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EPHESIANS 4:7-9:

HE LED THE CAPTIVES FREE AND GAVE GIFTS TO MEN

[Eph 4:7-9]:

(v. 7) "But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Chtist's gift.

(v. 8) Therefore it says, [Ps 68:18]

'When He ascended on high [to heaven],

He led captives

[OT saints in Paradise compartment in Hades who were saved on credit, held 'captive' there awaiting our Lord's atonement for them so that He could bring them into heaven with Himself]

in his train and gave gifts

[of eternal life now fully paid for them on the cross]

to men [and led them into heaven].

(v. 9) (What does 'He ascended' mean except that He also descended to the lower, earthly regions"

[Hades to the Paradise compartment in order to lead the 'captives', i.e., the O.T. saints into heaven]"

"He led captives in his train" = lit. "He led captive captivity", i.e., he went to those in Hades/Paradise who were captive in the sense of being restricted to Paradise and led them in a captive group to heaven with Him.

[Compare Jn 3:13]:

"No one has ever gone up into heaven except the One Who came from heaven - the Son of Man."

~~~jn3v18

A) AT THE TIME OF OUR LORD'S ENCOUNTER WITH NICODEMUS NO MAN WAS IN HEAVEN YET - UNTIL OUR LORD PAID THE PENALTY FOR THE SINS OF THE WHOLE WORLD

1) GOD'S JUSTICE MUST BE SATISFIED BEFORE HE CAN PERMIT SINFUL MAN TO BE WITH HIM IN HEAVEN

a) [Ro 3:24-26 NAS]:

(v. 24) "[all] being justified as a gift by His [God’s] grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

(v. 25) Whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins [of believers of OT times] previously committed;

(v. 26) for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."

"God presented Him [Jesus Christ] as a sacrifice of atonement' =

God the Father presented, i.e., put forward before the eyes of men, His Son in an act of sacrifice which was done to satisfy God for the sins of the whole world.

i) [Compare 1 Jn 2:2]:

"and He Himself [Jesus Christ] is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world."

"propitiation" = "hilasmos" = satisfaction, satisfactory payment for.

a) [Ro 3:24-26 NAS cont.]:

(v. 24) "[all] being justified as a gift by His [God’s] grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

(v. 25) Whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins [of believers of OT times] previously committed;

(v. 26) for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."

"forbearance" = "anoche" =

[Vine's Expository Dictionary]:

"a holding back...denotes forbearance, a delay of punishment.... His forbearance is the ground not of His forgiveness, but of His pretermission [suspension of the punishment] of sins, His withholding punishment. It is connected with the passing over of sins in times past.....It is connected with the passing over of sins in times past, previous to the atoning work of Christ, [Cp Heb 9:9-15]."

Those in Old Testament times who trusted alone in God's future provision of salvation through a coming GodMan Messiah had judgment of their sin postponed even after they died. As a matter of fact, O.T. saints went to Paradise in Hades when they died, awaiting transfer to heaven, (Lk 16:19-31).

Once Christ died on the cross, the sins of the whole world being completely paid for, (1 Jn 2:2), having already received as a result of a moment of faith in a coming Messiah through the seed of Abraham, the gift of God's Perfect Righteousness, (Gen 15:6; Ro 4:3),

the Old Testament period believers were immediately brought out of Paradise in Hades into heaven to be with God for the rest of eternity.

"For the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just" =

In the past there was some question as to whether God was a perfectly just and righteous God. Men like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David were justified - accounted righteous - by their faith in God's future plan of salvation and they were received into the Paradise compartment of Hades when they died, (Lk 16:19-31). These men were sinners with their sins not having been paid for as indicated in Scripture:

ii) [Psalm 50:16-23]:

This passage indicates that men were accusing God of overlooking the sins of men which God forgave on credit in the past:

(Ps 50:21) "These things [sins] you [evil men] have done and I [God] kept silent; you thought I was altogether like you. But I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face."

"you thought I was altogether like you" =

