6 Things You Need to Know About Hell

The purpose of this post is not to argue for a particular theory about hell. I simply want to make some clarifications to help people have a more biblical understanding. Here are six things that you should take into consideration when talking about hell.

1. Sheol

FireThe Hebrew word that is translated as hell in the KJV is sheol. However, sheol is not a place of punishing the wicked as most people think of hell. Sheol is better translated as the grave and it is the place where everyone goes when they die. It is simply the place of the dead.

2. Hades

One of the Greek words that is translated as hell in the New Testament is hades. This word comes from the Greek myths (Hades is the brother of Zeus and Poseidon) and it also means the place of the dead.

3. Gehenna

The other word that is translated as hell is Gehenna. Gehenna is an actual place that still exists today. If someone tells you to go to hell, you can book a flight to Israel and go there. Gehenna in the time of Jesus was a burning garbage dump. In the Old Testament it was place for child sacrifice to pagan gods.

4. Paul

The Apostle Paul never mentions hell (either hades or Gehenna). He does talk about destruction a couple of times but does not discuss the nature of it. Paul, no lightweight preacher, was able to motivate people without the threat of hell. I intend to do a future blog post on why Paul does not speak of hell.

5. Satan

Hell is not the kingdom of Satan. Satan does not rule hell and is not in hell. See this post for more details.

6. Fallen Angels

Although hell is not a place where demons are employed to torment the wicked, hell was designed and planned for Satan and his demons. See Matthew 25:41.

Hopefully these points will help you in your discussions about hell and what it is.

If you want to learn more about hell, I recommend the book, Four Views on Hell. (USA) (Canada)

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7 thoughts on “6 Things You Need to Know About Hell”

  1. I made a similar blog post on my website titled “Los Verdaderos Nombres del Infierno” (The True Names of Hell). In it, I explain why the word hell doesn’t exist in the Bible, and that the other names talks about different spiritual places. Of those four places, you talked here in this blog of two (Because the state of the after life was a progresive doctrine, from simple to detailed, I regard Sheol and Hades to be the same thing).

    The first I think you miss is Abyss. A spiritual jail for a kind of demons that will only be free for 5 months and then be imprisioned just to be released for the Judgement Day and be sent to the Lake of Fire. The other one is Tartarus. Is a spiritual jail for a special class of angels that will only come out just to be judge and be sent to the Lake of Fire (2 Peter 2.4).

    Also, Gehena is not just the place in the southwest of Jerusalem. Is also the name of the Lake of Fire.

    Also, do you plan on blogging about the nature of hell in the near future?

    Good post.

  2. Hi Stephen,

    With all due respect, this post is a barely disguised assault on the traditional doctrine of hell. To say that such and such a word originally meant so and so is to avoid the fact that every linguist on planet earth will tell you that context, not etymology, must determine the meaning a word has in a given sentence. To play Paul against Jesus is to suggest a canon within a canon – the same tactic deployed by those wishing to rewrite Christian sexual ethics. The sexual revolutionaries tell us that we mustn’t listen to Paul on sex – after all Jesus never mentioned homosexuality directly. Here you are saying the same/opposite, “We mustn’t listen to Jesus, who spoke about hell 13 times, rather we should look at Paul who never used the word.” If something isn’t true unless taught by every single author of the Bible then we are in trouble deep. To suggest that Paul didn’t teach on hell because he never used the word hell has been thoroughly debunked by Bible scholars in multiple places. See here for one noteworthy example: http://djmoo.com/articles/paulonhell.pdf

    I don’t think the job of a Christian is to undermine belief in Biblical doctrines. This article seems to be a rather subtle attempt to reduce the confidence of the unsuspecting reader in the eternal justice of God. That strikes me as unloving. The Bible says:

    11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
    (Revelation 20:11–15 ESV)

    That sounds like an awfully serious doctrine. Far be it from me to say otherwise.


    1. Paul, you are reading things in to the text of Stephen. “Every linguist ont he planet will tell you that” the word hell doesn’t exist in the Bible. Hell is a latin word, and the Bible was written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek language. The true names of hell are Sheol, Hades, Abyss, Tartarus and Gehena.

      It does not undermine the Traditionalist position (the eternal conscious torment) if that is your concern.

      Now, the nature of hell is a relative but a separete issue. An annihilationist and a traditionalist can agree on the names of hell, but are divided on the nature of it. But the doctrine of hell is not a central/esential issue for salvation. Annihilationism is not a heresy neither is traditionalism (universalism? Yes it is!). Therefore, we should not be divided on this thing. Liberty in unity.

  3. Thank you for your comments. But I do think you misread me. My discussion of hades and gehenna were for clarity of discussion, not to discount the reality of punishment after death. Nor did I say Paul did not teach on such punishment, I only said that he never used the word. I especially did not play Paul against Jesus.

    The purpose of my post was not to discredit the traditional doctrine of hell. It was simply to inform people about some facts as they attempt to interpret the Bible.

  4. Hi Stephen,

    I think there is a very slight difference between “discrediting” and “marginalizing”. I will accept your contention that you are not intending a full scale discrediting of a central and historical Christian doctrine, however, I think you must accept my altered contention that you are clearly attempting to marginalize or deprioritize said doctrine. Suppose I said something analogous to what you said in your article. Suppose I said: “64 of the 66 books in the Bible never mention speaking in tongues. Jesus never mentioned it. John never mentioned it. Something to think about eh?” Everyone reading that post would be absolutely clear that my intention is to deprioritize and marginalize the doctrine of speaking in tongues. Now interestingly, most scholars agree that this was what Paul was trying to do in 1 Corinthians – he was trying to deprioritize but not legitimize tongues. Therefore, deprioritizing or marginalizing CAN BE an important literary objective. However, that would only be a legitimate endeavour if it was suggested by the content of the Apostolic Gospel. I do not believe that is the case with the doctrine of hell. I think your article, intentionally or not, served to deprioritize or marginalize something that should not be marginalized. This is not a misreading of the article; you say as much in the post: “Paul, no lightweight preacher, was able to motivate people without the threat of hell. I intend to do a future blog post on why Paul does not speak of hell.” You leave us in no doubt as to the trajectory you wish to travel. That’s my concern. Paul does speak about hell – even if he does not use the word – and I don’t think we would be well served by articles about how to do Gospel ministry minus the doctrine of hell. Blessings

  5. Hey Stephen,

    As you said in a recent post: “Auto correct is my worst enema”. See above. I wrote:

    “he was trying to deprioritize but not legitimize tongues.”

    However I was trying to write:

    “he was trying to deprioritize but not delegitimize tongues.”

    Hopefully that didn’t throw you. I’m enjoying the dialogue.


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