Over the last few weeks, our church has been going through a series on Wednesday nights called Ask The Pastor. We would like to bring these questions to our readers to see what answers you can come up with! Can you answer these Bible questions?
Question #1: Where was Jesus for the three days between His death and resurrection?
Answer #1: Jesus told the believing thief on the cross in Luke 23:43, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” The word “paradise” is used only two other times in the New Testament. Paul viewed it as a place of glory beyond human comprehension and description (2 Corinthians 12:4). John described the paradise of God containing the tree of life (Revelation 2:7). No where in the Bible is paradise ever described as a place of prison, torment, or hell. I believe paradise to be the same place as the home of God, heaven.
Question #2: If this is true, why did Jesus tell Mary, "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God" (John 20:17)?
Answer #2: The misunderstanding is a translation issue. Jesus did not tell Mary not to touch him as the English in the King James Version suggests, but he told her to "stop touching me" or "let me go" so he could go do the work of the Father prior to his ascension on the Mount of Olives. The Greek language bears this out more clearly. The other factor is the topic of the ascension, which is a specific reference to Jesus' departure from the Mount of Olives forty days after his resurrection (Acts 1:9). During those forty days, Jesus went about proving he was resurrected. This is why he wanted Mary to let go of him. He had people to meet so they could see his resurrected body.
Question #3: What about 1 Peter 3:18-21?
Answer #3: Peter is the only other New Testament author who makes reference to where Jesus' spirit was during the three days before his resurrection in 1 Peter 3:18-22. The King James Version says that Jesus "preached" to the spirits in prison (v.19); however, the Greek word used is not the usual New Testament word for preaching the gospel. It simply means "to herald a message.”
Sometime between Jesus' death and his resurrection, Jesus heralded a message to "the spirits in prison." The word "spirits" (pneuma) is a reference to angels or fallen angles, which we call demons. It seems that Jesus went to the fallen angels that are in chains, according to Jude 6, and declared to them what he had accomplished. Some believe that Jesus did this to declare victory over Satan and his hosts (Colossians 2:15), who might have been celebrating the crucifixion.
On a final note, Acts 2:31 says that Jesus went to “hell.” The Greek word (hades) is not a reference to Hell, the place of torment for lost sinners. Hades broadly refers to the grave or the realm of the dead, a temporary place where the dead await resurrection.