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In Revelation 20:14 (ESV) we read:

"Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire."

The concept of "fire" is used multiple times in the New Testament to refer to a place of final judgment. To list just a few of them:

Matt 5:22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, "You fool!" will be liable to the hell of fire.

Matt 13:40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age.

Matt 25:41 Then he will say to those on his left, "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."

Likewise, the term Hades (other translations use the word Hell) is a word that is also used multiple times in the NT to refer to a place of judgment and torment. Examples:

Matt 11:23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

Luke 10:15 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.

Luke 16:23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.

Acts 2:27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.

Acts 2:31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.

With those scriptures in mind, the Revelation passage throws me for a loop. What causes confusion, for me, is that I've always considered Hades and the lake of fire to be the same thing. And if Hades and the lake of fire is the same thing, how can Hades be cast into itself? What's more confusing to me is, if the "lake of fire" is a physical place that those who are not written in the "Book of Life" will be sent for all eternity, how is it possible to send Death and Hades to that same place?

I suppose my question boils down to:

In Revelation 20:14, what is Death, Hades, and the Lake of Fire?

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I was reading Rev 2o:13-15 this morning as part of my morning fellowship and got kind of confused abit about the difference between death and hades as I thought they were one and the same thing?. My earlier thinking was that once one is dead, than you go to "sleep" in your grave which was to me was hades until the time of resurrection when we will all be Judged according to our deeds in life. But the verse in 13 which says, " The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. So thinking about this verse I begin to think that there are three… –  user2236 May 6 '13 at 0:48
    
…places the dead people are going to be delivered, (1) from the sea, (2) from Death and (30) from Hades as per verse 13. By the grace of GOD I desire to understand this verse thoroughly. Can anyone please enlighten me. Lydia –  user2236 May 6 '13 at 0:48
    
be sure to check out Why is Hadēs translated as “hell”? –  maj nem ɪz dæn May 20 at 2:51

4 Answers 4

up vote 12 down vote accepted

"Hades" is the Greek word for the realm of the dead. In the Greek Septuagint, it replaces the Hebrew word "Sheol". There's not a lot of description of Hades within the main canon - chiefly the parable in Luke 16 - but generally it is considered the holding place for the souls of the dead until the final judgement. It is sometimes thought to be divided into "compartments" of sorts: e.g. a place of torment and a place of comfort (the bosom of Abraham). This is somewhat apparent in Luke 16 and 2 Peter 2:4 mentions the angels bound in Tartarus: the Greek name for the place of torment.

You'll see in Revelation that Hades is always accompanied by Death (esp. see Revelation 6:8 where they are together personified). Death is thought to claim the material portion of a person and Hades the immaterial portion. It's not clear that the Lake of Fire is a place per se; but what is clear is that it represents destruction.

Whatever it is, the Lake of Fire supercedes Hades. Once Hades gives up its dead for the final judgement it is no longer needed and is sent to destruction along with those whose names were not in the book of life. Keep in mind that earlier Death and Hades were personified, so it makes sense in the apocolyptic setting that they could be sent to the same "place" as other persons.

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Might there be a sense in which they are equivalent and we might say that the place of destruction is wrapped up into itself—it consumes it self in the sense that it no longer affects anything external to itself; it is sealed? –  Kazark May 12 '12 at 19:16
    
@Kazark - Certainly death is portrayed as a defeated enemy, one who is vanquished. But I'm not so sure how neatly everything is sealed off as you say. Rev. 14:10-11 suggests to me otherwise. I'll have to think about it, though. –  Soldarnal May 12 '12 at 20:20

The wicked are thrown into the lake of fire (New Testament). In Revelations Death and Hell/Hades are thrown into the lake of fire. The reason why that doesn't seem to make sense is that we have not been taught the truth! The English bible is a translation, and we have been taught that Hell/Hades is a place of eternal punishment in hell-fire---for ever and ever! Wrong!!! Hell/Hades is the same as the Hebrew word Sheol, and simply means the grave! If you read revelations (corrected) it should say death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is symnbolic (only!) of permanently destroying something! Death and the grave will be destroyed in the end, and all the true believers will have eternal life!!! No need for death and hell anymore, since Death and the grave were a punishment for sin! Halleluyah!

Ps--You were absolutely correct in saying the verse doesn't make sense (according to what we have been taught in the churches)! You cannot throw Death into a fire, and it certainly would not make sense to throw hell-fire into a fire either!....lol...

More proof...People (Europeans) use to refer to "planting their potatoes in hell". They understood hell to mean the ground/earth or when talking about a human body, the grave!

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We are looking for well-supported and well-reasoned answers here. This answer is neither. I encourage you to look around the site and see how other answers are written. –  Jon Ericson Sep 24 '12 at 6:33
    
@Jack Douglas - Although you didn't build your answer from scripture with detail I thought it was a good track to research, probably not for this site though - not that I agree with the perimeters of this site. –  JLB Feb 1 at 13:35

This isn't from Scripture but perhaps like an oubliette it is a place of forgeting. Throw death and hades as a concept into a place where no one thinks of it again. Please note:

Revelation 1:18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

Romans 6:5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.

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In Revelation 20:14, what is Death, Hades, and the Lake of Fire?

My thoughts on this question:

o "Death" is physical death.

o "Hades" is the place of the dead (usually used of the wicked dead in the NT).

o "Death" and "hades" go together since each one implies the other.

o "Death" often occurs in the same verse as "hades" in OT verses (in the Greek Septuagint).

o "Death and hades" in Rev 20:14 is a figure of speech for "hades, place of the dead" (hendiadys—see below).

o "Lake of fire" is the second destination of the wicked dead (hades is the first).

o Poetically speaking, the wicked dead in hades are "under arrest, awaiting trial."

o Poetically speaking, the wicked dead in the lake of fire are "guilty as charged, sentence carried out" (after the great white throne judgment, Rev 20:11).

o "Death and hades were cast into lake of fire" (Rev 20:14) is a figure of speech for "those in hades, place of the dead, were cast into the lake of fire" (metonymy—see below).

Hendiadys is two words linked by "and" when one could modify the other. OT example: "hades and destruction" (Prov 20:7, Greek Septuagint), hendiadys for "hades, place of destruction."

Similarly in Rev 20:13, "death and hades" indicates "hades, place of the dead" by hendiadys.

Metonymy is calling something not by its own name but instead by the name of something associated with it. A simple example: "the whole town was thrown into jail" instead of "every person in town was thrown into jail." Here "town" is used instead of "persons in the town."

Similarly in Rev 20:14 "death and hades were thrown into the lake of fire" indicates "all occupants of hades, place of the dead, were thrown into the lake of fire" by metonymy.

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