8 Bible Verses on Christ’s Descent into Hell

Previously we examined “Why Did Christ Descend into Hell?” and discussed the four abodes of Hell. On this Holy Saturday, here are eight Bible verses for you to keep near you for apologetic purposes. These eight verses describe the descent of Christ into the Limbo of the Fathers (also known as Abraham’s Bosom).

  1. Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 10.09.24 PMSaint Paul teaches us in Ephesians 4:9 that Christ our Lord descended into Hell after He offered His life on the cross. “Now that He ascended, what is it, but because He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?” Note here that Hell is described as having “parts” that is the four parts of Hell.
  2. Saint Peter said in Acts 2:24 that “God hath raised up Christ, having loosed the sorrows of hell, as it was impossible that He should be holden by it.” Christ loosed the Old Testament saints from hell.
  3. Saint Peter also wrote in 1 Peter 3:19 that “Christ coming in spirit preached to those spirits that were in prison, which had some time been incredulous.” On this verse, Saint Athanasius says that “Christ’s body was laid in the sepulchre when He went to preach to those spirits who were in bondage, as Peter said.” (Ep. ad Epict.)
  4. The prophet Hosea foretold the descent of Christ into Hell in Hosea 13:14 by placing these words into the mouth of the Messiah: “O death, I will be thy death; O hell, I will be thy bite.”
  5. Zechariah foretells the redemption of those in the Limbo of the Fathers in Zech 9:11: “Thou also by the blood of Thy Testament hast sent forth Thy prisoners out of the pit.” What could this mean except that the Messiah would free people from the underworld?
  6. Colossians 2:15: “Despoiling the principalities and powers, He hath exposed them confidently.” This refers to Christ’s victory over the condemned angels who are the demons of Hell.
  7. Psalm 23:7: “Lift up your gates, O ye princes,” which the medieval Gloss interprets: “that is–Ye princes of hell, take away your power, whereby hitherto you held men fast in hell”.
  8. In Ecclesiasticus 24:45, Siracides (author of Sirach) prophecies: “I will penetrate to all the lower parts of the earth.”

I hope you find these helpful. If you find yourself with a Protestant who only rolls “Scripture alone,” you’ll want these in your tool belt.

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  • Bretfox

    Never heard of “limbo of the fathers”. Please reply as to where I can learn more about this. Thank you.

  • Joseph Irvine

    Please be aware that your reference Psalm 23:7 is incorrect, and should be Psalm 24:7. Thanks for the collection of resources!

    • Dr Taylor Marshall

      It depends if your using the Septuagint/Vulgate numbering of the Psalms or a modern or Protestant numbering of the Psalms. Academically, both are acceptable.

  • jrzgrl

    Your reference to Peter as author of Acts (note 2 in your commentary) is incorrect. The book of Acts is credited to Luke.

  • Joan

    Peter was not the author of Acts, but he was the person speaking in Acts 2, which was quoted above.

  • Mark

    People confuse the physical with the spiritual. The dead usually go in the ground, hence descend to the abode of the dead, the pit or grave. Jesus body was put in a cave (in the ground). Figuratively his physical body descended into the abode of the dead. Sheol! But his Godly spirit, raised the souls of the dead from ‘limbo of the fathers’ (limbo a place of waiting, asleep?) Where is the soul while we sleep? He brought them and the ‘good thief’ ‘this day’ to heaven, the state of being in Gods presence. On the third day (physical time) he raised himself ‘physically’. Orthodox believe that at death people receive an immediate judgement. The elect enter the state of ‘Heaven’. On the day of judgement, end times, all are physically resurrected. For the elect “My Fathers house has many rooms, I have prepared a place for you (creation)” Physical existence again and life everlasting?

  • E Whit

    Enjoyed the post. As the a previous responder has commented, I concur with the incorrect Psalm 23:7 reference. Thanks! Well done.