Before I get into the study about hell I want to explain in detail both Hades and Gehenna so one can know the difference and see what happens in both. All references are taken from the Bible except for the Greek word definitions.
Hades is a transliteration of the word in Greek ᾍδης, ου, ὁ and it means properly, the “unseen place,” referring to the (invisible) realm in which all the dead reside, i.e. the present dwelling place of all the departed (deceased). Strong’s #86
Gehenna (Hell) in Greek is γέεννα, ης, ἡ which the transliteration is Geenna (Gheh’-en-nah). It means géenna (a transliteration of the Hebrew term, Gêhinnōm, “the valley of Hinnom”) – Gehenna, i.e. hell (also referred to as the “lake of fire” in Revelation).
Gehenna (“hell”), the place of post-resurrection torment (judgment), refers strictly to the everlasting abode of the unredeemed where they experience divine judgment in their individual resurrection bodies. Each of the unredeemed receives one at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev 20:11-15), i.e. a body that “matches” their capacity for torment relating to their (unique) judgment. Strong’s #1067
Everyone (believers and unbelievers) that died before the crucifixion of Christ went to Hades but after His death and resurrection, believers who die go to be with the Lord (Philippians 1:23). Now in Hades there were two places distinct one from the other like day and night. There was a chasm an abyss of a ravine that separated the righteous from the condemned. Let’s see this more in detail in the scriptures and what occurs in both places.
19 “There was a rich man who would dress in purple and fine linen, feasting lavishly every day. 20 But a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, was left at his gate. 21 He longed to be filled with what fell from the rich man’s table, but instead the dogs would come and lick his sores.
In the whole context of the chapter which I won’t be able to go through but the Lord Jesus Christ was speaking to those who would make money their god or preeminent in their lives instead of God and the consequence would result in going to Hades where the rich man went.
22 One day the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torment in Hades, he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off, with Lazarus at his side. 24 ‘Father Abraham!’ he called out, ‘Have mercy 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 flame!’ 25 “‘Son,’ Abraham said, ‘remember that during your life you received your good things, just as Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here, while you are in agony. 26 Besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that those who want to pass over from here to you cannot; neither can those from there cross over to us.’
Both of these men when they died went to the same place in Hades but one went to be at the side of Abraham the patriarch escorted by an angel from God and was comforted in Paradise. The rich man who lived lavishly for himself and knowing that Lazarus was in want didn’t provide him with food and clothing, showing an absence of God in his heart through faith. Hades in verse 23 clearly teaches that it is a place of torment with fire revealing it by flames which caused his extreme thirst.
The righteous couldn’t cross over to those in torment if they wanted to and neither could those in Hades cross over to the other side. Hades is a place where people who reject Jesus as Lord and savior end up until the second death, the Lake of Fire. Nowhere in this illustration did the scriptures indicate to complete annihilation after some period of time.
27 “‘Father,’ he said, ‘then I beg you to send him to my father’s house— 28 because I have five brothers—to warn them, so they won’t also come to this place of torment.’29 “But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ 30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said. ‘But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “But he told him, ‘If they don’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.’”
That place was so terrible that the rich man begged Abraham to send Lazarus from the dead (resurrection) to warn his family of the reality of Hades so they won’t end up there with him. You can see that in Hades while being in torment one can still see, hear, smell, hunger and thirst indicating all of the human senses still being active. Just like the rich man, we must warn people from coming to this place of torment but sadly for him, it was too late. The reason why Abraham didn’t ask the Lord to resurrect Lazarus to preach and warn his brother of Hades/fire was because they wouldn’t believe him anyways. An example of this is seen after Jesus’ resurrection. Some people still didn’t believe in Him.
Gehenna (the Lake of Fire) is a place of eternal fire that will never end for those whose names are not found written in the Lambs Book of Life. Let’s see what Jesus said about Hell/Gehenna.
42 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 44 where ‘Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.’
Jesus is giving a strong warning about playing a role in deceiving or causing a believer to go astray. Hell is so bad that one will be judged according to his actions here on earth and receive the degree of fire according to how sinful he was (Matthew 11:23-24). The word here for Hell is Gehenna, the second death and its fire will never be put out. By Jesus saying that it is better to cut off your hands to stop sinning so you won’t go to this terrible place, Jesus used the strong emphasis to sever ties with anything that seems more important to you here on earth that you can’t live without but is keeping you from getting saved through faith in Jesus. It is not worth it especially if it brings you to Hell.
45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 46 where ‘Their worm does not die, And the fire is not quenched.’ 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— 48 where ‘Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.’
I cannot stress enough how horrible Hell will be for those who reject Christ. Jesus continues to tell His audience how awful that place is. Anything that’s keeping you from Jesus is never that important and He compares this to a body part. It seems impossible to live without it, yet He is saying to you “It’s better to do without it.” Hell is real and its fire is real that’s why Jesus repeatedly warned His listeners of their impending doom and the terrifying place that awaits them if they persist in rejecting Him. Now we will see verses in scripture describing the fires of Hell that will never end and is eternal.
And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Wheat always refers to the righteous and the chaff to the unbelievers in scripture (Matthew 13:36-43).
And throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Weeping means “to grieve audibly”) – bitter grief that springs from feeling utterly hopeless. (“wailing”) is usually accompanied by shrieks, brought on by uncontainable emotional (psychological) pain. Strong’s #2805
Gnashing of teeth: with τῶν ὀδόντων added, a phrase denoting the extreme anguish and utter despair of men consigned to eternal condemnation. Strong’s #1030
People in Hell will feel real pain not imaginary. Either we believe what Jesus Christ himself said about this matter or not. We must choose to believe and preach the whole message of the Bible which is God’s goodness, and in His goodness, He tells us the full implication of what His judgment entails (Hell).
I could go on and on about the fires of Hell but it would be too long. I hope one can see my point. Now I will show the verses that might seem to say that Hell is not a real fire but that one will be destroyed.
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
In 2 Thessalonians 1:9 says “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might”
If you get destroyed one ceases to exist right? Not according to this verse which by the way is referring to Hell. It says eternal destruction, so what does that truly mean?
The Greek word for destruction in 2 Thessalonians 1:9 is olethros which means ruin, destroy, death 1a) for the destruction of the flesh, said of the external ills and troubles by which the lusts of the flesh are subdued and destroyed. Strong’s #3639
The Greek Word for destroy in Matthew 10:28 in Greek is apollumi which means to destroy 1a) to put out of the way entirely, abolish, put an end to ruin 1b) render useless 1c) to kill 1d) to declare that one must be put to death 1e) metaph. to devote or give over to eternal misery in hell 1f) Strong’s #622
Basically it is saying that the function of the person and their purpose which God made them for is destroyed since people in Hell will do nothing but weep and gnash their teeth in severe pain (Luke 13:28). An illustration would be a shattered light bulb. Its function is destroyed and it ceases to work like it should. The broken pieces of glass and its components still remain, but not completely annihilating it.
What about Death and Hades being cast into the Lake of Fire. What does this mean?
Death is a synonym for Hades which are those who are separated from God because being with God is life and apart from God is death as seen in Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Sin brings death which separates you from God who is Life.
Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
Death and Hades mean the same thing. People who are in Hades are dead spiritually and the spiritually dead are in Hades, talking about those who rejected Jesus. People in Hades will be cast into the Lake of Fire in the great day of judgment which is the second death and the final destination of the unsaved with Satan is his fallen angels.
Hell is real and as Christians, our duty is to do what Jesus did and warn the people of this terrible and unimaginable place of never-ending torment before it’s too late for them.