16 Question 1

Let’s look at what the Lord said to the dying thief beside Him while He was on the cross.  Luke 23:43 says, “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”  This shows that the Lord Jesus knew He would be in paradise that very day, and that the repentant thief would be there with him.  At the end of His time on the cross the Lord said in Luke 23:46, “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.”  Both of these verses show us that the Lord was in Paradise with His Father after His death.

Where exactly is Paradise?  Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 where Paul speaks of how that he had seen Heaven.  It says, “It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.  I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”  Notice here how that Paul interchanges the words ‘third heaven’ and ‘paradise’, which shows that they are the same.  Paradise is the third heaven, the dwelling place of God.  So, upon His death, the Lord Jesus went to be with His Father in Paradise, or Heaven.

Let’s look at another portion where some have misunderstood, thinking that it teaches that the Lord Jesus descended into Hell after His death.  1 Peter 3:18-22 says, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.”

At first glance, this seems to say that Jesus went into Hell or prison, but scripture deserves more than just a first glance.  Let’s look closely at what we are being told here in this portion.  We are told of the glorious truth that Christ suffered for sins.  He was just and He suffered for the unjust: us.  He was put to death in the flesh, but was resurrected by the Spirit.  It was by this same Spirit (the Holy Spirit) which He had preached to spirits that are now in prison.  It was in the days of Noah that this is speaking of.  From Genesis 6:3, we learn that it took Noah and his sons about 120 years to build the ark.  During that time, God was longsuffering, using Noah to preach deliverance to the lost.  In 2 Peter 2:5, Noah was called a “preacher of righteousness.”  Unfortunately, no one listened to Noah.  In fact, we just read how that only “eight souls were saved by water.”  Those were Noah and his wife, along with their three sons and their wives.  They were the only ones to survive the great flood that the Lord sent upon the earth because of their great ungodliness.

Some have looked at 1 Peter 3:18-22 and thought that it meant that the Lord entered into Hell and gave everyone there a second chance.  If so, can you imagine that only eight people would accept that second chance to escape Hell?  What it is telling us is that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is the Spirit by which Noah preached to a lost world, who are now in prison.

Let’s look at Ephesians 4:9, which speaking of the Lord Jesus, says, “Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?”  Some have assumed that this means that the Lord ascended into Hell after His death by descending into the lower parts of the earth.  The meaning of this verse is quite simple.  Christ ascended into the grave as Joseph and Nicodemas took his body and laid it into Joseph’s grave.  Read John 19:38-42 for this account.  Thankfully, we know that the Lord Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day.

Scripture is quite plain.  The Lord Jesus went to Paradise to be with His Father at His death, where he is now seated at His right hand.  We also read in Ephesians 1:21-23 that the Lord Jesus is now, “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”