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Hell Terminology

Hell: Four distinct names are used in Scripture for “hell” as seen in our English Bibles. These for distinct names are 1) Sheol, 2) Hades, 3) Gehenna, 4) Tartaros. Other descriptive terms are “unquenchable fire,” (Matthew 3:12); “furnace of fire,” (Matthew 13:42, 50); “outer darkness,” (Matthew 8:12); “eternal fire” (Matthew 25:41); “the lake that burns with fire and brimstone,” (Revelation 21:8); and “the lake of fire,” Revelation 19:20.

The nature of hell is one of endless torment and intense suffering. Scripture reveals that it is a place of crying and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:42), utter loneliness (2 Thessalonians 1:9), shame and contempt (Daniel 12:2), and ruin (Matthew 10:28). Other Biblical descriptives include “perish” (John 3:16), and “perdition” (2 Peter 3:7). Also, the nature of this torment is eternal. Matthew 25:46 reveals, “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” All the suffering in hell will be experienced by living, conscious people, (Luke 16-31; Revelation 14:10, 11.)

It should be understood in light of the above and other Scripture passages that the wicked are never burned up or annihilated. No Scripture teaches the annihilation of the wicked. Such is a cultic doctrine.


Question to Ponder:

A. Will the Unsaved by annihilated? Matthew 25:46; Revelation 14:11.
Answer: No.

B. Will the unsaved ever get saved in eternity: Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:14, 15
Answer: No.

C. Will believers be happy in eternity knowing that friends and relatives are in hell being in great torment? Revelation 21:4
Answer: Yes.


Sheol: This term is used 65 times in the Old Testament. It is translated as hell, grave, or pit. It describes the realm of the dead, the context determines whether the grave or actual hell is the intended thought. Sheol should be distinguished from “qeber,” the Hebrew term for the grave apart from the thought of the realm of conscious spirits of the dead.

Hades: The Greek term “Hades” is the equivalent to the Hebrew “Sheol.” This is evident from the LXX where “Sheol” is generally translated with “Hades.” The word “Hades” is used 11 times in the New Testament and is used to describe the place of the dead, the unsaved in particular. It is a place of consciousness, torment, vivid memory, and intense desire. Those in Hades await the Great White Throne and eventual sentence in the Lake of Fire for eternity. The New Testament uses are: Matthew 11:23; 16:18; Luke 10:15; 16:23; Acts 2:27, 31; 1 Corinthians 15:55; Revelation 1:18; 6:8; 20:13, 14.

“Hades is a place where the unsaved go upon their physical death to await the resurrection, judgment, and final doom…During the pre-cross period all the people went to Sheol, the Old Testament counterpart of Hades… Luke 16:19-31, the record of a historical event reveals, that Hades was divided into parts, including a place for the righteous (‘Abraham’s bosom’) and a place for the wicked, separated by an impassable gulf (v. 26). Upon His ascension, Jesus took the inhabitants of Abraham’s bosom to Heaven (Eph. 4:8). Today believers who die do not go to Hades but go directly to be with the Christ (Philippians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 5:8). This is probably what Jesus had in mind when He said that the gates of Hades would not prevail over the church (Matthew 16:18).” F.L. Barackman, Practical Christian Theology, p. 369.

Tartaros: The word “Tartaros” is found only once in the New Testament, in 2 Peter 2:4. It is a place of torment though this single text relates it to certain fallen angels or demonic beings. The influence of liberalism, and mythology should be resisted, and one’s views of Tartaros need to be founded only on Scriptural revelation.

Gehenna: “Gehenna” is used 12 times in the New Testament. These references are: Matthew 5:22, 29, 30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33. Mark 9:43, 45, 47. Luke 12:5. James 3:6.

This term is a designation for eternal punishment. It is taken from the Hebrew “ge hinnom,” the Valley of Hinnom which is located on the south and eastern sides of Jerusalem. As a geographic location, it was the place where infants were sacrificed to the god Molech by fire. The valley eventually became a place where garbage and the dead bodies of animals and criminals were burned. The garbage fires burned continually, making this a suitable illustration of eternal punishment. The term “Lake of Fire” is closely associated with Gehenna. We may think of Hades as the local jail while Gehenna is the penitentiary. Hades is eventually cast into the Lake of Fire (Gehenna). Rev. 20:14.

Other Terms: Several other Scriptural terms are used to describe Hell. These include abyss (Luke 8:31; Revelation 9:1, 2, 11); unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:12; Mark 9:43, 48); furnace of fire (Matthew 13:42, 50); outer darkness (Matthew 8:12,; 22:13; 25:30); eternal fire (Matthew 25:41); the lake that burns with eternal fire and brimstone (Revelation 21:8); and the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20; 20:10, 14, 15). All the unsaved of all dispensations will be cast into the Lake of Fire following the Great White Throne of judgment mentioned in Revelations 20:11-15. This is the final and eternal state of torment for the unsaved.

Doherty, David. D.B.S., Th.D. Introduction to Eschatology. Principles of Interpretation & Terminology. Pgs. 8-9. New Brunswick Bible Institute (NBBI). 2005.

I hope this answers and explains some of your questions for those who asked for me to do this.

Blessings in Christ Jesus our Lord,
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thats all really interesting stuff chris! thanks for posting it. How do you know that people in heaven won't be sad for their family that has gone to hell? Are you sure god won't ever let people out of hell?
Once in hell you are there forever. If God let people out of hell, He would be a liar for saying Jesus is the only way and we know God cannot lie. Look at question B: Will the unsaved ever get saved in eternity: Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:14, 15.

Answer: No.

Matthew 25:41, ""Then He will also say to those on the left hand, "Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:"

Revelation 20: 14, 15, "Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.


There will be no tears, sorrow, etc. in heaven. We can only be happy in heaven! There will be no more bad things. Revelation 21:4, "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." That's how I know we won't be sad.

I hope that answers your question Nicole!!

God bless you,
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Staff Member
very nice Chris thank you for sharing.

Hopefully people will think about the beauty of GOD's grace and the eternal misery in, then remain faithful in Christ, repent always and witness to others by their holy lifestyle.