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NEXT to the Old Testament Hebrew word SHEOL, this New Testament Greek word, HADES,

is one of the most important.


Our present object and desire is to discover the way in which the Holy Spirit uses it ; and to find

out the sense in which He intends us to understand it. Apart from this, all our study of the word is useless.


 It matters not what men may say, whether Pagan or Christian. Heathen Mythology, Human Tradition, and

Christian Theology have no place in this study. They will lead us astray instead of guiding us : they will hinder

us rather than help us. 


The Old Testament has one advantage over the New. Its Hebrew words are the words of the Holy Spirit

and all knowledge of Hebrew starts with the Hebrew Bible. It is the fountain head of that language; and

there is no previous Hebrew literature behind it. 


But when we come to the New Testament, the case is entirely different. Here, the Holy Spirit takes up

human words which had been used among the Greeks for centuries, and had already acquired senses,

and meanings, and usages; human in their development as they were human in their origin. 


It is this that marks the great difference between the languages of the Old and New Testaments. Not

only the difference between the two languages, as such; but the difference, also, as to their origin. 

The Hebrew is, in this respect, Divine in its origin ; the Greek is human. In the former case the Holy

Spirit uses His own words in which to express His own revelation. In the latter case-He takes human

words, words pertaining to the earth. He uses " the tongues of men" and not " of angels "

(I Cor. 13:1,  2 Cor. 12:4).


Now in " the tongues of men " there is this important phenomenon that, man, being a fallen creature,

impresses that fact on the language he uses, as well as upon everything in which he comes into connection.

He uses words suitable to his fallen condition. He has invented words to express his abominable sins; and

words to express his filthy thoughts. Even words that once had a good meaning he has brought down to his

own fallen level. This is true of all languages : but our examples may, with advantage, be taken from our own



1. APOLOGY meant, originally, a defence. Hence "Jewel's Apology" is the title of Bishop Jewel's defence

of the Reformation. But, inasmuch as man's defences are so often only excuses, the word has come to mean

a very poor sort of defence.


2. PREVENT meant to precede or get before. But, because, when one man gets before another, it is generally

to oust him or hinder him, so the word has been lowered in its meaning, in order to correspond with this trait of

man's fallen nature.

3. SIMPLE meant honest, artless; (lit., without a fold). But, because people who act on this principle in business,

are in this fallen world looked upon as fools, so the word has come to mean foolish.


4. SILLY meant innocent, inoffensive (Ang. Sax. saelig). This is its meaning in 2 Tim. 3:6, " silly women."

But, because such are looked on as an easy prey by false teachers, the word has come to mean weak and foolish.


5. STORY meant a tale or history. But because such are more often false than true, the word has fallen to its

modern meaning of untruth.


6. CENSURE meant simply judgment or reckoning. But because such, when used of men, generally has to be

 adverse, so the word is now confined to blame.


And so we might go on to increase our list. (Those who care to follow the subject out will find further examples

in "impose," "vagabond," "impertinent," "wretch," "sottish," "inquisition," " imp," " craft," " knave," " subtle,"

"cunning,") But the above will suffice to show the deterioration of words in their use by fallen man. It was the

same in the Greek, and examples could be given.


But our point is this: that man has made changes in his own language in the course of centuries, and has modified,

and in many cases lowered and degraded, by his usage, the meanings of words.


This shows us the fallacy of judging New Testament Greek by Classical Greek. Those who do not know

enough call the New Testament "bad Greek." But they do not allow for two facts. First, that while the words

are Greek, the idiom is Hebrew ; and second, that these words are to be understood, not in their former

classical sense, but in the sense in which they were used in the time of our Lord; always excepting the cases

where they are purified by the Holy Spirit.


For when He takes up human words and deigns to use them to make known Divine, Heavenly, and Infinite

truths, it is clear that He will do so in an absolutely perfect manner.


Consequently (1) there are very many Greek words that He never uses at all. (2) There are words which

He purifies, and uses in a higher sense than that in which the Greeks had ever before used them. (3) There

are words which He purifies and uses in a totally different sense, and (4), there are Greek words which He

Himself coined, which no man had ever used before, and which cannot be found in any human writings.


The Twelfth Psalm contains an important statement as to this difference between man's words and Jehovah's

 words; and of the necessity for the purification of the former before they could be used by the Lord.

'This is shown, first by its Structure, which is as follows


A | 1. Decrease of the good.

