“….In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess 2:8).
Of the many false translations and errors found in our modern English bibles, one that I suspect escapes the notice of many readers, is that of HADES. In fact, it is not, strictly speaking, so much a wrong translation as it is a non-translation. But because it is left untranslated in the English text of some bibles, it has become a false translation, and gives the reader a totally wrong concept of what lies beyond the grave. It is yet another form of deception, although not necessarily deliberate as far as the translators themselves are concerned, presented by modern bibles.
There should be no connection in thought between a Greek and a Christian view of the afterlife. But the modern bibles with their un-translation of Hades in some, and mistranslation in others, blur the distinction; and by so doing give the impression that biblical thought and understanding has its roots in Greek thought. Nothing could be further from the truth and the idea must be strenuously resisted.
Biblical understanding was given by revelation from heaven; and while there are similarities in some aspects of thought and belief in the Greek and Christian ideas, this is understandable because human beings were made in the image of God, and one aspect of this image is a sense of justice and retribution. So some similarity of concept must not make us think they are the same, or that one is derived from the other. Just as humans and apes, for example, have similarities, biblical revelation assures us that they are very different and were created so on the same day (Gen 1:24-28). Scientific investigation confirms this, and that the difference between humans and apes is vast (Ps 8:4-8).
So, heathen Greek and Christian thought had the same word (hades) for the underworld but it represented two quite different concepts; it is the distinctions that make all the difference. The Greek idea represents it as the final confinement and state of dead souls without it being a punishment, except for those who were sent to either Tartarus or Elysium. But Christian revelation shows that hades refers to hell, a terrifying place of endless torment.
The biblical afterlife is not a Greek afterlife. And the biblical hell is not the Greek Hades. One secular website says that the ancient Greek “concepts for Heaven and Hell are of course different in many ways than those propounded by Christianity, but in other aspects they closely mirror the horror and the ecstasies of these places that we associate them with today. Like the Christian concept of Hell, the Greek underworld had a ruler who was closely associated with its domain, the eponymous god Hades” (The Concepts of Heaven and Hell in Ancient Greece (greekreporter.com)
In order to consider why I contend that only the KJV gets the distinction right, it will be necessary to first describe the ancient Greek concept of afterlife; next, to compare it with Christian revelation; and then show why the distinction is important.
Hades in Greek Mythology Consisted of Three Regions
There were three regions within mythical Hades: the Asphodel Meadows or Fields of Asphodel, Tartarus, and Elysium. They were the realm, collectively known as the underworld, ruled by the god Hades (Pluto), brother of the gods Zeus (Jupiter) who ruled the sky and the heavens, and Poseidon (Neptune) who ruled the sea. Following their victory in the Titanomachy (a ten year war against the Titans for control of the universe), as their birthright, Hades received the underworld, Zeus the sky, and Poseidon the sea; but the earth, which had long been the province of Gaia, was open to all three gods concurrently for any actions they wished to carry out.
The Asphodel Meadows
The first region of Hades comprised the Fields of Asphodel (or Asphodel Meadows). In the forecourt of the god’s (Hades, from whom the whole of the Underworld is named) palace, the three judges of the Underworld sit to judge every soul that has died and to determine their eternal fate. If these souls are neither virtuous nor evil, they are returned to the Fields of Asphodel; if evil or impious are sent to Tartarus, or sent to Elysium with the “blameless heroes”.
The Asphodel Meadows is a place where the vast majority of the dead dwell forever and exist as “shades” – incorporeal, miserable, mournful, lost souls; without purpose, rational thought, or emotion. It was guarded by the three-headed dog Cerberus to prevent them from escaping. So the ancients had no hope for a happy future life. The dead, both great and insignificant, were confined within the Fields of Asphodel when they died, and all floated around, forever in misery. Even the mighty Achilles in Greek mythology, perhaps the greatest hero of them all, languished there, according to Homer.
The Asphodel Meadows is the place conjured up in our minds where, according to the modern English bible versions, departed spirits go upon death; what we’re led to believe by them as “the grave”. This is because modern bibles – all of them – leave the Greek word Hades untranslated or mistranslated in the text, thus giving a false idea of what Hades really is.
