The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Hades, Gehenna, Tartarus, & the Abyss: Distinct but Related Compartments


Hello good folks. I’ve been analyzing what I think is a fallacy in interpretation where certain ideas are seen as mutually exclusive, when they ought not be. So, in this regard I’m not trying to suggest that I have all the right answers, merely that I (and we all) have a vital piece of the puzzle that creates the bigger picture. That being said, as much as theological labels can complicate things, my eschatological standpoint is that of an “aspiring purgatorial universalist,” for referential convenience & namesake. Now while anyone is welcome on this thread of course, it is specifically addressed to & for those who already do or would like to tackle the topic of the 4 “Hells,” in a manner which does some or all the following:

  • Affirms them as literal, intermediate holding cells that God created for spirits (man, fallen/evil spirits) inside and-or under the Earth

  • Affirms a vague implication of interconnected relationship between each distinct compartment (Hades, Gehenna, Tartaroo, the Abussos/Pit)

  • Is not dismissive of Luke 16:19-31 as being a literal story, primarily patterned after Enochian tradition (giving credibility to that & at least some other Intertestamental literature that it invokes) without divorcing it from being a symbolic parable continuing from the previous stream of parables in the previous chapters as well – so, basically not denying valid evidence from either side // Thus giving heed & bearing witness to God’s providence of multiple (though not all) interpretations of Scripture given that they are or at least can be harmonious

  • Seriously & soberly affirms the reality of the supernatural realm; essentially cautious of conflating the terms “spiritual” with “allegorical,” “physical” with “literal,” mistakenly or flippantly creating a false dichotomy between the two spectrums. Recognizes the interdependent, parallel relationship between the spiritual & physical realms; allowing for typology & figurative language to describe either (i.e. the physical Gehenna as word picture for the spiritual Gehenna) | Aside: My partial-preterist leanings see a combo of 70 A.D., the afterlife, & the LoF Judgement as all having simultaneously valid connections in Christ’s Gehenna warnings

  • Eagerly, sincerely inquisitive about Christ’s relevance & significance in eschatological judgement involving these places, equally upholding Him as both Savior & Judge

  • Etc. – To be discussed as the thread expands


I think this verse refers to Satan, not our loving God:

But I will warn you whom you should fear. Fear him, who after he has killed, has power to cast into Gehinnom. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Luke 12:5 (HNV)

I think that when unbelievers die, having never accepted their “Get Out Of Jail Free” card from Christ, they remain under the dominion of the legalist Satan, as POWs in Hades.

My current understanding is that Gehenna = Hades, and is a prison which will one day be cast into the remedial, temporary /aionios /age-during lake of fire.

Further, my understanding is that the grave used to have two compartments, Paradise for believers, and Hades for the unrighteous; but that since the resurrection and ascension of Christ, it just consists of Hades.

Here is some of my reasoning—

That before the New Covenant, the righteous at death went below to Paradise, not above to heaven (with the exceptions of Enoch and Elijah):

1 Samuel 28:10-15 (NIV)
10 Saul swore to her by the Lord, “As surely as the Lord lives, you will not be punished for this.”
11 Then the woman asked, “Whom shall I bring up for you?”
Bring UP Samuel,” he said.
12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!”
13 The king said to her, “Don’t be afraid. What do you see?”
The woman said, “I see a ghostly figure coming up out of the earth.”
14 “What does he look like?” he asked.
“An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said.
Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.
15 Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”
“I am in great distress,” Saul said. “The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has departed from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.”

That the grave consisted of two compartments before Christ’s resurrection and ascension:

Luke 16:22-26 (NIV)
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot , nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’"

Again, that Paradise was formerly below, not above:

Luke 23:40-43 (NKJV)
40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.”42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, TODAY you will be with Me in Paradise.”

That the location of Paradise changed with the ascension of Jesus:

Ephesians 4:8
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives.” (ESV)

2 Corinthians 12:3-4 (NKJV)
3 And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 how he was caught UP into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.


