Did Jesus Suffer in Hell?



Part Six - Did Jesus Suffer in Hell?

The answer to the question of did Jesus Spirit go to Hell during the three days and three nights His body was in the grave is yes!  However, He did not spend that time in torment but rather in Paradise.  The Hebrew word Sheol, Hades, or Hell and its Greek counterpart Adou speak of the place where the disembodied spirits of all men go when they depart from their bodies at death (Js. 2:26).  Only when these words are associated with the wicked in the context of Scripture do they speak particularly of a place of torment.  Jesus brought this out in his account of Lazrus and the Richman (Lk.16:19-31).  Both died and went to the center of the earth where Sheol/Hell is located.  Sheol was divided into two compartments separated by a impenetrable gulf.  The one section was for the believer and was a place of paradise also called Abraham’s bosom.  The other section of hell was a place of great spiritual torment as the Rich man discovered too late.

Which compartment of Sheol did Jesus go too?  The writer of Luke does not leave us guessing when He quotes Jesus’ words to the one thief on the cross next to Him.

Luke 23:43, “And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." NKJV

This statement in and of itself should be the end of the discussion but according to some it is not that easy.  For that reason let give three other Scriptural facts that lend to the fact that Jesus spent His time in Paradise.

#1:  In the Greek NT there is a word used to describe the compartment of torment where unbelievers go.  It is Gehenna, which had its origins from the valley of refuse located outside the gates of Jerusalem.  If Jesus had gone to the place of torment than the Scriptures would have used this term but they do not.  Instead the Scriptures use the general term of Jesus going to Hell or Sheol, the place all spirits go when dying (Acts 2:27). 

#2: The description of our Lord’s spirit going to Sheol is never described as going into torment but rather as going “into the lower part of the earth” (Psa. 8:5; 63:9; 139:15; Matt 12:40; Eph. 4:9-10).  This is the general term of going to the place of the disembodied spirits of the dead.  Nothing in these terms would support the idea that Jesus went to compartment of torment.

#3: The Lord’s work of atoning for sin was completed on the cross.  Some say that Christ had to suffer spiritual death as well as physical.  Christ did.  Spiritual death is the separation of man from God.  Christ suffered that death for three hours on the cross when He cried out, “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?”  Thus we know that our Lord had fully suffered for sin when He cried on the cross, “It is finished!” (Jn. 19:30)

Those who seek to put Christ in the torment compartment of Hell mean well but the Scriptures clearly speaks otherwise.