From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [1]

Greek term widely used to denote the deity of the underworld and the abode of the dead. The New Testament use of Hades ( hades [ᾍδης]) builds on its Hebrew parallel, Sheol (se'ol), which was the preferred translation in the Septuagint.

The Old Testament . Sheol refers primarily to death and the abode of the dead, both godly and ungodly ( Genesis 37:25;  Psalm 16:10;  88:10-12;  Isaiah 14:9 ). These conscious souls face a lethargic existence, apparently without reward or retribution ( Job 10:21;  Ecclesiastes 9:10;  Isaiah 14:10 ). Since death is not a natural occurrence but invaded creation through the fall and Satan's destructive work ( Genesis 2-3 ), the Old Testament personifies Sheol as the power of Satan and his demonic hosts ( Job 18:14;  Psalm 18:4-5;  Isaiah 28:15;  Jeremiah 9:21 ). While an antagonist, Sheol ultimately exists at Yahweh's service ( 1 Samuel 2:6;  Psalm 55:23;  139:8 ). The Old Testament confidently awaits God's victory over Sheol ( Psalm 98;  Isaiah 25:8;  Hosea 13:14 ). But the precise expectation of a bodily resurrection for the wicked and the related conception of Sheol as an intermediate state is late ( Daniel 12:2 ).

The New Testament . This indeterminate picture of Sheol and its Greek translation, Hades, allowed varying interpretations by intertestamental Jews. In the New Testament Christ's revelation and salvific work decisively shape this term. For Christ has established authority over all powers ( Ephesians 1:20-23 ), even the one who "holds the power of death" ( Hebrews 2:14;  2 Timothy 1:10 ). He is the "Lord of both the dead and the living" ( Romans 14:9 ).

Hades is the state in which all the dead exist . In the New Testament a descent to Hades may simply refer to someone's death and disembodied existence. In this sense even Jesus enters Hades. Following David's prophecy in  Psalm 16:10 , Peter interprets the resurrection as God delivering Jesus from Hades ( Acts 2:27,31 ). Similarly, Jesus prophesies that the Son of Man will be delivered from the heart of the earth, just as God delivered Jonah from Hades ( Matthew 12:40 ). In both instances, Hades refers to a disembodied existence.

The New Testament does not explore Jesus' precise residence or activity while in Hades, unlike the later church traditions of the "harrowing of hell" or a "Hades Gospel." It is widely accepted that the proclamation in  1 Peter 3:19 occurs after rather than before his resurrection (v. 18, "made alive by the Spirit"), and that the dead in   1 Peter 4:6 are deceased believers who heard the gospel while alive. However, Jesus' descent to Hades is theologically important. This is the path of the Old Testament righteous (  Isaiah 53 ). Furthermore, this descent confirms that God assumed human nature and even our sinful destiny, death (2Col 5:14,21;  Hebrews 2:14 ). Finally, Jesus' deliverance from Hades establishes the new life for humanity ( 1 Corinthians 15 ).

Jesus' parable of the rich man and Lazarus portrays additional features of this state ( Luke 16:19-31 ). An unbridgeable chasm separates the wicked and the righteous dead. Death has fixed the human's destiny without further opportunity for repentance. The rich man recalls his fate and that of his family, and cries out in distress for Abraham to send them a sign and relieve his punishment, but to no avail. Usually the details of parables should not be pressed to teach doctrine. In this case Jesus' vivid description of the basic conditions of the godly and ungodly dead is indispensable to the parable's point. Other Scriptures also portray the requests of the dead and the fixity of their future (2Col 5:10;  Hebrews 9:27;  Revelation 6:9-10 ).

Hades is the place where the wicked dead reside and are punished . In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man experiences torment in Hades. This is the intermediate state, for the bodily resurrection and the final judgment are still future. Jesus' point is that Hades foreshadows the rich man's final judgment. Similarly, Lazarus rests at Abraham's side, connoting the joyous abode of the righteous dead ( Luke 16:23 ).

This differentiation between the wicked and the righteous dead continues throughout the New Testament. The righteous dead are "at home with the Lord" ( 2 Corinthians 5:8 ), "in paradise" ( Luke 23:43 ), or in the presence of God ( Revelation 6:9;  7:9;  14:3 ). The unrighteous are held in punishment and wicked angels are imprisoned in Tartarus, a Greek term designating the lowest part of Hades ( 1 Peter 3:19;  2 Peter 2:4,9;  Jude 6 ). Jesus' woe to unrepentant Capernaum that it will be brought down to Hades is not simply a prophecy of its earthly demise, but its judgment (  Luke 10:15 ).

For some commentations these references to Hades and the dead are problematic and contradict the Old Testament. G. Vos resolves these problems by distinguishing between Hades as a disembodied state for all the dead and the specific abode of the ungodly. As he astutely notes, only the ungodly reside in a punitive place called Hades. The godly dead are with Jesus in a disembodied state also called Hades. The New Testament does significantly modify the Old Testament concept of Hades as a shadowy abode of all the dead. This further development, however, concurs with Jesus' lordship over the living and the dead.

Hades' power is conquered . Like the Old Testament, the New Testament personifies Hades and associated terms, such as death, abyss, and Abaddon, as the demonic forces behind sin and ruin ( Acts 2:24;  Romans 5:14,17;  1 Corinthians 15:25-26;  Revelation 6:8;  9:1-11;  20:14 ). When Jesus promises that the "gates of Hades" will never overcome the church ( Matthew 16:18 ), this phrase parallels Old Testament expressions tied to evil's power and persecution ( Psalm 9:13;  107:17-20 ). Jesus' reference to the future in  Matthew 16:18 concurs with Revelation's vision of Satan's final attack on God's people (19:19; 20:7-9). Jesus has promised that he will conquer Hades so that it will not defeat the church. Indeed, his resurrection establishes that this evil empire is already broken. Christ now holds the keys, the authority over death and Hades (  Revelation 1:18 )!

