Bible Question:

I was preparing a study for a small home group dealing with the false notion by a teacher of the Word of Faith movement named Kenneth Copeland. He believes Jesus was dragged into hell by Satan and fought for three days before finally having the victory . . . etc As one who believes that Christ finished everything at the cross in regard to the atonement for sin, I thought it good to go through what took place when Jesus died. I noted in Luke 23:46 it says “And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, 'into Your hands I commit My spirit.'” Having said this, He breathed His last. From what I understand Jesus said to the thief on the cross “today you will be with me in paradise” meaning (sheol). At this point we know Jesus's body went to the grave. Yes, His spirit went to the Father and 1 Peter 3:18-19 states, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison.” So the Holy Spirit who was in the creation was active in the conception of Christ and His resurrection. Jesus preached to the spiritual prisoners. This probably ties in with (Eph 4:7-9). So we read that Jesus was “made alive by the Spirit (The Holy Spirit) through whom He preached to the Spirits in prison. The Spirit of God and Christ were the same as we read in Romans 8:3 but they cannot be the same spirit that Jesus gave up to the Father. What is your view?

Bible Answer:

Here are two statements that Ken Copeland has made about Jesus Christ relative to hell. According to Ken Copeland, Satan “blew it on a technicality” when he dragged Jesus into hell. Here is what he claims next.

The Devil forgot to take into consideration that Jesus hadn’t sinned Himself but, rather, had merely become sin as a result of the sin of others.[1]

. . . that Word of the living God went down into that pit of destruction and charged the spirit of Jesus with resurrection power! Suddenly His twisted, death-wracked spirit began to fill out and come back to life. He began to look like something the devil had never seen before. He was literally being reborn before the devil’s very eyes. He began to flex His spiritual muscles . . . Jesus was born again — the first-born from the dead the Word calls Him—and He whipped the devil in his own backyard. He took everything he had away from him. He took his keys and his authority away from him.[2]

Unfortunately, Ken Copeland cannot find anything in the scriptures that supports these statements. The scriptures only state that after Jesus’ physical body died on the old wooden cross, He descended to the abyss (Luke 8:31; Rev 9:11), pit (Rev 9:1-2), or prison and announced His victory over the fallen angels or spirits who were in prison.

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 . . . (NASB) 1 Peter 3:18-19

This passage does not tell us that Jesus was dragged down into hell and suffered. Instead Jesus went as a victor and proclaimed the defeat over Satan and the fallen angels. Jesus did not suffer, writhe, and twist in hell. Jesus did not have a “twisted, death-wracked spirit.” Another important passage regarding Jesus’ descent into the lower parts of the earth or Sheol (place of the dead) is found in Ephesians 4:8.

Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.” (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things. Eph 4:8-10 (NAS95S)

Here we are told that Jesus descended into the lower part of the earth. Yes, Jesus’ physical body descended into Sheol or the grave and returned to life three days later. But His spirit was alive. It never died. That is why Jesus told the thief on the cross that he would be with Jesus in paradise on the very day that Jesus physically died. Jesus’ spirit would be in heaven.

And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43 (NAS95S)

In John 20:17 Jesus tells Mary that she must stop clinging to Him because He had not yet ascended to the Father.

Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'” John 20:17 (NAS95S)

The Greek word that is translated as “ascended” is in the perfect active tense. This means that Jesus is not saying He has not yet ascended to heaven since His physical death. The perfect active tense refers to a completed event. This reveals that Jesus told Mary she could not keep Him. She had to stop clinging. He had to return to heaven and remain with the Father in heaven as a completed act. He could not stay.

Conclusion:

In summary, Jesus did not go into hell and suffer. That is doctrinal error. But that is not the only error Ken Copeland has taught. The most serious error I know that Ken Copeland has taught is that Jesus became God at His baptism and that Jesus never claimed to be God.[3,4] He is wrong. His statement ignores John 8:58 where Jesus said that He was the great “I AM.”

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” John 8:58 (NAS95S)

Compare this statement with Exodus 3:14 where Jehovah God states that He is the “I AM.” If we take these two statements together, Jesus made the statement that He was and is Jehovah God.

Regarding your last question about the reference to God the Spirit in Romans 8:2-3 and Jesus Christ. Yes, you are correct. When John 19:30 says that Jesus gave up His spirit, that was a reference to the spirit of His human body. To give up God the Spirit would result in Him not being God. That would violate Hebrews 13:8 which says that Jesus’ character and essence never changes. Romans 8:3 refers to God the Spirit.

References:

1. Christianity in Crisis. audio Tape. Hank Hanegraff

2. “The Price of it All,” Believer’s Voice of Victory, September 1991, p. 4

3. http://www.equip.org/hank_speaks_outs/benny-hinn-kenneth-copeland-todd-bentley

4. http://www.dakebible.com/WebPages/joseph-chambers.htm

Reference Links:

Peace With God
Where in the Bible are we told that Jesus descended into hell?
Where in the Bible does it speak of Jesus going to hell/hades after His death?
Sheol, Hades, Hell, Paradise, & Heaven