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HELL: Sheowl, Hades, Tartaroo, Geenna
The Bible is Clear about HELL
The topic of HELL is the most unpleasant topic in the world today, even amongst Christians. Why? Because we can't fathom that a loving God would send any of His creation there. Therefore, let me begin with this scripture that shows us how people deal with this topic that would rather avoid it:
2 Timothy 4:3-4 "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths."
So, if you are ready to endure sound doctrine, keep on reading, for the Bible is clear about Hell. We will be looking at the various definitions of our English translation by using the exact Hebrew and Greek words and the context in which these words are used.
How does the Bible define HELL?
I did a word study, using a Strong's concordance, on the word HELL. There are four different words used in the original languages of the Bible. The only one used in the Old Testament was #7585: sheowl (sheh-ole’) meaning hades or the world of the dead (as if a subterranean retreat), including its accessories and inmates: grave, hell, pit.
Old Testament verses are as follows:
(Hebrew #7585 sheowl; translated the same as Greek #86 hades)
De 32:22; 2 Sa 22:6; Job 11:8 & 26:6; Ps 9:17, 16:10, 18:5, 55:15, 86:13, 116:3 and 189:8; Pr 5:5, 7:27, 9:18, 15:11 & 24, 23:14 and 27:20; Isa 5:14, 14:9 & 14:15, 28:15 & 28:18 and 57:9; Eze 31:16 & 31:17, 32:21 & 32:27; Am 9:2; Jon 2:2; Hab 2:5.
The New Testament consists of three words for HELL: #1067: geenna (gheh’-en-nah) used as a name for the place (or state) of everlasting punishment: - hell; #86: hades (hah’-dace) “hades” or the place (state) of departed souls: - grave, hell; and #5020: tartaroo (tar-tar-o’-o) the deepest abyss of hades; to incarcerate in eternal torment: - cast down to hell.
New Testament verses are as follows:
(Greek #1067 geenna)
Mt 5:22 & 5:29, 10:28, 18:9, 23:15 and 23:33; M'r 9:43, 9:45 and 9:47; Lu 12:5; Jas 3:6. Lake of Fire: Mat 25:41; Rev 19:20; 20:10, 14-15 and 21:8.
(Greek #86 hades)
Mt 11:23 & 16:18; Lu 10:15 & 16:23; Ac 2:27 & 2:31; Re 1:18, 6:8, 20:13 and 20:14.
(Greek #5020 tartaroo)
2 Pe 2:4
There is some information regarding the “deepest abyss of hades”, which is known as tartaroo (tar-tar-o’-o). 2 Peter 2:4 states that this is where the fallen angels who sinned are incarcerated. For more information on the fallen angels, please see my hub The Origin of the Nephilim. In Revelation 9:11, there is a king of the abyss whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon/Greek: Apollyon (a destroying angel, who is the second beast or antichrist). This bottomless pit is shown to have a cover, that when opened releases not only “smoke of a great furnace” (verse 2), but beings like "locusts" (verse 7-9). This is the same bottomless pit in which the dragon (Satan) will be bound during the thousand-year reign (Rev 20:3).
The Lake of Fire, which is the final destination for the second beast (antichrist) and the false prophet (at the beginning of the thousand-year reign of Christ), and then for the dragon (Satan) and those people whose names are not found in the Lamb’s Book of Life (at the Great White Throne judgment after the thousand-year reign of Christ) is actually geenna (gheh’-en-nah). Mark 9:49 describes it based on Isaiah 66:24, “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” Revelation 14:10-11 states"...he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name." For more on the Lake of Fire, I have a hub called The Location of HELL.
The point is, the Bible written in English uses the same word "hell" for all the definitions shown above. So, read the scriptures listed above for each definition to get a better view of the context in which the word hell is used. Some people just choose not to believe in hell at all (as though that will just make it go away). Hell is a very real place for souls who refuse to receive Jesus Christ, who is the only One who can save them from this fate. So, while our fleshly body corrupts in the grave (also called hades in some contexts), those without Christ are said to be condemned to "hell", also called hades, and eventually condemned to geenna, the Lake of Fire. You can read more in my hub Beyond Death: What the Bible Says. Here's an example of a soul tormented in hades shown in the Bible:
Let's look at what Jesus shares about hell in Luke 16:19-31 (regarding the soul of the rich man in hades, not geenna):
Now there was a certain rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, gaily living in splendor every day.
And a certain poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.
Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried.
And in hades he (the rich man) lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom.
And he cried out and said, "Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame."
But Abraham said, "Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us."
And he (the rich man) said, "Then I beg you, Father, that you send him to my father's house for I have five brothers that he may warn them, lest they also come to this place of torment."
But Abraham said, "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them."
But he (the rich man) said, "No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!"
But he (Abraham) said to him (the rich man), "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead."
I had a reader state that Jesus never talked about hell. Now, that's a very ignorant statement. Look at all the passages in the first four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. How about Revelation 1:1-2? "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond servants, the things which must shortly take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond servant John; who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw." In this case, all the accounts of hell in Revelation are also the "revelation of Jesus Christ". Jesus talked more about hell than anyone. Who else would know? Do you know anyone else who existed before being born? How about someone who died and came back to life to tell you about it? And if they did, would you believe them any more than the rich man's brothers would?
The Burden of PROOF
Based on the scripture of Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace are ye saved through FAITH, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast." Good people are not righteous enough for God! You MUST have His Son's righteousness, which comes only through salvation. If you don't know that you're saved, I invite you to read my hub Come to JESUS: Salvation.
So we're saved through FAITH in what? What is FAITH? Hebrews 11:1 states, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." How can the believer prove something the unbeliever can't see? This is the miracle of faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God! (Romans 10:17) Then, the human (blind) eyes shall see through Spiritual eyes and understanding.
How do we ESCAPE HELL?
The Bible says that the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, was planned from the foundation of the world. Hell was originally reserved for just the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). God made the Way for you since the beginning of time to choose spiritual life over spiritual death. He is longsuffering in waiting for us to make this choice. 2 Peter 3:9 states, "The Lord is not slacking concerning His promised return, as some men count to slacking, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that anyone should perish (eternal hell), but that all should come to repentance (salvation = eternal heaven).
Jesus said in John 14:6 that “I AM the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE; no man comes to the Father except through Me.”
WHY do we need Jesus? The answer is that God is holy and is perfectly righteous. There can be NO SIN in His Kingdom. In the Old Testament (before Jesus Christ), believers had to sacrifice a lamb to atone for their sin. Jesus is called the "Lamb of God" in that He sacrificed His own blood on a cross for our sin. 2 Corinthians 5:21 states, "He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness [sinless] of God in Him."
1 John 5:12 states "He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life."
Revelation 3:20-23 states "Behold I (Jesus) stand at the door (to your heart) and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
I truly share this in love. I know everyone reading this is meant to be here. Have faith in Him, and take as many people with you to where God is: Our Father, who art in Heaven (Mat. 6.9–13; Luke 11.2–4) while there is still time!!