By Michael Gilbert
September 3, 2006
After being asked a question concerning ‘Hades’ (pronounced hay-deez), the unseen world of departed spirits, this article emerged. The inquisitor had not heard very much talk (in one setting) concerning the hadean world, therefore, this article is to bring to light the teachings of the Word of God concerning the dwelling place of the souls of men after death, but prior to the final judgment.
The beloved physician has the most detailed account of the hadean world known to this author. Recorded in Luke 16:19-31 is an actual account of two men—one righteous, the other unrighteous. When the righteous Lazarus dies, the Bible says that he was “carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom” (emph. mine—MG). On the other hand, the nameless rich man is said to have “died, and was buried; and in hell (‘hades’ in the original Greek) he lift up his eyes, being in torments (emph. mine—MG)”. Thus, we are introduced to the temporary home of the departed souls of men and women. Temporary, because the final judgment will one day take place, then either eternity in heaven or eternity in hell will be the final destiny of all souls.
Two areas of the unseen world are thus revealed to the Bible student—‘Abraham’s bosom’ and ‘torments’. Abraham’s bosom is referred to as a place of comfort for Lazarus (Lk. 16:25), while ‘torments’ is shown to be just what the name suggests, namely, a place where there is pain without any comfort. Thayer says the word ‘torment’ refers to “torture, torment, acute pains: of the pains of disease”. (Thayer’s Lexicon, p. 96) The Christ referred to Abraham’s bosom when he said to the former thief on the cross, “…today, thou shalt be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Most will recall the words of the Savior when He spoke in the region of Caesarea Philippi, “…thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell (‘hades’ in the Greek) shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:18) His remarks about ‘hades’ in this account, and to paradise while on the cross, have reference to the same place that the rich man and Lazarus are now in—the temporary place of abode of departed spirits. When Christ died on the cross, His spirit went to paradise, Abraham’s bosom. But, as the Psalmist declared in the ancient days, “…thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (‘sheol’, the OT equivalent of ‘hades’—see Acts 2:27); neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” (Ps. 16:10) God raised the Christ from the grave, and therein lies our hope of the future resurrection! The spirits of men and women who have already departed this life will not stay in ‘hades’ for eternity.
Jesus declared, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (Jn. 5:28-29) Therefore, saved Lazarus, the lost rich man, and all souls who have traveled into ‘hades’ will come forth out of their graves to be judged, then they will travel to their final destination—eternity in heaven or hell. In a picture of man’s final judgment, Matthew vividly portrays man standing before Christ. The Bible declares, “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats…then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels…and these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matt. 25:31, 34, 41, 46). So, one can clearly see that immediately following death, the spirit of man enters ‘hades’—Abraham’s bosom, or torments, awaiting the final judgment. When an individual is convicted of a crime, the sentence is not immediately pronounced. The person is incarcerated until the time of judgment, or sentencing. When the judge pronounces the sentence, then the person is sent into prison to serve the sentence. Likewise, when a person dies (whether saved or lost), their spirit is sent to a waiting place—awaiting the great Judgment day (Acts 17:30-31). My friend, are you prepared for that GREAT DAY?