Redefining Hell - Part 8
In Part 7 of this series, we considered the transliteration Gehenna, translated as “hell” 12 times in the King James New Testament. We discovered that Gehenna denotes “corruption,” correlating perfectly with the first outcome of the divine principle of sowing and reaping (Gal. 6:8).
Next in line is the transliteration “Hades.” Like Gehenna, this word is found 12 times in the King James New Testament. Strong’s defines it as a compound word meaning “unseen.” Hades is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew transliteration Sheol, the only word translated “hell” in the King James Old Testament. Sheol is also translated 31 times as “grave” and 3 times as “pit.” All total, Sheol is found 65 times.
As mentioned, Hades is a compound word, consisting of alpha “as a negative particle” and eido, meaning “to see (literal or figurative)” or “to know.” Eido is used in the following.
Matthew 13:14-15 (NKJV)
14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: 'Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive (eido). 15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see (eido) with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.'
As we see, eido is used twice and refers to the crowd’s inability to perceive or understand the teachings of Christ. In keeping with this, we find the following.
John 3:3 (KJV)
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again (from above), he cannot see (eido) the kingdom of God.
In conjunction with Matthew 13, this statement clarifies that “see” is certainly not literal but signifies perception, i.e. understanding those things which relate to the kingdom of God. This being the case, when we add alpha to eido, we get “unseen.” In other words, Hades becomes the word defining our inability to perceive or understand. Putting it simply, Hades reflects a state of being where the natural or carnal mind prevents us from perceiving the “things of the Spirit of God” which must be “spiritually discerned” (Rom. 8:7; 1st Cor. 2:14; NKJV).
In agreement with our perspective, the Hebrew equivalent of Hades, or Sheol, is taken from the root meaning “to inquire” or “request.” Simple logic dictates that when we cannot “see” or understand something, we must “inquire” or “request” more information in order to understand.
Now, if the carnal mind or mind set on the flesh is death, and sowing to the flesh concludes in reaping corruption, then one of death’s definitions is the temporary nature of form. This agrees with Paul’s assessment in 2nd Corinthians 4:18.
Since Hell is the manifestation of death, then Hell embodies our inability to “see” or perceive the life of the kingdom of God and therefore participate in that life (John 5:40). As a result, we are left with the flesh, the corruptible things, with the world of form and the things in it as our priority (1st John 2:15-17). In the first is Hades, while in the second, Gehenna. They are mutually inclusive. And the reaping? This speaks to the consequences or “judgment” that comes as a result of our actions. These consequences may be either good or evil.
Finally, and in perfect agreement with our present understanding, Jesus spoke of “outer darkness” on three separate occasions where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30; KJV). This is simply one more characteristic of hell, i.e. a present reality where “darkness” prevails. John said it like this:
1 John 2:10-11 (ESV)
10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother IS IN THE DARKNESS and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes (Hades; unseen).
There are essentially two ways that something is “unseen” to us. Our eyes are closed or, as John so aptly describes in our preceding passages, it’s too dark to see where we are going. In Matthew 13:15, Jesus said, “For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed.” Note that Jesus begins with the heart, followed by the ears and eyes. All of this begins with where our affection lies, for “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21; ESV). No wonder John said, “Do not LOVE the world” (1st John 2:15; NKJV).
Amazingly, the motivating force behind all we are considering is love, for it is undeniably true that we can either love darkness or light, death or life (Prov. 18:21; John 3:19). But the principle of sowing and reaping gives us clarity. Death is woven into our existence as the necessary element that brings us to life, for that which is sown is corruptible, but that which is raised is incorruptible (1st Cor. 15:42).
No doubt, it is indeed difficult to consider an alternative view of hell because the strength of traditional belief often lies not in the fact that it’s right, but rather in the sheer force of those who embrace it and believe it. It has been said that if you tell a lie big enough and often enough, people will eventually believe it. Sadly, this is true, for it is much, much easier to go with the status quo than go against it (Matt. 7:13-14). It is especially hard on the pride of our ego or Self to admit that we might believe a lie, especially in light of our religious declarations. This was the problem with the religious leaders of Jesus’ day.
John 9:40-41 (ESV)
40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, "Are we also blind?" 41 Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, 'We see,' your guilt remains.