Bible Question:

Where in the Bible are we told that Jesus descended into hell?

Bible Answer:

The passage you are asking about is found in 1 Peter 3:18-19.

. . . in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison . . . (NKJV) 1 Peter 3:19

The Holy Spirit has been talking about suffering (1 Peter 3:14-17). Now Jesus is presented as an example of suffering (1 Peter 4:1) in verses 18-19. Verse 18 starts a very interesting passage of scripture. First, we are reminded that Christ died for our sins only one time. That was all that was required for the just as well as the unjust since He was the ” . . . the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (NIV), John 1:29. Some would be saved and live with God forever, and others would go to hell to live forever.

Verses 18 and 19 tell us that Jesus died, returned to life, and then visited the spirits who are in prison. There He proclaimed victory over the spirits. There are three important questions to be asked.

Who are the spirits?

In the Bible, spirits are bad angels, fallen angels, or demons. Good spirits are simply called angels. All angels were once holy beings. Satan was a cherubim, and one day He decided to take over and become like God (Isa. 14:12-15; Ezek. 28:14-18). When he attempted to do this, other angels joined him according to Rev. 12:7-9.

And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven, and threw them to the earth. . . . (NKJV) Rev. 12:4

There was a fight in heaven between good and bad angels and Satan along with all of the other angels was thrown out of heaven. Normally scripture calls Satan’s angels simply demons or spirits. See Luke 11:15-20 where we see Satan and his demons together.

Where is the prison?

The location of the prison in which these demons are trapped is an unknown place, but it is called the abyss (Luke 8:30-31). We believe this is the prison Jude 6 refers to and says that certain angels are kept in eternal bonds because of a terrible sin they committed. We believe the sin occurred in Genesis 6:1-4.

Did Jesus preach salvation?

When Jesus “made proclamation to the spirits now in prison” He did not preach salvation to the demons because fallen angels cannot be saved (Heb. 2:14-16). When Jesus died, He defeated Satan. When He returned to life, He conquered death (1 Cor. 15:55-57). This was the message Jesus proclaimed. It was also a message of doom to those demons who sinned in Genesis 6.


What a victory party Jesus had!

Suggested Links:

Angels - Good & Evil
Legions of Demons
Who or what are the sons of God?
Searching For God