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The Geography of Heaven, Hades and 'Hell'

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The Waters Above

Question #1:

Hello Sir,

How are you today? In the following paragraph what do you mean by "but not the replacement of the areas "under the earth"? Its from "Last Things: the Millennium and New Jerusalem: Part 6 of the Coming Tribulation series":

"And the replacement of the old earth by the New Earth means precisely that. That is to say, we have to do here only with the substitution of the New Earth for the old earth, but not the replacement of the areas "under the earth" (places which, like the third heaven, are separated from the physical cosmos and not a true part of it)."

In Him,

Response #1:

Good to hear from you, my friend! I hope this reply finds you doing better. Things are still in crisis mode here. As to your question, what I mean by this is that the third heaven (which is "above" the heavens and earth in terms of "biblical geography"), and the nether regions or Hades, including torments, the Abyss and the lake of fire (which are "below" the heavens and earth in terms of "biblical geography"), are apparently not affected by the transformation of the present heavens and earth into the New Heavens and the New Earth at the end of time. The third heaven needs no changing, and the regions below have served their purpose by this time only the lake of fire will be "occupied" forever, but it is not changed or transformed by this renewing of heaven and earth. For a schematic of the "geography", please see the link to the chart "The Waters Above" and feel free to write me back about any of this.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Hello Sir,

So, is the nether world somewhere inside the Earth, or is it somewhere in the outer space "below" the Earth?


In this diagram, what is meant by the "waters below"(sea). Is it the ocean?

Keep this foremost in your mind: in the end times cynics will ridicule [the truth], acting out of their own selfish lusts and saying, "Where is that 'return' He promised? Everything is the same now as it was since the beginning of the world, since the time our forefathers passed on." But it escapes their notice in asserting this, namely, that there were heavens long ago too, and an earth, which was [re-]established out from under water (i.e., the "waters below") and through [the midst of] water (i.e., the "waters above") by the Word of God [and that it was] through these two [sets of waters] that the world of that time (i.e., in Noah's day) was [again] deluged by water [from above and below] and destroyed. Now the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire by that same Word (of God), preserved for the day of judgment and the destruction of godless men.
2nd Peter 3:3-7

When I read the passage above, it seems that the "waters below" is somewhere in the outer space.

What about the following passage

And [then] (i.e., at the conclusion of the last judgment) I saw a New Heaven and a New Earth [appear]. For the previous heaven and the previous earth had passed away (Rev.20:11), and the sea [now] no longer existed [on this New Earth].
Revelation 21:1

Is it only symbolic like the other passage which says "and the sea gave up the dead that were in it"? Maybe I am reading the diagram wrong. You also call hades, subterranean. So where is this nether world? Please help me understand this.

Sorry to know that things are still in crisis mode. It's the same story here. But, I am not feeling the pressure. Today I am as cool as a cucumber!

You are in my prayers.

In Him,

Response #2:

Good to hear that you are staying courageous under fire! Our God will deliver us in His good time. It is our part to be faithful until He does.

Yes, you are reading the diagram correctly. Hades = "the netherworld" (the latter is an English equivalent synonym). The waters below are the seas plus the "fountains of the great deep" (Gen.7:11), that is, all of the "waters" except for the "waters above" which now separate the universe from the third heaven. The passage you ask about is referencing the previous occasion when the "waters below" covered the earth, namely, the judgment of the great flood. Finally, I take Revelation's statement on this topic literally: in the eternal state, there will be no more sea (not that there won't be water; there will be an abundance of the water of life proceeding from the throne of the Father and the Lamb and blessing the New Earth abundantly forevermore).

In anticipation of that wonderful day to come!

Thank you for your prayers my friend!

Yours in Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:

The abyss was frozen? I think it interesting that Mr. Hinn is saying that the Abyss in Gen 1:2 was frozen. Does that make sense others ?

BENNY HINN - Deliverance From Demons_Session 01.mp3

Response #3:

I think Mr. Hinn is confused on this point: it was the universal deep that was frozen, not the subterranean Abyss.

In terms of heavenly "geography", there are three essential regions: 1) the physical universe (the two heavens and the earth); 2) the third heaven; 3) Hades or the underworld. The Abyss, technically speaking, is in the underworld and was apparently not affected by the Lord's judgment on the physical universe (nor, obviously, was the third heaven affected either). Genesis 1:2 describes the universe in its post-judgment condition (on the other side of the Genesis Gap; see the link), and, indeed, the tehom, the universal sea which was given to flood all of space, was in a frozen condition at this point until God sais "let there be light" (which melts the water; Gen.1:3), and then clears outer space of water by inserting the firmament (Gen.1:6-7). No doubt the confusion you mention stems from the fact that the sea on earth is sometimes called tehom in Hebrew and is commonly translated with the Greek word Abyssos in the Septuagint version (see the link in SR 2: "The Sea as a Sign of Divine Judgment"). But that is only because the earthly sea "covers" the underworld in terms of "biblical geography". It would help to have a look at the following chart: "The Waters Above", and also to read the email response file "The Waters Above, the Firmament, and the Genesis Gap". For more on the components of the underworld, please see the link: "Hades".

Do feel free to write back with any questions you may have about all this.

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #4:

It's me again! I was reading your F A Q part and am trying to find a better way to study - so will do what you suggested on that ... to start on Read your Bible, The peter series ... etc. I have a laptop but am finding it a bit heavy to use and thought to get a small iPod so it would be easier for me to hold in my hands and to navigate - they are very expensive and don't think the e-books will download your web page .. .so it looks like an iPod would be my answer. Then I can even study in a more comfy position and not tire so easily, and really get going. I want to download your whole website to the iPod so I can take it everywhere with me! It is my life ... and manna for my soul! THANK you for all you put into it - I have wandered about so much , picking up rubbish sometimes - but still wandering on!

How are you all doing? My thoughts and prayers are always with you - sometimes weigh heavily on the Ephods and Breastplate. But plough on we must! Just another question , was looking in the Trinity and on John 17 and saw that when Jesus ascended he was once again in the Presence of the Father - am not clear on from the time Jesus was born and as He began His ministry ... did He leave His Father who was in Heaven then? It seems just AWESOME that God sent His only Son to earth and Jesus left His place in heaven to come and rescue such wickedness of mankind! Also about the Friends of the Bride - we had such erroneous teaching about this I need to wipe it out! Also about where you wrote "Hades from whence Jesus brought pre-cross believers to heaven "... we were told that Jesus descended to the lowest place in the land, I think Sumeria, not Hades! Oh dear, what a mess I got myself into. Would be so glad for your help - did look it up but think I looked in the wrong place.

Let me know what you think about the iPod and downloading your whole website.

All love in Jesus our precious Lord. Many many thanks,

Response #4:

Good to hear from you thank you so much for your prayers!

