On Salvation in Hades

St. Cyril of Alexandria ca. 376-444

What occasion will we still have for weeping? On the contrary, will not what has happened to us, thanks to the Savior, cause us boundless rejoicing? He it was Who showed the way of salvation not only to us, but also went as herald to the once disobedient spirits of the underworld, as Peter says (1 Pet. 3:19-20). For it would not have done for His loving-kindness to be shown only to some; the manifestation of the gift had to extended to all of nature. For He spoke opportunely through the Prophets, “One part shall be rained upon, and the part on which I shall not rain shall be dried up.” (Amos 4:7) But the word which befits the Savior is: “Come to me, all you who labor and are weary, and I will give you rest.” (Mt. 11:28) Having proclaimed His message, then, to the spirits in the underworld and having said to those in fetters, “Come forth!” and to those in darkness, “Show yourselves!” (cf. Isa. 49:9) He raised up the temple of Himself in three days, (cf. Jn. 2:19) and renewed for nature even the ascent into heaven, presenting Himelf to the Father as a kind of first-fruits of humanity, having endowed those on earth with a share of the Spirit as a pledge of grace. (cf. 2 Cor. 5:5) (Festal Letter 2.8)

St. John of Damascus ca. 676-749

Some say that [Christ delivered from Hades] only those who believed,
such as fathers and prophets,
judges and together with them kings, local rulers
and some others from the Hebrew people,
not numerous and known to all.
But we shall reply to those who think so
that there is nothing undeserved,
nothing miraculous and nothing strange
in that Christ should save those who believed,
for He remains only the fair Judge,
and every one who believes in Him will not perish.
So they all ought to have been saved
and delivered from the bonds of Hades
by the descent of God and Master —
that same happened by His Disposition.
Whereas those who were saved only through [God’s] love of men
were, as I think, all those
who had the purest life
and did all kinds of good works,
living in modesty, temperance and virtue,
but the pure and divine faith
they did not conceive because they were not instructed in it
and remained altogether unlearnt.
They were those whom the Steward and Master of all
drew, captured in the divine nets
and persuaded to believe in Him,
illuminating them with the divine rays
and showing them the true light. (Concerning Those Who Died in Faith PG 95, 257 AC).

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