The New Testament Hell's
In the Bible we have 23 verses mentioning the word HELL, unfortunately as with a lot of words the English language can not portray the exact meaning without going in to a long explanation. In the New Testament there are 3 variations to the Word Hell, which are gehenna, hades and tatarus, all have separate meanings but have been translated under the one word Hell.
They all refer to different places or states and should not be confused when reading scripture. Below I have outlined the definitions of each Hell followed by the New Testament scriptures.
KEY to the different meanings of Hell
HADES - The abode of the dead
That which is out of sight, a Greek word used to denote the state or place of the dead. All the dead alike go into this place. To be buried, to go down to the grave, to descend into hades, are equivalent expressions.
In the Old Testament this word is usually the Hebrew word sheol, the common receptacle of the departed Gen 42:38 Ps 139:8 Ho 13:14 Isa 14:9 This term is of comparatively rare occurrence in the Greek New Testament. Our Lord speaks of Capernaum as being "brought down to hell" (hades), i.e., simply to the lowest debasement, Mt 11:23 It is contemplated as a kind of kingdom which could never overturn the foundation of Christ's kingdom Mt 16:18 i.e., Christ's church can never die.
In Lu 16:23 it is most distinctly associated with the doom and misery of the lost. In Ac 2:27-31 Peter quotes Ps 16:8-11 plainly for the purpose of proving our Lord's resurrection from the dead. David was left in the place of the dead, and his body saw corruption. Not so with Christ. According to ancient prophecy Ps 30:3 he was recalled to life. Up to the death of Christ everyone went to hades but now only the lost inhabit this place.
It is important to note as a Christian that the Greek means 'Out of sight' and a separate place to the living, which contradicts the words view that departed spirits are contactable and can be seen, able t interact with life. Once you die you are no longer part of this world and the only contact people have is with demonic spirits who pretend to be lost partners or loved ones. Up until Christ's death all the dead went to hades, where they awaited judgment, but following His death the saved no longer kept captive by this place, Jesus died that we may have everlasting life and be spared death. 2 Timothy 1:10;
10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
Death is associated with the lost and all those who have the knowledge of Christ and are called will not see hades, they will be with the Lord immediately they die 2 Corinthians 5:8 affirms this for us.
8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
There is no inclination that the souls here are asleep in hades, unaware of their condition or state. In scripture we have another word which has been translated from many meanings to one, SLEEP. In the verses below we might get the immersion we are a sleep until the Lord comes when in actual fact the word is in it's context means dead. We say it today when talking about animals, 'we put them to sleep'.
1 Corinthians 15:51 and 1 Thessalonians 4:14;
51. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
14. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
A soul is after all constantly alive, whether it be in a body or not. Talking about the Soul is not like talking about the body or consciousness which can be asleep or awake. The soul IS, and as such is constantly awake and aware. These Souls in hades will be totally aware of their surroundings and no doubt be aware of their impending doom. I am sure you are aware of the story of the rich man that died, in Luke 16 and the torment he was going through even before his judgment.
24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
I say torment not in the sense that God is punishing him before his time but he is without God and as such in torment. We are all spiritual creatures and need to be fed spiritually to give us peace within, that is why so many people today are wandering the earth in search of that 'one thing' which will bring them peace.
The word flame here is mentioned, not in the literal meaning of fire but singular. He did not have a body but was feeling thirsty and hot, he was craving to be satisfied, but being separated from God this could not be accomplished, this is true hell. The verses in Luke 16 should not be taken as literal interpretation of Hades. It was an illustration designed to be understood, containing spiritual truths as well as earthly descriptions which the human mind can grasp. This said I do believe we have been given a glimpse into the workings of eternity and the state in which souls are kept awaiting judgment.
23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
But remember this about hades it is not a place of sleep but torment, not produced externally by God as punishment but by the separation of the souls from God through sin.
But what of the saved there is no mention of us being tormented. As I said at the beginning, Hades WAS a place that all went to UNTIL Jesus dies and won the keys to death and hell. Remember what he said to the robber on the cross next to him. Luke 23:43
23. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
Hades is not Paradise by any stretch of the imagination, there fore we can only assume that there is an equal but opposite place where the saved go awaiting the time of the end, a place where God's love does reach and the souls are with the Lord as scripture states.
GEHENNA - A valley of Jerusalem, used (figuratively) as a name for the place (or state) of everlasting punishment.
(Originally Ge bene Hinnom; i.e., "the valley of the sons of Hinnom"), a deep, narrow glen to the south of Jerusalem, where the idolatrous Jews offered their children in sacrifice to Molech 2Ch 28:3 33:6 Jer 7:31 19:2-6 This valley afterwards became the common receptacle for all the refuse of the city. Here the dead bodies of animals and of criminals, and all kinds of filth, were cast and consumed by fire kept always burning. It thus in process of time became the image of the place of everlasting destruction. In this sense it is used by our Lord in Mt 5:22,29,30 10:28 18:9 23:15,33 Mr 9:43,45,47 Lu 12:5 In these passages, and also in Jas 3:6 the word is uniformly rendered "hell," the Revised Version placing "Gehenna" in the margin.
This then does not signify that the eternal punishment WILL be a physical lake of fire or valley which people will burn for eternity. Jesus used a similar that was known to the people of the time and accurately portrayed the suffering that is to come for those who do not believe.
TARTARUS - Special place reserved for certain angels described as the pits of darkness. Tartaro from Tartaros (the deepest abyss of Hell the name of the subterranean region, doleful and dark, regarded by the ancient Greeks as the abode of the wicked dead, where they suffer. It is interesting to note that in 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6 it does not say they are experiencing their eternal punishment now and that Tartarus is their final abode, but they are 'reserved', 'under darkness' until judgment.
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.
In 2 Peter 2:4 we have the word 'chains' but the actual translation is 'cavern' or 'pits'.
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;
In actual fact, tartarus may not even be a place but a state of being, totally cut off from the light and Glory of God, these angels are in absolute darkness and torment, just waiting for their eventual judgment. While Jesus was on the cross He felt the agony of darkness when God turned away (Matt 27:46 and Mark 15:34).
Matthew 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of HELL (gehenna) fire.
Matthew 5:29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into HELL (gehenna).
Matthew 5:30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into HELL (gehenna).
Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in HELL (gehenna).
Matthew 11:23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to HELL (hades): for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of HELL (hades) shall not prevail against it.
Matthew 18:9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into HELL (gehenna) fire.
Matthew 23:15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of HELL (gehenna) than yourselves.
Matthew 23:33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of HELL (gehenna)?
Mark 9:43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into HELL (gehenna), into the fire that never shall be quenched:
Mark 9:45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into HELL (gehenna), into the fire that never shall be quenched:
Mark 9:47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into HELL (gehenna) fire:
Luke 10:15 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to HELL (hades).
Luke 12:5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into HELL (gehenna) ; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.
Luke 16:23 And in HELL (hades) he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Acts 2:27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in HELL (hades), neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Acts 2:31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in HELL (hades), neither his flesh did see corruption.
James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of HELL (gehenna) .
2 Peter 2:4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to HELL (tartarus), and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
Revelation 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of HELL (hades) and of death.
Revelation 6:8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and HELL (hades) followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
Revelation 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and HELL (hades) delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
Revelation 20:14 And death and HELL (hades) were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.