Bible Question:

Where in the Bible does it speak of Jesus going to hell/hades after His death? Is it in the Episcopalian creed? I am puzzled. Can you help? Thank you for your time.

Bible Answer:

Scripture tells us that after Jesus’ death, His spirit went to heaven or paradise. We know this because Jesus tells the thief hanging next to Him on a cross that he would be in paradise with Him that very day,

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

What is paradise? Paradise is heaven. 1 Peter 3:18-19 tells us that Jesus descended into hell and announced victory over the spirits which are fallen spirits, evil angels and also called demons.

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; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison . . . 1 Peter 3:18-19 (NASB)

Notice that these spirits are in prison. In Luke 8:31 the prison is called the abyss and in Jude 6 it is eternal bonds.

Christ Declared Victory Over The Satanic Hosts

There are some who would disagree with this conclusion for various reasons. One reason is that they assume Jesus preached a salvation message to the fallen angels, but 1 Peter 3:18-19 does not say that. The Greek word for proclamation in verse 18 is not the Greek word meaning “good news” or “the gospel.” That Greek word is evangelion. The Greek word translated as proclamation is kerusso which means “to herald” or “officiate as a herald.” It is a common word in the New Testament having the idea “to announce.” In this case, Jesus declared His accomplishment. He declared victory over Satan and his kingdom of demons. Nor did Jesus need to go to hell as some are currently teaching to pay for His sins. That teaching cannot be supported by this passage since it does not say that nor do any other scriptures support that view either. Jesus was the perfect lamb of God – He was sinless even though He took the sins of the world upon Himself on the cross (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus was

. . . tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. (NASB) Hebrews 4:15

It seems best to understand 1 Peter 3:18-19 as revealing that Jesus announced victory.

Christ Announced His Victory Before His Resurrection

When did Jesus visit the demons in prison? 1 Peter 3:19 states “in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison.” This suggests two things. First, Christ visited them in His spirit. “Spirit” does not refer to the Holy Spirit but to Christ’s own spirit. Second, Christ’s visit occurred in the context of His death and resurrection. That is, He announced victory after His death since His death achieved the victory (Hebrews 2:14-15).

 Therefore, since the children share in  flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through  fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. Hebrews 2:14-15 (NASB)

Consequently, He defeated Satan, death and sin and then after His victorious announcement His physical body was resurrected and became immortal.

Yes, the Episcopalian Creed does say that Jesus descended into hell,

III. OF THE GOING DOWN OF CHRIST INTO HELL
As Christ died for us, and was buried, so also is it to be believed, that He went down into Hell.

Articles of Religion (Thirty-Nine Articles)

Conclusion:

Jesus was the sinless God-man who took away our sins, ascended into paradise at His death, descended into hell, was resurrected and forty days later returned to heaven until His second coming.

Reference Links:

The Grief of God - sermon