The Gates of Hades

April 15, 2021

I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it (Matthew 16:18).

Jesus is building His church on the confession of the Apostles that He is the Christ, the Son of the true and living God, and the Lord and Savior of God’s people. Jesus declared “the gates of Hades will not overpower it;” overpower what - the church, the foundation, or Christ Himself?

What/Where is Hades? The Greek word Hades is the same as the Hebrew word Sheol. They both refer to the unseen or spiritual realm of the dead. They do not refer to eternal hell.

The Romans divided Hades into two parts - Elysium (the place of the blessed) and Tartarus (the place of the damned). The Jews divided Sheol/Hades into two parts - Abraham’s bosom (for the righteous) and Gehenna (for the unrighteous). In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:23-26), Jesus said, In Hades he (the rich man) lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.” But Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from there to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.” When Jesus died, He went to Hades/Sheol (Acts 2:27,31), which is not hell. 

The ‘gates of hell’ does not refer to the army of demonic forces attacking to defeat or destroy the church. Gates don’t attack anything. Gates prevent access into a place or departure from a place. Jesus said that death (Hades/Sheol) has no power or authority to keep imprisoned what belongs to God. Elijah raised the widow’s son from death (1 Kings 17:17-24). Jesus raised Lazarus from death (John 11). Jesus Himself was raised from death and became the ‘first fruits’ of those who will also be raised from death (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). In fact, everyone will one day be raised from death - some to eternal life in heaven and others to eternal damnation in hell (Revelation 20:12-15).

The Apostle Peter said (Acts 2:22-24), Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know - this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.

“Thank You, Lord, for the promise of resurrection from death and eternal life with You in Your Kingdom. I praise You for Your power to defeat Satan, death, and hell. Amen.”


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