Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sheol and Hades

The Greek hADHS is synonymous with the Hebrew SHEOL. If we really want to understand what the NT says about hell, we must consider what the OT teaches about SHEOL. According to the holy writings that have been recorded primarily in Hebrew, SHEOL is a "place" of inactivity where all dead persons go; it is gravedom (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

Job 3 indicates that SHEOL is a place for both the wicked and the righteous to "sleep." In the midst of bemoaning his pitiable earthly existence, Job lamented that he had not perished after coming forth from his mother's womb--saying: "For by now I should have lain down that I might be undisturbed; I should have slept then; I should be at rest . . . There the wicked themselves have ceased from agitation, and those weary in power are at rest" (Job 3:13-20). Additionally, Job also depicts SHEOL as "the land of darkness and deep shadow" and as "the land of obscurity like gloom, of deep shadow and disorder, where it beams no more than gloom does" (Job 10:21, 22).

It's of interest how the signifier hADHS is used in Revelation too. In Rev. 6:8, John sees a pale horse with a rider that has hADHS closely following him. Later in the same book, the sea, death and hADHS are said to give up the dead in them (KAI EDWKEN hH QALASSA TOUS NEKROUS TOUS EN AUTHi KAI QANATOS KAI hO hADHS EDWKAN TOUS NEKROUS TOUS EN AUTOIS); then the dead are judged according to their deeds and death along with hADHS is subsequently hurled into the lake of fire which signifies the "second death" (Rev. 20:13-15). John then reports that "death is no more" (since it was hurled into the lake of fire). See Rev. 21:3-4.

"there shall be no more death] More exactly, death shall be no more, having been destroyed in the Lake of Fire, Revelation 20:14 : not that the personification is put forward here" (W.H. Simcox, Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges).

Based on the aforesaid information, I conclude that hADHS is identical to the Hebrew SHEOL (Cf. Ps. 16:10 and Acts 2:27ff). hADHS being thrown into the lake of fire evidently means that it is no more just as death is no more after being cast in the famed "lake." The lake of fire appears to symbolize eternal destruction (annihilation) and not eternal torment.

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