Our preacher, Mark Stinnett, publishes articles for the church bulletin each week. These articles are designed to teach, encourage and challenge the members of our congregation. His latest articles can be found below with the most recent at the end of the list. Mark has archived all of his articles on his personal blog 'MicroMarks' which can be accessed at: micromarks.blogspot.com.
In my blog for the next several weeks I plan to address a number of terms and subjects related to “Judgment.” These will accompany my sermon series on the same topic that began June 5th.
When thinking about judgment, one’s mind naturally considers God’s judgment of mankind. And naturally, people ask, “What can a person expect after death?” Along with that are questions about heaven, Hell, Sheol, Hades and many other words and phrases used to describe various aspects of judgment and the afterlife.
Let’s begin by exploring what the Bible says about Hades.
Matters become complicated immediately because English translations are not consistent in rendering the Greek term Hades. Some use the term Hell where the Greek text has Hades. Not only that, people can be influenced by ideas about Hades from Greek mythology.
Hades is a Greek word and does not have a specific meaning that can be identified with certainty. It was simply an ancient word used to identify the underworld, or the place where souls go after death. In Greek mythology, it was also the name of the god of the underworld.
Obviously, we should not assume that Hades in Greek mythology and Hades the Bible are exactly the same. Yet, it is not surprising that they are similar.
Since the Greek term behind Hades identified a place, it is transliterated into English. In other words, the spelling and sound of the Greek word is approximated by using equivalent English letters. So, the English word Hades approximates the corresponding Greek term.
Hades is found ten times in the Bible and only in the New Testament (NT). Some English translations add a footnote that Hades is equivalent to Sheol in the Old Testament. Some Bible resources say that Hades is a nickname for Hell. Neither is exactly true, though there are similarities between Hades, Sheol and Hell.
Jesus spoke of Hades as a place:
Jesus spoke out against the city of Capernaum saying, “You will be brought down to Hades,” because they did not respond to His miracles and they rejected His preaching. (Luke 10:15)
Jesus told of a rich man who mistreated a poor man named Lazarus. He said of the rich man after his death, “In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment….” (Luke 16:23)
In Acts 2:27 the Apostle Peter quoted an Old Testament prophecy referring to Jesus: “You [God] will not abandon my soul to Hades.”
Hades is where souls go after death:
At the end of the book of Revelation it is written that “death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them….” (20:13)
Hades will ultimately be destroyed:
“Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:14)
[Other verses that mention Hades by name are: Matt. 11:23; 16:18; Acts 2:31; Revelation 1:18 and 6:8.]
Nowhere does the NT indicate that righteous souls go to Hades, but rather Paradise. So, the idea of a split Hades with righteous souls on one side and unrighteous souls on the other is not accurate.
What have we have gathered from the NT about Hades?
Hades is a temporary place for the souls of those who die in unrighteousness. It is a place of torment and it will ultimately be destroyed giving up its dead to be judged by God.
June 5, 2022
This will be the second of several entries to accompany my current Judgment series of sermons. My aim is to provide detail concerning terms and ideas related to Judgment that will not be covered in detail in the sermons.
Depending on the Bible translation you use, you may have run into the term Sheol in the Old Testament (OT). Sheol occurs 65 times in the Hebrew text and generally refers to a place. For that reason, many translators have decided to keep the Hebrew term and bring its sound into English (transliteration). Others have chosen to give an approximate meaning based on the context. The latter translations use terms such as, realm of the dead, the grave, depths, death and the pit. Hell is found in the King James Version for half the occurrences of the Hebrew Sheol. Starting with the American Standard Version of 1901 this unfortunate rendering was corrected except in the NKJV which still retains Hell for Sheol 19 times.
As for its meaning, one Hebrew lexicographer* insisted that Sheol was a spelling variation of a word for a hollow or a subterranean place. That would describe what we might otherwise call a pit, sink hole or cave. Of course, our interest is in the way the term was used in the OT.
In most cases Sheol was used as a place name for the place where souls go after death.
- After Jacob was deceived into thinking that his favored son Joseph had been killed, he said, “Surely I will go down to Sheol in mourning for my son.” (Genesis 37:35) The entire phrase, go down to Sheol, refers to death.
