Where is Hell?

Where is Hell?
28 Mar 2016

Have you ever thought about hell, and studied the word?

First, let’s examine the definitions. There are 30 scriptures in the old testament where the word “hell” is used. Hell in the Old Testament is translated from the Hebrew word שְׁאֹול [shâʾowl, shâol /sheh·ole/].[1] Sheol means the abode of the dead, and is also translated as the words grave or pit. It was understood as the final resting place for everyone. ““They spend their days in prosperity, And suddenly they go down to Sheol.” (Job 21:13, NASB95) In the Old Testament, sheol is the grave where we place the dead. Hebrew thought does not distinguish between a temporary resting place and the final destiny of the wicked. The destiny of men’s souls is not considered until the resurrection. However, resurrection of the righteous is assured.

Then all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. And he said, “Surely I will go down to Sheol in mourning for my son.” So his father wept for him.” (Genesis 37:35, NASB95) Good men and evil men go to sheol.“But if the Lord brings about an entirely new thing and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that is theirs, and they descend alive into Sheol, then you will understand that these men have spurned the Lord.”” (Numbers 16:30, NASB95) It is the New testament that defines hell of the Old Testament more accurately.

One word translated as hell in the New Testament is the Greek word γέεννα [geenna /gheh·en·nah/].[2] It is used 12 times in the New Testament, and means the state or place of everlasting judgment. Here hell is the place of the future punishment called “Gehenna” or “Gehenna of fire”. This originated from the valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where the filth and dead animals of the city were cast out and burned; a fit symbol of the wicked and their future destruction.[3]

This place became so notorious through its evil associations that it was simply called “the valley.” ““How can you say, ‘I am not defiled, I have not gone after the Baals’? Look at your way in the valley! Know what you have done! You are a swift young camel entangling her ways,” (Jeremiah 2:23, NASB95) ““And the whole valley of the dead bodies and of the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be holy to the Lord; it will not be plucked up or overthrown anymore forever.”” (Jeremiah 31:40, NASB95)

The valley of Hinnom was a valley near, but south, of Jerusalem which came to be known for idolatrous Moloch worship. Moloch was a Semitic god to whom children were sacrificed. This was so abhorrent to Jewish feeling, that they adopted the word gehenna as a symbol of disgust and torment. It is a place of punishment or state of misery. “He made his sons pass through the fire in the valley of Ben-hinnom; and he practiced witchcraft, used divination, practiced sorcery and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger.” (2 Chronicles 33:6, NASB95)  “Moreover, he burned incense in the valley of Ben-hinnom and burned his sons in fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had driven out before the sons of Israel.” (2 Chronicles 28:3, NASB95)

In the New Testament, Gehenna is always presented as the final place of punishment into which the wicked are cast after the last judgment. ““If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” (Matthew 5:29, NASB95) ““Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28, NASB95) At the resurrection, the spirit and body are united again and punished in Gehenna.

Another word in the New Testament that is translated as hell is ᾅδης [hades /hah·dace/].[4] Hades is the place of the dead spirits of the lost. ““In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom.” (Luke 16:23, NASB95) Hades receives the ungodly only for the intervening period between death and resurrection, whereas Gehenna is their place of punishment in the last judgment; the judgment of the former is thus provisional but the torment of the latter eternal.[5] That the souls of the ungodly are outside the body in Hades, whereas in Gehenna both body and soul, reunited at the resurrection, are destroyed by eternal fire.[6]

So, we see that Hades is a place in Sheol. It is the abode of the wicked and ungodly. The exclusive place for unbelievers. Also in Sheol is a great gulf, and on the other side of it is Paradise παράδεισος [paradeisos /par·ad·i·sos/].[7] Paradise is the place the saved and regenerate go until the ascension. It is of Persian origin; (Old Pers. pairidaeza, akin to Gk. peri, “around,” and teichos, “a wall”)[8] to the oriental mind it expressed the sum total of blessedness. “And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”” (Luke 23:43, NASB95) “‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’” (Revelation 2:7, NASB95)

Another word translated as hell in the New Testament is ταρταρόω [tartaroo /tar·tar·o·o/][9] Tartaroo is a verb that comes from the Greek noun Tartaros, meaning the deepest abyss or a bottomless pit. It is the place where fallen angels are confined until the day of final judgment. “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment;” (2 Peter 2:4, NASB95)

Now, let’s look at some scriptures and apply what we’ve learned. “The wicked will return to Sheol, Even all the nations who forget God.” (Psalm 9:17, NASB95) The wicked unbelievers will go to sheol/hades. Their spirit and soul will separate from their body and they shall abide in hell until the judgment. But what about those who are saved? “For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.” (Psalm 16:10, NASB95) Their soul and spirit will be in sheol/paradise, but only until the dead are raised. “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:52, NASB95)

Which death is better? ““Who can count the dust of Jacob, Or number one-fourth of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, And let my end be like his!”” (Numbers 23:10, NKJV) The end of the righteous man is peace. “Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright; For the future of that man is peace.” (Psalm 37:37, NKJV) The righteous will see His face. “For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness; The upright will behold His face.” (Psalm 11:7, NASB95) “As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.” (Psalm 17:15, NASB95)

The wicked are like sheep and death is their shepherd leading them to the grave. Death will fed on them like an insatiable monster feeding on its victims. But the righteous will have dominion over them. “As sheep they are appointed for Sheol; Death shall be their shepherd; And the upright shall rule over them in the morning, And their form shall be for Sheol to consume So that they have no habitation.” (Psalm 49:14, NASB95)

But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, For He will receive me. Selah.” (Psalm 49:15, NASB95) Only God can redeem a life from the grave. No one by any means can escape death. “Avoiding the subject (hell) in the hope that it is mere myth is the worst high-stakes gamble a person could ever make, akin to playing Russian roulette with one’s eternal destiny.” – Clint Archer

The Bible is clear. After death, a person will go to one of two places in sheol; the righteous will go to paradise, and the unrighteous will go to hades. The regenerate man will rise during the ascension from paradise. The unregenerate man will go from hades through the great white throne judgment into gehenna (the lake of fire). Any fallen angels that God has placed in tartaurus will join satan in gehenna too.

After Death Chart

© 2016 Learning the Bible.org

[1] Strong, James. Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon 1995 : n. pag. Print.

[2] Strong, James. Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon 1995 : n. pag. Print.

[3] Strong, James. Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon 1995 : n. pag. Print.

[4] Strong, James. Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon 1995 : n. pag. Print.

[5] Kittel, Gerhard, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, eds. Theological dictionary of the New Testament 1964– : 658. Print.

[6] Kittel, Gerhard, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, eds. Theological dictionary of the New Testament 1964– : 658. Print.

[7] Strong, James. Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon 1995 : n. pag. Print.

[8] Vine, W. E., Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words 1996 : 457. Print.

[9] Strong, James. Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon 1995 : n. pag. Print.



JD Wilhite

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