Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hell, YES! And please do not go there!

One of my friends at work, who’s an atheist, and I had an interesting discussion about how one could be saved, and he had asked if hell was a cave, or lake of fire or something else entirely. It got me thinking, there are multiple descriptions in the Bible about Hell and the afterlife and where the souls of the departed go. I had to explain to my friend on the fly, but I decided to go deeper.

First, the traditional view of hell, both from Dante’s “Inferno” and subsequent pop culture depictions are not quite right. First, Satan and the demons (generally) do not reside there yet. Second, they do not and will not rule it, third they do not conduct the torture, but will be punished themselves.

Hell, and where we go when we die is a bit hard to unravel. What I can discern is that there is a slight difference of where the soul went before Christ died, and after. There also seems to be a different place for humans than for demons and fallen angels.

So, let's take a tour of Hell.

The Abyss (aka, Bottomless Pit, Tartarus) -

Jude 1:6

"And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day."

2 Peter 2:4

"For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;"

The Greek in 2 Peter is Tartarus, akin to the Hebrew Gehenna. (Strong's G5020). Strong's suggests that this the deepest possible darkness and also emphasizes the word "gloom". Indeed, for a creature of light, used to God's light, eternal, deep darkness is a horrible and fit punishment.

But wait, angels sinned?

Besides Satan, yes. Revelation tells us that a third of the angels fell with him, which i believe happened in the past. And these fallen angels were of course up to no good.

Back around Noah’s time, we have the whole Genesis 6, (which is very probably) angels mating with human women and producing Nephilim. Not much is said about it in the Bible, and others have gone into this extensively, thus I will not.

But, the non-canonical Book of Enoch expands on the whole issue. I am not saying this is inspired scripture, but it seems to be quoted in the Bible and in this instance this is a source that I think has some good, logical answers that are backed up in the Bible. Don't build doctrine on Enoch, but perhaps think of it as a commentary or non-inspired resource. It was quoted in the Bible, so those parts at least are something God thinks we ought to know. But just be careful, Acts 17:11.

In Enoch, (and Jude, 2 Peter) the disobedient angels (who slept with human women) were bound by God’s elect angels, and imprisoned in “chains of darkness,” another term (I believe) to describe the abyss. Probably the abyss that gets opened in Revelation 9.

This place is described in Enoch as completely devoid of light and full of sharp stones. See Enoch chapter 10, 21 for the abyss.

Revelation 9, 2 Peter 2:4

And Jude 1:6, 1:13 also offer some small glimpses into the abyss.

I would recommend checking out the different versions of the Blue Letter Bible, and reading some commentaries. But suffice it to say, the abyss is a place of darkness, evil and suffering.
We know this because even demons (the spirits of the Nephilim?) are afraid to be sent there. They begged Christ not to send them to the abyss before it was time.

I presume this is because they know the horrors that await them there.

From the descriptions in the Bible and Book of Enoch, we can see that people do not go to the abyss when they die, nor do Nephilim. The demonic spirits of the Nephilim are here on Earth until the appointed time. That is suspicion based on a passage in Enoch. Again, not doctrine, but it explains the difference between fallen angels and demons and is a decent working theory.

The abyss, the dark pit, is reserved solely for the disobedient angels. Later on at the appointed time, it seems the Nephilim will be sent there, probably during the time when Satan will be bound there for 1000 years. This is speculation on my part.

Chuck Missler speculates that the abyss (aka bottomless pit) is a physical place in the exact center of the earth. That makes a good amount of sense, but causes a problem if you want to know where lava comes from.

Hades (aka, Sheol, the grave)

So from the beginning, when men and women died, where did they go? We know from the Bible, from our Lord Jesus’ own mouth, that there were two places where the dead went during the Old Testament times. There was Abraham’s Bosom where the righteous went, and then where the rich man went. The rich man went to the place that we might readily identify as a type of Hell. See Luke 16:20 – 31

Here, the rich man went to hell, or Hades.

