NEXT to the Old Testament Hebrew word SHEOL, this New Testament Greek word, HADES,
is one of the most important.
Our present object and desire is to discover the way in which the Holy Spirit uses it ; and to find
out the sense in which He intends us to understand it. Apart from this, all our study of the word is useless.
It matters not what men may say, whether Pagan or Christian. Heathen Mythology, Human Tradition, and
Christian Theology have no place in this study. They will lead us astray instead of guiding us : they will hinder
us rather than help us.
The Old Testament has one advantage over the New. Its Hebrew words are the words of the Holy Spirit
and all knowledge of Hebrew starts with the Hebrew Bible. It is the fountain head of that language; and
there is no previous Hebrew literature behind it.
But when we come to the New Testament, the case is entirely different. Here, the Holy Spirit takes up
human words which had been used among the Greeks for centuries, and had already acquired senses,
and meanings, and usages; human in their development as they were human in their origin.
It is this that marks the great difference between the languages of the Old and New Testaments. Not
only the difference between the two languages, as such; but the difference, also, as to their origin.
The Hebrew is, in this respect, Divine in its origin ; the Greek is human. In the former case the Holy
Spirit uses His own words in which to express His own revelation. In the latter case-He takes human
words, words pertaining to the earth. He uses " the tongues of men" and not " of angels "
(I Cor. 13:1, 2 Cor. 12:4).
Now in " the tongues of men " there is this important phenomenon that, man, being a fallen creature,
impresses that fact on the language he uses, as well as upon everything in which he comes into connection.
He uses words suitable to his fallen condition. He has invented words to express his abominable sins; and
words to express his filthy thoughts. Even words that once had a good meaning he has brought down to his
own fallen level. This is true of all languages : but our examples may, with advantage, be taken from our own
1. APOLOGY meant, originally, a defence. Hence "Jewel's Apology" is the title of Bishop Jewel's defence
of the Reformation. But, inasmuch as man's defences are so often only excuses, the word has come to mean
a very poor sort of defence.
2. PREVENT meant to precede or get before. But, because, when one man gets before another, it is generally
to oust him or hinder him, so the word has been lowered in its meaning, in order to correspond with this trait of
man's fallen nature.
3. SIMPLE meant honest, artless; (lit., without a fold). But, because people who act on this principle in business,
are in this fallen world looked upon as fools, so the word has come to mean foolish.
4. SILLY meant innocent, inoffensive (Ang. Sax. saelig). This is its meaning in 2 Tim. 3:6, " silly women."
But, because such are looked on as an easy prey by false teachers, the word has come to mean weak and foolish.
5. STORY meant a tale or history. But because such are more often false than true, the word has fallen to its
modern meaning of untruth.
6. CENSURE meant simply judgment or reckoning. But because such, when used of men, generally has to be
adverse, so the word is now confined to blame.
And so we might go on to increase our list. (Those who care to follow the subject out will find further examples
in "impose," "vagabond," "impertinent," "wretch," "sottish," "inquisition," " imp," " craft," " knave," " subtle,"
"cunning,") But the above will suffice to show the deterioration of words in their use by fallen man. It was the
same in the Greek, and examples could be given.
But our point is this: that man has made changes in his own language in the course of centuries, and has modified,
and in many cases lowered and degraded, by his usage, the meanings of words.
This shows us the fallacy of judging New Testament Greek by Classical Greek. Those who do not know
enough call the New Testament "bad Greek." But they do not allow for two facts. First, that while the words
are Greek, the idiom is Hebrew ; and second, that these words are to be understood, not in their former
classical sense, but in the sense in which they were used in the time of our Lord; always excepting the cases
where they are purified by the Holy Spirit.
For when He takes up human words and deigns to use them to make known Divine, Heavenly, and Infinite
truths, it is clear that He will do so in an absolutely perfect manner.
Consequently (1) there are very many Greek words that He never uses at all. (2) There are words which
He purifies, and uses in a higher sense than that in which the Greeks had ever before used them. (3) There
are words which He purifies and uses in a totally different sense, and (4), there are Greek words which He
Himself coined, which no man had ever used before, and which cannot be found in any human writings.
The Twelfth Psalm contains an important statement as to this difference between man's words and Jehovah's
words; and of the necessity for the purification of the former before they could be used by the Lord.
'This is shown, first by its Structure, which is as follows
A | 1. Decrease of the good.
B | a | 2. Man's words (Vain, Flattering, Double)
| b | 3, 4. Their end. " Cut off."
C | 5. The oppression of the poor.
D | 5. The sighing of the needy.
D | 5. The arising of the LORD.
C | 5. The deliverance from oppression
B | a | 6. Jehovah's words. (Pure).
| b | 7. Their end. " Preserved."
A | 8. Increase of the wicked.
The correspondence of these members is perfect an complete. But the important one is "B" (vv. 2-4),
and "B (vv. 6, 7), where the contrast is shown between Man's words and Jehovah's words. The former
are declared to be "vanity," " flattering," and " double "; and are to be "cut off": while Jehovah's words are
"pure," and a to be " preserved forever."
