Irenaeus 180 A.D.
It was for this reason, too, that the Lord descended into the regions beneath the earth, preaching His advent there also, and [declaring] the remission of sins received by those who believe in Him. Now all those believed in Him who had hope towards Him, that is, those who proclaimed His advent, and submitted to His dispensations, the righteous men, the prophets, and the patriarchs, to whom He remitted sins in the same way as He did to us, which sins we should not lay to their charge, if we would not despise the grace of God. For as these men did not impute unto us (the Gentiles) our transgressions, which we wrought before Christ was manifested among us, so also it is not right that we should lay blame upon those who sinned before Christ’s coming.
For three days He dwelt in the place where the dead were, as the prophet said concerning Him, “And the Lord remembered His dead saints who slept formerly in the land of the dead. And He descended to them to rescue and save them.” The Lord Himself said, “As Jonah remained three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so will the Son of man be in the heart of the earth.” – ibid
Clement of Alexandria
The Lord preached the Gospel to those in Hades. … Do not [the Scriptures] show that the Lord preached the Gospel to those who perished in the flood, or rather had been chained, as to those kept in ward and guard? And it has been shown also … that the apostles, following the Lord, preached the Gospel to those in Hades. … If, then, the Lord descended to Hades for no other reason but to preach the Gospel (as He did descend), it was either to preach the Gospel to all, or else to the Hebrews only. If, accordingly, He preached to all, then all who believe will be saved on making their profession there – even though they may be Gentiles. For God’s punishments are saving and disciplinary, leading to conversion. He desires the repentance, rather than the death, of a sinner. This is especially so since souls, although darkened by passions, when released from their bodies, are able to perceive more clearly. For they are no longer obstructed by the paltry flesh. … Did not the same dispensation obtain in Hades? For even there, all the souls, on hearing the proclamation, could either exhibit repentance, or confess that their punishment was just, because they did not believe. And it was not arbitrary that they could obtain either salvation or punishment. For those who had departed before the coming of the Lord had not had the gospel preached to them. So they had been given no opportunity to either believe or not believe. (A.D. 195)
If, then, the Lord descended to Hades for no other end but to preach the Gospel, as He did descend; it was either to preach the Gospel to all or to the Hebrews only. If, accordingly, to all, then all who believe shall be saved, although they may be of the Gentiles, on making their profession there; since God’s punishments are saving and disciplinary, leading to conversion, and choosing rather the repentance than the death of a sinner; and especially since souls, although darkened by passions, when released from their bodies, are able to perceive more clearly, because of their being no longer obstructed by the paltry flesh. (ibid, A.D. 195)
Christ in His death spent three days in the heart of the earth, that is, in the secret inner recess which is hidden in the earth, and enclosed by the earth, and superimposed on the abysmal depths which lie still lower down. Now although Christ is God, yet, being also man, “He died according to the Scriptures,” and “according to the same Scriptures was buried.” With the same law of His being He fully complied, by remaining in Hades in the form and condition of a dead man; nor did He ascend into the heights of heaven before descending into the lower parts of the earth, that He might there make the patriarchs and prophets partakers of Himself. (A.D. 198)
Hippolytus[John the Baptist] also first preached to those in Hades, becoming a forerunner there when he was put to death by Herod. So even there, too, John revealed that the Savior would descend to ransom the souls of the saints from the hand of death. (A.D. 225)
“Put to death,” he says, “in the flesh, but quickened in the Spirit; in which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison, which at one time were disobedient, when the long-suffering of God once waited in the days of Noah while the ark was a preparing.” He, then, who is able worthily to set forth the meaning of these two journeys is able to untie the latchet of the shoes of Jesus; he, bending down in his mind and going with Jesus as He goes down into Hades, and descending from heaven and the mysteries of Christ’s deity to the advent He of necessity made with us when He took on man (as His shoes). Now He who put on man also put on the dead, for “for this end Jesus both died and revived, that He might be Lord both of dead and living.” This is why He put on both living and dead, that is, the inhabitants of the earth and those of Hades, that He might be the Lord of both dead and living. (248 A.D.)