God says to evil men 'You thought I was evil like you because men saw that I forgave some men for trusting in Me but without punishment for those sins which those men were known to have committed. Evil men thought that God was 'winking' at sins and would not really hold men accountable for any wrong doing.

So God's foremost purpose in the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ was to demonstrate to the universe that His justice is satisfied by the atonement with respect to the sins of the past which were forgiven on credit. His holiness - His perfect righteousness - is not impugned for covering the sins of believers in the past until the atonement was completed by Jesus Christ on the cross. God's justice is upheld by His fulfillment to Abraham, (Gen 12:1-3; 15:1-6) - and the world - of a plan of salvation through Abraham's seed, God's Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, (Gal 3:16).

2) OLD TESTAMENT SAINTS OCCUPIED HADES - PARADISE - UNTIL OUR LORD PAID THE PRICE FOR SINS, DESCENDED INTO HADES/PARADISE AND BROUGHT THEM WITH HIM TO HEAVEN

a) HADES: A SCRIPTURAL VIEWPOINT

A key term in the biblical understanding of death and the afterlife is the Greek word Hades. This word forms a linguistic bridge which takes us from the Old Testament view of death, often expressed with the word Sheol to the New Testament Hades. The importance of a proper interpretation of this word cannot be overstressed.

In the Septuagint, Hades is found 71 times. It is the Greek equivalent for Sheol 64 times. The other seven times it is found in the Septuagint, it is the translation of other Hebrew words, some of which shed significant light on what Hades meant to the translators of the Septuagint.

In Job 33:22, Hades is the translation of the Hebrew word memeteim, or 'destroying angels [KJV] ... the angels who are commissioned by God to slay the man.' In this sense it refers to disincarnate spirit creatures.

It is also used in Job 38:17 as the translation of the Hebrew, 'the realm of ghosts or shades' (KJV).

It is used for 'the shades of the underworld' in Prov 2:18. This refers to the spirits of the departed in Sheol who are viewed as 'the dwellers in the Kingdom of the dead as in Homer and Virgil and like the Latin word Inferi, it stands for the realm of disembodied souls.'

Not once is Hades the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word for grave (kever). Not once does it mean nonexistence or unconsciousness. The times it is used for words other than Sheol, it clearly means the world of spirits. There is, therefore, no way to escape the conclusion that the translators of the Septuagint clearly understood that Hades referred to the realm of disembodied souls or spirits; and, we must also emphasize, that the translators of the Septuagint did not obtain this concept from Platonic Greek thought but from the Hebrew concept of Sheol itself.

THE LEXICOGRAPHICAL EVIDENCE

When we turn to the lexicographical material, we find that the authors of the Septuagint were correct in their usage of Hades as the Greek equivalent for the Hebrew Sheol.

Arndt and Gingrich... A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament... define Hades as 'the underworld ... the place of the dead' (p. 16). Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon (p. 11) states that Hades comes from two words which joined together [which] mean 'invisible,' or 'unseen.' Thus it refers to 'the common receptacle of disembodied spirits.'

The KJV mistranslated the word Hades in every occurrence just as it did with the word Sheol. It is found ten times in the Greek New Testament. The Greek text underlying the KJV [the Textus Receptus] has it an eleventh time in 1 Cor 15:55, but this is a corrupt reading.

Perhaps the best way to clarify what the New Testament teaches about Hades is to first of all state what Hades does not mean. Once we have cleared away any misconceptions of this word, then we can present its meaning in the New Testament.

First, Hades does not mean death, because the Greek word thanatos is the word for death in the New Testament. Also, Hades and death appear together in such passages as Rev 1:18 where they cannot be viewed as synonyms...

i) [Rev 1:18]:

"I am the Loving One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades."

Second, Hades is not the grave, because the Greek word mneema is the word for grave in the New Testament. Also, all the arguments which demonstrated that Sheol cannot mean the grave apply equally to Hades seeing that Hades is the equivalent for the Hebrew word Sheol. The New Testament's dependence upon the Septuagint demonstrates this point.

