Jesus- where was He after death but before resurrection?

Christ was crucified, was taken off the awful cross and laid lovingly to rest in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb. He was cleaned, wrapped, inspected, and the tomb was closed with a large rock. (Mt 27:57-61; Mark 15:47; Luke 23:55)

What happened then? The bible is clear on what the people above the earth did. Mary and the women “rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment” after preparing spices and perfumes to later anoint the body. (Luke 23:56) Then they grieved.

What was Jesus doing? He wasn’t in heaven (John 20:17), He didn’t ascend until after He had shown Himself to the Ten, then later to all Eleven, to Mary, to Peter, and to the two going to Emmaus. (Luke 24:13-32; John 19:20-25; Luke 24:33-35). He told the thief on the cross that the thief would be in Paradise with Him later. (John 23:43). So Jesus was in Paradise. Where is Paradise?

Before Jesus’ resurrection, all the saved dead went to Paradise, also known as Abrahams’ Bosom, a place in the earth. Jesus Himself said He was going to be there three days as a sign. (Matthew 12:40). The story of Lazarus and the rich man also gives a glimpse. Lazarus the beggar died and was carried by angels to Abraham’s side in Paradise. (Luke 16:22). The rich man who had ignored Lazarus all his life also died but he was “In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.” (Luke 16:23). The rich man begged to have a drop of water, or to send someone to his brothers to tell them to avoid this place, but Abraham said “And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.'”

So we get a clearer picture of the belly of the earth, where there exists Paradise for the saved redeemed, hell for the unsaved lost, and between them, a chasm or a great gulf fixed. Below that there is Tartarus and then the abyss.

2 Peter offers a tantalizing clue of Tartarus, noting that after Jesus died:

“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins the just for the unjust that he might bring us to God being put to death in the flesh but quickened by the Spirit, By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” (1 Peter 3:18-19)

What spirits in prison? 2 Peter answers that question:

“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment;” (2 Peter 2:4).

What sin did angels commit to be kept all this time in the lowest dungeon of hell?

“That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair and they took them wives of all which they chose…here were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” (Genesis 6:2, 4). The Hebrew translation for ‘sons of God’ is divine being, angel.

The gloomy dungeons Peter refers to is Tartarus. The word Tartarus is actually used in several translations. You might remember Tartarus in Greek mythology. Tartarus was a place of punishment under the earth, to which, for example, the Titans were sent. In Greek mythology, the Titans were the elder gods, the first gods, who ruled until their children the Olympians led by Zeus overthrew them. When the overthrow was complete, the Titans were sent to Tartarus, the lowest underworld. Do you see the similarities in the ‘mighty men of renown’ noted in Genesis and how these first angels who sinned could be seen by the populace as giants to be worshiped and feared? The cultural memory of those giants spawned the entire Greek mythologies, and later the Roman gods. Far from Tartarus being a mythological place written about by Greek god worshipers, it is a real place that satan later mythologized when he co-opted the cultural memory of the sinning angels and perverted it to false god worship.

Anyway, Tartarus is the lowest, deepest dungeon and the angels who had sinned are chained there. In other translations, the word Tartarus is “abyss” the Greek being abusso. Tartarus is a deep section of hell, reserved for these demons.

Graphic from “Revelation” by Frank Overton, Jr.

Jude also refers to this place, calling it darkness- “And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day” but the word darkness in Greek is zophos, meaning “murky, appalling gloom, referring to darkness so dense and foreboding it is “felt”; (figuratively) apocalyptic, gloomy darkness associated with the nether world bringing its indescribable despair (incredible gloom).”


Mt 8:29 and Luke 8:28 shows us that the demons know Jesus, and they know the appointed time of their doom. That is shown in the behavior of the Gadarene demoniac, who was host to a thousand demons. They talk amongst each other and news travels pretty quickly. They also know that Jesus is God and they fear Him. John MacArthur says that the demons have the most orthodox and conservative theology of us all. When Jesus got off the boat and walked to Gadara, the demoniac threw himself down in front of Jesus, saying, “When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me’”

Jesus asks their name, and they answer truthfully, and then “They were imploring Him not to command them to go away into the abyss.” (Luke 8:31)

It is not likely that the sinning demons chained in prison would have been able to tap into the demon grapevine, being kept for judgment in the lowest pit, the abyss, in apocalyptic darkness. So we remember Peter’s verse where it is written that Jesus preached to the demons in the lowest abyss.

Now, just imagine how it might have been topside at the moment Jesus died on the cross. Satan thinks he has succeeded in having Jesus killed and thinks he has foiled God’s entire promise to redeem humanity through the Messiah. He and his minions must have been partying like there was no tomorrow. They must have been demonically gleeful, cackling, and swooping in hateful hilarity. It was a party.

Then Jesus shows up!

Jesus preaches to them!

Jesus heralds His victory!!!!!

Look at the word preached in Greek. It was not preaching unto salvation, that word is euaggelízō. It was not preaching the Good News. It means PROCLAIM! Strong’s 2784 kērýssō – properly, to herald; to announce a message publicly and with conviction. Jesus, showing up in the middle of the demon-party, to say “YOU LOSE”. His eye is on the sparrow, and though these demons are in the lowest dungeons, He has not forgotten them. Every creature under His sovereign eye is accountable whether they are before Him at His throne or far below Him in gloomy dungeons. When Jesus died, I believe this is the time Peter meant when he wrote that Jesus went to the spirits in prison and proclaimed. I am of the opinion that it was His victory He was heralding. Praise HIM!!

Jesus died, went to Paradise to give comfort to the patiently waiting redeemed, and to preach to the angels in the lowest dungeon. It’s thought that when Jesus ascended to heaven, He gathered the waiting redeemed from Paradise, emptying it, and brought them to to heaven, where saved people who die now enter directly. Hell is still full of the unsaved dead, awaiting judgment, as well as Tartarus below that, with the sinning angels still waiting their day of judgment as well. But at least now they all know, they LOST. Jesus saves. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and His victory is complete. Because of this, ours is complete as well, if we believe.

Sinning Demon, YOU LOSE!