“Is hell real? Is hell eternal?”
It is interesting that a much higher percentage of people believe in the existence of heaven than believe in the existence of hell. According to the Bible, though, hell is just as real as heaven. The Bible clearly and explicitly teaches that hell is a real place to which the wicked/unbelieving are sent after death. We have all sinned against God (Romans 3:23). The just punishment for that sin is death (Romans 6:23). Since all of our sin is ultimately against God (Psalm 51:4), and since God is an infinite and eternal Being, the punishment for sin, death, must also be infinite and eternal. Hell is this infinite and eternal death which we have earned because of our sin.
The punishment of the wicked dead in hell is described throughout Scripture as “eternal fire” (Matthew 25:41), “unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12), “shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2), a place where “the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:44-49), a place of “torment” and “fire” (Luke 16:23-24), “everlasting destruction” (2 Thessalonians 1:9), a place where “the smoke of torment rises forever and ever” (Revelation 14:10-11), and a “lake of burning sulfur” where the wicked are “tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10), and “The Bottomless pit” (Revelation 9:2).
The punishment of the wicked in hell is as never ending as the bliss of the righteous in heaven. Jesus Himself indicates that punishment in hell is just as everlasting as life in heaven (Matthew 25:46). The wicked are forever subject to the fury and the wrath of God. Those in hell will acknowledge the perfect justice of God (Psalm 76:10). Those who are in hell will know that their punishment is just and that they alone are to blame (Deuteronomy 32:3-5). Yes, hell is real. Yes, hell is a place of torment and punishment that lasts forever and ever, with no end. Praise God that, through Jesus, we can escape this eternal fate (John 3:16,18,36).
“Where is hell? What is the location of hell?”
Various theories on the location of hell have been put forward. 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 Luke 10:15: “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell” (KJV). Also, in 1 Samuel 28:13-15, the medium of Endor sees the spirit of Samuel “coming up out of the ground.” We should note, however, that neither of these passages is concerned with the geographic location of hell. Capernaum’s being thrust “down” is probably a reference to their being condemned rather than a physical direction. And the medium’s vision of Samuel was just that: a vision.
In the King James Version, Ephesians 4:9 says that before Jesus ascended into heaven, “he also descended . . . 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 better 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.
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.
To sum up, 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.