Passion of the Christ sequel, descent, and the Apostles’ Creed?

Crown of thorns


Various religious sites have been excited about a sequel to Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ movie.

Others have been less excited about it.

Here is some information from a few reports about it:


A planned “Passion of the Christ” sequel has some people furious with Mel Gibson, even though few details have been released about the movie so far.

The sequel, tentatively titled, “Resurrection,” will chronicle the story of Christ’s rising from the dead and will see Jim Caviezel reprise his title role, USA Today reported.

“There are things that I cannot say that will shock the audience,” Caviezel said in confirming that he will again play Christ, USA Today reported. “It’s great. Stay tuned.”

Not everyone is convinced that the movie will be good, however. Some Are Furious About Planned ‘Passion of the Christ’ Sequel |


Since The Passion of the Christ, Gibson has both made other films that appealed to a faith audience (including 2016’s Hacksaw Ridge) and been in trouble for making homophobic, racist, and antisemitic comments. A sequel would also enter a markedly different movie landscape than The Passion did; the faith-based audience is no longer starved for entertainment (especially with companies like Pureflix both producing and distributing movies regularly).

And sources have hinted that the film may cover the “harrowing of hell” — the idea that Christ between his death and resurrection, Jesus descended into hell and, in some traditions, freed the souls of the righteous dead. (The Apostles’ Creed, which many denominations include as part of their services each week, contains a phrase alluding to this, though theologians differ on what it means and whether it is a good translation of the Biblical text.)

Because of the controversial nature of this assertion, and depending on how much of that story is covered in a sequel, evangelical audiences in particular — who tend to favor literalist translations of the Bible on screen instead of imaginative ones — may react with less enthusiasm than they did in 2004.

But one last factor may propel a Passion sequel to be the “biggest movie of all time”: “Evangelical” has become synonymous in some circles with a political leaning, and because of the heightened political nature of discussions around culture, going to see a sequel might be seen as a small-p political act as well — a way to repudiate godless, liberal, secular Hollywood.

Passion of the Christ 2, which is tentatively titled The Resurrection, is really happening and James Caviezel, the man who brought Jesus Christ to life in the original, is officially on board to reprise his role. We first heard of a sequel to The Passion of the Christ in late 2016 when Mel Gibson was promoting Hacksaw Ridge, which managed to revive the director’s career. Things have been quiet since, but it sounds like Gibson has started to sort things out and the sequel is moving forward.

Jim Caviezel recently was interviewed in honor of his upcoming movie Paul, Apostle of the Christ, in which, he plays Luke. He was asked about The Resurrection and confirmed his involvement. While he couldn’t say much in terms of story details, he claims that it will be “the biggest film in history.” Here’s what Caviezel had to say about it.

“There are things that I cannot say that will shock the audience. It’s great … I won’t tell you how he’s going to go about it, but I’ll tell you this much, the film he’s going to do is going to be the biggest film in history. It’s that good.”

The first Passion of the Christ was made for $30 million and went on to gross $611 million worldwide. … There’s currently no timetable established for The Resurrection, but at one point, Gibson implied that the sequel will be exploring Christ in hell.

I intentionally did NOT see Mel Gibson’s first film of this series and do not intend to see the sequel. The original film, from what I read and saw about it, was fairly anti-Jewish and featured a Jesus that did not physically resemble the Jesus of the Bible.

That being said, this whole descent and Apostles’ Creed matter should be addressed, as those who hope to believe the Bible and church history have often been exposed to wrong information on this.

Various ones on the internet have defended the ‘descent into hell’ in the movie as something Christians originally believed. But that is not the case.

Catholics and some others believe Jesus did this the day after ‘Good Friday.’

The Church of Rome calls the day after ‘Good Friday’ and the day before “Easter”, “Holy Saturday.”

Now, the Bible does call the Sabbath day, which on the Roman calendar is called Saturday, holy:

8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. (Exodus 20:8-9)

But that is not what Roman Catholics mean when they call the Sabbath “Holy Saturday.”

The Apostle Paul taught that Jesus died and that is essentially like being asleep:

34 … It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. (Romans 8:34)

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 4:14)

Yet, many falsely claim that Jesus did not really die, but that He descended into ‘hell’/hades to preach to fallen angels and/or others after His physical death on the stake. This is what the Church of Rome teaches happened on the day they call Holy Saturday:

What happened on the first Holy Saturday?

Here on earth, Jesus’ disciples mourned his death and, since it was a sabbath day, they rested. …

What happened to Jesus while he was dead?

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

633 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 Saviour 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.