Tartarus in Greek mythology is a terrifying place. The mythographer Apollodorus describes Tartarus as “a gloomy place in Hades as far distant from Earth, as Earth is distant from the sky”. It was a horrible prison where ferocious monsters (which abound in Greek mythology) and particularly bad criminals were banished and imprisoned, and where the gods placed their rivals after a war. In particular, it is probably more commonly known as the place where the gods of Olympus (the gods commonly known to us today) imprisoned the Titans, from whom they had wrested control of the universe after a ten-year war. It was a place of never-ending torment, and closely resembles the Tartarus of the Bible, which will be discussed further shortly.
Elysium, (also known as the Elysian Fields, and the Blessed Isles), was Greek mythology’s version of heaven; it seems to have been a fairly exclusive club at the beginning and not many mortals managed to get there. To be sent to Elysium after death, one had to be either related to the gods, or be a great hero. The majority of Greeks were just like us – neither particularly good nor particularly evil, humanly speaking (this is not the biblical judgment of humanity, of course) – and were thus sent forever to languish in the Fields of Asphodel.
Later, “the conception of who could enter the heavenly realm was expanded to include those chosen by the gods, as well as the righteous and those who were heroic. They would remain luxuriating in the Elysian Fields after death, to live a blessed and happy life, and indulge in whatever employment they had enjoyed while they were living” The Concepts of Heaven and Hell in Ancient Greece (greekreporter.com)
The Places in the Biblical Hades
By way of contrast and comparison, the biblical after-world, when all is said and done, consists of only two places – Heaven and Hell. Purgatory, a place of punishment and purification, is located between heaven and hell and is derived from the book of 2 Maccabees (12:38-45), a pre-Christian Jewish writing which is part of the Catholic and Orthodox canon of Scripture.
However, the bible mentions several other places in the afterlife such as Gehenna; Tartarus; the pit; the bottomless pit (Rev 9:2 x3, 11; 11:7; 17:8; 20:1, 3); the lowest parts of the earth (Eph 4:9); the grave (Acts 2:27, 31); and hell (Matt 11:23; Lk 10:15; 16:23 etc.). These several places can become confused and confusing. So as we read through it all, please bear in mind that they are all places of punishment and torment, the prisons of evil angels and wicked human beings, and despite their varying names and descriptions, are all the one Hell.
Some Definitions and Descriptions
The “Analytical Greek Lexicon” defines hades as “the invisible abode or mansion of the dead; the place of punishment, hell; the lowest place or condition, Matt 11:23; Luke 10:15”.
So that we don’t get the false idea of a wide range of meaning, the lexicon gives only two bible references, as shown. We are not, therefore, meant to think of hades as anything but a place of punishment, even though the Holy Spirit, in Acts 2:27, 31, reveals it as “the grave”, from the Hebrew she-ol. And in this case, we know what Jesus was doing in Hades while his dead body lay in the tomb. Peter tells us: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened [made alive] through the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah….” (1 Pet 3:18-20).
Looking at the two references given in the lexicon’s definition, how can we understand it to mean anything else but a place of punishment? In Matt 11:23, Jesus says: “But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell (hades): for if the mighty works which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day”. And in Luke 10:15 Jesus says: “But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell (hades)”.
Jesus is warning these towns that something far more terrifying and severe is ahead of them than its inhabitants being condemned to simply flitting around as shades for eternity, bad as that would be. He’s warning them of the certainty of hell, as the KJV translates it. This is illustrated in Luke 16:23 where the Rich Man is being tormented in hell (hades); and in Rev 20:13-14 where death and hell (Hades) themselves, after delivering up the dead which are in them, will be thrust into Gehenna, the lake of fire. If the biblical Hades were the Greek Hades, which is not a place of punishment, all its inhabitants will have been unjustly cast into the lake of fire after having already been judged and found to be not worthy of eternal torment.
William MacDonald, commenting on Rev 20:14, says, “There is a difference between Hades and hell. For the unconverted who have died, Hades is a disembodied state of conscious punishment. It is a sort of holding tank, an intermediate condition where they await the Judgment of the Great White Throne.
For believers who have died, Hades is a state of disembodied blessedness in heaven, awaiting the resurrection and glorification of the body. When Jesus died, He went to Paradise (Luke 23:43), which Paul equates with the third heaven (2 Cor 12:2, 4), the dwelling place of God. In Acts 2:27 the Lord’s disembodied state is called Hades. God did not leave His soul in Hades, but clothed it with a glorified body.