Third, Hades is not 'hell,' i.e., the place of final punishment for the wicked, because the Greek word Gehenna is the word for 'hell' in the New Testament.

Fourth, Hades is not 'heaven,' i.e., the place where the soul of the righteous goes at death to await the coming resurrection, because the Greek word ouranos is the word for heaven in the New Testament.

Fifth, Hades is not the place of eternal bliss for the righteous after the resurrection, because the new heavens and the new earth or the everlasting kingdom refer to this place (Matt 24:34; Rev 21:1).

Having clarified what Hades does not mean, we can now state the New Testament meaning of this crucial word.

First, we must once again emphasize the importance of the principle of progressive revelation....

...The New Testament picks up where the Old Testament left off by progressively developing the concept of what happens to the soul of man after death.

ii) [Compare Luke 16:19-31]

The rich man was directly said to be 'in Hades' (v. 23), the phrase 'Abraham's bosom' to which the angels carried Lazarus (vv. 22,23) must be interpreted as the section of Hades reserved for the righteous.....

During the intertestamental period, the Jewish concept of Sheol had progressed to the stage where it was believed that Sheol had two distinct compartments, or sections. One section was a place of torment to which the wicked went while the other was a place of conscious bliss, often called 'Abraham's bosom' or 'paradise,' to which the righteous were carried by angels...."

Compare our Lord's account of Lazarus and the rich man in Hades which testifies to the accuracy of the rabbinic understanding of Sheol:

[Lk 16:19-31]:

(v. 19) "[Jesus said, (v. 15)] Now there was a certain rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, gaily living in splendor every day.

(v. 20) And a certain poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores,

(v. 21) and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.

(v. 22) Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom

[Abraham's bosom was an expression which referred to the paradise compartment in Hades, the place where those who had hte faith of Abraham dwelled until they were to occupy the kingdom of heaven]

and the rich man also died and was buried.

(v. 23) And in Hades he lifted up his eyes,

[Notice that our Lord is indicating here in this account that there is a fully functioning consciousness after death, a bliss for those who are declared righteous and torment for those who are not. And the rest of the passages confirms this]:

being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom.

(v. 24) And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame.'

(v. 25) But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.

(v. 26) And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.' "

Although Old Testament saints did not have as much information about the afterlife as the New Testament revelation provided later on, it does not follow that the word Sheol, the Hebrew O.T. word for the place one resides in the afterlife, referred to something different or less than what the word Hades referred to in the N.T., any more than it does when one refers to one's car at one time as a sedan and a '99 Ford Taurus at another. They both refer to the same thing, one reference being more specific than the other.

Although this passage in Luke shows a characteristic of an O.T. historical account, for the beggar's name was specifically given as a proper name - not a symbollic one: "a certain poor man named Lazarus". And since, the passage refers to yet another O. T. historical individual: "Father Abraham". And since all attempts to treat this as a completely symbollic parable that teaches anything but death or the afterlife end up in farfetched interpretations that violate clear doctrinal passages on these subjects; consider another option which best fits the rest of Scripture and has precedent in the rabbinical literary form of Jesus' day:

[Morey op. cit., pp. 85-87]:

"The rabbinic literature before, during, and after the time of Christ is filled with parables which built imaginative stories around real historical characters. There are multiple examples in the Talmud and Midrash of parables in which Abraham had dialogues with people such as Nimrod, with whom he could never have spoken literally. Everyone understood that these parables and dialogues did not literally take place.

[Yet what was being taught by the fictitious account was indeed literal]