  B | a | 2. Man's words (Vain, Flattering, Double)

      |    b | 3, 4. Their end. " Cut off."

                  C |  5. The oppression of the poor.

                         D | 5. The sighing of the needy.

                         D | 5. The arising of the LORD.

                  C | 5. The deliverance from oppression

  B | a | 6. Jehovah's words. (Pure).

     |     b | 7. Their end. " Preserved."

A | 8. Increase of the wicked.


The correspondence of these members is perfect an complete. But the important one is "B" (vv. 2-4),

and "B (vv. 6, 7), where the contrast is shown between Man's words and Jehovah's words. The former

are declared to be "vanity," " flattering," and " double "; and are to be "cut off": while Jehovah's words are

"pure," and a to be " preserved forever."


But there is more than this in verse 6. Not only a Jehovah's own words " pure" in themselves; but when

He used earthly words, they had to be "purified" before He could use them.


There are one or two points to be noted in this verse in order to understand its lesson. There is no sense in

the translation, "a furnace of earth." The R.V. renders this "a furnace upon the earth." But it surely is

nothing the point whether the furnace is made "of" earth or metal or whether it is placed "upon" the

earth or upon a stand.


The Hebrew preposition  (Lamed) means to, and is frequently used of possession or pertaining to,

(Gen. 31:1, " all that was to our father : " i.e., all that was our father's. So 29:9 ; xivii. 4. So frequently

we have " a Psalm David," lit., to David, i.e., David's, by or belonging to David Psalms 3,4,25,27)

and may translated by the word " of " or " belonging unto." ( See 1 Kings 25:31, " the chronicles of

the Kings of Israel,  Ruth 2:3, " the field of Boaz," which is rendered " belonging unto Boaz.")


Then verse 6 wall read thus, in four alternate parallel lines; the first and third of which relate to words;

 while the second and fourth lines relate to purification.

                  Verse 6.

A  |  c | The words of the LORD are pure words

           d | As silver tried in a furnace.

        c | [ Words] belonging to the earth.

           d | Purified seven times.

Here, we see that Jehovah's words are pure in themselves. But the words of this world have to be

made pure; yea, with a great purification, a seven times repeated-or Divine and Spiritually perfect-process.


Now we can return to our statement, made above, a watch this purifying process as the great Refiner

carries out His wonderful but necessary work.

Some words (we said above) He uses in a higher sense: e.g.,

1. ape' (arete). Man used this only of manhood  or manly prowess. But the Holy Spirit uses it in the higher

sense of Divine glory (Hab. 3:3), and praise (Isa. 42:8, 12, 43:21, 63:7) So also the only occurrences in

the N. T.: Phil. 4:8, 1 Pet. 2:9, 2 Pet. 1:3,5.


2.  (ethos) was used only of the haunt of an animal ; but in the N.T. it is used of moral custom or character

 (I Cor. 15: 33).

Some words are used in a different sense: e.g.,

1. (choregeo) meant simply to supply or furnish a chorus. But the Spirit uses it of the Divine supply of

 all his people's needs (I Pet. 4:11).

2. (ecclesia) was used, by the Greeks, only of a town's meeting of its citizens (Acts 19:39). But the

Spirit uses it of the assemblies of God's elect.

3. (parakletos) was used only of a legal assistant or helper. But Christ uses it of the Holy Spirit

or " Comforter " (that we may not sin, John 14:I6, 26 ; 15:26 ; 16:7). And the Spirit uses it of Christ

as the Advocate (if we do sin, I John 2:1).

4. (scandalon) was used only of a snare to catch animals; but in the New Testament it is used in a moral

and spiritual sense of that which causes anyone to stumble or fall (Matt. 11: 6); a sense in which the Greeks

never used it.

Some words were coined by the Inspiring Spirit, and are never found in the work of any Greek author, e.g.,

1. (scandalizo), to cause to stumble or fall; to give cause of offence.

2. (epiousios), in the Lord's prayer rendered " daily " ; but etymologically can be rendered only coming upon

(i.e., descending on us, like the manna, daily); or going upon (i.e., for our going upon or journeying).

Now, when we come to the study of the Greek word Hades we are confronted with the fact that it had already

been in use by the Greeks for some centuries; and was, of course, in harmony with their Mythological Traditions.