Have you tried the Adobe PDF files? They should be easily accessible from and workable on any device. (Adobe has a free ebook reader which can be downloaded from their site) I have the Adobe file-link listed next to the thumb-nail at the head of every major study, but you can also access them all at the Ichthys Archives link. I do not make PDF's for the email postings, it is true, but there is an RTF option for each. This is a file type which is readable by MS Word. So if you have a computer or notebook or notepad or phone or interactive TV or anything which will use MS Word (or Adobe) as almost all will, then you should be able to download those files and "be in business". It is true that the actual webpages (i.e., the HTML format you see from your internet browser), are not necessarily your best bet for download, printout and the like. Please do have a go at the above before you spend money unnecessarily. I would be happy to try to "walk you through" whatever you are having trouble with if this advice doesn't immediately clear things up. [n.b., it is a future project of mine to distribute these materials through e-versions for Kindle and other devices at Amazon and Smashwords, et al.]

As to Hades, yes, that is what I take the reference in Ephesians 4:8-10 to mean, namely, our Lord's going to the "lower parts of the earth", specifically, paradise (as when Jesus says to the thief on the cross "today you will be with Me in paradise": Lk.23:43). For one thing, the context is all about the victory of Christ and the heavenly ramifications of His ascension wherein He "led the captives" from below the earth into God's presence (see the link) something impossible before He had "split the veil" of the heavens and blazed the trail into God's presence as our "forerunner" (Heb.6:20). Understood in this way, the passage syncs perfectly with 1st Peter 3:19ff. Secondly, the key Greek phrase in the Ephesians passage, ta katotera mere tes ges (τὰ κατώτερα μέρη τῆς γῆς), is in my view a very deliberate translation of the Hebrew eretz tachtiyoth (אֶרֶץ תַּחְתִּיֹּות), or "lower parts of the earth" which at Ezekiel 26:20 very clearly refers to Hades (cf. also Ps.63:9; 86:13; 139:15; same key word in the LXX though superlative; comparative in Eph. because of the contrast with the world of the living "than which it is lower"). There is more on all this at the links: "Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Hell (1st Peter 3:18-20)" and "The Descent of our Lord into Paradise".

There are three compartments to Hades: 1) Paradise (the place of believers before the ascension; this is where Lazarus and Abraham are seen); 2) the Abyss (the place of incarceration for fallen angels who "violate their first estate"), and 3) Torments (the place of unbelievers before the last judgment). To this we may also want to add a fourth: the lake of fire (though this compartment is presently unoccupied). You can find out more about this at the following link: "Death and Hades".

Finally on John 17 et al., this is one of very many places where we have to make a distinction between our Lord speaking from His humanity on the one hand and His existence as God on the other. He was always God, and was "with" the Father before the creation. It is only in the sense of Him taking on true humanity in addition to His deity that He could be "sent" and "return". Now that the time of compartmentalization between His deity and His humanity is over because Jesus has indeed fulfilled the requirements of salvation by dying for all sin on the cross, there is no such further self-imposed limitation on His humanity (theologically this compartmentalization is called the doctrine of Kenosis; see the link).

I do hope all this is helpful. And please do get back to me about your software/hardware problem.

In Jesus our dear Lord and only Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5:


I am going through my Bible cover to cover. I am very much a believer. Being a freshman in college, I was confronted with the fact that not everyone believes the same things that I do. A very good question was brought to my attention: In Genesis 1:2, it is said that the Holy Spirit is hovering above water. I have asked elders in my church, as well as read what this site has to say about it. While this answer is easier for believers to swallow, it is an answer that is unbelievable to those struggling to believe in God. From most of my inquires with my non-believers my age, the following seems to be the general thought process. Throughout Genesis, the author is meticulous in describing the origin of living creatures, the origin of marriage, and the origin of family, if such extremes are taken to make clear these origins, why is the origin of the original water not described. Has water always been? Is there any evidence, besides the knowledge that God has power over all things, explaining this?

Thank you for your time

Response #5:

Good to make your acquaintance. Let me commend you first for your defense of the truth in the difficult environment of college. It's very easy for people to conform to the standard rubbish and call it "intellectual independence", especially as freshmen.

As to your questions, Genesis 1:1 says that as a beginning God created "the heavens and the earth". What happened next is not recorded in Genesis but took place during what is commonly called the "Genesis gap" between verses one and two (see the link), for in verse two we find that "the earth had become waste and void".

As to the waters of Genesis 1:2, this is a reference to the universal tehom or deep with which God flooded the universe as part of the judgment for Satan's revolt, which judgment took place between verses one and two. These two points, especially the second one, are generally misunderstood, even in conservative Christian circles (although to my view they are plainly obvious from a careful reading of what Genesis chapter one actually says, even in most English versions). On the waters please see the link: "The Waters Above, the Firmament, and the Genesis Gap". To put it in a nutshell, water is of course part of the original creation of the universe, but the waters which are mentioned in Genesis 1:2 are waters of judgment (cf. the great flood which occurs later) which fill the entire universe and hence must be separated out into the waters "above and below" (through the Lord's creation of the "firmament") in order to provide for the restoration of life described during the seven days.

As to unbelievers, as I often say, my forte is not apologetics. This is a Bible teaching ministry and as such is concerned only with the truth, however hard it may be to swallow for anyone, believers and unbelievers alike. In my experience, everyone has some point of biblical truth which is "difficult" for them to accept, but accepting God's truth and learning to live it by faith is the essence of what life in Christ is all about. And as far as unbelievers are concerned, it is generally the case that at one time they were much more attuned to the truth which shouts from every corner of God's creation; it is only when they become "smart", that is, after they begin to reject the truth about God which is taught by every aspect of His creation that they begin to express their skepticism about the truth in a more vehement way. This is part of the natural process of the hardening of the heart whereby unbelievers condemn themselves in rejecting God. For more on the process of natural revelation and the doctrine of salvation please see Bible Basics 4B: Soteriology.

Keep fighting the good fight, and feel free to write me back about any of the above.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #6:

Hey Mr. Robert,

I haven't had time to completely look over the Genesis gap, but I have had time to skim. I have a few questions about the following passages.

Scripture neither mentions nor records . . . .

As you know all to well, the definition of time when referring to the Bible has been of great discussion between the secularists and Christians. The passage above seems to purpose an explanation for the existence of dinosaurs, while also explaining why a new heaven and earth were created. My question to this statement lies within the above explanation. According to the different lineages in the bible, the Earth is roughly 10,000 years old. While the fact that dinosaurs roamed the earth is undeniable, the time frame in which this creatures roamed the earth is relatively unknown. If we are willing to believe that eons passed between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2, then it also seems we must be willing to believe that the term "day", may not necessarily be a day in human time (cf. Dan.9:24-26; 12:1 [in the LXX where "day" is the translation used for the Hebrew word for "time/period" {though not in Theodotion}]). Moreover, Psalm 90:2-4, in summary, states that God is unconcerned with human time. If this holds true, are we to believe that the earth was created in an actual seven days? I would like to respectfully inquire to how you came to this conclusion. Do you have any biblical support?

