Monday, July 22, 2019

Early Christian Quotes on Sheol

Early Christian Quotes on Sheol


The Gospel of Peter 

(1st or 2nd Century)

Chapters 9-10:


At dawn, as the Lord's day was approaching, the soldiers were keeping guard two by two, and there was a great voice in the heaven, and they saw the heavens opened, and two men descended from heaven with great light and approached the tomb. And the stone that was put at the door of the tomb rolled away by itself. The tomb was opened, and both the young men entered in.


When the soldiers saw it, they woke the centurion and the elders, for they were also close by keeping guard. And, as they declared what things they had seen, they saw three men come out of the tomb. Two of them were supporting one, and a cross was following them. The heads of the two men reached to heaven, but the head of the one they were leading reached beyond the heavens.


And they heard a voice from the heavens, saying, “You have preached to them that sleep.”


And a response was heard from the cross, “Yes.”



Odes of Solomon

(1st or 2nd Century)



Like the arm of the bridegroom over the bride, so is My yoke over those who know Me.


And as the bridal chamber is spread out by the bridal pair's home, so is My love by those who believe in Me.


I was not rejected, although I was considered to be so, and I did not perish, although they thought it of Me.


Sheol saw Me and was shattered, and Death ejected Me and many with Me.


I have been vinegar and bitterness to it, and I went down with it as far as its depth.


Then the feet and the head it released, because it was not able to endure My face.


And I made a congregation of living among his dead; and I spoke with them by living lips so that My word would not be unprofitable.


And those who had died ran toward Me; and they cried out and said, “Son of God, have pity on us.


“And deal with us according to Your kindness, and bring us out from the bonds of darkness.


“And open for us the door by which we may come out to You; for we perceive that our death does not touch You.


“May we also be saved with You, because You are our Savior.”


Then I heard their voice and placed their faith in My heart.


And I placed My name upon their head, because they are free and they are Mine.



The Christian Sibylline Oracles

(2nd Century)

Book 2:280-315:


And then shall Uriel, mighty angel, break

The bolts of stern and lasting adamant

Which, monstrous, bold the brazen gates of Hades,

Straight cast them down, and to judgment lead

All forms that have endured much suffering,

Chiefly the shapes of Titans born of old,

And giants, and all whom the deluge whelmed,

And all that perished in the billowy seas,

And all that furnished banquet for the beasts

And creeping things and fowls; these in a mass

Shall Uriel summon to the judgment-seat;

And also those whom flesh-devouring fire

Destroyed in flame, even these shall he collect

And place before the judgment-seat of God.

And when the high-thundering Lord of Sabaoth

Making an end of fate shall raise the dead,

Sit on his heavenly throne, and firmly fix

The mighty pillar, then amid the clouds,

Christ, who Himself is incorruptible,

Shall come to the Incorruptible

In glory with pure angels, and shall sit

At the right hand on the great judgment-seat

To judge the life of pious and the way

Of impious men. And Moses, the great friend

Of the Most High, shall come enrobed in flesh;

Also, great Abraham himself shall come,

Isaac and Jacob, Joshua, Daniel,

Elijah, Habakkuk and Jonah, and

Those whom the Hebrews slew. But He'll destroy

The Hebrews after Jeremiah, all

Who are to be judged at the judgment-seat,

So that worthy recompense they may receive

And pay for all each did in mortal life.

And then shall all pass through the burning stream

Of flame unquenchable; but all the just

Shall be saved.



The Epistle of the Apostles

(Mid-2nd Century)

Chapter 27:


Jesus said, “That is why I went down to the place of Lazarus and preached to the righteous and the prophets: so that they would come out of the rest that is below and come up into that rest that is above; and I poured out upon them with My right hand the water of baptism of life and forgiveness and salvation from all evil, as I have done to you and to them that believe in Me.”



Justin Martyr’s Dialog with Trypho

(Mid-2nd Century)

Chapter 72:


“From the sayings of the same Jeremiah, these have been cut out [referring to Jews deleting passages from the Septuagint]: 'The Lord God remembered His dead people of Israel who lay in the graves, and He descended to preach to them His own salvation.'”



The Acts of Pilate

(Mid-2nd Century to Early 3rd Century)

Part 2: The Descent into Hell:


And Joseph arose and said to Annas and Caiaphas: “It is good for you to marvel at the news that Jesus has been seen alive after death and that He has ascended into heaven. Nevertheless, it is more marvelous that He did not rise alone from the dead but raised to life many other dead persons out of their tombs, and many people in Jerusalem have seen them.


