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48 Where their worm [which preys on the inhabitants and is a symbol of the wounds inflicted on the man himself by his sins] does not die, and the fire is not put out. [Isaiah 66:24.] AMP

Matthew 22:13

13 Then the king said to the attendants, Tie him hand and foot, and throw him into the darkness outside; there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. AMP


C. For the Redeemed Person in Old Testament Times

In the case of the Old Testament saint, the debated question is, Where did his soul (spirit or immaterial nature) go at the time of death? Was he taken immediately into the presence of the Lord, or did he go to the saved compartment of sheol/hades from where he was taken into heaven when Christ descended into hades between His death and resurrection?

Hoyt expressed this latter option this way: "As a result of the resurrection and ascension of Christ, a reorganization took place in the intermediate state. There was a removal of all the righteous from the upper part of sheol-hades, and its gates were barred to entrance by any saved soul thereafter. From this time on paradise is above where Christ is, and the spirits of all the saved go to be with Christ at the moment of physical death."

Several passages are cited in favor of this viewpoint. In Ephesians 4:9, Paul wrote that Christ "descended into the lower parts of the earth." Some understand this to mean that our Lord descended into hades between His death and resurrection to take those in the "saved compartment" of hades into heaven. However, the phrase "of the earth" may be an appositional phrase, meaning that Christ descended (at His Incarnation) into the lower parts (of the universe), namely the earth.

Ephesians 4:9

9[But He ascended?] Now what can this, He ascended, mean but that He had previously descended from [the heights of] heaven into [the depths], the lower parts of the earth? AMP


Also cited is the account of the rich man and Lazarus, which supposedly shows that both men went to hades, the rich man to punishment in one compartment of hades and Lazarus to bliss in the other compartment (which is labeled "Abraham's bosom" [Luke 16:22] in the story). Clearly the account teaches some important facts about death and hell: (a) there is conscious existence after death; (b) hell is a real place of torment; (c) there is no second chance after death; and (d) the dead cannot communicate with the living. But does it teach two compartments in hades? Not really, for Abraham's bosom is not said to be in hades but rather "far away" (v. 23) from it. Abraham's bosom is a figurative phrase for paradise, or the presence of God. It was paradise that was promised to the repentant thief by the Lord (Luke 23:43), not a blissful compartment of hades.

Luke 16:22

22 And it occurred that the man [reduced to] begging died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. AMP

Luke 23:43

43 And He answered him, Truly I tell you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise. AMP


1 Peter 3:18 is also linked with the supposed descent of Christ into sheol/hades. While there between His death and resurrection He announced His victory over sin and removed those in the paradise compartment to heaven. More likely, however, the verse means that the preincarnate Christ preached through Noah to those who, because they rejected that preaching, are now spirits in prison.

1 Peter 3:18

18 For Christ [the Messiah Himself] died for sins once for all, the Righteous for the unrighteous (the Just for the unjust, the Innocent for the guilty), that He might bring us to God. In His human body He was put to death, but He was made alive in the spirit, AMP


According to Harry Buis, the two-compartment theory was a development of the intertestamental period. "The main development of the doctrine of eternal punishment in this period comes from the fact that sheol is now divided into two compartments: one for the good, called paradise; the other for the evil, called gehenna."

I believe that the Old Testament saint at death went immediately into the presence of the Lord. The repentant thief was promised he would be in paradise the day of his death (Luke 23:43), and paradise was the presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians 12:4). At Christ's transfiguration Moses and Elijah appeared in His presence talking with Him.

Luke 23:43

43 And He answered him, Truly I tell you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise. AMP

2 Corinthians 12:4

4 Was caught up into paradise, and he heard utterances beyond the power of man to put into words, which man is not permitted to utter. AMP


Are we to understand that this conversation between Christ, Moses, and Elijah took place in the upper compartment of hades where Moses at least would have been until after the death of Christ? Are we to understand then that the transfiguration of Christ took place in paradise-hades? Are we to understand that Elijah was taken at his translation to sheol/hades and not heaven? I think not; rather, the Old Testament saint went immediately to heaven to wait for the resurrection of his body at the second coming of Christ.

(from Basic Theology, Copyright 1986, 1999 by Charles C. Ryrie.)






"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints"(PSALM 116:15).


This is one of the many comforting and blessed statements in Holy Scripture concerning that great event from which the flesh so much shrinks. If the Lord's people would more frequently make a prayerful and believing study of what the Word says upon their departure out of this world, death would lose much, if not all, of its terrors for them. But alas, instead of doing so, they let their imagination run riot, they give way to carnal fears, they walk by sight instead of by faith. Looking to the Holy Spirit for guidance, let us endeavor to dispel, by the light of Divine revelation, some of the gloom which unbelief casts around even the death of a Christian. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." These words intimate that a dying saint is an object of special notice unto the Lord, for mark the words "in the sight of." It is true that the eyes of the Lord are ever upon us, for He never slumbers nor sleeps. It is true that we may say at all times "Thou God seest me." But it appears from Scripture that there are occasions when He notices and cares for us in a special manner. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalms 46:1). "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee" (Isaiah 43:2). "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." This brings before us an aspect of death which is rarely considered by believers. It gives us what may be termed the Godward side of the subject. Only too often, we contemplate death, like most other things, from our side. The text tells us that from the viewpoint of Heaven the death of a saint is neither hideous nor horrible, tragic or terrible, but "precious." This raises the question, Why is the death of His people precious in the sight of the Lord? What is there in the last great crisis which is so dear unto Him? Without attempting an exhaustive reply, let us suggest one or two possible answers: -

Psalms 46:1