The Gates of Hades

My friends, I decided to repost an article I posted just last December, because it is simply so appropriate for today. Yesterday was the day Jesus died on the cross. Tomorrow He rises from the dead.

But what did He do today?

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And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this Rock (referring to Himself) I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.   Matthew 16:18

I had an epiphany last Sunday during Bible class. Pastor was explaining how gates are strictly defensive structures. God’s Word is what’s in motion. It’s what is on the offense, what is meant to be on the offense. The ideas being discussed were all about attacking hell from the outside to break down those gates.

A comment was made that flipped this idea completely over for me. I realized we were getting it all wrong. God’s Word doesn’t break down the gates from the outside. We don’t use it as a weapon to attack Satan’s citadel. What would be the point? Why would we want to get in?!?

Do you remember my article Zombie Land? Here’s an excerpt from that article:

…we’re in Zombie Land. The world is Satan’s playground for a limited time, and we are vulnerable to his predation.  I believe Americans have had a false sense of security for far too long.  We’ve never had a war on the continent save The War for Independence and Civil War.  We’ve relaxed too much over the years and become complacent in our lives and our faith.  There’s a war going on all around us.  We can’t see the angels and demons engaged, but they are here.  With you and me.  Right now.

They battle over our protection, our lives, and our souls. Why does God talk about giving His angels charge over us?  Well, He does!  All of us.  That just doesn’t mean we’re automatically safe.  No, the devil prowls like a roaring looking for those he can devour.

Recall in Daniel how the angel from God was delayed by Satan’s “Prince of Persia.” Satan’s minions have the earth divided up into individual areas of responsibility, and they aren’t weaklings. Not by any measure.

Consistent with the title, Satan is referred to as “The Prince of This World” and “Prince of the Air.” His army of princes have their areas of responsibility, but he is in charge of the whole thing, the entire earth! Indeed, St. Paul warns the church of Galatia and us by extension that we are in enemy territory and that this is real war:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.   Ephesians 6:12 [Full Chapter]

We are at least partly inside the gates of Hades! Those gates cannot prevail against the Word of God to hold us in! We stand one foot in Hades and one foot in heaven. We are not completely cut off from God, not completely dead…yet! We are not fully in His presence either. The gates are not completely closed and locked. There’s still an opening, which Jesus, through His atoning Sacrifice, will bust open for us. But time grows short. The only way we make it through those gates is through the one and only Way – Jesus. The only way we exit Hades once we’ve died is if we accept Jesus’ offer to hold the gate open for us.

This all makes sense when we correctly interpret “Hades” as the realm of the dead, NOT hell. Hades/Sheol are translated in the Greek and Hebrew as being the god of and/or the realm of the dead. This is different from hell, which is the place of punishment, of complete separation from God. That translation lends even more credence to my interpretation that the attack by the Word on the gates of Hades is from within, not without!

Going even further, Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3:19 that Jesus “…went and preached to the spirits in prison.” In other words, Jesus did NOT go to Hell to preach to the spirits and demons there. What would have been the point? No, He went to Hades/Sheol to give the dead there the Good News that He had won and that they will be set free; “…the gates of Hades shall not prevail against (Me)!”

One thought on “The Gates of Hades

  1. Christians are an alien people, citizens of heaven. We are just passing through this world, the valley of the shadow of death. We are surrounded by God’s angels protecting us. Fear not. Nothing in the shadows can hurt you.

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