Let's try to simplify the definition. The hell that we think about today is a mixture of confusion, bad translations, and Greek Mythology. Let's start by breaking down the mistranslation. There are four different words that were used to describe an underworld prison in the Bible. They all were translated to hell. The words are Sheol, Hades, Tartarus, and Gehenna. For reference on these, I'd recommend a bible dictionary. Sheol and Hades mean the same thing. Both words translate to "A place where the dead go to sleep." Sheol is Hebrew and Hades is Greek. It is the hell or spiritual prison used to hold humans. Tartarus, the name I mentioned in my chapter about fallen angels, is known as The Pit. Humans do not go here, ever. Not even Lucifer is here until later (see Revelation 20:1-3). Remember the 200 Watchers? Well, their locations are like a prison. We just aren't sure what kind. It's speculated that their fate was Tartarus. Enoch 10:4-5 reads:
“And again the Lord said to Raphael: ‘Bind Azazel hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness: and make an opening in the desert, which is in Dudael, and case him therein. And place upon him rough and jagged rocks, and cover him with darkness, and let him abide there for ever, and cover his face that he may not see light.’”
That was one of the leaders. The rest went somewhere else. Enoch 10:11-12 reads:
"And the Lord said unto Michael: ‘Go, bind Semjaza and his associates who have united themselves with women so as to have defiled themselves with them in all their uncleanness. And when their sons have slain one another, and they have seen the destruction of their beloved ones, bind them fast for seventy generations in the valleys of the earth, till the day of their judgment and of their consummation, till the judgment that is for ever and ever is consummated.'"
So, that leaves us with Gehenna. Gehenna is translated as the Lake of Fire. This is the place that destroys all wicked, and no, it does not torture human souls for eternity. Another poor translation. Gehenna is known as the second death; the second death is referred to as the soul perishing (see John 3:16). Another verse speaking of the second death is Romans 6:23. It’s eternal death, not eternal punishment.
There's also the concept of Sheol being a place that is ruled by Lucifer. But that is not the case either. This belief is from Greek Mythology. According to the belief, Hades is the ruler of the underworld. As we discussed earlier, Hades is the name for hell in Greek. However, when people began associating Lucifer with Hell, the concept of him owning hell took off.
The biggest issue is the confusion of Gehenna and Sheol. At some point in time, they were mixed together. So, when people think of hell, they think of fire. This is not true. It’s speculated that the reason for this is the way some of the text reads. Revelation 20:10 KJV Reads: “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”
This only refers to Lucifer, the beast, and false prophet. The fact remains, it is not speaking about anyone outside of those three individuals. And besides, you either parish or you stay alive to be tormented. Either your soul dies in Gehenna, or it stays alive in Gehenna. You can't believe both. And believing the latter would certainly imply that even without accepting Jesus you have everlasting life. A couple of people you can see for reference on the debate of this issue include Edward Fudge, who wrote the book The Fire That Consumes, and Lex Meyer, who is the founder of a ministry called UNLEARN.
Now, here is my theory on the hell designed for humans. If it’s not below us like the pit, and if it doesn’t burn us like Gehenna, I believe Sheol is on earth. From the number of reports about ghosts and apparitions, I have reason to believe that a ghost spending their time on earth is experiencing hell. Catholics believe similar ideas. They believe that this earth that holds ghosts is known as purgatory. But, here’s the misconception. Common Catholic belief is that hell is a place of torment and fire, which we just explained why this can’t be.
The way I’d describe the afterlife existing all around us is like the remake of the film Thirteen Ghosts. People had to wear the goggles to see where the ghosts were. If we had a pair of these special goggles, we'd see many ghosts, evil spirits, and fallen angels. I believe all three types of these entities live among us. The only exception is the fallen angels since Lucifer had been known to go from earth to heaven (see Job 1:7). But we know according to Enoch, evil spirits are stuck here. And ghosts... well, if they could cross over, it seems their only destination would be heaven.
So, it’s probably crossed your mind by now. What about the dead children who are walking around? They are innocent and don’t deserve to be in hell. Well actually, there is a theory on this, and it's called the Stone Tape Theory.
The Stone Tape theory claims that the reason we see dead people in certain areas is that something so intense happened there, that it left an imprint of the event with its energy. I believe this to be true, however, I don't feel that theory alone covers everything. It's worth mentioning that just because a place is haunted does not mean there's a stone tape playing there. Most hauntings could be actual ghosts who can see you and attempt to interact with you.
Let's talk about something called the veil. The veil is what is used to describe the barrier between us and spirits. This barrier can be thin in some areas of the world; whether it's a haunted house or being able to see an apparition repeat the steps from its previous life. Some people are weary about 3:00 AM. I'm one of those people. I believe that around 3:00 AM, the veil goes thin. It's also important to note that Halloween is the one time of the year where the veil is believed to be at its thinnest. In other words, proceed with caution during these times.
I know many Christians argue that since the dead sleep, we can’t really have ghosts, because that would imply nobody is sleeping when they die. Well, there’s a couple of ways to look at this. One, if you believe Jesus’s story about the rich man and Lazarus to be true, there’s no reason not to believe in ghosts. If you believe that story to be a parable, that’s fine too. I believe it’s a parable. But here’s the thing. 2 Peter 3:19-20 explains that Jesus was actively speaking to people in Sheol. If the dead really are asleep, how would this be possible? If you still don’t believe ghosts are real, we are left with this: Every time we see someone who has died, it would absolutely have to mean it’s an evil spirit playing tricks on us. And I have difficulty believing that to be true.
Is there repentance in hell?
Now despite what I personally believe, I also believe that people in hell are not stuck in hell. According to 2 Peter 3:19-20, the verse we just went over recently, Jesus went to Sheol (hell) and preached to the ones who were disobedient during the flood. Why would Jesus preach to the damned if they're damned? Something is inconsistent here. Something else worth mentioning is John 5:25 KJV which reads: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.”
In this case, Son of God means Christ because He's giving life. No other spirit can give us life. And the only dead that would need to listen would be nonbelievers. Christians have already listened to Jesus in their mortal life, so Christians dying and having to listen a second time to receive life is redundant and doesn't make sense. It's also stated the time is already here. It's happening now. The only other way to interpret it would be that ghosts can get their bodies back, but the only times this has happened was in the case of Lazarus (see John 11:43-44) and when Jesus rose again which caused others to rise with Him (see Matthew 27:51-53). And once Jesus ascended into heaven, He never brought anyone else out of the grave again. Otherwise, it would be happening every day if that interpretation was true.
This chapter in particular covers a touchy subject, particularly for those who believe they have friends and family that didn't make it to heaven. Not only did I want to provide insight, but I also wanted to provide peace of mind. Everything I have stated in this chapter is biblically accurate. My book is made for readers of all religions. If you're not a Christian, know that I encourage you to use this information for any Christians you may know personally.
I also wanted to give credit for the photo that was used at the top of my chapter 'Demons: What Are They?' The picture is from the film Angels and Demons.