Christ’s Descent Into Hades (vs. Francois Turretin)

Christ’s Descent Into Hades (vs. Francois Turretin) September 1, 2022

Biblical and Patristic Support Examined

François Turretin (1623-1687) was a Genevan-Italian Reformed scholastic theologian, earnest defender of the Calvinistic orthodoxy represented by the Synod of Dort, and one of the authors of the Helvetic Consensus (1675). His Institutes of Elenctic Theology (three parts, Geneva, 1679–1685) used the scholastic method. It was a popular textbook; notably at Princeton Theological Seminary, until it was replaced by Charles Hodge‘s Systematic Theology in the late 19th century. Turretin also greatly influenced the Puritans.


I am replying to a portion of a piece from Turretin posted on the website, A Puritan’s Mind, entitled: “Was the soul of Christ, after its separation from the body, translated to paradise immediately? Or did it descend locally to hell?” It’s from Institutes of Elenctic Theology. His words will be in blue.

The former we affirm; the latter we deny against the Papists and Lutherans.

The former we deny; the latter we affirm against the sola Scripturists.

Matthew 12:40 (RSV) For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Matthew 27:52-53 the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, [53] and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

Luke 16:22-23 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; [23] and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Laz’arus in his bosom.

Luke 23:42-43 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” [43] And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

John 5:25 Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

Acts 2:31 he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.

[Amplified Bible, Classic Edition: “. . . He was not deserted [in death] and left in Hades (the state of departed spirits), nor did His body know decay or see destruction”; KJV: “his soul was not left in hell”; NIV: “he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead”; NKJV: “His soul was not left in Hades”; Weymouth: “He was not left forsaken in the Unseen World”]

Romans 10:7 . . .  “Who will descend into the abyss?” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

Ephesians 4:8-10 Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” [9] (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? [10] He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)

1 Peter 3:19-20 . . . he went and preached to the spirits in prison, [20] who formerly did not obey, . . .

1 Peter 4:6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to the dead, that though judged in the flesh like men, they might live in the spirit like God.

Revelation 20:13-14 And the sea gave up the dead in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead in them, and all were judged by what they had done. [14] Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire;

The Papists maintain that the soul of Christ from the time of its separation from the body straightway descended locally to hell until the resurrection.

In the Catechism of Trent, it is proposed to be believed: “Christ being now dead, his soul descended into hell, and remained there just as long as his body was in the sepulchre” (Catechism of the Council of Trent, Art. 5 [trans. J. A. McHugh, 1923], pp. 62 and 64). . . . 

[I]t is added in the same place, “It is to be entirely believed that the soul itself really and by presence descended into hell.” However they wish him to have descended thither for the purpose of freeing the souls of the fathers of the Old Testament detained in limbo and of carrying them with him to heaven.

First of all, let’s get straight what is being referred to. The Nicene Creed refers to hell, but the reference is specifically to Hades. The word hell (many are not aware) has a wide latitude in theological usage. The Catechism of the Catholic Church elaborates:

633 Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, “hell” – Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek – because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God. Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into “Abraham’s bosom” . . .

Hades / Sheol is distinct from the biblical Greek place, gehenna, which refers to “’the unquenchable fire’ reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe” (CCC 1034). Accordingly, the 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia (“Hell”) states that “Theologians distinguish four meanings”: 1) everlasting fire and punishment (Gehenna), 2) limbo, 3) limbo of the fathers (limbus patrum), or Hades Sheol, and 4) purgatory.
Jesus descended to, and led captives from Sheol, not Gehenna; also known as “paradise.” And this is what the Apostles’ Creed refers to (“He descended into hell” / Latin: descendit ad inferos). It was the realm of the dead until the Advent of Christ. The Catechism elaborates:

634 “The gospel was preached even to the dead.” [1 Pet 4:6] The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfillment. This is the last phase of Jesus’ messianic mission, a phase which is condensed in time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christ’s redemptive work to all men of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made sharers in the redemption.

