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XVIII. What Is The Bible Meaning Of The Word Hell?

A. What Is The Meaning Of The Word “Hell” In The Old Testament?

NOTE:
    In this section the original Hebrew (in italics and parentheses) follows it’s english equivilant.
    In the Old Testament, “hell” is always translated from the Hebrew word sheol, which means simply “the world of the dead.”
    Young’s Analytical Concordance reads, “the unseen state.” There is no hint of a place of fire.

Jonah 2:
    1 THEN Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly,
    2 And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell (Sheol) cried I, and thou heardest my voice.

NOTE:
    The marginal reading of this text gives “the grave” as an alternate interpretation.
    It is difficult to imagine fire inside of a cold, wet, and slimy fish.
    Sheol is frequently translated “grave.” Both good and bad go there. Following are some examples.

Psalms 89:
    48 What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave (Sheol)? Selah.

Job 17:
    13 If I wait, the grave (Sheol) is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness.

Psalms 9:
    17 The wicked shall be turned into hell (Sheol), and all the nations that forget God.

NOTE:
    Job (a godly man), and the wicked both go to Sheol. (see Job 17:13 and Psalms 9:17 above)

B. What Is The Meaning Of The Word “Hell” In The New Testament?

NOTE:
    In this section the original Greek (in italics and parentheses) follows it’s english equivilant.
    In the New Testament, “hell” is translated from the three following Greek words:

1. Once from tartaroo which is from the root Tartaros. Tartaros means “the deepest abyss of Hades.” The ancient Greeks considered Tartaros to be the abode of the wicked dead and the place where punishment was rendered.

2 Peter 2:
    4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell (tartaroo), and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

NOTE:
    Apparently Peter was not writing about a place of flames and torment because “the angels that sinned” are there “to be reserved unto judgment.”

2. Ten times from hades which means “the place (state) of departed souls, grave, hell.”

Matthew 11:
    23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell (hades): for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

Matthew 16:
    18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell (hades) shall not prevail against it.

Luke 16:
    23 And in hell (hades) he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

NOTE:
    For more about the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus, see section XIX. C. on page

Acts 2:
    27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (hades), neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

NOTE:
    In quoting the Old Testament prophecy regarding Christ the New Testament writer uses hades. Compare Acts 2:27 above with Psalms 16:10 below.

Psalms 16:
    10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (Sheol); neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

    Apparently both the righteous and the wicked go to hades, the same as they both go to Sheol in the Old Testament, for Christ went there when He died. (see Acts 2:27 above)
    It seems more logical to think of Christ in the grave instead of in a burning hell. 1 Corinthians 15:55 (below) illustrates that “grave” is a proper reading for hades.

1 Corinthians 15:
    55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave (hades), where is thy victory?

NOTE:
    This is quoted from Hosea 13:14 in the Old Testament where we find the equivalent word sheol.

Hosea 13:
    14 I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave (Sheol), I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.

Acts 2:
    31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell (hades), neither his flesh did see corruption.

Revelation 1:
    18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell (hades) and of death.

Revelation 6:
    8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell (hades) followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

Revelation 20:
    13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell (hades) delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

NOTE:
    The marginal reading for the above “hell” is “the grave.”

Revelation 20:
    14 And death and hell (hades) were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

NOTE:
    If one thinks of “hell” as death represented by the grave then it makes sense for hell to be cast into the lake of fire. Notice in 1 Corinthians 15: 26 (below) that death will be destroyed.

1 Corinthians 15:
    26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

3. Twelve times from Gehenna (or, as it is sometimes transliterated, Geenna). This is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Hinnom. Hinnom is the name of a valley near Jerusalem where carcasses of animals and malefactors were consumed by fire constantly kept burning. Thus Gehenna is the only one of those words translated “hell” in the Bible, that has any idea of fire or torment resident in it.

Matthew 5:
    22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell (Gehenna) fire.
    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).
    30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, 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).

Matthew 10:
    28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Gehenna).

Matthew 18:
    9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell (Gehenna) fire.

Matthew 23:
    15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell (Gehenna) than yourselves.
    33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell (Gehenna)?

Mark 9:
    43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell (Gehenna), into the fire that never shall be quenched:
    45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut if off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell (Gehenna), into the fire that never shall be quenched:
    47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell (Gehenna) fire:

NOTE:
    It is apparent from the above text that the whole body is cast into Hell.

Luke 12:
    5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell (Gehenna); yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

James 3:
    6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell (Gehenna).

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