Hell is the final prison of the wicked dead. It is the same as the lake of fire, Gehenna, and the second death” (Believer’s Bible Commentary, 2016, p. 2487).
Henry Morris, commenting on Eph 4:9 and the meaning of “the lowest parts of the earth” says: “This somewhat enigmatic reference could, by itself, refer to the deep ocean bottom, but this would not yield captives. More likely, it refers to the great pit at the center of the earth, indicated in the Bible as the prison confining the souls of the dead, the place called sheol in the Old Testament and hades in the Greek New Testament, but often translated “hell” in the King James translation”.
And commenting on 1 Pet 3:19, he says: “While in Hades in the Spirit, He “preached” – that is, “proclaimed” – His victory over death and hades (Matt 16:18; Lk 4:18; Col 2:15; Rev 1:18). Note that “hell” in these verses is the Greek hades, the great pit at the center of the earth where lost souls and many rebellious angels are confined. Before Christ’s resurrection, the souls of believers were also resting there, but these captives were delivered by Christ when He rose from the dead (Eph 4:8-10). The Greek word for “preached” here is not the word for “preached the gospel” (eyaggelizo) as in 1 Peter 1:12, 25; 4:6, but rather kerusso, which means “proclaimed” (Lk 12:3) or “published” (Lk 8:39). Christ was not giving a second chance, as it were, to those who had died in unbelief, for there is no second chance after death (Heb 9:27). Rather, He was proclaiming victory over Satan and his hosts”.
Earth is the dwelling place of fallen humanity. From the time of Adam and Eve immediately after they sinned, the earth has been under a curse placed upon it by God because of them (Gen 3:1-24; Rom 5:12; 8:22), and now awaits the judgment of God: “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men….the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up…” (2 Pet 3:7, 10).
Heaven in the bible is conceived as above the sky. It is the dwelling place of The Triune God; the elect angels (1 Tim 5:21): “…and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands…” (Rev 5:9-11); and all the redeemed of Christ: “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
The word “hades” appears in the Greek New Testament eleven times: Matt 11:23; 16:18; Lk 10:15; 16:23; Acts 2:27, 31; 1 Cor 15:55 (marg. “hell”), Rev 1:18; 6:8; 20:13, 14. In the KJV it is translated as “hell” in all eleven of these verses. And when one checks them, it’s easy to see why they were translated thus. That “hades” is what we understand as hell as a place of punishment is clear from the way it is used. It is far more than simply lying in the grave. Admittedly, Hades is synonymous with Hebrew she’ol (the grave), but it is not a resting place for unbelievers and sinners – there is no rest for the wicked after death. Even the OT word she’ol confirms this in its usage: “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Ps 9:17). It is more than the grave because it is here used as a place of judgment and condemnation. Everybody goes to the grave, so the words of this psalm mean nothing if they’re not referring to a place of punishment and torment. From the moment the eyelids of the wicked close in death they awake in hell and are tormented in flames for evermore. Dante, in the section on hell in his “Divine Comedy”, has a sign over the gates of hell which reads, “Abandon hope all ye who enter here”. Sobering and terrifying thought!
Even when Jesus is said to be in hell in Acts 2:27, 31, the church has always understood this to mean that Jesus actually went to hell for sinners – it was part of his atoning work; his identification with sinners. His soul and his body were separated, and his body lay in the grave while his soul descended into hell. The Apostles Creed states this clearly and succinctly; Jesus “…was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead…”. But it was while Jesus was in this state that he plundered hell (Matt 12:29), proclaimed his victory over Satan and his fallen angels (1 Pet 3:19), and released the prisoners (Matt 27:51-54). And when his soul was reunited with his body, which had been kept incorrupt, and he ascended to heaven, we’re told: “When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men” (Eph 4:8). And he now possesses “the keys of hell and of death” (Rev 1:18).
