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 (Gen 37:35, 42:38, 44:29, 44:31)
  • The wicked go to Sheol (Num 16:30, 16:33, Job 21:13, Ps 9:17, Ps 49:14, Ps 55:15, Is 14:9-15)
  • Job, a righteous man, said he would go to Sheol (Job 14:13, 17:13, 17:16)
  • The thief on the cross would be in Paradise with Jesus (Lk 23:43)
  • People go to Sheol, with no mention if they are wicked or righteous (Job 7:9, 11:8)
  • Jesus went to Sheol (Ps 16:10. In Acts 2:27, 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 (Luke 16:23) 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” (Matt 25:41). 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 Rev 13:8; Rev 17:8; Titus 1:1-2).

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 Rev 20:14-15 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 Matt 8:29.

The Bible seems to describe different kinds of angels, some of whom are kept captive in chains now. See 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 1:6.

After the judgment of Rev 20:10-14, 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 Luke 16:19-31, 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 (Eph 4:8-10), show the wicked that He was righteous (Col 2:15), 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. 2 Cor 5:8; Phil 1:21-23).

When Christ returns, the dead in Christ (those that are saved) will arise and reign with Him for 1,000 years (Rev 20:4-6). After this 1,000 year reign, the dead unbelievers will be resurrected to be judged by Christ (Rev 20:5,12-13). 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. Rev 20:14-15, Rev 21:8.

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. (Rev 20:14-15)

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. (Rev 20:10).


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

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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 Rev 7:17 to suggest that the people in heaven are mourning for the lost, but when read with Rev 21:4, 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 Daniel 12:1-2 it’s called “contempt”. Jer 20:11 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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