell and Abrahamís bosom are in earthly proximity. Close enough to be seen with human eyes, and to communicate with human voices.

  • Luke 16:24

And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

Here is even more information about a soulish body. It can be tormented in flames. It has fingers, and a tongue that can be cooled with water. The rich man begs for mercy.

  • Luke 16:25

But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

This is one of the verses used to prove that Abraham and Lazarus are is heaven. The "great gulf" being the distance between heaven and hell. But as shown previously "afar off" refers to earthly distances, and sight and a verbal conversation between two men that spans that great distance makes much less sense than just believing the total of the rest of the evidence that indicates that hell and Abraham's bosom (paradise) were in close proximity.

  • Luke 16:27

Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:
28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.

The rich man entreated Abraham as Jonah entreated God. He does not want his brothers to end up in the tormenting flames of hell. Possibly Jonahís little side trip was to teach him compassion for the lost and let him experience their eternal consequences. As you probably know, it didnít work. Jonah preached grudgingly and pouted when the people repented. His lesson didnít seem to do him any good.

  • Luke 16:29

Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.

Here is verification of the importance of the Book. All the truth needed concerning eternal things is found between its pages.

  • Luke 16:30

And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.

And this shows the true wickedness of menís hearts, because One does go to them from the dead, the Lord Jesus Christ, and they still donít believe.

  • Luke 16:31

And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

Christ preached more about hell than anything else, and he experienced it himself. But man damns himself by unbelief in refusing to accept what God has written and receive his Son.

Now letís look at another Bible type of the crucifixion.

  • 1 Corinthians 5:7b

For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

The Passover lamb in Exodus was a type of the coming sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was the one, true, effectual Passover Lamb. Here is a description of the Passover from Exodus.

  • Exodus 12:1

And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,
2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.
3 Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:
4 And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.
5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:
6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.
7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.
8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.
10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth
of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.

Christ being our true Passover lamb must have been anointed on the tenth day of the month

(v3). On the 14th day (v6) he was killed....

  • Matthew 27:50

Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. the whole assembly....

  • Matthew 27:25

Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. the evening.

  • Matthew 27:45

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.

He was given no water. (v9)

  • Matthew 27:34

They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.


  • John 19:28

After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.
29 Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.

He was roast with fire. (v9)

  • Isaiah 53:10a

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin....

Christís soul, in the heart of the earth, was made an offering for sin.

  • 2 Corinthians 5:21

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

  • Ephesians 5:2

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

Here is the mention of the offering and sacrifice. As the Lamb of God he was both and is pictured so in the Old Testament .

  • Exodus 29:41

And the other lamb thou shalt offer at even, and shalt do thereto according to the meat offering of the morning, and according to the drink offering thereof, for a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

  • Hebrews 13:11

For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.
12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.

Christ sanctified us with his blood and also suffered like the body of the lamb by being burned. Now there are two reasons why Christ went to a burning hell. The first in found in this next verse.

  • Hebrews 2:9

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Since Christ died for everyone, and since he tasted death for every man, he must also have experienced death for the lost as well as the saved. For those saved before the rapture he has experienced and defeated the physical death of the body, but even for the lost he has experienced the death of hell.

  • Revelation 21:8

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Christ experienced the flames of hell because he experienced what every saved person deserves. The flames of hell did not atone for our sins, only Christís blood does that, but in hell he was an offering of a sweetsmelling savour unto God. In the Old Testament the lamb was bled and then he was burned. The sin offering was burned. The offering was not for the atonement, the blood was. Even in the Old Testament it was the blood that atoned for sins.

The first reason, then, was that Christís soul was a burnt offering for sin in hell. The second reason was that he deposited our sins there. The Bible says he purged them.

  • Hebrews 1:3b

...when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

Purging is connected with fire.

  • Isaiah 6:7

And he laid it {a live coal} upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.

  • Malachi 3:2

But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap:
3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

  • Matthew 3:12

Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

The Bible says that Christ purged our sins. He burned them up in the fires of hell. But that was not his only task while in hell.

  • 2 Peter 2:4

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;
5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

The Bible says that the angels that sinned were also cast into hell, and the Bible also says that angels are sometimes called spirits.

  • Hebrews 1:7

And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.

These next verses identify Christís preaching audience.

  • 1 Peter 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:
19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
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.

It is possible that all the inhabitants of hell heard his preaching for this is the conclusion of those first verses in II Peter.

  • 2 Peter 2:9

The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

Notice it doesnít say he preached the gospel. This message may have been more like a modern "sentencing hearing." The verdict had already been pronounced previously, and now the final penalty was voiced. For whatever reason the Bible says that he preached to the spirits in prison. Also remember that these are the ones for whom hell was made. Hell was not made for men and

God does not want any man to go there.

