Sheol And Hades


Where were  the souls of these saints which slept in their  graves,  we might  ask.  The souls had departed when the person had  gone  to sleep,  as  Jesus referred to death as being asleep  rather  than dead. The  Old Testament speaks of a place named Sheol (#7585)  in Hebrew.  It appears 66 times throughout every period of  biblical Hebrew.  

In the New Testament written in Greek, we have the  word "hades" (#86). Few teachers of the Gospel discuss this important subject  because  it deals with death. Even  though  "Sheol"  and "hades" refer to a place where souls are kept. There is a  marked difference between the two terms. Jesus saw to that. The word "Sheol" refers to a state of death as David lamented: "For in death [there is] no remembrance of thee: in the grave who  shall  give thee thanks? The sorrows of  hell  compassed  me about: the snares of death prevented me.." (Psalms 18:5)

God's favorite  shepherd  boy, knew  he would be caught in Sheol, because it is  all  mankind's final resting place before Jesus was resurrected. "They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the  grave." (Job 21:13)

Hannah confessed in 1 Samuel  2:6  that omnipotent  God  brings us to death. "Sheol" is parallel  to  the word  hell,  pit,  corruption, or decay. (see  Job  26:6,  Psalms 16:10, Proverbs 15:11) When  Jacob received the news that his son Joseph  was  most likely dead, "all his sons and all his daughters rose up to  comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for  him." (Genesis 37:35)

Coupled with David's hope:  "For  thou wilt  not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer  thine Holy One to see corruption," (Psalms 16:10) which means that  God cannot go near corruption, we can safely assume that "sheol" is a place  of  conscious existence.

The  Scriptures:  Numbers  16:30, Deuteronomy  32:22  and Psalms 9:17, tell us that it is a  place where the wicked receive punishment. But Job 14:13 paints another picture  of "Sheol" pointing to the resurrection of  Jesus which will also redeem Job from "Sheol".

He writes: "O that thou wouldest  hide  me in the grave, that thou wouldest  keep me secret, until  thy  wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint  me  a  set time,  and remember me!"

Jesus confirmed that Sheol has two regions in Luke  16:19-31 that  "Sheol" is a place of conscious existence after death,  one side  of  which is occupied by the suffering, unrighteous  dead, separated  by  a great chasm and the other side  peopled  by  the righteous dead. In the New Testament "Hades" on the other hand is also  considered to be the same region of  the  departed  souls of  the lost and corresponds to "Sheol".  

The Apostle Peter repeated David's statement in Acts 2:27 that God would  not forsake  him  in "Sheol" and added: "Men [and] brethren,  let  me freely  speak  unto you of the patriarch David, that he  is  both dead  and  buried, and his sepulcher is with us  unto  this day.

"Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath  to  him, that of the fruit of his loins, according  to  the flesh,  he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He  seeing this  before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that  His  [Jesus's] soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see  corruption.  This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are  witnesses." (Acts 2:29-32)

In Revelation 1:18 Jesus states: "I [am] He that liveth, and was  dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and  have the keys of hell and of death." (Revelation 1:18) Later in Revelation  it is revealed that Jesus again unlocks the door to  hell [hades] during the seven year tribulation and releases the  prisoners  in  "hades" into the world and gave them  temporary  power over a fourth part of the world.

"And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell  followed with  him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part  of the  earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with  death, and  with the beasts of the earth." (Revelation 6:8) This  proves there  were  no righteous occupants in "hades" by  the time  the tribulation arrives.

The  fact  is, Jesus made it possible for us to  be  in  the presence  of the Lord through the Holy Spirit baptism. We become the  body of Christ who is sitting at the right hand of  God.  As the tabernacle of God, we are in His presence in the Spirit. That includes the saints who where held in "Sheol" until the resurrection.  Some of their bodies were resurrected out of  the  graves.

Our bodies will be translated or resurrected, pending the Rapture occurs  before or after our death. Reiterating that there  is  no holding  place for believers since Christ delivered the souls  of believers, when He resurrected, this Scripture should confirm it: "And  Jesus said unto him [the thief on the cross, who  knew  who Jesus  was and believed that he was forgiven], Verily I say  unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43)

Paul states  the  same promise thus: "We are confident, [I  say],  and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." (2 Corinthians 5:8) To  be present with the Lord cannot mean to be  in  "hades". Hades is a place for the rebellious souls who follow the  adversary and reject the Holy Spirit from entering into their hearts.

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