So Hermano, I’m virtually in agreement with almost everything you’ve said. However, my only inquiry is concerning your understanding of the God; it sounds relative to Marcionism. I’m curious as to why you think Luke 12:5 refers to Satan rather than God? Matt. 25:41 seems to endorse the view that the fire [of Hades/Gehenna/LoF] was prepared for the Devil and his messengers – implying that God created it & that through Christ is the One who the authority to cast folks into it.


It sounds like you endorse a Ransom/Christus Victor Theory of the Atonement which is defensible, although I don’t believe that’s incompatible with the Penal Substitutionary Theory of the Atonement either. There are many dimensions to the Crucifixion & consequently the Scriptures at large.


According to Wikipedia, “Marcionists believed that the wrathful Hebrew God was a separate and lower entity than the all-forgiving God of the New Testament.”

Whereas I believe the God of the Hebrews is the same person as the God of the Christians; but that the Hebrew prophets did not have the same revelation about God’s true nature, given by the indwelling Holy Spirit, that Christians enjoy. And that whenever anyone misattributes evil to God, they are confusing God with the devil (about whom the Hebrews were very ignorant).

As I say, I see a distinction between Hades/Gehenna and the subsequent lake of fire. We know Hades/Gehenna will eventually be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14). But I think the lake of fire is ‘the fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels,’ not Hades/Gehenna. The lake of fire is aionios (age-during), and remedial, and God will one day throw people in there, for there good. But the current Hades/Gehenna is a POW camp for sinners, under the dominion of Satan; and the legalist Satan throws people into Hades, not God, as seen in Luke 12:5.

I think Jesus took the keys of death and Hell (Revelation 1:18) from Satan. YET Satan still postures as the ruler of "the gates of Hell”—against whom Jesus said His Church would "prevail” (Mt. 16:18)—continuing to do so with impunity…apparently because of people’s ignorance of Christ’s victory, and the Church’s negligence of Christ’s victory.

When people choose to live by works, instead of grace and faith, they put themselves in bondage to legalism, and Satan is still quite happy to punish those folks when they inevitably fail, both in life, and in death.

During His earthly ministry Jesus functioned under the Old Covenant of the Law. He did not break the Law, He fulfilled the Law.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill [plēroō] them. Mt. 5:17.

Jesus indeed fulfilled the Law FOR US:

plēroō: “after, be complete, end, expire, fill up” (Strong’s), “so that nothing shall be wanting” (Thayer’s).

Jesus rescued us from that terrible Mosaic interruption that robbed people of the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant, blessings that come by faith, not by works. As James pointed out about the mother of all technicalities in the Mosaic Law:

Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. Js. 2:10.

Satan is the legalist, not God.

Revelation 12:9-10 says that Satan, "who deceives the whole world,” is “the accuser of our brethren” who “accused them before our God day and night.”

The devil still greedily takes his pound of flesh from the ignorant and the misguided, even though he was defeated and disarmed at the cross.

Again, Jesus rescued us from that terrible Mosaic “hiccup.” Joseph Prince addresses that horrendous exchange of covenants (from Abrahamic to Mosaic) by the Jews in Destined To Reign:

Study the Bible yourself. You’ll find that every time the children of Israel murmured and complained [before Mount Sinai], it only brought forth fresh demonstrations of God’s favor, supply and goodness. Why? Because during that period, the blessings and provisions they received were not dependent on their obedience or goodness. They were dependent on God’s goodness and faithfulness to the Abrahamic covenant, which was a covenant of grace.

The Exchange Of Covenants At Mount Sinai

Then, something tragic happened right at the foot of Mount Sinai. In Exodus 19:8, your English Bible says that the people cried out to Moses, saying, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” In the original Hebrew text, this is actually a statement of pride. They were saying, “All that God requires and demands of us, we are well able to perform.” In other words, they were saying, “God, stop assessing or blessing us based on Your goodness. Start assessing, judging and blessing us based on our obedience.” So they effectively exchanged covenants, from the Abrahamic covenant which is based on grace, to the Sinaitic covenant which is based on the law.

Matthew 7:21 never enter heaven?
Matthew 7:21 never enter heaven?