Q. I really enjoy your website and thank you for your teachings. I was listening to a well known prophecy teacher on television. He said that there is no one in hell right now, that those who have gone on are instead in Hades until after the tribulation period then those people will be sent to hell at that time. Could this be correct? God bless you richly in all things.
A. First, let’s clarify that hades is a Greek word that’s translated “hell” in English. So the two refer to the same place. Before the cross, everyone who died went to Hades. Once there they went to one of two places. One was a place of comfort they called Paradise or Abraham’s bosom. It was where those who died in faith of a coming Redeemer went. The other is a place of torment, where unbelievers went to await their final judgment. This is all described in Luke 16:19-31, the Story of the Rich man and Lazarus. Jesus promised one of the men being crucified with Him that they’d go to Paradise together that day (Luke 23:43).
After Jesus rose again He ascended into Heaven and took those from Paradise with Him. From then on every believer who dies goes straight to Heaven to be with Jesus, but unbelievers still go to Hades, to the place of torment.
In Rev. 20:11-15 we see the Great White Throne judgment where unbelievers will be resurrected to face their judgment and final disposition. This will happen at the end of the Millennium. Verse 13 says that Hades will give up its dead, meaning that unbelievers from all ages who’ve been waiting there will finally be sent to their eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire.