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Bosom of Abraham / Hades / Netherworld


Though Sadducees, who accepted only the Torah as the Holy Scripture, did not believe in the afterlife, the others like Pharisees believed in it. They used three terms to express the place of blessedness where the righteous would go: The Garden of Eden, the Throne of Glory, and the Bosom of Abraham.

“Abraham’s bosom” was a well-known expression for the banquet of the righteous souls who were eligible to enter the Paradise. According to this belief, Abraham, the father of the faith, hosts a banquet for the righteous believers who reach to him. To be at the bosom of the host was the most privileged position, as it was with John, who was reclining at Jesus’s side during the last supper (Jn 13:23). In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, the poor man reached Abraham’s bosom not because of his less fortune situation in the world, but that he kept up his faith in God with patience during the test of poverty and sickness in his life. His name “God is my helper” was expressive of his reliance on God, like Job of the Old Testament.

The ancient belief was that all people who died before the coming of the Messiah would go to Hades that had two distinct compartments. The good people would go to the right side called “Abraham’s bosom” and others to the compartment of torment called netherworld. Abraham’s bosom was a place of comfort and joy, whereas the netherworld was a place of torment for the sinners. Those in Abraham’s bosom were waiting for the redemption Messiah would accomplish so that they could enter the lost paradise. After the burial of Jesus, “he also descended to the lower parts of the earth” (Eph 4:9) which was “Abraham’s bosom” to proclaim to them the good news of his accomplishment on the evil and opening of the gates of heaven (1 Pet 3: 19). Jesus did not descend to the netherworld.


Whatever be our situation in this world is, all have to trust in God in good times and unpleasant situations. Those who have more talents like wealth, health, time, and abilities have to make use of them for the benefit of others as well. The Lord’s judgement of us will be based on the outcome of our Christian faith.


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