Were all the people who died between the time of Adam’s sin and Jesus’ opening the gates of heaven condemned to hell for a time?

Full Question

Were all the people who died between the time of Adam’s sin and Jesus’ opening the gates of heaven condemned to hell for a time?



Prior to Christ’s Resurrection, all who died went to “hell”; however, the just went to a place in hell referred to as “Abraham’s bosom,” where they would be comforted until the gates of heaven were opened. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31) indicates that there were two parts of hell. Both Lazarus and the rich man died and went to hell, but Lazarus was comforted in Abraham’s bosom while the rich man was in a place of torment. A great chasm separated the two parts. Christ opened the gates of heaven for those in Abraham’s bosom when he descended into hell after his death.


The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains,

Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, “hell”—Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek—because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God. Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into “Abraham’s bosom”: It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham’s bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell. Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him. (CCC 633)


  1. Patrick Gannon Reply

    I would like to see scriptural support from the OT, to indicate that Sheol was a place of punishment. I saw nothing of the sort when I read the OT – several times. The OT describes it as a place of permanent unconsciousness, the grave, or merely dead, depending on context.

    Eternal punishment does not come until we get the “good news” of Jesus. The Lazarus story is from the NT. It took a good and loving Jesus to introduce the idea of eternal punishment – and the truth is, Jesus spoke allegorically about Gehenna – the Jerusalem town dump. The RCC translated Sheol, Gehenna, Hades and Tartarus into the word “Hell” (a word that derives from the pagan Norse underworld). Please look this up and ask your priest about it. He knows – he just won’t share it in church. Would people still come if they knew there really wasn’t a literal Hell?

  2. Sean Collins Reply

    I am failing to see your point Patrick? Please expand.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *