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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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Hades is a Lat. word adopted from the Gr. Ἅιδης (ᾅδης), which is used in the Septuagint to translate the Heb. Sheol and in NT Gr. to denote the same idea as was expressed by Sheol is the OT, viz. ‘the abode of the dead.’ The word has been consistently used in the Revised Version of the NT to render ᾅδης on each of the 10 occasions of its occurrence (Matthew 11:23; Matthew 16:18, Luke 10:15; Luke 16:23, Acts 2:27; Acts 2:31 [in 1 Corinthians 15:55 critical texts give θάνατε for ᾅδη of TR [Note: Textus Receptus, Received Text.] ], Revelation 1:18; Revelation 6:8; Revelation 20:13-14), in place of the misleading ‘hell’ of the Authorized Version .

In Matthew 11:23 (Luke 10:15) the word is employed in a purely figurative sense. Capernaum, ‘exalted unto heaven,’ is to ‘go down unto Hades,’ i.e. is to be utterly overthrown. Figurative also is the statement in Matthew 16:18 that ‘the gates of Hades shall not prevail against’ the Church of Christ. As the strength of a walled city depended on the strength of its gates, ‘the gates of Hades’ is metaphor for the power of death, and promise amounts to an assurance of the indestructibility of the Church. In Luke 16:23 the rich man lifts up his eyes in Hades, being in torment, and sees Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom. Hades is used here in its traditional sense of the under world of the dead, whether righteous or unrighteous. Not only Dives but Lazarus is there. But it is no longer conceived of in the negative fashion of the OT as a realm of undifferentiated existence in which there are neither rewards nor penalties. In keeping with the pre-Christian development of Jewish thought (cf. 2 Maccabees 12:45, Eth. Enoch, 22), it is represented now as a scene of moral issues and contrasted experiences-the selfish rich man is ‘tormented in this flame’; the humble beggar is ‘comforted’ in Abraham’s bosom. The moral lesson that the recompense of character is sure and that it begins immediately after death is very clear; but it is going beyond our Lord’s didactic intention in a parable to find here a detailed doctrine as to the circumstances and conditions of the intermediate state.

Acts 2:27 is a quotation from Psalms 16:10 which in v. 31 is applied to Christ, of whom, as risen from the tomb, it is said that He was not ‘left in Hades,’ i.e. in the regions of the dead. In the same general and ordinary sense the word is used in Revelation 1:18 : ‘I have the keys of death and of Hades’; cf. the close association in the OT of death with Sheol (Psalms 116:3, Proverbs 5:5).

In Revelation 6:8 Hades is personified as a follower of Death upon his pale horse. In the author’s vision of the Judgment (Revelation 20:11 ff.) the sea and Death and Hades give up the dead which are in them (Revelation 20:13), and finally Death and Hades are themselves cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14).

Literature.-H. Cremer, Bib.-Theol. Lexicon of NT Gr., Eng. translation 4, Edinburgh, 1895, s.v. ᾅδης; G. Dalman, article ‘Hades’ in Realencyklopädie für protestantische Theologie und Kirche 3; S. D. F. Salmond, Christian Doctrine of Immortality4, Edinburgh, 1901, p. 277ff., also article ‘Hades’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) .

J. C. Lambert.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Hades'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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