Study Notes

Colossians 2:15-15


Paul has been speaking to us about Jesus Christ's death on the cross. This morning, we come to a statement about which many Christian have never learned.

2:15 Disarmed The Rulers And Authorities

Jesus disarmed the rulers and authorities? I don't remember that happening. My recollection of this is that...

Isa. 53:7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter...

This doesn't exactly paint the picture of Jesus doing Kung Fu moves on the Roman soldiers, taking away their swords and spears. If He didn't disarm the Romans, then which rulers and authorities is Paul talking about?

Col. 1:16 ...By Him all things were created, {both} in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities...

The kings and governments visible in this world are not the only rulers and authorities around. There are also invisible ones. Paul told the Ephesians that...

Eph. 6:11-12 ...Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual {forces} of wickedness in the heavenly {places.}

The devilish and demonic realm also has rulers and authorities. This is why Simon Peter, in his first epistle, wrote that Jesus had...

1Pet. 3:22 ...gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.

From the context of Colossians 2 and this verse in 1Peter, we conclude that the disarming of these spiritual forces came between the time Jesus was crucified and the time He ascended into heaven.


As Jesus hung dying on the cross, one of the thieves being crucified with Him said,

Luke 23:42-43 ..."Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!" And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise."

Some people have found fault with this, because the Bible is clear that Jesus did not ascend to heaven that day. As a matter of fact, after He rose from the dead, He told Mary,

John 20:17 "...I have not yet ascended to the Father..."

To Hell?

If Jesus didn't go to heaven when He died, where did He go?

Some people say that Jesus went to hell. But while that might be nearly correct, it is not entirely correct. You see, there are several places which people have equated with hell.

The ones that are important for us to differentiate between this morning are Hades, Sheol, Gehenna, and the Abyss.

The place called Hades (Greek: "HAH-dace") is also called Sheol (Hebrew: "Sheh-OLE"). This is the place in the center of the earth, where the Bible describes people descending to at death. The King James version of the Bible translated these words as "grave, hell, or pit," which has led to the thinking that Jesus went to hell.

But really, the ultimate destination for eternal destruction is GHEH-en-nah - "hell or hell-fire," which is not in the center of the earth, but actually in outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Most scholars equate this with the lake of fire that is seen in Revelation 19 and 20.

Jesus did not go to GHEH-en-nah or the lake of fire when He died on the cross. In fact, Romans 10:7 tells us that Christ descended into the Abyss. The Abyss is the "AB-us-sos," the bottomless pit that leads to Hades in the center of the earth.

A good question to ask is, "How can it be bottomless, yet lead to and end at the center of the earth?" Simple: if you are in the center of the earth, where is the bottom? The center of the earth is the one place that has no bottom - only top. Whatever direction you go, it's up, not down!

Christ's descent into the Abyss is confirmed in Ephesians, where Paul says that Jesus...

Eph. 4:9 ...had descended into the lower parts of the earth

Former Paradise

If Jesus descended through the Abyss to the lower parts of the earth that day, then Paradise must have been there as well, as part of Hades.

In Luke 16, Jesus tells us a story which gives us a lot of detail about what was down there. A rich man and a poor man named Lazarus both died about the same time, and both went to Hades, the abode of the dead. But their situations were completely opposite. Lazarus was carried by angels to a place called Abraham's bosom, and was being comforted. The rich man, however, was in torment and agony in flame on the other side of a great chasm.

So, we learn that Hades was separated into two parts by a great chasm (16:26), that no one could cross, but could see and communicate back and forth (16:23-31). One side was a place of flame, where people were in torment (16:23-24). The other side was called Abraham's Bosom, or Paradise, where the angels carried people away to when they died (16:22).

This was what Jesus encountered when He descended into the lower parts of the earth.

Made Proclamation

After Jesus dies and descended, Peter tells us about Him...

1Pet. 3:18-20 ...having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits {now} in prison, who once were disobedient...

In the spirit, Jesus heralded His victory over sin and death to the other spirits that were imprisoned in Hades. Not to the faithful who were comforted in Paradise, but to the disobedient that had rejected God's righteousness and His promise of the Messiah. He did this as a public display, in full view of those in Abraham's Bosom, or Paradise.

Another assumption that has been made, with which I agree, is that at this point, Jesus took the keys of death and Hades. That would explain the term "disarmed" which Paul uses here. Jesus told John,

Rev. 1:18 "...I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades."

Captivity Led Captive

Although Jesus had died, it was impossible for Him to be held in death's power. We know that...

Rom. 6:23 ...the wages of sin is death...

But Jesus was sinless. So death had no legal right to hold Him.

Acts 2:24 "And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power."

Not only was Jesus raised up, but He also raised up those in Abraham's Bosom.

Eph. 4:8-10 Therefore it says, WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN." (Now this expression, "He ascended," what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens...

Jesus emptied out Paradise that day. But the rest of the rebellious are in torment, and awaiting final judgment.

Triumphed Over Them

This is the triumph that Jesus had over the rulers and authorities.

1Cor. 15:54-57 ..."DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. "O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The victory is in the resurrection of Jesus Christ!

Paradise Today

Because Jesus relocated all the inhabitant of Paradise to heaven, the Bible describes Paradise as being in heaven today. Paul wrote that he knew a man who...

2Cor. 12:4 ...was caught up into Paradise...

And Jesus told the church in Ephesus,

Rev. 2:7 ‘...To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.'

The overcomer is the one who has faith in the resurrection of Jesus. How is your faith today?

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