Bible Questions and Answers

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Hell in scripture is the grave.

The Old Testament was written in Hebrew.

The Hebrew word translated ‘hell’ is ‘sheol’ which occurs some 65 times.

The AV translators translate it as ‘hell’ 31 times; ‘grave’ 31 times and ‘pit’ 3 times.

The word ‘sheol’ first appears in Genesis 37:

Genesis 37:35 And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him (Jacob); but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.

Jacob is clearly referring to the grave.

This confirms the sentence passed on Adam and his progeny in Genesis:

Genesis 3:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

The New Testament was written in Greek.

Three different words are translated as ‘hell’.


‘Gehenna’ was the ‘valley of Hinnom’ (Hebrew ‘gey hinnom’), south of Jerusalem, where the filth and dead animals of the city were cast out and burned; it is a symbolic description of a rubbish dump.

In the Greek it is a transliteration of the Hebrew place name directly into Greek, the English translators, for no justifiable reason that I can discern, have chosen to translate it as ‘hell’ rather than transliterate the name as the New Testament writers did.

It is translated ‘hell’ 12 times (3 times used in conjunction with the Greek ‘pur’ – fire)

Mt 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 fire.


It is so translated in the following places: - Matthew 5:29,30;10:28:18:9;23:15;23:33. Mark 9:43,45,47. Luke 12:5. James 3:6 


Hades in Greek (mythology) was the god who reigned over the dead in the underworld, the realm of the dead.

Hades is translated ‘hell’ 10 times and ‘grave’ once.

1Corinthians 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave , where is thy victory?

The other places where ‘hades’ is translated as ‘hell’ Matthew 11:23; 16:18. Luke 10:15; 16:23. Acts 2:27,31. Revelation 1:18; 6:8; 20:13 

Hades correlates with sheol.

Acts 2:27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell , neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell , neither his flesh did see corruption.

Peter is quoting Psalm 16:

Psalm 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell ; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Peter’s explanation is that David is referring to Christ who was placed in a grave and raised from the dead before his body corrupted into dust.


2Peter 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;

Tartarus in Greek (mythology) was the deepest region of the world; beneath the underworld itself. There was supposedly the same distance between Hades and Tartarus as between Heaven and earth. Tartarus was the deepest dungeon of Hades, where the mythical gods of Olympus confined their prisoners.

The parallel passage in Jude:

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.

Peter and Jude are not speaking of angels of heaven but referring to the incident of Korah Dathan and Abiram. Leaders who rebelled against Moses.

Numbers 16:32 And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.

33 They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit (sheol-grave), and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.

My suggestion is that Peter (not believing in Greek mythology) uses the word ‘tartarus’ because men are generally buried in relatively shallow graves but in the case of Korah, when the earth opened he was swallowed much deeper into the ground than a normal burial.

Hell in Old English literature.
In defence of the translators, the word ‘hell’ at one time meant ‘to cover’ and was used of the grave in the English language. Gradually this meaning has dropped out of the word. We find in ancient English literature reference to the ‘helling’ of a house, meaning not the burning of the house, but the thatching of it. Similarly we read of the farmer ‘helling his potatoes’, the meaning of the expression being not the roasting of potatoes, but the putting of them into a pit and covering them for preservation from frosts, etc., until needed.


Heaven we can see above us; in which are the Sun moons and stars and innumerable galaxies stretching we know not how far. This was created by God ‘in the beginning’.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Psalms 33:6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

The heavens are immeasurable and how they are sustained is undiscoverable (by man).

Jer 31:37 Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.

The heaven stands as a testament to God’s power and glory and belongs to Him.

Psalms 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

Deuteronomy 10:14 Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD’S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.

Heaven is the dwelling place of God and the angels, though we have no means of seeing or detecting Him or them.

Psalms 103:19 The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.

Isaiah 66:1 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?

1Kings 8:39 Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)

In heaven God’s will is done perfectly.

Mt 6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Because God is spirit (John 4:24) He cannot in reality dwell in a finite dwelling place. A fact which Solomon acknowledged at the dedication of the Temple.  

1Kings 8:27 But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?

God is everywhere present by His spirit (we have no way of understanding how this can be).

In this way God is said to ‘fill heaven and earth’

Jeremiah 23:24 Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.

God says of Himself that He ‘inhabits eternity’ and his plan and purpose is to dwell forever with those of a contrite and humble spirit.

Isa 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

For God to dwell in men they must be raised to partake of the divine nature.

2Peter 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Jesus spoke of God as being in heaven

Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

After his resurrection Jesus ascended to heaven to sit at God’s right hand.

Mark 16:19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.

Hebrews 10:12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

The Kingdom of Heaven

The Kingdom of Heaven (or Kingdom of God) is not in heaven. Rather it is the restored Kingdom of David on this earth. For this reason Jesus will return in the fullness of time to raise the dead and judge this world in righteousness.

Acts 1:11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

Acts 3:21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

Hebrews 10:13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.

Daniel 2:44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

Numbers 14:21 But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.

I hope this helps.

God bless