Q. During a recent discussion about the Apostles Creed, the question came up as to why Jesus descended into hell before He rose from the dead. One of the proposed answers was that it was so that Jesus could take the keys to hell and death from Satan. However, we are unable to locate any scripture to support this proposed answer. We do find that in Revelation 1:18, He has the keys to hell and death. When and how did He get them?
A. You didn’t find any scripture to support the “keys” view because there isn’t any. Rev. 1:18 simply says that Jesus holds the keys of death and Hades. Having a key to some place means you can enter it and leave it at will. In John 10:17-18 Jesus said He had the authority to lay down His life and the authority to take it up again. After His death he walked into Hades and when He was ready He walked out again. Only someone with the keys can do that.
While in Hades, 1 Peter 3:18-20 says He preached to the disobedient spirits from the time of Noah. And 1 Peter 4:6 says the gospel was preached to those who had died in faith of a coming redeemer. Jesus probably did this too.
But the clearest reason is that this was the sign He offered to His enemies in Matt. 12:39-40 as proof that He was who He claimed to be. He said He would spend three days and three nights in the belly of the Earth, which is where people believe Hades to be.