There Is No Hell (part 2) - The Scriptures, Waiting Around
The Scriptures Let’s take a quick but complete look at the scriptures that people use to prove hell. Since translations sometimes like to blur the distinctions between the words the original writers chose, we’re going to highlight the original words in the text.
There are three basic words translated “hell” in the New Testament: Gehenna, Hades, and Tartarus. There is one word sometimes translated “hell” in the Old Testament: Sheol.
There are also a couple of phrases (Lake of Fire, Eternal Punishment, Outer Darkness) that are important, and we’ll look at those too.
WAITING AROUND SHEOL Sheol is the word used in the Old Testament for the “home of the dead”. Both the righteous and the wicked go there. Jacob talked again and again about going there. Job asked to go there to hide from God’s anger.
Psalms 16:10 talks about the Messiah going to Sheol. Acts 2:27 quotes that prophecy, but translates “Sheol”, replacing it with “Hades”.
So Hades and Sheol are synonymous, and simply refer to the place of the dead.
HADES Hades is used in place of Sheol in the New Testament. As we’ve established, Hades refers to the “home of the dead”, the place where righteous and wicked alike go after death. Jesus went there himself (Acts 2:31).
The great revelation in the New Testament is that Hades/Sheol is temporary. Hades can have nothing to do with eternal torment, because it is a temporary place that is emptied out before the judgment (Revelation 20:13-14).
Ironically, the passage everyone brings up in discussing “hell” is about the Rich Man and Lazarus:
Luke 16:22-24 22 “Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. 23 “In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 “And he cried out and said, `Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’
Now, I don’t for a minute believe that this is a literal description of anything or anyplace. Jesus is telling a parable here about the Pharisees, and about how they won’t even pay attention to a person resurrected from the dead. So they’re going to find themselves cut off from Abraham, the very person they were putting all their trust in.
BUT, it makes no difference whether this is literal or not. This passage is clearly talking about HADES. And as we’ve seen, Hades is a temporary location that lasts only until the judgment.
Despite hundreds of sermons to the contrary, this parable has nothing to do with “hell”.
TARTARUS 2 Peter 2:4 “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into TARTARUS and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment”
This is the only place in the New Testament this word is used. All we’re told here is that it is a place for angels (not humans), and that this is not a permanent location, but a place to wait for judgment. As such, it seems similar to HADES.
Sometimes the KJV translates Hades and Sheol as “hell”. Almost all versions render “Tartarus” as hell. Yet it is plain that each of these refers to the idea of waiting for something to happen. None of them refer to an eternal state.