In this sermon, part 2 of a two-part series about hell, our founding pastor examines four words in the Bible– Sheol, Hades, Paradise, and Gehenna and what hell means. Here are some excerpts:

“I would like, in this sermon, to explore the biblical teaching concerning hell; and this involves the examination of four words in the Bible:  Sheol; Hades; Paradise and Gehenna.

Sheol, Hades, Paradise, and Gehenna

1 & 2.  SHEOL and HADES. We take these two words together because they mean the same thing. The Jewish people, like other ancient people, did not think of death as total extinction, a notion which is nowhere found in the Old or New Testaments… They believed that the soul at death descended to a dark subterranean cavern known in Hebrew as “Sheol” and in Greek as “Hades”; an underworld prison-house where the soul of the departed, both good and evil, were assembled, in an atmosphere of sadness and gloom…”

“…So, since there would be a final Judgment, it was concluded that Sheol or Hades was divided into separate quarters, so that the righteous and the wicked should be separated by an impassable gulf, even before the final Judgment. The pleasant abode of the righteous dead was called —

3. PARADISE. This was originally a Persian word meaning “a noblemen’s park or garden.” The Jews often used the word to refer to the original Garden of Eden in which was situated the tree of life.. So “Hades,” in contrast to “Paradise,” is the place to which the wicked dead go to await the final judgment. Jesus teaches that separation, punishment, pain, and privation begin in Hades, as is evident from the awful plight of the rich man…”

“This brings us to our fourth and final word:

4. GEHENNA which is properly translated “Hell,” and which means the final destiny and abode of those who die in their sins. Jesus used the word ten times to describe the final abode and doom of the impenitent…”

Implications of Hell

“…So, we might say, in conclusion, that hell means three things:…”


Graham has a lot more to say about this topic. If you would like to learn more, please download and read the attached transcript of the sermon, as the above excerpts do not even scratch the surface. If you would like to do a word search on the transcript, download the file, and then open the file with your web browser after downloading and use your browser’s find feature.


July 24, 1994

1 Peter 4:17 and Revelation 20:15

Rev. W. Graham Smith

Download Transcript (PDF)