Hell.  Is it real?

Two places

There are two places, Sheol and Hell, described in the Bible which many of us have thought were the same.   One is described in the earth and the other as a place that is being prepared. 

Preface on the Word "Hell"

Before discussing Sheol, it is necessary to discuss the word "Hell".  It is a modern day word that has been described as having its roots around 725AD and may have come out of paganistic terms.   Hell has been used in translations where it should not have been used such as a replacement for Sheol and Gehenna.  Having said that, most scholars attribute the word "Hell" to be the name attributed to the 2nd death that Jesus describes as prepared for the fallen Angels in Matthew 25:41 and other scriptures.  

Without any reservations, we always need to use the most precise and accurate translations that correctly match the Scriptural Source(s) that are trusted. While we have copies of copies of Scriptures that have been preserved throughout the centuries with well-known discrepancies/variances, this topic on Hell, is not about listing the most trusted manuscripts that were used in translations which do not use the word Hell.  Based on the scriptures, the questions to answer on this topic are:

  1. Does Eternal Punishment that was prepared for Lucifer and the Fallen Angels exist? 
  2. Does mankind, who names that were not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, go into Eternal Punishment?
  3. Is the Biblical scriptures translated actually mean that Eternal Punishment is without end or is there annihilation?
It is the opinion of this author that if modern day theologians want to use the synonym of Hell for "the lake of fire", then that is not something to divide Believers.  It is kind of like the term Anti-Christ when describing the Beast of Revelation where most scholars would say that this is not the best descriptive title when there are many other titles such as the "son of Perdition" 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4.  Also note that Perdition is another word used 8 times in the Scriptures to mean the opposite of Salvation.  Anti-Christ means "instead of Christ."

Through scriptural references it can be shown that no one has been condemned or sent to the "Second Death" yet.  When men and women die and their names are not written in the Lamb's Book of Life, then their Spirit goes into Sheol.  There are Fallen Angels that are held in chains currently, which are not free to travel on Earth like other Fallen Angels and Demons (Demons appear to be distinctly different), in a place that points to the center of the Earth which is also called Tartarus.   In the Greek this place is called the "Abussos" which is translated as the "pit" or "abyss".  In Luke 8:31, we learn that the Demons begged not to be cast into the Abussos before their time.  Tartarus might be a special compartment in Sheol.

2 Peter 2:4 In the ancient time of Noah's flood, there where some Angels that participated in specific forbidden actions: "For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but condemned them to the chains of Tartarus and handed them over to be kept for judgment; "   Note that Tartarus is meant to be a special 'prison' which is also used in Greek Mythology as meaning as a "Dark abode of Woe" in the eternals of the Earth.   Peter used this name because his readers would know the meaning for the 'nameless place' regarding the prison.  If the Fallen Angels were in the Lake of Fire, as described in Revelation 20:10, then Peter would have used that location.
2 Corinthians 5:8 Regarding the Believer "we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord."
Revelation 20:14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

Gehenna is not Hell

Gehenna was the Greek word for the garbage heap where trash and even bodies were buried or burned outside of Jerusalem but it was not necessarily perpetually buring.  As an example of incorrect usage of Hell is in Mathew 23 where Jesus is confronting with a warning to the religious leaders that they would end up in Gehenna if they didn't repent.  The word Hell, instead of Gehenna, is used in many translations.  Later in Matthew 24, Jesus is warning about the pending future destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple as other instructions in Luke 21:20.  As many other places in the scriptures, it is most likely two warnings with the literal future consequences on earth of being dumped, buried or burned in Gehenna and also symbolic of the future Lake of Fire.

The origin of the word Gehenna is the place is the Hinnon Valley, which is a place of death where child sacrifice was done to pagan gods.  It was also prophesised as a funeral pyre.  Gehenna is a way of describing the Hinnon Valley.

