What happened to Jesus upon His death?
Having triumphed on the cross, it left Him free to move about at will in the spirit realm located in the lower parts of the earth.
"Therefore he says, 'When He ascended up on high, He led Captivity captive, and gave gifts to men'. Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?" (Parts of the earth, plural)
Paul is sharing in Ephesians 4: 8-9 a partial quote from Psalm 68:18-20, and his original readers would have understood the fullness of the passage. It is so amazing I can't pass up the opportunity to share it:
"You have ascended on high, you have led Captivity captive; You have received gifts for men; yes, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them. Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah. He that is our God is the God of salvation; and to God the Lord belongs escape from death."
The difference between Paul's words being quoted 'gave gifts to men' in Ephesians and 'received gifts for men' in the Psalm reflect differences between Hebrew and Greek, translated to English and other languages - the fullness of some things don't get communicated when you switch between languages. The Hebrew says He received gifts FOR, and/or AMONG men that He might live among them.
Notice the gifts Jesus received to give to mankind, are for and among the rebellious that God may live among them. In other words, He wants His gifts to be seen 'out there' and where Jesus most often demonstrated them, in homes and communities, neighborhoods and in normal life - among the unsaved, as Jesus lived among common people in everyday situations, manifesting the gifts of the Spirit which demonstrate the Father's heart.
Paul alludes to this in I Corinthians 14:22 when he says the gift of tongues that needs to be interpreted is a sign for those who don't believe, (tongues with interpretation being equal to prophecy) that when the unsaved come to your (house church as the context) meeting, they will see the supernatural and know God is in the midst.
Gifts of healings are first and foremost for the unsaved that God may be seen to be living among them. Words of knowledge and words of wisdom are first that we may bless the unsaved with God's presence in their lives! Remember for all the gifts of healings in the gospels with Jesus, for all the miracles, prophecy, words of knowledge and wisdom, not a single person before the resurrection was born again - Jesus did all those things among the unsaved.
The next thing to point out
Notice also in Psalm 68, the Hebrew word 'salvation' is 'Yeshua', or Jesus. In most cases in the Old Testament when you see the word 'salvation', in Hebrew it is 'Yeshua', so verse 20 reads like this:
"Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, even the God (Father) of our Jesus. Selah (Pause to think) He that is our God, is the God of Jesus; and to God the Lord (Jesus) belongs escape from death."
The lower parts of the earth: Hell, and Paradise
At that time there was a place called Paradise, also called Abraham's bosom, also called Captivity, because it was where the righteous went when they died, held captive until sin was taken out of the way, which would allow them to then ascend to heaven. It is believed to have been park-like, with grass and trees and water, as the righteous awaited the final sacrifice.
When Paul said Jesus at His resurrection ascended, taking Captivity captive, that is what he is talking about. Those in Captivity once held captive by the sin of the world, now captives of Life, free to ascend with Jesus to heaven.
There was also hell, another holding place which exists to this day. It is described in Luke 16:19-31 as being adjacent to Paradise, so that those in hell could actually see Paradise across a chasm, though no one could pass over, either to escape hell or to cross from Paradise to render assistance to those in hell. These two places were called 'the lower parts of the earth' that Jesus descended into upon His death. Now there is but 1 place in the heart of the earth, hell.
Hell was prepared, not created, but prepared according to Matthew 25:41 and Revelation 12:8 because there was found no place in heaven first for the rebelling angels, and later rebelling people.
In an act of grace by our Father, because Satan wanted his own kingdom apart from all that is God, God gave him what he wanted (because God wasn't going to turn the universe over to him during his rebellion of course). So a kingdom was prepared for him, and that is hell, a kingdom without God, without love and joy and peace and all that is God - in the Father's ultimate fairness to the exercise of free will, a place has been prepared for those angels and people who do not want Him.
Jesus describes it as a kingdom, saying "the gates of hell" cannot prevail against revelation from the Father in Matthew 16:18, which is a governmental term. Samson carried off the gates of Gaza*, showing he was now in charge. It was at the gates the city government would sit to judge matters or certify marriages and business contracts. Examples can be seen in Boaz going to the elders at the gates to marry Ruth*, Job talking of how he sat with the elders at the gates*, and how Absalom sat at the gates* undermining his father's judgements by making his own. *Judges 16:1-3, Ruth 4:1-2, Job 29: 6-8, II Samuel 15:1-6
Peter reveals in His descent into the lower parts of the earth, Jesus announced Himself to the 'spirits in prison' (hell) that had disobeyed Noah - I Peter 3:19-20. It is interesting that Peter didn't use the word 'evangelizo' which is where we get 'evangelize' when saying Jesus 'preached' to the spirits in prison, but rather 'kerusso', which means to announce, to proclaim - no invitation attached - just an announcement. What a long awaited "I told you so" confirmation for Noah!
After spending time in both parts of the earth, the visit to hell being to announce His sacrifice and to confirm Noah's faith and action, He returned to Paradise to take them home.
To this He refers in John 20:17 when He told Mary just after His resurrection not to detain Him for He had "not yet ascended." But, He said, "Go tell my brothers that I ascend to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God." That evening however, He came again to them and spent time with them, showing Him the wounds in His body, etc. (v19)
Hebrews 9:15-23 reveals what He did upon His resurrection day ascension beyond taking Paradise home. He entered into the heavenly holy place before the Father to present Himself and declared the Final Sacrifice, debt paid. That evening, having been given the name above all names, He appeared to the disciples, and throughout the next 40 days He appeared many more times before ascending 10 days before Pentecost. 40 days tempted at the start; 40 days in triumph at the end.
If Jesus did other things in the parts of the earth between the cross and resurrection, the Bible doesn't say, and to speculate would be pointless. Another subject next week. Until then, blessings,
www.churchwithoutwallsinternational.org or cwowi.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org