634 “The gospel was preached even to the dead.” The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfillment.

This is the last phase of Jesus’ messianic mission, a phase which is condensed in time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christ’s redemptive work to all men of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made sharers in the redemption.

632 The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was “raised from the dead” presuppose that the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection.478 This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ’s descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead. But he descended there as Savior, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there.479 (479 Cf. 1 Pet 3:18-19.) (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 632)

While Jesus’ disciples mourned His death and would have rested on the Sabbath, when Jesus was dead, He was actually dead. Though He was raised from the dead on the day we now call Saturday.

There are several theological problems with the Roman view of ‘Holy Saturday.” Consider:

  1. If Jesus did not really die, which He did (Romans 5:8, 8:34; 1 Thessalonians 5:10), then He did not really give His life.
  2. Jesus said He would be like Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish (Matthew 12:40)–does anyone really claim that Jonah preached in ‘hades’ (called sheol in Hebrew) during that time? It is certainly not recorded that Jonah did that in the Old Testament.
  3. There is no New Testament teaching that Jesus descended into Hades to preach to various spirits or dead humans. Plus dead humans are dead (see Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality? and What Happens After Death?).

On that third point, first let me quote the Bible:

27 For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. (Acts 2:27)

That passage does NOT say that Jesus descended and preached. Consider also the word translated as Hades means the grave or place of the dead.

It is NOT the same word as Gehenna (which had a fire) that is often translated as hell in many New Testaments.

It is also NOT the same word as Tartarosas which is used as a place of restraint for fallen angels (2 Peter 2:4). The Bible never teaches that Jesus went there after He was executed.

Furthermore, realize that Acts 2:27 is a quote (per Acts 2:25) of something David wrote in the Psalms:

10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. (Psalms 16:10)

Sheol also means grave or place of the dead. Notice the following where Sheol is translated as grave:

5 For in death there is no remembrance of You; In the grave who will give You thanks? (Psalms 6:5, NKJV; both the Catholic NJB and NABRE leave the word as Sheol, instead of using the translation as grave–see their Psalm 6:6)

Now let me refer to a statement from the late French Cardinal Jean-Guenole-Marie Danielou on whether the New Testament teaches the descent:

The Descent Into Hell…This doctrine appears nowhere in the New Testament,1

1 So W. Bieder, Die Vorstellung von der Hollenfardt Jesus Christi, p. 128

(Danielou, Cardinal Jean-Guenole-Marie. The Theology of Jewish Christianity. Translated by John A. Baker. The Westminister Press, 1964, p. 233)

Anyway, Jesus was dead for three days and three nights. Jesus emptied Himself of His divinity upon incarnation (Philippians 2:7) and did not receive it back until He was resurrected (cf. John 20:24-29).

As far as WHEN He preached to certain fallen angels, the idea is claimed to come from 1 Peter 3:18-20). So let’s look at that:

Jesus Christ was the same God who walked and talked with Moses in the wilderness — the same “I AM” (see Ex. 3:14) who brought the children of Israel out of Egypt. Paul makes this plain. “I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the [Red] sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea…. For they drank from the same supernatural Rock which followed them, and the [‘that,’ KJV] Rock was Christ” (I Cor. 10:1-4).

This same Personage in the Godhead presided over the Flood in Noah’s day. Peter gives us the facts: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put. to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: by which also he [Christ] went and preached unto the spirits [demons] in prison; which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a-preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water” (I Peter 3:18-20, KJV). (Schroeder JR. Who Was Jesus? Good News magazine, November 1975)

The time frame of the ‘descent’ was the time of Noah and that flood. Thus, it DID NOT happen during the time called the ‘crucifixion week.’

Now, what about the Apostles’ Creed claim?

Let’s get some background first.

On July 15, 2011, I received the following in an email from one claiming her church (Eastern Orthodox) had the original Christian faith:

I am Greek Orthodox, and this is what we believe :

We believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible;
And in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only begotten Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
light from light,
true God from true God,
begotten not made,
of one substance with the Father,
through Whom all things came into existence,
Who because of us men and because of our salvation came down from the heavens,
and was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became man,
and was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate,
and suffered and was buried,
and rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures
and ascended to heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father,
and will come again with glory to judge living and dead,
of Whose kingdom there will be no end;
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and life-giver,
Who proceeds from the Father,
Who with the Father and the Son is together worshipped and together glorified,
Who spoke through the prophets;
in one holy Catholic and apostolic Church.
We confess one baptism to the remission of sins;
we look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.


