Hell, although we do not know exactly what it will look like, will be a place of unending suffering and torment from which there will be no escape. We cannot know exactly what hell looks like or how hot it will be. But Scripture does use some descriptive language of hell, and that gives us an idea of what hell will be like. It is sure to be a place of torment, which the Bible often pictures as fiery. For the purposes of this article, the terms hell and lake of fireare used interchangeably. Some interpreters take the Bible’s descriptions of hell to be symbolic, because some of the descriptions are difficult to reconcile with each other. For example, picturing hell as both fire (Matthew 25:41) and outer darkness (Matthew 8:12) seems paradoxical. Of course, the God of the impossible can do anything, including make dark fire. So, the descriptions could be literal. Even if the language describing hell is symbolic, the place itself is real—and the reality will no doubt be worse than the symbols. The scriptural descriptions of hell are meant to emphasize the torment and suffering that will be experienced by those sent there. The “fire” may picture the wrath of God that is experienced by unbelievers in hell, whereas the “outer darkness” may picture the alienation from God’s love, mercy, and grace. Whether the vivid language is symbolic or literal, we can be assured that hell is a terrible, terrifying place. Possibly the most terrifying aspect of hell is its duration. The suffering is eternal. It has no end. For us, here and now, the concept of hell should drive us to the cross of Christ. It is only by repentance and faith in Christ that we can be saved from the wrath to come. Here are some of the passages that describe hell: “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:” Matthew 25:41 “But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 8:12 “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” 2 Thessalonians 1:6–9 “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”Revelation 20:10, 15 “But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath” Romans 2:8 “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 25:30
There are various theories on the location of hell, a traditional view is that hell is in the center of the earth. Others propose that hell is located in outer space in a black hole. In the Old Testament, the word translated “hell” is Sheol; in the New Testament, it’s Hades(meaning “unseen”) and Gehenna (“the Valley of Hinnom”). Sheol is also translated as “pit” and “grave.” Both Sheol and Hades refer to a temporary abode of the dead before judgment (Psalm 9:17; Revelation 1:18). Gehenna refers to an eternal state of punishment for the wicked dead (Mark 9:43). The idea that hell is below us, perhaps in the center of the earth, comes from passages such as in Luke 10, “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.” Luke 10:15. Also, in 1 Samuel 28 the witch of Endor sees the spirit of Samuel “An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle” 1 Samuel 28:13-15 We should note, however, that neither of these passages is concerned with the geographic location of hell. Capernaum’s being thrust “down” is a reference to them being condemned rather than a physical direction. And the witches vision of Samuel was akin to a seancerather than a true vision. In the King James Version, Ephesians 4:9 says “Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?” Some Christians take “the lower parts of the earth” as a reference to hell, where they say Jesus spent the time between His death and resurrection. However, the New International Version gives a translation: “he also descended to the lower, earthly regions.” This verse simply says that Jesus came to earth. It’s a reference to His incarnation, not to His location after death. The notion that hell is somewhere in outer space, possibly in a black hole, is based on the knowledge that black holes are places of great heat and pressure from which nothing, not even light, can escape. Surprisingly, this concept of hell is presented in the 1979 Walt Disney film The Black Hole. Near the movie’s end, all the characters pass through a black hole. On the other side, the villain finds himself in a fiery place of torment, while the other characters enjoy disembodied bliss. It’s interesting that a Disney movie would include a depiction of hell, but it’s best not to base our theology on movies! Another speculation is that the earth itself will be the “lake of fire” spoken of in Revelation 20:10-15. When the earth is destroyed by fire (2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 21:1), the theory goes, God will use that burning sphere as the everlasting place of torment for the ungodly. Again, this is mere speculation. Scripture does not tell us the geological (or cosmological) location of hell. Hell is a literal place of real torment, but we do not know where it is. Hell may have a physical location in this universe, or it may be in an entirely different “dimension.”
Whatever the case, the location of hell is far less important than the need to avoid going there. Of all the descriptions of spiritual locations like Heaven, Hell, the Lake of Fire or the Bottomless Pit. The Biblical accounts give a single hint to the location of only one place and that is the location of the Bottomless Pit.
“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.”Revelation 20:1–3 In this passage we learn three things, 1. The Key to the Bottomless pit is located in Heaven. 2.The bottomless pit is a physical place. 3. The location of this pit is on the Earth. Everything else is speculation beyond any Biblical support.