Jeremiah 7:31-32 And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind. Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when it will no more be called Topheth, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter; for they will bury in Topheth, because there is no room elsewhere.
Isaiah 30:33 Indeed! Topheth has been ready for the king for a long time now. His funeral pyre is deep and wide, with plenty of fire and wood. The breath of the Lord, like a torrent of brimstone, kindles it.
Matthew 23:33 "Ye serpents, ye offspring of vipers, how shall ye escape the judgment of Gehenna?"   Gehenna is not Hell.

Sheol (Hebrew), Hades (Greek) or the Abussos (Greek)

Prior to Jesus Christ's substitutional death on the cross, the scriptures seem to indicate that all humans, which were written in the Lamb's Book of Life, that died went to the good compartment of Sheol or Hades.  Sheol has at least two compartments as mentioned in the Parable on Luke 16:19-31.  One is described as a place of torment and the other as a Paradise or the bosom of Abraham.  The righteous, because of God's Grace, could not enter His presence in Heaven prior to the cross because the payment for sin on the Cross had not been paid for yet. 

John 3:13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven--the Son of Man.  Note that Jesus is speaking here.

Sheol's location is described as located in a bottomless pit which can only be the center of the Earth because all directions are up.  When Jesus Christ died on the cross, He descended into Sheol to take the Righteous by Faith out who were captives, Ephesian 4:8 / Psalm 68:18 and also to proclaim His Victory on the Cross to the Fallen Angels which were in prision there as described in 1 Peter 3:19 that created the Nephim.  Understand that if there are Fallen Angels that are not imprisoned then they would see the actions on the Cross but the imprisoned Fallen Angels would not know.  After the cross we know from 2 Corinthians 5:8 "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord."  This is also mentioned by Jesus to one of the thieves at the Cross in Luke 23:43.

Zechariah 9:11 As for thee also, because of the blood of thy covenant I have set free thy prisoners from the pit wherein is no water.
1 Samuel 28:6-20 Read the verses and you will see that Samuel is "bringing up", "ascending out of the earth", "an old man cometh up".  The scriptures does not state that this was some sort of trick or haliculation.  Samuel gives an accurate message to King Saul.
Hosea 13:14 I will ransom them from the power of Sheol; I will redeem them from death: O death, where are thy plagues? O Sheol, where is thy destruction? repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.
Ephesians 4:9
~ Psalm 68:18
(8) Wherefore he saith, When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, And gave gifts unto men. (9) Now this, He ascended, what is it but that he also descended into the lower parts of the earth?
Acts 4:24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pangs of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
1 Peter 3:18-20 (18) Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God; being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; (19) in which also he went and preached unto the angels in prison, Note: that spirits is a misstranslation that meant angels in times past but currently has taken on the meaning of the spirit of man where in verse 19, the phrase "spirits in prision" should be "angels in prison" also "preached" should be "proclaim the victory."
Luke 16:19-31 Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.  See in verse 22-23 "...the rich man also died, and was buried. (23) And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  Then in verse 26 " And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, that they that would pass from hence to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from thence to us."

Enoch, Elijah and Moses Exceptions to going into Sheol

There are three men in the old Testament that appear to be exempt or handled differently regarding the possibility of going to Heaven or maybe they went to the good compartment of Sheol.   The first is Enoch:

Genesis 5:24 Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

In the Hebrew, took him away is "LAQAH", which can mean taken in death.  It is also used in Ezekel 33:6 in the context of taken death.  It may be that he was "raptured" into the third Heaven into the presence of God.  Raptured is the prevailing interpretation by scholars.

The second is Elijah who was taken up in a whirlwind, where he may also have been taken into the presence of God.  It appears this way from the word "heaven".  Elijah was also raptured according to the prevailing interpretation by scholars.

2 Kings 2:11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

The third scriptural reference to consider is the mount of transfiguration where Jesus talks with Elijah and Moses.  The location of where Moses came from is not revealed but inferred to be in heaven also since he came with Elijah. 