It was understood that the rabbis used imaginative stories and dialogues as a teaching method. It was understood by all that these dialogues never took place...

...Christ used a rabbinic story and dialogue in Luke 16:19-31 which was not 'true' or 'real' in the sense of being literal [in a historical sense, but literal indeed in what it is teaching]. It is obvious that Lazarus did not literally sit in Abraham's literal bosom. The rich man did not have literal lips which literal water could quench.

What is important for us to grasp is that Christ used the mental images conjured up by this rabbinic parable to teach that, in the hereafter, the wicked experience torment and the righteous bliss. This is clear from the rabbinic sources from which he drew this parable.

Since the dialogue between the rich man and Abraham was a teaching tool used by the rabbis before Christ, it is obvious that Christ was not trying to teach that we will talk with the wicked in the hereafter. He was merely using the dialogue method to get across the concept that there is no escape from torment, no second chance, and we must believe the Scriptures in this life unto salvation."

[Morey, cont.]:

"Before Christ's ascension, believers as well as unbelievers were said to enter Sheol or Hades. After Christ's ascension, the New Testament pictures believers after death as entering heaven to be with Christ...(Phil 1:23), which is far better than Hades.

iii) [Compare Jn 3:13]:
"No one has ever gone into heaven except the One Who came from heaven - the Son of Man."

Notice that "No one has ever gone into heaven"= No Old Testament saint had as yet occupied heaven after they died, yet there is evidence in Scripture that O.T. saints did occupy some place after they did die. After the cross, Scripture indicates that believers occupied heaven:

iv) [Phil 1:23-24]:

(v. 23) "I [Paul] am torn between the two: [duty on earth or going to be with the Lord in heaven, (vv. 21-22)]: I desire to depart and be with Christ [Who is at this moment in heaven], which is better by far;

(v. 24) but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body."

[Morey, cont.]:
"[So believers] are present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:6-8), worshipping with the angelic hosts of heaven (Heb 12:22, 23) at the altar of God (Rev 6:9-11). Thus believers do not now enter Hades but ascend immediately to the throne of God....

[ on the believer's immediate destiny in heaven when he dies]

...That Christ went to Hades, i.e., the world beyond death, is clear from Acts 2:31."

v) [Compare Acts 2:31]:

"He [David, (v. 29) looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades ["hadou" = Hades], nor did His flesh see decay.

[Notice that this indicates that our Lord did go to Hades]

To Jews at that time it was on the 4th day that corruption set in thus revealing most unequivocally that our Savior’s human soul was in Hades while His body lay in the sepulcher, He ascending out of Hades to receive His body instead of descending down from heaven. Ephesians 4:8-10 vividly describes the descension of our Lord "into the lower parts of the earth," which never could mean the sepulcher or grave in which He was deposited. It is not in the lower parts of the earth, but on the surface, excavated out of a great rock in the mountain side, and entered horizontally. No grave is in the "lower parts of the earth," much less our Savior’s sepulcher.

Furthermore, Paradise was not in heaven before the cross, for Jesus testified to the women on the morning He was resurrected that He had not yet gone up to His Father, (Jn 20:15-18), whereas He had met the thief in Paradise on the preceding Wednesday."

vi) [Compare Jn 20:15-18]:
(v. 15) ''' "[Jesus said] 'Woman,' He said, 'why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?' Thinking He was the gardener, she [Mary Magdalene] said, 'Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will get Him.'
(v. 16) Jesus said to her, 'Mary.' She turned toward Him and cried out in Aramaic, 'Rabboni!' (which means Teacher).
(v. 17) Jesus said, 'Do not hold on to Me, for I have not yet returned to the Father [in heaven]. Go instead to My brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.' " '''


(Note: our Lord was crucified on the Passover Sabbath Wednesday:.. on the crucifixion/resurrection chronology)"

vii) [Compare Luke 23:43]:

"Jesus answered him [the thief on the cross, (v. 40)], 'I tell you the truth, today [Wednesday the Passover Sabbath] you will be with Me in paradise.' "

[Morey, cont.]: )
