hellPhoto credit: Samuelraj


Hell must be avoided by every person.

By Craig C. White

Hell is a subject that receives little attention. I would say that most of us don’t understand it as fully as the bible teaches. Hell is two places; one temporary grave for the wicked soul, and one everlasting harbor of torment for both body and soul. This commentary defines the words that express hell then describes their usage. Definitions are from Strong’s Hebrew Greek dictionary.

Sheol is the Hebrew word translated hell or grave or pit in the Old Testament.

sheh-ole’, sheh-ole’

hades or the world of the dead (as if a subterranian retreat), including its accessories and inmates: – grave, hell, pit.

Sheol is a place where the unbelieving dead go until their final judgment. It is the local temporary jail as opposed to the longer term prison. Its root word means to demand or lay charge to. So each person in sheol has been charged as guilty and must make payment for their sins. The final sentencing will follow latter. Sheol is a place of fire. It is a place in the depths of the earth.

The fires of sheol will one day burn the earth along with everything on it (Mal 4:1-2, 2Pe 3:10).

Deu 32:22  For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.

Sheol is a place for the wicked.

Psa 9:17  The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.

Jesus went to sheol for you. Thankfully he didn’t stay there.

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

Earthly wealth will not endure sheol.

Psa 49:14-17  Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling.  15  But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.  16  Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased;  17  For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him.

Every man must face sheol. God delivers the humble from its terror.

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

A prostitute will lead a man to sheol.

Pro 5:3-5  For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil:  4  But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword.  5  Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.

There is plenty of room in sheol.

Pro 27:20  Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.

The honor, wealth, and power of ungodly men will be swallowed by sheol.

Isa 5:14  Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.

Do you have an agreement with death and sheol? It is null and void!

Isa 28:18  And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.


Hades is a Greek word translated hell or grave in the New Testement.


unseen, that is, “Hades” or the place (state) of departed souls: – grave, hell.

Hades comes from two Greek words meaning not; and known, or understand, or beheld. It is the place where the souls of the dead cannot be seen by the living. It is used to describe sheol, the place of the wicked dead. Like sheol it is in the earth. While all people good and bad go to the grave, hades describes the unfortunate destination of the wicked.

Don’t worry too much about your present poverty. It isn’t your final state. Seek God and he will care for you. Below, the rich man looks up from Hades and is in torment. He isn’t just thirsty, he is burning in flame. Abraham’s bosom is the other side of the grave. It was God’s provision for the faithful in Old Testament times. Abraham’s bosom was under the earth but was carried away to heaven with Jesus at his resurrection (Psa 68:18, Eph 4:8-9). Today the believing soul is with Jesus in heaven (2Co 5:8).

Luk 16:22-24  And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;  23  And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  24  And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

Jesus has the keys to hades and death. He can deliver you from both.

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

Hades is the temporary holding cell before an unbeliever’s final sentencing. Hades will be at last cast into the “lake of fire”.

Rev 20:12-15  And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.  13  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.  14  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.  15  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.


Tartaroo is a Greek word that is used only once in the New Testament. It is translated as hell in English.


From Τάρταρος Tartaros̄ (the deepest abyss of Hades); to incarcerate in eternal torment: – cast down to hell.

Tartaroo also describes sheol or hades. It is in the earth and is a place of torment. Tartaroo holds a more severe definition than hades in that it describes its deepest darkest depths.

God incarcerated angels in tartaroo for their sin with man shortly after creation (Jud 1:6). These angels will be released on earth to torment the wicked during the seven years “Great Tribulation” (Rev 9:1-11).

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


Sheol, hades, and tartaroo are words describing the same place. There are also other words that describe this place. They are often expressed as pit in the Old and New Testament. Their definitions include hole (especially one used as a cistern or prison): – cistern, dungeon, fountain, pit, well, a pit (especially for catching animals), corruption, destruction, ditch, and grave. Bottomless pit is defined as the depthless abyss (Rev 9-11, Rev 11:7, Rev 17:8, and Rev 20:1-3).