Matt 17:1-3 1 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

Based on John 3:13, 1 Samuel 28:6-20 and other scriptures, the best conclusion is Enoch, Elijah and Moses went to Bossom of Abraham compartment of Sheol before the payment on the Cross was made by Jesus Christ.

More Scriptural references on Sheol and Eternal Fire (Hell)

Old Testament:

There are 31 references to "hell" in the Old Testaments which is the hebrew word "sheol" or other descriptions noted below.

  Passage Other Sheol Hell No end?
Num 16:31-33 (31) And as soon as he had finished speaking all these words, the ground under them split apart. (32) And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods. (33) So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol,   X    
Psalm 9:17 The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God.   X    
Isaiah 14:9-10 (9) Sheol beneath is stirred up to meet you when you come; it rouses the shades to greet you, all who were leaders of the earth; it raises from their thrones all who were kings of the nations. (10) All of them will answer and say to you: ‘You too have become as weak as we! You have become like us!’   X    
Isaiah 66:24 “And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”   X   X  (1)
Daniel 12:1-2 "At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.  ... Gabriel is speaking to Daniel     X X

    (1) Sheol has an end at the final judgment where it is cast into the "eternal fire".  Revelation 20:14 "Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death."

New Testament:

  Passage Other Gehenna Sheol Hell No end?
Jud 1:7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.       X X
2 Thes 1:9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,       X X
Mar 9:47-48 (47) And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell (Gehenna), (48) ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.   X   X X
Mat 13:50 Jesus Christ is giving the "A Dragnet" parable where the wicked will be "and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."       X X
Mat 22:11-14 (11) “ But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. (12) And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. (13) Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (14) For many are called, but few are chosen.” (2)     ?  
Mat 25:1-13 1 Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. 6 “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming;[a] go out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. 11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. (2)     ?  
Mat 25:41 &
"(41) Then he will say to those on his left, 'Get away from me, you who are accursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels!"

(45) Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ (46) And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
      X X
Mat 25:46 Jesus Chris is describing "The Judgement": "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."       X X
Rev 14:11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.       X X
Rev 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.       X X
Rev 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.       X X
Rev  21:8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.       X X
Rev 22:15 Concerning entrance into the Hold City of the new Jerusalem: "Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood."       X X

(2) There might be the possibility, noted by many Commentators, that besides the traditional interpretation is the question that this might be also pointing at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19).  At the supper, there are people, clothed in the correct wedding garment, present whom will reign with Christ during the 1000 year kingdom on Earth before the new Earth and new Heavens and then there people who are in Heaven but do not have any merit (not Served Christ during their lifetime but still Saved) to reign with Christ so they are cast out of the banquet and will not reign with Christ during the 1000 year kingdom.  The additional meaning possibility is derived because the question is whether the foolish virgins are saved or not saved?  Regarding the virgins, they might be similar to those who are in the church of Thyatira who are told will go through the tribulation unless they repent but they are still Christians.


Christian Annihilation is the belief that those who are condemned to the second death are annihilated after some interim of punishment in the Lake of Fire.  In otherwords, they no longer exist as their consciousness is extinguished.  The Christian Annihilationist argues the question is whether or not Jesus Christ saying the punishment is eternal in its length or the effect of conscious existence is ended. 

From the sections above with the numerous scriptures, there does not show any support for punishment that is temporary or cessation of being.  Further more, if we read the scriptures below, it confirms there is no end.   Therefore Annihilation is false.

  Passage Lake of Fire No end?
Matthew 10:28 "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell."  The word “destroy”: avpo,llumi apollumi, in the Greek means “to be delivered up to eternal misery”
(Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). Nowhere is ever used to mean “annihilate”
Matthew 25:46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”   In the Greek “eternal” is aivw,nioj aionios, everlasting, eternal. X X
Daniel 12:2 But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. X X
Revelation 14:11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name. X X
Revelation 20:10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.  Note that the Beast and False Prophet were thrown into the lake of fire 1000 years earlier and they are still there.  The two were not annihilated. X X


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