I would also like to respectfully ask you another question. James 1:13 states, When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone." From my interpretation of the above passages, it seems that God is made to sound as if He is trying to anger Satan and His fallen angels. However, God is not evil, and therefore would not act mendaciously. My question here is, is there any scripture to explain why God gave to humans what Satan most desired (as you say in the link at SR 1)? As God is all knowing, He must have understood that this allocation of gifts would cause a great disturbance between His creations.

I thank you greatly for your time and willingness to explain.

God bless,

Response #6:

Good to hear back from you. First, the Genesis gap explanation does not require seeing the seven days of chapter one as other than seven literal days. That is what they are: seven literal days (as all of the materials I have written teach). What is different in this regard from many careless interpretations which miss the Genesis gap is that the seven days do not represent original creation but the reconstruction of the earth after a long and indeterminate time period (the Genesis gap between verses one and two of chapter one). This is clear not only from the fact that Genesis 1:1 demonstrates the Lord creating the universe instantly, but also, for example, from the fact that the earth is declared to be in existence in verse two before the Lord begins any of the actions of the seven days (one reader's six year old noticed this; surprisingly, theologians with Th.D.'s often miss it or dismiss it).

As to the time frame, according to the genealogies and chronological information scripture provides, the history of mankind lasts approximately 7,000 years (see the link), and we are nearing the end of the sixth millennium in the present day. Scripture does not give us any basis for determining how long the universe existed before God created angelic kind, or how long angelic kind existed before Satan rebelled, or how long the devil was allowed to be at liberty in his rebellious state before judgment occurred, or how long the period of judgment lasted wherein the universe was blacked out and filled with the universal sea or tehom before the seven days of reconstruction beginning in Genesis 1:2 were started. Clearly eons of time could have passed in any or all of these phases, and that time, it is true, would be sufficient to explain the geological record. Let me hasten to say, however, that this interpretation is most definitely not an attempt to explain that record. Personally, I am not at all concerned with what science thinks about such things, and would be happy to believe what scripture tells me even if no such helpful explanation existed. The Genesis gap explains many things about the conflict between the Lord and the devil and the reason behind the creation of mankind. Since this is far more important than any "problems" unbelieving science has with scripture in terms of the geological record as we dimly understand it, that is where I always place the emphasis in these discussions.

As I say, my position is that the earth was created along with the rest of the universe ex nihilo, that is, from nothing and in an instant of time (Gen.1:1). Before creation, God existed, but the universe did not. When He initiated creation, He created everything else that "is", and did so instantly through Jesus Christ. As to biblical support:

Before all else, God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
John 1:1-3 NIV

Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
1st Corinthians 8:6 NIV

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Colossians 1:16-17 NIV

God, from antiquity having communicated to our fathers in the prophets at many times and in many ways, has in these last days communicated to us in a Son, [the One] whom He has appointed heir of all things, [the One] through whom He created the universe. He is the shining forth of [the Father's] glory, the precise image of His essence, the One who sustains the universe by His mighty Word . . .
Hebrews 1:1-3a

The biblical record is very clear: the Father and the Son (and the Spirit) existed together before they created the world through the Agency of the Son.

As to temptation and Satan's rebellion, while these questions are related, they cover a tremendous amount of theological territory. To start with James 1:13, James is rebuking a hypothetical believer who is misinformed about the nature of God and His grace and the mechanics of free will, temptation, the unseen conflict now raging, and many other matters. James' point is that God is on our side and is, as you understand, not evil or "out to get us" in any way. Temptation, according to the essential meaning of the word as we are using it, implies a deliberate attempt to get a person to "bite". God wants us to succeed, not to fail. The devil wants us to fail, not to succeed. But in most instances it is not even a question of direct temptation from the evil one or his minions but rather the internal temptation that comes from a person's own lusts which is at the heart of sin and error (as James explains in the following verses). Please see the link: "The Battlefield Within" (this verse and others are covered there; see especially response #14).

As to the "angelic conflict" proper, I have a great deal of information at the link in part 2A of the Bible Basics series: Angelology; and see also the entire Satanic Rebellion series. The one point that needs making here is that God did not initiate this conflict. Far from it. He created Satan and the fallen angels in perfection, and they rebelled from no other temptation other than their desire to be independent of Him. The creation of mankind came much later on the near side of the Genesis gap, and is designed to replace an unwilling Satan and his followers with willing human beings, and to demonstrate in so doing the mercy, goodness and fairness of God. You might also have a look at Bible Basics 4B: Soteriology where these matters are explained from the standpoint of the overall Plan of God. Although this is a "nutshell of a nutshell" view of some rather involved issues, I think you can probably see just from this short discussion how much a correct understanding of the Genesis gap explains theologically and also how confusing things would have to seem without it.

Please do feel free to write back about any of the above.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Hello--I have a question about when Jesus told the thief that today he would be with Him in Paradise. What exactly is "paradise"? Did He mean heaven, or a sort of ante-room to heaven, in the spirit world, or what? When He saw Mary Magdalene on Sunday Morning, He said He had not yet ascended to His Father. So, where is this Paradise that Jesus said He and the thief would be in that very day, after they died? How could it be heaven, if Jesus descended to the spirits in prison and preached to them, I think it says, in 1 Peter and in the Apostle's Creed ("He descended into hell"). Of course, it doesn't say how long He was in the "underworld." Also, the only other thing I can think of is Jesus, once freed of His mortal body, was Spirit and omnipresent and could be in both heaven and hell at the same time. Also, Jesus commended His Spirit to His Father right before He died, but I don't suppose that necessarily means the Father took Jesus' Spirit back to Heaven, just took care of it.

Anyway, your thoughts on this--and on the Greek meaning for "paradise"? I know it has several from our BibleWorks 4.0. Thanks. Have a nice weekend.

Response #7:

Good to hear from you. Paradise is the place in the underworld (or more technically put, the compartment of Sheol) where Old Testament believers went after death. Jesus gives us a good look at this place He also calls "Abraham's bosom" when He tells about Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19ff. (not a parable as the key person is named as is Abraham and the events are described as having happened). At the ascension, our Lord "led captivity captive" (Eph.4:8; cf. Ps.68:18), that is, brought the Old Testament believers to the third heaven in His train (see the link), so that now when we depart this body all believers go there to heaven to be "with Him" (Jn.14:3). The cross had to be an accomplished reality before this transfer could take place because the justice of God had actually to be satisfied before human beings could enter the Father's presence.