635 Christ went down into the depths of death so that “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” [Jn 5:25; cf. Mt 12:40; Rom 10:7; Eph 4:9.] Jesus, “the Author of life”, by dying destroyed “him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and [delivered] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.” [Heb 2:14-15; cf. Acts 3:15]. Henceforth the risen Christ holds “the keys of Death and Hades”, so that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” [Rev 1:18; Phil 2:10] . . .

636 By the expression “He descended into hell”, the Apostles’ Creed confesses that Jesus did really die and through his death for us conquered death and the devil “who has the power of death” (Heb 2:14).

637 In his human soul united to his divine person, the dead Christ went down to the realm of the dead. He opened heaven’s gates for the just who had gone before him.

This wider meaning or latitude of the word hell is not just a Catholic “invention” or peculiar to us. It’s a biblical thing. Hence, the Protestant International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1939; “Hell”) concurs:

1. The Word in the King James Version:

The English word, from a Teutonic root meaning “to hide” or “cover,” had originally the significance of the world of the dead generally, and in this sense is used by Chaucer, Spenser, etc., and in the Creed (“He descended into hell”); compare the English Revised Version Preface. Now the word has come to mean almost exclusively the place of punishment of the lost or finally impenitent; the place of torment of the wicked. In the King James Version of the Scriptures, it is the rendering adopted in many places in the Old Testament for the Hebrew word she’ol (in 31 out of 65 occurrences of that word it is so translated), and in all places, save one (1Co 15:55) in the New Testament, for the Greek word Hades (this word occurs 11 times; in 10 of these it is translated “hell”; 1Co 15:55 reads “grave,” with “hell” in the margin). In these cases the word has its older general meaning, though in Lu 16:23 (parable of Rich Man and Lazarus) it is specially connected with a place of “torment,” in contrast with the “Abraham’s bosom” to which Lazarus is taken (Lu 16:22).

2. The Word in the Revised Version:

In the above cases the Revised Version (British and American) has introduced changes, replacing “hell” by “Sheol” in the passages in the Old Testament (the English Revised Version retains “hell” in Isa 14:9,15; the American Standard Revised Version makes no exception), and by “Hades” in the passages in the New Testament (see under these words).

The Lutherans agree with them in asserting the substantial descent of Christ into hell; not only into limbo, but into the very place of the damned, to show his victory there and exhibit his triumph.

Catholics believe that Christ descended to Hades or Sheol, not Gehenna (hell proper, or the abode of those who are eternally damned and punished; “the lake of fire” etc.). If Lutherans think He went to Gehenna, they are wrong. And if Turretin thinks that we agree with them, he has misrepresented Catholic theology.

The Fourth Lateran [Ecumenical] Council (1215) stated that Christ “descended in the soul” [Latin: descendit in anima] (Denzinger 801; p. 266 n the 43rd edition in English [Ignatius Press], 2012).

Ludwig Ott, in his Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (orig. 1952; revised edition by Robert Fastiggi, Baronius Press, 2018, commented on Matthew 12:40 (see above):

The expression “heart of the earth” . . . does not signify the grave, but the underworld, which was visualised as being localised in the interior of the earth, as it were in its heart. This interpretation is supported by the parallel to Jonah 2:3 (“belly of hell” . . .[RSV: “belly of Sheol”]) as well as by the Old Testament visualisation that the point of departure of the resurrection is the underworld, the place of detention of departed souls. (p. 208)

He adds, speaking generally:

The underworld is the place of detention for the souls of the just of the pre-Christian era, the so-called vestibule of hell (Limbus Patrum). (p. 207)

The doctrine of Christ’s descent into hell does not . . . draw its inspiration from heathen myths, but from the Old Testament Revelation of the intermediate condition between death and resurrection, in which the departed souls sojourn in the underworld (Sheol). (p. 208)

The purpose of the descent into Hell was, according to the general teaching of theologians, the freeing of the just in Limbo by the application of the fruits of Redemption, that is, by the communication of the Beatific Vision. Cf. III 52, 5. Cat. Rom. I 6, 6. (p. 209)

