Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Texas, tackled the question of whether Jesus actually descended into hell at his death, in a sermon on the Apostles Creed, according to The Christian Post.
The phrase "descended into hell" is omitted by large swathes of the evangelical church as it is termed heretical. Chandler agreed with that Jesus did not go to the place of hell, saying "The Bible certainly doesn't teach that", but suggested that there is remains a value in the phrase included in the Apostles Creed.
He read from Matthew 27, which describes Jesus' crucifixion and said that although Jesus did not physically enter hell, he did experience a separation from God or metaphorical hell.
"What we know to be true in the Scriptures is that on the cross of Christ, Jesus is absorbing all of the sins of all of those who would believe upon the name of Jesus throughout history," the megachurch pastor told the crowd.
"There is a type of turning the back of the Father on the Son for the first time ever," he said. "The only place in the Scriptures we see Jesus not call God 'Father' is in this text when he says, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' The agony of separation from the Father settles into the Son, and for the first time ever, he feels what we're not supposed to feel, separation from God."
It is this separation from God which can be described as hell that Jesus experiences:
"This metaphorical descending into hell isn't that Jesus goes to an actual place of hell but that Jesus experiences in this moment in a very mysterious way the presence of God to bless, and He feels for the first time the presence of God to judge."
Chandler maintained that the phrase "descended into hell" is important as it helps us in our imagining the weight of our sin.
He was quick to reiterate that although Jesus' descent into hell was metaphorical, his resurrection was a bodily, physical resurrection: "He died. He went in the ground, and He came back."
He said that we experience a spiritual resurrection in this life, adding that "on top of that, there will be a physical resurrection from the dead."