You are absolutely right that this paradise is where our Lord went for the time between His exhaling of His spirit and the resurrection, and, as Peter records (1Pet.3:19ff.), it is from this place that He proclaimed His victory to the spirits in Tartarus or the Abyss (the third compartment, Hades or Torments being the second). I have written quite a bit on these subjects (just the gist given above) which can be found at these links:

The Transfer of believers from the subterranean paradise to the third heaven at Christ's ascension (in BB 4A)

Paradise: aka "Abraham's Bosom", and the compartments of Sheol (in SR 1)

Chart of the Biblical "Geography" of the Cosmos (in CT 2B)

Lazarus and the rich man

Christ's proclamation of victory to the fallen angels in Tartarus (in BB 4A)

Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Hell (1st Peter 3:18-20)

Christ "leading captivity captive"

These issues cover a lot of ground, so please do feel free to write back about any of this.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Thanks for your reply, but I'm a little confused ... so Paradise is one compartment of sheol, torments is another, and the abyss is the third? What is the difference between torment and the abyss?

Response #8:

That's right. The Abyss (aka Tartarus: 2Pet.2:4; cf. Jude 6) is the place fallen angels are incarcerated. For example:

And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
Revelation 20:1-3

Torments is strictly for unbelieving human beings. It is sometimes called "hell", but that is a bit misleading since the ultimate "hell" for unbelievers and fallen angels will be the lake of fire (following the last judgment; see the link).

There's more at the previous links, but do feel free to write back about this.

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Oh, I get it ... and at the resurrection, both fallen angels and wicked humans will be in the same place, hell, correct? Thanks for explaining.

Response #9:

That's it . . . the lake of fire, to be specific (which I also take to be in the underworld, as present uninhabited). Here's a link for that: The Lake of Fire.

In Jesus who has delivered us from all that through His blood,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Ok, another question. What about hell? Do you believe in the torture pit? Do you believe people will be there forever?

Some believe in eternal punishment, some believe in eventual reconciliation for all mankind, some believe in annihilation and I don't know which one of these is right because they can't all be right.


Response #10:

Scripture is very clear on the subject. We are placed on this earth to decide whether or not we are willing to live with the Lord in eternity. God has done everything for us so that we all may do so. He sent His own dear Son into the world. In addition to His deity, Jesus became a human being no small sacrifice for God and, after living the most intensely opposed life in history, went to the cross and died spiritually in the darkness being judged for every single human sin and paying the price for them that God's righteousness demanded. All that is required now for eternal life is to accept the Gift. And God has made it clear to one and all that: 1) He not only exists but is absolutely righteous and perfect (Rom.1); 2) we cannot stay in this world forever but will all die physically; and 3) absent accepting the gift of His Son we will have no sacrifice of our own to place before His feet to propitiate the demands of God's perfect righteousness. Everyone knows these things (through natural revelation; see the link), but in spite of this most people want nothing to do with God in this life. That is because most people are unwilling to bend their will to His WILL, even when the price of eternal life has already been paid on their behalf. They would rather be their own "boss" for a few short years in this tainted life than be "forced" to accept the gift of salvation by placing their faith in Jesus Christ and giving their life and their will to Him.

For all those who throw God's love back in His face by rejecting Jesus (or refusing to accept Him throughout their earthly lives), there is no possibility that they may live with God forever. That is only possible for those for whom all sins have been forgiven, and Jesus most certainly could not die for the sin of rejecting Himself. So unbelievers in the end get exactly what they wanted and bargained for: an eternity apart from the God they were unwilling to accept and wanted no part of. The conditions of that eternal "existence" are so bleak that the Bible calls it "the second death" (Rev.2:11; 20:6; 20:14; 21:8). At the last judgment (see the link), all who did not accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and maintain their faith in Him to the end are cast into the lake of fire which is the second death (see the link). This judgment follows the resurrection of all unbelievers which is a resurrection unto death rather than unto life (Dan.12:2; Jn.5:28-29). In the meantime, unbelievers are consigned to "Torments", an unpleasant place below the earth where they await their last judgment (cf. Lk.16:22-31). As bad as Torments clearly is, it is not as bad as their final destiny the place they have chosen and preferred because it is apart from God the lake of fire.

The lake of fire is the worst possible place, and designed to be so. But unbelievers receive the thing they wanted most, namely, an existence without having to have anything to do with God. That is just what the devil wanted too. Of course he and they would have preferred to live in this world forever and to act however it pleased him and them to act without pain and fire and darkness. This is not possible inasmuch as God is light and the only light in the world comes from Him so that a place entirely without Him must be totally dark and totally separated from any and all blessing which only comes from Him. God has a plan which results in the end in a perfection of blessing and light and absence of all pain and trouble in the New Heavens and New Earth, with everything reconciled to Himself everything and everyone willing to be reconciled to Him, that is, and with all stumbling blocks removed from His eternal Kingdom forever.

The fact that the eternal repository of the wicked, whether angels or men, is beyond unpleasant is not to be bemoaned by us who have chosen the better part. That is because God has made the choice clear to all, and all have chosen what they have preferred. In terms of human choice, in order for the choice to reflect who we really are, it has to be made with a less than total experiential understanding of the final state of things. We know enough, even though we do not know everything. Just as no one really understands how bad the lake of fire is until they are in it so also no one really can comprehend how wonderful the New Jerusalem will be without first experiencing it. But just as we who believe in Jesus have fled to Him for refuge (Heb.6:18) and anticipate all the wonderful things to come despite the fact that we are suffering now, so also those who are not willing to submit to Him know on a very deep level that death is coming and that afterwards they have no hope of eternal life, only a certainty of judgment. And while we who believe through our consistent growth in the truth of scripture see the rewards of eternity more clearly day by day, in the opposite way those who have rejected the truth and of necessity accepted lies in its stead are hardening their hearts against the reality of what they are facing, becoming more numb to the truth day by day even as they embrace one lie about eternity or another more closely day by day.

In this world we see light and darkness, blessing and cursing, peace/prosperity and pain/trouble:

God is light; unbelievers want light but they don't want God and prefer darkness to being reconciled to God; so darkness is what they shall have forever.

God is blessing; unbelievers want blessing but they don't want God and prefer cursing to being reconciled to God; so cursing is what they shall have forever.

God is peace/prosperity; unbelievers want peace/prosperity but they don't want God and prefer pain/trouble to being reconciled to God; so pain/trouble is what they shall have forever.

But we believers, though for a short time we walk through the darkness in the valley of the death shadow, enduring the cursing of the evil one and his minions, often beset with pain and trouble, will have only light, blessing and peace/prosperity forever because we will be with God forever in the perfect eternal state where only these good things exist because we have chosen for Him and His Son over ourselves and our own will.

One thing is very clear, however: there is no annihilation after death. Once God creates a spirit, that spirit will exist forever. The critical question is whether or not the spirit in question will reside with the Father and His Son in eternal bliss, or apart from Him and Jesus our Lord in darkness and fire for all eternity. That question is answered in every case by the informed and deliberate choice of the person who makes it, whether human or angel. We are all entirely responsible for where we end up, and one of the things that the last judgment will make crystal clear is just how each unbeliever made with complete clarity the decisions which landed him/her in the lake of fire.

Here are some links on that subject:

Against Universalism I: Free Will and the Image of God.

