Posts Tagged ‘Did Jesus Go To Hell’

Did Jesus Suffer in Hell?

April 10, 2009

Did Jesus Suffer in Hell?

Response to word of faith apologist Tom Brown!

This article is not about proving or disproving if Jesus was tormented in hell but the purpose is to highlight the fallacies in Tom Brown’s answer regarding what happened after the death of Jesus on the cross.

Tom Brown who is a popular word of faith preacher tries to defend that Jesus indeed went to hell and got tormented. However the reasons given by Tom Brown is grossly inadequate to prove that Jesus went and suffered in hell. Let us examine Tom Browns claims one by one and compare them with what the Bible has to say.

1. Jesus said “today” and not three days!

Tom Brown claims (I am paraphrasing his statements) that Jesus went to the Paradise section of the hades ONLY on that day of His death on the cross and after that Jesus went to the hell section of the hades and suffered for 12 hours.

Someone called William Carpenter has posed a question to Tom Brown citing Luke 23:43

” I have a question about Jesus’ descent into hell. In Luke 23:43, “And Jesus replied,’ Today you will be with me in Paradise. This is a solemn promise.” TLB

The question I am wondering about is how could He have defeated Satan in hell if He declared to the thief that they both would be in Paradise that day? I believe Jesus made an open display of Satan on the Cross, according to Col.1:14: “Who bought our freedom with His Blood and forgave us all our sins.”

Could you also explain to me how the Word of Faith teaching responds to Luke23:43? I’ll be waiting for your reply.

Sincerely, William Carpenter

Tom Brown answer is:

As far as the passage in Luke 23:43 Jesus did go to Paradise that day. I agree. Jesus, however, did not say that He would be there for all three days. That’s where you make a wrong assumption. Jesus said, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” Today does not mean three days; it simply means the current day.

Let us analyze Tom Brown’s response to William Carpenter. According to Tom Brown Jesus did not say that He would be in Paradise for all three days. That’s where you make a wrong assumption. Tom Brown here charges William Carpenter for making a wrong assumption for interpreting “today” as three days!

Well before making such an accusation Tom Brown needs to realize that he was the one who makes the wrong assumption and not William Carpenter. If Tom Brown’s “right” assumption that Jesus went to paradise before going to the hell section let him give an answer to Patriarch Abraham who answered differently to the suffering rich man.

Jesus tell us about the conversation between Abraham and the suffering rich man in Luke 16:24 through 26

Luke 16:24
“And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’

Luke 16:26
And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’

Tom Brown needs to answer how Jesus was able to cross over to the other side while He was still spiritually dead? He needs to make his own assumption now that God the Father sent Jesus to Paradise first just to escort that thief and God made Jesus to cross over!

2. Three deaths for human beings:

Here I have to agree with Tom Brown that human beings who are not born again will experience 3 deaths. However I differ in defining the kinds of death that an unbeliever would experience.

* Spiritual death – Cessation of communication with God. When Adam and Eve sinned they died spiritually
* Physical death – This was not in God’s original plan for Adam and Eve to die. But because of sin their spirits and souls needed to depart from their bodies. This is the cessation of communication between the human body and the spirit/soul.
* Eternal death – Cessation of communication with God for ever. This is the eternal on-going destruction of the lost spirit and soul first in the place where that rich man went and later in the lake of fire after the great White throne judgment.

However according to Tom Brown the 3 death’s were physical, spiritual and soulish. I don’t why Tom Brown has not explained about the eternal death! It is true that the soul experiences the torment in hell but so does the spirit. According to Hebrews 4:12 the soul is compared to the bone and the spirit is compared to the marrow. In other words in the human personality the soul surrounds the spirit. The human spirit is also known as the “heart”, inner man and inward man.

3. Death in Hebrew is in plural.

Tom Brown is again correct in pointing out that the word death is mentioned in plural in Isaiah 53 in Hebrew. Tom Brown even gives some pictorial evidence to that in his website. The following 2 pictures are from one of Tom Brown’s own Bible as he brags in his website. He points out that death in Hebrew is mention in plural with scanned copies from one of his own Bibles!

Does the plural form of death necessarily indicate more than one death?

B’motav” means “in his deaths” and “b’moto” means “in his death”. But does this indicate plurality? NO! If it were “b’moteihem/b’motam”, then he would have a point beyond any doubt, since this would mean “in their deaths/in their death”, which is indisputably plural. But this word in Isaiah 53:9 does not support anything he goes on to say. But the plural expression of that word is indeed used elsewhere in scripture. Let’s look at Ezekiel 28:

(8) They shall bring thee down to the pit; and thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain, in the heart of the seas….

(10) Thou shalt die the deaths of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers; for I have spoken, saith the Lord YHWH.’

These are examples of a single person being addressed and threatened to die deaths (plural). Now it is often said that these are instances that the word “deaths” refer to the plural “uncircumcised”. Well, that doesn’t excuse the plural use either, because the Old Testament shows us that the singular is used in reference to a multitude [e.g. Numbers 23:10; Let me die the death (singular; moth) of the righteous (plural; y’sharim)]. And also verse 8 is a striking example of the plural being applied to a singular person. It speaks of “m’motei chalal b’lev yamim” which translates “in the deaths of one slain in the in the heart of the seas”. The plural (chalalim) is not used here (e.g. Isaiah 66:16, Daniel 11:26). So the plural for of deaths does not necessarily indicate that Jesus experienced multiple deaths.

