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There are four different words used in the Scriptures to denote the place of the dead until resurrection. These are not the eternal place for the dead, but rather the temporary place where the dead await the resurrection.


  1. The first word “Sheol” is used sixty-five times in the Old Testament, translated “Hell” thirty one times (Dt. 32:22; Ps 9:17; 18:5; Isa 14:9), “grave” thirty one times (1 Sm 2:6; Job 7:9; 14:13), and “pit” three times (Num 16:30,33; Job 17:16). This is a place of conscious existence (Dt. 18:11; 1 Sm 28:11-15; Isa 14:9). The righteous anticipated the resurrection in to the millennial age (Job 14:13-14;19:25, 27; Ps. 16:9-11; 17:15; 49:15; 73:24). The place was down in the earth and the duration is until the resurrection.
  2. The second word for the abode of the dead is “hades”. In New Testament this is the equivalent word for “Sheol,” translated “hell” in every instance but one (1 Cor 15:55), where it is rendered “grave.” This is the place of the unsaved ones, a place of misery, awaiting for the great white throne resurrection. The word “hell” does not represent the Greek word “Hades,” but it has the same meaning as “sheol.”

    Scofield interprets that hades had two compartments—one for the saved and the other for the unsaved (Lk 16:22; 23:43). The blessed dead were with Abraham, comforted and conscious, (Lk 16:25). The lost was separated by a great gulf where the rich man was. He is fully conscious, alive and in torment. Hades since the resurrection of Christ, for the unsaved is not changed—but will wait for the last judgment and will pass into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:13-14). The paradise is now in the presence of the Lord. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Jesus said to the thief on the cross—“today you will be with me in paradise.” It is believed the time of change is indicated in Eph. 4:8-10.
  3. The third word is “Tartaros” which is only used in 2 Peter 2:4 in reference to the judgment of the wicked angels. Tartaros is not sheol or hades, but only the place of the “angels that sinned” (Jude 6). It could be the verge of the material world, the extremity of the lower air where Satan is the prince (Eph 2:2). They are known as the rulers of the darkness of this world.
  4. The fourth word “Gehenna” is used twenty five times in the New Testament (Mtt 5:22, 29-30; 10:28; 18:9;23:15,33, Mk 9:43,45,47; Lk 12:5; Jas 3:6). This is the place of the eternal punishment of the wicked, generally in connection with the final judgment. The fire is the source of torment. Both body and soul are cast into it. It is called “hell’ and the valley of Hinnom. This valley has been the seat of idol worship of “Molech” where children were immolated by fire (2 Chr 28:3; 33:6). Jesus said in Matt 25:41, “Depart from me you cursed, into the everlasting fire for the devil and the angels. The Lake of fire is already existing and is awaiting for the occupants. Lake means it is in liquid form.

Rev.Dr.T.C Thomas



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