The Church fathers offer significant and early support for this interpretation:

[H]ow shall we be able to live apart from Him, whose disciples the prophets themselves in the Spirit did wait for Him as their Teacher? And therefore He whom they rightly waited for, having come, raised them from the dead. [Matthew 27:52] (St. Ignatius of Antioch [d. c. 110], Letter to the Magnesians, 9)

And again, from the sayings of the same Jeremiah these have been cut out: ‘The Lord God remembered His dead people of Israel who lay in the graves; and He descended to preach to them His own salvation.’ (St. Justin Martyr [d. 165], Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 72)

His passion is the arousing of His sleeping disciples, on whose account He also descended into the lower parts of the earth, [Ephesians 4:9] . . . (St. Irenaeus [d. 202], Against Heresies, Book IV, 22, 1)

He . . . remembered His own dead ones who had formerly fallen asleep, and came down to them that He might deliver them . . . (Against Heresies, Book IV, 33, 1)

Others, again, when they said, The holy Lord remembered His own dead ones who slept in the dust, and came down to them to raise them up, that He might save them, furnished us with the reason on account of which He suffered all these things. (Against Heresies, Book IV, 33, 12)

[T]he heretics . . . do not choose to understand, that if these things are as they say, the Lord Himself, in whom they profess to believe, did not rise again upon the third day; but immediately upon His expiring on the cross, undoubtedly departed on high, leaving His body to the earth. But the case was, that for three days He dwelt in the place where the dead were, as the prophet says concerning Him: And the Lord remembered His dead saints who slept formerly in the land of sepulture; and He descended to them, to rescue and save them. And the Lord Himself says, As Jonas remained three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of man be in the heart of the earth. [Matthew 12:40] Then also the apostle says, But when He ascended, what is it but that He also descended into the lower parts of the earth? [Ephesians 4:9] This, too, David says when prophesying of Him, And you have delivered my soul from the nethermost hell; . . . (Against Heresies, Book V, 31, 1)

But what is that which is removed to Hades after the separation of the body; which is there detained; which is reserved until the day of judgment; to which Christ also, on dying, descended? (Tertullian [d. c. 225], Treatise on the Soul, ch. 7)

[T]he Saviour would descend to ransom the souls of the saints from the hand of death. (St. Hippolytus [d. c. 236], On Christ and Antichrist, 45)

It is established beyond question that the Lord, after He had been put to death in the flesh, descended into hell; for it is impossible to gainsay either that utterance of prophecy, You will not leave my soul in hell, — an utterance which Peter himself expounds in the Acts of the Apostles, lest any one should venture to put upon it another interpretation — or the words of the same apostle, in which he affirms that the Lord loosed the pains of hell, in which it was not possible for Him to be holden. Who, therefore, except an infidel, will deny that Christ was in hell? (St. Augustine [d. 430], Epistle 164 [AD 414], ch. 2, 3]

[cf. Odes of Solomon, generally dated to the 1st or second century, numbers 17 and 42]

Hence the question took this form: Whether Christ descended locally into hell or only to the limbo of the fathers and to purgatory for the purpose of leading out the souls of the pious or to the very place of the damned to openly exhibit his victory. This our opponents hold; we deny.

Catholics hold that He descended to Hades / Sheol / limbo of the fathers, not to the damned in hell (Gehenna / Lake of Fire): who, in any event, would not have benefitted from His preaching, being damned and beyond redemption. Hebrews 9:27 states: “it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment”.

[T]he soul of Christ immediately after its release from the body mounted up into paradise, according to the promise made to the thief, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). . . . 

Thomas Aquinas also gratuitously feigns, “Paradise here denotes generally the place of happiness, wherever it may be, in which they are said to be who enjoy the divine glory; whence the thief as to place was in hell with Christ, as to reward in paradise; so that paradise is wherever Christ is and wherever God is seen” (ST, Ill, Q. 52, Art. 4, p. 2305).

