Jesus told the thief at Calvary :

Luke 23:43 And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."

And yet he was not resurrected until after the Sabbath. So were the Souls and Spirits of both taken to Paradise that day while their physical bodies remained ?

Using only biblical texts and/or established traditions of the Nicene church, is there a consensus or even a limited set of positions on where Jesus' spirit was?

  • This is going to be difficult. Patripassianism alone is hard enough, let alone where the spirit was... Oct 17, 2014 at 17:27
  • 2 Peter 3:8-10 may help "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day"
    – nickalh
    Oct 18, 2014 at 10:48
  • I'm not sure if this is is a duplicate of this question or not...
    – Flimzy
    Oct 18, 2014 at 20:55
  • @Flimzy I wouldn't think it is; my question isn't asking anything about where the Soul or Spirit of Jesus was only was it separated from his physical body, and the same with the soul and spirit of the thief. the use of the word Paradise was only that Jesus said they would be there together that day. It would seem superflourious for his diety to remain attached to his physical body for that period, and only the material need be there until resurrection. Hope this explains what my real question is asking.
    – BYE
    Oct 18, 2014 at 21:14
  • The scope of your question doesn't allow an answer from the LDS perspective, but we do have an answer to where His spirit was during this time.
    – staples
    Nov 19, 2014 at 17:09

3 Answers 3


"Using only biblical texts and/or established traditions of the Nicene church, is there a consensus or even a limited set of positions on where Jesus' spirit was?"

It is not clear that Nicene Council was considering this particular subject. It seemed they were more hard pressed to establish a good date for celebrating Easter. Consult ref. below:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Council_of_Nicaea The First Council of Nicaea (/naɪˈsiːə/; Greek: Νίκαια [ˈni:kaɪja]; Turkish: Iznik) was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325. This first ecumenical council was the first effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom.[5]

Its main accomplishments were settlement of the Christological issue of the nature of the Son of God and his relationship to God the Father,3 the construction of the first part of the Creed of Nicaea, establishing uniform observance of the date of Easter,[6] and promulgation of early canon law.

Misconceptions Biblical canon Main article: Development of the Christian biblical canon

A number of erroneous views have been stated regarding the council's role in establishing the biblical canon. In fact, there is no record of any discussion of the biblical canon at the council at all.[66] The development of the biblical canon took centuries, and was nearly complete (with exceptions known as the Antilegomena, written texts whose authenticity or value is disputed) by the time the Muratorian fragment was written.[67]

In 331 Constantine commissioned fifty Bibles for the Church of Constantinople, but little else is known (in fact, it is not even certain whether his request was for fifty copies of the entire Old and New Testaments, only the New Testament, or merely the Gospels), and it is doubtful that this request provided motivation for canon lists as is sometimes speculated. In Jerome's Prologue to Judith[68] he claims that the Book of Judith was "found by the Nicene Council to have been counted among the number of the Sacred Scriptures".

From John 20:17 we do know that Jesus had not ascended to the Father preceding the 3rd day after crucifixion.

John 20:17 NIV Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”

Luke 23:43 lets us know that wherever else he might have gone on day one, he was at the very least in paradise.

Benson [Benson Commentary] has an excellent commentary on the subject and you may find it of use. With this partial quote from the text:

"...That he was going, not only to αδης, the invisible world, but to that part of it termed paradise (my markup). His human soul was removing to the place of separate souls; not to the place of the damned, but to the place of the blessed...."


We know that Jesus ascended into heaven; Acts 1:9,

“…..he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.”

Before he ascended into heaven, he also descended down into hell; Eph. 4:9-10,

“…..he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth…..he that descended is the same also that ascended…..”

It is confirmed again that Jesus went to hell; Acts 2:31,

“…..spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.”

The reason Jesus went to hell was because, he had to receive the same punishment as mortal man. He also went there to offer salvation to all the righteous people who died before his death on the cross; 1 Pet. 4:6,

“…..for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God…..”

Jesus went to hell but was resurrected; therefore he conquered death; 1 Cor.15:26,

“the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”

Because Jesus conquered death, he now holds the keys of death; Rev. 1:18,

“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”

  • Nice answer but it doesn't answer how they were both in Paradise that day.
    – BYE
    Oct 17, 2014 at 20:49
  • 2
    This does not answer the question: it tells us nothing about Christianity. It only tells us the beliefs of one Christian (you) and how you reached that position without even touching on where this belief fits into Christianity, whether it is representative of more than just yourself or what the other positions are. This question specifically asks for those things (and even if it didn't this is an expectation for all questions on this site without specific viewpoint limitations).
    – Caleb
    Oct 18, 2014 at 14:29

Using only biblical texts and/or established traditions of the Nicene church, is there a consensus or even a limited set of positions on where Jesus' spirit was?

Different biblical texts give us three possible answers:

Luke 23:43 says that Jesus expected to be in heaven before the end of the day of crucifixion

And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."

In John 20:17 the risen Jesus tells the women that he had not yet gone to heaven.

Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

1 Peter 3:19 and 1 Peter 4:6 say that Jesus went to hell, to preach to the sinners there:

(3:19) By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

(4:6) For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

Two of these passages were capable of being based on eyewitness reports. On the one hand, presumably someone heard Jesus say while on the cross that he would be in paradise, and on the other hand the women heard Jesus say he had not yet been to heaven. We have no way of knowing how the author of 1 Peter knew that Jesus went to hell. The second and third passages quoted can be harmonised if in fact Jesus' spirit spent the time in hell.

Burton L. Mack says, in Who Wrote the New Testament, page 210, that 1 Peter 3:18-19 makes an important addition to Christian tradition and was destined to become dogma.

  • An authoritative Catholic position is that the "prison" in which Jesus preached was purgatory.
  • In the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, the Apostles Creed says that Jesus descended to hell (purgatory is not an Anglican doctrine):

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth: And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell; The third day he rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; The holy Catholick Church; The Communion of Saints; The Forgiveness of sins; The Resurrection of the body, And the Life everlasting. Amen.

  • @H3br3wHamm3r81 That's an interesting comment. I note your use of the term 'sheol', which is a Jewish tradition, whereas the question asks for a Nicene Christian perspective. I also note that the thief to whom Jesus spoke was repentant, and Jesus was clearly giving him great hope. There is no other 'compartment' in mainstream Christian belief that fits the context of Jesus' comments. Feb 14, 2015 at 2:59
  • Luke 23:43 doesn't say Jesus went to heaven. Paradise could have referred to the other compartment in Hades. See Luke 16:26.
    – user900
    Feb 14, 2015 at 3:25
  • @H3br3wHamm3r81 I see you rewrote your comment to replace 'sheol' by the pagan 'hades'. I'm afraid I do not understand your point, because paradise is clearly a desirable place in traditional thought even if Irenaeus questioned whether it was in some way different to heaven. Certainly it is not the 'prison' (purgatory/hell, depending on denomination) of 1 Peter. I think we should leave it at that, since answer-comments are not a forum for theological debate. Feb 14, 2015 at 4:45

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