A Quick Reply to the Christian Post's Scarlet H

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Wellspring Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska. He recently wrote an article for The Christian Post where he speaks against the fact that Jesus died apart from God and suffered in hades for three days before he was raised from the dead. Here is the first paragraph from Jesus Was Not Born Again in Hell:

This one here is a doozy. Did you know that there have been religious teachers in the "Word Faith" movement over the years who have taught that Jesus was born again in hell? Seriously. Talk about a blasphemous doctrine. Anyone who teaches this heresy is presenting a different "Jesus" in their "ministry" than the Jesus of the Bible. God does not need to be born again. He is God....without sin....and without the need for the new birth.


I've written in the past that Jesus' resurrection wasn't just a physical resurrection; it included an infusion of the God-kind of life. I didn't do so because I follow any particular preacher or religious doctrine. I did so because it's amply supported in the Word. Here are just a few scriptures and thoughts that support the teaching that Jesus did indeed suffer in hades for three days before being raised to new life.


For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor 5:21 NRSV)

Delzell argues that Jesus was "God. . . without sin." Paul's letter to the Corinthian Christians refutes this blanket statement. Jesus was without sin, but Paul writes that God made him sin on the cross. The Greek word for made is epoiesen, which does mean made. Paul doesn't write that sin was somehow imputed (attributed) onto Jesus. He writes that God made him sin. This is consistent with Isaiah's "God laid on him the sins of us all," and "God was pleased to crush him." Paul didn't use any theological slight of hand writing this verse.

but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death apart from God that he might taste death for everyone. (Heb 2:9 NRSV, marg.)

This reading—death apart from God—is the marginal reading in the NRSV. Do a little research and you'll find that death apart from God is the more reliable reading of the two major variants of the Greek manuscripts.

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. (Ps 40:1–2 NRSV)

Psalm 40 is a psalm of David, but Hebrews 10 shows us that it is also the prophetic echo of the first-person words of Jesus. Jonah, whose whale experience was a type and shadow of the Lord's suffering, also echoes this psalm. Joseph's plight of being entrapped in a pit also echoes this psalm. Joseph was a type of the Lord.

And we bring you the good news that what God promised to our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you." (Acts 13:32–33 NRSV)

Here, Paul is preaching, and he quotes the second psalm in support of Jesus' resurrection. God, the Father, says that today, the day of Jesus' resurrection, I have begotten you. The writer of Hebrews also uses the psalm this way in Hebrews 1 and 5. In Hebrews 5, today is associated with Jesus' appointment as high priest of the new covenant. That occurred when he was resurrected, not when he was born in Bethlehem. By the way, begotten means birthed, and is the same word the Koine Greek uses for natural birth.

For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth. (Mt 12:40 NRSV)

People use Jonah's story today to placate unruly kids in Sunday school. Little do they understand that Jonah was a type and shadow of Jesus' time in hades. If you revisit Jonah, you'll find that the prophet was conscious during his in-the-belly experience, prayed psalms that echoed Jesus' voice, and even said that he was in the belly of hell. The Greeksters will note that Jesus' "just as" in the Greek denotes a close correlation, meaning his experience in the belly of the earth would be very much like Jonah's experience in the belly of the whale.

For you will not abandon my soul to Hades or let your Holy One experience corruption. (Acts 2:27 NRSV)

In Peter's sermon, he refers to Psalm 16 and applies it to Jesus. The phrase "to Hades" is a dative in the Greek so you'll see different Bibles translating it "to Hades" or "in Hades," depending on the translators' proclivities. "In Hades" is the better translation because the Greek word for corruption is diafthoran. The better translation for diafthoran is not corruption, but destruction. (See Job 33:28 LXX - He has saved my soul from going unto destruction. . . ). In the psalm, Jesus gives praise to the Father, demonstrating his faith that God would not abandon him in hades, but would resurrect him on the third day as the scriptures foresaw.

For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (Heb 10:4 NRSV)

On Israel's Day of Atonement, the high priest was presented two goats, not just one. One goat was designated al-YHWH, and it's blood was sprinkled before the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies. The other was designated al-Azazel, and it was to be led out into the wilderness, "a land not inhabited," and left to die. The Book of Enoch and other Jewish literature show that Azazel represented a demon or Satan. The goats were a type of the Lord, and his death on the cross. This is consistent with Jesus' own comparison of his death to Moses' snake in the desert.

He replied, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (Lk 23:43 NRSV)

Many use this verse as positive proof that Jesus didn't go to hades after he gave up the ghost. The fact is, the thief Jesus spoke to couldn't have gone to heaven until after Jesus had been resurrected (see 1 Cor 15:37). Seeing this problem, some preachers have said that Jesus went to Abraham's bosom (reflected in Luke 16) after he died and that used to be Paradise. The problem with that teaching is it conflicts with scripture. Paradise is in the third heaven, not in the belly of the earth. (2 Cor 12:4; Rev 2:7). The Rotherham translation gets it right by translating the verse this way: "And he said unto him—Verily I say unto thee this day: With me, shalt thou be in Paradise."

This isn't a complete response; it's just a quick blog post. I found Delzell's article while sitting at a coffee shop and these are the scriptures that came immediately to mind. A complete response would involve a book, or many books—a host of scriptures, some direct and some involving indirect allusions, echoes, and types and shadows. In any case, the bottom line is that Jesus did become a curse for us and suffered for three days and nights before being raised to new life by the Father. This teaching isn't heresy; it's an integral part of the Gospel narrative.

GospelPeter Smythe