What does the word hell in the Bible mean?


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The word “hell” appears in the Bible 54 times and is translated from several different words with various meanings, as indicated below:

In the Old Testament:

31 times from “Sheol,” which means the “grave.”

In the New testament:

10 times from “Hades,” which means “the grave.”

12 times from “Gehenna,” which means “the place of burning.”

1 time from “Tartarus,” which means “a place of darkness.”

God’s purpose

God’s purpose for hell is to destroy the devil (Revelation 20:10) and all sin and make the world safe for eternity. The Lord did all He can to save His children from death (Luke 9:56), but if a person chooses to follow the devil, God will have no choice but let him share the devil’s destiny.  “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15). “For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be.” “The enemies of the Lord … shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away” (Psalms 37:10, 20).

Hell will not be forever

The “eternal hell of torment” theory did not originate from the Bible. The scriptures teach that hell is not forever (Malachi 4:1, 3; Psalm 37:10, 20). If God tortured His enemies in a fiery place throughout eternity, He would be more cruel than the most wicked men of war have ever been. The truth is that an eternal hell of torment would be hell for God also, who loves even the most wicked sinner (John 3:16). Such a horrible theory is an attack on the loving character of our God.

The work of destroying the wicked in hell fire is so foreign to God’s nature that the Bible calls it His “strange act” (Isaiah 28:21). God’s great heart will ache at the destruction of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11). And, an eternal hell of torment would perpetuate sin which is not part of God’s great plan (Revelation 21:3, 4).

For Bible references on the question: Is Hell forever? Check the following link:

Is hell forever?

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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