The Descent Of Christ Into Hades (Eleven)

It is written:

Luke 16:19-31-19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’ 27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ “

The story of Lazarus and the rich man is a very interesting story. Personally, I believe it is a parable. Notice how Jesus often introduces His parables in Luke:

Luke 10:30-Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

Luke 12:16-Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully.

Luke 13:6-He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.

Luke 14:16-Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many,

Luke 15:11-Then He said: “A certain man had two sons.

Luke 16:1-He also said to His disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods.

Luke 16:19-“There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.

Luke 19:12-Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.

Luke 20:9-Then He began to tell the people this parable: “A certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time.

It is worth noting, however, that if Luke 16:19-31 is a parable, it is the only time that we know of in which Jesus referred to an actual person therein by name. Regardless, the passage teaches us many important lessons about Sheol.

Hades is the New Testament equivalent of Sheol.

“The Hebrew Old Testament was translated into Greek earlier than the beginning of the Christian era. This translation, known as the Septuagint, was started about 285 B.C., at which time the Pentateuch was translated, and subsequently, the remainder of the sacred volume. The Septuagint Version is an extremely valuable one for many reasons. It bears testimony to the text of the Old Testament far antedating the Christian religion. It establishes renderings which cannot be ascribed to the prejudicial leanings of those whose position it supports. It was the Old Testament which Christ and the apostles used, and from which the sacred writers of the New Testament, for the most part, derived their quotations. Sixty-five times the Septuagint translators met with the word Sheal in the text they were rendering. Not once did they render it gehenna, the lake of fire, not one time did they translate it by mnema, grave; sixty-one times they translated it Hades, a word which occurs eleven times in the New Testament text. It follows, therefore, that Hades, in Greek, is the exact equivalent of Sheol, in Hebrew. But, Sheol, in Hebrew, designates the realm of disembodied spirits. Such, then, is the significance of Hades in the Greek text. This word, as we have earlier seen, has been transliterated-given English form and spelling-and inserted into the American Standard text…Hades is the realm of disembodied spirits because, (1) it is the rendering of the Hebrew Sheol which designates such a place in the Old Testament scriptures. (2) Such is the meaning assigned to the word by the classical Greek dictionaries which reflect its usage by the Greeks. The oldest and perhaps one of the most intluential of the Greek authors says in the first line of the Iliad that the wrath of Achilles “hurled many valiant souls of heroes down to Hades.” This usage, common to all of the Greek authors from the one here cited-Homer—–io the times of the Christian era, is so clear and the testimony is so abundant that those who are influenced by evidence regard the case as closed. That the reader may have opportunity to consider these definitions in the language of the lexicographers, we cite the following which we have copied from the original sources themselves: Liddell & Scott: “The unseen.” T. S. Green: “The invisible abode or mansion of the dead.” W. J. Hickie: “The place of departed spirits.” Robinson: “The abode of the dead.” Sophocles: “The under-world-the world of departed spirits.” Thayer: “The common receptacle of disembodied spirits.” This list might be indefinitely lengthened, but it is surely unnecessary to accumulate evidence of that which no informed person denies: that Hades designates the realm of the conscious dead. Such was the significance of the term as it was used by the classical Greek authors, and such is the use to which it is put in the New Testament scriptures.” (Guy N. Woods’s, Questions And Answers, 6448-6480 (Kindle Edition); Henderson, TN; Freed-Hardeman University)

We also see that Hades is divided up into at least two sections: a place of comfort for the saved, and a place of “torments” for the unsaved.

The Old Testament hints at this division within Sheol:

“Fourth, there are hints in the Old Testament that sheol has different regions. Both the wicked and the righteous are said to go to sheol. Jacob went into sheol, but so did rebellious people, such as Korah and Dathan. This explains why there is a “lower region.” The Lord says, “For a fire is kindled in My anger, and burns to the lowest part of Sheol, and consumes the earth with its yield, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains” (Deuteronomy 32: 22 NASB). The reason there are two different realms in sheol is best explained by remembering that sheol has two different kinds of inhabitants. “This is the way of those who are foolish…. As sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd; and the upright shall rule over them in the morning, and their form shall be for Sheol to consume so that they have no habitation. But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, for He will receive me” (Psalm 49: 13–15 NASB). Other Old Testament passages make a similar contrast (Job 24: 19; Psalms 9: 17; 16: 10; 31: 17; 55: 15). Perhaps one of the clearest expressions of immortality in the Old Testament comes from the book of Daniel. “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12: 2). Daniel not only believed that there were two classes of people who would live either in bliss or contempt, but that their bodies would also arise someday. This is an explicit reference to the New Testament doctrine of the resurrection of the body. The Old Testament makes a sharp distinction between the wicked and the righteous, with the clear implication that they have separate destinies in the afterlife. Though this division of sheol is not expressly stated, later rabbis clearly taught that sheol has two compartments.” (Erwin Lutzer, One Minute After You Die, 33-34 (Kindle Edition); Chicago; Moody Publishers)

