Scriptural discussion of Hell What does the Bible reveal about Hell? A wonderful, thorough survey of all Scripture says about this place of the dead, dispelling myth and revealing the love and goodness of God towards men.
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What the Bible really says about HELL

The Bottomless Pit

Peter states unequivocally that fallen angels are in Tartarus now, but neither Peter nor any other New Testament writer ever explicitly states that Satan is consigned to that place with them. That biblical fact notwithstanding, we must assume he is there because (1) God will not grant him repentance any more than He will the fallen angels, and (2) Satan is still wandering about on the earth, constantly doing evil, whatever he does. And if Satan is now in Tartarus with his fallen angels, as he certainly is, then contrary to what Zeus said in Homer's Iliad (see page 43), Tartarus is not the same place as the Bottomless Pit, for Satan will be cast into the Bottomless Pit only after Jesus returns to earth (Rev. 20:1-3).

Except for the mysteries of Babylon (Rev. 17:5) and Tartarus, the Bottomless Pit may be the least understood of all the ethereal places mentioned in the Bible where evil creatures dwell. The Bottomless Pit is not mentioned by that name until the ninth chapter of Revelation, and only four times afterwards; still, it plays a significant role in end-time events, and what was revealed to John about it is astounding.

The first time we read of the Bottomless Pit, we are told that a "star" (an angel) fell from Heaven "and to him was given the key of the Bottomless Pit.9 And he opened the Bottomless Pit, and there arose a smoke out of the Pit, as the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the Pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth, and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree, but only those men who have not the seal of God in their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it, and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them" (Rev. 9:1-6).

These are fearsome creatures such as mankind has, to date, never seen, unless they were seen in ages past and no record was left of their existence. "The shapes of the locusts were like horses prepared for battle, and on their heads were, as it were, crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. They had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. They had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails, and their power was to hurt men five months. And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the Bottomless Pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue his name is Apollyon" (Rev. 9:7-11).10

Where did these bizarre creatures come from? Did they live on earth in a previous age and, like Satan after Jesus returns, were imprisoned in the Bottomless Pit to be released at the end time to serve God's purposes? Or did God create them from the smoke that arose from the newly opened Bottomless Pit? We are given no answers. These creatures are mentioned here for the first and last time in Scripture. Fortunately, however, we are given more information about the Bottomless Pit.

In Revelation 11:7, John makes a comment, almost as an aside, that is striking. In the course of telling about God's two special witnesses that will come and prophesy in Jerusalem before the end of the age, John informs us that those two holy men will be slain by "the Beast that ascends out of the Bottomless Pit." This, by itself, may not seem so amazing, especially after reading about the locusts that came out of the Bottomless Pit, but when other information about the Beast is added, it is simply astonishing.

The other information is this: First, the Beast is a man; he is not a "beast" as we typically use the word. John also indicates that the Beast is human by telling us the Beast "rose up out of the sea" (Rev. 13:1), the sea representing people of earth (Rev. 17:15).

But the Beast is not an ordinary man. He is mysteriously intelligent (Ezek. 28:3-5; Dan. 8:23) and an uncommonly twisted and devious man who, at least from the perspective of the last days of earth, has already reigned as a king at some point in human history, but who somehow ceased to live here on earth (Rev. 17:8). According to the vision given to John, the Beast will return to earthly life from out of the Bottomless Pit where he had been held. It will not be his first experience of earthly existence.

In his wicked heart, the Beast has the same virulent hatred for Jews that Satan has. In fact, he is in such harmony with Satan that when he is released from the Bottomless Pit to reign on earth again, Satan gives the Beast "his power, his throne, and great authority" (Rev. 13:2). He is so intent on accomplishing his evil purposes, especially his goal of eradicating the Jews, that the passion consumes him; he cares nothing at all for women or normal family life (Dan. 11:37). He is Satan's all-time favorite person, his most reliable, pliable tool.

Whoever the Beast is, or was in history, his kingship did not come to an end because he died (though history books may say that he died when his kingdom fell). It is much more likely that he was taken from this life before he died11 and that he was then imprisoned in the Bottomless Pit, to be held until God's appointed time for him to return. This Beast of John's Revelation is an extraordinary prophetic figure, a man who has reigned on earth (or who will have already reigned by the time of the end), was cast by God's angels into the Bottomless Pit, and is (or is to be) kept there until very late in earth's history.

Based solely on the information given to us in Revelation, the Bottomless Pit comes across as God's recycle bin for especially destructive and wicked beings. The Devil, we know, is to be put there during the thousand-year reign of Jesus on earth, and then brought out again "for a season" (Rev. 20:7). The Beast is also imprisoned12 in the Bottomless Pit for a time before being brought out again to fulfill God's preordained course for him, a cruel course that will end after a long three and a half years (Rev. 13:5). It was upon noticing that God re-used Satan and the Beast after they had spent time in the Bottomless Pit which caused me to wonder earlier if the dreadfully equipped locusts that Apollyon released from the Bottomless Pit had previously roamed the earth. It would fit the pattern.

It is perhaps significant, though, that John says that when Satan was seized by God's angel in Revelation 20:2-3, that powerful angel cast Satan "into the Bottomless Pit", not "down into" it. It was the same with the fallen angels who were tartarized. Peter does not tell us that they were "cast down" into Tartarus, or into Hell (contrary to Zeus and the KJV, respectively). The Bottomless Pit could not possibly be in heaven because the angels who opened the Bottomless Pit came down from Heaven (and to earth!) to open it (Rev. 9:1; 20:1). Further, smoke "arose" and the Beast "ascended" out of the Bottomless Pit. So, it appears that the Bottomless Pit is somehow positioned earthward from heaven, but that does not necessarily mean that the Bottomless Pit is below the surface of the earth; it only means that, wherever it is, it is down from heaven and it has endless depth. It would surprise me if it were not in some way connected with the earth's underworld, but the Bottomless Pit is such a different breed of spiritual prison that it could well be hidden by God somewhere else.

The information thus far presented is all that is offered to us in the Scriptures about the Bottomless Pit, unless of course it is called by another name somewhere outside the book of Revelation. Precisely where it is located is unclear, and the conditions that exist within it are never described (well, except by Zeus, but he is not a credible source of information).