Publication Date

November 2007


School of Religion


Religion: Pastoral Ministries

Primary Subject Area

Religion, Biblical Studies


Descent of Christ, Ephesians 4:9, Apostles' Creed, Descent to Hell


Confusion runs rampant when it comes to certain theological issues such as the descent of Christ in Ephesians 4:9. Over the centuries, three main interpretations have arisen to explain this enigmatic text. The possible interpretations are that the descent was the Descensus ad Infernos during which Christ visited hell during the three days that He was dead, that the descent was the Incarnation of Christ, or that the descent was the coming of Christ as the Spirit at Pentecost to give spiritual gifts to the believers.

In this paper, these three interpretive options are evaluated on the basis of the grammatical factors of the text itself in conjunction with theological factors from inside the epistle to the Ephesians as well as from the rest of the biblical canon. Once the evidence has been properly examined, a theological stance will be adopted and subsequently applied to the use of the Apostles’ Creed in public and private worship and instruction.