Jesus stands on the gates of the underworld and frees Adam and Eve from the maw of death and with them the righteous of the Old Testament.
The expression “descent into hell” is widespread but does not correspond to the statements of the Christian creeds. These do not know any “descent into hell”, but the descent or descent of Christ into Hades, into the underworld or the realm of the dead. Apocryphal Gospels, to which the icon painters adhered, depict this decline very dramatically. Striding from the depths of a mighty aureole and flanked by his disciples with John the forerunner and the prophets of the Old Covenant, the risen One shatters the gates of Hades. Representing all of humanity, he tears Adam and Eve out of the tombs with a lordly gesture. In the underworld itself, angels torment the underworld companion’s death and the devil for all eternity. Even today the Orthodox community reproduces this descent of Christ in a solemn procession around the dark church. Then the cheer sounds: “Christ has risen from the dead. He has truly risen”.