Hades, Hell & Sheol

The following is a brief article on the topic of hell. I wrote it for a person who doesn’t have English as his first language.


Question: Is there any place in the Bible that says that demons are guardians in hell?

Answer: I know of none. Let us see what the Bible says about hell.

Hell (called “Hades” in Greek, and “Sheol” in Hebrew) is the place of the dead. In the Old Testament it is described as a compartment where the dead are sent.

  • Jacob, a righteous man, said that he would go down to Sheol ()
  • The wicked go to Sheol (, , , , , Is 14:9-15)
  • Job, a righteous man, said he would go to Sheol ()
  • The thief on the cross would be in Paradise with Jesus ()
  • People go to Sheol, with no mention if they are wicked or righteous ()
  • Jesus went to Sheol (. In , Peter says that this verse is about Christ, that He died, but would be raised on the 3rd day)

There are many more passages in the Bible that speak of Sheol as a place where both the righteous and the unrighteous go after their death. Some of them are poetry, where the writer speaks of going to Sheol, but it is not clear if he is speaking in exaggeration.

We do not see similar passages in the NT, except for a brief reference to the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man, where both are taken to a place where they can see each other and converse. It is said that the rich man is taken to hades () and Lazarus is taken to Abraham’s Bosom.

Jesus said that the eternal fire (lake of fire) was prepared by God for “the devil and his angels” (). Many people mistakenly believe that the lake of fire was created for devils and *not* for humans. This is not true. If it were true, then it means that God made the universe and hell for the angels. But when man fell into sin, God had to change His plans and put man in hell. We know that God’s plans never changes, and that salvation was promised to the elect (by name) before the earth was created and sin was present. This necessarily means that hell’s full purpose for satan, his angels and man was already in the mind of God before He created hell (See ; ; ).

The word “angels” simply means “servant” and “messenger”. In this verse, I believe Jesus is talking about anyone that serves satan, whether human being (man) or spirit being (angel). All those who serve satan are thrown into the Lake of Fire. See and Is 30:33. There are several men in the Bible who are also called “angels”. (Elijah, Malachi, Hagai, etc)

Demons do not act as guardians in the Lake of Fire. Although some spirits roam the earth now, they know that they will suffer in torment when they are thrown into the Lake of Fire. See .

The Bible seems to describe different kinds of angels, some of whom are kept captive in chains now. See and .

After the judgment of , they will all be cast into the Lake of Fire.

Lastly –  there are many people who say that God does not send people to hell, that people send themselves to hell. This is simply not true. Over and over, the Bible speaks of Jesus sending people to hell and God sending people to hell because they are wicked.

Question: do both the righteous AND the unrighteous suffer in Sheol?

Answer: No. In , we see the most complete description of Sheol/Hades in the story of Lazarus and the rich man. Some would say that this story is a parable, others say it is a true story of a literal place. I don’t believe there is a strong reason to believe that it is a parable.

In this story, Sheol/Hades is a place with two compartments. On one side is Paradise (also called “Abraham’s Bosom”) where the righteous await their Messiah. They live in comfort with Abraham. On the other side is the place of torment, where the rich man is in anguish and flame (16:24). Both sides can see the other, but are separated by a great gulf.

Many Christians believe that when Jesus was dead for 3 days, He went down to Sheol/Hades/Hell to collect the believers (), show the wicked that He was righteous (), and bring the believers to heaven to the presence of God. They believe that the Paradise side of Sheol/Hades/Hell is now empty, but that the torment side of Sheol/Hades/Hell is still being filled with the unrighteous who have died. (Some Christians believe that Christians today go to the Paradise side of Sheol when they die, but most believe that Christians go directly to heaven. ; ).

When Christ returns, the dead in Christ (those that are saved) will arise and reign with Him for 1,000 years (). After this 1,000 year reign, the dead unbelievers will be resurrected to be judged by Christ (). Their sins are counted against them and then they, satan, the demons, the antichrist – and even Sheol/Hell – all of them are thrown permanently into the lake of fire. , .

Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. ()

So “hell” and “lake of fire” are not the same place, but they are the same type of torment. This is why they are often confused. Perhaps the Lake of Fire is hotter than hell? We do not know. The Lake of Fire is a place of unending fire and torment. Those who go there never rest and are continually consumed by fire. ().

Conclusion

Friends – if you ignore the word of God and refuse to repent, you will die as a servant to satan and God will judge you and send you to the eternal Lake of Fire where there will be no ceasing from your suffering and torment. Like Abraham and Lazarus in Paradise, the occupants of heaven will look upon you and will have no pity on your torment. Is 66:22-24.

Seek the Lord while He may be found. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to be the one who died for your sins. Repent of your sins and be joined to Christ.


Here is an interesting Wikipedia article on various views on hell. Some of the views presented are more Biblical than others: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_views_on_Hades


35 All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him.

Genesis 42:38

38 But he said, “My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is the only one left. If harm should happen to him on the journey that you are to make, you would bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol.”

Genesis 44:29

29 If you take this one also from me, and harm happens to him, you will bring down my gray hairs in evil to Sheol.’

Genesis 44:31

35 All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him.

Genesis 42:38

38 But he said, “My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is the only one left. If harm should happen to him on the journey that you are to make, you would bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol.”