“Now listen to me, for we all know the blessed Simeon, the high priest who received the child Jesus in his hands in the temple. And this Simeon had two sons, brothers in blood, and we were all at their falling asleep and at their burial. So go look at their tombs, for they are open because they have risen, and look, they are in the city of Arimathea, living together in prayer. And indeed, men hear them crying out, yet they speak with no man but are silent as dead men. But come, let us go to them and with all honor and gentleness bring them back here, and if we beg them, maybe they will tell us about the mystery of their rising again.


When they heard these things, they all rejoiced. And Annas and Caiaphas, Nicodemus and Joseph and Gamaliel went and found them not in their tomb. So they went to the city of Arimathea and found them there, kneeling and giving themselves to prayer. And they kissed them, and with all reverence and in the fear of God, they brought them to Jerusalem into the synagogue. And they shut the doors and took the law of the Lord and put it into their hands and begged them by the God Adonai and the God of Israel who spoke to our fathers by the prophets, saying: “Do you believe it was Jesus who raised you from the dead? Tell us how you have risen from the dead.”


And when Karinus and Leucius heard this request, they trembled in their body and groaned, being troubled in heart. And looking up together to heaven, they made the seal of the cross with their fingers upon their tongues and then spoke, saying, “Give us each some paper and let us write we have seen and heard.” And they gave them to them, and each of them sat down and wrote the following.


“O Lord Jesu Christ, the life and resurrection of the dead, allow us to speak of the mysteries of Your majesty You performed after Your death on the cross because we have been requested to do so in Your Name. For You commanded us, Your servants, to not tell anyone the secrets of Your divine majesty You worked in Hell.


“When we were set together with all our fathers in the deep, in the obscurity of darkness, suddenly, there came a golden heat of the sun and a purple and royal light shining upon us. And immediately, the father of the whole race of men, together with all the patriarchs and prophets, rejoiced, saying, ‘This light is the author of everlasting light, who promised to send us His co-eternal light.’


“And Isaiah cried out and said, ‘This is the light of the Father, even the Son of God, as I prophesied when I lived upon the earth: ‘The land of Zebulon and the land of Naphtali beyond Jordan, of Galilee of the Gentiles, the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light, and they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them did the light shine.” And now it has come and shone upon us that sit in death.’


“And as we all rejoiced in the light shining upon us, our father Simeon came to us, and rejoicing, he said to us, ‘Glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, for I received Hm in my hands in the temple when He was born…


“And after that, someone who looked like he lived in the wilderness came up. Everyone asked, ‘Who are you?’ And he answered them and said, ‘I am John, the voice and the prophet of the Most High. I came before His coming to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people for the remission of their sins. And when I saw Him coming to me, being moved by the Holy Ghost, I said, “Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who takes away the sins of the world.” And I baptized Him in the river of Jordan and saw the Holy Ghost descending upon Him in the likeness of a dove and heard a voice out of heaven saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And now have I come before Him to declare to you that He is at hand to visit us, even the dayspring, the Son of God, coming from on high to us who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.’


“And when father Adam, who was first created, heard that Jesus was baptized in Jordan, he cried out to Seth, his son, saying, ‘Declare to your sons the patriarchs and the prophets all you heard from Michael the archangel when I sent you to the gates of paradise to ask God to send you His angel to give you the oil of the tree of mercy to anoint my body when I was sick.’


“Then Seth came near to the holy patriarchs and prophets and said, ‘When I, Seth, was praying at the gates of paradise, Michael, the angel of the Lord, appeared to me and said, “I was sent to you from the Lord. I am set over the body of man. And I say to you, Seth, do not be anxious with tears, praying and asking for the oil of the tree of mercy to anoint your father Adam for the pain of his body. You will not be able to receive it until the last days and times, when 5,500 years have passed. Then the most beloved Son of God will come to the earth to raise up the body of Adam and the bodies of the dead, and He will come and be baptized in Jordan. And when He comes out of the water of Jordan, He will anoint with the oil of mercy all who believe in Him, and that oil of mercy will be to all generations of them that will be born of water and of the Holy Ghost, to life eternal. Then the most beloved Son of God, even Christ Jesus, will come down upon the earth and will bring our father Adam into paradise to the tree of mercy.”’…


“And while all the saints were rejoicing, Satan, the prince and chief of death said to Hell, “Get ready to receive Jesus, who boasts that He is the Son of God but is actually a man who fears death. He said, ‘My soul is sorrowful even to death.’ And He has been a great enemy to me, doing me great hurt, and many that I had made blind, lame, dumb, leprous, and possessed, He has healed with a word, and some people I brought to you dead, He has taken away from you.”


“Hell answered and said to Satan the prince, ‘Who is He that is so mighty if He’s just a man who fears death? My power rules over all the mighty ones of the earth, including those you brought me. So, if you are mighty, what kind of man is this Jesus, who, though He fears death, resists your power? If He’s so mighty in His nature as a man, I say to you, He is indeed powerful in His nature as God, and no man can withstand Him. And when He says He fears death, He’s trapping you, and trouble will come to you forever.’


“But Satan, the prince of the underworld, said, ‘Why do you doubt and fear to receive this Jesus? He is your adversary and mine. I have tempted Him and have stirred up my ancient people, the Jews, with envy and wrath against Him. I have sharpened a spear to thrust Him through, have mixed gall and vinegar to give Him to drink, and I have prepared a cross to crucify Him and nails to pierce Him. His death is close at hand for me to bring Him to you to be my subject and yours.’


Hell answered and said, ‘You have told me He is the one who takes dead men away from me. There have been many who lived on the earth and took dead men from me, but it was not by their own power but by praying to God, and their almighty God took them from me. Who is this Jesus, who by His own word, without prayer, has drawn dead men from me? Maybe it was He, who, by the word of His command, restored Lazarus to life, who was dead for four days and stank and was rotting and whom I held here dead.‘


“Satan, the prince of death, answered and said, ‘It is that same Jesus.’


“When Hell heard that, he said to him, ‘I beg by your strength and mine not to bring Him to me. For at that time, when I heard the command of His word, I shook and was overwhelmed with fear, and all my servants were troubled. Neither could we keep Lazarus, but he, like an eagle shaking himself, leaped up with all agility and swiftness and departed from us. And the earth, which held the dead body of Lazarus, immediately gave him up alive. So, now I know that the man who was able to do these things is a God strong in command and mighty in manhood and that He is the savior of mankind. And if you bring Him to me, He will set free all who are here shut up in the hard prison and bound in the chains of their sins that cannot be broken, and He will bring them to the life of his God-head forever.’


“And as Satan the prince and Hell spoke together, suddenly there came a voice like thunder and a spiritual cry: ‘Remove, O princes, your gates, and be lifted up, you everlasting doors, and the King of glory will come in.’


“When Hell heard that, he said to Satan the prince, ‘Go away from me and get out of my realm. If you are a mighty man of war, go fight against the King of glory. But what have you to do with Him?’ And Hell cast Satan out of his dwelling. Then Hell said to his wicked servants, ‘Shut the hard gates of brass and put iron bars on them and stand strong so that we, the masters of captivity, won’t be taken captive.’


“But when all the multitude of the saints heard it, they rebuked Hell: ‘Open your gates so the King of glory may come in…’


“Then the Lord of majesty appeared in the form of a man and lightened the eternal darkness and broke the bonds that could not be loosed. And the help of His everlasting might visited us who sat in the deep darkness of our transgressions and in the shadow of the death of our sins.


“When Hell and death and their wicked servants saw this, they were struck with fear at the sight of the brightness of so great a light in their own realm, seeing Christ suddenly in their abode, and they cried out, saying, ‘You have overcome us. Who are You whom the Lord sent to confuse us like this? Who are You who hasn’t been hurt by death and has preserved the signs of Your majesty unblemished and now comes in wrath to condemn our power? Who are You who are so great and so small, both humble and exalted, both soldier and commander, a marvelous warrior in the shape of a bondsman, and a King of glory dead and living, whose dead body the cross bore? You lied dead in the grave but have come down to us alive, and at Your death, all creation quaked, and all the stars were shaken. And You have become free among the dead and send our armies backing away in retreat. Who are You who sets free the prisoners who are bound by original sin and restores them to their previous liberty? Who are You who shines Your divine and bright light on those who were blinded with the darkness of their sins?’


“In the same way, all the armies of devils were struck with fear and cried out together in the terror of their confusion, ‘ Where do You come from, Jesus, a man so mighty and bright in majesty, so excellent without spot and clean from sin? The earth, which has always been subject to us until now and paid tribute to us, has never sent us a dead man like You, nor ever sent such a gift to Hell. So who are You who so fearlessly crosses our borders, and not only is not afraid of our torments but purposes to free all men out of our bonds? Maybe You are that same Jesus who Satan, our prince, said would receive dominion over the whole world by Your death on the cross.’


