Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Hell, in the Authorised Version of the New Testament, translates three different words - Hades, Gehenna, and Tartarus (2 Peter ii. 4), which has the same meaning.as Gehenna. Hades is the word used in the Septuagint to render the Hebrew Sheol, the gloomy region into which all men pass after death. It was only during the Captivity that the Jews came to distinguish between Paradise, the abode of the virtuous, and Gehenna, that of the wicked. Much misconception has arisen through the employment of the same word to render Hades and Gehenna. This was probably due to the anxiety of the translators to avoid the appearance of giving any support to the doctrine of Purgatory. The orthodox Protestant view was that every soul passed immediately on death into a state of everlasting bliss or torment, and it was only with the latter of these that either Hades or Gehenna could be identified. The materialistic conceptions regarding- the future place of punishment which grew up in the early Church, and are by no means extinct at the present time, were based on the words used by Christ in His allusions to Gehenna. But there can be no doubt that His language was figurative, and it is now generally agreed among divines, as more consonant with the teaching of Christianity, that the anguish suffered by the wicked after death is of a spiritual rather theit a physical character. As regards the larger question of the possibility of salvation after death, the doctrine that there is no intermediate state between those of the redeemed and the damned, and that the judgment once passed on the dead soul is final, is still regarded as the orthodox Protestant view. But it is very doubtful whether this doctrine can be established even by a literal translation of the sacred text, and many eminent Christians have found it extremely repugnant to their moral sense. The words of the Saviour to the crucified robber distinctly point to an intermediate state; and it is by no means certain that aionios denotes "eternal" punishment; on etymological grounds, at any rate, it should rather mean "lasting for an age" or "for ages." Origen, in the 3rd century, put forward the doctrine of "Universalism," which teaches that all men will finally be saved; it was at least regarded with favour by St. Jerome, and in modern times has received the assent of many eminent theologians.

The doctrine that Christ "descended into hell," accepted by the Church in the Creed and in the Third Article of Religion, has been interpreted in several different ways. It is founded mainly on 1 Peter iii. 19 (cf. Ephesians iv. 9; Acts ii. 27-31).

It was taught by Ignatius, Hermas, and other early Fathers. The general view of the Christian Church on this difficult point is that the "soul" is the spirit or rational part of Christ - that which the Jews could not kill - and that "hell" is the place of departed spirits.