A friend once told me about the idea that there are two temporary "holding places", so to speak. If a person died and would go to Heaven, but that time had not yet come, they would go to a temporary paradisaical place and similarly for Hell (not the Catholic Purgatory). Some support is given in Luke 23:

Luke 23:40-43 (NLT)
'40 But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? 41 We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”

43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”'

Where did Jesus (and the criminal) go for the three days that He was dead?

There is also the fact that "Hades" refers to a different place than "Hell".

So what other Biblical evidence is there for a temporary holding place?


4 Answers 4


Remember that after the Crucifixion, when Mary Magdalene found Jesus in the garden, he told her that he had not yet ascended to his Father in Heaven. This implies that Paradise, where he had been while he was dead, is not Heaven.

It gets even more interesting in 1 Peter chapter 3, where it says that while Jesus was dead, he went and preached to the spirits in prison, who had been disobedient while in mortality. So here we have mention of two intermediate "holding places:" Paradise for the righteous and the spirit prison (for lack of a better name) for the wicked.

These are not to be understood as the final dwelling places of the soul, commonly known as Heaven and Hell, because we will be sent to our final dwelling places after the Judgment, which is described as taking place after the Resurrection.

  • 1
    Excellent point: Jesus DID say that he has not ascended to his Father yet, and Jesus said to the robber that he will be with him in the paradise. Aug 25, 2011 at 17:03
  • 2
    What about the Apostles Creed? That says "He suffered died and was buried. He descended into Hell. On the third day he rose again from the dead." Are you saying that the Apostles were wrong? The creed still fits with that Jesus said, without supposing the existence of any "temporary holding place."
    – John
    Aug 26, 2011 at 4:04
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    @John: Saying "are you saying that the Apostles were wrong?" implies that the Apostles were actually the ones who came up with it. Historical evidence strongly suggests otherwise.
    – Mason Wheeler
    Aug 26, 2011 at 4:09
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    Whether the Apostle's Creed was actually written by the apostles or not is not the question. It is a widely held belief that deserves attention.
    – Jeff
    Sep 7, 2011 at 0:21
  • Wait ... why would Jesus go preach to the spirits of the dead? Sep 2, 2012 at 0:31

Prior to Jesus death and resurrection, there were none righteous enough to enter Heaven save Jesus who came down from heaven.

Therefore, those who had died in that unrighteous state must have been as the Old testament puts it were asleep in another place. There are some references to the grave and it may just be as Daniel said:

Daniel 12:2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

And this remains true up until the time in Jesus life where he recalls Lazarus from the grave:

John 11:11 through 13 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.

This remains true throughout the Old Testament. Even though Hell is referred to 31 times in the New King translation , 3 times in the literal translation of the Holy Bible, and not at all in most other tanslations.

1st Samuel 28:13 through 15 And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth. And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself. And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.

1st. Kings 1:21 Otherwise it shall come to pass, when my lord the king shall sleep with his fathers, that I and my son Solomon shall be counted offenders.

Psalm 13:3 Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;

After the death of Jesus and his resurrection we find that most assuredly those who have died and no longer have the opportunity to accept salvation, that they are most assuredly sent to different places.

Jesus sid

Matthew 5:21 and 22 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

If we extend that to:

Rev 20:13 through 15 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

However, in the preceding verses in revelation we see:

Revelation 20:11 and 12 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

From these passages we can say with assurance; that at the beginning of the white Throne Judgment, the dead are in both death and Hell. To my mind it seems logical that the difference is that one (Hell) is a place where eternal punishment has already begun since Jesus referred to Hell fire.

There is much dissention among denominations about those not being in Hell and as to where they might be, and I will not offer any commentary about that in order not to begin any discussion about who is right and who is wrong, I will only say that, that is the group I plan to be a part of since the alternative is abhorrent to me.


There are two places, Hades, and Hell. Hades (Abraham's bosom) was the holding place for people before Jesus' time and was where Jesus went to preach for the three days. See this article.

1 Peter 3:19 (ESV)

...he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison

Acts 2:31 (ESV)

31he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.

So, yes, there is Biblical support for two places after death, but Hades was destroyed and now people go to either hell or heaven.

  • 2
    I don't see how you derive "Hades was destroyed" from the quoted verses. Would you mind elaborating a little?
    – Mason Wheeler
    Aug 25, 2011 at 22:38
  • Sorry, Hades was abolished as prophesied in Rev. 20:14 (ESV):"*14*Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire." Although Revelation is a symbolic book, the interpretation of this verse is that Hades is destroyed. We could get stuck on death, but that wasn't the point.
    – daviesgeek
    Aug 26, 2011 at 4:37
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    ...but everything in Rev. 20 takes place after the Second Coming. We need look no further than the evening news to know that Satan has not been bound "that he should deceive the nations no more" yet, for example!
    – Mason Wheeler
    Aug 26, 2011 at 4:42
  • @Mason Hmm...do we really want to discuss this? We are getting into "controversial territory" here. If you want to continue this in chat here's a new room I created (chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/1194/eschatology-chat) Note that I will challenge your beliefs (I don't say this in a mean or belittling way). Just be forewarned. If you don't like being challenged, don't continue this with me. (Again, I say this in the kindest way, to avoid dissension).
    – daviesgeek
    Aug 26, 2011 at 4:47

In the Bible, there is no denying that there are couple of mentions that refer to the place where a person went who believed in God but died before the Christ. It says that they go to the Abraham's side.

In Luke 16 verse 22, it is written that after Lazarus died, he was carried to Abraham's side. For the people who has accepted Jesus as their christ, which is after Christ, will go to paradise. Jesus also said this in Luke.

Also, for those people who have not accepted Jesus as their Christ will become one of Satan, or ghosts/demons, if you will. They roam around the earth until the Judgment Day.

There were plenty of references of demons in the Bible if you look close enough. In Matt 8 verse 28 through 32, he heals two demon possessed men. In here, the demons begged Jesus and asked him if he came here to torture them before the appointed time.

What would that mean? Demons are not angels who have followed Lucifer when he turned against God. These demons are souls of people who did not believe in God. They are the reasons for all kinds of sickness and disabilities. In the appointed time, they will be condemned for their actions when they lived.

The back up of this explanation is on Matt 12 verse 24. Here, Pharisees said that Jesus drives out demons with the power of the prince of demons. Note the word, drive out. Edit: Jesus has contridicted the Pharisees when they said that he was using the power of Devil.

  • Wow. Ghosts? I would love to know the biblical basis for that!
    – Richard
    Aug 25, 2011 at 12:57
  • @Richard you will soon. Now, I am digging Bible for back up. :) Aug 25, 2011 at 13:16
  • @Richard I have edited my answer. Tell me your opinion on this. Aug 25, 2011 at 13:57
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    That is... an interesting view point. I've never heard of anything like that before. It looks like others share this viewpoint. +1 for a well thought out answer (even if I don't agree with it) ;)
    – Richard
    Aug 25, 2011 at 14:07
  • I must mention that in Jesus disputes the claim made by the Pharisees in Matt 12:24 to say that he is not driving out demons by the power of the "prince of demons", but that his power comes from God. Matt 12:24-28 (NIV) shows both that quote and his answer.
    – Richard
    Aug 25, 2011 at 14:13

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