The Christ in Prophecy Journal

Eternity: Hell or Hades

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Do those who die in continued rebellion against God go right to Hell?

A lot of confusion exists concerning Hell. Some just dismiss Hell as a real place entirely. Some think it’s a party stop where we’re reunited with old friends to dance eternity away in the tropical heat. Still others believe Hell is a place of pitchfork wielding demons who rule the vast underworld under their crushing hooves, tormenting people with manic glee.

Dr. David Reagan in his newest book, Eternity: Heaven or Hell?, shows that Christians as well are very confused about Hell. He says what the Bible teaches about Hell would shock us, for despite what we’ve been taught, there is nobody living there right now. I recently interviewed Dr. Reagan to find out why he’s come to that conclusion. Here now is the third question in this interview series concerning what to expect in the afterlife.

Reagan & Jones

Dr. Reagan: Most people believe that in the moment you die, you either go to Heaven or Hell. Most people would be surprised to find out that there is nobody in Hell right now. People are going to be consigned to Hell in the future.

Let me put it to you this way, before the cross things worked differently than the way they do today. We know this very definitely from the Bible, particularly the story that Jesus told about Lazarus and the Rich Man over in Luke 16. Before the cross, when a person died regardless if they were saved or lost, their spirits went to the same place. Their spirits went to a place called Hades.

Now, Hades is not the same place as Hell. Hades is a temporary holding place for the spirits of the dead. Both believers and unbelievers alike went there. There were two compartments in Hades, one was called “Paradise” or “Abraham’s Bosom,” the other was called “Torments.” There was a gulf between them that could not be crossed.

When Lazarus and the Rich Man died, Lazarus went to Paradise and the Rich Man went to Torments. They could see each other. They could talk to each other. But, they could not cross the chasm. So, that’s where all the spirits of the dead went. That’s the way it was until the time of the cross.

People immediately ask, “Well, why is it that people who died before the cross didn’t go directly to Heaven?” The reason is that their sins were covered by their faith, but their sins were not forgiven by their faith, because there is no forgiveness of sins apart from the shedding of blood. The Bible teaches that over and over. The blood of bulls and goats is not sufficient. There had to be a perfect man who did not deserve to die, yet who would die for your sins and my sins. So, they had to wait there until their sins were not only covered, but their sins were forgiven.

When Jesus died on the cross, we are told that He descended into Hades. Some of the ancient confessions of the church say, “He descended into Hell,” but no, it was Hades. He descended into Hades and the Bible says, “He made a proclamation.” We are told that over in 1 Peter 3, but it doesn’t tell us what the proclamation was, but I can pretty well guess: “The blood has been shed!” I would imagine there was tremendous “Hallelujah” on the part of those that were in that compartment called Paradise.

And then, we’re told in Ephesians 4 that when Jesus ascended into Heaven, He took with Him those who had been in bondage. He took, it said “with Him captives.” Well, the very idea of that is He emptied Paradise and took Paradise to Heaven with Him. We’re told over in 2 Corinthians 12 that is what happened, because Paul says there that He was taken up to the third heaven. The first heaven is the atmosphere of this planet, the second heaven being space, and the third heaven being where God resides. He says he was taken up to the Third Heaven, which is Paradise. So, Paradise was moved at the Ascension from Hades to Heaven.

And so, today, when a believer dies his spirit goes immediately to Heaven to be with the Lord, and the spirit of the unbeliever still goes to that place called Torments which is in Hades.

Nathan Jones: That’s huge theologically, because a lot of people think, “Heaven or Hell” only.

Dr. Reagan: Everyone needs to rethink about what we’ve been taught concerning this, and probably read over this more than once, or get the book and read it in detail.

Read on for an answer to Question #4 on a myth concerning the believer’s destination!


Eternity: Heaven or Hell?Eternity: Heaven or Hell? Book

What will happen when you die? This and many other questions about death and its aftermath are dealt with in this book, based upon biblical answers.

In addition, Dr. Reagan deals with questions pertaining to salvation: Are there many roads to God? Can salvation be earned through good works? Can salvation be lost? He also takes an in-depth look at the resurrection of Jesus, examining the evidence for it and discussing its essentiality to the Christian faith.

Order your copy for $20 (including shipping) today!

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ABOUT AUTHOR View all posts Author Website

Dr. Nathan E. Jones

As the Internet Evangelist at Lamb & Lion Ministries, Nathan reaches out to the over 4.5 billion people accessible over the Internet with the Good News of Jesus Christ. He also co-hosts the ministry's television program Christ in Prophecy and podcast The Truth Will Set You Free.

22 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • which place is worse? both places one is conscience,both places one is tormented, both places one is in literal fire, both places have no water, both places is referred to as darkness,both places there is no escape, both places are devoid of Gods presence….

  • it is said "noone is crackling or burning in hell yet" well, people ARE crackling and burning in hades. is hell hotter than hades? it seems to me both are equally as bad. to go to hades ull eventually end up in hell. so is one worse?

