Is Abraham's bosom is a compartment of hades?

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by monoergon, Mar 23, 2015.

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  1. monoergon

    monoergon Puritan Board Freshman

    I couldn't find any reformed articles that explained the combination or relations of the following terms: hades, Abraham's bosom and paradise, and their relationship to Jesus descending (or not) to hades.

    So this is how I have learned, but I doubt that it is correct:

    Hell (hades) has different compartments. One side of hades is torment. The other side is Abraham's bosom. Between there is a great chasm. My pastor teaches that Abraham's bosom is paradise and that when the thief asked Jesus to remember him, Jesus said he would be in paradise (meaning Abraham's bosom). Jesus, however, after His crucifixion, went to Abraham’s bosom and captured the captives and took them to heaven. Therefore, I learned that heaven (or third heaven) is not the same as Abraham’s bosom.

    To justify such view, he uses the following passages:
    Eph 4:8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he captured captives; he gave gifts to men.”
    Eph 4:9 Now what is the meaning of “he ascended,” except that he also descended to the lower regions, namely, the earth?
    Eph 4:10 He, the very one who descended, is also the one who ascended above all the heavens, in order to fill all things.

    1. What is the meaning of "he [Jesus] captured captives"?
    2. I was taught that the "lower regions" means Abraham`s bosom inside of the earth, located on the opposite side of the part of hades where there is torment (where the rich man was). Therefore, my pastor says that "today you will be with me in paradise" (Lk 23:43) means the thief as well as Jesus would be in Abraham's side (Lk 16:23). So Lk 23:43 correlates to Eph 4:8-10.
    3. What does this mean: Acts 2:25-28 ?

    Any free online source that addresses the relation between Eph 4:8-10 and Luke 23:43 is going to be helpful.

    Also, any author who is now reformed, but used to be a dispensationalist or that used to have the wrong interpretation of such scriptures, will also be helpful.

    And, anyone here is welcome to leave your thoughts on how to refute the above interpretation of the relation between Abraham’s bosom, hades and “ascended, descended, captured captives”.
  2. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    The (too popular) erroneous view of OT eschatology borrows a good deal from GrecoRoman mythos.

    Real, primitive (i.e OT) eschatology is very simple, it is the simplest eschatology. A more robust understanding of the afterlife, including clarity on the ultimate end of everything waits for the NT.

    What the view you describe (as formerly holding) does: it makes OT eschatology complex. Just think: if that view is correct, there are multiple levels and places in the afterlife--at least three or four, even if some of them are "grouped together"--which is itself just another layer of complexity. The NT doesn't validate eschatological speculation, old or new.

    Life and death--these are the fundamental binaries. In OT terms, life on earth is connected somehow to life with God, the Living One and eternal life (see Jn.17:3 and 11:25). This understanding is sufficient to make clear Jesus refutation of the Sadducees, Mt.22:32. Jesus' words at that place also must be inexplicable to those holding the "compartments of hell" view, because it seems clear from that passage that the patriarchs are with God.

    Death, on the opposite hand, in pure OT terms is departure. It is well illustrated by the grave swallowing the body, Prv.1:12. It is the result of sin, it is the end result of life without God. Bodily death as a common lot naturally gives rise to the observation that the grave has a common population. However, it is only common in the sense that the grave represents an "upside-down" reflection of the common population of this living world.

    Therefore, in this expanded vision of the binary reality (of life and death), in a sense there is a "third" place, the boundary known as this present world. On one surface walk the living; on the lower surface lie the dead. However, the balanced view expands the nether region (Death) in spiritual terms, even as the realm of Life is expanded.

    Life expanded makes sense of "the third heaven" terminology, or God's pure dwelling. He is beyond the air (1) where birds dwell, the heavens (2) where celestial bodies dwell, in his own abode, beyond all creaturely reach. And Death expanded (the pit, the abyss) makes sense of the permanent misery of the godless, and the confine of the demons (see Lk.8:31; cf. 2Pet.3:4) and all that is utterly corrupt.

    All that is still essentially binary. And for those men who have gone spiritually in either direction, this world at the boundary is of little consequence. But the opposite destinies (and perhaps some floating 1C eschatological speculation) provide Jesus with an illustration with which to work one of his memorable parables, Lk.16:19-31. In that parable, Jesus narrates a dialog between "the rich man" and "Abraham," who are separated by an unbridgeable gulf (could anyone actually talk over such a distance? of course not).

    The parable is not intended to describe "hell in two compartments." The afterlife is simply binary: either rest or torment. Abraham is the principal human figure in the place of rest, hence "Abraham's bosom." Paradise, where Jesus told the repentant thief on the cross he would see him, is the same rest, in the presence of God, see Ps.73:23-25; 49:15.

    NT eschatology simply expands and clarifies these most elementary and slightly obscure understandings characteristic of the OT. It does not validate intricate speculations on heaven or hell.

    As to where the Lord descended, Eph.4:9, Paul is explicit--the meaning of "lower regions" is: "namely, the earth." That's not hell. Nor is hell "inside the earth."

    The passage in Eph.4 is an adaptive quotation of Ps.68:18. "Captivity" is most likely a reference to them taken captive by the Lord (or David in the earlier text), typical for Hebrew expression, which is poetic for the victory of Christ over all his foes, ala Col.2:15. Obviously, this is not a literal triumphant victory parade, led up to heaven's gates and streets. An illustration of such a procession in a different context is used by Paul, 2Cor.2:14ff. But it still belongs to Christ to enjoy such a celebration of his victory as David would have had.

    Act.2:25-28 quotes Ps.16. David is especially prophesying the Resurrection of Christ, according to Peter. Hades, translating Heb. "Sheol" means "place of the dead." Compare with what I've said above concerning a very simple understanding of OT eschatology. If not for the promise of Christ's resurrection, and its fulfillment, Death would claim all forever. But Christ's breaking death's power means the blessedness of the saints, whether OT or NT. It proves the right of OT saints to enjoy their rest (who anticipated it in glory). It ensures the resurrection to life of all the saints when their bodies are regenerated.

    Hope this is helpful.
  3. monoergon

    monoergon Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you again Reverend. Your explanations helped me to better understand this topic. I am amazed to realize how negative dispensationalism can be in complicating the interpretation of Scriptures. This week I will purchase Sam Storm's Kingdom Come. It will surely help to learn amillennialism and, at the same time, learn to refute dispensational interpretations.
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