Isaiah 25:8, The Death of Hell part II of II

He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces;

//Yesterday, I pointed out the verse in Revelation that tells how hell would be destroyed. It turns out that God isn’t destroying hell at all, but Sheol, a dark, shadowy netherworld where the Jews believed the souls of all men descended after death. At first it was imagined that these souls would gradually fade away and disappear, but in time, the Jews came to believe in bodily resurrection, and imagined Sheol to be only a holding place until its residents were brought again to life.

But what’s this about Sheol being destroyed? Today’s verse shows that the destruction of “death” was long believed to be part of God’s glorious plan. Paul jumps on the bandwagon as well:

1 Corinthians 15:26, The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

Many seem to read these verses as a sort of creative way of promising that there will be no more death in the age to come. Indeed, Revelation makes that promise, but accomplishes it by literally destroying the abode of the dead! It reads quite plainly: Death and Sheol are literally destroyed in a lake of fire.

A number of other Jewish writings continue this theme, if you want to study further: 4 Ezra 8:53, The Apocalypse of Baruch 2:23, and the Testament of Levi 18.


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  3. If the NT isn’t talking about hell when it talks about Sheol, then when is it talking about hell? When it talks about Hades? If so, why? Shouldn’t a Jewish concept of the underworld be more appropriate than a Greek one? Or would you claim that hell as we understand it is not actually a NT concept at all, but developed later?

  4. Truth be told, the word used in Revelation is not Sheol but Hades. My research paints Hades very much like Sheol, or at least very little like today’s concept of a place of eternal torment.

    It may have been about the time of Jesus that some Jews began to think seriously about a threat of eternal punishment. For example, some like Greek thought imagined that very evil people would be punished in the afterlife. The Essenes shared this view. We have a tendency to try to choose a single path for the N.T., as if all writers agreed on the concept of eternal punishment; I think we do an injustice to the N.T. this way. Revelation’s eternal punishment appears just for the very evil (the beast, false prophet, and Satan) but I’m not sure about Matthew, and it’s Luke who tells the story of Lazarus and the rich man, so…

    I guess I never answered your question. “As we understand it,” Hell definitely developed later.

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