Idolatry was not an evil into which man gradually fell. It was a gigantic masterpiece of Satan, having its seat of

origin and development at Babylon. It was a perversion of primitive truth, and passed thence through the

Greeks into Judaism, and thence into Romanism.

Hades became the embodiment of Satan's lie, " ye shall not surely die." Hence, Hades was used of the

world of darkness, or spirit-world; used indeed in much the same sense as Spiritists use it today.

The question, Whether this is the sense in which the Holy Spirit desires us to understand the word, is

therefore one of the first importance.

Heathen Mythologists, Jewish and Christian Traditionists, Romanists, and Spiritists all agree in

answering Yes.

But we answer without hesitation or doubt, NO! And there is one great proof that settles it.

In Acts 2:31 it is used by the Holy Spirit as the substitute for Sheol in the quotation of Ps. 26:10.

It must therefore mean in Acts what Sheol means in the Psalm.

The word comes into the New Testament, therefore, not from the Classical Greek, but through the

Septuagint and the Hebrew of the Old Testament. And we are prepared to see it purified, by the

Great Refiner, from all Pagan Mythology and Human Tradition, and Romish corruption.

When He used it as the equivalent of His own word Sheol, He settled once for all the sense in which

He wishes us to understand it.

WE are now in a position to continue our study of this Greek word Hades and of the eleven passages

where the word  occurs in the New Testament.

This word " Hades " was used by the Greeks, pretty much as Romanists use the word Purgatory. But

the question is, Is the word Hades used in the New Testament in the Heathen sense which it had in the

Greek mythology? We answer, Undoubtedly it is not. Christian Traditionists may prefer the Babylonian-

Romish meaning ; we prefer and are content with the Bible meaning as it is used by the Spirit of God.

The one fact that it is used in Acts 2:27, 31 (compare 13:30-37) as a substitute and equivalent for the

word Sheol in Psalm 16:10, shows that it must be taken in the same sense in the New Testament as the

Hebrew Old Testament word Sheol; and not in the corrupt sense which heathen tradition had given it.

The only way to learn what this Bible-word Hades means; and the only way to arrive at the sense in

which the Holy Spirit used it, is to study each place where He has used it. From this alone can we learn.

Lexicons are useless; man's imaginations are worthless; his traditions are valueless; his theology is of no

avail; his translations are without divine authority. One thing, and only one thing, is necessary, and that is

to find out what God says and demand a "thus saith the Lord."


Discarding, therefore, everything outside the Word of God, we note,


(1) that the Greek word Hades occurs eleven times in the New Testament. As the occurrences are so few,

we shall be able to examine each passage in detail; as we were not able to do in the large number (65)

of the occurrences of the Hebrew word Sheol.

(2) In the A.V. this word is rendered ten times "hell," and once " grave" ( I Cor. 15:15). This has the

marginal alternative "hell," while in Rev. 20:13,  the Text "hell" has "the grave" in the margin.

(3) In the R.V., and in the American R.V., every one of these passages is rendered uniformly "Hades"

 without any alternative rendering in the margin.

We now give the complete list:

1. Matt. 11: 23- "And thou, Capernaum, shaft be brought down to hades."

2. Matt. 16:18. " The gates of hades shall not prevail against it."

3. Luke 10:15- " And thou, Capernaum, . . . shaft be brought down to hades."

4. Luke 16:23. " And in hades."

5. Acts 2:27   " Thou wilt not leave my soul in hades."

6. Acts 2:37. " His soul was not left in hades."

7. I Cor. 15:55. "O hades (AV. grave) where is thy victory."

8. Rev. 1:18. " I have the keys of death and of hades."

9. Rev. 6:8. " His name. . . was Death, and hades followed after him."

10. Rev. 20:13. " And death and hades (A.V. marg. or, the grave) delivered up the dead."

11. Rev. 20:14. " And death and hades were cast into the lake of fire."

We  have shown that THE GRAVE  (not a grave) was the only rendering which accurately

represented the Hebrew word Sheo1. , As Hades is used by the Holy Spirit as the New Testament

substitute for the Old Testament Sheol it follows that the same meaning must be given to Hades in

the New Testament.

We will see that there is not one of the eleven passages where this may not be done, with great

advantage to the elucidation of the text, and to the understanding of its meaning.

But before we do this, let us note an important principle laid down in the twentieth of the

 "39 Articles of Religion."

"It is not lawful.. . to . . . so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another."

