“Second Chance After Death” Controversy

Arimasa Kubo
11 min readJul 27, 2021

Arimasa Kubo

Second Chance is a concept of the Christian theology that dead people in Hades (not Hell) have an opportunity to hear the Gospel of Christ and be saved. The “first chance” represents life on earth, and the “second chance” the one in the world after death called Hades in Greek (Sheol in Hebrew).

It is different from Christian universalism that all people will be saved. It describes the opportunity to start over for salvation after death, postmortem evangelism and posthumous conversions. There is a controversy as to whether there is such an opportunity or not.


The second chance controversy is between affirmationists and denialists as to whether non-Christians after death can have opportunity to hear the Gospel of Christ to be saved or not.

It contains disputes whether Jesus preached the Gospel to the dead or not, whether Jesus descended into Hades or Hell after death, whether the worlds after death for people are “only Heaven and Hell” or “Heaven, Hades and Hell,” whether the final judgment is immediately after death or at the end of the world, whether God gives opportunity for dead people to hear the Gospel and to be saved or not, etc..

Jesus Preached Gospel to the Dead or Not?

Affirmationists of the second chance state that Jesus descended into Hades after his death on the cross, preached the Gospel to the dead and gave them second chances to believe in him and be saved. While, denialists deny that interpretation. This is about the following Bible verses:

“Being put to death… he [Jesus] went and preached to the spirits in prison… the gospel was preached also to those who are dead.” (I Peter 3:18–4:6)

Church fathers and historians in the 2nd-3rd centuries such as Hippolytus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen interpreted these verses as that Jesus descended into Hades to preach the Gospel. William Barclay, a professor of the University of Glasgow in the UK, interpreted in the same way, and wrote that Jesus gave the dead people “another opportunity” to hear his Gospel and be saved.

Joel B. Green, a professor of the Fuller Theological Seminary in the US, writes…

Arimasa Kubo

President, Remnant Publishing in Japan