He Went down to Hell- By Rev. Fr. B Joseph Francis

“Hell” refers to “Sheol”

Many a Christian today is surprised by this statement in the Apostles’ Creed which is not found in the Creed of Nicaea (325 AD). They ask, what this hell into which Jesus descended is like? Old Testament speaks of “Sheol“. Scripture scholars are agreed that the concept has been much influenced by the thought patterns of other peoples in the Middle East.

In the beginning it was considered to be a dark cavern below the earth, to which went all who die, both good and bad. There they led a shadowy, sleep existence. Read I Sam 28.3 ff. especially v.18 where the dead prophet complains to king Saul who had asked a witch to bring him up from “Sheol” to answer his question: “why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”. There are many references to it in the book of Job and psalms (Cf. Job 7.9-10; 10.21-22; 14.12-14; 17. 13-16; 30.23; Ps 88.3-6; 28.2; 30.9; 6.5 etc.).

Pathetic also is the prayer of King Hezekiah who is told by the prophet Isaiah that he is to die soon. Read Is 38.1 ff. especially vv. 10-11 where the king is bitterly complaining “I said: In the noontide of my days I must depart; I am consigned to the gates of Sheol for the rest of my years. I said, I shall not see the LORD in the land of the living; I shall look upon mortals no more among the inhabitants of the world”. And his pleading is poignant in v.18 “For Sheol cannot thank you, death cannot praise you; those who go down to the Pit cannot hope for your faithfulness”. The implication is: “please let me live so that I can at least praise you for a while longer, if not, it would be a loss for you”!

Spread the love ♥
Continue Reading