The end of Hades . Jesus is the conqueror of all powers, the exalted One, and as such he has graced his church ( Ephesians 4:7-10 ). With Hades vanquished ( Revelation 1:18 ) believers know that nothing, not even death, cannot separate them from Christ ( Romans 8:39 ). They still await the next act in the history of salvation, when Jesus consummates his kingdom. Then Hades will release its dead for the final resurrection and judgment ( Revelation 20:13 ). Thereafter Hades, Satan, and the reprobate will be thrown into Gehenna, the place of God's final retributive punishment. (Hades has only a limited existence; Gehenna or hell is the final place of judgment for the wicked. Many English versions foster confusion by translating both terms as "hell.")

In summary, the New Testament affirms that Christ has conquered Hades. While dead believers exist in this state, they are also "with the Lord." Hades also denotes the vanquished stronghold of Satan's forces whose end is certain and the intermediate place of punishment for the wicked dead until the final judgment.

Timothy R. Phillips

See also Abraham'S Bosom; Mortality Death; Grave; Hell; Sheol

Bibliography . J. W. Cooper, Body, Soul, and Life Everlasting  ; W. J. Dalton, Christ's Proclamation to the Spirits: A Study of  1 Peter 3:18-4:6  ; M. J. Harris, Themelios 11 (1986): 47-52; R. L. Harris, TWOT, 2:892-93; A. A. Hoekema, The Bible and the Future  ; J. Jeremias, TDNT, 1:146-49,657-58; 6:924-28; T. J. Lewis, ABD, 2:101-5; G. Vos, ISBE, 2:1314-15.

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [2]

Hades is a Lat. word adopted from the Gr. Ἅιδης (ᾅδης), which is used in the Septuagintto translate the Heb. Sheol and in NT Gr. to denote the same idea as was expressed by Sheol is the OT, viz. ‘the abode of the dead.’ The word has been consistently used in the Revised Versionof the NT to render ᾅδης on each of the 10 occasions of its occurrence ( Matthew 11:23;  Matthew 16:18,  Luke 10:15;  Luke 16:23,  Acts 2:27;  Acts 2:31 [in  1 Corinthians 15:55 critical texts give θάνατε for ᾅδη of TR [Note: Textus Receptus, Received Text.]],  Revelation 1:18;  Revelation 6:8;  Revelation 20:13-14), in place of the misleading ‘hell’ of the Authorized Version.

In  Matthew 11:23 ( Luke 10:15) the word is employed in a purely figurative sense. Capernaum, ‘exalted unto heaven,’ is to ‘go down unto Hades,’ i.e. is to be utterly overthrown. Figurative also is the statement in  Matthew 16:18 that ‘the gates of Hades shall not prevail against’ the Church of Christ. As the strength of a walled city depended on the strength of its gates, ‘the gates of Hades’ is metaphor for the power of death, and promise amounts to an assurance of the indestructibility of the Church. In  Luke 16:23 the rich man lifts up his eyes in Hades, being in torment, and sees Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom. Hades is used here in its traditional sense of the under world of the dead, whether righteous or unrighteous. Not only Dives but Lazarus is there. But it is no longer conceived of in the negative fashion of the OT as a realm of undifferentiated existence in which there are neither rewards nor penalties. In keeping with the pre-Christian development of Jewish thought (cf.  2 Maccabees 12:45, Eth. Enoch , 22), it is represented now as a scene of moral issues and contrasted experiences-the selfish rich man is ‘tormented in this flame’; the humble beggar is ‘comforted’ in Abraham’s bosom. The moral lesson that the recompense of character is sure and that it begins immediately after death is very clear; but it is going beyond our Lord’s didactic intention in a parable to find here a detailed doctrine as to the circumstances and conditions of the intermediate state.

 Acts 2:27 is a quotation from  Psalms 16:10 which in v. 31 is applied to Christ, of whom, as risen from the tomb, it is said that He was not ‘left in Hades,’ i.e. in the regions of the dead. In the same general and ordinary sense the word is used in  Revelation 1:18 : ‘I have the keys of death and of Hades’; cf. the close association in the OT of death with Sheol ( Psalms 116:3,  Proverbs 5:5).

In  Revelation 6:8 Hades is personified as a follower of Death upon his pale horse. In the author’s vision of the Judgment ( Revelation 20:11 ff.) the sea and Death and Hades give up the dead which are in them ( Revelation 20:13), and finally Death and Hades are themselves cast into the lake of fire ( Revelation 20:14).

Literature.-H. Cremer, Bib.-Theol. Lexicon of NT Gr. , Eng. translation4, Edinburgh, 1895, s.v. ᾅδης; G. Dalman, article‘Hades’ in Realencyklopädie für protestantische Theologie und Kirche 3; S. D. F. Salmond, Christian Doctrine of Immortality 4, Edinburgh, 1901, p. 277ff., also article‘Hades’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) .

J. C. Lambert.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [3]

1: ᾍΔης (Strong'S #86 — Noun Location — hades — hah'-dace )

"the region of departed spirits of the lost" (but including the blessed dead in periods preceding the ascension of Christ). It has been thought by some that the word etymologically meant "the unseen" (from a, negative, and eido, "to see"), but this derivation is questionable; a more probable derivation is from hado, signifying "all-receiving." It corresponds to "Sheol" in the OT. In the AV of the OT and NT; it has been unhappily rendered "hell," e.g.,  Psalm 16:10; or "the grave," e.g.,  Genesis 37:35; or "the pit,"  Numbers 16:30,33; in the NT the revisers have always used the rendering "hades;" in the OT, they have not been uniform in the translation, e.g. in  Isaiah 14:15 "hell" (marg., "Sheol"); usually they have "Sheol" in the text and "the grave" in the margin. It never denotes the grave, nor is the permanent region of the lost; in point of time it is, for such, intermediate between decease and the doom of Gehenna. For the condition, see   Luke 16:23-31 .

