Where did Jesus' spirit go after He died and before the resurrection?

by Matt Slick

There is debate on what happened to Jesus during the period after His death and before His resurrection. Generally speaking, the two sections of scripture that deal with this are found in Ephesians 4 and 1 Peter 3.

  • Eph. 4:8, “When He ascended on high, he led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.”
  • 1 Pet. 3:18-19, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison.”

It appears that after Jesus atoned for our sins by dying on the cross, He may have gone into the spiritual world and presented the gospel to those who had died beforehand. This is not to say that people had a second chance to receive the gospel (Heb. 9:27). Rather, there are two groups of people who had died before the time of Christ's sacrifice. The first group were those who were believers in God and had hoped in the Messiah. The second were those who had rejected God. It is possible that the presentation of the gospel was then for the purpose of informing both groups about the work of the cross, and why one group would be taken into the heavens (Eph. 4:8) and the other would receive judgment (1 Pet. 3:18-19).


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.