"While 'paradise' in the gospel account (Luke 23:43) referred to the section of Hades reserved for the righteous [before the cross], by the time Paul wrote 2 Cor 12:2-4 paradise had been taken out of Hades and was now placed in the third heaven.


viii) [Compare 2 Cor 12:2-4]:
(v. 2) "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know that this man - whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows -
(v. 4) was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.

[Morey, cont.]:
"According to the post-resurrection teaching in the New Testament, the believer now goes to heaven at death to await the coming resurrection and the eternal state. But, what of the wicked? The wicked at death descend into Hades which is a place of temporary torment while they await the coming resurrection and their eternal punishment.

First, it is clear that the souls of the wicked are in torment during the intermediate state in Hades. The Apostle Peter stated this in language which could not be clearer:

ix) [2 Pet 2:9]:

"Then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment."

First, Peter says that the wicked are 'kept' unto the day of judgment. This word ['kept'] is in the present, active, infinitive form, which means that the wicked are being held captive continuously. If the wicked merely pass into nonexistence at death, there would be nothing left to be 'kept' unto the day of judgment. Obviously, Peter is grammatically picturing the wicked as being guarded like prisoners in a jail until the day of final judgment.

Second, Peter says that the wicked are 'being tormented.' This word is in the present, passive, participle form and means that the wicked are continuously being tormented as an on-going activity.

If Peter wanted to teach that the wicked receive their full punishment at death by passing into nonexistence, then he would have used the aorist tense. Instead, he uses those Greek tenses which were the only ones available to him in the Greek language to express conscious, continuous torment. The grammar of the text irrefutably establishes that the wicked are in torment while they await their final day of judgment.

When the day of judgment arrives, Hades will be emptied of its inhabitants, and the wicked will stand before God for their final sentence....

x) [Rev 20:13-15]:

(v. 13) "The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.

(v. 14) Then death and Hades were thrown into the Lake of Fire. The Lake of Fire is the second death.

(v. 15) If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the Lake of Fire."

Thus, we conclude that Hades is the temporary intermediate state between death and the resurrection where the wicked are in conscious torment. Hades without Paradise, i.e., without the O.T. saints will thus be emptied into the Lake of Fire at the resurrection of all unbelievers, and then the wicked will be cast into 'hell' (Gehenna).

b) PARADISE

i) PARADISE IN HADES
i_a) [Lk 16:19-31]:

(v. 19) "[Jesus said, (v. 15)] Now there was a certain rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, gaily living in splendor every day.

(v. 20) And a certain poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores,

(v. 21) and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.

(v. 22) Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom.

[Abraham's bosom was an expression which referred to the paradise compartment in Hades, the place where those who had the faith of Abraham dwelled until they were to occupy the kingdom of heaven]; and the rich man also died and was buried.

(v. 23) And in Hades he lifted up his eyes,

[Notice that our Lord is indicating here in this account that there is a fully functioning consciousness after death, a bliss for those who are declared righteous and torment for those who are not. And the rest of the passages confirms this]:

being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom.

(v. 24) And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame.'

(v. 25) But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.

(v. 26) And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.' "

What is important for us to grasp is that Christ used the mental images conjured up by this rabbinic parable to teach that, in the hereafter, the wicked experience torment and the righteous bliss. This is clear from the rabbinic sources from which he drew this parable.

Since the dialogue between the rich man and Abraham was a teaching tool used by the rabbis before Christ, it is obvious that Christ was not trying to teach that we will talk with the wicked in the hereafter. He was merely using the dialogue method to get across the concept that there is no escape from torment, no second chance, and we must believe the Scriptures in this life unto salvation."