There is a great break down of where the rich man went.

Hades seems to be just a place where bad people/the unfaithful went when they died. This is a place of torment and unquenchable fire, and it’s separated from Abraham’s Bosom by a large chasm (quite possibly this chasm is the Abyss mentioned earlier). It does seem that communication between the two was possible, but perhaps only between Abraham and those in torment, or perhaps just this one time to serve as a lesson. Many believe this was a literal event because a person, Lazarus, is named. When Christ spoke in parables, He tended to not use names.

Abraham's Bosom (Paradise)

On the other side of the chasm, Abraham’s Bosom was essentially paradise, or at least the absence of torment. This is where those who were faithful to God went when they died. Recall that it was Abraham's faith in God that saved him, not his good behavior.

See the Luke 16:20 story. Here is another link that describes Abraham’s Bosom.

Not much to say here, except that one would rather go here, than to the place where the rich man went.

A little further study can be found in the Book of Enoch. Again, I’m not saying this is authoritative, but it seems to me that this might be an expanded view of the Luke 16 view of the afterlife before Christ’s death and resurrection.

See Enoch 23 – 26.

Essentially it describes a separation of faithful and unfaithful dead until the time of the final judgment. The unfaithful place is horrible, and seems to be separated by an accursed valley. This selection seems to be more of a description of the place of torment, than what would be Abraham’s Bosom. Again, it’s not scriptural, but it seems to be somewhat in line with what Christ said about the afterlife.

What about after the death of Jesus Christ?

Then Christ died, and was soon resurrected. What happened during those three days, and how does it affect us now? Here is one link that tells us one possibility.

Here they breakdown Biblical beliefs about death in general, and there are some good scripture references. It’s also a great summary of everything I just wrote. I just wanted to go over it for my own benefit I guess, and try to bring out some things that the other author may have missed. Anyways, I concur that Christ went to the place of righteous dead. Luke 23:43 (as the other author said too). I would also submit though, that Christ must have instantaneously released them from Abraham’s Bosom. Upon Christ’s death, there was an earthquake, and a number of righteous dead resurrected in the graveyards.

Upon Christ’s resurrection, those dead people went into the city! I don’t really know what happened to them, or where they went, but David Guzik has a good view of it.

My thoughts are that these were recently dead people, but that all of the righteous dead must have went to Heaven when Christ visited Abraham’s Bosom. I don’t know that it specifically says in the Bible that Christ released the souls of the dead from paradise, but it seems logical based on the belief of where we go when we die now, after Christ. But first, a little detour.

There are some who believe that Christ also went and preached to the angels in prison, a sort of “in your face” to more or less rub it in the nose of the fallen angels that He did in fact win the victory. 1 Peter 3:19 says this.

David Guzik’s commentary is interesting, and addresses this. My speculation is that He had three days, He probably spent time preaching to each group. Perhaps He preached to the faithful, that they would now get their reward, and the unfaithful a message of condemnation, and a similar message to the fallen angels. I don’t know. I wasn’t there, and I am sure that someone could make a case for each of those.

Back now to what happens to the dead now that Christ has come, died and resurrected. A good start will be They actually more or less summarize what I believe to be true. I think that those who believe in Christ (myself included) we die, and our spirit goes right to the Lord. I think that Christ cleared out Abraham’s Bosom, and once it was cleared out, there’s no reason to send people there again. I could be wrong, perhaps when Christ preached to the spirits in prison, He preached to those in paradise, that He did it, and that He would resurrect them one day. Maybe people still go there when they die in Christ. The only spot I can think of that endorses the present with the Lord theory is 1) the scriptures mentioned in that article above, and 2) in Revelation, those who have been martyred are right there with Christ.

3) Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:8, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

My belief is that we go right to God, and await the resurrection of our bodies in the presence of the Lord.

Lake of Fire (Traditional Hell, Eternal torment)

Lastly, we have the final version of hell. The lake of fire, sometimes (I believe also) referred to as Gehenna and the second death. For more on Gehena, go here

It’s more or less a visual picture of the final, eternal punishment. The lake of fire,

is pretty much self explanatory, but it’s more or less where all of the wicked human and angel alike will go at the end of the world.


It is from here that we get the pop culture view of hell as a lake of fiery sulfur and torment, and it is here we see that Satan and the demons will be tormented, not doing the tormenting. Those in the abyss, and those in the bad part of Hades will be sent to the lake of fire. As will the actual state of death and the location of Hades. How, i don't know, but God said it.

The alternative

Revelation also describes the new Heaven and new earth, for those who believe. Read Revelation 21 for more details.

The Bible is very clear, that believing in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection are the only way to avoid torment and the lake of fire. If you have not accepted Christ as your Lord and savior, then please consider doing so.

If you would like to give your life to Christ, just pray now and accept Him into your heart and into your life as Lord. Renounce sin, and turn towards life.

Once you have received Him in faith, you are free from the power of death in your life, and free to do good works for the Lord. If you accept Christ, find a good church (that follows the Bible) and get baptized.


  1. Excellent post. I find it amazing that there was a time where people were righteous in God's eyes, before Jesus came to the Earth. Clearly, the ancient Isrealites made it to heaven without a belief in Jesus. But now, everything has changed. Jesus was a response to Satan's grasp upon the people of the Earth. Satan will not accept second fiddle to anyone and therefore a choice will be required of everyone upon Earth, worship Satan or worship the trinity, Jesus. People have pondered, can Muslims, Hindus, modern day Jews go to heaven then. The answer is a resounding 'yes' because God loves all people of the Earth and wants them to return to Him. However, there is a twisted caveat. Only those who eventually accept Jesus will go to heaven, which pretty much requires what would be considered a conversion. So in the end, can you really call them Muslims, Hindus, etc? In other words, they can go, but not while retaining their current belief set.

  2. Sorry, got a little side tracked from your original posting in my above comment. I often wondered if Hell was not intended as a "punishment" (even though the result is torturous), but the simple fact that the evil souls are separated from God. I have learned over time, that our souls are eternal, all souls... good souls and evil souls. All souls have eternal life. It is our body, which is on loan from God, which is temporary. The question is how will your soul spend its eternity?

  3. Hopeful, thanks for your comments, it's always a pleasure to see you online!

    You bring up some good points, that I think people really ought to consider.

    I would like to clarify for any readers where I stand on that thought. I would say that Christ was not an afterthought or reaction to anything Satan did necessarily.

    We know from the Gospel of John (I believe) that Christ was there and with/part of God from the beginning. Dr. Michael Heiser's Divine council and Robert Luginbill's Satanic rebellion explain it much better than I ever could. The main take away is that God planned from the very beginning what would happen, especially regarding Jesus.

    As far as being righteous before Christ came, what made them righteous was not anything they did necessarily, but by their faith that God would redeem them one day. Paul mentions Abraham (and i would submit by proxy the old testament saints) in Galatians, and that it was his faith that saved him.

    So, the same thing that saved us, is the same thing that saved the OT saints. For them, faith in the future, coming kinsman redeemer, for us faith in the revealed redeemer, Christ the Lord as He was revealed in scripture.

    As far as any gaining Heaven after Christ, without proclaiming Him Lord in their life. One must consider, do they have access to the gospel? Another thing to consider is that our God is a God of miracles, and those without access to the gospel if they truly seek God, I think that His love and mercy would drive Him to act. There are numerous stories of Muslims receiving dreams of Jesus, and eventually coming to faith because of it.

    And look at the testimony of Stephen Yulish, a Jew by birth. He also had a vision of Christ, and eventually came to faith. So, as hopeful said, only those who come to Christ can inherit the Kingdom of God.