Is that original enough ?

My answer to her was no, it is not original enough, as it is not an apostolic document.

What that Greek Orthodox supporter (as well as several others within a week of this) sent is also known as the Nicene Creed. And while many of its statements are correct, much of it is certainly not original.

Notice what an Orthodox priest wrote about that creed:

The Nicene Creed, which was formulated at the Councils of Nicaea in 325 and of Constantinople in 381, has been recognized since then as the authoritative expression of the fundamental beliefs of the Orthodox Church. The Creed is often referred to as the “Symbol of Faith.” (Fitzgerald T.  Teachings of the Orthodox Church.  Copyright @2006 Saint Mary Romanian Orthodox Church.

Despite priests and scholars being aware of the truth, it is sad that many of the Orthodox believe that they have not changed doctrine and that their 4th century creed was original–but it is not.

The Roman Catholics have their own version of the ‘Apostles’ Creed.’ It, too, was not an original document. Here it is translated into English from Latin (a language that the Apostles did not write in):

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen. accessed 01/31/18

Furthermore, it is well known that ‘the descent into hell’ comment (which is not in the Orthodox Creed) was not part of the original creed:

The oldest extant version comes from Bishop Marcellus of Ancyra (ca. A.D. 337), and it does not contain the clause about descending into hell. Scholars call this version “The Old Roman Form”—the earliest creed of the Roman church.

Apparently the clause first appeared in the East with Sirmium’s fourth formula in 359—also called the “Dated Creed”— though the Eastern church rejected it as tinged with Arianism. The first mention of the descent in the West occurs in the writings of Rufinus of Aquileia, who included it in his baptismal creed around 400. Over time, the Latin church appropriated it as well, officially integrating it into the Creed in 750.

Many scholars consider the “Old Roman Form” the earliest known form of the creed, and that it may have came from the second century.

What is called the original creed (the “Old Roman Form”) was put together the way we have seen it in the fourth century by Marcellus, Bishop of Anycra (now more commonly spelled Ankara) who is considered to have been Greek or Eastern Orthodox:

“I believe in God the Father Almighty. And in Jesus Christ His only (begotten) Son our Lord, who was born of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary; crucified under Pontius Pilate, and buried; the third day He rose from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father, from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. And in the Holy Ghost; the holy Church; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; (the life everlasting).” (Orr J. The Apostle’s Creed. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Vol. 1. Original by 1923. Kindle Version viewed 07/21/11)

Notice that this is different from the versions now used by the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholics.

So, do not let anyone mislead you that the ‘descent into hell’ position was taught in the Bible or was part of the original teaching of the Apostles.

Presuming that Mel Gibson’s movie is promoting such, this is in error.

Those who wish to learn more should also study the following articles:

What Happened in the ‘Crucifixion Week’? How long are three days and three nights? Was Palm Sunday on a Saturday? Did Jesus die on “Good Friday”? Was the resurrection on Sunday? Do you really know? Who determined the date of Easter? (Here is a related link in Spanish/español: ¿Murió Jesús un día miércoles o un viernes?) A sermon of related interest is titled What did and did not happen in the ‘Crucifixion week’?
What Was the Original Apostles’ Creed? What is the Nicene Creed? Did the original apostles write a creed? When was the first creed written? Are the creeds commonly used by the Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholics original?
Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality? What does John 3:16, and other writings, tell us? Did a doctrine kept adopted from paganism? Here is a YouTube video titled Are humans immortal?
The Rich Man and Lazarus What was Jesus teaching in Luke 16?
Where are Enoch and Elijah? Booklet by the late Dr. Herman Hoeh.
What Happens After Death? Is death like sleep, or is that a cultic idea? Can you speak to the dead? Here is a link to a related sermon: What really happens after death?
The Second Death The New Testament speaks of something called the “second death.” Who will be subject to it? How does it end?
Are The Wicked Tormented Forever or Burned Up? How does one explain Revelation 14:11 in light of Malachi 4:3? What happens to the incorrigibly wicked?
Did Early Christians Celebrate Easter? If not, when did this happen? What do scholars and the Bible reveal?
Why Easter? Did early Christians observe Easter? What are the origins of Easter? What does Easter have to do with the goddess Ishtar. Where did the word Easter come from? Where do Easter eggs come from? What do rabbits have to do with Easter? Was Jesus resurrected on a Sunday? This is a video.
Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a free pdf booklet explaining what the Bible and history shows about God’s Holy Days and popular holidays. A related sermon is Which Spring Days should Christians observe?
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L Histoire Continue de l Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.

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