But what is this except to mingle heaven not only with earth but also with hell? . . . 

Finally, in no other way is paradise to be understood than as Scripture elsewhere speaks of it: as the seat of the blessed (2 Cor. 12:4; Rev. 2:7), . . . 

The New Bible Dictionary (edited by J. D. Douglas, Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1962, “Paradise”: 934-935), a very reputable Protestant reference work, states:

In Lk. 23:43 the word ‘paradise’ is used by Jesus for the place where souls go immediately after death, cf. the concealed paradise in later Jewish thought. The same idea is also present in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk. 16:19-31).

The same article cites the other two instances in the New Testament (2 Cor 12:2-4 and Rev 2:7) as referring to “heaven”:

2 Corinthians 12:2-3 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven — whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. [3] And I know that this man was caught up into Paradise — whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows —

Revelation 2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Thus, we see that “Paradise” has multiple meanings in the Bible. The Greek word is paradeisosStrong’s word #3857Thayer’s Greek Lexicon (cited in the link to the left) gives the same variant meanings that I accept:

3. that part of Hades which was thought by the later Jews to be the abode of the souls of the pious until the resurrectionLuke 23:43, cf. 16:23f. But some (e. g. Dillmann (as below, p. 379) understand that passage of the heavenly paradise.

4. an upper region in the heavens2 Corinthians 12:4 (where some maintain, others deny, that the term is equivalent to  τρίτος οὐρανός in 2 Corinthians 12:2); with the addition of τοῦ Θεοῦ, genitive of possessor, the abode of God and heavenly beings, to which true Christians will be taken after death, Revelation 2:7 (cf. Genesis 13:10Ezekiel 28:13Ezekiel 31:8).

Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (one-volume edition) also notes these different meanings:

The concealed paradise is the intermediate abode of the redeemed in Lk. 23:43. Other NT terms for the intermediate state  are table fellowship with Abraham (Lk. 16:23), being with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8) or Christ (Phil. 1:23), and the heavenly kingdom (2 Tim. 4:18). (p. 777)

The NT . . . refers to his sojourn in hades and perhaps to redemptive work there (cf. Rom. 10:7; Acts 2:27; 1 Pet. 3:19-20). (p. 778)

Marvin Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament notes for Luke 24:43:

In the Jewish theology, the department of Hades where the blessed souls await the resurrection; and therefore equivalent to Abraham’s bosom (ch. xvi. 22, 23).

He himself doesn’t follow this interpretation for Luke 24:43, but it’s noteworthy that Jewish tradition had the concept. Jesus could easily have drawn from that, and indeed, Vincent seems to hint at this scenario, by comparing Jesus’ story of Lazarus and the rich man to it. Thayer also stated the same (above): “that part of Hades which was thought by the later Jews to be the abode of the souls of the pious until the resurrection.” It’s known that much of New Testament eschatology (as well as things like angelology) developed from later Jewish eschatology.

Matthew Henry Commentary (Presbyterian, 1706) states with regard to Luke 23:43:

Christ here lets us know that he was going to paradise himself, to ‘hades—the invisible world.’ His human soul was removing to the place of separate souls; not to the place of the damned, but to paradise, the place of the blessed.

Likewise, John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible (1765) on the same passage:

In paradise – The place where the souls of the righteous remain from death till the resurrection. As if he had said, I will not only remember thee then, but this very day.

Systematic Theology, Augustus Hopkins Strong (Baptist; 1907; Westwood, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Co., three-volumes-in-one edition, 994, 998); provides the following proof texts for Sheol:

Luke 16:23 . . . 23:43 . . . cf. 1 Sam. 28:19 — Samuel said to Saul in the cave of Endor: “tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me” — evidently not in an unconscious state . . .

