Devotions for Lent–Harrowing of Hell!

That’s why scripture says, When he climbed up to the heights, he captured prisoners, and he gave gifts to people. What does the phrase “he climbed up” mean if it doesn’t mean that he had first gone down into the lower regions, the earth? The one who went down is the same one who climbed up above all the heavens so that he might fill everything. (Eph 4:8-10 CEB)

“When the gatekeepers of hell saw him, they fled; the bronze gates were broken open, and the iron chains were undone” (Cyril of Alexandria, Ancient Commentary on Scripture 11.107).

This is the day referred to by the Orthodox church as the Great Sabbath.  It’s the day when Jesus’ body rested in Joseph’s grave, while Christ descended into the lower regions of the earth to set the captives free.  Many believe that Christ went to preach the ‘Good News,’ while others believe it was more of an announcement, a declaration of victory.

The voice of our Lord sounded into Hell, and He cried aloud and burst the graves one by one. Tremblings took hold on Death; Hell that never of old had been lighted up, into it there flashed splendors, from the Watchers [angels] who entered in and brought out the dead to meet Him, who was dead and gives life to all. (Nisibene Hymns 36.11)

For the religious hierarchy, having crucified Jesus, everything was quite in Palestine.  However, down below there was a whole lot of shaking going on.

About Terry Threadwell

Dr. Terry Threadwell has thirty five years ministry experience. Author, educator and Director of the Institute of Progressive Pentecostal Studies.
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