i am being told that there is some controversey as to whether CHRIST entered hades and set captives free. The scripture Ephesians 4:7-10 is the text that i am referring to. Could you be of assistance and clarify please.
As far as I am concerned there is no controversy concerning Jesus' descenion into Hades. The Bible plainly tells me that it is so.
I Peter 3:18 For Christ also has 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:By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 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.
I Peter 4:5-6 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick (living) and the dead. 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.
Ephesians 4:9 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.
So you see my friend when Jesus died, he went to the lost souls in hell that had died prior to his crucifixion to preach salvation. They were given one last chance to repent of their sins. The previous scripture says that they will be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
This means that at the judgement, man will have no excuse for not accepting Christ becaused he offered the same salvation to all (The quick, meaning the living and the dead).
The Bible is virtually silent on what Jesus did during those three days, except that He was in Joseph of Arimathia’s new tomb. The passage you may be thinking of is Revelation 1:18, where Jesus said,
I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. The word Hades is not an English word. It is a “transliterated” Greek word. That is, it is a Greek word with an English spelling. The translators chose not to translate this word. The word literally means, “place of the dead.” It is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Sheol, which is also transliterated (not translated) from the Hebrew into English. The Hebrew sheol simply means “the grave.” For Jesus to hold those keys means He has power over death and the grave.
Some people believe 1 Peter 3:18-20 speaks of Jesus’ activity during those three days, but I do not think so. 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….
This passage speaks of His preaching through the Spirit to “the spirits in prison,” identified as those “who disobeyed long ago … in the days of Noah.” No one has satisfactorily explained why, if this is what He did during the three days, He only preached to those who disobeyed while Noah built the ark.
Further, this does not speak of Jesus Himself doing this preaching, but of doing it “through the Spirit.” Noah was a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5). A logical assumption is that He preached through the power of the Holy Spirit. If so, 1st Peter 3 likely refers to Noah’s work of preaching, “while the ark was being built.” Jesus used the Holy Spirit in Noah to preach then, just as He used the Holy Spirit in Peter to preach on Pentecost.
Ephesians 4:8-10 speaks of Christ descending “to the lower, earthly regions” (NIV), though some translations make this the “lower part of the earth,” as a reference to Hades. The ascent is His return to Heaven (see Acts 1:9). He ascended to Heaven from Earth (Acts 1:3). From Heaven, he poured out the Holy Spirit on all flesh, giving gifts to men (Acts 2:31-33).
Some believe the “captives He led in his train” are the “spirits of just men made perfect” (Hebrews 12:23) whom, in this understanding, Jesus freed from Hades during the three days.
Yet, in Hebrews 11:40 the writer says these righteous men will become perfect only together with us. This sounds like the general resurrection in the last day, not an activity of Jesus during the three days He was in the tomb. In his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, Peter quoted from Psalm 16:8-11, which says in part,
…my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, not will you let your Holy One see decay. – Acts 2:26-27
Peter explained that David’s tomb was with them to that day. He spoke here as a prophet of the Christ, and that God did not abandon Christ to the grave and nor let Him see decay. The word translated here in the NIV as grave is the word Hades. The KJV translates it as hell. This leads some to believe Jesus went down into hell – as some of the historic creeds declare. I believe the NIV gives a correct translation (grave), not a transliteration (Hades), or a mistranslation (hell), as many other translations of the Bible do.
All of this shows that speculation about what Jesus did during the three days is very “iffy.” Men draw this theory from little hints mixed with much conjecture – plus, for reasons not discussed above, Greek Pagan philosophy. In the absence of a definitive statement of Scripture, I hesitate to speculate about where Jesus was, other than in the grave, or what He was doing, other than waiting. Could He have been in Hades freeing the prisoners there? That may be true, but frankly, I do not know, and I doubt it.
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