“Christ’s Descent into Hell.” (Loc. 7074)
The descent of Christ into hell, confessed in the Apostles’ Creed, comes from 1 Peter 3:18ff. The sequence of the passage makes it clear that Christ’s descent was after he returned to life in the tomb. The Formula of Concord (Solid Declaration IX.2) affirms that Christ descends in both his human and divine natures. The verb used for his activity is to proclaim, ἐκήρθξεν. This, Pieper observes, does not imply whether the content was Law or Gospel (Pieper 1968, Loc. 7095). Yet the people who hear Jesus seem to be those who would have heard and rejected. Pieper therefore views this not as a preaching of the Gospel but a proclamation that he would come soon as their judge (Ibid., Loc. 7117). Pieper then rejects four views of Christ’s descent.
- Christ offered salvation in hell (Ibid., Loc. 7128).
- Christ continued suffering in hell (Ibid., Loc. 7140).
- The descent is figurative (Ibid., Loc. 7147).
- Peter is merely speaking of Noah (Ibid., Loc. 7155).