Q. In regards to the “ask a bible teacher” discussion of “the keys to hell”, I found a verse in Col 2:15. It states: “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” I understand some bible experts say this means that after Jesus died, He went into Hell and exerted his authority and dominance.
A. When a condemned prisoner was crucified, it was done near the main thoroughfare leading into Jerusalem from Damascus where everyone passed by. The crime for which the prisoner was being executed was posted on the cross above his head. People passing by could see the prisoner in agony and read the crime that put him on the cross. It was a public spectacle, designed to be a deterrent.
This is the context of the passage surrounding Colossians 2:15. In the temporal realm the sign over the Lord’s head read “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” indicating that His crime against Rome was treason.
But in the spiritual realm the sign He Himself nailed to the cross listed every sin of mankind, publicly displaying to Satan and his cohorts joyously watching with him that the death they had so carefully orchestrated was not the end of mankind’s hope for rescue. Rather it was the key that opened the door to freedom. Every hold that Satan had on mankind could now be broken. Satan had been completely disarmed, as all the spiritual realm could plainly see. He was being made a public spectacle, rather than the One hanging there on the cross. This was the Lord’s triumph over Satan, not some sort of wrestling match in the streets of Hell over a hand full of keys. His last words from the cross were, “It is finished.” And so it was.
His death was consistent with the witness of His life, a non-violent, self-sacrificing mission to preach the good news to the poor, bind up the broken hearted, and release the captives from prison.