The Orthodox Pages























Question 390

Hi, Father, apparently the first person to enter paradise was the thief on the cross whom Christ told that he would be with him in paradise. Yet at the transfiguration of Christ, we read that Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ. We also read that Satan disputed with Michael the archangel over the soul of Moses. Therefore were people saved in the Old Testament before the penitent thief or robber on the cross?


Answer to Question 390


 The teaching of the Church is that after the fall of Adam and his exile from Paradise, no man could re-enter paradise until the gates were re-opened by Christís death and Resurrection. All the souls of people that died went to a place which came to be known as Hades, the word being taken from Greek mythology. This was not hell, but a temporary place for the souls. Moses was in this place, but Elias was not because it is believed that he did not die, but was taken up to heaven until before the Second Coming of our Lord when he will be sent back as one of the two prophets to die a martyrís death. Whether this place is Paradise or some other temporary part of heaven I do not know, but as he has not died then maybe he can partake of paradise until that time.


As for their appearance at the Lordís Transfiguration, Iím sure that the Lord could summon them to appear no matter where they were. Their appearance at the Transfiguration is interpreted as they are representatives of the law and the prophets and of the living and the dead. 


Now letís look at the passage from the Epistle of St. Jude which says: ďYet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.Ē 


If you look carefully it is not referring to Mosesí soul. You have either misunderstood or you have taken it from some internet site. The text clearly says: The BODY of Moses. What it means is not altogether clear, but the general understanding is that Satan wanted to use Mosesí body to draw the Israelites into idolatry by making them worship the body as though he was a deity.