We have a lot of fun with Hell.  Jesus Christians find it a great tool to keep their flocks in tow.  It's a good word for swearing..  According to popular wisdom Hell is a place of  torment where "sinners" spend eternity in misery.   Preachers speak of the extreme agony of our bodies burning forever.  It's a great image. But the reality of hell is entirely different from its storybook aspects.

The word Hell comes to us from the Old English where it means "hidden". 

The two words that are correctly translated Hell in the Bible are Sheol(Hebrew) and Hades(Greek)  The Hebrew Old Testament, some 300 years before the Christian era, was translated into Greek, but of the 64 instances where Sheol occurs in the Hebrew, it is rendered Hades in the Greek 60 times, so that either word is the equivalent of the other.  But neither of these words is ever used in the Bible to signify punishment after death,

The word Sheol means "the place of the dead." and it has two meanings. (1) the place of the dead physical body, the grave, and (2) the place of the dead soul, the astral world.

The word Hades refers to the world of the dead in Greek myth. Ancient writings say that the dead are ferried across the  River Styx by the boatman Charon.  On the other side they go either to the Elesian Fields or Tartarus.  One is place of delight, the other a place of suffering.

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia Sheol is the place of the dead and it is divided into as many as five sections, with varying degrees of pleasure and suffering.   The highest division in Sheol was known as the "Bosom of Abraham."   The worst was known as Gehenna or Tophet.

The New Testament speaks of Hell as being divided into two parts (1)Paradise (Luke 16:22-23) and (2)Prison (I Peter 4:18-19)

New Age teachings speak of the Astral World as being the place where we go when we die or go to sleep.


Thus we can conclude that Hell, Hades and Sheol are the same thing as the Astral World.  It is neither a place or punishment nor reward but is the construct of our thoughts and feelings during our physical life.

Hell' in the New Testament is translated from one of three Greek words: 

1)`Gehenna' (Mt. 5:22, 29-30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33; Mk. 9:43, 45, 47; Lk. 12:5; Jas. 3:6). The name is derived from the Heb. geĆ(ben)(beneĆ) hinnoµm, the Valley of (the son[s] of Hinnom, a valley near Jerusalem (Jos. 15:8; 18:16), where children were sacrificed by fire in connection with pagan rites (2 Ki. 23:10; 2 Ch. 28:3; 33:6; Je. 7:31; 32:35). Its original derivation is obscure, but Hinnom is almost certainly the name of a person. In later Jewish writings Gehenna came to mean the place of punishment for sinners (Assumption of Moses 10:10; 2 Esdras 7:36). It was depicted as a place of unquenchable fire—the general idea of fire to express the divine judgment is found in the OT (Dt. 32:22; Dn. 7:10). The rabbinic literature contains various opinions as to who would suffer eternal punishment. The ideas were widespread that the sufferings of some would be terminated by annihilation, or that the fires of Gehenna were in some cases purgatorial (Rosh Hashanah 16b-17a; Baba MeziŐa 58b; Mishnah Eduyoth 2. 10). But those who held these doctrines also taught the reality of eternal punishment for certain classes of sinners. Both this literature and the Apocryphal books affirm belief in an eternal retribution (cf. Judith 16:17; Psalms of Solomon 3:13).

2) Hadeµs , the region of departed spirits  (including the blessed dead). the word etymologically meant the unseen (world), but others feel it is derivation is from hadoµ, signifying all–receiving. It corresponds to "Sheol" in the Old .Testament.

The word is used four times in the Gospels, and always by the Jesus, Matt. 11:23; 16:18; Luke 10:15; 16:23.It is used with reference to the soul of Jesus, Acts 2:27, 31. Jesus declares that the  gates of Hell shall not withstand the Gospel, Matt. 15:19. Jesus(?) has the keys of it, Rev. 1:18.In Rev. 6:8 it is personified, with the signification of the temporary destiny of the doomed; it is to give up those who are therein, 20:13, and is to be cast into the lake of fire, ver. 14.



Two portrayals of Hell (i.e , the Astral World, the Spirit World). To the left is the Islamic belief of Paradise (one aspect of Hell), and. in a Hollywood movie "What Dreams May Come" (1998) starring Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding Jr.  is Spirit Prison, the other aspect of Hell.