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Where Is Hell

by Stephen Davey

Shawn asked:

Where is hell?

The question, "Where is hell?" has intrigued theologians, Bible scholars, and believers for centuries. The Bible doesn't provide a geographical location for hell, so we don’t know it’s location. We do believe that hell is a literal place of torment and eternal separation from God. But trying to define where hell is would only be speculation.

Here are some things we do know:

Understanding Hell: A Comprehensive Biblical Perspective

Hell is one of the most sobering topics in Christian theology, eliciting fear, curiosity, and profound theological reflection. This article delves into the biblical understanding of hell, its nature, and various interpretations of its location, providing a helpful resource for Christians and those interested in Christianity.

Hell as a Place of Divine Absence

In 2 Thessalonians 1:9 (ESV), the Apostle Paul describes the fate of those who do not know God: "They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might." This passage suggests that hell is characterized primarily by separation from God. The essence of hell is being cut off from the source of all goodness, light, and life, which is God Himself.

Hell as a Realm of Torment

The Bible describes hell as a place of torment. Revelation 20:10 (ESV) states, "And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever." The imagery conveys the severity of hell but doesn't offer a geographical location. The focus is on the eternal nature of the punishment and the unending suffering of those consigned there.

Hell as a Place Created for Satan and His Angels

Hell is also described as a place originally created for Satan and his fallen angels. Matthew 25:41 (ESV) records Jesus saying, "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.'" Again, no physical location is stated. This passage emphasizes that hell was not initially intended for humans, but for the rebellious angels.

Hell as Gehenna

Jesus often used the term "Gehenna" to describe hell. Gehenna was a valley outside Jerusalem (Valley of Hinnom) where refuse was burned, and it served as a potent symbol of the destructive and desolate nature of hell. But again, Gehenna's earthly location doesn't provide a map to the spiritual reality of hell. The term underscores the horrific and repulsive nature of eternal separation from God.

Hell as Outer Darkness

Matthew 22:13 (ESV) describes hell as a place of "outer darkness." This metaphorical language illustrates the complete absence of God's light, reinforcing hell as a place of God's absence rather than a geographical location. It depicts a realm of despair and hopelessness, where the light of God’s presence is utterly extinguished.

Where is Hell? Theological and Interpretive Perspectives

Does Scripture Provide a Definitive Answer on the Location of Hell?

The Bible does not provide a definitive answer regarding the geological or cosmological location of hell. It focuses more on the spiritual and moral dimensions of hell rather than its physical whereabouts. Hell is consistently depicted as a realm of punishment, separation, and suffering, transcending earthly concepts of space and time.

What Does Ephesians 4:9 Say About Jesus' Descent Before His Ascension?

Ephesians 4:9 (ESV) states, "In saying, 'He ascended,' what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth?" This verse has been interpreted by some as referring to Jesus' descent into Hades or the abode of the dead before His resurrection. It suggests that Jesus experienced the fullness of death, including its separation from God, but it doesn't provide a detailed cosmological map of hell.

Is Hell Believed to Be in the Center of the Earth According to Some Interpretations?

Some traditional interpretations and early Christian writings speculated that hell might be located in the center of the earth. This idea, however, is more rooted in medieval cosmology and mythological thinking than in biblical exegesis. Modern theology generally views hell as a spiritual realm rather than a physical location.

Different Terms Used in the Bible to Refer to Hell

The Bible uses various terms to refer to hell, each with distinct connotations:

  • Sheol (Hebrew): Often translated as "the grave" or "the pit," it is a general term for the abode of the dead.
  • Hades (Greek): Similar to Sheol, it refers to the underworld or the place of the dead.
  • Gehenna (Greek): Used by Jesus to depict hell, it draws on the imagery of the Valley of Hinnom, a place of burning refuse.
  • Tartarus (Greek): Used in 2 Peter 2:4 (ESV) to describe a deep abyss where certain angels are imprisoned.

Where is Hell Located According to Various Theories?

Various theories have emerged throughout history regarding the location of hell:

  • Traditional View: Hell is beneath the earth, in a subterranean realm of fire and brimstone.
  • Metaphorical View: Hell is a state of existence rather than a physical place, characterized by separation from God.
  • Spiritual Dimension: Hell exists in a separate spiritual dimension, not confined by physical space and time.
  • Psychological State: Some modern theologians suggest hell represents a psychological state of eternal regret and alienation from God.


The Bible doesn't give us a physical address for hell but offers vivid descriptions to convey its reality as a place of punishment and separation from God. As Christians, our focus should not primarily be on identifying hell's location, but on understanding its seriousness, appreciating the magnitude of Jesus' rescue mission on the cross, and sharing the Gospel message with others so they can avoid such a fate.

Hell is a profound theological reality that underscores the gravity of sin and the boundless love of God, who desires that none should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). By embracing the truth of Scripture and the hope offered through Jesus Christ, we can navigate the complexities of this doctrine with faith and understanding.

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