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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: What Is the Place of the Punishment of the Wicked? (Hell)

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Don Stewart
If the soul, or spirit, of humans lives on, it must live somewhere. If they are going to suffer punishment for their sins, then this punishment must happen somewhere. Though the place of this final punishment is not located for us, it is named - hell.

Second Death

The Scripture teaches there is a second death- which is eternal separation from God. In common speech, this place is known as hell. The Bible says.

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars - their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death (Revelation 21:8).

Once a person enters the realm of the wicked dead there is no escape. Those who experience physical death without Christ will also experience the second death.

Different Words Used

One of the important issues in considering what the Bible says about hell is understanding the different Hebrew and Greek words used to describe where people will be judged. Many English versions render the words Sheol, Hades, Gehenna, and Tartarus, by the one English word, hell. This is unfortunate because each term has different shades of meanings, and speaks of different phases of God's judgment.

Different Phases

Sheol and Hades are terms used of the intermediate state of the human dead, while Tartarus is used of the intermediate state of fallen angels. None of these three terms refer to the final state of the wicked. Only Gehenna speaks of everlasting punishment for both wicked humans and sinning angels. Gehenna, therefore, or the lake of fire, would be equivalent to what we understand as hell.

Final Judgment

When most people think of hell, it means the permanent place of final judgment. The Bible calls this place Gehenna, or the lake of fire. When we refer to hell in this book, it will be the lake of fire, or the final judgment, that is under consideration.

Spoken Of Frequently

The subject of hell is found frequently in Scripture. The Bible speaks of God's wrath more than His love or mercy. It is not because His wrath is greater than His mercy, it is to warn the people of the upcoming judgment. Jesus said.

The one who has an ear, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death (Revelation 2:11).

The Scripture says.

Blessed and holy is the one who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power . . . Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death (Revelation 20:6,14).

Actual Place

As heaven is an actual place, so is hell. The Bible links the two places together. It not the playground of the Devil, nor does it refer to any punishment here on earth. It is a real place where real people will spend eternity apart from God.

Created For Sinning Angels.

When God created the heavens and the earth, everything was very good.

God saw everything that He had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day (Genesis 1:31).

Sometime in the past, there was an angelic rebellion. When this occurred, sin entered the previously sinless universe. Hell was then created. It was not part of God's original creation or design, but was made specifically for the Devil and his angels. Jesus said.

Then He will say to those at His left, 'You that are accursed, depart from Me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).

Sinful Humans

Although hell was not created for humanity, those humans who reject God's gift of salvation will be sent to this place of judgment. Since everyone has been made to exist eternally, those who reject Christ and His gift of salvation must be sent somewhere. The spiritual condition in which a person dies will continue for all eternity. Jesus said.

I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins (John 8:24).


Hell, or the final judgment, is an actual place of punishment. It does exist. It was not made for humanity but rather for the Devil and his angels. When God created the heavens and the earth, He created them very good. After the angelic rebellion occurred, God made hell as a place to send these evil creatures. Those who reject God's free gift of salvation will be sent there.
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