“Then, in His majesty, the King of glory trampled on death and took hold of Satan the prince and delivered him to the power of Hell, and drew Adam toward Him, to His own brightness.


“Then Hell, receiving Satan the prince, reproached him strongly: ‘O prince of the damned and chief of destruction, Beelzebub, considered useless by angels and spat upon by the righteous, why would you do this? You would crucify the King of glory, and as He died, you promised us great benefits from His death. Like a fool, you didn’t know what you were doing. Now look, by the brightness of His majesty, this Jesus makes all the darkness of death flee, and He has broken the strong depths of the prisons and let out the prisoners and loosed those who were bound. All those who were sighing from our torments are now rejoicing over us, and in answer to their prayers, our kingdom is defeated, our realm is conquered, and no nation of men will fear us anymore. And besides this, the dead, who never used to be proud, triumph over us, and the captives, who never could be joyful, threaten us.


“’O prince Satan, father of all the wicked and ungodly and renegades, why would you do this? Those who from the beginning until now have despaired of life and salvation – we can’t hear them roaring in pain anymore, neither do their groans sound in our ears, nor is there any sign of tears upon any of their faces.


“’O prince Satan, holder of the keys of hell, those who were your riches you gained by the tree of transgression and the losing of paradise, you have lost by the tree of the cross, and all your happiness has died. When you hung up Christ Jesus, the King of glory, you were working against yourself and against me. From now on, you will know what eternal torments and infinite pains you are to suffer as my prisoner forever.


‘”O prince Satan, author of death and head of all pride, you should have first looked for evil in this Jesus. Why did you venture to crucify Him without cause, unjustly, when you found no blame in Him and bring the righteous and innocent one into our realm only to lose those who were guilty and ungodly and unrighteous from across the whole world?’


“And when Hell had said this to Satan the prince, the King of glory said to Hell, ‘Satan the prince will be in your power forever to take the place of Adam and his children, all My righteous ones.’


“And the Lord stretched out His hand and said, ‘Come to Me, all you My holy ones who bear My image and My likeness. You who were condemned by the tree and the devil and death, see now the devil and death condemned by the tree.’


“And soon after, all the holy ones were gathered together under the hand of the Lord. And the Lord held the right hand of Adam and said to him, ‘Peace to you with all your children who are My righteous ones.’


“But Adam threw himself down at His knees and cried out in tears, ‘I will magnify You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up and not let my enemies triumph over me. O Lord my God, I cried to You, and You have healed me. Lord, You have brought my soul out of Hell. You have delivered me those who go down to the pit. Sing praises to the Lord, all you holy ones of His, and give thanks to Him for His holiness. For there is wrath in His indignation, and life is in His good pleasure.’


“In the same way, all the holy ones of God kneeled and threw themselves down at the feet of the Lord, saying together, ‘You have come, O redeemer of the world. You have accomplished what You foretold in the law and by Your prophets. You have redeemed the living by Your cross, and through Your death on the cross, You have come down to us to save us out of Hell and death through Your majesty. O Lord, just as You have set the name of Your glory in the heavens and set up Your cross for a token of redemption upon the earth, so, Lord, may You set the sign of the victory of Your cross in Hell so that death will no longer rule.’


“And the Lord stretched out His hand and made the sign of the cross over Adam and over all His holy ones, and He took the right hand of Adam and went up out of Hell, and all the holy ones followed Him…


“Then the Lord, holding Adam’s hand, delivered him to Michael the archangel, and all the holy ones followed Michael the archangel, and he brought them all into the glory and beauty of paradise.


“And there they met two men, ancients of days. The holy ones asked, ‘Who are you who have not yet been dead in Hell with us but have been in paradise in the body?’


“Then one of them answered: ‘I am Enoch. I was brought here by the word of the Lord, and this person with me is Elijah the Tishbite, who was taken up in a chariot of fire. Up to this day, we have not tasted death but are waiting here until the coming of the Antichrist to fight against him with signs and wonders of God and to be killed by him in Jerusalem, and after three and a half days to be taken up again alive into the clouds.’


“And as Enoch and Elijah spoke with the holy ones, [the thief who believed in Jesus came up.]