 Matthew 11:23 16:18 Luke 10:15 16:23 Acts 2:27,31 Revelation 1:18 Revelation 6:8  Revelation 20:13 1—Corinthians 15:55

People's Dictionary of the Bible [4]

Hades. The unseen world, the spirit world. Occurs eleven times in the Greek Testament,  Matthew 11:23;  Matthew 16:18;  Acts 2:31;  Revelation 1:18, etc., and is retained in the R. V. to distinguish it from Gehenna ("hell"). The word is used in Homer as a proper noon for Pluto, the god of the unseen or lower world. In later writers it signifies the unseen spirit world, the abode of the dead. 1. The Greek view of Hades and the Roman view of Orcus is that of a place for all the dead in the depths of the earth. 2. The Hebrew Sheol is the equivalent for the Greek Hades, and is so translated in the Septuagint. It is likewise the subterranean abode of all the dead, but only their temporary abode until the advent of the Messiah or the final judgment, and is divided into two departments, called Paradise or Abraham'S Bosom for the good, and Gehenna or Hell for the bad. 3. The New Testament Hades does not differ essentially from the Hebrew Sheol, but Christ has broken the power of death, dispelled the darkness of Hades, and revealed to believers the idea of heaven as the state and abode of bliss in immediate prospect after a holy life. The A. V. translates Hades and Gehenna by the same word, "hell," except in  1 Corinthians 15:55, "grave," R. V. reads "death," and thus obliterates the important distinction between the realm of the dead or spirit world and the place of torment. Hades is a temporary abode—heaven and hell are permanent and final. Since Christ's descent into Hades, or the unseen, the spirit world, believers need not fear to enter this realm through death. Christ declares, "I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of death and of Hades."  Revelation 1:18, R. V.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [5]

The Greek word hades was used in Bible times as the equivalent of the Hebrew word sheol, the name used in the Old Testament for the world of the dead. This world of the dead was the shadowy destiny that awaited all people, whether good or bad ( Acts 2:27; cf.  Psalms 16:10; for details see Sheol ).

With Christ’s conquest of death, there was no need to fear the world of the dead any longer. Hades was a fearful place only to those who would not trust in Christ. Hades spoke therefore of more than death in general; it spoke of the separation from God that followed death in the afterlife ( Matthew 11:23;  Matthew 16:18;  Revelation 20:13-14).

In general, however, the word that the New Testament usually used for the place of eternal punishment was not hades but gehenna. This was a place of fiery torment ( Matthew 18:9; see Hell ).

Easton's Bible Dictionary [6]

 Genesis 42:38 Psalm 139:8 Hosea 13:14 Isaiah 14:9 Matthew 11:23

In  Luke 16:23 it is most distinctly associated with the doom and misery of the lost.

In Acts 2:27-31Peter quotes the LXX. version of   Psalm 16:8-11 , plainly for the purpose of proving our Lord's resurrection from the dead. David was left in the place of the dead, and his body saw corruption. Not so with Christ. According to ancient prophecy ( Psalm 30:3 ) he was recalled to life.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [7]

HADES . The Lat. term for the Heb. Sheol , the abode of departed spirits. It was conceived of as a great cavern or pit under the earth, in which the shades lived. Just what degree of activity the shades possessed seems to have been somewhat doubtful. According to the Greeks, they were engaged in the occupations in which they had been employed on earth. The Hebrews, however, seem rather to have thought of their condition as one of inactivity. (See Sheol and Gehenna.) RV [Note: Revised Version.] has ‘Hades’ for AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘ hell ’ when the latter = ‘realm of the dead.’

Shailer Mathews.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [8]

Ha'des. In Revised Version. See Hell .

Webster's Dictionary [9]

(n.) The nether world (according to classical mythology, the abode of the shades, ruled over by Hades or Pluto); the invisible world; the grave.

Holman Bible Dictionary [10]


Morrish Bible Dictionary [11]


Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [12]

a Greek word (] Σης , derived, according to the best established and most generally received etymology, from privative a and Ἰδεῖν , hence often written Ά Δμς ), means strictly What Is Out Of Sight, or possibly, if applied to a person, What Puts Out Of Sight. In earlier Greek this last was, if not its only, at least its prevailing application; in Homer it occurs only as the personal designation of Pluto, the lord of the invisible world, and who was probably so designated-not from being himself invisible, for that belonged to him in common with the heathen gods generally-but from his power to render mortals invisible-the invisible-making deity (see Crusius, Homeric Lexicon, s.v.). The Greeks, however, in process of time abandoned this use of hades, and when the Greek Scriptures were written the word was scarcely ever applied except to the place of the departed. In the classical writers, therefore, it is used to denote Orcus, or the infernal regions. In the Greek version of the Old Testament it is the common rendering for the Heb. שְׁאוֹל , Sheol, though in the form there often appears a remnant of the original personified application; for example, in  Genesis 37:35, "I will go down to my son," Εἰς ] Δου , i.e. into the abodes or house of hades Δύμους or Οϊ v Κον being understood). This elliptical form was common both in the classics and in Scripture, even after hades was never thought of but as a region or place of abode.

1. The appropriation of Hades by the Greek interpreters as an equivalent for Sheol may undoubtedly be taken as evidence that there was a close agreement in the ideas conveyed by the two terms as currently understood by the Greeks and Hebrews respectively-a substantial, but not an entire agreement; for in this, as well as in other terms which related to subjects bearing on things spiritual and divine, the different religions of Jew and Gentile necessarily exercised a modifying influence; so that even when the same term was employed, and with reference generally to the same thing, shades of difference could not but exist in respect to the ideas understood to be indicated by them. Two or three points stand prominently out in the views entertained by the ancients respecting hades: first, that it was the common receptacle of departed spirits, of good as well as bad; second, that it was divided into two compartments, the one containing an Elysium of bliss for the good, the other a Tartarus of sorrow and punishment for the wicked; and, thirdly, that in respect to its locality, it lay under ground, in the mid-regions of the earth. So far as these points are concerned, there is no material difference between the Greek hades and the Hebrew sheol. This, too, was viewed as the common receptacle of the departed: patriarchs and righteous men spoke of going into it at their decease, and the most ungodly and worthless characters are represented as finding in it their proper home ( Genesis 42:38;  Psalms 139:8;  Hosea 13:14;  Isaiah 14:9, etc.). A twofold division also in the state of the departed, corresponding to the different positions they occupied, and the courses they pursued on earth, is clearly implied in the revelations of Scripture on the subject, though with the Hebrews less prominently exhibited, and without any of the fantastic and puerile inventions of heathen mythology. Yet the fact of a real distinction in the state of the departed, corresponding to their spiritual conditions on earth, is in various passages not obscurely indicated.

