One of my friends on My Facebook asked me:
“Does the bible make any reference to where Jesus’s soul is during the three days before rising? I know from my readings that he mentions to Mary in one of the gospels that he has not been to heaven yet. Is there any indication as to where his soul is during this time?”
This was my answer:
Great question Keith! Very thoughtful and inquisitive! Many people do not think about that question. That’s right, Jesus told Mary that he had not yet ascended to the Father (Jn. 20:17), so where was he for those three days?
Jesus said that as Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three days, so also would the son of man be in “the heart of the earth” for three days and three nights (Matt. 12:40). The Bible says that before Jesus “ascended up far above all heavens” after his resurrection, he had first “descended into the lower parts of the earth” (Eph. 4:9-10). Jesus told the man dying on the cross next to him that he would be with him “today” in “paradise” (Lk. 23:43). Since Jesus was three days in the heart of the earth after he died, and as he went to paradise from the first day when he died, we can conclude that paradise was in the heart of the earth.
The Bible speaks of those who are “under the earth” (Rev. 5:13). There was a “spiritual underworld” known as “Hades.” That is one of the three words translated as “hell” in the New Testament. Jesus told the story of the rich man and Lazarus. When they both died and went to the underworld in the lower parts of the earth, Lazarus went to paradise and the rich man went to hell-fire. The two locations were next to each other but separated by a great gulf. The rich man in hell could even see Lazarus in paradise. The paradise in the heart of the earth was called “Abraham’s bosom” (Lk. 16:19-31). So when Jesus died, his soul went to the center of the earth or the spiritual underworld known as Hades, but not to the tormented hell side but the paradise or Abraham’s bosom side. While there it says he preached the gospel to the souls that were dead (1 Pet. 3:19-20, 4:6). Then on the third day he rose from the dead, as the Bible said: “Because thou will not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thin Holy One to see corruption” (Acts 2:27). The word for “hell” here is “Hades” or in Greek “ᾅδης” and is defined as “the place of departed souls.” It is also translated as “grave” in 1 Cor. 15:22. But as Jesus went to paradise not hell-fire, Jesus went to the same place in Hades that Lazarus went to.
It was also taught that after the resurrection, when Jesus “lead captivity captive” (Eph. 4:8) that this meant that the inhabitants of paradise in Hades were also brought up to Heaven. In 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, after the resurrection of Christ, “paradise” is spoken of as being in the “third heaven.” Matthew 27:52-53, about the dead saints who rose from the dead after Christ’s resurrection and then went into “the holy city” has also been used as support for this notion.