The Keys of Death and Hades

Read: Revelation 1:17b-20

I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. (v. 18)

The Eastern Orthodox Church commemorates the moment when Christ triumphed over the powers of hell as the anastasis, which literally means “resurrection.” The idea is that sometime during the period between his death on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter Sunday, Jesus went to hell—or at least to Hades, the realm of the dead—to release the souls of the Old Testament saints who had been imprisoned there. This is why we still say, “he descended into hell” in the Apostles’ Creed. A beautiful depiction of the anastasis, in a 14th-century fresco on the wall of the Chora Church in Istanbul, shows Jesus standing on the broken doors of Hades, with a hand out to Adam on one side, and Eve on the other. Beneath his feet are bits of a broken lock and a set of keys.

Jesus didn’t just kick in the doors of Hades when he rose; he took the keys with him! Death no longer holds sway over us. It’s not the final word of our lives. The “king of terrors” has been ejected from his throne.

What’s more, Jesus has entrusted “the keys of the kingdom” to us (Matt. 16:19). The keys are the gospel message itself: that those who turn to Jesus in repentance and faith will be saved, and those who reject him will be lost. It’s a sobering responsibility, those keys. —David Bast

As you pray, pray for someone you know who needs the door of faith to open.

About the Author

Rev. Dave Bast retired as the President and Broadcast Minister of Words of Hope in January 2017, after 23 years with the ministry. Prior to his ministry and work at Words of Hope, Dave served as a pastor for 18 years in congregations in the Reformed Church in America. He is the author of several devotional books. A graduate of Hope College and Western Theological Seminary, he has also studied at both the Fuller and Calvin seminaries. Dave and his wife, Betty Jo, have four children and four grandchildren. Dave enjoys reading, growing tomatoes, and avidly follows the Detroit Tigers.