The Valley of Gehenna was the place where Hebrew children in the time of the kings were sacrificed to Molech (or Moloch). The godly King Josiah deliberately defiled and desecrated Gehenna so that it could never again be used as a place of child sacrifice (2 Kings 23:4-14), and it was turned into a garbage dump that was kept perpetually burning; a place of infamy and disgust. These never-dying flames became an image of the fire of hell, and Gehenna thus had come to mean “hell” by the time of Christ (see Matt 5:22, 29, 30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33; 25:30, 46; Mk 9:43, 45, 47; Lk 12:5; Jas 3:6; and in each of these references it is rendered “hell”).
The concept of hell in the mind of Christians generally is that of the lake of fire, into which the beast and the false prophet of Revelation 13:1-18 were cast, there to await judgment: “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him….These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Rev 19:20). Furthermore, after the Judgment, “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….and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:10, 12-15).
Hell (Tartarus): Prison of the Fallen Angels
One view of Tartarus, which seems to be the majority, corresponds more with that place described in 2 Pet 2:4 and Jude 6, the place where the rebellious angels who had sexual relations with human women (Gen 6:4) were sent, there to await the judgment: “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell (Gk root: tartaros), and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment…”. Many bible teachers regard this as the place to which Jesus “went and preached to the spirits in prison…” (1 Pet 3:19). But it was not the gospel that Jesus took with him to give the prisoners there a second chance; it was a proclamation of victory and triumph over those angels “which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation” (Jude 6). These were the “sons of God [who] saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose” (Gen 6:2). Their purpose was to destroy the human line of Christ by producing a corrupt and vile race to circumvent the curse/promise of Gen 3:14-15, and thereby delivering themselves from this punishment and of being consigned to an eternity of torment in hell. Thus, the giants (Nephilim: “fallen ones”, from naphal, to fall) of Gen 6:4 were born.
Another view rejects this idea of angels copulating with human women, saying instead that the sons of God were men who descended from the godly line of Seth, or kings, either/both of whom intermarried with the women of the ungodly family of Cain. This view is held by many Calvinists and Pentecostals – it is articulated in Matthew Henry’s Commentary among others.
These giants are mentioned in several places in Scripture under different clan names: Anakim, the children of Anak (son of Arba) and Rephaim, the children of Rapha, being the principal ones; and Emim, Horim, Zamzummim, and Avim. All these were the second irruption of the offspring of the sons of God cohabiting with the daughters of men, as we’re told in Gen 6:4: “There were giants in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children unto them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown”.
They are mentioned in other places in the bible, mainly Deuteronomy and Joshua, and Amos 2:9. The book of Baruch from the Apocrypha also mentions them: “There were the giants, those renowned men that were from the beginning, of great stature, expert in war” (Baruch 3:26 Douay Rheims Bible). They are also mentioned in Wisdom 14:6 and Ecclesiasticus (Sirach 16:8).
Bullinger (1922, p. 25 in Appendixes) writes: “….we have in these mighty men, the ‘men of renown’, the explanation of the origin of Greek mythology. That mythology was no mere invention of the human brain, but it grew out of the traditions, and memories, and legends of the doings of that mighty race of beings; and was gradually evolved out of the ‘heroes’ of Gen 6:4. The fact that they were supernatural in their origin formed an easy step to their being regarded as the demi-gods of the Greeks.
Thus the Babylonian ‘Creation Tablets,’ the Egyptian ‘Book of the dead’, the Greek mythology, and heathen Cosmogonies, which by some are set on an equality with Scripture, or by others adduced in support of it, are all the corruptions and perversions of primitive truths, distorted in proportion as their origin was forgotten, and their memories faded away”.
Hades: The Bottomless Pit
The pit, the bottomless pit, the abyss, and the pit of the abyss, are one and the same, and in the book of Revelation it is always associated with devils (Rev 9:1, 2, 11; 11:7; 17:8; 20:1,3); it is a place of fire and thick smoke (9:2); and seems to be the abode of devils (9:11; cf Matt 16:19 and Lk 8:27-31); and also a prison (9:1-2; 20:1,3); and thus corresponds to the other descriptions of hell i.e. Gehenna and Tartarus.