Against Universalism II: Only Believers are Saved.

Against Universalism III: Unbelievers in the Plan of God.

There is also quite a lot on all of these issues in part 4B of Bible Basics: Soteriology.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Thanks Bob, your answers are always very compete and scriptural.

But, after the 1000 year reign of Christ, Satan is let loose for a while, then everyone is judged and "The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death."

If the lake of fire is a literal burning place of fire and torment, how can "death" and "hades" be thrown into it? How can hell be thrown into hell? It sounds like hell and death are destroyed in the end.

I believe, unfortunately, in hell. But, I'm still holding onto hope that it's not forever because I can't comprehend, or even handle, the fact that billions of people will be tormented forever. It hurts my heart too badly.

Response #11:

The phrase "death and Hades" is a way of saying "everyone in [the present] hell". Here is what I write about this in CT 6:

3. The Sea, Death and Hades

For the sea gave up the dead which were in it, [that is] death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them, and each person was condemned according to what they had done.
Revelation 20:13

The passage above is frequently misquoted and just as frequently misunderstood. To interpret these verses properly it is first necessary to understand what "the sea" means in scripture. While many of us romanticize the ocean, in the Bible the sea is nearly always associated with evil and with judgment upon evil since it is God's ultimate means of judgment (e.g., on the original earth and on the world of Noah's time, to name the two most extreme sea-judgments).60 That is its primary meaning here, that is, we have to do with a general reference to the place of judgment (the residence of all unbelievers who died prior to the end of history), rather than the literal sea per se. For in biblical "geography", the sea covers and conceals the entire tripartite underworld, "death and Hades" (the place of the unsaved dead), the Abyss (the place of incarcerated fallen angels), and "paradise" or "Abraham's bosom" (the place of the righteous dead before Christ's ascension). Thus in the passage above "the sea" is meant as a sort of short-hand for what we would call "hell" (or Sheol), and naturally enough from a biblical point of view since the sea is the restraining capstone or "lid", so to speak, upon the entire underworld where the unsaved dead presently reside. This is made clear as well by the fact that the phrase "death and Hades" is in apposition to "the sea" in verse 13 above. That is to say, "death and Hades" is offered as an explanation of who the dead are that the sea is seen to disgorge: all of previously departed unbelieving humanity (in contrast to those who were still alive at history's end when they experienced the "resurrection of judgment").

The spirits of the departed are in torment under the waters, even all who reside [there below].
Job 26:5

Death and Hades are therefore a single place (one could punctuate the phrase as death-and-Hades). This is the abode of those who died without God and without salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, whatever name be used to describe this portion of the netherworld, Sheol (the Hebrew equivalent of Hades), the grave, torments, death or Hades. Further indications that we have here unbelievers only include:

1) the fact that these individuals are "dead" and are being kept in "death-and Hades" is a further indication that no believers appear among their ranks. For our God is the God of the living, not the dead, and we exit this life for eternal life, not for death (cf. Jesus' argument based on precisely this principle: Matt.22:29-32).

2) the fact that this group is an undifferentiated mass whereas the biblical practice in places where the two groups really are combined is to show the difference between believers and unbelievers (cf. "tares and wheat"; "wheat and chaff", "taken and left", "sheep and goat" or "dead in Christ" vs. merely "dead").

3) the fact that if any of these people were believers, they would not be coming from below the earth (and all of these people come from below the earth), since all believers have gone to be with the Lord in heaven since His ascension.

It is most regrettable that anyone goes to hell and that anyone will be condemned forever. It is also unnecessary inasmuch as Jesus died for all their sins and they would not go to hell if only they were willing to live with God. Unbelievers are not willing to share the universe with God on His terms just as Satan was not (he is the pattern). So while we believers tend to be very generous toward others and imagine the best, in their heart of hearts all unbelievers reject Christ and/or refuse to accept Him out of an unwillingness to come to terms with God. They would never do so if given a 1,000 lifetimes to make the adjustment; their own will is more important to them than His WILL. All this will be revealed at the last judgment where it will be shown that everyone knew the issues involved and that everyone made an informed and deliberate decision to reject God's mercy and spurn the sacrifice of His Son. So while in this world in our relative ignorance of these matters (only God can see into someone else's heart) we may feel sorry for unbelievers, in truth there is nothing to be sorry for since they receive in the end just what they wanted: eternity apart from God.

Yours in the One for whose sacrifice we are eternally grateful, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #12:

In the bible, it states death and Hades will be thrown into the Lake of fire, how can hell be thrown into itself? I believe the word Hades was mistranslated into Hell. Hell is the second death, and can only come AFTER the Great judgement.

Response #12:

"Hell" is an English word of Germanic derivation. Whenever one sees this word in an English translation of the Bible, some other Greek or Hebrew term always lies behind it. The underworld is actually composed of (at least) three compartments: 1) paradise, the place of the saved (Abraham's Bosom, the place of blessing where Lazarus and company resided before Christ's ascension); 2) the place of the unsaved (sheol proper, or "torments" where the rich man finds himself); 3) the Abyss (the place of incarceration of some fallen, notably Satan during the coming millennial reign of Christ: Rev.20:1-3). Any of these places may be termed "hell" in our English usage (and also in various Bible versions). To this we may also add the ultimate "hell", the lake of fire (not yet occupied).

Please see the links: A schematic chart of heavenly "geography"; and "Hades".

The difficulties in understanding this issue are complicated by the use of English words which do not correspond well to the Greek and Hebrew terms, as well as by the fact that few exegetes and translators over the years have really understood the biblical "geography" of the underworld (although it seems fairly simple once properly articulated).

The phrase "death and Hades" actually occurs four times in the book of Revelation (Rev.1:18; 6:8; 20:13; 20:14). John uses it to comprise and comprehend all of the underworld. We would be justified in understanding this phrase as meaning "hell" in any or all of these passages, but only as long as we realize that the entire underworld/netherworld is meant.

The passage you ask about, Revelation 20:13-14, is a bit of a special case because John is using a metonymy here: when he says "death and Hades", what he means is "all unbelievers"; that is, the phrase here refers to all those consigned to "hell", rather than to "hell" as a place; these are individuals (clearly that is what John means), and it is these condemned persons who are thrown into the lake of fire, rather than some geographic location (which as you rightly point out wouldn't work in any case because hell cannot be thrown into itself).

Finally, the lake of fire (see the link) is most likely a fourth component of the underworld; presently unoccupied but already "prepared for the devil and his angels" (not to mention all unbelievers: Matt.25:41). It is to that final "second death" that all who have rebelled against God and spurned His grace in Jesus Christ will be remanded at the last judgment.

I do hope you find this helpful. Please feel free to write back about any of the above.

Question #13:

My point is HELL IS the lake of fire, the final destination of the unsaved. Hades, is temporary holding of the unsaved. There is no more righteous side, since Jesus crucifixion. All believes go to be with the Lord.