Genesis 44:29

29 If you take this one also from me, and harm happens to him, you will bring down my gray hairs in evil to Sheol.’

Genesis 44:31

31 as soon as he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die, and your servants will bring down the gray hairs of your servant our father with sorrow to Sheol. (ESV)


30 But if the Lord creates something new, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol, then you shall know that these men have despised the Lord.”

Numbers 16:33

30 But if the Lord creates something new, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol, then you shall know that these men have despised the Lord.”

Numbers 16:33

33 So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. (ESV)


13 They spend their days in prosperity,
and in peace they go down to Sheol. (ESV)


17 The wicked shall return to Sheol,
all the nations that forget God. (ESV)


14 Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol;
death shall be their shepherd,
and the upright shall rule over them in the morning.
Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. (ESV)


15 Let death steal over them;
let them go down to Sheol alive;
for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart. (ESV)


13 Oh that you would hide me in Sheol,
that you would conceal me until your wrath be past,
that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!

Job 17:13

13 If I hope for Sheol as my house,
if I make my bed in darkness,

Job 17:16

13 Oh that you would hide me in Sheol,
that you would conceal me until your wrath be past,
that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!

Job 17:13

13 If I hope for Sheol as my house,
if I make my bed in darkness,

Job 17:16

16 Will it go down to the bars of Sheol?
Shall we descend together into the dust?” (ESV)


43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (ESV)


As the cloud fades and vanishes,
so he who goes down to Sheol does not come up;

Job 11:8

As the cloud fades and vanishes,
so he who goes down to Sheol does not come up;

Job 11:8

It is higher than heaven—what can you do?
Deeper than Sheol—what can you know? (ESV)


10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption. (ESV)


27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption. (ESV)


23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. (ESV)


41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (ESV)


and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. (ESV)


The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come. (ESV)


1:1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began (ESV)


14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (ESV)


29 And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” (ESV)


For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; (ESV)


And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— (ESV)


10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. (ESV)


19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” (ESV)


Therefore it says,

“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”

(In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) (ESV)


15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (ESV)


Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (ESV)


21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. (ESV)


Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years. (ESV)


The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection.

Revelation 20:12-13

The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection.

Revelation 20:12-13

12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. (ESV)


14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (ESV)


But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (ESV)


14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (ESV)


10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (ESV)

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3 comments to Hades, Hell & Sheol

  • This is yet another interesting “collective” topic that is a source of confusion due to the language limitations experienced when translating the original languages of the bible to the English language. What you wrote mirrors how I’ve been educated on this subject. Hades/Sheol are indeed two sides of the “after physical death” coin. One side is the side of torment, the other the side of paradise. Both are referenced in the present tense, where the souls of the deceased go immediately after physical death, at least when the texts were originally written. When Jesus hung on the cross and said, “today you will be with me in paradise”, he meant today you will be with me in the good side of sheol or so it appears to me.

    Hell, on the other hand, is a future realm, a place of final torment that will not be experienced until after the final judgment. Satan and his demons have never been to hell, nor is there any biblical indication that they want to go there. They know the torment that awaits them – they cannot and will not change (i.e. repent). That God, through an act of grace, provided an escape from hell for us cannot be understated, nor under appreciated.

    That the redeemed will look upon the damned without pity – wow. Think about that for a moment. In this life, it’s really hard not to have some degree of compassion on the lost (and eventually damned) regardless of how hideous the atrocities they’ve committed. Once dead and unrepentant, there is no hope for them, and in the afterlife – no remorse for them from those who God chose and redeemed.

    • admin

      > That the redeemed will look upon the damned without pity – wow. Think about that for a moment. In this life, it’s really hard not to have some degree of compassion on the lost (and eventually damned) regardless of how hideous the atrocities they’ve committed. Once dead and unrepentant, there is no hope for them, and in the afterlife – no remorse for them from those who God chose and redeemed.

      Agreed. I still have a hard time wrapping my head around that one, but the Bible is pretty consistent on it. Nowhere do the occupants of heaven mourn for the occupants of hell. (I’ve heard people use

      17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
      and he will guide them to springs of living water,
      and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (ESV)

      to suggest that the people in heaven are mourning for the lost, but when read with

      He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (ESV)

      , we see that they’re mourning for things that are past, not for the (then) present turmoil of the occupants of hell.) Pretty consistently, what we see is apathy and disgust.

      I never noticed it in Abraham’s conversation with the rich man until after I read Is 66:22-24. In everything Abraham says, we see complete indifference and apathy for the rich man’s condition. In Is 66, it’s called “disgust” or “abhorrence”. In

      12:1 “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (ESV)

      it’s called “contempt”.

      11 But the Lord is with me as a dread warrior;
      therefore my persecutors will stumble;
      they will not overcome me.
      They will be greatly shamed,
      for they will not succeed.
      Their eternal dishonor
      will never be forgotten. (ESV)

      calls it “eternal dishonor”.

      Yet our future apathy should have no bearing on our present passion for the lost. That’s worth repeating.

  • TMan

    How very interesting…

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