[Morey, cont.]:

"Before Christ's ascension, believers as well as unbelievers were said to enter Sheol or Hades. After Christ's ascension, the New Testament pictures believers after death as entering heaven to be with Christ...(Phil 1:23), which is far better than Hades.

i_b) [Compare Jn 3:13]:
"No one has ever gone into heaven except the One Who came from heaven - the Son of Man."

Notice that 'No one has ever gone into heaven' = Since this statement was made by our Lord at the tiem of His three year ministry on earth, we can conclude that no Old Testament saint had as yet occupied heaven after they died.

[Morey, cont.]:

"That Christ went to Hades, i.e., the world beyond death, is clear from Acts 2:31."

i_c) [Compare Acts 2:31]:

"He [David, (v. 29) looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades ["hadou" = Hades], nor did His flesh see decay.

[Notice that this indicates that our Lord did go to Hades]

To Jews at that time it was on the 4th day that corruption set in thus revealing most unequivocally that our Savior’s human soul was in Hades while His body lay in the sepulcher, He ascending out of Hades to receive His body instead of descending down from heaven. Ephesians 4:8-10 vividly describes the descension of our Lord "into the lower parts of the earth," which never could mean the sepulcher or grave in which He was deposited. It is not in the lower parts of the earth, but on the surface, excavated out of a great rock in the mountain side, and entered horizontally. No grave is in the "lower parts of the earth," much less our Savior’s sepulcher.

Furthermore, paradise was not in heaven before the cross, for Jesus testified to the women on the morning He was resurrected that He had not yet gone up to His Father, (Jn 20:15-18), whereas He had met the thief in Paradise on the preceding Wednesday."

i_d) [Compare Luke 23:43]:

"Jesus answered him [the thief on the cross, (v. 40)], 'I tell you the truth, today [Wednesday the Passover Sabbath] you will be with Me in paradise.' "


[Note: our Lord was crucified on the Passover Sabbath Wednesday:.. on the crucifixion/resurrection chronology]

i_e) [Compare Jn 20:15-18]:
(v. 15) ''' "[Jesus said] 'Woman,' He said, 'why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?' Thinking He was the gardener, she [Mary Magdalene] said, 'Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will get Him.'
(v. 16) Jesus said to her, 'Mary.' She turned toward Him and cried out in Aramaic, 'Rabboni!' (which means Teacher).
(v. 17) Jesus said, 'Do not hold on to Me, for I have not yet returned to the Father [in heaven]. Go instead to My brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.' " '''


[Morey, cont.]:
"While 'paradise' in the gospel account (Luke 23:43) referred to the section of Hades reserved for the righteous [before the cross], by the time Paul wrote 2 Cor 12:2-4 paradise had been taken out of Hades and was now placed in the third bn heaven.


i_f) [Compare 2 Cor 12:2-4]:
(v. 2) "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know that this man - whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows -
(v. 4) was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.

[Morey, cont.]:
"According to the post-resurrection teaching in the New Testament, the believer now goes to heaven at death to await the coming resurrection and the eternal state.

i_g) [Phil 1:23-24]:

(v. 23) "I [Paul] am torn between the two: [duty on earth or going to be with the Lord in heaven, (vv. 21-22)]: I desire to depart and be with Christ [Who is at this moment in heaven], which is better by far;

(v. 24) but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

[Morey, cont.]:
[So believers] are present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:6-8), worshipping with the angelic hosts of heaven (Heb 12:22, 23) at the altar of God (Rev 6:9-11). Thus believers do not now enter Hades but ascend immediately to the throne of God....

[ on the believer's immediate destiny in heaven when he dies]

c) OUR LORD DESCENDED TO HADES INTO PARADISE AND BROUGHT THE OLD TESTAMENT TIME BELIEVERS TO HEAVEN WITH HIM

i) [Ps 68:17-18 NAS]:

(v. 17) "The chariots of God are myriads, thousands upon thousands; The LORD is among them as at Sinai, in holiness.

[NIV: The chariots of God are tens of thousands and thousands of thousands; the LORD has come from Sinai into His sanctuary]

