The Bible teaches that Jesus rested in the grave for three days and didn’t go anywhere. Jesus Himself taught that death is a state of unconscious sleep (John 11:11-13). The Scriptures teach that sleep is a figure that represents death:
- Sleep is a state of unconsciousness. “The dead know not any thing” (Eccl. 9:5, 6).
- Sleep is rest from all outward activities of life. “There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
- In sleep there is no conscious thoughts. “His spirit departs…In that very day his plans perish.” (Psalm 146:4).
- Sleep continues until one is awakened at the Resurrection. “So man lies down…They will not awake
nor be roused from their sleep” (Job 14:12).
- Sleep prevents association in the activities of those who are awake. “Neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done” (Ecclesiastes 9:6).
- In the sleep of death there is no emotions. “Their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished” (Ecclesiastes 9:6).
- During sleep people don’t praise God. “The dead praise not the Lord” (Psalm 115:17; Isa. 38:18).
Some use Ephesian 4:9,10 to teach that Jesus went to heaven and hell during His abode in the grave. Let’s examine this verse: “(Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things” (Ephesians 4:9,10).
The Scriptures clearly teach that Jesus did not go to hell when he died to receive the keys of life and death because hell takes place ONLY after the Judgement at the Last Day. Jesus said, “So shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire” (Matthew 13:40-42 also John 12:48).
Sinners will be cast into hell fire only at the great judgment day at the end of the world–not when they die. God would not punish a person in fire until his case was tried and decided (2 Peter 2:9). Therefore, hell does not exist today.
So, what does the world “descended” in Ephesians 4:9,10, mean? It simply means that Jesus descended to the earth by touching the very depths of human experience, thus making His ascension to the throne of glory all the more glorious. Then, after His Resurrection and victory over the devil, Jesus ascended to heaven and received from His Father “the keys of hell and of death” (Revelation 1:18).
In His service,
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