Sunday, February 28, 2010

HELL - Part 3 - Hell Defined

Part 3 - HELL
Hell Defined
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |


Today we will examine by biblical definition the different places that the King James Bible translated into the word hell.

1.      Sheol (Heb / Hades in Greek)

2.      Torment

3.      Abyss

4.      Tartarus

5.      Paradise

We will also discuss the difference between Sheol and Gehenna, death and sleeping, and Purgatory.


The formal doctrine of purgatory (which is 100% non-scriptural), was adopted by the Roman Catholic Church in the 11th century and was given shape at the council or Trent between 1545 and 1563.

This false doctrine which is not even implied in scripture, more or less teaches that Christ’s sacrifice for sin was not enough.

But with a few good prayers, and the purchase of some candles, you could help your dead loved ones get to heaven.

BUT, the scriptures teach us otherwise.

Romans 8:1 & 2
 1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

If one belongs to Christ, his sins have been forgiven, and there is no condemnation because he has already been set free.

If you do not choose Christ while living, it is too late to choose Him in death.

Jesus makes that absolutely clear in His parable of the rich man and Lazarus.

When Lazarus died, he was carried by angels to Abraham’s Bosom (Paradise).

When the rich man died, he opened his eyes in Torment, bottom line.

Ephesians 2:8
“For by grace ye are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:”

You cannot buy it, sell it, take it, earn it, work for it, buy candles, or pray someone else out of hell.

It is the FREE gift of God, which can only be given by God, and is NON-TRANSFERRABLE!

The only “proof text” that the Roman Catholic Church has for this false doctrine, comes from the Apocrypha, which has never been accepted as God breathed scripture.  This is why 99% of bibles do not have the Apocrypha in them.

The Apocrypha was never recognized or considered scripture by the early Jews, Christians, the Church or even Jesus.

Neither Jesus nor the Apostles ever quoted from it.

This doctrine of purgatory is absurd, the road to heaven is laid out as a narrow path, through Christ alone, not on a trail which travels through hell first.

I.                   FIVE PLACES CALLED HELL

Once you die and go to SHEOL, your eternal fate has been sealed.

Psalm 115:17
“The dead Praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.”

Isaiah 38:18 (LIT)
“For SHEOL cannot thank You, nor death praise you: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for Your truth.”

Who is God’s Truth?

Jesus says, “I am the Truth...”

Once you are dead, your eternal fate is sealed.  There is not thanking God, calling on God, praising God, or hope for His Truth, which is Christ.

Christ is our Hope and salvation, but we MUST chose Him now.

a.      Sheol (HEB) / Hades (Greek)
                                                              i.      Defined - “Abode (or home) of the departed spirits”
1.      If your soul was not in your body, it would be here.
2.      There is no such thing as “ghosts” or dead lost loved ones wondering the world looking for the light.
3.      These “ghosts” are either demons, fallen angels, or the figment of someone’s imagination.
a.      “but they know things only my uncle would know...”
b.     They are everlasting creations of God who have all the time in the world to follow people around and cause them to fail.
c.       They will lie to you, and deceive you and try to cause you to choose any other path but God’s.  Satan showed us this in the beginning when he lied to Eve.
                                                           ii.      Explained
1.      All departed souls go to a “place”, they do not wander.

Where is SHEOL?

The Bible tells us;

Job 26:5-6 (LIT)
“The departed spirits and their inhabitants are made to writhe from beneath the waters.  SHEOL is naked before Him, and is no covering for the place of ruin.”

This “place of ruin” is a reference to Torment in SHEOL.

                                                         iii.      Scripture
1.      Jesus makes this clear, and I trust what He says in the Holy Word.

Luke 16:19-24
 19"There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
 22"The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In SHEOL, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw (and recognized) Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'

They were not “asleep”, they were awake, conscious, able to communicate, and understand as well as hear, taste, feel, see, and though the only sense the scripture doesn’t mention is smell, I can imagine it doesn’t small good in Torment.

Jesus tells us, he looked, and he saw, he recognized, he called, he was parched, he was in agony, and the rich man was in Torment in SHEOL.

b.     Torment
                                                              i.      Defined - The side of SHEOL reserved for the wicked (such as the rich man in Jesus’ parable)

                                                           ii.      Explained - All who are not righteous in the Old Covenant (had faith in God) with God, or righteous under the New Covenant (faith in Christ) will go to Torment located in SHEOL.

Torment in SHEOL described by Job

Job 10:21, 22
“Before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death; A land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness.”

                                                         iii.      Scripture - Jesus makes it clear in Luke that this plan and holding place is still in effect in the New Covenant.

Psalm 9:17
“The wicked will be turned to SHEOL, and all the nations who forget God.”

c.       Abyss / Tartarus
                                                              i.      Defined - In Revelation 9:11 we are told of the Abyss.  Strong’s reference number #12, it means in the Greek, depthless, infernal and bottomless.