(v. 18) Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast led captive Thy captives; Thou hast received gifts among men, even among the rebellious also, that the LORD God may dwell there."

ii) [Compare Eph 4:7-10]:

(v. 7) "But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.

(v. 8) Therefore it says, [cf. Ps 68:18]

'When He ascended on high [to heaven],

He led captive a host of captives,

[O.T. saints were held 'captive' in the Paradise compartment in Hades who were saved on credit, (Ro 3:25-26). They were held 'captive' there awaiting our Lord's atonement for them so that He could then lead them 'captive', i.e., in a group, into heaven]

And He gave gifts to men.

[Refers to spiritual gifts, (ref. Eph 4:11-14)]

(v. 9) (What does 'He ascended' mean except that He also descended to the lower, earthly regions"

['descended to the lower, earthly regions' = descended to where Hades/Paradise is located - in order to take 'captive' the O.T. saints held their in 'captivity' until our Lord came for them to ascend with them to heaven]:

(v. 10) He Who descended is the very One Who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe).

"He led captive a host of captives" = lit. "He led captive captivity", i.e., he went to those in Hades/Paradise who were captive in the sense of being restricted to Paradise and led them in a captive group to heaven with Him. Since the verb in the Greek, "EchmalOteusen" = [str. # 162] = led captive, [Pershbacher] then this is best interpreted as an actual leading of a specific group of individuals who were already in captivity in a captive group from one destination to another. This is preferred to the concept of interpreting it as the setting free [different verb] of all mankind from Satan's captivity by redeeming them from the slave market of sin. (Although Scripture indeed teaches the latter as a truth, it is not in view here in Eph 4:7-10).

Paul reflects on Psalm 68 of which verses 17-18 are quoted above - which passage indicates that a military victor such as the LORD God over His and Israel's enemies, gives gifts to those who are identified with him in His victory. This time it is about our Lord's victory over sin through His redemptive work on the cross as a result of which He set the specific captives free in Paradise/Hades by redeeming them from the slave market of sin and then leading them in a captive group to heaven where He ascended to. The parenthetical statement in verses 9 & 10 indicate our Lord's descent into the depths of the earth, i.e., Hades/Paradise where He led them captive to Heaven. The OT saints from Paradise were captive in the sense of being confined there under the promise of Abraham of eternal life until they could be released for entrance into heaven when that promise was fulfulled through the Seed of Abraham via our Lord's sacrificial atonement for the sins of the whole world. So our Lord ascended with the 'captives' into heaven, having fulfilled the promise.

iii) [Compare Mt 8:11]:

"I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven."

Notice that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all OT saints who occupied Paradise/Hades after they died, are destined for the kingdom of heaven.

iv) [Compare Rev 20:14-15]:

(v. 14) "Then death and Hades were thrown into the Lake of Fire. The Lake of Fire is the second death.

(v. 15) If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the Lake of Fire."

[THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARY HOLINESS COMMENTARY COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT VOL. 2 HEBREWS - JUDE by Rev. W. B. Godbey, A.M. B o o k s F o r T h e A g e s AGES Software  Albany, OR USA Version 1.0 © 1997, pp. 196-7]:

"On Sunday morning begins that wonderful ascension (Ephesians 4:8-10), in which He leads captive all the occupants of Abraham’s Bosom, now that the Abramic covenant has been verified, and sealed with His blood, thus opening heaven to all the blood-washed. Wonderful is the rapture of that triumphant ascension, accompanied by all the Old Testament saints. He comes up to the sepulcher and receives His body on the third morn. As this mighty host of Old Testament saints were all disembodied, of course they were invisible to mortal eyes. Jesus, the only one seen, because He only had His body. Meanwhile this mighty host accompany Him in His abiding forty days with His disciples, and constitute His triumphal procession when from Mount Olivet He ascended up to the glorified home of His Father in heaven. Jesus must be the first fruits of them that