Response #13:

I understand and I certainly agree.

My point is that "hell" is an English word, not a Bible word, and so it means whatever the person or group using it understands it to mean. Since "hell", per se, does not occur in the actual Bible (and since the word is used haphazardly in English translations for different Greek and Hebrew words with no general consistency), one has to clarify first what one means when one says "hell".

"Torments" is where unbelievers are now (called "hell" in the KJV at Lk.16:23). "The Lake of Fire" is where they will be after the last judgment (and that is the ultimate negative "hell"). But inasmuch as most people, even Christians, do not understand this distinction, and inasmuch as sometimes "hell" even in translations does not refer to either place (cf. KJV on Ps. 16:10 where it refers to the subterranean paradise) or else refers to the underworld generally it seems better to me to avoid using the word whenever further explanation is not forthcoming.

Yours in Jesus Christ through whom we have been delivered from judgment by His blood,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hi Bob,

Thank you for your explanation of the White throne judgement. It seems to make sense with what I know of the Bible.

I have a question about the role of believers. If the believers are all finished being judged will they not therefore be in their final state of being one with Christ and The Father. And therefore are they then in some way part of the unbelievers judgement?

I have been told this is not true but was given no scriptures.

God Bless,

Response #14:

Good to hear from you.

The Great White Throne judgment is the last event to take place before the New Heavens and the New Earth are created in place of the old, and the New Jerusalem descends from heaven and eternity begins. Christ will be the Judge of all unbelievers at this judgment, and we, all believers, and all of the elect angels will observe it (but that will be our only part in it since we shall all have already received our "judgment for reward"). Just as in many a court proceeding where there is an audience, so at this last judgment we shall look on and see that all unbelievers were in no doubt about the main issues of their need for a Savior, and that they absolutely preferred from their own free will to go to hell rather than to submit to God. I have written all of this up in some detail at the link: "The Last Judgment" (in CT 6).

As to scriptures which detail the participation of others in addition to the Judge and the judged, in Matthew 25 the sheep (believers) are at the Lord's right hand, even as the goats (unbelievers) are at His left. Also, in verse 31 of the same chapter, we are told that all of His angels are with Him. So it is clear just from that chapter that all of the elect will view the final proceedings. And it is also clear from the parable of the talents earlier in the chapter that everyone else is watching (see for example His command to "take away" his talent in v.28 and "throw" the worthless one out in v.20 is being given to someone; cf. Lk.19:25). Finally, since the last judgment takes place after the destruction of the old heavens and earth and before the creation of the new, the venue of judgment, namely, the area now in front of the lake of fire, will be, literally, the last place for anyone to be. It certainly makes sense, moreover, given that history is designed to prove the truth of all God has said and the righteousness of all He has done, that we are not going to be deprived of seeing all of the unbelievers give account to the Lord and seeing Him reprove them for failing to accept God's gift of mercy and grace. They would rather be their own kings in hell rather than submit to the King of Righteousness so as to be saved and we have both a right and a duty to see this same truth reinforced during the billions of judgments that Day will produce.

In Him in whom we have eternal life and deliverance from all judgment, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Thank you so much Bob,

I have just spent the last 2 days studying the links you gave me - what a revelation! Just one thing you said on the New Jerusalem:

"it will be home to a mixed population that will include those who are imperfect-of various spiritual states, still in their natural bodies and the perfect, resurrected believers. The righteous rule of Jesus will suppress the effects of the sin nature so prominent in our experience (crime, war) and the result will be a veritable Heaven on earth ..."

Those imperfect and of various spiritual states, still in their natural bodies ... would that apply to the believers who have only just come to believe? If that is the case, then that gives me hope for the departed who do believe just they die.

Thanks a stack for all your help Bob

Yours in our beloved Saviour

Response #15:

Always good to hear from you. I am especially pleased to learn that you are finding these materials helpful that always does my heart good.

One point on New Jerusalem. I believe that you may be confusing New Jerusalem with millennial Jerusalem (the latter is what the quote you include is referring to). The millennial Jerusalem is our Lord's world capital after His second advent return. The New Jerusalem is our eternal home, and descends from the third heaven after the Millennium is over and the present heavens and earth along with all that is sinful and temporary will have then been forever destroyed.

During the Millennium, we resurrected believers will be on earth, ruling with our Lord over a rapidly expanding population of people who are as we are now: not eternal but in their first, physical bodies (albeit because of the blessings of the Millennium their life-spans will be greatly increased over what ours presently are). When the New Jerusalem arrives, there will be only God in three Persons, the elect angels, and resurrected believers: the Bride, resurrected when Christ returned, and the Friends of the Bride, those saved during the Millennium and resurrected at the end of it. On that glorious day, no one and nothing will be sinful or temporary any longer. The most detailed account of all this is to be found in Part 6 of Coming Tribulation: The Millennium and New Jerusalem. We who are saved before Christ's return will all be resurrected when He returns, eternal forever, "and thus shall we ever be with the Lord" (1Thes.4:17b).

In anticipation of that marvelous day and all the wonderful reunions especially with our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Hello Sir!

How are you doing? Did the Lord send you help? I am eagerly waiting for mine!

In the chart for the encampment of Israel, the position of Ephraim is number 9, shouldn't it be number 7. The chart for the position of the gates in New Jerusalem is same as that of the encampment of Israel. Shouldn't there be an exchange of position between Ephraim and Benjamin, and between Dan and Naphtali?

Keeping You in my prayers.

In Jesus Christ,

Response #16:

Hello my friend!

According to my reading, in Numbers chapter two the trios of tribes are listed north to south and then east to west in both sets (the same way in which Hebrew is read on a page: top to bottom and right to left). We can confirm this from the way in which each tribe's gem stone is placed on the high priest's breastplate: each row represents the marching order of the tribes as they leave the encampment, with the lead tribe on the left (again, moving right to left), so that as Judah is followed by Issachar and Zebulun, and as Reuben is followed by Simeon and Gad, so Ephraim is followed by Manasseh and Benjamin.

Things are very "tight" here, my friend, but I trust the Lord. I am also waiting eagerly for your deliverance, just as I am for mine!

My 92 year old mother who lives near my brother in Michigan is being treated by a physical therapist who is a Hindu. From what she says he seems "happy enough" with his religion. It is interesting how the Lord works things out. Here is he over here in a country where there are many options and opportunities for learning about the Lord Jesus and serving Him, and he does not seem to be interested. He told her that he never saw any missionaries as a child in India because he is from the north (my mother didn't specify where, precisely), but in his explanation missionaries concentrate on the south of the country. In any case, he has been telling my mother about Hindu beliefs, and I am hoping she will get a chance to pursue the truth with him. In any case, the Lord is making it clear that it's not about geography or anything else. It's all about choice. Most of my countrymen are not genuinely Christian (in the sense of being born-again believers in Jesus Christ, though there are many traditional "Christians"), and of those who are the number who are genuinely interested in the Word of God is infinitesimally small. So you, my dear friend, are a "witness to men and angels both" of the power of the God, the goodness of Jesus Christ, and the fact that choice, faith, and determination will trump geography, opportunity and circumstance every single time for that is the way the Father has so ordained in His perfect plan. God works all things out together for good "for those who love Him", that is (Rom.8:28).