Divide retribution is represented as pursuing the wicked after they have left this world-pursuing them even into the lowest realms of sheol ( Deuteronomy 32:22;  Amos 9:2); and the bitterest shame and humiliation are described as awaiting there the most prosperous of this world's inhabitants, if they have abused their prosperity to the dishonor of God and the injury of their fellow-men ( Psalms 49:14, Isaiah 14). On the other hand, the righteous had hope in his death, he could rest assured that, in the viewless regions of Sheol, as well as amid the changing vicissitudes of earth, the right hand of God would sustain him; even there he would enter into peace, walking still, as it were, in his uprightness ( Proverbs 14:32;  Psalms 139:8;  Isaiah 57:2). That Sheol, like Hades, was conceived of as a lower region in comparison with the present world, is so manifest from the whole language of Scripture on the subject, that it is unnecessary to point to particular examples; in respect to the good as well as the bad, the passage into sheol was contemplated as a descent; and the name was sometimes used as a synonym for the very lowest depths ( Deuteronomy 32:22;  Job 11:7-9). This is not, however, to be understood as affirming anything of the actual locality of disembodied spirits; for there can be no doubt that the language here, as in other cases, was derived from the mere appearances of things; and as the body at death was committed to the lower parts of the earth, so the soul was conceived of as also going downwards. But that this was not designed to mark the local boundaries of the region of departed spirits may certainly be inferred from other expressions used regarding them-as that God took them to himself; or that he would give them to see the path of life; that he would make them dwell in his house forever; or, more generally still, that the spirit of a man goeth upwards ( Genesis 5:24;  Psalms 16:11;  Psalms 23:6;  Ecclesiastes 3:21;  Ecclesiastes 12:7). During the old dispensations there was still no express revelation from heaven respecting the precise condition or external relationships of departed spirits; the time had not yet come for such specific intimations; and the language employed was consequently of a somewhat vague and vacillating nature, such as spontaneously arose from common feelings and impressions. For the same reason, the ideas entertained even by God's people upon the subject were predominantly somber and gloomy. Sheol wore no inviting aspect to their view, no more than hades to the superstitious heathen; the very men who believed that God would accompany them thither and keep them from evil, contemplated the state as one of darkness and silence, and shrunk from it with instinctive horror, or gave hearty thanks when they bound themselves for a time delivered from it ( Psalms 6:5;  Psalms 30:3;  Psalms 30:9;  Job 3:13 sq.;  Isaiah 38:18). The reason was that they had only general assurances, but no specific light on the subject; and their comfort rather lay in overleaping the gulf of Sheol, and fixing their thoughts on the better resurrection some time to come, than in anything they could definitely promise themselves between death and the resurrection-morn.

In this lay one important point of difference between the Jewish and the heathen hades, Originated by the diverse spirit of the two religions, that to the believing Hebrew alone the sojourn in sheol appeared that only of a temporary and intermediate existence. The heathen had no prospect beyond its shadowy realms; its bars for him were eternal; and the idea of a resurrection was utterly strange alike to his religion and his philosophy. But it was in connection with the prospect of a resurrection from the dead that all hope formed itself in the breasts of the true people of God. As this alone could effect the reversion of the evil brought in by sin, and really destroy the destroyer, so nothing less was announced in that first promise which gave assurance of the crushing of the tempter; and though as to its nature but dimly apprehended by the eve of faith, it still necessarily formed, as to the reality, the great object of desire and expectation. Hence it is said of the patriarchs that they looked for a better country, which is a heavenly one; and of those who in later times resisted unto blood for the truth of God, that they did it to obtain a better resurrection ( Hebrews 11:16;  Hebrews 11:35). Hence, too, the spirit of prophecy confidently proclaimed the arrival of a time when the dead should arise and sing, when sheol itself should be destroyed, and many of its inmates be brought forth to the possession of everlasting life ( Isaiah 26:19;  Hosea 13:14;  Daniel 12:2). Yet again, in apostolic times, Paul represents this as emphatically the promise made by God to the fathers, to the realization of which his countrymen as with one heart were hoping to come ( Acts 26:7); and Josephus, in like manner, testifies of all but the small Sadduceean faction of them, that they believed in a resurrection to honor and blessing for those who had lived righteously in this life (Ant. 18, 1, 3). This hope necessarily cast a gleam of light across the darkness of Hades for the Israelite, which was altogether unknown to the Greek. Closely connected with it was another difference also of considerable moment, viz., that the Hebrew Sheol was not, like the Gentile Hades, viewed as an altogether separate and independent region, withdrawn from the primal fountain of life, and subject to another dominion than the world of sense and time. Pluto was ever regarded by the heathen as the rival of the king of earth and heaven; the two domains were essentially antagonistic. But to the more enlightened Hebrew there was but one Lord of the living and the dead; the chambers of sheol were as much open to his eye and subject to his control as the bodies and habitations of men on earth; so that to go into the realms of the deceased was but to pass from one department to another of the same all-embracing sway of Jehovah. (See Sheol).

2. Such was the general state of belief and expectation regarding Hades or Sheol in Old-Testament times. With the introduction of the Gospel a new light breaks in, which shoots its rays also through the realms of the departed, and relieves the gloom in which they had still appeared shrouded to the view of the faithful. The term hades, however, is of comparatively rare occurrence in New-Testament scripture; in our Lord's own discourses it is found only thrice, and on two of the occasions it. is used in a somewhat rhetorical manner, by way of contrast with the region of life and blessing. He said of Capernaum, that from being exalted unto heaven it should be brought down to hades ( Matthew 11:23) that is, plainly, from the highest point of fancied or of real elevation to the lowest abasement. Of that spiritual kingdom, also, or church, which he was going to establish on earth, he affirmed that "the gates of Hades should not prevail against it" ( Matthew 16:18), which is all one with saying that it should be perpetual. Hades is contemplated as a kind of realm or kingdom, accustomed, like earthly kingdoms in the East, to hold its council chamber at the gates; and whatever measures might there be taken, whatever plots devised, they should never succeed in overturning the foundations of Christ's kingdom, or effectually marring its interests. In both these passages hades is placed by our Lord in an antagonistic relation to his cause among men, although, from the manner in which the word is employed, no very definite conclusions could be drawn from them as to the nature and position of hades itself. But in another passage the only one in which any indication is given by our Lord of the state of its inhabitants-it is most distinctly and closely associated with the doom and misery of the lost: "In hades," it is said of the rich man in the parable, "he lifted up his eyes, being in torments" ( Luke 16:23). The soul of Lazarus is, no doubt, also represented as being so far within the bounds of the same region that he could be descried and spoken with by the sufferer. Still, he was represented as sharing no common fate with the other, but as occupying a region shut off from all intercommunion with that assigned to the wicked, and, so far from being held in a sort of dungeon-confinement, as reposing in Abraham's bosom, in an abode where angels visit. With this also agrees what our Lord said of his own temporary sojourn among the dead, when on the eve of his departing thither "Today," said he, in his reply to the prayer of the penitent malefactor, "shalt thou be with me in paradise" ( Luke 23:43) But paradise was the proper region of life and blessing, not of gloom and forgetfulness; originally it was the home and heritage of man as created in the image of God; and when Christ now named the place whither he was going with a redeemed sinner paradise it bespoke that already there was an undoing-of the evil of sin, that for all who are Christ's there is an actual recovery immediately after death, and as regards the better part of their natures, of what was lost by the dis. obedience and ruin of the fall. (See Paradise).

