It is written:
For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. (Psalm 16:10)
With this series of lessons, we will be investigating a topic that is often not discussed in churches of Christ.
However, this teaching has great significance in the Bible, and it was often discussed in the writings of the early Christians. Indeed, this teach was a central tenant of many of the ancient creeds of Christianity.
It is described by many titles, including “The Descent,” The Descent To Hell,” and “The Harrowing Of Hell.”
What exactly is this doctrine?
“I would like to define from the outset what I mean by the phrases Descensus ad inferos and/ or the doctrine of Christ’s descent referenced throughout. I believe I am in line with the New Testament and the first few centuries of the church, when I define this doctrine as the belief that Jesus Christ, between his death and resurrection, by means of his soul, descended into the underworld in triumph for purposes that at least in the NT, are open for debate. In the second century, the threefold purpose of Christ’s journey to the underworld are already defined as a preaching tour, releasing the saints of the Old Testament, and a triumphant defeat of Death and Hades. It is the third purpose that I believe is in the background of Revelation 1: 18 and the primary thesis of this book. In short, the doctrine of the descent at minimum assumes that Christ descended into the underworld between his death and resurrection and should be understood this way when it is used throughout this book.” (Justin Bass, The Battle for the Keys: Revelation 1:18 And Christ’s Descent Into The Underworld (Paternoster Biblical Monographs), 18-19 (Kindle Edition); Crownhill, Milton Keynes, Bucks, MK8 0ES, UK; Paternoster)
In order to understand this teaching, we will need to first ask some relevant questions such as:
Does man possess an immortal soul?
What is the difference between the soul and the spirit?
What exactly is Sheol?
What is the difference between Hades and Sheol?
What is the connection between Hades, Sheol, and Gehenna?
After looking at these questions, we will carefully examine the subject of the Descent.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.