How Many Times Is Hell Mentioned in The Bible?

By Charalampos •  Updated: 04/26/23 •  6 min read

We know that the Bible teaches us to live a righteous life to be together with God. It also warns us about hell.

But how many times is hell mentioned in the Bible? In this article, we will find out the answer. 

Versions of The Word Hell

The Word Hell

The word “hell” is a translation of a few different words in the Bible. All of them have slightly different meanings.

In the Old Testament, the word meaning hell is Sheol, which refers to the place where the dead people are.

This word can be translated as “grave,” “pit,” or “depths.”

In the New Testament, the word Gehenna was often used for describing hell. This word meant a valley outside Jerusalem where rubbish and waste were burned.

Also, the New Testament uses the word “Hades” which means underworld or the realm of the dead.

How Many Times Is The Word Hell Mentioned in The Bible?

old bible

The word “Sheol” appears 65 times in the Old Testament, while “Gehenna” appears 12 times in the New Testament, and the word “Hades” appears 11 times.

There is one more Greek word Tartarus which appears only once in the Bible, in 2 Peter 2:4. Peter writes about fallen angels who went to hell and are held there till the time of judgment. This word is the closest one to our understanding of hell, while other words refer to grave, scary place, and death.

However, this doesn’t mean that the word hell was used only once. The rest of the words also mean the fate of a person after his death, but they don’t have a clear specification. There are also many verses in the Bible that speak about the sad fate of a person in hell, while not naming this place in any way.

Does The Bible Speak Often About Hell?

Jesus' cross from wood

The numbers listed above may seem small, but it’s important to remember that the concept of hell isn’t limited to the words which were used to describe it.

In fact, there are many references to punishment, judgment, and the afterlife, all of which show the understanding of hell.

Hell in The Old Testament

In the Old Testament, there are several verses that describe Sheol as a place of darkness and silence, where the dead people are cut off from God.

We can find an example of this in the Book of Job. One example of this word can be found in the book of Job, where Job speaks of descending to Sheol to escape the sufferings, but he is comforted by the fact that even kings and rulers will eventually go there as well. (Job 3:13-15)

Hell in The New Testament

In the New Testament, Jesus often spoke about eternal punishment sometimes using the word Gehenna as a metaphor. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus warns his disciples that anyone who insults another person will be in danger of hellfire. (Matthew 5:22)

Jesus also describes Gehenna as a place where the worm doesn’t die and the fire is not quenched.

Thus, the Bible says about the punishment of the bad people or the fate of those who reject God, without using the word “hell.”

Do We Know What Hell Looks Like?

The Bible often describes hell as a scary place, but we don’t have any literal description of hell in the Bible.  It only offers metaphors and images that can convey the idea of eternal punishment and the conditions of souls there. 

Based on the Bible we know that hell is a place of separation from God. In Matthew 25, Jesus tells a parable about the final judgment, in which the righteous are separated from the unrighteous, and the last is sent to “eternal punishment.” This punishment means separation from God and all that is good.

Judgment of The Dead

In the book of Revelation, the final book of the New Testament, there is a description of a final judgment in which the dead are judged.

Those people who have done evil things are thrown into a lake of fire, while those who have lived righteous life are rewarded with eternal life. (Revelation 20:12-15) 

The Old Testament also spoke about justice mentioning hell, for example, in Psalm 9, the psalmist writes that the wicked people will be turned into Sheol. 

A Place For Justice

This means that hell isn’t just a place of eternal punishment, but also a place where justice is served and everyone will be rewarded or punished for their deeds.

Thus, when the Bible speaks about justice, it often mentions hell for those ones who lived a sinful life.

With the help of such metaphors, the Bible often describes hell and warns people about it, while these descriptions often don’t use any specific word that would mean hell.

Jesus often showed different images and metaphors to describe the consequences of sin and rejection of God, showing hell as a terrible place full of fire, darkness, and separation from God. These metaphors let people know the consequences of sinful life.

Jesus didn’t need to repeat the word hell often, thanks to his parables and teachings people could perfectly understand that with sins in their souls, they won’t be close to God in the afterlife, and that’s why they needed to repent.

Because of this Jesus didn’t give a detailed description of the afterlife, since hell can’t be described for our earthly understanding.

Final Thoughts

It can be concluded that the amount of the word hell in the Bible depends on the translation, but in classical translations, the equivalents of this word are used about 89 times.

These words didn’t always mean hell in our understanding of this word. They could also mean the death of the soul and its terrible fate, or mean an earthly place that was scary and unpleasant for people. 

Also, in the Bible, there are many verses telling about the fate of a person away from God if he lived sinfully, as well as verses denouncing human vices that won’t connect him with God after death, while there no word is used to describe hell.

The main task of the Bible was to save people from hell and reunite them with God, so the number of such verses can be considered innumerable


Charalampos is an Orthodox Christian who wants to help others learn about Christianity. His main goal is to help people understand the Bible and how to apply its teachings in their everyday lives. He also enjoys spending time with his family, playing sports, and hiking.

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