I recently received a newsletter with the following insert: “When God walked in human flesh, covered with the dust of the road and the tears of the people, He was saying with every step, 'Look at me, this is what God is like.' God is not remote, He is here. God is not cruel, He is kind. God is weak, He is strong. God is not indifferent to your pain; He weeps. God does not keep a record of wrongs; He has a river of forgiveness. God does not hate you. He loves. Look at me. Do you see the cross, the rust, tearing nails, the roar of anguish as darkness wraps me in all the foul evil stench of who you are so that you can be where I am? This is the price I paid, willingly for you. Do you see the price tag? Do you understand the value? Do not tell me you are not worth loving - I descended into hell because you are. ” My question is did Jesus descend into hell?
The passage you refer to is as follows:
For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. (NASB) 1 Peter 3:18-20
Did Jesus descend into hell?
Jesus did descend into the abyss to proclaim victory over the demons who were confined there. The Holy Spirit reveals this in 1 Peter where we are told that Jesus visited the abyss or prison where the angels or “sons of God” in Genesis 6:1-2 who cohabitated with women are now imprisoned.
Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. (NASB) Genesis 6:1-2
Genesis tells us that a group of angels violated the boundaries that God had established for fallen or evil angels – demons. These demons have been confined to this abyss every since. In Luke 8:31 a group of demons called “Legion” asked Jesus to not send them to the abyss. This is not hell, Sheol, hades, or the Lake of Fire. But scripture does not tell us that Jesus entered hell. That is an overstatement and scripture does not support such a conclusion.
What is hell? There is a study at this site which discusses the difference between hell, hades, the Lake of Fire, the abyss, and others. If you are interested, the study is entitled, “Sheol, Hades, Hell, Paradise, & Heaven.”
You might also be interested in a question and answer entitled, previous “Where in the Bible are we told that Jesus descended into hell?“