Q. Thank you so much for your wonderful teachings, and sharing your knowledge of biblical prophecy. My question is: If after the crucifixion Jesus descended into hell for 3 days, how is it He told one of the men being crucified with Him they’d be together in Paradise before the day was over?
A. In Old Testament times, the spirits of those who died went to a place they called “the abode of the dead.” It consisted of two compartments; a place of comfort for believers and a place of torment for unbelievers. The place of comfort was sometimes called Abraham’s Bosom because it was thought that Abraham met them there to await the resurrection (Luke 16:19-31). The abode of the dead was called Hades in Greek and is often translated Hell in English.
The Greek word translated paradise appears only 3 times in the New Testament and was another name for Abraham’s Bosom. This is where Jesus and the man who died next to Him went (Luke 23:43). Jesus mentioned going into the belly of the Earth for 3 days and three nights after His death (Matt. 12:40) indicating the location of paradise.
Old Testament sacrifices were not sufficient to cleanse mankind of his sins. They could only set them aside until the Lord’s perfect “once for all time” sacrifice was complete (Hebr. 10:11-14). It was His death that opened the gates of Heaven. After the resurrection Jesus took the faithful dead with Him to Heaven . Some assert that He took paradise itself because the place Paul visited (2 Cor. 12:4) is sometimes called the 3rd Heaven (indicating the Throne of God) but the Greek word there is the one translated paradise.