Luke 23:42,43 . . . Paradise is none other than the abode of God and the blessed, of which the primeval Eden was the type. If the penitent thief went to Purgatory, it was a Purgatory with Christ, which was better than a Heaven without Christ. Paradise is a place which Christ has gone to prepare, perhaps by taking our friends there before us.

Hans Bietenhard and Colin Brown, “Paradise,” in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (edited by Colin Brown, Vol. 2; Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976, p. 761), opine:

In Lk. 23:43 it is no doubt dependent on contemporary Jewish conceptions, and refers to the at present hidden and intermediate abode of the righteous.

Other Protestants teach differently, but if the claim is that no Protestant thinks in these terms, that is clearly untrue. All of the above eight sources (none of them Catholic) are quite reputable and widely used. Therefore, obviously my argument is not solely a “Catholic” one. It’s based on biblical exegesis and the history of theology (including inter-testamental Jewish theology).

[T]he promise of Christ ought to answer to the petition of the thief, “Remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” To which Christ answers, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (i.e. in my kingdom).

Many scholarly sources confirm that “paradise” can indeed have the meaning that traditional Catholic doctrine has ascribed to it in Luke 24:43: that the thief was with Jesus in Hades. This means that the thief didn’t go immediately to heaven, because (perhaps with a few exceptions) no one did until Jesus rose from the dead and ascended. Holy Scripture says a great deal indeed about the descent of Jesus to Hades and His preaching to the captives there and leading them out eventually to heaven and eternal bliss (see all the Bible passages near the top of this article).

Second, the soul of Christ was in the hand of the Father: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Therefore it was not in hell . . . 

Jess always was with the Father at all times, and wherever He was (“I and the Father are one”: Jn 10:30; “the Father is in me and I am in the Father”: Jn 10:38; “He who has seen me has seen the Father”: Jn 14:9; “I am in the Father and the Father in me”: Jn 14:11; “thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee”: Jn 17:21). This is the orthodox trinitarian belief of  circumincession (Latin) or perichoresis (Greek): the doctrine describing how all three Persons in the Trinity are contained in each other. Perhaps Turretin denied that, too?

King David already noted that God (being omnipresent) would be in Sheol even for a creature like him, let alone for the God-Man:

Psalm 139:8 If I ascend to heaven, thou art there! If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there!

So we are to believe that God the Father could and would be in Sheol if David were there, but not with His own Son, Jesus, who was “one” with Him and “in” Him, and vice versa? More rather strange Christology and theology of God . . . Moreover, Jesus Himself said that Lazarus was “comforted” in Hades (Lk 16:25) and was with Abraham (Lk 16:22-23). But Jesus would supposedly not be “comforted” or with God if He went to the same place to lead the “captives” free? That makes no sense whatsoever. Turretin is grasping at straws.

Christ, however, could not have said, “I commend my spirit,” if after death he was yet to descend into hell and suffer the most grievous burdens.

Nonsense. I deny the premise assumed here. Nowhere in Scripture does it say that Christ suffered “the most grievous burdens” while in Hades, or any burdens at all.

Peter recommends all believers to commit their souls to the faithful Creator (1 Pet. 4:19); not assuredly that they may descend into hell, but be received into heaven . . . 

This is a completely different context from Jesus’ and St. Stephen’s words before they died. Peter isn’t talking about the point of death, but suffering in this life, while nevertheless still trusting God:

1 Peter 4:12-14, 16-19 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. [13] But rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. [14] If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. . . . [16] . . . if one suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but under that name let him glorify God. . . . [19] Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will do right and entrust their souls to a faithful Creator.

This hardly support’s Turretin’s argument that being with God or in union with Him (in His “hands”) must always mean bliss and an absence of suffering, or that we can only be with God in heaven. This is what we call a non sequitur in logic: a thing irrelevant to the topic at hand.

. . . they were already admitted into heaven; nor were they ever in a fictitious limbo, as was proved before.

