This is a post addressing the question: are Old Testament believers now “in Christ”, thus agreeing with Paul’s statement from yesterday. The answer to the question has great prophetic significance. But the issue surrounds Jesus’ time in paradise for those three days and nights. What did He do there; and what was the response? This could be a critical question in the determination of correct doctrine. One issue involves just when the Church really did begin. Was it with these occupants of Paradise accepting Christ, and being lead to heaven following Christ’s resurrection?

So what do we know surrounding all of this?

1. We know based on the account that Jesus told of the rich man and Lazarus: that there is conscious understanding and communication for the souls occupying Sheol (wherein Paradise was located in Old Testament days up until Jesus’ ascension). Jesus told of the conversation between the Rich man and Abraham, which took place across the great gulf guarding paradise from Hell.

2. We know based upon Paul’s 1 Cor. 15:20-22 passage that in order for a person to see a later resurrection leading to eternal life with Christ, who is this resurrections first fruits, that that one must be “in Christ”.

3. We know that through Peter the Holy Spirit revealed information to us relating to this question. For he reveals that there had been preaching done to the dead which had an effect even on men all the way back to the pre flood occupants of earth.

First Peter says this: 1 Peter 1:11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. (NASB2020)

The Spirit of Christ being in the prophets is not a subject discussed with regard to the Church. But it is here made to be a fact of scripture. What does it mean? It certainly lets us know that the same Holy Spirit who is in us teaching us was in the prophets teaching them.

Peter also reveals to us that even in the Old Testament Christ was at the foundation of belief in God. 1 Peter 2:6 For [this] is contained in Scripture: “BEHOLD, I AM LAYING IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNERSTONE, AND THE ONE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE PUT TO SHAME.” (NASB2020)

Peter then alerts us to 1 Peter 3:18b. …so that He [Christ] might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which He also went and made proclamation to the spirits in prison, (NASB2020)

It is this passage that causes us to wonder: is this describing Jesus preaching to those in paradise while He was there? We ask this because in Vs 20 he brings in Noah’s day. But that point is then followed by this verse: 1 Peter 4:6 For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as people, they may live in the spirit according to [the will of] God. (NASB2020)

This verse is a statement of major import to the subject of yesterdays post.

4. What else do we know? Jesus gave us a heads up on what He was here to accomplish not only in us but in those who were then dead and already in the grave. John 5:25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, a time is coming and even now has arrived, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. (NASB2020). Then again He later stated: John 5:28 “Do not be amazed at this; for a time is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, (NASB2020

5. Now certainly as you might suspect this understanding has spawned controversy. Dispensationalists just will not hear this as having any relation with what Peter has said, because if any of this is considered to be true; then it does away with their entire doctrine, which is based on separation of The Church and Israel. We saw the questions that I asked Dr Reluctant being ignored yesterday in that post. If all men must be saved by Christ placing them in Christ in order to be resurrected with Him; then there can be no pre-Trib rapture; there can be no falling away from salvation of a believer, and then we must also heed the warnings of scripture — there would be no once saved always saved, but instead commitment and dedication to our abiding in Christ. No Jews saved by some other method than being in Christ. So one’s doctrine can be either proven or disproven, based upon the understanding of these scriptures. But if these scriptures are not understood to mean what they say; then what Paul says concerning Adam and Christ in 1Cor.15 makes no real sense.

6. We know that something happened between Christ and those souls in Paradise because Paul tells us in Ephesians that captivity was led captive, causing Paul to conclude that God has created from the two Jew and Gentile: one new man.

7. A final piece of evidence comes from Jesus which is then confirmed later by John, and between these two verses we seem to have confirmation of what we have just seen: John 10:16 “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice; and they will become one flock, [with] one shepherd. (NASB2020). Then in this next verse John is recording what was stated in a prophecy given by the High Priest concerning Jesus. And John concludes that account with this following verse: John 11:51 Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation. 52 and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. (NASB1995).

All of these verses describe the purpose that Jesus had for coming into the earth. That purpose was to pay for the sins of the world. And to bring His own people together both Jews and Gentiles into one people. The Olive tree is further evidence of this oneness in Christ, who is the root of this tree.