We first saw that several Biblical translations used the world “hell” for four main terms: Sheol, Hades, Gehenna, and Tartarus. Yet, these were not always translated consistently in this manner. The main drawback to this is that it hides some of the subtlety the original writers were trying to convey with these terms. We then explored these terms in more detail.
Sheol was the place described in the Old Testament as the place where all of the dead resided. Yet, it seems there were three areas to Sheol: the place where the righteous went, the place where the wicked went, and the place which contained certain rebellious angels. The word “pit” was sometimes used for where the wicked resided. The term “Abyss” or “Tartarus” was used for where these rebellious angels were kept. From these terms, it seemed as if there were three layers with the highest layer being for the righteous (Sheol), the second layer being for the wicked (pit), and the third and deepest layer being for the rebellious angels (Tartarus).
Hades was synonymous to Sheol and was simply the Greek word used for the same place as the Hebrew word Sheol. We also learned that Sheol/Hades is a temporary place. At some point, everyone in Sheol/Hades will be brought out, judged, and then spend eternity somewhere else. Both the wicked and the rebellious angels will be taken from their intermediate abode, judged, and then be cast into Gehenna – also known as the Lake of Fire – a place of eternal punishment.
But what about the righteous in Sheol? When do they come out? Well, that will be in our next post. They were the first to be taken out of Sheol. For us today, that event occurred in our past. The event in the previous paragraph is still in our future. Understanding when the righteous left Sheol, helps us to understand the seeming discrepancy between the Old Testament and New Testament. The New Testament teaches, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. That can’t happen if souls of the righteous today still go to Sheol. Where do they go? And when did that change? Well, come join us next week and find out. I’ll give you a teaser. Maybe paradise is more than you thought it to be.