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DOCTRINE QUESTION 15
Some teachers tell us that "hell" is down in the heart of the earth. Is that right?
Unfortunately there is much confusion about this question. Man naturally does not want to believe there is a literal hell. In order to understand the Bible teachings on hell, it will help you to know that there are three different words used in the Greek for our word "hell:"
- Gehenna used twelve times, all by the Lord when He was on earth. The place was a valley where heathen people burned flesh and often their children to their gods. Jesus uses it in a figurative way to depict the eternal destiny of all those unsaved.
- Tartarus, only used once in 2 Peter 2:4. This is a special place for fallen angels as they wait their day of judgment.
- Hades, and Sheol in the Old Testament were places of departed souls as they wait the resurrection of their bodies. David said, "Thou wilt not leave my soul in "sheol" Psalms 16:10. It was never said to be the grave. It was associated with the grave, because the soul must depart from the body to be in sheol; hence, the body went into the grave.
In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus gives us a peek at two men who went down into "hades." They were both conscious beings, and yet their bodies were in the grave. One was saved and blessed, the other lost and tormented. This is a state of being after physical death, and is down in the heart of the earth. It was a prelude for those who would be raised and go to heaven, and those who would go to hell. Jesus went there for three days, "...so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Matthew 12:40. God did not leave His soul in hell (hades). "...that his soul was not left in hell,..." Acts 2:31.
Don't be deceived by false teachers. There is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun. Christ is the difference. Trust Him TODAY.
All comments and questions to: Harold Smith
Updated July 2009, by Shelly Allen