In the Old Testament we find the word “Sheol,” and in the New Testament we find the equivalent word “hades.” These words are related to the word “death,” “grave” or “gravedom.” We will find them translated as “grave,” “pit,” or “hell.” These two words (Sheol and Hades) have nothing to do with the supposed endless torture in a raging hell-fire, but with “gravedom.”
When Peter made his confession of who Jesus is, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the GATES OF HELL shall not prevail against it.” (Mat 16:17-18)
There are many who think that when Christ died, that he suffered and burned in hell, but God didn’t let him stay there to suffer like that. This is incorrect.
The “hell” mentioned in Matt.16 has nothing to do with hell-fire. Most translations have “hades.” This simply has to do with “death,” “grave” or “gravedom.”
Jesus abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Tim. 1:10) Jesus was not talking about “hell” as in hell-fire, but about death. Jesus is building a church where DEATH HAS NO POWER. The CEV translation states:
“So I will call you Peter, which means ‘a rock’. On this rock I will build my church, and DEATH ITSELF will not have any power over it.”
What is that rock? The revelation of knowing who Christ is (v.16), believing the gospel he preached. Jesus didn’t go to hell, but to the grave and three days later God raised him from the dead! Death had no power.
So what Jesus said had nothing to do with the gates of hell as in hell-fire, (which there will be where everything and evil doers will be destroyed), but about death. He certainly knew about the “gates of death.”
“Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?” Job 38:17
“Be gracious to me, O LORD! See my affliction from those who hate me, O you who lift me up from the gates of death…” Ps. 9:13
“…they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. Ps. 107:18