Did Jesus Go to Sheol/Hades?

Let us further consider Psalm 16:10 and its quotation by Peter recorded in Acts 2:27, two verses that indicate that Sheol and Hades are the same place. According to Peter’s Pentecost sermon, David was not speaking in Psalm 16:10 of himself, but prophetically speaking of Christ, because David’s body, unlike Christ’s, did undergo decay (see Act 2:29-31). This being so, we realize that it was actually Jesus speaking to His Father in Psalm 16:10, declaring His belief that His Father would not abandon His soul to Sheol or allow His body to undergo decay.

Some interpret this declaration of Jesus as proof that His soul went to Sheol/Hades during the three days between His death and resurrection. That, however, is not actually implied. Note again exactly what Jesus said to His Father:

Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol ; neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay (Ps. 16:10)

Jesus was not saying to His Father, “I know that my soul will spend a few days in Sheol/Hades, but I believe You won’t abandon Me there.” Rather He was saying, “I believe that when I die I will not be treated like the unrighteous, my soul being abandoned to Sheol/Hades. I won’t even spend a minute there. No, I believe your plan is to resurrect Me in three days, and You won’t even allow My body to undergo decay.”

This interpretation is certainly warranted. When Jesus said, “Neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay,” we don’t interpret that to mean that Jesus’ body progressively decayed for three days until it was restored at His resurrection. Rather, we interpret it to mean that His body never went through any decay whatsoever from the time of His death to His resurrection.

Likewise, His statement that His soul would not be abandoned to Sheol/Hades does not need to be interpreted that He was left in Sheol/Hades for a few days but was ultimately not abandoned there. [1] Rather, it should be interpreted to mean that His soul would not be treated like an unrighteous soul that would be abandoned to Sheol/Hades. His soul would never spend a single minute there. Notice also that Jesus said, “Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol,” not, “Thou wilt not abandon my soul in Sheol.”

[1] Those who do subscribe to this particular interpretation must then subscribe to one of two other theories. One is the theory that Sheol/Hades was the name for an after-death abode of the unrighteous and righteous that was divided into two compartments, a place of torment and a place of paradise to which Jesus went. The other theory is that Jesus endured the torments of the damned for three days and nights in the fires of Sheol/Hades as He suffered the full extent of the penalty of sin as our substitute. Both of these theories are difficult to prove from Scripture, and neither are necessary if Jesus never spent any time in Sheol/Hades and that is what His declaration actually means. In regard to the second theory, Jesus did not suffer the torments of the damned for three days and nights between His death and resurrection, because our redemption was purchased through His sufferings on the cross (see Col. 1:22), not through his alleged sufferings in Sheol/Hades.