What is Hell?

Most of our concepts of hell do not come from the Bible, but rather many of them originate from secular and pagan sources. What does the Bible have to say about the subject?

Our ideas are colored before we ever read the Bible

Immortal Soul

Before we get into what is hell we need to briefly cover the concept of the Immortal soul because at the crux of the Christian world’s belief system is the concept that mankind has a soul that cannot and will not die.

But first off the term “immortal soul” is not found in the Bible

When we do find the word soul in the bible it is translated from the Hebrew and Greek words which mean “life.” This was and has been common usage (ie the souls that died that day were…)

Let’s look at the Old Testament word first. In Hebrew:


KJV Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

NKJV Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Man became alive

God gave animals life as well. He gave them nephesh.

KJV Genesis 1:21 And God created great whales, and every living creature [nephesh] that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1:24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature [nephesh] according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so.

So when we come to a conclusion on whether the soul is immortal or not we have to apply it to animals as well because we are both considered souls.

Now let’s notice that a soul can be eradicated – by another human

KJV Ezekiel 22:27 Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain.

If we are or have immortal souls, then this goes against the definition of immortal which means not subject to death; not liable to perish or decay; everlasting and perpetual;

Not only do we see that someone can destroy souls but that we in a sense can destroy our own souls.

Ezekiel 18:4 “Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father As well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die.

Ezekiel 18:20 The soul who sins shall die….

God is saying here that the penalty for sin is the death of the soul.

Romans 6:23 Our wages for sin is death

Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten.

Most do not believe that the fate and man and animals is the same. There is a distinguishing between the two. They do not believe that every living soul [speaking of the animals] is subject to the same beliefs about what is going to happen to humans. So we need to keep this in mind when we are talking about the concept of immortal soul and the belief of going to heaven or hell.



Deuteronomy 6:5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul [nephesh], and with all your strength.

Revelation 16:3 Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died.

So where does the concept of hell come from.

Background and Origin of Hell

Wikipedia: “The modern English word Hell is derived from Old English hel, helle (about 725 AD to refer to a nether world of the dead) reaching into the Anglo-Saxon pagan period. Subsequently, the word was used to transfer a pagan concept to Christian theology and its vocabulary

The English word hell has been theorized as being derived from Old Norse hel[2] but the cognate does appear in all the other languages and has a Proto-Germanic origin.[3] Among other sources, compiled from earlier traditional sources in the 13th century, they provide information regarding the beliefs of the Norse pagans, including a being named Hel, who is described as ruling over an underworld location of the same name.”

The “Encyclopedia Americana” states: “The main features of hell as conceived by Hindu, Persian, Egyptian, Grecian, and Christian theologians ARE ESSENTIALLY THE SAME.” The Western religious leaders through the Middle Ages borrowed the doctrine of eternal torture FROM THE PAGAN PHILOSOPHERS. Certain of these writers of the Middle Ages had such tremendous influence on the Christian-professing world, that their writings and teachings came to be generally accepted and believed, until it became the doctrine of the Christian-professing world. Among these influential writers were Augustine (345-430 A.D.), and Dante Alighieri (1265-1321 A.D.). Dante wrote a tremendously popular book titled, “The Divine Comedy”, in three parts — HELL, Purgatory, and Paradise.”

There is another book titled “Dante and His Inferno”, which sums up the history of the Christian-professing doctrine of HELL. This factual history says that “of all poets of modern times, Dante Alighieri was, perhaps, the greatest educator. He possibly had a greater influence on the course of civilization than any other man since his day … he wrote, in incomprehensible verse, an imaginative and lurid account of a dismal hell — This had a tremendous impression and influence on the popular Christian thought and teaching. His ‘Inferno’ was based on Virgil and Plato.”

DANTE is reported to have been so fascinated and enraptured by the ideas and philosophies of PLATO and VIRGIL, who were pagan philosophers, that he believed they were divinely inspired. Virgil was a pagan Roman poet, 70-19 B.C., who belonged to the national school of pagan Roman thought, influenced by the Greek writers. Christians of the Middle Ages, including Dante, believed he had received some measure of divine inspiration.”

PLATO was a pagan Greek philosopher, born in Athens, 427 B.C., a student of Socrates. He wrote the famous book, “Phaedo”, on the immortality of the soul, and THIS book is the real origin of the modern belief in the immortality of the soul.