I hope to hear and be able to give good news soon.

Thank you as always for your prayers (you are also in mine daily)!

Your friend and neighbor in New Jerusalem,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Why will the fearful or cowardly be cast into the lake of fire? Revelations 21:8 what is the evil in them?

Response #17:

As I say about this passage in loc. in part 6 of the Coming Tribulation series: ".... the list of offenses given in verse eight is not meant to be comprehensive, nor is it meant to define those who choose against God solely by means of their conduct. Rather, just as godly works are a clear indication of salvation (Jas.2:14-26), so in the case of unbelievers their conduct demonstrates what it is they truly love, having chosen one manner of detestable behavior or another as a characterization of "who they really are" (cf. our Lord's use at Mk.4:40 of "cowardly" as the equivalent of "lacking faith"). For all those who reject the truth in order to embrace the lie in whatever manifestation, instead of having an everlasting inheritance in the New Jerusalem, their portion will be eternal residence in the lake of fire. No more powerful inducement exists for the believer than this reminder of the great benefit of perseverance eternal life instead of the second death and of the great calamity of allowing ones' faith to lapse in the trial of life: loss of every good thing which the Father has sworn here to provide for all those who, despite the cost, remain faithful to His beloved Son."

Question #18:


Will there be tours of hell in eternity? My pastor teacher mentioned this once. He was studying the passage Isaiah 66:24.

Also some more questions:

This passage (Isaiah 66:24) mentions moonlight. Will there be a new sun and a new moon in Heaven? I always thought there was no nighttime there, or was this just referring to the New Jerusalem only?

I know when we are in Heaven we will not be mourning those lost to hell. This is because we realize God didn't send them there but they sent themselves to hell by rejecting Jesus Christ.

Is it wrong of me to be sad when someone goes to hell?

Also my friends once said God laughs at people in hell but is this really true? It doesn't seem like hell would be funny.

Response #18:

Good to make your acquaintance. This is the passage your pastor-teacher probably had in mind:

"For just as the new heavens and new earth which I am about to make are going to continue before Me", says the Lord, "so your seed and its name will continue. And it will come to pass that from month to month and from Sabbath to Sabbath all flesh will come to worship before Me", says the Lord. "And they will go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who rebelled against Me, for their worm will not die and their fire will not be quenched and they will be abhorrent to all flesh".
Isaiah 66:22-24

In my reading of scripture there will be a portal outside of the New Jerusalem wherein this prophecy can be fulfilled (see the link). However, with all the wonderful things the new heavens and the new earth will contain, I doubt that there will be much interest in viewing the lake of fire (a personal opinion) let alone taking a "tour" of it (looking on from a distance is all this scripture indicates will be possible). After all, the final state of the lost will be "abhorrent" as it says in verses above. On the other hand, our blessed eternal future will be here on earth (the "new earth", that is, re-created after the last judgment), in the New Jerusalem whose description in Revelation chapters 21-22 is absolutely tantalizing (see in part 6 of Coming Tribulation: "New Jerusalem and the Eternal state"). There will be "no more night" but that doesn't mean there won't be a sun and a moon (the latter of which, after all, is visible to us in the day time from time to time).

I don't think that it is wrong for you to have regrets for those who are lost, even though you seem to understand the theological issues quite well: people only go to hell from their own choice after rejecting the gift of Jesus Christ (see the link: BB 4B: Soteriology). And on that point, Jesus came into the world to save us all, and died for the sins of all. He wants all to be saved and died so that they could be saved. I am sure that there was no laughing when He died for our sins, and I know that God has done absolutely everything to allow all to be saved . . . except that He does not take away the free will of all who are not interested. Our God is a God of love and a God of justice, and in His great love He found a way to satisfy His justice so that all might be saved who are willing to be saved through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for all of our sins. No laughing matter indeed.

Feel free to write me back about any of the above.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #19:


Thanks for answering back and taking time with me personally. I have some more questions too.

1. What were the dinosaurs? My friend said these creatures were genetic mutations of Satan for preventing the coming of mankind. Mankind would be Satan's ultimate undoing. Therefore Satan tried to stop God from putting mankind on the Earth by creating vicious creatures known as the dinosaurs.

He accomplished this the same way he created the Giants of Genesis Chapter 6. He ordered his demons to mate with animals. Is this really true?

2. Will the rapture occur after the final church? Laodicea 2026 A.D.?

Response #19:

You are very welcome. As to your latest questions:

1) While not treated in the Bible, I have also opined that the dinosaurs were most likely manufactured by the devil and his minions (please see the link: "Dinosaurs, the Nephilim, Noah, et al."), and this would indeed be a parallel to Genesis chapter 6. My reasoning on the probable motives of Satan, however, are different. I do not believe that the devil "saw us coming"; I think that the reconstruction of the earth and the universe during the seven days was completely unanticipated by Satan and his demons. Indeed, I don't believe they thought it possible that God would cast the world into a judgment of darkness as He did (the Genesis gap; see the link). In my understanding of these matters, the devil was able to lure one third of angelic kind into his rebellion precisely by reassuring them that God "wouldn't do anything" (you can find out more about this at the link: in SR 1 "Satan's Character, Sin, and Fall"). After all, why would any creature, especially those who see God face to face, think it possible to successfully do battle with the Lord if it came to a contest of power and strength? The devil convinced his minions that the Lord, while unhappy with them, would not destroy them, because they were "irreplaceable". Mankind, however, is the replacement. We are the "surprise". Let me hasten to add that we are not, of course, a surprise to God who meant all along to create human beings: Jesus Christ is, after all, the Cornerstone of the entire plan of God. But Satan and his followers were apparently surprised. This being the case, I prefer my explanation for the motive of manufacturing dinosaurs, namely, to provide physical bodies to be possessed as a way of interacting with the material world in a way that angels by their nature cannot otherwise interact (see the link above).

2) As to the chronology of the end times, it is true that Laodicea is the final era of the Church. However, the seven year Tribulation begins when Laodicea ends (2026), and the resurrection of the Church takes place at the end of the Tribulation when our Lord returns. Here are the appropriate links for these topics:

The Seven Churches of Revelation

When will the Tribulation begin?

The Resurrection of the Lamb's Bride

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:

In Psalms 136:6: "who spread out the earth upon the waters, His love endures forever", what is the meaning of God spreading the earth upon the waters?

Response #20:

During the judgment on the pre-historic universe, God flooded the entire cosmos with the tehom, the universal "deep". Reconstructing the world during the seven days required providing a "firmament" which would hold the waters off. Two sets of waters resulted, those "above the firmament" and those "beneath the earth". The latter are being referenced here. For a "theological map" of the universe see the link: "The Waters Above and Below".