The pit is a trap each person must escape. Actually the pit can not be escaped, it can only be avoided.

Isa 24:17  Fear, and the pit, and the snare, are upon thee, O inhabitant of the earth.

Jesus will send the nations that are Israel’s enemies down to the pit at his coming. Notice that the pit is in the depths of the earth.

Eze 26:20  When I shall bring thee down with them that descend into the pit, with the people of old time, and shall set thee in the low parts of the earth, in places desolate of old, with them that go down to the pit, that thou be not inhabited; and I shall set glory in the land of the living;

Jesus has the key to the bottomless pit (Rev 1:18). During the “Great Tribulation” he gives it to an angel to release fallen angels from hell to torment the wicked on earth (Rev 9:1-11).

Rev 9:1-2  And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.  2  And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.

A beast in bible prophecy is an ungodly gentile principality or empire. The next world empire will be a revived Roman empire. During the seven year tribulation period all world power will fall to one man; the antichrist. So he will be the final beast (Rev 17:11). His spirit will ascend from the bottomless pit to wreak havoc on earth and then go to the eternal place of judgment.

Rev 17:8  The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

Satan will be cast into the bottomless pit for one thousand years (Rev 20:1-3).  One thousand years is a long time but it isn’t forever. The bottomless pit is temporary.

Rev 20:3  And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.


So far we have looked at the transitory holding cell of the wicked. Now we will look at the everlasting terminus.

Gehenna means valley of Hinnom. Hinnom was a Jebusite man. King David purchased the temple mount and hill of Ophel (City of David) from him. The Hinnom valley wraps around the bottom half of the city of Jerusalem. Hinnom is a Hebrew word. It is used 12 times in the New Testament in the Greek form Gehenna. It is translated into English as hell.


Of Hebrew origin; valley of (the son of) Hinnom; gehenna (or Ge-Hinnom), a valley of Jerusalem, used (figuratively) as a name for the place (or state) of everlasting punishment: – hell.

Gehenna is different than sheol or hades. Gehenna is the final and everlasting place of punishment for those who reject God. It is a place of fire and decay. Both soul and body are cast into Gehenna. Gehenna is not in the earth. As a matter of fact I think Gehenna may be in heaven. Read my commentary titled “Map of Heaven”.

The valley of Hinnom was where the Hebrews sacrificed their children in the fire of false gods. In Jesus’ day it was a burning dump.

2Ch 33:6  And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.

Jesus gave the classic description of Gehenna, the final place of judgment.

Mar 9:44-46  Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.  45  And if thy foot offend thee, cut it 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:  46  Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

Unlike sheol or hades both body and soul are cast into Gehenna.

Mat 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.


Lake of fire is only found in the book of revelation. It is made of two Greek words meaning pond or lake (having nearness of shore); and fire.

The lake of fire is the same as Gehenna. After the final judgment each person is thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the final and eternal destination of the rebellious.

The antichrist and false prophet will be the first to be thrown into the lake of fire.

Rev 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.

  Satan will finally be thrown into the lake of fire. Then every ungodly person will be judged by Jesus Christ and also be thrown into the lake of fire.

Rev 20:10-15  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.  11  And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.  12  And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.  13  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.  14  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.  15  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.


Apoleia is a Greek word translated as destruction, waste, perish, perdition, die, pernicious ways, and damnation.


ruin or loss (physical, spiritual or eternal): – damnable (-nation), destruction, die, perdition, X perish, pernicious ways, waste.

Apoleia is used to describe the act of going to the final place of judgment (2Pe 3:7, Rev 17:11).

Hell is real. God created it, and Jesus is the Jail keeper. Hell must be escaped by every person. Jesus Christ provided the only way. We are saved from destruction by Jesus’ blood sacrifice. He died in our place so that we may live.

Rom 5:8  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

For more about hell read  Hell is full of Warm Worms

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For more about being saved read Saved by Grace in my new book God’s Great Expectations

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