So the world’s concept of “hell” is admittedly a product of centuries of MAN’S THINKING on the great problem of reward and punishment which man associates with human deeds. It did NOT COME AS A REVELATION FROM GOD, but is rather the product of MAN’S THINKING — using HUMAN REASON to decide what ONLY GOD CAN REVEAL!

The whole concept of going to a ever burning hell when we die to be tormented forever is a false and satanic concept.

So what does the Bible have to say about Hell

Old Testament

Only one word in the Old Testament that is translated into hell. Sheol. It is also translated into grave and pit

  • grave, 31
  • pit, 3

In Psalms 6:5 David speaks of sheol as the grave.

Psalms 6:5 For in death there is no remembrance of You; In the grave who will give You thanks?

Notice what Jonah equates to the grave

Jonah 2:1 Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly,
Jonah 2:2 And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.

Back to the animals

Psalms 49:14 Like sheepH6629 they are laidH8371 in the grave;H7585 deathH4194 shall feedH7462 on them; and the uprightH3477 shall have dominionH7287 over them in the morning;H1242 and their beautyH6697 shall consumeH1086 in the graveH7585 from their dwelling.H4480 H2073

Ecclesiastes 3:19 For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity.
Ecclesiastes 3:20 All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust.

What we are doing in Sheol

Ecclesiastes 9:10 WhatsoeverH3605 H834 thy handH3027 findethH4672 to do,H6213 doH6213 it with thy might;H3581 forH3588 there is noH369 work,H4639 nor device,H2808 nor knowledge,H1847 nor wisdom,H2451 in the grave,H7585 whitherH834 H8033 thouH859 goest.H1980

Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.

New Testament


We see in 1 Corinthians:15:55 the word grave translated from hades . In the book of Acts, King David is said to have been in “hell.” Since David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel:13:14) and will rule with God in His Kingdom (Jeremiah:30:9), he would not have gone to the hell that is traditionally pictured for the incorrigibly wicked. Notice Acts:2:27, 29 where David is in “hell” or the grave, but with the promise that he will not remain there forever. He will be resurrected from “hell” (hades) or the grave.

KJV Acts 2:25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:
Acts 2:26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:
Acts 2:27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [hades], neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Acts 2:28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.
Acts 2:29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.

He quotes Psalm 16 and equates hades with sheol

Psalms 16:8 I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Psalms 16:9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.
Psalms 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [sheol]; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Psalms 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

1 Samuel 13:14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”

Acts 13:36 “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption;

Translated “grave” here

1 Corinthians 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?


So, the first “hell” we’ve looked at is simply the grave—the place of the dead, both good and evil!


Literally means the Valley of Hinnom, a place outside Jerusalem where trash was burned. Gehenna is also associated with fire and is called hell fire (Matthew 5:22) or the lake of fire (Revelation:20:15).

Matthew 5:22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.
Matthew 5:23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,
Matthew 5:24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Matthew 5:25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.
Matthew 5:26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.
Matthew 5:27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY.’
Matthew 5:28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Matthew 5:29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
Matthew 5:30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.


Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

So even if you believed in this hell as a place that you go when you die, you would be completely burnt up and not tormented forever.

This is not a eternal punishing but a final punishment after the last judgment.

Malachi 4:1 “For behold, the day is coming, Burning like an oven, And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,” Says the LORD of hosts, “That will leave them neither root nor branch.
Malachi 4:2 But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings; And you shall go out And grow fat like stall-fed calves.
Malachi 4:3 You shall trample the wicked, For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet On the day that I do this,” Says the LORD of hosts.


The third “hell” refers to the restraint of the demons. Tartaroo is used in only one place in the Bible (2 Peter 2:4) and is used only in reference to the demons being chained or restrained until the time of their judgment by God.

2 Peter 2:4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

Jude 1:6 And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;

tartaroo means to confine in Tartarus (a place in Greek mythology where rebellious gods were confined). It only refers to demons and not some fiery place for lost humans.

They remain here on Earth (Matthew:4:1-11; 8:16, 28-33; 9:32-33; John:13:26-27), restrained, awaiting their final judgment because of their rebellious acts.

Lake of Fire

Revelation 19:20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.

Revelation 20:10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Revelation 20:14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
Revelation 20:15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

Revelation 21:8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

John 5:28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice
John 5:29 and come forth— those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.