Category Archives: scripture

Did Jesus Spend Saturday in Hell?

A few weeks ago, I listened to a sermon by Mark Driscoll on 1 Peter 3:18-20, one of the most difficult to understand passages in the Bible:

Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.

A traditional understanding is that after he was crucified, Jesus descended into Hell.  This is codified in the Apostle’s Creed, which I remember being exposed to in my two semesters at a Lutheran school:

Jesus Christ … was crucified, died, and was buried.  He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again.  He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

John Piper has an interesting interpretation up that would make the narrative more consistent with the very clear passage of Jesus to the thief in Luke 23:43 (“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”):

With regard to 1 Peter 3:19, I take these words to mean that Christ, through the voice of Noah, went and preached to that generation, whose spirits are now “in prison,” that is, in hell. In other words, Peter does not say that Christ preached to them while they were in prison. He says he preached to them once, during the days of Noah, and now they are in prison.

I encourage you to read the whole post for a fuller picture of the evidence for this interpretation, as well as its consequences.

Are You Alone in Facing Sin?

A child of the 1980’s, I was taught growing up that I was special … just like everyone else.  We are each unique individuals.  Which, on it’s face, is true.  This idea, however, can be taken to the extreme, when we start to think that we are supremely different from everyone else.  “Nobody can understand me, what I’m going through.  Nobody can possibly relate.”  This isn’t just teen angst, it carries on into our adult lives as well.

For Christians, we begin to think that no one struggles with sin the way we do.  Whatever our problem is, we imagine that we fight with it more than anyone else.  Everyone has an easier time with lust/gluttony/language/greed/drugs/depression/anger/etc.  This thinking can lead to us giving in, thinking that since we’re tempted worse than others, we have a different standard.  Paul warns us against this very idea (1 Cor 10:13):

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.

Those thoughts that you’re having, that sin that you’re dealing with … it’s not just you.

And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

It may seem impossible, but there’s always a way out.  Often, the way out is never getting in to the situation in the first place.  Once we have identified problem areas in our lives, the first thing to do is stop putting ourselves in situations where the temptation can occur.  That might mean changing fundamental aspects of our lives, but God helps, and it’s all part of the restorative work that God begins when we accept him into our lives.

When we sin, we usually know full well what we’re doing, and that we shouldn’t be doing it.  We justify it to ourselves, making it acceptable, or a just-this-once execption.  We need God’s help, and when we’re tempted, we should ask him for it.  If we truly realize our problems, if we sincerely repent, and if we honestly attempt to overcome our sin, God is faithful, and will stand with us.