FAQ :: Did Jesus suffer in Hell?

The false idea that Jesus actually suffered in Hell would nullify His proclamation from the cross “it is finished”.

The natural question that arises from this is “what was Jesus doing for those three days in the tomb?” I believe that we can answer that question from the parable of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31. It should also answer the question of how the Old Testament saints were saved.

In the parable, the setting is Sheol, defined as the abiding place of the dead. In the parable, we see two sections: Paradise, which Jesus promised the thief on the cross would be a meeting place for them, and Torments, or Hades, as it is more commonly referred.

In paradise, we see Abraham and Lazarus. The implication is that many more righteous are there as well. In Torments, we see the rich man, obviously of the unsaved.

Paradise is the dwelling place of the Old Testament saints. They could not go into the presence of God because their sins had not yet been atoned for; they had only been covered by the animal sacrifices (see Hebrews 10:1-17).

When Jesus died, He went to Sheol, and proclaimed His victory over death and over Satan. He then took Paradise to God the Father. Those in Paradise were then worthy to stand in the presence of God because their sins were now forgiven. They stand, not because of their merit or animal sacrifice, but only because of the atoning power of Jesus. When Christians die now, they are ushered directly into the presence of God because their sins are forgiven and forgotten.

Torments still exists, probably with the residents being now more mentally tormented because they have seen the resurrection power of Jesus and missed out. Those people will appear at the Great White Throne Judgment, where they will be among the goats assigned to Hell for eternity.