The Greek word hades is translated as "hell" and so is the Greek word "gehenna." What's the difference, if any?
In a previous note below, I outlined the Bible's meaning of hellfire translated from the Greek word "gehenna, " as being the valley outside of Jerusalem that was used as a garbage dump that was kept burning day and night to turn all the waste to ash. Included in that waste were the dead bodies of animals and criminals. But, neither the animals, nor the criminals felt the flames of the garbage dump, since they were dead. [Death is defined in another paragraph below.] But, we find that the "hell" mentioned in the parable or illustration that Jesus gave about the Rich Man and Lazarus is translated from the Greek word "hades," not "gehenna." Luke 16:22-23 tells us in part, ". . . . .the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell [hades] he lift up his eyes, being in torments . . . . ." Is there a difference between this hades [hell] and the gehenna [hellfire]?
Yes. Let's take a look at how "hades" is used in the Bible. In the King James Version, the Hebrew word in the old testament that is translated as "hell" is sheol. This Hebrew word, "sheol," corresponds to the Greek word "hades" [hell] in the new testament, because we know that a prophecy in the old testament that contains the word "hell" [sheol] is quoted in the new testament where "hades" [hell] is used. I will quote the two verses below:
Psalm 16:10 (King James Version)
10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [sheol]; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Acts 2:27 (King James Version)
27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [hades], neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Of course, these 2 verses are referring to Jesus Christ, who was raised from "hades" by God. Since Jesus was in his tomb until the third day when he was raised up, then, we can understand that "hades" must refer to his tomb. This is confirmed in the King James Version, because it translates sheol and hades nearly the same number of times as both "hell" and "grave." I will quote a few as an example of how the word "grave" is interchangeable with "hell".
1 Corinthians 15:55 (King James Version)
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave [hades], where is thy victory?
Acts 2:31 (King James Version)
31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell [hades], neither his flesh did see corruption.
Job 14:13 (King James Version)
13 O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave [sheol], that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!
But, now let's remember that the Rich Man in Jesus' parable was in "hades;" so, he was in his tomb or grave. He was not in "gehenna," the burning garbage dump outside of Jerusalem. Can people literally see anything or hear anything or feel anything or do anything when they are dead in their graves/tombs. No. Ecclesiastes 1:5 says in part, "For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing . . . . ." (Please compare Eccl. 1:6,10 and Psalm 146:4) Also, Jesus likened death to "sleep" in John 11:11-14, and we know that people who are asleep are in an unconscious-like state. People who are asleep can be awakened; and, many people who are dead in their graves [hades] will be awakened by resurrection from the sleep of death at the appointed time for the resurrection. Acts 24:15; 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 People in "gehenna;" however, will not be resurrected. For further information about "gehenna" [hellfire], please see my previous note below about what "hellfire" really is.
By Linda Washburn