Scripture Queries and Answers

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Q.-With reference to the Queries and Answers in the May issue of The Bible Treasury regarding Sheol or Hades, what are we to understand from the following scriptures—
“Who shall descend into the abyss, that is, to bring Christ up from among the dead” (Romans 10:77Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) (Romans 10:7)). Does this imply that our Lord was in the abyss?
“That through death he might annul him who has the might of death, that is, the devil; and might set free all those who through fear of death, through the whole of their life, were subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14, 1514Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Hebrews 2:14‑15), New Translation). Is it that the setting free refers to Old Testament saints who had lived and died and went to Sheol?
“Though they dig into Sheol” (Amos 9:22Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down: (Amos 9:2)). Would this teach that the locality of Sheol is in the heart of the earth?
J. C. B.
A.—1. Our Lord not only died, but was buried. His body lay in the grave (in the words of Matthew 12:4040For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:40)) “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” And of this the prophet Jonah was a sign, who himself confesses (2:5), “The waters compassed me about, even to the soul; the depth (or, abyss) closed me round about” (ἄβυσσος εκύκλωσέ με ἑσχἁτη, LXX.). Christ's “soul” was not left to Hades; and His “spirit” He committed into the hands of His Father.
The scripture quoted by the querist warns against saying in the heart, “Who shall descend into the abyss,” of which the signification is given, “that is, to bring up Christ again from amongst (ὲκ) the dead.” “God raised Him from amongst the dead.” Spirits and souls are not dead, for all live unto Him. “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” The inanimate “body” it is that is the subject of resurrection. It is raised, and by the union with it of “spirit” and “soul” —both immortal—becomes living, whether here or hereafter, whether for eternal felicity, or everlasting torment. Does scripture ever speak of the soul, or the spirits of men, having place in the abyss? Is it correct to say that the abyss is “the habitation of (Satan and his angels, and) the spirits of the wicked"?
The “abyss” is a Greek word (ἄβυσσος), meaning, “bottomless,” which occurs in the New Testament nine times, and is rendered in our Authorized Version as follows— “deep,” in Luke 8:3131And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep. (Luke 8:31); Romans 10:77Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) (Romans 10:7); “bottomless,” in Revelation 9:1, 21And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. 2And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. (Revelation 9:1‑2); and “bottomless pit,” in Revelation 9:11; 11:7; 17:8; 20:1, 311And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon. (Revelation 9:11)
7And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. (Revelation 11:7)
8The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. (Revelation 17:8)
1And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. (Revelation 20:1)
3And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. (Revelation 20:3)
. In the Septuagint Version of the Old Testament, out of the thirty-four1 occurrences of its use it is the rendering, in thirty-one instances, of the Hebrew word t'hOhm— “the deep,” “deep places,” “the depth.” We give at the foot of this page all the references in the Old Testament, from which the general sense of the word is plain. And so also the New Testament gives no warrant whatever for such a thought as a descent of our Lord into the bottomless pit! Our Lord “descended into the lower parts of the earth.” He was buried, and He raised from the dead by the glory of the Father.
The setting free is not after death, but the deliverance from the fear of death in this life. Before redemption was accomplished, all was more or less dark to the pious Jew, and death had not been robbed of its terrors. Now even death is ours (1 Corinthians 3:2222Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; (1 Corinthians 3:22)), for it is the gateway (if put to sleep) into the presence of the Lord. And, says the apostle, we are always confident—pleased rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
It is no question of locality. But we “dig” into the ground, as if we “climb,” we climb upwards. Whether man goes below or above therefore in his efforts to escape judgment when the lintel is smitten is alike futile (compare Psalm 139)