    4. Tom Brown on Acts 2:27

Tom Brown explains Acts 2:27 like this:

Peter, in his first sermon, mentions the suffering of Christ’ soul in hell:

Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. (Acts 2:27, KJV)

Jesus’ soul was in hell, but not left there. Praise God. Why did Jesus go to hell for us? He went there because the punishment of sin is for the soul to be cast into hell. Since Christ suffered the penalties and punishment for our sins, it stands to reason that He would have to suffer in hell, and He did!”

Well here we should notice that the KJV has incorrectly translated hades as hell. Also why would Tom Brown say that the punishment of sin is for the soul to be case into hell instead of the lake of fire after the great White throne judgment. Jesus went to the paradise section of the hades. Acts 2:27 did not say that the soul of Jesus was tormented in “hell”. It says “Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell”. Even that place where the Old Testament saints were confined was a place in the nether world without hope. Only the Messiah, the Son of God would bring them redemption. So the soul of Jesus was not left behind in the hades because He Himself was the redeemer.

Tom Brown may say why would the verse say thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, does it not indicate that Jesus was expecting God the Father to rescue Him from the torments of hell? Well we can also argue like this: If Jesus was not suffering in hell He was definitely in the paradise section of the hades. That place is again a place of captivity. The Old Testament saints did not have the freedom to cross over to the other side and their freedom of movement was limited. So alternatively we can say that God the Father did not leave Jesus in the place of captivity and Jesus still needed to get out of that place. Leaving Jesus in the place where Abraham and Lazarus were present would have stilled messed up God’s plan of redemption. If Jesus was left behind in paradise He would not have resurrected and the Old Testament saint would have been in captivity together Jesus!!!
John 10:17 and 18

“For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.

“No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”

John 10:18 clearly proves that Jesus Himself had the authority to take His life back. Therefore after suffering 12 hours in hell how Jesus had the ability to take His own life back.
5. Tom Brown uses The Apostle’s Creed to justify his position.

Tom Brown writes:

The Apostle’s Creed. A portion of the creed affirms Jesus descent into hell, the very thing that Hanegraaff disbelieves. It says:

“I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty…” (Emphasis added)

It’s clear that the early church believed that Jesus descended into hell. Were they heretics? The fact is, during their time if anyone refused to believe in the entire creed they were disfellowshipped…”

Steven Gertz is editorial coordinator for Christian History gives a vivid answer about this. According to Steven Gertz

“The oldest extant version comes from Bishop Marcellus of Ancyra (ca. A.D. 337), and it does not contain the clause about descending into hell. Scholars call this version “The Old Roman Form”—the earliest creed of the Roman church.

Apparently the clause first appeared in the East with Sirmium’s fourth formula in 359—also called the “Dated Creed”— though the Eastern church rejected it as tinged with Arianism. The first mention of the descent in the West occurs in the writings of Rufinus of Aquileia, who included it in his baptismal creed around 400. Over time, the Latin church appropriated it as well, officially integrating it into the Creed in 750”.

The United Methodists commonly incorporate the Apostles’ Creed into their worship services. The version which is most often used is located at #881 in the United Methodist Hymnal, one of their most popular hymnals and one with a heritage to John Wesley, founder of Methodism . It is notable for omitting the line “he descended into hell”, but is otherwise very similar to the Book of Common Prayer version.

So, yet another blow to Tom Brown’s claims. Tom Brown also makes a strange claim that Because of efforts like Hank Hanegraaff some churches have removed this part of the Apostle’s Creed from their statement or they rephrase the creed to say, “He descended into the Grave.”

Tom Brown does not give details about which churches have changed the Apostle’c Creed as persuaded by Hank Hanegraaff.
6. Tom Brown fails to answer other important questions:

a. Did Jesus cease to be a member of the Trinity when He suffered in hell?

b. Did Jesus cease to be God when He was tormented in hell?


My point is not to prove whether Jesus indeed went to the place of torment and suffered for us or did He ONLY go to the place where Lazarus went. My article is to point out the fallacies in Tom Brown’s article.

What happened in the cross? What happened when the darkness surrounded the entire earth? Was Jesus separated from God the Father? Was the Holy Spirit who was residing in Jesus beyond measure was taken away? Did Jesus cease to be a member of the Holy Trinity? With Jesus and the disciples not physically being around we cannot come to a clear conclusion.

Deuteronomy 29:29 gives us the answer:

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.

We don’t know the answers to all these questions until we get into eternity. Believing in Jesus is the only condition for Justification and to obtain eternal life. An unsaved person obviously need not believe that Jesus went to hell to suffer for him/her in order to obtain eternal life. That is good news.
Finally, according to Tom Brown the belief that Jesus suffered in hell is necessary to understand the full redemptive work of Jesus.

My question to Tom Brown:

In what way you are different than other men of God who preached the Gospel powerfully in Church history who did not hold this view about Jesus’ death?  In what way believing that Jesus was tormented in hell makes the Word of Faith believers better than other Christians Tom? Do the WoFers get more blessings for believing this particular doctrine?
Related links:
Hear it from the horse’s mouth: Tom Brown’s answer to William Carpenter
Atonement Where? Excellent article by Moreno Dal Bello (© 2003 Tricia Tillin of Banner Ministries. All rights reserved)
Steven Gertz, the editorial coordinator for Christian History enlightens about the history of Apostle’s creed!

Copyright © 2002 by the author or

Christianity Today International/Christian History magazine.
Information about the Apostle’s Creed in Wikipedia.