This principle is true: because, as no one text is repugnant to another, it is clear that to explain one as

being so repugnant, is what cannot lawfully be done.

If one passage appears to be repugnant to others, then there is something amiss as to the translation of it;

or as to our understanding of it.

In this case it behoves us to examine it and see where the fault lies. The one must be understood and

explained in the light of the many; the one apparently more difficult passage must be made clear by the

others which are quite plain.

If this method be not possible, then the difficult passage must be left unsolved for the present, with the

prayer that God will, in, his own time, bestow the needed grace and light. But in no case must we allow

that one difficult passage to disturb all the others which are clear; nor must we give heed for a moment

to any false teaching which Tradition may have founded upon its misunderstanding or perversion of that

one passage, whether through ignorance or malice.

With these preliminary observations we will consider each passage in order:

1. MATTHEW. 11:23.

" And thou, Capernaum . . . shall be brought down to Hades.

This suggests but one fact, viz., the terrible judgment pronounced by our Lord against Capernaum:

once a flourishing town in Palestine, but now (in proof of the truth of this prophecy) known only by

a few insignificant mounds in which the ruins are actually buried.

What or where Hades is, is not stated. The word " down " is the only guide as to direction.

Isa. 14:14, I5 sheds further light, especially if we place the two passages side by side, and

put the words as they are in the Original :


" And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shall be brought down to Hades."

ISA. 14: 14, 15.

I will ascend above the brightness of the clouds; yet shalt thou be brought down to Sheol,

to the sides of the pit.

Here Sheol is explained as " the sides of the pit " (Heb. bor). (' The Heb.  (bor) is a rock-hewn

sepulchre, as in Ps. 28:1; 34:3, 88:5, Isa 14:19. Our English, bore, is doubtless derived from it.

 It is rendered cistern 10 times; dungeon 10 times ; fountain, once; well, 9 times; and pit, 42 times)

This is an inspired and authoritative definition, and explains that Sheol means the place bored in the earth;

in other words, the grave; and that Capernaum was to be brought down thither. Its proud and unbelieving

inhabitants were buried in the grave ; and it houses and buildings are now buried in ruins.

2. MATT. 16:18.

"On this hock will 1 build my Assembly, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it."

Leaving aside the meaning of the word Ecclesia, or Assembly, we note that the word rendered "prevail"

 is exceedingly strong. It means to prevail against or over; to overcome and vanquish.

It occurs elsewhere only in Luke 23:23 where "the voices of them prevailed, and Pilate gave sentence

that it should be as they desired." They prevailed against Pilate; but, neither they nor the grave could

prevail against Christ. He rose aga4in from the grave. He gained the victory over Death and Hades,

and His Assembly will be conquerors too. They will one day shout, "O Hades, where is thy victory . . .

Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through. Jesus Christ our ha (I Cor.15:55-57) This

victory will be in Resurrects and Resurrection will be the great and abiding proof Hades will not prevail

 against " the dead in Christ" even as it prevailed not against Him

The expression "the gates of Hades" is further explained by reference to Isa. 38:10, Job 38:17,.

Psalm 9:13; 107:18.

3. LUKE 10:15

is the parallel of Matt. 11:23.

4.. LUKE 16:23.

"And in Hades he lift up his eyes."

Here we, propose, another punctuation. Not  there is the slightest difficulty if we take the words

they stand, and substitute "the grave " for " hell."

It is then merely a representation of dead people speaking in the grave, as in Isa. 14:9-20 ;.and as trees

are represented as speaking in the parable of. Jothaar (Judges9:8-15). The punctuation, as we know, is

absolutely human. In the Greek manuscripts there is no trace of any punctuation of any kind whatsoever. Nor

is punctuation a matter of precedent or of human authority of any kind.  It is entirely a matter of the particular

context, and agreement with the general teaching of Scripture on the point in question.

Nor is the change we suggest made of our own imagination in order to support any theories of our own.

It is adopted by the Vulgate translation, which, though not the original text, and of no authority as a Text,

is yet evidence of fact. It is punctuated in the same way by Tatian, Diatesaron (A.D. 170) and, Marcion

(A.D. 145); as well in the Ancient Jerusalem Syriac Version. And the fact is that the first three words of

verse 23, form instead, the last three words of verse 22 ; a full stop being placed after the word Hades,

while the word "and " treated by this as meaning "also." So that the why sentence would read thus :-" But

the rich man also died, and was buried also in Hades."