“These are the divine and holy mysteries we, Karinus and Leucius, saw and heard…Michael the archangel told us to go over Jordan to a rich and fertile place. Many who rose again with us for a testimony of the resurrection of Christ the Lord are there. But those of us who rose from the dead were given only three days to keep the Passover of the Lord in Jerusalem with our relatives who are living for a testimony of the resurrection of Christ the Lord. And we were baptized in the holy river of Jordan and received white robes, every one of us. And after the three days, when we had kept the Passover of the Lord, all those who had risen with us were caught up in the clouds and were taken over Jordan and were never seen again by men. But we were told to stay in the city of Arimathea and continue in prayer…”


And suddenly, they were transfigured and became bright white and were seen no more. And the writings of their experience were found to be exactly the same, not differing by even one letter.



Irenaeus’ Against Heresies, Book 5

(Late 2nd Century)

Chapter 31, Paragraph 1:


For three days, He stayed in the place where the dead were, as the prophet says concerning Him: "And the Lord remembered His dead holy ones who slept formerly in the land of the grave, and He descended to them to rescue and save them."


Hippolytus’s Against Plato, On the Cause of the Universe

(Early 3rd Century)

 Paragraphs 1-2:


We must speak of Hades, in which the souls of both the righteous and unrighteous are detained. Hades is an abusive place in the created system, a location beneath the earth, where the light of the world does not shine. Since the sun does not shine in this place, there is never-ending darkness there. This place has been destined to be a guard-house for souls, with angels stationed as guards, distributing according to each one's deeds the temporary punishments for different characters.


And in this place, there is a certain place set apart by itself, a lake of unquenchable fire, into which we suppose no one has ever yet been thrown. It is prepared for the day determined by God, in which one sentence of righteous judgment will be justly applied to all. The unrighteous and those who did not believe in God, who have honored the vain works of their hands as higher than God and created idols by themselves, will be sentenced to this endless punishment.


But the righteous will receive the incorruptible and unfading kingdom, who are currently detained in Hades, but not in the same place with the unrighteous. There is one descent at the gate where we believe an archangel is stationed with a host in this location. When those who are appointed to the souls are directed by the angels to pass through this gate, they do not continue on the same path as the unrighteous. The righteous are led in the light toward the right, sung to by the angels stationed there, and are brought to a place full of light. Those righteous from the beginning dwell there. They are not ruled by necessity, but always are enjoying the thoughts of the blessings in their view and delighting themselves with the expectation of others joining them, and deeming them better than these. And that place brings no troubles to them. In this place, there is neither fierce heat, nor cold, nor thorn, but the faces of the fathers and the righteous are seen always smiling as they wait for the rest and eternal revival in heaven, which follow this location. And we call it Abraham's bosom.


The unrighteous are dragged to the left by angels who are ministers of punishment. They do not go on their own any longer but are dragged by force as prisoners. And the angels who are appointed over them send them along, reproaching them and threatening them with an eye of terror, forcing them down into the lower parts. And when they are brought there, those appointed to that service drag them on to the end or hell. And those who are near will hear the unrest endlessly and feel the hot smoke. And when that vision is near, as they see the terrible and excessively glowing spectacle of the fire, they shudder in horror at the expectation of the future judgment, as if they were already feeling the power of their punishment. And again, where they see the fathers and the righteous' place, they are also punished there. For a deep and vast abyss is set in the midst, so none of the righteous sympathizers think to pass it, nor any of the unrighteous dare to cross it.


Hades is where the souls of all are held until the time God has determined. He will accomplish a complete resurrection, not by transferring souls into other bodies, but by raising the bodies themselves.




Clement of Alexandria’s Miscellanies, Book 6

(Early 3rd Century)

Chapter 6, Paragraphs 5-6:


If the Lord descended to Hades for no other end but to preach the Gospel (and He did descend), it was either to preach the Gospel to all people or to the Hebrews only…Souls, although darkened by passions, are able to perceive more clearly when released from their bodies since they are no longer obstructed by the weak flesh…


The Gospel says, "that many bodies of those that slept arose," plainly indicating that they were transferred to a better state.



Tertullian’s A Treatise on the Soul

(Early 3rd Century)

Chapter 55:


We don’t believe the lower regions of Hades are an empty cavern, nor some underground sewer of the world. We believe it is a vast, deep, hidden space in the center of the earth because we read that while dead, Christ spent three days in the heart of the earth…The depths of the Abyss are even lower down.



Tertullian’s A Treatise on the Soul

(Early 3rd Century)

Chapter 58:


All souls are shut up within Hades…There, they are already experiencing punishments and comforts.



Novatian’s On the Trinity

(Mid-3rd Century)

Chapter 1:


What lies beneath the earth is not without power. For there is a place where the souls of the just and the unjust are taken, conscious of the future judgment.


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