In Luke 11:29 through 32 Jesus says that as Jonah was 3 days in the belly of a fish so shall the Son of Man be 3 days in the heart of the Earth. Did Jesus go the Hell, or something like Hell. I know there are different words to refer to Hell, like Hades, Tartarus, and Gehenna. As children we learn that heaven is “up there” and Hell is “down there.” Is Hell in the center of the Earth? In Revelation 21:1 and 2 we see the old Earth and the old Heaven pass away. If Hell is in the core of the Earth, what happens to it when Earth passes away?
Hello, @JGuill65! The way the wording is recorded in Luke 11:29-32 is a bit confusing, all things considered. You hit on something important, though, when you brought up the different words for “hell,” because making distinctions among those should help us here. From my own studies, “the heart of the Earth” could either refer to Jesus’ burial, or it could refer to the place the dead would go to await judgment. The different terms you brought up for “hell” are not all the same in meaning. Tartarus (actually a different form of this appears in the Bible) and Gehenna refer to places of punishment or judgment (Mark 9:43 and 2 Peter 2:4). Hades is a place where the dead go to await judgment. I make this distinction, because when we refer to “hell,” it is usually with the intended meaning of the former two terms. In that case, no, as far as I have been able to ascertain, Jesus did not go to hell. However, if we were to say Jesus went to hell, intending the Hades meaning, then yes. His body, obviously, was in the tomb. His soul/spirit went to that waiting place. Some might disagree with me depending upon their understanding of the Scriptures and atonement theory, but having studied the Bible and what studied others have had to say about the subject, this is the stance I take.
As far as the location of hell, the Bible does not really give that information. This is probably because the location is not important so much as the reality of hell and why it exists. We deserve God’s wrath and punishment depicted by Gehenna, but because of God’s mercy and grace in Jesus’ work on the cross, we do not have to fear those. God’s perfect love casts out fear of judgment for those who abide in Christ (1 John 4:18).
Just curious, were you asking just out of curiosity or did you have a concern that had to do with the subject?
Personally, John, i don’t think we have enough information to say anything definitive. But i would lean toward “up there” being a higher dimension than we ordinarily experience, and “down there” a lower dimension than we can perceive.
Not much of an answer, but i doubt there is one, in this life.
@JGuill65 Great question Based on the commentaries I referenced, the point of this passage is that Jesus’ audience will be held more accountable even than those who saw Jonah because a greater sign—Jesus Himself—is among them. The imagery of Jesus being in the earth simply refers to His body being in the tomb prior to His resurrection.
The Bible uses 4 different words that have been translated as “hell”: Sheol, Gehenna, Tartarus and Hades. Sheol is the predominant word in the OT and refers to a shadowy abode of the dead. Gehenna is the term used by Jesus most often and referred to an actually valley where trash was burnt that was associated with idolatry. Hades was used in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. And Tartarus was used by Peter.
I think the main point is this: the NT never tries to teach us the details of what happens to those who are judged; it simply warns us that we should find refuge in Christ.
Below are some articles / threads you may find helpful.
To sum up, Scripture does not tell us the geological (or cosmological) location of hell.
So we don’t know what happens to Hell when the old Earth and old Heaven pass away. I assume it continues to exist because it is described as “eternal.” We just don’t know where.
I was just curious about these things. My faith in Christ is unwavering.
When I read Luke 11:29-32 it made me think of Job 1:6. The “sons of God” presented themselves before the Lord. Without getting into the debate about the “sons of God” I was wondering where were they that they had to present themselves before the Lord. It would seem angels are always in God’s presence unless dispatched on a mission. So whoever these “sons of God” are they don’t seem to be in God’s presence and at times they have to come before Him. Were they in that “place where the dead go to await judgement?” Has anyone ever pondered that and derived at an adequate hypothesis?
I am on the other end of this discussion. Suffice it to say that I disagree with a hell that has a use by date.
Your question about hell location is one that has crossed my particuliarly when you consider this verse.
14 Blessed are the ones who wash their robes, so that their authority will be over the tree of life and they may enter into the city through the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the sexually immoral people and the murderers and the idolaters and everyone who loves and who practices falsehood. (Re 22:14–15)
Pilgrim’s progress as I recall has the gate of hell next door to the gate to the celestial city.
I looked into this, and I don’t think the verses to which you refer are actually speaking of a location for hell. Though the city spoken of is the new Jerusalem, those who are “outside” are indeed “outside” its bounds and, therefore, do not have access to the tree of life. That is the point of the passage. Saying those individuals are outside the bounds of the city and, therefore, outside the bounds of life is not the same thing as saying that hell and the city are next to each other. So this really isn’t evidence of a physical location for hell.
Though Pilgrim’s Progress can be edifying, it isn’t a work that was meant to or should be taken to present factual information or a proper interpretation concerning these things, because it is only a religious allegory.
It still begs the question, why are there reprobate outside the gates of the New Jerusalem? I thought that the final judgement had been given? If that is true why are these folks still around? From the plain reading of the verse it sure sounds like hell to me.
Now I am not ready to die on this hill but I am not alone in this thought. I have included a few excepts form a few commentaries that would support this idea and support a less scary idea.
That these reprobate are “outside” the “city” indicates that they will have no place in the new creation, since the new creation and the city are probably synonymous concepts. This “outside” location is “the lake of fire,” since essentially the godless people listed in 21:8 are consigned to “the lake of fire.” The punishment of being cast outside the garden, which began in Gen. 3:23–24, continues for the reprobate into eternity, on an escalated scale.
