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As Hades is the intermediate state of the dead, is it true to say that Christians do not go there as they go to be with Christ?

Before directly answering this question it might be helpful to point out for the reader of this page, especially for the young believer, that the word "Hades" is a New Testament Greek word for the unseen world where the disembodied souls and spirits of unbelievers go. The word usually used by the Lord Jesus for hell is "Gehenna" (Mt 10.28) and is equivalent to, or the same as, the term "the lake of fire" in Revelation 20.14 – the place of eternal fire and punishment. It is the place where both the body and soul of the unregenerate will be cast at the Great White Throne judgment. Thus we read that "death and hell" were cast into the lake of fire (i.e. the body that had succumbed to death, and the spirit and the soul that had been in Hades will be reunited). This place is different from Hades because it is an eternal abode from which there is no escape or transfer to another place, whereas Hades is a temporary place for those therein. It is important also to point out that the word "Hades" is the New Testament Greek parallel of the Old Testament Hebrew word "Sheol". Both these words are never used either in the Old Testament or the New Testament for the grave.

Nowhere in Scripture is it taught that believers at death go to Hades. Since the Lord Jesus rose again and ascended He is now at the right hand of God. Thus, for the believer to be with Christ is to be with Him where He is now in heaven. Paul in 2 Corinthians 5.8 refers to the intermediate state of believers and beautifully describes it as to be present, or better, to be "at home" with the Lord. There is no doubt that such a phrase indicates that they are in the conscious enjoyment of the Lord’s presence. So yes, it is true according to Scripture that Christians do not go down to the unseen world of Hades, but go up at death to be with Christ in heaven.

John J Stubbs

It is taught that the "you" of Luke 22.31 refers to the disciples. Why then did the Lord address Simon only, if He were saying, "Simon, Simon…Satan hath desired to have you (the disciples), that he may sift you as wheat?

"Simon, Simon" - the repetition of the name tells us something of the love and tenderness of heart of the Lord Jesus. The name "Simon" would have more in view what this disciple was naturally. In v.34 the Lord addresses him as "Peter" - this would remind us of what he was according to the divine calling.

The Lord directs His words to Simon as being representative of the disciples. "Satan hath desired to have you (i.e. all the disciples)"; JND renders this: "Satan has demanded to have you". He was not content with having only Judas: note that at the beginning of this chapter, we read, "Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot" (Lk 22.3). The Lord continues, "…that he may sift you as wheat"; all of the disciples would thus be sifted. The word "sift" and the figure are peculiar to Luke’s Gospel. However, the main idea is the same as that of the winnowing fan. Of the promised Messiah, John the Baptist said, "Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather the wheat into the garner" (Mt 3.12). The sifting would be by Satan himself, not by one of his emissaries. Satan is not omnipresent, thus this would be an experience very few believers will have faced.

"But I have prayed for thee" - The Lord Jesus specifically prayed for Simon as an individual. The verses that follow suggest the reason why Peter was singled out, since he was over-confident, "I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death"(v.33), and was therefore the most vulnerable to attack. However, it should be borne in mind that, in the prayer of John 17, the Lord had in view all of the disciples: "I pray...that thou shouldest keep them from the evil (i.e. the evil one)" (v.15).

This prayer was answered, for although, in fulfilment of the words of the Lord Jesus, Peter denied his Lord on three occasions, nevertheless his faith did not fail. When Peter had turned again (believers sometimes need to be converted!), he was able to strengthen his brethren. The two epistles which Peter wrote under divine inspiration, addressed to "strangers scattered" (1 Pet 1.1) and to "them that have obtained like precious faith with us" (2 Pet 1.1) were certainly means by which he was able to fulfil the commission of the Lord Jesus.

David E West

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