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I take 1 Pet 3:19 to refer to a period after or during Christ's ascension (see here for my commentary) but I agree that it refers to a proclamation of victory over Satan/demons.


I've read other theologians say that after the crucifixion, the righteous dead no longer go to the righteous compartment in hades/sheol, but now go directly to heaven because they waited for Christ to release them from hades/sheol when he descended there.

The wicked dead continue to go to that compartment of hades/sheol that's reserved for the wicked where they wait till the final judgement when they will be sentenced to gehenna.

Your second option seems similar to the one I presented. Is it similar or even the same thing? You don't quite say that Christ released them from sheol or that from then on, they skip entering sheol and go directly to heaven (where Christ's glorified body resides).


James, we have to be careful when we use geographical terminology regarding Hades and Heaven. Where is Hades? Just about everyone prior to Copernicus thought it was literally in the heart of the earth. I'm not sure we can say that. The language of "descending" to Hades is metaphorical. Where is Heaven? Is it literally "up" in the sky? Sure, but "up" radiates outward from the globe in all directions. According to Kline it is the invisible world of the angels and is present everywhere, waiting only to be unveiled at the second coming of Christ.

To me it is better not to think of Hades and Heaven as literal places within the cosmos but as two possible states of the soul's post-mortem, pre-resurrection existence in relation to God. Ecclesiastes says that at death, "the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it" (Eccl 12:7). All we know is that at death, all souls "return to God." The righteous experience that as blessedness; the wicked experience it as provisional judgment while they wait for the final judgment. The biblical language of a two-compartment Hades is a spatial metaphor that attempts to capture these two very different experiences of death.

In the end, there is no difference between saying that at death the righteous go to the blessed compartment of Hades, or Abraham's bosom, or Paradise, or Heaven. These are legitimate ways of saying the same thing.

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