Based upon my research, I could go either way with this issue. I can see the fact that Jesus stated, “It is finished!” [Refer to: John 19:30, Matthew 27:50, Mark 15:37, Luke 23:46] While it was only noted in the Book of John the words, “It is finished!” However, when His Spirit was given up to God, it can be implied that His purpose on this earth was finished, or implied that He completed the task given Him by the Father was completed. Although, we are not to add to God’s Word anything we think happened, but rather what we can glean from the information given to us by the Gospel writers. From the written word we can also see the possibility that Jesus did go to Hell in order to finish His mission.
Consider the following:
Ephesians 4:9 NKJV Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?
Acts 2:24 NKJV whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.
1 Peter 3:19 NKJV by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison
Hosea 13:14 NKJV “I will ransom them from the power of the grave;
I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes.”
Zechariah 9:11 NKJV As for you also, Because of the blood of your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.
Colossians 2:15 NKJV Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
Each of these scriptural references implies that Christ descended into Hell. However an argument can be made that each infers that Christ was buried in the earth and rose from the dead…and then ascended to Heaven.
While Jesus suffered the outpouring of God’s wrath on the cross; however, for the rest of us humans (non-Gods) [Psalm 82:6-7 NKJV] “You are gods, And all of you are children of the Most High. But you shall die like men…” We will be sent to Hell for the fulfillment of God’s judgement against us, will we no? Why then wouldn’t Jesus also be subject to such judgement? Although, we do need to keep in mind [Romans 9:15 NKJV, Exodus 33:19 NKJV] “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.”
Wherein Consisted Christ’s Humiliation after his Death? The Westminster Larger Catechism Answered: Christ’s humiliation after his death consisted in his being buried, and continuing in the state of the dead, and under the power of death till the third day; which has been otherwise expressed in these words, he descended into hell. But as King David foretold in Psalm 16:10 (NKJV): “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.” We all can ask but what of the soul or spirit of Jesus? Of course, as it is in Systematic Theology some argue that the word means precisely what it says, i.e. “He descended to hell.” [Personal Note: I am not Catholic, but I was raised as such. I have a great number of problems with the Catholic Doctrine. However, I believe much of the word was passed through the Catholic Church and was protected, overall, for us to read and come to know our Lord and Savior, Our God and Our Creator. That is why some of my research usually includes Catholic references.]
The idea of preaching to the spiritual prisoners in Hell, in the context of 1 Peter 3, seems rather unlikely and unbelievable. An argument (not defended) by Augustine: The passage refers to what Jesus did in the spiritual realm of existence at the time of Noah. Christ was preaching through Noah to the hostile unbelievers around Him during his building of the Ark. Such things supporting such a notion:
1 Peter 1:11 NKJV “…He testified beforehand…”
1 Peter 3:19 NKJV “… He went and preached to the spirits in prison“
2 Peter 2:5 NKJV “…did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah…“
Consider what was written in 1 Peter 4:6 NKJV “…preached also to those who are dead…” The word “dead” is a bit ambiguous, don’t you think? Are we talking “dead” physically? Are we talking “dead” spiritually? Those separated from God? Perhaps, unbelievers?
Atonement (non-Reformed): Christ paid for all sins on the cross.
Atonement (Reformed): Argue IF Christ paid for all sins of all people on the cross, then there is no penalty left for anyone to pay.
Atonement (My Opinion): Christ paid for all sins of all, once, on the cross. [see Romans 6:10 NKJV] However, man MUST accept Christ into their hearts, Believe, Repent of their sins, & Be Baptized.
I believe, of course this is my opinion only, that Christ did not have to complete the judgement of God the Father by going to Hell in our place. He, Jesus, had to fulfill the judgement on the cross where He was “…counted among the transgressors…” [Isaiah 53:12, Luke 22:37] and eventually gave up His spirit.
I believe this was quite a subject to study. It made me think on the Biblical text, research what others stated, and eventually come to my own conclusion. Between my notes (10+ pages), web searches [3 general, 4 specific], the videos, the podcasts, reference books, etc. The basis for this study was a question posed on Facebook, of all places. [I am rather surprised that it was not removed for violating their standards.] It is questions such as this, however basic they may be that truly gets you digging into the Biblical text, commentaries, searching the internet, and other reference books on the same subject.
I hope this was interesting for you!
May God Richly Bless you, My Beloved!
Systematic Theology, Chapter 27 “Atonement” by Wayne Grudem
8 Bible Verses on Christ’s Descent into Hell by
Where was Jesus for the three days between His death and resurrection? GotQuestions.com
Parable of the Lost Sheep AllAboutJesusChrist.org
[CHRIST] “DESCENDED INTO HELL”