There is an ancient Jewish book known as the book of Enoch. While it is not inspired Scripture, the Scriptures refer to this book over one hundred times. In 1 Enoch (written long before the Christian Age), we see that Sheol is figured prominently therein:

“From there I went to another place, and he showed me in the west a great and high mountain chain and of hard rocks and four beautiful places. 2Beneath them were [three] deep, wide, and very smooth places, as smooth as if it were rolled over, and deep and dark to look upon. 3Then Raphael, one of the holy angels who was with me, answered, and said unto me: “These beautiful places have been created for this very purpose, that the spirits, the souls of the dead, should assemble in them.[ lxv] 4And these places have been made to receive them till the day of their judgment and till their appointed period (this period is long), till the great judgment comes upon them.” 5I saw the spirits of the children of men who had died, and their voices went forth to heaven and made suit. 6I asked the angel Raphael who was with me, and said unto him, “Whose spirit is that one whose voice goes forth and makes suit to heaven?” 7And he answered me saying, “This is the spirit which went forth from Abel, whom his brother Cain murdered[ lxvi], and he makes his suit against him till his seed is destroyed from the face of the earth, and his seed is annihilated from amongst the seed of men.” 8Then I asked regarding him and all the hollow places, “Why is one separated from the other?” 9He answered and said unto me, “These three places[ lxvii] have been made that the spirits of the dead might be separated. In this way, the spirits of the righteous are separated, in which there is the bright spring of water and a light about it. 10One place was made for sinners when they die, and are buried in the earth and judgment has not been passed on them in their lifetime. 11Here their spirits will be set apart in this great affliction till the great Day of Judgment and punishment and torment of revilers forever, and retribution for their spirits, and there He will bind them forever. 12This place was made for the spirits of those who make their suit, who cry out concerning their destruction, when they were killed in the days of the sinners. 13This was made for the spirits of men who were not righteous, but sinners, who were complete in crimes, and they will be with criminals like themselves; but their spirits will not be slain in the Day of Judgment nor will they be raised from there.” 14Then I blessed the Lord of glory and said, “Blessed be my Lord, the Lord of Righteousness, who rules forever.” (Ken Johnson, Ancient Book of Enoch, 37-39 (Kindle Edition))

The Bible teaches that there is a third compartment of Hades, where the 200 fallen angels mentioned in Genesis 6:1-4 are bound (cf. 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6).

“To the Greeks, Hades was the realm of the dead, similar to the Jewish concept of Sheol. Tartarus was a level below Hades reserved for supernatural threats to the Olympian gods, “as far beneath Hades as heaven is above earth.”[ 5] It’s where the king of the Greek gods, Zeus, banished his father, Kronos, and most of the Titans after the Olympians successful rebellion. It’s described as a dismal place, even more depressing than damp, moldy Hades: [The hundred-handed Hekatonkheires] overshadowed the Titans with their missiles, and hurled them beneath the wide-pathed earth, and bound them in bitter chains when they had conquered them by their strength for all their great spirit, as far beneath the earth as heaven is above earth; for so far is it from earth to Tartarus. For a brazen anvil falling down from heaven nine nights and days would reach the earth upon the tenth: and again, a brazen anvil falling from earth nine nights and days would reach Tartarus upon the tenth. Round it runs a fence of bronze, and night spreads in triple line all about it like a neck-circlet, while above grow the roots of the earth and unfruitful sea.[ 6] (Emphasis added) Note the parallels between the words of the Greek poet Hesiod and the epistles of Peter and Jude: A group of gods rebelled and suffered the consequences—imprisonment in a very dark place far below the earth. Here’s the point: Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Peter specifically linked the angels who sinned with the former gods of the Greeks, the Titans. We know Peter’s angels are the Watchers, the sons of God from Genesis chapter 6, because they’re clearly the same ones mentioned by Jude, who gave us an important clue to their identity: And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 6–7, ESV; emphasis added) The sin of the angels was like that of Sodom and Gomorrah—“ sexual immorality” and “unnatural desire.” The only place in the Bible where that happened was Genesis 6: 1–4. So, the Watchers of Genesis are the Titans of Greek myth. And those fallen angels still have a role to play in our future.” (Derek P. Gilbert, Last Clash of the Titans: The Second Coming of Hercules, Leviathan, and the Prophesied War Between Jesus Christ and the Gods of Antiquity, 190-208 (Kindle Edition); Crane, MO; Defender Publishing)

In our next lesson, we will learn more about the “torment” of those in Hades.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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