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A Short Note on Hades
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I have heard much confusion about the doctrine of Hades. While some people see different compartments of Hades, the New Testament never describes any believer as going to Hades. In fact, only unbelievers in the New Testament go to Hades. So, any notion that Hades contains two compartments does not come from the Bible, but from completely uninspired sources. God reveals the truth. The God of the Bible does not promote symbols of idolatry in the Bible and does not encourage the pagan thoughts of local religious cultures in the Bible. God opposes all idolatry and never calls evil good. God always reveals the truth and explains the truth. Therefore, we must look to the New Testament usage of the term “Hades” to understand what God meant by that term.
In the New Testament, the term “Hades” occurs only ten times and apparently refers to a jail where unbelievers await trial at the Great White Throne judgment.
- Matthew 11:23. Capernaum will descend into Hades, because they had not believed the miracles which Jesus performed in Capernaum.
- Matthew 16:18. The gates of Hades cannot withstand the Church of Jesus Christ.
- Luke 10:15. Capernaum will be brought down to Hades because it has rejected Christ as Savior, despite the great works done there.
- Luke 16:23. The rich man suffers in torment in Hades, where he lifts his eyes to behold Lazarus who is resting on the bosom of Abraham. Notice that Lazarus was never described as being in Hades. A great gulf separates Hades from Paradise, where Abraham and Lazarus enjoy the presence of Jesus.
- Acts 2:27. The Psalmist David prophesied about Jesus, declaring that the soul of Jesus will never be abandoned to Hades, and Jesus will never undergo decay. Therefore, we know that Hades is a place where souls are abandoned by God and await final judgment. Their physical bodies are simultaneously undergoing decay in tombs on earth.
- Acts 2:31. Resurrection to life stands in opposition to being abandoned to Hades. Jesus was resurrected to life and His soul was never abandoned to Hades. God will empty Hades and all its inhabitants will go to the Great White Throne judgment. Based upon Acts 2:31 quoting Psalm 16:10, Peter used the term “Hades” to translate the term “Sheol.” Therefore, we know that Sheol in the Old Testament included a place called Hades in the New Testament.
- Revelation 1:18. Jesus is the Living One, who was dead and now alive forevermore. He has the keys of death and of Hades. We will see Jesus use the keys of death and Hades to unlock both of them at the Great White Throne judgment. Notice too that death and Hades operate as places kept under lock and key. Apparently, they will only be opened when Jesus unlocks the doors and opens them.
- Revelation 6:8. Hades followed Death, the fourth Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The culmination of the judgments brought by the first three Horsemen of the Apocalypse results in Death, with the unsaved dead going to Hades.
- Revelation 20:13. At the Great White Throne Judgment, death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them. Each one of their inhabitants were judged according to that inhabitant’s deeds.
- Revelation 20:14. Everyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the Lake of Fire. Because every believer goes to a resurrection of life and not a resurrection of judgment, no believer will appear at the Great White Throne Judgment. Therefore, no believer emerges from Hades to appear before the Great White Throne judgment.
Based upon the New Testament usage of word “Hades,” we may conclude that no believer goes to Hades, and Jesus has the keys to death and Hades. They will be emptied at the Great White Throne Judgment, and no believer appears before the Great White Throne for judgment about eternal life. That question about eternal life was settled upon earth, when each person decided whether to accept the free gift of eternal life, or to reject that gift and suffer the consequence of eternal death in the Lake of Fire. Every believer can thank God because the soul of Jesus was never abandoned to Hades, and so no believer will ever be abandoned to Hades. We will go to a resurrection of life, and be with Jesus forever.