The Confusion Rationalised
Are there then four different hells? No. There is just one prison, one place of punishment, and the different places named in the NT are all contained in the one abode – Hades, the biblical hell. Each of the places named under the heading of Hades in this article share in common the characteristics of punishment, inextinguishable fire, and torment. Only Satan (the dragon) and devils (fallen angels), the beast and the false prophet, those who bear the mark of the beast, and unbelieving human beings will be sent there to be tormented forever. They are eternally separated from God. Some of those fallen angels are kept in everlasting chains until the judgment (Jude 6); some are released temporarily when God determines so that they will inflict physical pain and torment on ungodly humanity as part of God’s judgment on sinful humanity (Rev 9); and unbelieving humans go there as soon as they die to be tormented (2 Thess 2:10-12; Lk 16:19-31; Mk 9:44-48 etc.).
We need to understand that the book of Revelation is apocalyptic literature in nature, thus it is highly symbolic, with lurid word-pictures of strange and fantastic and impossible creatures, such as a woman with a cup filled with vileness riding a dragon (Rev 17:1-6); locusts in the shape of horses, with hair like women and tails like scorpions with stings in them (Rev 9:7-10); earth-destroying cosmic events and massive earthquakes (Rev 6:12-14; 8:8-13); a bottomless pit belching out flames and thick smoke, with a huge door opened by an angel with a key (Rev 9:1-3); a demonic army consisting of 200,000,000 riders on horses which had heads like lions and which breathed out “fire and smoke and brimstone” (Rev 9:3-11; 13-21), and many more. So this, coupled with the fact that the bible doesn’t go into specific detail about what lies beyond the grave, except to tell us that hell is a place to be avoided at all costs (Mk 9:43-48; Matt 5:29-30), makes it impossible to accurately depict or understand what lies beyond our human vision and understanding.
So there will always be a measure of confusion about the specifics of the afterlife as we read the little in the bible that is given to us; sufficient for us is it to know that we can repent of our sins and turn to Christ in faith, and thus live for ever in bliss; or we can live now as if he doesn’t even exist, and see and experience for ourselves after we die what hell is really like – but if we get to that stage, it’s too late and there is no coming back: “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries….It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:26-27, 31).
Christian Revelation, not Pagan Greek Mythology
So we have seen that Hades in Christian revelation is not a place where the unhappy souls of the dead, righteous or not, flit around forever, but it is a place of torment of unbelieving sinners. Contrary to what Strong’s Concordance of tells us of Hades, the “blessed dead” do not go to hell (hades). The writers of Scripture, “holy men of God (who) spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet 1:21) were not Greek; they were Jewish Christians; thus their worldview and their understanding of the spiritual and unseen realm was Christian with Old Testament Jewish background; and their concept of the afterlife was Christian, not the pagan concept found in Greek mythology and poetry.
So the Christian concept of the spiritual realms which exists unseen is just that – Christian. It is an other-world view which was revealed by Jesus to the apostles and through them to the church. We see this, for example, in Jesus’ revelation to John: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him…unto his servant John…” (Rev 1:1; see 2 Tim 3:16). It was revelation which was given to Jesus by the Father (Jn 8:28; 12:49-50; Rev 1:1; and see Jn 3:11-12).
Jesus, who created all things (Col 1:16), which also incorporates the invisible realm, gives us a view of the after-world which, while sharing some of the elements of Greek mythology, is nevertheless very different to it, and it is not mythological. The place where the Rich Man suffered in torment was separated from Lazarus resting in Abraham’s bosom by “a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come thence” (Lk 16:26). Here is a contrast between Greek myth and Christian revelation. Where the Greek Tartarus as the place of torment was as far beneath Hades as the earth is beneath the sky, Jesus tells us that Lazarus and the Rich Man could not only see each other, but could also talk to and hear each other, so close are the two realms to each other; and yet it is impossible for anybody to pass to the other because there is an impassable gulf between them.
And the place where the disembodied spirit of the Rich Man lay was a place of torment and punishment. He is still there today and awaits the time when his body, soul, and spirit, will be reunited in a new form and then cast into Gehenna, the lake of fire, there to be tormented forever (Rev 14:11; 20:8, 10).
But where Lazarus rested was a state of bliss where he awaits reunification with his resurrection body, and living with God. It is akin to the Greek Elysium in that he will be eternally happy; but mythical Elysium is a far inferior place to heaven, and God is not there. However, Lazarus was there in that blissful state, not because he was related to a god, or because he had performed extraordinary feats of heroism, as in the Greek concept, but because of the grace and mercy of God. Lazarus was a sinner, just as the Rich Man was, and as such he deserved hell just as muchas he. And he was so poor that his only source of food was the crumbs that fell from the Rich Man’s table; so undernourished and unhealthy that he was covered in sores – hardly a candidate for Elysium!