But there is more than this in verse 6. Not only a Jehovah's own words " pure" in themselves; but when
He used earthly words, they had to be "purified" before He could use them.
There are one or two points to be noted in this verse in order to understand its lesson. There is no sense in
the translation, "a furnace of earth." The R.V. renders this "a furnace upon the earth." But it surely is
nothing the point whether the furnace is made "of" earth or metal or whether it is placed "upon" the
earth or upon a stand.
The Hebrew preposition (Lamed) means to, and is frequently used of possession or pertaining to,
(Gen. 31:1, " all that was to our father : " i.e., all that was our father's. So 29:9 ; xivii. 4. So frequently
we have " a Psalm David," lit., to David, i.e., David's, by or belonging to David Psalms 3,4,25,27)
and may translated by the word " of " or " belonging unto." ( See 1 Kings 25:31, " the chronicles of
the Kings of Israel, Ruth 2:3, " the field of Boaz," which is rendered " belonging unto Boaz.")
Then verse 6 wall read thus, in four alternate parallel lines; the first and third of which relate to words;
while the second and fourth lines relate to purification.
A | c | The words of the LORD are pure words
d | As silver tried in a furnace.
c | [ Words] belonging to the earth.
d | Purified seven times.
Here, we see that Jehovah's words are pure in themselves. But the words of this world have to be
made pure; yea, with a great purification, a seven times repeated-or Divine and Spiritually perfect-process.
Now we can return to our statement, made above, a watch this purifying process as the great Refiner
carries out His wonderful but necessary work.
Some words (we said above) He uses in a higher sense: e.g.,
1. ape' (arete). Man used this only of manhood or manly prowess. But the Holy Spirit uses it in the higher
sense of Divine glory (Hab. 3:3), and praise (Isa. 42:8, 12, 43:21, 63:7) So also the only occurrences in
the N. T.: Phil. 4:8, 1 Pet. 2:9, 2 Pet. 1:3,5.
2. (ethos) was used only of the haunt of an animal ; but in the N.T. it is used of moral custom or character
(I Cor. 15:
people's needs (I Pet. 4:11).
Spirit uses it of
the assemblies of God's elect.
or " Comforter " (that we may not sin, John 14:I6, 26 ; 15:26 ; 16:7). And the Spirit uses it of Christ
as the Advocate (if
we do sin, I John 2:1).
and spiritual sense of that which causes anyone to stumble or fall (Matt. 11: 6); a sense in which the Greeks
never used it.
descending on us, like the manna, daily); or going
upon (i.e., for our going upon or journeying).
been in use by the
Greeks for some centuries; and was, of course, in harmony with their
origin and development at Babylon. It was a perversion of primitive truth, and passed thence through the
Judaism, and thence into Romanism.
world of darkness,
or spirit-world; used indeed in much the same sense as Spiritists use it today.
therefore one of
the first importance.
In Acts 2:31 it is used by the Holy Spirit as the substitute for Sheol in the quotation of Ps. 26:10.
It must therefore
mean in Acts what Sheol means in the Psalm.
Septuagint and the Hebrew of the Old Testament. And we are prepared to see it purified, by the
Great Refiner, from
all Pagan Mythology and Human Tradition, and Romish corruption.
He wishes us to
WE are now in a position to continue our study of this Greek word Hades and of the eleven passages
where the word
occurs in the New Testament.
the question is, Is the word Hades used in the New Testament in the Heathen sense which it had in the
Greek mythology? We answer, Undoubtedly it is not. Christian Traditionists may prefer the Babylonian-
Romish meaning ; we
prefer and are content with the Bible meaning as it is used by the Spirit of
word Sheol in Psalm 16:10, shows that it must be taken in the same sense in the New Testament as the
Testament word Sheol; and not in the corrupt sense which heathen
tradition had given it.
which the Holy Spirit used it, is to study each place where He has used it. From this alone can we learn.
Lexicons are useless; man's imaginations are worthless; his traditions are valueless; his theology is of no
avail; his translations are without divine authority. One thing, and only one thing, is necessary, and that is
to find out what God says and demand a "thus saith the Lord."
Discarding, therefore, everything outside the Word of God, we note,
(1) that the Greek word Hades occurs eleven times in the New Testament. As the occurrences are so few,
we shall be able to examine each passage in detail; as we were not able to do in the large number (65)
of the occurrences
of the Hebrew word Sheol.
alternative "hell," while in Rev. 20:13, the Text "hell" has "the grave"
in the margin.
alternative rendering in the margin.