Beale, G. K. (1999). The book of Revelation: a commentary on the Greek text (p. 1142). Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press.
Heaven is exclusively for those who have been cleansed from their sins by faith in the blood of Christ and whose names have been “written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain” (13:8). In contrast, everyone else will remain forever outside the New Jerusalem in the lake of fire (20:15; 21:8), because “nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (21:27). As in 21:8, a representative (though not exhaustive) list of the type of sins that exclude people from heaven is given to John.
MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2000). Revelation 12–22 (p. 308). Chicago: Moody Press.
To be fair here are excerpts that don’t make the same claim but do agree that this group of people will not gain entrance.
Those excluded from the City of God are characterized as dogs (a term the Jews used to characterize Gentiles, but which Paul applied to the Judaizers—Phil. 3:2), and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie (v. 15). That such behavior effectively bars one’s entrance into the kingdom of God is also clearly declared by Paul (cf. 1 Cor. 6:9–10; Gal. 5:19–21).
Gregg, S. (1997). Revelation, four views: a parallel commentary (p. 502). Nashville, TN: T. Nelson Publishers.
In contrast to the blessings awaiting the redeemed is the punishment awaiting the wicked (22:15). The righteous enter the “gates into the city,” while the unsaved are ἔξω (exō, outside) the city. This hardly means that their home for eternity will be in the suburbs of the Holy City. The imagery parallels that of Jesus dying “outside (ἔξω) the gate” and our need to go to him “outside the camp” (Heb. 13:12–13), which signified the OT curse for the blasphemer who was cut off from the covenant community (Lev. 24:14, 23; Num. 15:36). Thus, the idea is both exclusion and shame, perhaps with the added idea of the Valley of Hinnom (Gehenna), where the trash was burned outside the walls of Jerusalem (cf. Isa. 66:24; Mark 9:48; so Sweet 1979: 317).
Osborne, G. R. (2002). Revelation (p. 790). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
And here is a more balanced spin on this subject>
It is not fashionable today, nor popular, to scare people into the kingdom of God, least of all from the pulpit. Church is a place people go to find comfort and reassurance. Yet four sections in the latter part of John’s prophecy end on the same note of stern warning (20:15; 21:8, 27; 22:15). Ironically, John’s vision of evil Babylon ended with a cry of triumph on behalf of the people of God (19:6–10), while his vision of blessed Jerusalem ends with a solemn picture of those outside. Despite all the glories of the holy city, we cannot feel comfortable or complacent. Instead, we must ask ourselves the same question we posed when reading the seven messages of chapters 2–3: Which side am I on? Where will I be found?
There is a place for fear in Christian ministry and Christian experience, and yet fear cannot be the last word. As John Newton wrote, “’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved.” In the book of Revelation, fear is the next-to-last word, not the last. The last word is a word of hope and expectation, the “Amazing Grace” that Newton celebrated.
Michaels, J. R. (1997). Revelation (Vol. 20, Re 22:6). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
And last I fail to see the difference between quoting Bunyan or Lewis on the subject of hell. Neither one can be considered to be factual on the subject. But either one can give you pause when considering the subject.
Oh, yes, I should have written in my post that I did check commentaries and found varied opinions . I just gave what I think on the matter.
And, yes, I think both of the authors mentioned give good insight on different subject (I really do need to read more of Lewis!). I was just pointing out the genre of the particular work mentioned, because I think ti’s important to keep in mind. Thanks so much for your input and conversation, Jimmy. You bring so much to the table!
Jesus said He would be three days in the “heart of the Earth” and He told the thief “Today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” Is Paradise in the heart of the Earth? What does it mean to be in the heart of the Earth? Is Hell understood to be in the core, or center, or heart, of the Earth, or is it commonly understood to be somewhere else?
It might be helpful to understand how the cosmos was understood in the first century.
Jesus would have used language that would have been understood in the 1st century. I know this does not definitively answer your question but perhaps it will at least shed a little light on what someone would have thought had they heard Jesus.
“Anywhere God is not”?
One interpretation of “hell” focuses on the word Jesus used to represent the final state of the lost - Gehenna. As others have noted that was the name for the Valley of Hinnom, way down the hill from Jerusalem, which was where pagans had burned their children as sacrifices to their false god(s).
And Gehenna, in Christ’s time, was a burning garbage dump where trash was thrown but also the dead bodies of criminals who did not deserve a normal burial. What Jesus was relating back to was a passage in Isaiah.
22 “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the Lord, “so will your name and descendants endure. 23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the Lord. 24 “And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”
The only time “all mankind” will bow down before God in praise and worship is after the final Judgement / Punishment. And in that End, Isaiah says, there will be only “dead bodies” (or corpses) in the fire that burns forever. This is easily overlooked. But it fits with Christ’s statements that Gehenna will destroy both body and soul there. (Mat 10:28 for example).
So here is an interpretation which could fit the relevent Scriptures together. Outside the city of the New Jerusalem, which is vast in size, there will be a “memorial fire” kept burning. It will serve as a reminder that, “the wages of sin is death”.
And there will never again be a rebellion against the perfectly loving Kingdom of His righteousness. So sin, and sinners, will be no more, for time without end. Even as David, the “man after God’s own heart” prayed several times in the Psalms (eg, Ps 104:35).
And the Punishment of destruction in the Lake of FIre will be eternal, not only as a memorial of His fairness/justice, but also of His great mercy, since we all have deserved to be burned in the Second Death before He saved us.