The Bible Says Hell is Under the Earth: An Atheists' Myth
by Rich Deem


Skeptics claim that the Bible says that Hell is a place located under the Earth. Since the earth is solid or semi-molten all the way to the core, it would seem unlikely that humans (even the souls of the damned) would be able to live there. Atheists love to use the King James Version (KJV), since it uses the English word "hell" in lots of different places in the Bible—even where it doesn't really belong. So, let's see what the Bible really says hell and where it is.

Hell is under the Earth

Here are some of the verses skeptics cite to "prove" their point that the Bible says hell refers to a place under the earth:

Sheol refers to the grave

Even though the verses above seem to imply that "hell" is under the earth, some of the verses are difficult to reconcile, given the context. First, one would have to ask why God would be in both heaven and hell (Psalm 139:8)? Isn't God supposed to be in heaven? And why is hell described as a "pit?" Unless it were a really big pit, it would be difficult to fit all the damned into such a "pit." The mystery is solved when one looks at the Hebrew word translated in the KJV Bible as "hell." The Hebrew word common to all these verses is sheol, which actually refers to the grave. However, atheists will not cite the following verses, which also contain the word sheol.

The reason why atheists don't cite the verses above is because they make it clear that sheol refers to the grave and not hell, the real the place of exile and judgment. Yes, the grave is under the earth!

Where is hell?

The Greek word for hell, genna, occurs only 11 times in the Bible, none of which refer to a place under the Earth. In fact, all the references to under the Earth refer to either sheol (Hebrew) or its Greek equivalent (Hades). Here is a list of all verses that refer to Hell:

As noted before, none of these verses says that Hell is under the Earth. In fact, the Bible says that the Earth will be destroyed1 and that Hades (or the grave) will be thrown into Hell (Lake of Fire).2 It would be rather difficult for Hell to be thrown into itself, or for Hades to be thrown into the Earth, especially when the Earth was already destroyed. So, it is pretty clear that the Bible does not say that Hell is under the earth, but is a place separate from earth (and probably separate from the universe, since the entire universe will be destroyed and replaced with the new creation).

Conclusion Top of page

Verses cited by skeptics reportedly referring to hell being under the earth really refer to the grave, the common destination of all human beings. In fact, the Bible says that the grave will be thrown into hell after the judgment, ending death altogether. Although the Bible does not describe where hell is, it is apparent that it is outside the universe, since it will still exist, at least temporarily, after the present universe is destroyed by God. After this creation is destroyed, God will create again—a new heavens and new earth, where righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13).

References Top of page

  1. But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:7)
    But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10)
    Looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! (2 Peter 3:12)
    "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished." (Matthew 5:18)
    "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." (Mark 13:31)
    "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." (Luke 21:33)
    And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, "YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN." And this expression, "Yet once more," denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. (Hebrews 12:26-27)
    And all the host of heaven will wear away, And the sky will be rolled up like a scroll; All their hosts will also wither away As a leaf withers from the vine, Or as one withers from the fig tree. (Isaiah 34:4)
  2. And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:14)
Last Modified April 23, 2012


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