What is the meaning of Tartarus?

Author: BibleAsk Team


The word Tartarus is mentioned by Peter: “God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to [Tartarus], putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment” (2 Peter 2:4). In this verse, the apostle Peter uses the Greek word tartaroō, “to hold captive in Tartarus” to refer to the place of abode to which the evil angels are restricted until the day of judgment. The ancient Greeks considered Tartarus to be the abode of the wicked dead and the place where punishment was given to them. And this place corresponded to the Gehenna of the Jews (Matthew 5:22).

Writing to people who lived in a Hellenistic atmosphere, Peter employs a Greek term to convey his thought, but does not approve of either the Greek idea of Tartarus or the popular Jewish concept of Gehenna. Peter’s language is only figurative, and does not refer to any specific place as the abode of the fallen angels.

The angels that rebelled in heaven and “abandoned their proper dwelling” (Jude 1:6), God cast them into Tartarus where they are held “in pits of gloom” for a later judgment. This place was feared by the demons (Luke 8:31). In 2 Peter 2:4, the apostle Peter looks to the future, when the judgment will come upon Satan and his angelic followers will finally be executed (Revelation 20:10).

In the course of 2 Peter 2, the apostle refers to many of the heresies propagated by false teachers—denial of the Lord (verse 1), licentious teachings (verses 10, 18), turning from the holy commandment (verse 21), etc. And he adds that these false teachers will also suffer a final destruction with the evil angels in Tartarus.  The end of all untruth is destruction, both to its teachers and to their followers. “Then he (God) will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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