Where was Jesus between His death and resurrection?

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Question / Comment -  Where was Jesus between His death and resurrection? 

Dear Iain, 

How are you? Hope you're doing well.

I'm confused trying to understand these 2 verses. How do you explain Luke 23:43 in relation to John 5:28-29?

Did Jesus Christ make it to paradise the same day? Where did He go after dying on the cross? 

Looking forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

All the best,


JPN Reply:

Hi Claudia,

thanks for the email and yeah, I'm doing fine thanks. Got a few broken ribs from a mountain bike fail but that was 6 weeks ago now so nearly all healed up! : ) Hope things are well with you. 

Onto your questions...

"How do you explain Luke 23:43 in relation to John 5:28-29?"

Luk 23:43 And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise."

Joh 5:28-29 "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, (29) and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

The difference here really relates to the different parts of a human. A human being is body, soul and spirit (1 Thes 5:23) When a person dies their body is buried in the grave/tomb. But that is not where their spirit goes. Jesus taught that at death there is a separation of the spirit/soul from the body. The unrighteous went to 'Hades' where as the righteous went to a place known as 'Abraham's bosom'. (Luke 16:19-31) It is quite possible that 'Abraham's bosom' was also a different part of Hades at that time. So the contrast between these two verses above is in the location of where their body is buried versus where their spirit goes at death. Both are true. At the end of the age the bodies that are in the grave/tomb will be raised and reunited with the person's spirit/soul. But until that day, it doesn't mean that a person's spirit is stuck 6 feet under the ground with their bones! No, the spirit/soul is still conscious, aware and goes to it's place as well.

"Did Jesus Christ make it to paradise the same day?"

Yes, absolutely. Luke 23:43 is exactly what it says. Both Jesus and the repentant thief went to Paradise straight after their death. It is exactly what it says: "Today", "you shall be with Me", "in Paradise". So Jesus' body was in the tomb (awaiting His own resurrection) but His spirit and soul went to Paradise. And where was Paradise at that time? It was "Abraham's bosom" where the righteous leading up to that day went. This was not Heaven at that stage. After Jesus' resurrection it would be Heaven as we'll see later.

"Where did Jesus go after dying on the cross?"

He went to two places that I know of before His resurrection. Paradise/Abraham's bosom as mentioned above where he would have met the saints of old like Abraham, David, Daniel, Ruth, Esther and the many men and women of God. But there is also an interesting and controversial passage in Peter that seems to indicate that He also went and proclaimed His victory to the imprisoned spirits who rebelled in the days of Noah.

1Pe 3:18-20 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; (19) in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, (20) who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.

It is important to point out that the 'proclamation' here to these disobedient spirits is not offering salvation. It is proclaiming His victory over sin and death. In the imagery of a victor, this is also hinted at in the following passage which speaks of Jesus descending into the lower parts of the earth 

Eph 4:8-10 Therefore it says, "WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN." (9) (Now this expression, "He ascended," what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? (10) He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)

While this is another controversial passage, some Bible teachers and the writings of some in the early church teach this to be of Jesus going down into Hades (the lower parts of the earth) to lead the believers there into Heaven.

"When he ascended up on high" refers to the ascension of Christ. At that time He did two things: (1) He led captivity captive, which refers, I believe, to the redeemed of the Old Testament who went to paradise when they died. Christ took these believers with Him out of paradise into the very presence of God when He ascended...(2) When Christ ascended He also gave gifts to men. This means that He conferred gifts upon living believers in the church so that they might witness to the world. In His ascension, Christ not only brought the Old Testament saints into God's presence, but He also, through the Holy Spirit, bestowed His gifts."
J. Vernon McGee

"Where do believers who die today go?"

Since the ascension of Jesus, believers that die go straight to Paradise which is now in Heaven. The Greek word for Paradise used in Luke 23:43 is only used in two other places in the New Testament - 2 Cor 12:4 and Rev 2:7. Paul himself was 'caught up' ('harpazo' - same word as used in 1 Thes 4:17 from which we get the word rapture) to paradise and saw unspeakable things!

2Co 12:2-4 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago--whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows--such a man was caught up to the third heaven. (3) And I know how such a man--whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows-- (4) was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.

2 Cor 12:3-4 shows that Paradise now is in the 'third heaven' - which is the dwelling place of God. 

So if a believer dies today, they (their spirit and soul) go straight to this 'Paradise', in Heaven to be with Jesus (Luke 2 Cor 5:8, Phil 1:23, Heb 12:23) while their body goes into the ground. At the resurrection Jesus will bring those with Him back (1 Thes 4:14) and there will be a uniting of the soul/spirit and a new body at the resurrection. 

More on this type of topic here if interested:  https://jesusplusnothing.com/series/post/soulsleep

Hope this helps. God Bless,