Theological question posited on FB: “Does Hell still exist? How could it survive Jesus descending into it to preach without it being completely destroyed by his power?”
Jesus did not enter Hell but Hades/Sheol-Paradise subsequent His Crucifixion and before His Resurrection. Hell has no “power” other than that given it by our Creator. The misunderstanding typically comes from an error in the Apostle’s Creed (not written by the Apostles and not found in Scripture) and a failure to differentiate between Sheol/Hades v. Hell/the Lake of Fire/Gehenna.
Hell was created specifically for Satan, the fallen angels, the Beast and the False Prophet (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10)…NOT for mankind as mankind will enter Hell by choice. The only entities in Hell at this time are the most horrid of demons/fallen angels (2 Peter 2:4). Hell will NOT be relevant for mankind until subsequent the Great White Throne Judgment that will manifest subsequent to Messiah’s Millennial Reign (Revelation 20:11-15). Hell will be the final repository for those who have rejected faith in God (Old Testament) and those who have rejected Jesus Christ as Lord (Covenant of Grace-New Testament).
8 Therefore it says,
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”[a]
9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? Ephesians 4:8-9 (ESV)
According to Scripture…Jesus entered Hades-Sheol/Paradise/Abraham’s Bosom (Luke 16:19-31) NOT Hell while His body laid in the tomb and Jesus preached freedom to the Old Testament saints awaiting the atonement of Jesus Christ at the Crucifixion (1 Peter 3:19).
The Old Testament Saints – Saved by faith…
Though the Old Testament saints had found righteousness (a right standing) with God the Father by “faith” (Hebrews 11), their sin had not yet been atoned for (Hebrews 10:4); therefore, the Old Testament saints awaited Messiah’s atonement in Hades-Sheol/Paradise before they could enter the Kingdom of God (Luke 16; Luke 23:43)) as nothing impure is permitted to enter God’s Kingdom (Revelation 21:27). Once Messiah had made atonement for sin by His bodily death, shedding of innocent blood (Matthew 26:28), at the Crucifixion (Hebrews 10:5-7), Jesus entered Hades-Sheol/Paradise and led these captives to the Kingdom where they are now in the presence of our Lord (Ephesians 4:8-9; 1 Peter 3:19).
New Testament Saints saved by faith in Messiah-Jesus…
Subsequent to Messiah’s atonement for sin, everyone who trusts in Jesus Christ in the Covenant of Grace and dies in the body, their disembodied spirit, conscious and fully aware, is immediately escorted into the presence of our Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). Hades-Sheol/Paradise is now empty and only Hades-Sheol/Torments remains occupied by all unrighteous dead as their disembodied spirit, fully conscious and aware, awaits the Judgment of the Condemned (Revelation 20:11-15).
Note: All of the unredeemed from the Genesis forward…everyone who has rejected faith in God and died in the body, they are currently held in Hades-Sheol/Torments (Luke 16) (NOT Hell) and they will remain there until the Great White Throne Judgment at which time they will receive a corrupted body of flesh (John 5:28-29) and stand in the Judgment before Jesus Christ (Rev. 20:11-15). They will be adjudicated “guilty” for their sin, their name will NOT be found written the Lamb’s Book of Life and they will ultimately die the “second death” in Hell/the Lake of Fire; this is the only time actual “Hell” will be relevant for mankind (Rev. 20:11-15). Jesus Christ will destroy both the body and soul of the wicked in Hell/Greek = γεέννῃ = geennē. (Matthew 10:28).
It’s important to note the difference between Sheol/Hades v. Hell…two completely different regions. One is temporary, the other is Eternal.