                                                           ii.      Explained - Sound familiar?  This is how Father Abraham describes the Great Chasm which separates Torment from Paradise in SHEOL.

I believe that is the location of the Abyss.

                                                         iii.      Scripture

Revelation 9:11
11They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon.

This is from the first woe during tribulation when the angel sets free the demons from this holding place.

The ruler over them is Abaddon or Apollyon, which means literally “place of destruction”, but when used as a name it means “the destroyer”.

Tartarus is also mentioned in the scriptures.  Strong’s defines Tartarus as “the deepest Abyss of SHEOL.”

I believe that Tartarus and the Abyss are the same place.

Because in 2 Peter 2:4, we are told that the fallen angels are kept in chains in darkness in Tartarus until judgment.

And in Revelation 9, we see the angel from heaven releasing the fallen for judgment, but not their many assume.  Their judgment will come at the end of Tribulation as promised in the scriptures...

The judgment that they were locked up and forced to wait for, is the judgment of man on earth during the Tribulation.

Revelation 9:1-12
1The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. 2When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. 3And out of the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. 4They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5They were not given power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes a man. 6During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.

 7The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces.8Their hair was like women's hair, and their teeth were like lions' teeth. 9They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. 10They had tails and stings like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months. 11They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon.

 12The first woe is past; two other woes are yet to come.

Therefore the scripture tells us the Abyss and Tartarus are the same place, and when it describes it as being in Sheol, we know it’s not paradise (or Abrahams Bosom), and it’s not Torment, because Torment is the same height as Paradise, it is described as the deepest has to be the Great Gulf or Chasm.

d.     Gehenna
                                                              i.      Defined - by Christ as the FINAL resting place for the wicked, as well as the aniti-christ, satan and the false prophet.
                                                           ii.      Scripture

a.      Before the Cross
                                                              i.      Righteous awaited their promised Savior

David tells us in Psalm 16:10
“For thou wilt not leave my soul in SHEOL; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”

David knows his wait in SHEOL (Paradise or Abraham’s Bosom) is only until his savior comes.  He knows that SHEOL is only a holding place for the departed spirits.

He also knows that the Holy One (savior Jesus Christ), would not see corruption (decay), that He would be resurrected before His body would decay.  This was a prophecy by David about Jesus.

Also in Psalm 86:13
“For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest SHEOL.”

The thief on the cross

Luke 23:42, 43
“And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.  And Jesus said unto him, Varily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

Jesus had not paid the price for sin yet, so all the righteous, including the thief who recognized and trusted God, would have to go to Paradise and await the savior to take them to heaven to be with God.

b.     After the Cross
                                                              i.      To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord

The unrighteous still go to Sheol into Torment, to be held until the second resurrection and the second judgment where they will stand before the Great White Throne and the books will be opened for judging them.

a.      Sheol & Gehenna
                                                              i.      Before judgment - SHEOL (a holding place)
                                                           ii.      After Judgment - GEHENNA (the final eternal hell)

b.     Death & Sleeping
                                                              i.      Sleeping referred to the flesh, not the soul

Acts 5:10
“Then fell she down straightaway at his feet, and yeilded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.”

Was she taking a nap?

Was her soul still present in her body?

When we die, our souls immediately are “yeilded up” and we go to a place.

                                                           ii.      Jesus tells us when we die, our souls immediately “go” to a place
                                                         iii.      Because some think we “sleep” when we die;
1.      People are afraid of being in a coffin
2.      People are afraid of funeral preparations
3.      People are afraid of cremation

Job describes death and the resurrected body he will receive

Job 19:25, 26
“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the letter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.”

We do not sleep when we die, but our flesh waits to be raised at the first resurrection to be made perfect.  We wait with the Lord.

It doesn’t matter what happens with our bodies, whether burned, deformed, lost at sea, they will all return to the dust eventually.  The Lord’s body would have seen decay as well, according to scripture, if He hadn’t been raised from the dead by God after three days.

If you want to know more about this, my book “Heaven & Hell” explains all of this, and has all of these scripture references.

It is available from the church website, and on, and is now available on Kindle.


There is a “here after” and we are ALL going to exist for the rest of eternity.

Where are you going to be?

Are you right with the Lord today?

Luke 12:4-5
 4`And I say to you, my friends, be not afraid of those killing the body, and after these things are not having anything over to do;
 5but I will show to you, whom ye may fear; Fear him who, after the killing, is having authority to cast to the gehenna; yes, I say to you, Fear ye Him.

Are you right with your brother?

Matthew 5:21-23
 ...anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca, (Aramaic term for having hatred towrds)' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!'(A con or deceiver) will be in danger of the fire of GEHENNA.
 23"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,