This entry is part 13 of 20 in the series Spiritual Realms


The Term

Tarturus is a Greek term found only in 2 Peter 2:4.  Tartarus finds its roots in Greek mythology, being the lowest place of confinement in the Greek mythological underworld.  Here, Peter uses the already known term in this singular biblical reference.

Interestingly, Tartarus is also mentioned in an extra-biblical book which has relevance in this study in another place; the pseudepigraphal book of Enoch, which describes Tartarus as a place where fallen angels who procreated with human women were confined until the day of Judgment.

As a term, because Tartarus occurs only one time in scriptural texts, one must look to non-scriptural references to gain a full definition as to what the place is.

The Text

2 Peter 2:4-10 (NIV)
4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell [
Tartarus], putting them into gloomy dungeons[some manuscripts read “into chains of darkness] to be held for judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men 8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)– 9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. 10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings;



·         Tartarus is a place where sinful angels (Demons) are confined

·         Tartarus is a place of unique bondage:

o   In dungeons (or chains)

o   Being held for judgment

·         Tartarus, while temporary, is more permanent than the Abyss.

o   Those confined to the Abyss serve a sentence of undisclosed durations

o   Those confined to Tartarus are held until the day of judgment

§  It will be noted later in this work that “judgment,” as related to the wicked, is not a determination of the location of their eternal state, but rather a determination of the severity of their position in their eternal state.  (More on that later)

§  To that end, this judgment is at the final hour of history, immediately prior to the eternal state of the lake of fire, which all unrighteous men and angels will be eternally confined.


Tartarus is another place of angelic confinement.  It appears to be a place reserved for the punishment of exceptionally evil actions.  It is a place of confinement and of bondage in either dungeons or in chains (or possibly both).

Tartarus is not one and the same as the Abyss, which is a temporary sentence.  Angels being confined to the Abyss are, in all noted cases, at least, released prior to the final judgment.  Angels confined in Tartarus are not released until the final judgment.

Series Navigation<< Spiritual Realms (Gehenna)Spiritual Realms (The Great River Euphrates) >>

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