But was not Christ himself in hades? Did not the apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost apply to him the words of David in Psalms 16, in which it was said, "Thou wilt not leave my soul in hades, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption," and argue apparently that the soul of Christ must have indeed gone to hades, but only could not be allowed to continue there ( Acts 2:27-31)? Even so, however, it would but concern the application of a name; for if the language of the apostle must be understood as implying that our Lord's soul was in hades between death and the resurrection, it still was hades as having a paradise within its bosom; so that, knowing from his on lips what sort of a receptacle it afforded to the disembodied spirit of Jesus, we need care little about the mere name by which, in a general way, it might be designated. But the apostle Peter, it must be remembered, does not call it hades; he merely quotes an Old-Testament passage, in which hades is mentioned, as a passage that had its verification in Christ; and the language of course in this, as in other prophetical passages, was spoken from an Old-Testament point of view, and must be read in the light which the revelations of the Gospel have cast over the state and prospects of the soul. We may even, however, go farther; for the Psalmist himself does not strictly affirm the soul of the Holy One to have gone to hades; his Words precisely-rendered are, "Thou wilt not leave (or abandon) my soul to hades -that is, give it up as a prey to the power or domain of the nether world. It is rather a negative than a positive assertion regarding our Lord's connection with hades that is contained in the passage, and nothing can fairly be argued from it as to the local habitation or actual state of his disembodied spirit. (See Intermediate State).

The only other passages in the New Testament in which mention is made of hades are in  Revelation 1:18, where the glorified Redeemer declares that he has the keys of death and of Hades;  Revelation 6:8, where death is symbolized as a rider, smiting all around him with weapons of destruction, and Hades following to receive the souls of the slain;  Revelation 20:13-14, where death and Hades are both represented as giving up the dead that were in them, and afterwards as being themselves cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death. In every one of these passages Hades stands in a dark and-forbidding connection with death-very unlike that association with paradise and Abraham's bosom in which our Lord exhibited the receptacle of his own and his people's souls to the eye of faith; and not only so, but in one of them it is expressly as an ally of death in the execution of judgment that hades is represented, while in another it appears as an accursed thing, consigned to the lake of fire. In short, it seems as if in the progress of God's dispensations a separation had come to be made between elements that originally were mingled together as if, from the time that Christ brought life and immortality to light, the distinction in the next world as well as this was broadened between the saved and the lost; so that hades was henceforth appropriated, both in the name and in the reality, to those who were to be reserved in darkness and misery to the judgment of the great day, and other names, with other and brighter ideas, were employed to designate the intermediate resting-place of the redeemed. It was meet that it should be so; for by the personal work and mediation of Christ the whole Church of God rose to a higher condition; old things passed away, all things became new; and it is but reasonable to suppose that the change in some degree extended to the occupants of the intermediate state the saved becoming more enlarged in the possession of bliss and glory, the lost more sunk in anguish and despair. (See Death).

3. Such being the nature of the scriptural representation on the subject, one must not only condemn the fables that sprung up amid the dark ages about the limbus or antechamber of hell, and the purgatorial fires, through which it was supposed even redeemed souls lad to complete their ripening for glory, but also reject the form in which the Church has embodied its belief respecting the personal history of Christ, when it said "descended into hell." This, it is well known, was a later addition to what has been called the Apostles Creed, made when the Church was far on its way to the gloom and superstition of the Dark Ages. Though the words are capable o; a rational and scriptural explanation, yet they do not present the place and character of our Lord's existence in the intermediate state as these are exhibited by himself; they suggest something painful, rather than, as it should be, blessed and triumphant; and, if taken in their natural sense, they would rob believers of that sure hope of an immediate transition into mansions of glory, which, as his followers and participants of his risen life, it is their privilege to entertain. (See Hell).

4. There are two other terms so often associated in Scripture with Hades as to render their signification in some measure synonymous.

(1.) Abyss ( Ἄβυσσος == Ἄβυθος , Without Bottom). The Sept. uses this word to represent three different Hebrew words: 1. מְצוֹלָה A Depth or deep place ( Job 41:23); or צוּלָה , the Deep, the sea ( Isaiah 44:27). 2. אֵּהִב breadth, a broad place ( Job 36:16). 3. תַּהוֹם , a Mass of waters, the sea ( Genesis 8:2, etc.), the chaotic mass of waters ( Genesis 1:2;  Psalms 104:6), the subterraneous waters, "the deep that lieth under" ( Genesis 49:25), "the deep that coucheth beneath" ( Deuteronomy 33:13). In the N.T. it is used always with the article, to designate the abode of the dead, hades, especially that part of it which is also the abode of devils and the place of woe ( Romans 10:7;  Luke 8:31;  Revelation 9:1-2;  Revelation 9:11;  Revelation 11:7;  Revelation 17:8;  Revelation 20:1;  Revelation 20:3). In the Revelation the word is always translated in the A.Vers. "bottomless pit," by Luther "Abgrund." In 9:1, mention is made of "the key of the bottomless pit" ( Κλεὶς Το῏Υ Φρέατος Τῆς Ἀβ . , The Key Of The Pit Of The Absss), where Hades is represented as a boundless depth. which is entered by means of a shaft covered by a door, and secured by a lock (Alford, Stuart, Ewald, De Wette, Diisterdieck). In  Revelation 20:11 mention is made of "the angel of the abyss," by whom some suppose is intended Satan or one of his angels. (See Abyss).