" Buried also," implies what is only inferred as Lazarus, meaning that the one was buried as well as the

other. Whether this punctuation be allowed, or not, does not affect the matter in the slightest degree. For

that where he was buried in any case. It affects only the place where he is said to lift up his eyes.

This is further shown by the fact that the three verbs, "died," " buried," and "he lift up," are not all in the

same tense as they appear to be from the English. The first two are in the past tense, while the third is the

present participle, epars  Lifting up, thus commencing the 23rd verse with a new thought

Those who interpret this passage as though Hades were a place of life instead of death, make it

"repugnant" to every other place where the word occurs, and to many other scriptures which are perfectly

plain, eg., Ps. cxlvi.4, Ecc. 9:6, 10, Ps. 6:5 ; 31:17 ; 115:17.

In any case, all that is material to our study here, a now, is the one fact, that the rich man died, and
buried also in Hades," i.e , the grave.

5.   ACTS 2: 27.

"Thou wilt not leave my soul (i.e.,  me) in Hades."

6.   Acts 2:31.

"His soul (i.e., He) was not left in Hades."

These two passages, being the quotation and interpretation of Ps. 16:10, must have the meaning that Sheol

there has; and show that they speak " of the resurrection of Christ" (v. 31) from the grave. This is clear if

 we .read the whole context, Acts 2:24-35 ;  and 13:30-37. Hades is, here, the place where "corruption

 is seen; and '" resurrection " is the only way of exit from it.

7.   1 COR. 15: 55.

"O Hades, where is thy victory."

This is translated in the A.V. " O grave," which is conclusive as to the meaning to be put upon the word Hades.
( The RV. reads and repeats the word  (thanate) O death, and transposes the words "sting" and "victory." It is,

therefore, neutral for our purpose.)


Moreover, it is a quotation from Hos. 13:14, where the Hebrew is Sheol. The four lines in this verse are arranged

as an introversion, where the first line corresponds with the fourth, and the second with the third. This .shows that

the word in 1 Cor. 15:55 must be Hades, and not "death."

a  |  I will ransom them from the power of Sheol ;

       b | I will redeem them from death;

       b | O death, I will be thy plagues;

a | O Sheol, I will be thy destruction.

8.   REV. 1:18.

"I have the keys of Hades and death."

This must mean that, in virtue of Christ's resurrection, He has henceforth the power over death and

the grave. Satan will one day be deprived of his power over death, which he now has, according to

Heb. 2:14- When John sees Christ risen, not only from the dead, but risen up from His seat (Luke 13:25)

for judgment in "the day of the Lord " (Rev. 1:10), he hears this wondrous proclamation of Christ's power,

and of His intention then to put forth that power and to use it.

9.   REV. 6:8.

" His name. . . was Death, and Hades followed with him. "

The grave is that which follows after death. There, all will be buried who shall be the victims of this "death,"

here foretold and personified.

10.   REV. 20:13.

"And death and Hades (marg. the grave) delivered up the dead which were in them."

This teaches us that Hades contains, not living people, but " the dead" who "lived not again until the thousand

years were finished" (see verse 5). This truth we are to accept; and we are to explain the other ten passages

so that they be not repugnant to it.

11.   REV. 20:14.

"And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death."

This verse tells of the time when Hades or Sheol, i.e., the grave, will no more exist; when the prophecy

of Hos. 13:14, will be fulfilled.

Hades or the grave will be no longer needed, for the all-sufficient reason given in Rev.21: 4, " there shall

be no more death."

Thus, for the last time, we learn what may be gathered from all the other passages: viz., that

1. Hades is invariably connected with death ; but never with life: always with dead people; but never

with the living. All in Hades will "NOT LIVE AGAIN," until they are raised from the dead (Rev. 20:5).

If they do not "live again" until after they are raised, it is perfectly clear that they cannot be alive now, at

any rate in the same sense: and that is all we contend for. Otherwise we do away with the doctrine of

resurrection altogether.

2. That the English word "hell" by no means represents the Greek, Hades ; as we have seen that it does

not give a correct idea of its Hebrew equivalent, Sheol.

3. That Hades can mean only and exactly what Sheol means viz., the place where "corruption " is seen

 (Acts2:31- Compare 13:34-37) ; and from which, resurrection is the only exit.