Skeptics claim that the Bible says that Hell is a place located under the Earth. Since the earth is solid or semi-molten all the way to the core, it would seem unlikely that humans (even the souls of the damned) would be able to live there. Atheists love to use the King James Version (KJV), since it uses the English word "hell" in lots of different places in the Bible—even where it doesn't really belong. So, let's see what the Bible really says hell and where it is.
Hell is under the Earth
Here are some of the verses skeptics cite to "prove" their point that the Bible says hell refers to a place under the earth:
- It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? (Job 11:8 KJV)
- For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell. (Psalm 86:13 KJV)
- But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell. (Proverbs 9:18 KJV)
- The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath. (Proverbs 15:24 KJV)
- Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. (Isaiah 14:15 KJV)
- I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to hell with them that descend into the pit: and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, shall be comforted in the nether parts of the earth. (Ezekiel 31:16 KJV)
- Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down: (Amos 9:2 KJV)
- If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. (Psalm 139:8 KJV)
Sheol refers to the grave
Even though the verses above seem to imply that "hell" is under the earth, some of the verses are difficult to reconcile, given the context. First, one would have to ask why God would be in both heaven and hell (Psalm 139:8)? Isn't God supposed to be in heaven? And why is hell described as a "pit?" Unless it were a really big pit, it would be difficult to fit all the damned into such a "pit." The mystery is solved when one looks at the Hebrew word translated in the KJV Bible as "hell." The Hebrew word common to all these verses is sheol, which actually refers to the grave. However, atheists will not cite the following verses, which also contain the word sheol.
- And 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 [sheol] unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him. (Genesis 37:35 KJV)
- The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave [sheol], and bringeth up. (1 Samuel 2:6 KJV)
- O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave [sheol], that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! (Job 14:13 KJV)
- They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave [sheol]. (Job 21:13 KJV)
- Let us swallow them up alive as the grave [sheol]; and whole, as those that go down into the pit: (Proverbs 1:12 KJV)
- Thy pomp is brought down to the grave [sheol], and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. (Isaiah 14:11 KJV)
The reason why atheists don't cite the verses above is because they make it clear that sheol refers to the grave and not hell, the real the place of exile and judgment. Yes, the grave is under the earth!
Where is hell?
The Greek word for hell, genna, occurs only 11 times in the Bible, none of which refer to a place under the Earth. In fact, all the references to under the Earth refer to either sheol (Hebrew) or its Greek equivalent (Hades). Here is a list of all verses that refer to Hell:
- "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell." (Matthew 5:22)
- "And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell." (Matthew 5:29)
- "And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell." (Matthew 5:30)
- "And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28)
- "And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out, and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into the fiery hell." (Matthew 18:9)
- "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel about on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves." (Matthew 23:15)
- "You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell?" (Matthew 23:33)
- "And if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire," (Mark 9:43)
- "And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than having your two feet, to be cast into hell," (Mark 9:45)
- "And if your eye causes you to stumble, cast it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into hell," (Mark 9:47)
- "But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who after He has killed has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!" (Luke 12:5)
- And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. (James 3:6)
As noted before, none of these verses says that Hell is under the Earth. In fact, the Bible says that the Earth will be destroyed1 and that Hades (or the grave) will be thrown into Hell (Lake of Fire).2 It would be rather difficult for Hell to be thrown into itself, or for Hades to be thrown into the Earth, especially when the Earth was already destroyed. So, it is pretty clear that the Bible does not say that Hell is under the earth, but is a place separate from earth (and probably separate from the universe, since the entire universe will be destroyed and replaced with the new creation).
Verses cited by skeptics reportedly referring to hell being under the earth really refer to the grave, the common destination of all human beings. In fact, the Bible says that the grave will be thrown into hell after the judgment, ending death altogether. Although the Bible does not describe where hell is, it is apparent that it is outside the universe, since it will still exist, at least temporarily, after the present universe is destroyed by God. After this creation is destroyed, God will create again—a new heavens and new earth, where righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13).
- What Will Hell be Like?
- Common Atheists' Myths
- What Will Heaven be Like?
- A Loving God Would Not Send Billions of People to Hell, Would He?
- Why Would God Create a Person Who Would be Destined for Hell?
- It Isn't Fair That God Judges People Who are Born Into Buddhist, Hindu or Other Non-Christian Homes
- What will happen to the people who have never heard of Jesus Christ?
- Who is Satan?: What Does the Bible Say About the Devil?
- Have Christians Already Overcome Satan? - The Importance of the Word of God in the Life of the Believer
- Spiritual Death - Physical death is the least of your worries!
- But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire,
kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:7)
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10)
Looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! (2 Peter 3:12)
"For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished." (Matthew 5:18)
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." (Mark 13:31)
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." (Luke 21:33)
And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, "YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN." And this expression, "Yet once more," denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. (Hebrews 12:26-27)
And all the host of heaven will wear away, And the sky will be rolled up like a scroll; All their hosts will also wither away As a leaf withers from the vine, Or as one withers from the fig tree. (Isaiah 34:4)
- And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:14)
Last Modified April 23, 2012