- Fearing for the safety of his youngest son, Jacob used a curious expression to describe death saying, “If harm should befall him on the journey you are taking, then you will bring my gray hair down to Sheol in sorrow.” (Genesis 42:38)
- The Psalmist wrote: “You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.” (Psalm 16:10) The Apostle Peter quoted this verse using Hades in place of Sheol. He said the Psalm referred to Jesus.
- Job answered the words of his friends who had come to console him: “So, he who goes down to Sheol does not come up.” (Job 7:9)
- Solomon used expressive Hebrew poetry to warn his son about the seductive woman: “Her house is the way to Sheol, Descending to the chambers of death.” (Proverbs 7:27)
- Solomon also observed that “there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
- Using parallelism, in which two statements have equivalent meanings, the Psalmist may have used Sheol for death itself: “The cords of death encompassed me And the terrors of Sheol came upon me….” (Psalm 116:3)
- The Psalmist also wrote, “But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, for He will receive me.” (Psalm 49:15)
So, phrases in which the Hebrew word Sheol appear always refer to death while the word Sheol itself most often indicates the place where souls go after death. It is consistently used with a downward direction, such as, going down to Sheol. God has the power to bring someone up from Sheol, or as was written in reference to Jesus, God did not abandon Him in Sheol. Unlike Hades, Sheol is not a place of torment, but merely refers to the place where all souls go after physical death. So, the grave is an adequate rendering, but not best. Yet, the word Hell should never be used to render the OT Hebrew term Sheol.
June 12, 2022
*Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament.
The task of answering the title question is complicated and there are several reasons:
- English translations of the Bible use the word hell in for the Hebrew word Sheol, and for the Greek word Hades as well as other Greek terms.
- Some English translations are inconsistent in using the word hell for the same Hebrew or Greek word.
- Various doctrines about hell that emerged after the writing of the Bible have influenced people’s understanding.
- Bible dictionaries and other seemingly neutral resources have conflicting, even contradictory explanations of hell.
- The English word hell has a meaning that does not correspond to the way it is normally used today.
I have chosen to first look at the English word hell. Let’s see what it means and then trace things back. Next week I will focus on what the Bible says about Hell.
In general usage today the word hell refers to an eternal place of fiery torment for unrighteous souls. It is often accepted as the domain or kingdom of Satan. Interestingly, the word did not start out with that meaning.
Our English word hell had Indo-European origins as kel, meaning, to cover or to hide. It descended into German as khal- and khel-. These roots are the sources of the English terms:
- Hall: a covered (with a roof) place; and
- Hell: a covered (with earth) place.
The English word helmet comes from the same root. The word hell is also akin to the Old Norse Hel, who, in Norse mythology, was the goddess of death and the underworld (and the daughter of Loki). So, the word hell originally referred to a hidden or covered place. It is descriptive of the underworld, that is the place where ancients believed souls went after death.
The current meaning of hell was greatly influenced by the Divine Comedy, a 12th Century epic poem by Dante Aligheri. In a section called Inferno a character journeys through inferno (hell), to purgatory, and then to paradise. It is heavily influenced by Roman Catholic theology.
The English word inferno is defined as Hell or any place suggesting Hell, usually characterized by great heat or flames. Inferno comes from the Latin infernus, meaning underground, lower, infernal. And the word infernal, from the same root as inferno, indicates the world of the dead, hell, etc. (Webster)
It appears that the English word hell would have been an adequate translation for infernal or inferno as descriptive of the underworld (i.e. the place of the dead). But it became associated with Dante’s Inferno and his description of a place of eternal torture ruled by Satan.
So, based on its origins and derived meaning, the English word hell would have been an excellent translation for the Greek term Hades. Of course, that is just not how we use it today.
Even though the English word hell has had a rather mixed up past, we do know that it is used in English translations of the Bible for the eternal destination of those who are evil. To better understand what God wanted us to know about this place of final judgment against evil, I’ll next look at the Greek term gehenna, which is rendered Hell in most, if not all, modern translations of the Bible. In addition I’ll explore the biblical use of the phrase lake of fire.
June 19, 2022