slept. His glorified body, the eternal confirmation of the redemptive scheme, must first of all enter heaven. Though a number of others were raised from the dead before Christ, we have no evidence that their bodies were transfigured. Hence Jesus was the first one to raise from the dead, receiving the resurrection body. It was pertinent that all the Old Testament saints should be detained in that Intermediate Paradise till the plan of salvation was literally consummated by the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. David (Psalms 24) catches a prophetic vision of this wonderful ascension. Having risen from Mount Olivet with the velocity of lightning, they sweep through ethereal space, passing rolling worlds, glittering sphere, luminous comets and flaming suns, till now the celestial metropolis, in its ineffable glory, bursts upon their enraptured vision.

v) [Ps. 24:7-10]:

(v. 7) "Lift up your heads, O you gates;

be lifted up you ancient doors,

that the King of glory may come in.

(v. 8) Who is this King of glory?

The LORD strong and mighty,

the LORD mighty in battle.

(v. 9) Lift up your heads O ye gates,

lift them up, you ancient doors,

that the King of glory may come in.

(v. 10) Who is He, this King of glory?

The LORD Almighty - He is the King of glory."

The celestial portals all open wide, while millions of angels pour out to greet them with loud shouts: "Welcome home, ye blood-washed." Now the King of glory entered amid the enraptured songs of the seraphim, the thrilling paeans of the cherubim, the golden harps of the archangel and the tremendous hallelujahs of the heavenly hosts, accompanied by the innumerable procession of the Old Testament saints, on and on they sweep around the clarion jubilations of countless millions, till halting before the effulgent throne, the Son salutes the Father: "Behold, I and the children whom Thou hast given me." Such a testimony meeting as heaven has never seen now follows. Father Abraham leads the way, followed by Job, Moses, Joshua, Daniel, the prophets, patriarchs, saints and martyrs, to the ravishing delight of the angels."

d) ENOCH AND ELIJAH ARE NOT EXCEPTIONS TO JN 3:13 - NO MAN WAS IN HEAVEN UNTIL OUR LORD ASCENDED IN HIS RESURRECTION

i) [Gen 5:21-24]:

(v. 21) When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah.

(v. 22) And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters.

(v. 23) Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years.

(v. 24) Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away."

ii) [Heb 11:5]:

"By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God."

iii) [2 Kings 2:11]:

"As they [Elijah and Elisha] were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind."

[Godbey, cont.]

"But, beside the fact of these examples being out of the common order, it does not follow of course that because Enoch was taken to God, he was translated into the highest heaven. For the word "Heaven" is very wide in its signification. The same observation applies to Elijah.

iv) [1 Cor 15:20]:

"Christ is now become the first fruits of them that slept."

This would not appear to be correct, if Enoch and Elijah ascended into the highest Heaven, clothed in bodies endued with immortality."

v) [Compare Jn 3:13]:

"No one has ever gone into heaven except the One Who came from heaven - the Son of Man."

[This was spoken by our Lord at the time of His 3 year ministry on earth, indicating that no man had as yet gone to heaven]

e) PARADISE IN HEAVEN

While Paul lay dead under the shower of stones at Lystra, he ascended up to the third heaven, (i.e., to heaven proper, as the firmament is the first heaven, astronomical worlds the second, and the home of the glorified the third). This third heaven is also Paradise [2 Corinthians 12:2-4]. Of course the thief did not go to this Paradise, but to Abraham’s Bosom, the Intermediate Paradise.

f) CONCLUSION

Since OT saints are to occupy the kingdom of heaven,

and since the OT saints did go to Paradise/Hades when they died,

then the OT saints will be taken from Paradise/Hades to the kingdom before Hades is thrown into the Lake of Fire.

Since our Lord's sacrifice for sins has paved the way for OT saints to be taken to heaven,

and since NT saints themselves go immediately to be with the Lord in heaven,

and since our Lord descended to Paradise on Wednesday when He died on the cross and did not ascend to heaven until after that

then there is strong reason to believe that our Lord Himself took the O.T. saints from Hades to heaven with Him at His resurrection.

~~~jn3v18