(2.) Abaddon ( Ἀβαδδών , from the Heb. אֲבִדּוֹן , Destruction, the place of the dead,  Job 26:6;  Proverbs 21:1), the name given in  Revelation 9:11 to "the angel of the abyss," and explained by the writer as equivalent to the Greek ( Ἀπολλύων , Destroyer. The term may be understood either as a personification of the idea of destruction, or as denoting the being supposed to preside over the regions of the dead, the angel of death. The Rabbins frequently use this term to denote the lowest regions of Sheol or Hades (Erubin, fol. 19:1; Sohar Num. fol. 4; Sohar Chudash, fol. 22; comp.Eisenmenger, Entdecktes Jud. 2, 324 sq.); and the addition, "angel of the abyss," seems to favor the supposition that the president or king of this place is alluded to here. But it may be doubted whether the angelologly of the Rabbins finds any sanction from the N.T., and it accords better with the general character of the passage to suppose a personification here of the idea of destruction, so that the symbol may find many realizations in the history of the Church: as there are many Antichrists, so doubtless are there many Apollyons. The identification of Abaddon with the Asmodseus of the Apocrypha and the Talmud rests upon no solid basis. (See Abaddon). 5. A full view of the extensive literature of this subject more appropriately belongs to other heads; we here notice only a few treatises specially bearing upon the opposite states of the dead: Jour. Sac. Lit. October, 1852, p. 35 sq., April, 1853, p. 56 sq.; July, 1853, p. 413 sq.; Bickersteth, Hades and Heaven (Lond. 1865). (See Heaven).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [13]

hā´dēz ( Αἵδης , Haı́dēs , ᾅδης , haı́dēs , "not to be seen"): Hades, Greek originally Haidou , in genitive, "the house of Hades," then, as nominative, designation of the abode of the dead itself. The word occurs in the New Testament in   Matthew 11:23 (parallel   Luke 10:15 );  Matthew 16:18;  Luke 16:23;  Acts 2:27 ,  Acts 2:31;  Revelation 1:18;  Revelation 6:8;  Revelation 20:13 f. It is also found in Textus Receptus of the New Testament   1 Corinthians 15:55 , but here the correct reading (Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek , the Revised Version (British and American)) is probably Thánate , "O Death," instead of Háidē , "O Hades." the King James Version renders "Hades" by "hell" in all instances except  1 Corinthians 15:55 , where it puts "grave" (margin "hell") in dependence on  Hosea 13:14 . the Revised Version (British and American) everywhere has "Hades."

1. In Old Testament: Sheol

In the Septuagint Hades is the standing equivalent for Sheol, but also translates other terms associated with death and the state after it. The Greek conception of Hades was that of a locality receiving into itself all the dead, but divided into two regions, one a place of torment, the other of blessedness. This conception should not be rashly transferred to the New Testament, for the latter stands not under the influence of Greek pagan belief, but gives a teaching and reflects a belief which model their idea of Hades upon the Old Testament through the Septuagint. The Old Testament Sheol, while formally resembling the Greek Hades in that it is the common receptacle of all the dead, differs from it, on the one hand, by the absence of a clearly defined division into two parts, and, on the other hand, by the emphasis placed on its association with death and the grave as abnormal facts following in the wake of sin. The Old Testament thus concentrates the partial light it throws on the state after death on the negative, undesirable side of the prospect apart from redemption. When in the progress of Old Testament revelation the state after death begins to assume more definite features, and becomes more sharply differentiated in dependence on the religious and moral issue of the present life this is not accomplished in the canonical writings (otherwise in the apocalyptic literature) by dividing Sheol into two compartments, but by holding forth to the righteous the promise of deliverance from Sheol, so that the latter becomes more definitely outlined as a place of evil and punishment.

2. In the New Testament: Hades

The New Testament passages mark a distinct stage in this process, and there is, accordingly, a true basis in Scripture for the identification in a certain aspect of Sheol - H ades - with hell as reflected in the King James Version. The theory according to which Hades is still in the New Testament the undifferentiated provisional abode of all the dead until the day of judgment, with the possibility of ultimate salvation even for those of its inmates who have not been saved in this life, is neither in harmony with the above development nor borne out by the facts of New Testament usage. That dead believers abide in a local Hades cannot be proven from  1 Thessalonians 4:16;  1 Corinthians 15:23 , for these passages refer to the grave and the body, not to a gathering-place of the dead. On the other hand  Luke 23:43;  2 Corinthians 5:6-8;  Philippians 1:23;  Revelation 6:9;  Revelation 7:9;  Revelation 15:2 teach that the abode of believers immediately after death is with Christ and God.

3.  Acts 2:27 ,  Acts 2:31

It is, of course, a different matter, when Hades, as not infrequently already the Old Testament Sheol, designates not the place of the dead but the state of death or disembodied existence. In this sense even the soul of Jesus was in Hades according' to Peter's statement (  Acts 2:27 ,  Acts 2:31 - on the basis of   Psalm 16:10 ). Here the abstract sense is determined by the parallel expression, "to see corruption" None the less from a comparatively early date this passage has been quoted in support of the doctrine of a local descent of Christ into Hades.

4.  Revelation 20:13;  Revelation 6:8;  Revelation 1:18

The same abstract meaning is indicated for  Revelation 20:13 . Death and Hades are here represented as delivering up the dead on the eve of the final judgment. If this is more than a poetic duplication of terms, Hades will stand for the personified state of death, Death for the personified cause of this state. The personification appears plainly from  Revelation 20:14 : "Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire." In the number of these "dead" delivered up by Hades, believers are included, because, even on the chiliastic interpretation of   Revelation 20:4-6 , not all the saints share in the first resurrection, but only those "beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God," i.e. the martyrs. A similar personifying combination of Death and Hades occurs in  Revelation 6:8 ("a pale horse: and he that sat upon him his name was Death; and Hades followed with him"). In   Revelation 1:18 , on the other hand, Death and Hades are represented as prisons from which Christ, in virtue of His own resurrection, has the power to deliver, a representation which again implies that in some, not necessarily local, sense believers also are kept in Hades.

