Is Hell Real?

Paul Spiter

Rev. 20:11-15

Introduction: There are three Greek words in the New Testament translated by the one English word “hell,” which fact results in some confusion in our thinking.

I. Gehenna.

A. The Greek representative of the Hebrew “Ge-Hinnom” or valley of Hinnom.

1. Hinnom is a deep narrow valley to the south of Jerusalem,
2 where after the introduction of the worship of the fire-gods by Ahaz, the idolatruous Jews sacrificed their children to the god Molech.
B. After the time of Josiah, when this practice was stopped, it became the common refuse-place of the city, where the bodies of criminals, carcasses of animals, and all sorts of filth were cast.

1. From its depth and narrowness, and its fire and ascending smoke, it became the symbol of the place of the future punishment of the wicked.
2. The word is used in Matthew 5:22, “But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.'”
3. In our text it is refered as to the final abode of the wicked dead.


C. Gehenna is in existance now.

1. The word prepared in Matthew 25:41, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
2. The word prepared is in the perfect tense which refers to past completed action having present results.

D. Yes the fires of Hell are real.

1. Matt 10:28; “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
2. Matt 23:33; “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?”

II. Hades.

A. Hades is the place of departed spirits and means “The unseen.”

1. The Hebrew equalivent is “Sheol.”

2. In the case of the wicked dead it is the place of temporary confinement until the Great White Throne Judgment.
3. In the case of the righteous dead, it is not so because being dead means being with Christ.
Phil. 1:23; “I am towrn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ which is far better.”

B. Hades fall into two parts.

1. Paradise or Abraham’s bosom for the righteous dead.
2. There is no specific name designated except the general word Hades (Luke 16:23) for the wicked.

III. Tartarus.

A. II Peter 2:4 where the Greek word is “Tartarus,” the prison of the fallen angels that sinned at the time of the flood.

Jude 6; I Peter 3:19,20.

B. This Word is used only once in the Bible.

C. Apparently the pagans believed the wicked would dwell in Tartarus.