by Wayne D. Turner
Consider these verses with regard to the location of Hell (hades) and Paradise then and now.
So, let's compile the incidents on this issue based upon these passages. Jesus said in Matthew 12:40 that he would be in the "heart of the earth" for three days and three nights. He told the dying man next to him on the cross that he would join him there "this day." Jesus identified such a place (paradise) in Luke 16:19-31 within eyesight of hades. Peter tells us in I Peter 3:19 that Jesus preached to these captives ("spirits in prison"). When Jesus appeared to Mary in John 20, Jesus notified her in verse 17 that he had resurrected, but not yet ascended to Heaven. Paul said that Jesus led a band of captives when he descended (to receive them) and ascended in Ephesians 4:8-10. While leading this "band of captives" from "paradise" to Heaven, Jesus visited with Mary on earth prior to delivering these saints to their final destination. Some of these captives apparently had already taken an excursion into Jerusalem while Jesus was talking to Mary, according to Matthew 27:52-54.
If all of this seems to fit to you, then consider the following:
Why was it necessary for the Old Testament saints to be held in "paradise" prior to the resurrection of Jesus?
The answer is found in Hebrews 11:39-40:
Hebrews 11:39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
Hebrews 11:40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
Notice the condition of the Believer since the sacrifice of the cross:
In other words, our faith makes us "perfect" (Greek: telios - complete) in Christ Jesus, but that was not possible until the atoning sacrifice had been made on the cross. The Old Testament saints were made "perfect," but not until after the sacrifice that makes Believers today "perfect" also. Perfect here is used in the context of righteousness. Believers are made "righteous" or "perfect" in Christ as a result of his sacrificial death. That is why Hebrews 11:40 says that they (Old Testament saints) could not be made perfect "without us" or apart from us. At the point of the resurrection, all Believers (Old and New Testament) were perfected (regarded as righteous before God) through the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross. In other words, our spiritual relationship with God is perfect.