5.  Luke 16:23

In distinction from these passages when the abstract meaning prevails and the local conception is in abeyance, the remaining references are more or less locally conceived. Of these  Luke 16:23 is the only one which might seem to teach that recipients of salvation enter after death into Hades as a place of abode. It has been held that Hades is here the comprehensive designation of the locality where the dead reside, and is divided into two regions, "the bosom of Abraham" and the place of torment, a representation for which Jewish parallels can be quoted, aside from its resemblance to the Greek bisection of Hades. Against this view, however, it may be urged, that if "the bosom of Abraham" were conceived as one of the two divisions of Hades, the other division would have been named with equal concreteness in connection with Dives. In point of fact, the distinction is not between "the bosom of Abraham" and another place, as both included in Hades, but between "the bosom of Abraham" and Hades as antithetical and exclusive. The very form of the description of the experience of Dives: "In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torments," leads us to associate Hades as such with pain and punishment. The passage, therefore, does not prove that the saved are after death in Hades. In further estimating its bearing upon the problem of the local conditions of the disembodied life after death, the parabolic character of the representation must be taken into account. The parable is certainly not intended to give us topographical information about the realm of the dead, although it presupposes that there is a distinct place of abode for the righteous and wicked respectively.

6.  Matthew 11:23

The two other passages where Hades occurs in the teaching of our Lord ( Matthew 11:23 parallel   Luke 10:15; and  Matthew 16:18 ) make a metaphorical use of the conception, which, however, is based on the local sense. In the former utterance it is predicted of Capernaum that it shall in punishment for its unbelief "go down unto Hades." As in the Old Testament Sheol is a figure for the greatest depths known (  Deuteronomy 32:22;  Isaiah 7:11;  Isaiah 57:9;  Job 11:8;  Job 26:6 ), this seems to be a figure for the extreme of humiliation to which that city was to be reduced in the course of history. It is true,   Matthew 11:24 , with its mention of the day of judgment, might seem to favor an eschatological reference to the ultimate doom of the unbelieving inhabitants, but the usual restriction of Hades to the punishment of the intermediate state (see below) is against this.

7.  Matthew 16:18

In the other passage,  Matthew 16:18 , Jesus declares that the gates of Hades shall not katischúein the church He intends to build. The verb katischuein may be rendered, "to overpower" or "to surpass." If the former be adopted, the figure implied is that of Hades as a stronghold of the power of evil or death from which warriors stream forth to assail the church as the realm of life. On the other rendering there is no reference to any conflict between Hades and the church, the point of comparison being merely the strength of the church, the gates of Hades, i.e. the realm of death, serving in common parlance as a figure of the greatest conceivable strength, because they never allow to escape what has once entered through them.

The above survey of the passages tends to show that Hades, where it is locally conceived, is not a provisional receptacle for all the dead, but plainly associated with the punishment of the wicked. Where it comes under consideration for the righteous there is nothing to indicate a local sense. On  1 Peter 3:19;  1 Peter 4:6 (where, however, the word "Hades" does not occur), see articles Eschatology Of The New Testament; Spirits In Prison .

8. Not a Final State

The element of truth in theory of the provisional character of Hades lies in this, that the New Testament never employs it in connection with the final state of punishment, as subsequent to the last judgment. For this Gehenna (which see) and other terms are used. Dives is represented as being in Hades immediately after his death and while his brethren are still in this present life. Whether the implied differentiation between stages of punishment, depending obviously on the difference between the disembodied and reëmbodied state of the lost, also carries with itself a distinction between two places of punishment, in other words whether Hades and Gehenna are locally distinct, the evidence is scarcely sufficient to determine. The New Testament places the emphasis on the eschatological developments at the end, and leaves many things connected with the intermediate state in darkness.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [14]

Hades, a Greek word, which occurs frequently in the New Testament, where it is usually rendered 'hell' in the English version. The word hades means literally that which is in darkness. In the classical writers it is used to denote Orcus, or the infernal regions. According to the notions of the Jews, sheol or hades was a vast receptacle where the souls of the dead existed in a separate state until the resurrection of their bodies. The region of the blessed during this interval, or the inferior paradise, they supposed to be in the upper part of this receptacle; while beneath was the abyss or gehenna(Tartarus), in which the souls of the wicked were subjected to punishment.

The question whether this is or is not the doctrine of the Scriptures is one of much importance, and has, first and last, excited no small amount of discussion. It is a doctrine received by a large portion of the nominal Christian church; and it forms the foundation of the Roman Catholic doctrine of Purgatory, for which there would be no ground but for this interpretation of the word hades.

The question therefore rests entirely upon the interpretation of this word, and as the Septuagint gives this as the meaning of the Hebrew word sheol, the real question is, what is the meaning which sheol bears in the Old Testament, and hades in the New? A careful examination of the passages in which these words occur will probably lead to the conclusion, that they afford no real sanction to the notion of an intermediate place of the kind indicated, but are used by the inspired writers to denote the grave—the resting-place of the bodies both of the righteous and the wicked; and that they are also used to signify hell, the abode of miserable spirits. But it would be difficult to produce any instance in which they can be shown to signify the abode of the spirits of just men made perfect, either before or after the resurrection.

In the great majority of instances sheolis in the Old Testament used to signify the grave, and in most of these cases is so translated in the Authorized Version. It can have no other meaning in such texts as;;;;;;; and in numerous other passages in the writings of David, Solomon, and the prophets. But as the grave is regarded by most persons, and was more especially so by the ancients, with awe and dread, as being the region of gloom and darkness, so the word denoting it soon came to be applied to that more dark and gloomy world which was to be the abiding place of the miserable. Where our translators supposed the word to have this sense, they rendered it by 'hell.' Some of the passages in which this has been done may be doubtful; but there are others of which a question can scarcely be entertained. Such are those (as;; ) in which the word denotes the opposite of heaven, which cannot be the grave, nor the general state or region of the dead, but hell. Still more decisive are such passages as;; in which sheol cannot mean any place, in this world or the next, to which the righteous as well as the wicked are sent, but the penal abode of the wicked as distinguished from and opposed to the righteous. The only case in which such passages could by any possibility be supposed to mean the grave, would be if the grave—that is, extinction—were the final doom of the unrighteous.

