Bible Questions and Answers

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The word "hell" in the New Testament of the English Bible covers two different words in the original text: Hades and Gehenna. These two "hells" exist at different times: Hades exists only until the return of Christ, Gehenna will only exist after his return (compare Hades in Revelation 1:8 and Gehenna in Luke 12:5).

What is Hades? In most of the passages where the word "hell" occurs in English, the original is "Hades" which is just another name for the grave. It is used for rendering the Old Testament word for the grave "Sheol" when quoted in the New Testament. There is no knowledge or activity in "Hades" or "Sheol", the grave. (See Ecclesiastes 9:5,10, Ezekiel 32:27-29; Matthew 11:23; 16:18).
4-3. Who goes to Hades?

Everyone, good or bad, to sleep till the resurrection. When Jesus was buried he was laid in "hell" (Hades), and when he was raised from the dead he came out of "hell" (Hades). (See Acts 2:27-31).

What then is "Hell fire"? The New Testament was first written in Greek; and the Greek word that the Lord Jesus used when he spoke of "hell fire" is "fire of Gehenna" (See Matthew 10:28; James 3:6).

What is Gehenna? This is actually the name of a place on earth. The Valley of Hinnom or Gehenna is a real place on the south-west side of Jerusalem. In the Old Testament the Israelites sacrificed their children in the fire there (Jeremiah 32:35). In later times it was where Jerusalem’s trash was destroyed by fires that never went out. Consequently in the New Testament it is used to represent the fire in which the wicked will be destroyed as completely and as permanently as the fires of Gehenna destroy the garbage of Jerusalem. When the Lord Jesus used the word "Gehenna", he was using a kind of parable, but it is also not impossible that the judgement fire of the last day described in Old and New Testaments will literally take place in the valley of Gehenna. (See Isaiah 66:24 quoted in Mark 9:44, 46, 48; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9)

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