  • Matthew 25:41

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

The burning hell would have been Christís first stop. After purging our sins, tasting the horrors of eternal damnation for every man, and preaching to the spirits, he took out his key, opened the gates of hell, crossed the great gulf, and entered Abrahamís bosom. Step two of his activities during those three days and three nights began. I wouldnít be at all surprised if the saved thief had been standing at the gates waiting for him to arrive. Glory!!

The term "Abrahamís Bosom" is only mentioned once in scripture. The temporary resting place of the souls of the saved was named after Godís friend, who is said to be the "Father" of all saved whether they were under the Law or grace.

  • Romans 4:16

Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,

The souls of the saved people who died in the Old Testament were waiting for their redeemer to come and finally redeem them.

  • Hebrews 9:15

And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

They could not "receive the promise of eternal inheritance" until Christ had been crucified, and they would be the first group to experience the benefits of his resurrection. In Abrahamís bosom Christ preached again, only this time he preached the gospel.

  • 1 Peter 4:6

For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

Those souls in paradise eagerly received the gospel that Christ preached. This was the one who completed their salvation and redeemed them, and at Christís resurrection they were the firstfruits.

  • 1 Corinthians 15:23

But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.

  • Matthew 27:52

And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

Christ used his other key to release these saints from the prison house. For although Abrahamís bosom was a place of peace and rest, it was not heaven. Heaven was refused to them because their sins could not be taken away until the Redeemer came. With Christís death the "guilded cage" could be opened and those souls could "fly" to heaven.

  • Ephesians 4:8

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.)

At his ascension Christ took those souls with him. Leading "captivity captive" is like coming in and liberating prisoners of war.

  • Judges 5:11

They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the LORD, even the righteous acts toward the inhabitants of his villages in Israel: then shall the people of the LORD go down to the gates.
12 Awake, awake, Deborah: awake, awake, utter a song: aris
e, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.

The elements in these verses are absolutely amazing. These soldiers are "rehearsing" the righteous acts of the Lord toward the "inhabitants." They went down to the "gates." Remember Christ was given two keys to two gates. And, finally, they liberated the inhabitants. The "led captivity captive."!!

Verses 9 and 10 confirm where Christ got those captives. There is no question that the "lower parts of the earth" is the "heart of the earth" and it also confirms that Abrahamís bosom and hell are in close proximity. This next verse mentions the "shout" of the righteous in the "lower parts of the earth." They were in Abrahamís bosom.

  • Isaiah 44:23

Sing, O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.

And this passage in Ezekiel shows that the lost are also there. The bodies of these lost were in the grave but their souls had gone down into the pit.

  • Ezekiel 32:24

There is Elam and all her multitude round about her grave, all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which are gone down uncircumcised into the nether parts of the earth, which caused their terror in the land of the living; yet have they borne their shame with them that go down to the pit.

The phrase "which caused terror in the land of the living" is reminiscent of this verse in Job.

  • Job 3:17

There the wicked cease from troubling....

The "pit" is an accurate term for either compartment of the underworld and once more this confirms that Christ went down during his three days and three nights. We most often think of a pit as a deep hole but there is another meaning with which we are familiar which closer resembles the "heart" of the earth. A cherry or a peach has a "pit." It is the "heart" or the center of a spherical fruit. The "pit" of the earth then would be in the earthís center and could easily hold both Abrahamís bosom and hell. Job shows clearly that the saved also go to the "pit."

  • Job 33:24

Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.
25 His flesh shall be fresher than a child's: he shall return to the days of his youth:
26 He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him: and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render unto man his righteousness.
27 He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not;
28 He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light.
29 Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man,
30 To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living.

These verses indisputably show the Abrahamís bosom or paradise was originally down. Those saved in the Old Testament went to the paradise side of the pit. These verses show the resurrection of the body from the grave, and the resurrection of the soul from Abrahamís bosom side of the pit.


The truth of the matter concerning the whereabouts of Christís soul during the three days and three nights before the resurrection is not hard to understand if one believes the actual words of the scriptures. Christís soul went down into the pit in the Ďheart of the earth." He arrived in the flames of hell where he suffered the punishment that all men deserve, deposited our sins, and preached the final sentence of eternal damnation. With that complete, he took out the key, and unlocked the gates, crossed the great gulf, and went into paradise or Abrahamís bosom. There he preached the gospel to the souls there and identified himself as their Redeemer. At the end of his seventy-two hours of death those souls resurrected with him and then finally were taken to heaven.



D.J. Root

The King James Bible is the final authority for all doctrine,
faith, and practice. Any deviation from the text is purely inadverten









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