Our Lord Jesus expressly taught in Luke 16:22 that a person (Lazarus) died, before Jesus’ own death and resurrection, and went to a third state in the afterlife, as opposed to heaven (“Abraham’s bosom” or the good portion of Hades: separated from the bad part by “a great chasm”: Lk 16:26). If this were not the case, Jesus would have been guilty of teaching falsehood and heresy, which can’t possibly happen. Why didn’t Jesus take the opportunity to say that Lazarus went to heaven? That’s what He would have had to necessarily say if Turretin’s theology is correct (no Hades and only heaven and hell).

This deserves some analysis by itself. Why did Jesus even use this term, “Abraham’s bosom” in His story (not a parable: which never contain proper names)? He should have said (if Turretin is right): “The poor man died and was carried by the angels to heaven” (Lk 16:22: Revised Turretin Eisegetical Version, or RTEV), But He didn’t. Why? It’s because He had specifically in mind the term used by the Jews of that time for Sheol or Hades. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology (1996, “Abraham’s Boom”) supports this scenario:

It is a figurative phrase that appears to have been drawn from a popular belief that the righteous would rest by Abraham’s side in the world to come, an opinion described in Jewish literature at the time of Christ. The word kolpos [kovlpo”] literally refers to the side or lap of a person. Figuratively, as in this case, it refers to a place of honor reserved for a special guest, similar to its usage in John 13:23. . . .

See also HadesParadiseSheol

Wikipedia offers an informative article, “Bosom of Abraham”:

“Bosom of Abraham” refers to the place of comfort in the biblical Sheol (or Hades in the Greek Septuagint version of the Hebrew scriptures from around 200 BC, and therefore so described in the New Testament) where the righteous dead abided prior to Jesus’ resurrection.  . . .

In First Temple Judaism, Sheol in the Hebrew Old Testament, or Hades in the Septuagint, is primarily a place of “silence” to which all humans go. However, during, or before, the exile in Babylon ideas of activity of the dead in Sheol began to enter Judaism.

During the Second Temple period (roughly 500 BCE–70 CE) the concept of a Bosom of Abraham first occurs in Jewish papyri that refer to the “Bosom of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”. This reflects the belief of Jewish martyrs who died expecting that: “after our death in this fashion Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will receive us and all our forefathers will praise us” (4 Maccabees 13:17). Other early Jewish works adapt the Greek mythical picture of Hades to identify the righteous dead as being separated from unrighteous in the fires by a river or chasm. In the pseudepigraphical Apocalypse of Zephaniah the river has a ferryman equivalent to Charon in Greek myth, but replaced by an angel. On the other side in the Bosom of Abraham : “You have escaped from the Abyss and Hades, now you will cross over the crossing place… to all the righteous ones, namely Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Enoch, Elijah and David.” In this story Abraham was not idle in the Bosom of Abraham, he acted as intercessor for those in the fiery part of Hades.

The article notes that Jesus’ story in Luke 16 “corresponds closely with documented 1st century AD Jewish beliefs (see above), that the dead were gathered into a general tarrying-place, made equivalent with the Sheol of the Old Testament. In Christ’s account, the righteous occupied an abode of their own, which was distinctly separated by a chasm from the abode to which the wicked were consigned.”

St. Hippolytus wrote similarly before 236 AD:

But now we must speak of Hades, in which the souls both of the righteous and the unrighteous are detained. . . . This locality has been destined to be as it were a guard-house for souls, at which the angels are stationed as guards, distributing according to each one’s deeds the temporary punishments for (different) characters. . . . the righteous shall obtain the incorruptible and un-fading kingdom, who indeed are at present detained in Hades, but not in the same place with the unrighteous. . . . they wait for the rest and eternal revival in heaven which succeed this location. And we call it by the name Abraham’s bosom. (Against Plato, On the Cause of the Universe, 1)


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Photo credit: from the Brill page, Francis Turretin (1623–87) and the Reformed Tradition”: chapter 6, publication history.


Summary: 17th century Calvinist theologian François Turretin denied Christ’s descent into Hades, which is explicitly scriptural and part of the widely-cited Apostles’ Creed.


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