Question #21:

Could you please clarify Ephesians 4:7-10:

(7) And to each of us this grace has been given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. (8) For it says, "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive (i.e., He brought pre-cross believers to heaven). He gave gifts to men." (9) Now [as to] this [phrase] "He ascended", what can it mean except that He had also [previously] descended into the lower reaches of the earth (i.e., Hades, from whence He brought the pre-cross believers to heaven)? (10) The One who descended is also the One who ascended above all the heavens (i.e., into the third heaven, the place of the Father's residence), in order to fulfill all things (i.e., complete the victory won at the cross; cf. Ps.110:1).

a) What is meant by 'led the captivity captive'? Why did Jesus have to hold the pre-cross believers captive?

b) Also, I gather from the passage that Hades is a place low deep in this Earth?

Response #21:

This refers to the deliverance of pre-cross believers. Before sin was actually paid for, departed believers were not allowed into the third heaven but were cared for (in blessing) in Hades, a multi-part area below the earth (theologically speaking it is invisible and not discernible to science). These are the "captives" whose release Jesus wins through His victory on the cross (and now as a result of the cross and the ascension all believers go to the third heaven after departing; see the link: "The Transfer of Believers from the Subterranean Paradise to the Third Heaven"). This is the paradise which Jesus promises the thief on the cross who believes in Him; this is also where Abraham and Lazarus the beggar rested until the ascension (Lk.16). The compartments of Hades are explained at the link: "the keys to death and Hades"; and please see also "Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Hell". There is also a diagram of "heavenly geography" generally at the link: "The Waters Above".

Question #22:

Could you please clarify: in Hades (Lk.16:24; 2Pet.2:17; Jude 13)? The darkness doesn't seem to be mentioned in Luke in the story about the rich man and Lazarus?

Response #22:

No, but it mentions his torment and his agony, and being in darkness instead of light is certainly a factor of the present torment of departed unbelievers, and will definitely be so in the future in the lake of fire as well. Praise the Lord that we will know only light for all eternity in the presence of the Light of the world, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Question #23:

Matthew 16:18 (NASB): I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

One thing that escaped me up to date about this passage is that it says 'the gates of Hades will not overpower it', whereas aren't normally the gates being overpowered? Could you explain why does our Lord use the active voice when He says 'the gates of Hades will not overpower it'? If the subject is the gate, then I would imagine, it can only do the 'defending', but not the 'attacking'. Please clarify.

Response #23:

The choice of "overpower" or similar English verbs for katischuo here is a little bit misleading. The Greek suggests to me something more like "hold out against". From a prior posting (The Coming Tribulation and the Kingdom of God; see the link):

Our role as Christians at present is to advance the mission of the King like soldiers in hostile territory (cf. Matt.16:18 where the "gates of Hades" are defenses which cannot stop our attack if we proceed in the power of the Spirit). We "attack" through 1) personal spiritual growth, learning the truth of scripture through personal Bible reading and study and through orthodox teaching . . . and believing the truth to which we are exposed; 2) by applying that truth to our lives, including the issue of passing tests of faith, large and small, and 3) by helping our brothers and sisters in Christ do the same through the exercise of the spiritual gift(s) we have been given in the ministries to which we have been severally called.

I might also add that from the perspective of the disciples at the point in time when Jesus says these words, all departed believers were in Hades in Paradise, it is true, but in Hades. They did not experience the literal victory over the "Hades' gates" until they ascended with Christ to the third heaven following His resurrection.

Question #24:

Is the word 'dogs' used in Revelation 22:14-15 a metaphor?

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.

Response #24:

Yes. Since "the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying" will be excluded from eternity altogether (whereas I fully expect all creatures with spirits not created in God's image to be present). Here is what I write about this passage in CT 6:

Outside the City: The gates of New Jerusalem will always be open (Rev.21:25). For there will nevermore be any night (Rev.21:25; 22:5), no time of insecurity and danger, nor will anything profane even be able to enter in, since all sinfulness has been burnt out of the New Heavens and the New Earth. The "kings of the nations" will "bring their glory" (i.e., everything valuable and fine produced in the perfect new universe) into the city (Rev.22:24; 22:26), and the nations they represent will "walk by its light" (Rev.21:24). Furthermore, the leaves of the tree(s) of life will benefit these nations outside the city wall (Rev.22:2). From this compound description it is very clear that there will be a sizeable population living outside of the city wall. It is also clear that they, and in particular their leaders, will enter the city on a regular basis. Therefore this elect group must be carefully distinguished from those mentioned by John at Revelation 22:15 (i.e., "outside are the dogs", etc.). For those reprobates are being deliberately contrasted in that passage with this group which precedes it in verse fourteen, a whole host of people who have "the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city". The "dogs" are those who have been committed to the Lake of Fire, with "outside" referring to the "outer darkness" (Matt.8:12; 22:13; 25:30); the key idea in both cases is one of complete separation from God (the Greek words are exo and exoteros respectively, the latter being the comparative form of the former). That is to say, "outside" refers not just to the New Jerusalem, but to being "outside" the Lord's eternal state entirely (i.e., in the Lake of Fire). For only the names of believers will still be found "in the book of life" as the names outside-believers are said to be (Rev.21:27).

Question #25:

You wrote: We can see in the wall a separation of the holy and the profane (cf. Rev.22:14-15), in the open gates, our eternal access to God the Father and the Son and the security that will obtain forever (so that there will never be a need to close them). Could you clarify - on the one hand the wall separates the holy from the profane; on the other hand the gates are open?

Response #25:

In the case of the New Jerusalem, the separation is symbolic, but it is nonetheless meant to symbolize just that, namely, a separation between the holy and the profane:

Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Revelation 21:27 NIV

There will be nothing in the New Heavens and New Earth that is unholy or profane in any way, nor will there ever be for all eternity.

Question #26:

Why must there be an eternal lake of fire that never stops burning? Why never ending fire as opposed to a simple death?

Response #26:

Once God creates a spirit, it exists forever. In the case of angels and human beings, therefore, the only question is where said person will spend eternity, either with God or apart from God. Those who have no wish to be with God will get their wish: their portion will be in separation from God forever in the lake of fire. In my view, for the choice of where to spend eternity to be a clear and a fair one, the unpleasantness of the alternative had to be made crystal clear. For, in truth, the worst thing about the lake of fire will be that there will be no fellowship with God there whatsoever. For those of us who know Him, there should be a deep realization that having a relationship with Him and having fellowship with Him is absolutely the greatest thing, and nothing could be worse than the prospect of being separated from Him we even suffer terribly when we are temporarily out of fellowship with Him through sin. So on the one hand oblivion is impossible since this is the actual creation that He has decreed, and on the other hand not only did the issue need to be made very clear, but also the worst thing about hell will be the absence of God.


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