HE DESCENDED INTO HELL; ON THE THIRD
DAY HE ROSE AGAIN FROM THE DEAD
Jesus “descended into the lower parts of the earth. He who
descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens.”
The Apostles’ Creed confesses in the same article Christ’s descent
into hell and his Resurrection from the dead on the third day,
because in his Passover it was precisely out of the depths of death
that he made life spring forth:
[T]he one Morning Star who never sets,
Christ your Son, who, coming back from death’s domain,
has shed his peaceful light on humanity,
and lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
Paragraph 1. Christ Descended into Hell
The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was
“raised from the dead” presuppose that the crucified one sojourned
in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection.
This was the first
meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ’s descent into hell:
that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the
others in the realm of the dead. But he descended there as Savior,
proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there.
Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead
Christ went down, “hell”—
in Hebrew or
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”:
“It is pre-
cisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham’s
bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into
Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor
to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone
Easter Vigil 19,
I, 6, 3.
483 Cf. Council of Rome (745): DS 587; Benedict XII,
1011; Clement VI,
(1351): DS 1077; Council of Toledo IV
(625): DS 485;