  • let`s say reagan is right on his thisis (i`m 50/50) if someone died lost 4,000 years ago and is still in hades today, and if someone who is EXACTLY as evil or good, with the same light,no more and no less dies today, does that mean the person who dies lost today will spend at least 4,000 years longer in the lake of fire than the one who died 4,000 years ago?

  • otherwise God is unfair. why should one suffer 4,000 longer just because he was born first? using this reasoning also would mean that one who dies toward the end of the millineaum would be in hell at least 7,000yrs.

  • It's a great misconception that God is fair, Hartdawg, at least from a human perspective. Just read The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard in Matthew 20, or Romans 9:22-23.

    God it ultimately fair from His perspective, a perspective we neither see clearly nor comprehend.

  • Assuming torment in hell is not eternal then perhaps torment in hades in not eternal either. Perhaps the souls of some of those in hades have already been destroyed.

    Is that a Biblical concept, Nathan? Or does every soul have to exist until the final judgement?

  • However, Nathan, you do make a solid case with the example of the Parable of the Workers.

    Just as those hired late get the same reward, those dying early get the same as well. In the end, those people had their chance and THEY blew it so it's not God's fault they are where they are.

  • Great post. The discussion also helps with the concern some people have about the use of the word "hell" being replaced with "Hades" in some translations of the Bible. Their concern is that some translations, such as the NIV, are "evil" and, as one of many examples, it can be seen that the NIV is somehow trying to "soften" hell. As Dr. Reagan points out, hell and hades are indeed two separate places; thus, more accurate translations are just using the more precise word in the translation.

  • A common misconception about hades vs. Lake of Fire and the level of torment.

    All the lost souls in hades have not received their judgments yet. This is easier to understand if one views the difference between the local city or county jail where the criminal is held captive awaiting trial for all of his crimes, then compared to the punishment of being sent up to "The Big House" after being judged and sentenced.

    All "criminals" in hades receive the same punishment, just like the comparison in the local pokey; the 'fire' of loss of freedom, humiliation of treatment, and the fear of what is to come. But after the judgment "according to their works", there is no comparison of what they receive individually in the lake of fire.

    I always have this image of Satan, AC, Adolf, Stalin, Lenin, Mao, etc. being down at the bottom of the lake of fire heated up all cherry red, keeping all the rest of the bad dudes on top all toasty warm…

  • Someone says "Thanks for the 'image'…"

    DrNofog says "You're welcome!"

    I have had people ask why would God punish people in the lake of fire forever?

    When we fully see the hideousness of sin and sinners as God sees it, then we will understand why Jesus used the direct comparison of the garbage dump outside of Jerusalem and the fire that burned there 24/7 to keep filth and disease away from the people.
    God cannot allow that kind of filth and disease to roam all willy-nilly and "contaminate" His universe. It must be contained.

    Yet since He cannot hide His omnipresence even from hades and the lake of fire, the wicked, even though they are in 'outer darkness', are burned and tormented by the brightness of His holiness, which they hate with a passion.

  • I tend to think the devil, the antichrist, the false prophet and those with the mark of the beast will indeed suffer forever.

    But I tend to think those in hell will eventually be destroyed (aka the second death). Note where it says feat the One that can KILL body AND soul. Also note that ETERNAL LIFE is ONLY for believers in Christ.

  • So where were Enoch and Elijah pre-cross? And if heaven, how did they get there without the benefit of Christ's death?

  • Hello Laura

    All the righteous dead from Adam went into the ‘good’ compartment of Hades called Paradise.

    We see events unfolding along a straight time line; but Jesus was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.Rev.13:8

    Abraham was imputed with righteousness because he believed/faithed in God. That’s how everyone is saved, by God’s grace, through faith in His Word, who is Jesus. …the works were finished from the foundation of the world Heb.4:3. The Blood of Jesus ratified the contract for salvation from the very beginning.

    God created time for our benefit but He is outside of time.

  • Hello Laura

    The Penny has just dropped, I misunderstood about Enoch and Elijah.

    As God 'took them' I have always assumed they were 'raptured' that is 'changed, when mortality puts on immortality. I see them being in heaven as 'companions of the Lord' in their glorified bodies as The Church will be one day.


  • and i more thing on the conditional vs traditional veiw of hell….if reagan is right and someome dies lost today, they will suffer at LEAST 1,007 years in hades til the white throne judgement. thats a looooong time. imagine going to the doctor and him saying you`re going to die, itll be a very slow unbearably painful death, and you`ll be quarrentined and all alone and you`ll never talk to a living person again. you`ll just be in a dark room all alone writhing in pain til you finally die many many years from now. so even if there is eventual annihalation itll be at least 1,007 years! HOW AWFUL!

  • DrNofog can't come for a while yet rg, he's having a buzz with the dead flies relatives paying to keep it outta pergatory.


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