Just Where Is Hell?
The word "hell" in early English simply designated a low place in the earth like in our common word "hole" which comes from the same stem. We have such words as hollow which give the same significance. There is also the name of the country "Holland" (which simply means "Low Land," or Netherland which means the same thing). One could place his turnips or potatoes in the ground and that would be placing them in "hell." Furthermore, when one dug a grave to put in a dead person, it was known as putting a person in "hell" (in a hole in the ground). This means that all individuals (whether righteous or wicked) are put into "hell" if they are buried in a cemetery.
Actually every single person who is buried at death "goes to hell." The Greek word to show this was hades (which meant the pace of the unseen) which was synonymous with the Hebrew sheol. Indeed, even Christ himself when he was placed in the tomb (where he remained for three days) was reckoned as being in "hell" (That is, hades) and it was even prophesied that this event would occur (Acts 2:31). There is nothing in the original meaning of the word to suggest that this was a place of suffering. Actually, the Bible refers to death as a time of "sleeping" (I Corinthians 15:51; I Thessalonians 4:14) and the word cemetery is from the Greek which means "sleeping place." However, the word "sleep" associated with death is only a figure of speech and does not convey the full force of what "death" actually means. This is because in sleep a person can still dream, and he or she is still alive. But the death of the Bible has a far more certainty of unconsciousness. "For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more reward [good or bad, while in the state of death]" (Ecclesiastes 9:5). "His breath goes forth, he returns to his earth; in that day his thoughts perish" (Psalms 146:4). Being alive while still dead is used in the Bible only in figurative illustrations such as parables and such usage is not to be taken literally.
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