But Lazarus Had committed himself to God, and God would not forget this. “…the poor committeth himself unto thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless….” (Ps 10:14).
The Rich Man’s suffering as described by Jesus was the beginning of unending torment, while Lazarus received comfort and was ministered to in the “bosom of Abraham”, a symbolic term indicating rest and comfort, and sometimes referred to as Paradise. Jesus promised the dying thief: “Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise” (Lk 23:46); and when he died and rose, he went to Paradise and led the “blessed dead” out and took them with him to heaven.
Does it Really Matter…..?
Yes, it really matters – the difference between life and death always matters. By the first century, perhaps in desperation, Greek/Roman religion had developed by incorporating the Mystery Religions from the east, and these were becoming hugely popular in the Roman Empire; that of Mithras, in particular, was the favourite among the soldiers. Philosophies such as those of the Stoics and Epicureans were also popular among certain classes (e.g. Acts 17:16-34) as people were looking for hope and an escape from the dread eternity that lay before them in the bleak region of the Field of Asphodel.
It’s no wonder that Greek (and Roman) soldiers were so willing to go to war (although there were obviously other reasons as well); if they distinguished themselves in battle, they might, after death, be chosen by the three judges of the underworld to be sent to Elysium – this was their only way to escape the misery of Asphodel Meadows. But women had no chance at all, unless they were related to a god; or later, involved with the mystery religions. So when the apostle Paul preached in the Greek cities all around the Mediterranean, we ought not to be surprised when the gospel met with such success, despite the opposition of the Jews. When Paul preached the gospel in Antioch, for example, we’re told: “And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath” (Acts 13:42). And in Thessalonica: “And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women, not a few” (Acts 17:4). And again, in Berea: “Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few” (Acts 17:12).
The gospel that Paul preached gave people grounds for hope because it told of resurrection and eternal life and joy with God himself. It told of a God who had become a true man in order to die for sinners so that they could be reconciled to him and walk with him forever. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb 2:14-15). What a message of hope for those poor benighted Greeks and Romans, men AND women who lived in the shadow of Hades!
This God, Jesus Christ, said to his apostle, John: “Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell [hades] and of death” (Rev 1:18). And this message was spreading all around the Roman world. And Paul wrote that wonderful passage in 1 Corinthians 15 of resurrection and a blessed afterlife, proving by eye-witnesses that Jesus had himself been raised and become the first fruits of the dead who are to be raised (1 Cor 15:20).
No wonder so many Greeks were drawn to the gospel! They now saw a different afterlife; they saw into an eternity that was so far removed from the dread-filled view of their own religion that they could see into infinity and themselves being in the presence of the God who had delivered them from their fear of death, and from death itself; and who destroyed “him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb 2:14).
They saw a God who had become a man and who came to rescue them. They were used to the gods and goddesses becoming human, usually in order to consort with humans and seduce them into sexual relations; far different this God, this Jesus, than the capricious, often cruel, gods of their old religion.
So why should our generation want a bible that obscures the truth of hell by leaving the word “hades” untranslated or mistranslated, thus giving the idea of the ancient Greek concept of the afterlife? “…what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial?” (2 Cor 6:14-15). Give me a bible that I can trust. Give me the King James Bible or the Douay Rheims Bible.
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new” (Rev 21:1-5).
“Analytical Greek Lexicon”, Samuel Bagster and Sons, 72, Marylebone Lane, London, W.1, reprinted 1967, 1971
“Believer’s Bible Commentary 2nd edition” by William MacDonald ed. Art Farstad, Commentary on Daniel, copyright 2016, publ. Thomas Nelson, Nashville, Tennessee
Morris, H, “The Henry Morris Study Bible”, Copyright 1995, 2006, 2012 on all notes and appendices by Dr Henry M. Morris Estate, publ. Master Books, Green Forest, AR 72638
The Companion Bible: The Authorized Version of 1611 with the Structures and Critical, Explanatory, and Suggestive Notes and with 198 Appendixes (by E. W. Bullinger), originally published in 1922, publ. Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49501