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  • Writer's pictureRick Zumpano

Hell and the Devil

Commonly held misperceptions and myths often cloud our understanding of the Bible. One such fallacy concerns the devil and hell. “All hell broke loose” or “the forces of hell were set against them” are expressions which imply that evil forces or the devil himself were behind an event. Hell, in other words, stands for evil and the devil’s powers.

Written and artistic depictions of hell in which the devil is master of the domain, and he and his angels torture the poor souls sent there are common. Such ideas stem from a misunderstanding of the Bible’s teaching about hell and Satan. Nowhere in Scripture is Satan seen as ruler of hell. No reference is made to the devil’s tormenting condemned people in hell.

One scripture in particular has probably led to more of this wrong thinking than any other. When Simon Peter had confessed that Jesus was the Christ, Jesus responded in part by speaking about building His church (Matthew 16:18). He said that the “gates of Hades” would not overpower it. Some translations (especially older ones) erroneously put “hell” for “Hades.” Hell is the place of “gehenna” fire. Hades is the place of spirits of the dead. Jesus was not saying that the devil would not prevail against His church (although that is true). He was saying that even death would not prevent the building of His church. This is exactly the truth given to John by the resurrected Jesus (Revelation 1:17-18) when He said that He had “the keys of death and of Hades.” And because Jesus overcame death, members of His church will one day do the same!

This inaccurate view of the devil and hell is quite opposite of the truth. Not only does the devil not rule in hell, it was prepared for him and his angels as a place for their own destruction! Listen to Jesus’ words to the goats in this judgment scene: “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Just wondering who is behind this twisting of truth? Hmmm?

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