Archive for March 27th, 2011

So, with the recent furor over Love Wins, and with varying degrees of hand-wringing or gnashing of teeth over the certainty in hell’s manifestation, it probably makes some sense to outline what the Bible actually says about hell, some of the different views of hell, and why loosely holding your beliefs about pareschatology – the study of what happens between death and the final state of humanity – is probably the best course.

Hell in the Bible

First off, you won’t find any references to hell in the Old Testament.  The only thing you will find referenced after death is Sheol, which is translated as “the grave”.  All people die and go to Sheol, the righteous and unrighteous.  Their bodies remain there, but they are still viewed as individual souls.  In the Septuagint, this word is translated Hades – a word used a few times by Jesus – where Hades, in Hellenistic mythology was a state of limbo where all souls dwelt, awaiting the final judgment.

In the New Testament, Hades is mentioned five times – Matthew 16:18 (in this case referring to a literal place in Caesarea Philippi called the “Gates of Hades”), Revelation 1:18; 6:8; 20:13; 20:14. This is also translated as “death”, “the grave”, and “the pit”.

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