1. Matt. 11: 23-
"And thou, Capernaum, shaft be brought down to hades."
represented the Hebrew word Sheo1. , As Hades is used by the Holy Spirit as the New Testament
substitute for the Old Testament Sheol it follows that the same meaning must be given to Hades in
the New Testament.
advantage to the
elucidation of the text, and to the understanding of its meaning.
being so repugnant,
is what cannot lawfully be done.
or as to our
understanding of it.
explained in the light of the many; the one apparently more difficult passage must be made clear by the
others which are
prayer that God will, in, his own time, bestow the needed grace and light. But in no case must we allow
that one difficult passage to disturb all the others which are clear; nor must we give heed for a moment
to any false teaching which Tradition may have founded upon its misunderstanding or perversion of that
whether through ignorance or malice.
once a flourishing town in Palestine, but now (in proof of the truth of this prophecy) known only by
a few insignificant
mounds in which the ruins are actually buried.
put the words as
they are in the Original :
to the sides of the
sepulchre, as in Ps. 28:1; 34:3, 88:5, Isa 14:19. Our English, bore, is doubtless derived from it.
rendered cistern 10 times; dungeon 10 times ; fountain, once; well, 9 times; and
pit, 42 times)
in other words, the grave; and that Capernaum was to be brought down thither. Its proud and unbelieving
buried in the grave ; and it houses and
buildings are now buried in ruins.
exceedingly strong. It means to prevail against or over; to
overcome and vanquish.
that it should be as they desired." They prevailed against Pilate; but, neither they nor the grave could
prevail against Christ. He rose aga4in from the grave. He gained the victory over Death and Hades,
and His Assembly will be conquerors too. They will one day shout, "O Hades, where is thy victory . . .
Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through. Jesus Christ our ha (I Cor.15:55-57) This
victory will be in Resurrects and Resurrection will be the great and abiding proof Hades will not prevail
against " the
dead in Christ" even as it prevailed not against Him
The expression "the gates of Hades" is further explained by reference to Isa. 38:10, Job 38:17,.
Psalm 9:13; 107:18.
3. LUKE 10:15
is the parallel of
they stand, and
substitute "the grave " for " hell."
are represented as speaking in the parable of. Jothaar (Judges9:8-15). The punctuation, as we know, is
absolutely human. In the Greek manuscripts there is no trace of any punctuation of any kind whatsoever. Nor
is punctuation a matter of precedent or of human authority of any kind. It is entirely a matter of the particular
agreement with the general teaching of Scripture on the point in question.
It is adopted by the Vulgate translation, which, though not the original text, and of no authority as a Text,
is yet evidence of fact. It is punctuated in the same way by Tatian, Diatesaron (A.D. 170) and, Marcion
(A.D. 145); as well in the Ancient Jerusalem Syriac Version. And the fact is that the first three words of
verse 23, form instead, the last three words of verse 22 ; a full stop being placed after the word Hades,
while the word "and " treated by this as meaning "also." So that the why sentence would read thus :-" But
the rich man also
died, and was buried also in Hades."
other. Whether this punctuation be allowed, or not, does not affect the matter in the slightest degree. For
that where he
was buried in any case. It affects only the place where he is said to lift
up his eyes.
same tense as they appear to be from the English. The first two are in the past tense, while the third is the
epars Lifting up, thus commencing the 23rd verse with a new
"repugnant" to every other place where the word occurs, and to many other scriptures which are perfectly
eg., Ps. cxlvi.4, Ecc. 9:6, 10, Ps. 6:5 ; 31:17 ; 115:17.
ACTS 2: 27.
there has; and show that they speak " of the resurrection of Christ" (v. 31) from the grave. This is clear if
we .read the whole context, Acts 2:24-35 ; and 13:30-37. Hades is, here, the place where "corruption
is seen; and
'" resurrection " is the only way of exit from it.
therefore, neutral for our purpose.)
Moreover, it is a quotation from Hos. 13:14, where the Hebrew is Sheol. The four lines in this verse are arranged
as an introversion, where the first line corresponds with the fourth, and the second with the third. This .shows that
the word in 1 Cor.
15:55 must be Hades, and not "death."
b | I will redeem them from death;
b | O death, I will be thy plagues;
a | O Sheol,
I will be thy destruction.
"I have the keys
of Hades and death."
the grave. Satan will one day be deprived of his power over death, which he now has, according to
Heb. 2:14- When John sees Christ risen, not only from the dead, but risen up from His seat (Luke 13:25)
for judgment in "the day of the Lord " (Rev. 1:10), he hears this wondrous proclamation of Christ's power,
and of His
intention then to put forth that power and to use it.
here foretold and
years were finished" (see verse 5). This truth we are to accept; and we are to explain the other ten passages
so that they be not
repugnant to it.
of Hos. 13:14, will
be no more death."
with the living. All in Hades will "NOT LIVE AGAIN," until they are raised from the dead (Rev. 20:5).
If they do not "live again" until after they are raised, it is perfectly clear that they cannot be alive now, at
any rate in the same sense: and that is all we contend for. Otherwise we do away with the doctrine of
not give a correct
idea of its Hebrew equivalent, Sheol.
Compare 13:34-37) ; and from which, resurrection is the only exit.