The Old Testament was written mainly in Hebrew and the New Testament was written mainly in Greek. According to the Unger*s Bible Dictionary there are three main words from these languages that are translated Hell in our King James Bibles. Those words are Sheol from the Hebrew and Hades and Gehenna from the Greek. Hell also is correctly thought of in our society as being equal to that future place called The Lake of Fire. The Unger*s Bible dictionary calls Gehenna the place of future punishment for the wicked. It will be interesting and helpful to know the basic meanings of these words.
Sheol from the Old Testament and Hades from the New Testament are identical in meaning. Sheol (Hades) means the place where the dead went, both righteous and wicked, according to Unger. It had two compartments before the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The one compartment is called Gehenna, the place of torments, the place of the wicked dead, the place where the wicked are turned and where they are fully conscious. The other compartment is called the Bosom of Abraham, Paradise or perhaps The Place of the Presence of God. It was the place where the righteous went.
According to Luke 16:26 there was a great gulf fixed between the two compartments. Verse 25 of the same chapter reveals that those in Abraham*s bosom were comforted, while those in the other compartment were tormented. Read the whole account of the rich man and Lazarus from Luke16:19-26.
Most Fundamentalists (myself included) believe that there is only one compartment of Sheol (Hades) open for business today. We believe that Jesus emptied out the Bosom of Abraham and took those believing souls to heaven after His resurrection.
Ephesians 4:8: Wherefore, he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
That verse is also a direct quote of Psalms 68:18a.
II Corinthians 5:6: Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
II Corinthians 5:8: We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
New Testament believers* spirits go into the presence of the Lord when they die. There is no scriptural reason that I know of to believe Old Testament believers are not there in His presence also.
Matthew 27:52-53: And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
There are many opinions about the meaning of this passage. You will probably have your own opinion. My opinion for whatever it is worth is that these saints were on their way from the Bosom of Abraham to Heaven.
Thirteen of the 20 times the word Hell appears in the New Testament, it is translated from the word Gehenna. Scofield Bible quote:
All but one of those were spoken by Jesus in most solemn warning of the consequences of sin. The expression is identical in meaning with Lake of Fire and The Second Death.
Sheol (Hades) where the wicked dead now are is a temporary place. They will be resurrected at the end of the world to face judgment.
Revelation 20:13-15: 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. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
I do not know if all the vivid and horrible descriptions of the punishment for sin apply to Hades or The Lake of fire or both. I tend to believe the worst of it is in the Lake of Fire following their final judgment. Some of the passages that deal with that punishment follow:
Mark 9:45-46: 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, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
Matthew 8:11-12: And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 13:41-42: The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing teeth.
Jude 13: Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
Psalms 11:6: Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.
Revelation 19:20: And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
Revelation 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.
Revelation 21:8: But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Matthew 25:41: Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
Humans will be cast into the place prepared for Satan and the fallen angels. Be aware of the difference between the fallen angels and fallen man. The fallen angels cannot be redeemed. For them there is no forgiveness, no mercy, no redemption, no salvation. They are totally without hope. Thank God those things are available to fallen man!!
Here is a quote from Major Bible Themes by Chafer and Walvoord:
Although some of those judged here (Revelation 20:13) may have been relatively good in comparison with others who were relatively bad, the lack of eternal life is the damning fact. All who do not have eternal life are judged on the basis of their works and rejection of Christ and are cast into the lake of fire. The tragedy is that, according to Scripture, Christ died for them as well as for those who are saved.
Satan will not be in charge in the Lake of Fire as some believe. He will be enduring punishment just as everyone else. It will be totally devoid of any good thing. There will be greater or lesser rewards in Heaven and there will be greater or lesser punishment in the Lake of Fire. The more evil one has done and the more frequently one has rejected Christ the greater the punishment will be. It will be just as real as the world we live in but it will seem more real because there will be no diversions -- no relief -- no rest. It will be a place of endless misery, pain and rejection. Possibly worst of all will be the endless hopelessness. I believe the people who end up there will have haunting memories of the occasions when they might have trusted Christ and changed their destiny to Paradise. I believe they will be able to see that Paradise they missed. (The rich man in Luke was aware of his own destiny and that of Lazarus the beggar.) What a place of regrets!!!
If you are a saved person, the knowledge of what you have been saved from ought to fill your heart with gratitude and praise to God!! I believe that most of you who are interested in these Bible studies are headed for Heaven. It is my desire that you look around at people you know are unsaved realizing what their future holds. I hope this knowledge will convince you to pray for them and share the gospel with them and invite them to church, anything you can do to help bring them to Christ.
II Corinthians 5:11a: Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; . . .