“Where is Hell?”
For hundreds of years, Christian thought has been confused concerning death for at least two reasons.
First, ‘death’ as a place of waiting for judgment was eclipsed by the Catholic tradition of “Purgatory”. Souls in Purgatory were also waiting, but could be freed from their suffering through the good deeds, prayers, and gifts of the living on their behalf. At the time of the “Protestant Reformation1See Article, “Fathers of the Reformation”” in the 1500’s, a monk named Tetzel raised much money for the Church by selling “Indulgences” (certificates cancelling the debt of sin and freeing souls from Purgatory). This practice roused the indignation of another monk named Martin Luther, both he and the Reformation rejected the idea of Purgatory, and with it the notion of a temporary place of waiting for judgment.
Secondly, during the translation of the King James Bible, the Greek and Hebrew words for several different places were all translated as the word hell. The original languages of the Bible uses the words ‘Sheol’ (Hebrew) and ‘Hades’ (Greek) for the 1st death, the temporary place of departed souls awaiting judgment when they die 2Hebrews 9:27. In contrast, the word ‘Gehenna’ referred to the 2nd death or Lake of Fire, a place of eternal punishment for the wicked. In the King James Bible, however, these words are all translated as hell. This adds confusion, kind of like naming two of your children the same name…
The following verses all refer to hell as the place or region of death, or the grave.
For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [Sheol], neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Sheol is a Hebrew word, the language Psalms was written in.
Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [Hades], neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
The same verse of Psalm 16:10 is quoted in the book of Acts, which was written in Greek. They used the Greek word Hades to identify the same place as the Hebrew word Sheol.
And in hell [Hades], he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham far off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
However, the following verse and others like it refer to hell as the place of eternal punishment:
…it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell [Gehenna].
One final verse that makes it clear that Hades and Sheol refer to a different place than the Lake of Fire is:
“And Death and Hades were cast into the Lake of Fire.”