The word Hell in the Bible
The word Hell in the Bible
The word “hell” is found 54 times in the King James Bible. It is translated from several different words with various meanings as indicated below:
In the Old Testament:
31 times from the Hebrew “Sheol,” which means “the grave”
In the New Testament:
1 time from the Greek “Tartarus,” which means “a place of darkness”
12 times from the Greek “Gehenna,” which means “a place of burning”
10 times from the Greek “Hades,” which means “the grave”
“Tartarus” is used once, in 2 Peter 2:4, and means “a place of darkness or restraint.” This is interesting, because it says in this verse that God has already cast the angels who sinned (including satan) down to hell. Is satan and his angels roasting in hell fire now? No, they are freely roaming around this earth tempting and deceiving people. So what does this mean about hell? Well, the meaning of tartarus is 'dark abyss' or 'place of restraint'. This isn't a place of judgment, because satan and his angels have not received their punishment yet as it says in 2 Peter 2:4 that they are 'reserved unto judgment'. Their punishment is future. Satan and his angels have been cast out of Heaven and are bound to this earth, so the 'hell' in this verse is basically the earth. By the way, the 'chains of darkness' in this verse doesn't mean the angels are literally chained in a dark place, it is symbolic of them being 'bound' to the earth. They cannot get back into Heaven. So we now know the Bible truth about 'tartarus'.
“Gehenna” means a place of fire, brimstone, and punishment. Matthew 5:22 ...'but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell [Gehenna] fire.' ... All theologians agree that this word 'gehenna' was based on the 'valley of Hinnom', south of Jerusalem where trash and dead animals were burned. Jesus used this a few times (Matthew 5:29,30) to confirm that there will be a real fire that the lost will be cast into. But when will this happen? Do the lost go straight to this hell fire at death? Jesus answers this Himself.
Matthew 5:29 ...'And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell [Gehenna].' ...... Did you see what Jesus said here? He said that the lost are cast into hell fire 'whole bodied'. Now how can someone who has just died, with their bodies in the grave be cast into hell fire with their body? It makes no sense. If it doesn't happen at death, when are the lost thrown into hell fire?
Matthew 13:40-42 ...'As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.' ...... The tares here are the lost. So it is at the 'end of the world', that the lost are cast into hell fire. Jesus here calls it a 'furnace of fire', so we are talking about a real fire.
“Hades” means “the grave” (Acts 2:31; 1 Corinthians 15:55; Revelation 20:14). The body of Jesus rested there and His saints are resting there now awaiting the resurrection.
The Greek word “Hades” is translated as “Hell” in many English Bibles such as the King James Version. In Revelation 6:8, the King James Version refers to “Death and Hell.” It does the same in Revelation 20:14. Yet some English Bibles use the word “Hades” itself, such as the New International Version, which translates both Revelation 6:8 and 20:14 as “Death, and Hades.” Now here is the point; In Revelation 20:14 “Hades” is eventually “cast into the lake of fire.” So as you can therefore see, “Hades” itself is not a fiery place, but is cast into “the lake of fire.”
So Biblically speaking, Hades means the grave. This is easy to prove from 1 Corinthians 15:55, which in the King James Version states, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave [Hades], where is thy victory?” If you look in the Strong’s dictionary, you will find that the Greek word here translated “grave” is “Hades.” By looking at the context, it is obvious that it means “the grave” because it is God’s saints who rise out of “Hades” when Jesus Christ returns. See 1 Corinthians 15:50-55. Therefore, “Hades” cannot mean a place of burning, for who can imagine God’s people writhing in flames as they await the resurrection? That would be absolutely ludicrous! Additional proof this word means “the grave” is the fact that “Hades” was the place Christ’s body rested right after His death. Acts 2:31 reads, “His [Christ’s] soul was not left in hell [Hades] neither [did] his flesh see corruption.”
So we now know what hell is and the true meaning of the word 'hell'.
Tartarus means: A place of darkness or restraint. Where satan and his angels are now, on earth, cast out of heaven.
Gehenna means: A place of real fire, where the wicked are punished, 'burned up' and destroyed and the Heaven and earth is cleansed ... 'At the end of the world'.
Hades means: The grave. All people who have died, the lost and the saints are resting there.