Was God Dead for Three Days?
by Susan Bertalotto
A friend told me there is a very important doctrine I must believe in order to “keep my salvation”. It is the doctrine/belief that Jesus Christ died spiritually for three days, after He died on the cross. My response was to ask: If Jesus died spiritually, was God dead for three days?
Jesus Christ is God made flesh, the second person of the Godhead (The Word), fully God and fully human. Since Jesus’ physical body died on the cross, what was left? His Spirit. And since He is God, how could the second person of the Godhead be DEAD for three days?
This doctrine has been around for a few years, perpetuated by Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, E W Kenyon, Kenneth Hagin, Frederick Price, Benny Hinn and many others from the Word/Faith movement. Jesus didn’t finish the sacrifice for sin on the cross; the salvation plan was not yet completed. He had to descend into HELL AND DIE and be tormented by demons for three days. Does that doctrine hold up biblically?
The following is an article by Mike Oppenheimer of Let Us Reason Ministries that very clearly shows the unscriptural nature of this heresy:
Did Jesus descend into Hell or Hades after he died on the cross?
While on the cross for three hours, after all the sins were laid upon him Jesus cried out that God forsook him (looked away, breaking fellowship). After nearly 6 hours on the cross Jesus said that He entrusted His spirit into the Fathers hands before He died. He was totally restored before He died. His Spirit was not committed into anyone’s hands, but the Father’s.
So there is no possibility of him going to hell for any reason of completing the sacrifice or punishment. He did finish on the cross everything that was needed for salvation. If Jesus went to Hell this means the Father did not accept His sacrifice, but instead rejected it.
While Jesus was on the cross He promised the thief on the cross next to him that he would be with Him in paradise that very day (Luke 23:43). If the thief was not in paradise with Him but would have entered into suffering with Jesus and Jesus lied. Paradise was still in the earth called Abrahams bosom until Christ raised and went to heaven (then he took those saints with him to heaven Eph.4:8).
The Bible-Acts 2:27, “For you will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will you allow your Holy One to see corruption.” Peter repeats himself just a few verses later in Acts 2:31: “His soul was not left in Hell (actual word is Hades), nor did his flesh did see corruption.”
Notice it says neither soul nor body saw corruption (decay). If he was a sinner would mean He did see corruption. The verse quoted by Peter is Psalm 16:10. Some Bible versions use the word hell; a more accurate translation would be Sheol. In Hebrew, this encompasses the place for both the righteous and unrighteous that have died. Sheol is used 65 times in the Old Testament; rarely is it used to denote a place of torment (Luke 16:23 is one of the rare scriptures in the New Testament). The customary meaning is realm of the dead, meaning the state of death or the grave (Genesis 37:35; 1 Samuel 2:6; Psalm 141:7).
The New Testament Greek equivalent is Hades, and gives us a more detailed explanation of the realm of the dead. It is divided into two compartments; on one side is Abraham’s bosom for the righteous, on the other side is what we call hell, which Jesus said: “was prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). We find in Luke 16:23, 25 that in Hades there is a place of punishment (called Hell), and a place of rest, (Abraham’s bosom), depending on which side you are on. The context should bear it out. If Jesus went to hell for any amount of time as a punishment then the cross was insufficient for our redemption.
For example in 1 Cor 15:55: “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”
The Greek word for both death and Hades is thanatos (properly, an adjective used as a noun) death (literally or figuratively)
In Rev. 1:18 “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”
The word for death is thanatos, Hades is haides in Greek, from 1 (as negative particle) and 1492; properly, unseen, i.e. “Hades” or the place (state) of departed souls: KJV– grave, hell.
What actually did happen to Jesus’ spirit? We know He committed His spirit to God. I Peter 3:18 states, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened (made alive) by the Spirit.” Christ died in body only (put to death in the sphere of the flesh), not the spirit. And continued to exist in spirit, just as He did before He came to earth. His existence in His earthly life ended but He continued His life existing in the spirit inside the earth, in Hades, before He resurrected.
It is His flesh that was made alive again, resurrected. Christ died in body only. We can prove this by 1 Peter 3:19-20: “By whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah…” This event occurred between Christ’s death and resurrection. Jesus went to those who were believers and presented his victory at the cross. He also went to those that were incarcerated from the time of the flood. The word for “preach” is Kerysso in Greek, meaning to proclaim or announce (judgment). This is different then to evangelize and proclaim the good news of reconciliation for salvation, which is used in 1 Peter 4:6. This proclamation was directed to either the fallen angels or the human souls that died in the flood or both (Jude 6; 2 Peter 2:4). Announcing to them their judgment is imminent, as he had just come from the victory on the cross.
Again Hades, Sheol encompasses the whole realm of the dead and the context must bear out what it says.