Spiritual Realms (Hell)

This entry is part 11 of 20 in the series Spiritual Realms


The Term

·         Origins

o   “Hell” is an English word from the Saxon “helan,” which means “to cover” or “to hide”.  Being an English term, it is somewhat unique in this study, as there is no single underlying Hebrew or Greek term which can be traced biblically to coincide with the use of “Hell” in some translations.

o   The Norse Goddess “Hel” was the goddess of the dead in mythology.  Hell was adapted originally as a generalization for the place of the dead, and would have been a good term to use for the general translation of Sheol/Hades for that reason. 

·         Issue with Hell in translation

o   The issue with the use of “Hell” today is that its English meaning has gradually transformed, indicating to most not a generalized “place of the dead,” but rather a localized “place of the unrighteous dead.”  When one speaks Hell today, the immediate thought produced is a picture of raging fire and punishment, which is inconsistent with many scriptural uses of Sheol/Hades, which were places of both punishment and peace.

·         Issue with Hell in locality

o   Even among today’s understanding of Hell being a place for the unrighteous there still remains an uncertainty in its usage:  does it refer to the unrighteous side of Sheol/Hades (which is temporary and not as severe as the Lake of Fire) or does it refer to the eternal Lake of Fire?

·         A difficult term to use in many translational circumstances

o   Because of these issues, Hell is not the best word to use in many places in scripture where some translations use it.  It is the author’s estimations that Hell’s common use today is geared toward the eternal lake of fire in its general use.  It could easily, therefore, lead to misinterpretations for biblical students who read it without understanding the underlying Hebrew or Greek terms being translated.

Examples of misleading interpretations using “Hell”

Many times, “Hell” is used to denote Sheol/Hades, and other spiritual realms which is not a fully accurate understanding with today’s use of the term “Hell.”

Psalms 16:10 (KJV)
10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (Sheol) [NIV States “abandon me to the grave”]; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

This text is quoted by Peter in Acts 13 as a Messianic prophecy.  If “Hell” is the place of the punishment of the wicked, then Jesus could be understood to have gone there.  This is one of the places where the Word of Faith teacher’s theology is formed; by a misinterpretation (the author believes it is intentionally so) of this text.  They then teach that Christ went to Hell to suffer for the sins of man.

Jonah 2:2 (KJV)
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.

This could lead one to believe that Jonah was at the doors of eternal punishment when he cried out to the Lord, which is not what is being depicted.  He was at the doors of Sheol, to be certain, but this statement intends no inference about Jonah’s eternal position as being of the judgments of Abbadon or of Hell.

Matthew 16:18 (KJV)
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.

This is a highly quoted verse, yet misunderstood by many.  A proper understanding of “Hades” brings an entirely different exegesis to this text.

Some understand that “the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it” is a sign that Satan’s kingdom shall not prevail against the church.  While this is a true sentiment, it is not what is being taught in this text.

o   Satan’s kingdom is not synonymous with Hell – be that Abbadon or the Lake of Fire.  Hell- by any common definition- is GOD’S place of judgment.  Some think of Hell as Satan’s front office, however this approach completely miscomprehends scripture.  Hell is God’s place of judgment, not Satan’s.  It is in fact a place of judgment which God created “for Satan and his angels” to be punished in.

o   Matthew 25:41 (NIV)
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

The text states that the “gates of Hades” shall not prevail against the church.  This yields an entirely different exegesis.  Hades is the place of the dead.  Thus, the gates to “place of the dead” shall not prevail against the church.  Jesus states:

Revelation 1:18 (NIV)
18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

The keys of “death and Hades” refer to the physical and spiritual deaths.  Jesus statement to Peter “the gates of Hades shall not prevail” is a statement that the church will never be abandoned to Hades, for Jesus will conquer it.

Series Navigation<< Spiritual Realms (The Abyss)Spiritual Realms (Gehenna) >>

Leave a Reply

Locations of visitors to this page

ReturningKing.com Books