In the New Testament the word hadesis used in much the same sense as sheol in the Old, except that in a less proportion of cases can it be construed to signify 'the grave.' There are still, however, instances in which it is used in this sense, as in;; but in general the hades of the New Testament appears to be no other than the world of future punishments (e.g.;; ).

The principal arguments for the intermediate hades, as deduced from Scripture, are founded on those passages in which things 'under the earth' are described as rendering homage to God and the Savior (; , etc.). If such passages, however, be compared with others (as with , etc.), it will appear that they must refer to the day of judgment, in which every creature will render some sort of homage to the Savior; but then the bodies of the saints will have been already raised, and the intermediate region, if there be any, will have been deserted.

One of the seemingly strongest arguments for the opinion under consideration is founded on , in which Christ is said to have gone and 'preached to the spirits in prison.' These spirits in prison are supposed to be the holy dead—perhaps the virtuous heathen—imprisoned in the intermediate place, into which the soul of the Savior went at death, that He might preach to them the Gospel. This passage must be allowed to present great difficulties. The most intelligible meaning suggested by the context is, however, that Christ by His spirit preached to those who in the time of Noah, while the ark was preparing, were disobedient, and whose spirits are now in prison, abiding the general judgment. The prison is doubtless hades, but what hades is must be determined by other passages of Scripture; and, whether it is the grave or hell, it is still a prison for those who yet await the judgment-day. This interpretation is in unison with other passages of Scripture, whereas the other is conjecturally deduced from this single text.

Another argument is deduced from , which describes 'death and hades' as 'cast into the lake of fire' at the close of the general judgment—meaning, according to the advocates of the doctrine in question, that hades should then cease as an intermediate place. But this is also true if understood of the grave, or of the general intermediate condition of the dead, or even of hell, as once more and forever reclaiming what it had temporarily yielded up for judgment—just as we every day see criminals brought from prison to judgment, and after judgment returned to the prison from which they came.

It is further urged, in proof of Hades being an intermediate place other than the grave, that the Scriptures represent the happiness of the righteous as incomplete till after the resurrection. This must be admitted; but it does not thence follow that their souls are previously imprisoned in the earth, or in any other place or region corresponding to the Tartarus of the heathen. Although at the moment of death the disembodied spirits of the redeemed ascend to heaven, and continue there till the resurrection, it is very possible that their happiness shall be incomplete until they have received their glorified bodies from the tomb, and entered upon the full rewards of eternity.

A view supported by so little force of Scripture, seems unequal to resist the contrary evidence which may be produced from the same source, and which it remains briefly to indicate. The effect of this is to show that the souls of the redeemed are described as proceeding, after death, at once to heaven—the place of final happiness, and those of the unredeemed to the place of final wretchedness.

In , the righteous dead are described as being in actual inheritance of the promises made to the fathers. Our Savior represents the deceased saints as already, before the resurrection (for so the context requires), 'like unto the angels,' and 'equal to the angels' ; which is not very compatible with their imprisonment even in the happier region of the supposed Hades. Our Lord's declaration to the dying thief—'This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise' , has been urged on both sides of the argument; but the word is here not Hades, but Paradise, and no instance can be produced in which the paradise beyond the grave means anything else than that 'third heaven,' that 'paradise' into which the Apostle was caught up, and where he heard 'unutterable things' . In the midst of that paradise grows the mystic 'tree of life' , which the same writer represents as growing near the throne of God and the Lamb . In , the Apostle describes the whole church of God as being at present in heaven or on earth. But, according to the view under consideration, the great body of the church would be neither in heaven nor on earth, but in Hades—the intermediate place. In , we are told that in the city of the living God dwell not only God himself, the judge of all, and Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, and the innumerable company of angels, but also 'the spirits of just men made perfect'—all dwelling together in the same holy and happy place. To the same effect, but, if possible, still more conclusive, are the various passages in which the souls of the saints are described as being, when absent from the body, present with Christ in heaven (comp.;; ). To this it is scarcely necessary to add the various passages in the Apocalyptic vision, in which St. John beheld, as inhabitants of the highest heaven, around the throne of God, myriads of redeemed souls, even before the resurrection (;;;; ). Now the 'heaven' of these passages cannot be the place to which the term Hades is ever applied, for that word is never associated with any circumstances or images of enjoyment or happiness [HEAVEN].

As these arguments seem calculated to disprove the existence of the more favored region of the alleged intermediate place, a similar course of evidence militates with equal force against the existence of the more penal region of the same place. It is admitted by the staunchest advocates for the doctrine of an intermediate place, that the souls of the wicked, when they leave the body, go immediately into punishment. Now the Scripture knows no place of punishment after death but that which was prepared for the devil and his angels. This place they now inhabit; and this is the place to which, after judgment, the souls of the condemned will be consigned (comp.; ). This verse of Peter is the only one in Scripture in which any reference to the word Tartarus occurs: here then, if anywhere, we should find that intermediate place corresponding to the Tartarus of the heathen, from whom the word is borrowed. But from the other text we can be quite certain that the Tartarus of Peter is no other than the hell which is to be the final, as it is, in degree, the present doom of the wicked. That this hell is Hades is readily admitted, for the course of the argument has been to show that Hades is hell, whenever it is not the grave. Dr. Enoch Pond, whose interesting article on the subject, in the American Biblical Repository, we have chiefly followed, well remarks: 'Whether the righteous and the wicked, after the judgment, will go literally to the same places in which they were before situated, it is not material to inquire. But, both before and after the judgment, the righteous will be in the same place with their glorified Savior and his holy angels; and this will be heaven: and before and after the judgment the wicked will be in the same place with the devil and his angels; and this will be hell.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [15]

The Unseen), the dark abode of the shades of the dead in the nether world, the entrance into which, on the confines of the Western Ocean, is unvisited by a single ray of the sun; originally the god of the nether world, and a synonym of Pluto ( q. v .).