“3 Views of Afterlife: Two Chambers of Hades”
“He foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption (Acts 2:31).”
This week we continue our exploration of the three leading views of the afterlife searching the Bible to learn where those souls who have passed from this life reside while awaiting the great Judgment Day. As we saw, after His death and before His resurrection, Jesus was in Paradise (Luke 23:42-43) but had not yet ascended to the Father in heaven (John 20:17). So where is this place that the disembodied souls go to until the resurrection?
We reviewed previously that The Lord’s body would not be left in the grave until it decayed and His Spirit would not remain in Hades (Acts 2:31). To say that it would not remain in Hades means that His spirit was once there, but His spirit had also been in Paradise. Therefore this Paradise is in Hades, the unseen realm of the spirits of those deceased. But as we will see, the Hadean realm that contains Paradise for the righteous souls also has another miserable compartment for those disobedient spirits.
In Luke 16:19-31 Jesus tells the fate of two men, one named Lazarus and another, He simply called “the rich man.” Jesus tells us that upon his death, Lazarus was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom (v.22). Abraham’s bosom was a way of saying that one was in close and intimate fellowship with Abraham, the father of all of the faithful (Galatians 3:29). The idea is that one could recline upon the patriarch’s side in meals and fellowship, much as the intimate fellowship John enjoyed with the Lord at the Last Supper (John 13:23). This is great hall of fellowship of all the righteous souls who have lived. But of the Richman, at his death Jesus said he was buried and “being in torments in Hades, he lifted up His eyes” and saw Abraham and Lazarus afar off and called out to them (v.22-24). Abraham informed him that between their two chambers of Hades there was a great gulf fixed so that none could cross from one to the other (v.26).
Some protest that Jesus was merely telling a parable in Luke 16. Perhaps, but even parables have a spiritual meaning, and in this case the narrative is still true with real fact for its foundation.1 Parable is a compound word that means to “cast alongside.” Such as taking a familiar object, like a mustard seed, a treasure in a field, or a landowner settling accounts – cast alongside the spiritual truth revealed when compared to the kingdom of heaven. But in this case there is nothing familiar that men should know or understand as in all other parables.
While the righteous exist in bliss in that section of Hades to which the Lord descended the unrighteous district is a place of torments. This portion of Hades was referred to by Peter as Tartarus. The Apostle tells us that this is where God cast down the rebellious angels until the Judgment Day (2 Peter 2:4) – “Then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment (2 Peter 4:9).”
When the Judgment Day arrives, Death and Hades will give up all of those who have been held there and each person will then be judged according to our deeds in our lives (Revelation 20:13) and Hades will then be thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14) which was prepared for the devil and his angels which will be the eternal dwelling of those who were not found righteous by the Lord (Matthew 25:41). But for those on His right hand, they will inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:34). All of those who die in the Lord are happy (Revelation 14:13) as they await the crown of life (James 1:2) and being clothed in their glorious resurrection bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). What that will be like we do not know but we know we will be like Him (1 John 3:2) and will be with Him forever (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
“I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death (Revelation 1:18).”
Perry B. Cotham, Beyond the Sunset, Grand Prairie, TX. 2008, p.122