Select Wisdom Brand

Do Christians go to Sheol?

by Stephen Davey

Diane asks, "Do Christians and non-Christians go to Sheol after death?"

No, Christians and non-Christians do not go to Sheol. Only non-Christians go there. 

There are two words in the Bible that refer to the same place. "Hades" in the New Testament is the same place as "Sheol" in the Old Testament. Hades is the Greek word and Sheol is the Hebrew word.

Prior to the resurrection of Jesus, people went to Sheol, or the "place of the dead" when they died. When Jesus was resurrected, he brought with Him all of the Old Testament saints, leaving only the unbelievers in Sheol. 

Now, when we think of Sheol or Hades, these words refer to the place where the souls of unbelievers are staying as they await their summons to the Great White Throne. Everyone who dies as an unbeliever goes to Hades/Sheol. It is a temporary place of torment for those who have rejected God.

In Revelation 20:12-13, we learn that all of the occupants of Sheol/Hades are summoned to stand before God at the Great White Throne. John tells us that, just as the bodies of all believers will be resurrected and given a glorified, immortal body, the bodies of all the unbelievers will be resurrected. Their souls are released from Sheol/Hades and are reunited with their resurrected bodies. They will stand before God in judgment. The result of that judgment will be an eternal sentence in hell.

But to clarify once again, Christians do not go to Sheol/Hades.

Learn More:

Understanding Sheol

The Hebrew word Sheol appears 65 times in the Old Testament, and it refers to the abode of the dead or the place where the deceased go after death. Sheol is often translated as "grave," "hell," or "pit" in the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible. However, these translations may not fully capture the meaning of Sheol as it was understood in ancient Hebrew culture.

In the Old Testament, Sheol is depicted as a dark and gloomy place, where both the righteous and the wicked go after death. There is no distinction between the two, and all share the same fate (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Sheol is described as a place of silence, inactivity, and unconsciousness (Psalm 88:12, 115:17).

Do Christians Go to Sheol?

In the New Testament, the concept of Sheol evolves, and different terms are used to describe the afterlife. The Greek word Hades is often used as a parallel term for Sheol in the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament. 

Jesus himself spoke of the afterlife, using terms such as Gehenna (Matthew 5:22, 29-30) and Paradise (Luke 23:43). In the New Testament, the concept of the afterlife becomes more nuanced, with different destinations for the righteous and the wicked. Jesus' teachings about the afterlife emphasize that the righteous will experience eternal life in God's presence, while the wicked will face eternal punishment (Matthew 25:31-46).

The apostle Paul also speaks of the afterlife in his letters, describing the hope of resurrection for believers in Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:12-57). He further elaborates on the concept of the intermediate state, where the souls of believers are said to be with Christ after death (2 Corinthians 5:6-8, Philippians 1:23). This suggests that the idea of Sheol as a common place for both the righteous and wicked has changed since the resurrection of Jesus. When Jesus rose from the dead, he took with him all of the Old Testament saints. They are now with Him in paradise, as are all believers who have died since the resurrection. 

Based on the teachings of Jesus and the apostle Paul, Christians can find assurance that they will not go to Sheol as it is understood in the Old Testament. Rather, they will experience eternal life in God's presence through faith in Jesus Christ.

In conclusion, Sheol is an ancient Hebrew concept representing the abode of the dead in the Old Testament. While it initially encompassed both the righteous and wicked, the New Testament provides a more nuanced understanding of the afterlife, with distinct destinations for believers and non-believers. Consequently, Christians who place their faith in Jesus Christ have the assurance of eternal life in God's presence, instead of the darkness and silence of Sheol as described in the Old Testament.

Add a Comment


Kristine says:
Thank you! I have studied Sheol and its relevance and this was very helpful to confirm and clarify!