A Bible open to the book of Revelation, revealing a page filled with highlighted references to "hell," juxtaposed against a dimly lit background, symbolizing the weight and significance of the topic.

How Many Times Is Hell Mentioned In The Bible? A Detailed Look At Every Reference

The concept of hell sparks much debate and controversy among Christians. Some claim that the loving God of the Bible would never condemn people to eternal punishment.

Others argue that hell is clearly described throughout Scripture as a place of eternal suffering for the wicked.

But how many times is hell mentioned in the Bible?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: the word ‘hell’ appears 54 times in the Bible’s King James Version (KJV).

In this comprehensive article, we will examine every verse in the KJV that contains the word ‘hell.’ We will look at the original Hebrew and Greek words translated as ‘hell,’ as well as the context of each passage.

By the end, you will have a thorough understanding of how often hell is mentioned in the Bible and what these verses reveal about the nature of hell.

Understanding the Hebrew and Greek Words Translated ‘Hell’

Sheol (Hebrew)

The Hebrew word Sheol occurs 65 times in the Old Testament. It refers to the “abode of the dead” or “place of departed souls/spirits”. Sheol is seen as a place of stillness, darkness, and forgetfulness.

There is little description beyond being the destination for all people after death, both righteous and wicked.

It’s similar to the Greek concept of Hades, the underworld abode of the dead. Some key Sheol Bible verses: Genesis 37:35, Psalm 88:3.

Hades (Greek)

In the New Testament, the Greek word Hades is a translation of the Hebrew word Sheol. Hades refers to the world of the dead or the afterlife.

Jesus Christ refers to Capernaum being brought down to Hades (Matthew 11:23) and being in the heart of the earth (Matthew 12:40).

1 Corinthians 15:55 speaks of Hades being defeated at Christ’s resurrection. Revelation 6:8 tells of Death and Hades following the pale horse.

So the New Testament authors understood Hades as an existing place, but Jesus holds the keys of Death and Hades (Revelation 1:18).

Gehenna (Greek)

The Greek word Gehenna is used 12 times in the New Testament as a symbolic reference to the place of fiery punishment for the wicked after judgment.

It comes from the Hebrew Ge Hinnom (Valley of Hinnom)- a place of child sacrifice during the time of Ahaz and Manasseh.

By Jesus’ time it was seen as a cursed place of fire and a garbage dump outside Jerusalem.

For example, Mark 9:43 says it is better to enter life crippled than to go into Gehenna with two hands. James 3:6 also speaks of the tongue being set on fire by Gehenna.

So Jesus uses it to represent a place of eternal punishment and torment after death for the unrighteous.

Tartarus (Greek)

The Greek noun Tartarus occurs only once in the New Testament, in 2 Peter 2:4. It refers to a prison for fallen angels such as those who sinned by lusting after women before the Noahic flood (Genesis 6:1-4).

Peter writes that God did not spare these angels when they sinned but cast them into gloomy Tartarus pits of darkness, to be reserved for judgment.

So Tartarus represents the lowest parts of the underworld where certain fallen angels await their sentence for extreme wickedness.

This makes it distinct from Sheol/Hades as the regular afterlife destination for human souls.

Every Occurrence of the Word ‘Hell’ in the KJV Bible

The King James Version (KJV) of the Bible contains 54 verses with the word “hell” in it across both the Old and New Testaments.

Most uses of the word refer to the place of eternal punishment for the wicked after death. Let’s take a detailed look at each occurrence of “hell” in the KJV Bible.

Old Testament References

The word “hell” appears 31 times in the Old Testament of the KJV Bible, starting in Deuteronomy 32:22 which states, “For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.”

Here, hell refers to the depths of the earth that God’s anger will penetrate.

Most other Old Testament uses of “hell” refer to “Sheol” in the original Hebrew, which signifies the place of the dead or the grave, not necessarily a place of eternal punishment.

For example, in Psalm 9:17 which states, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.”

Sheol here means the realm of the dead.

A few exceptions include:

  • Isaiah 14:15 – Referring to Satan’s eventual punishment: “Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”
  • Jonah 2:2 – Jonah refers to Sheol as the “belly of hell” when he was in the belly of the great fish.

So in the Old Testament, “hell” usually refers to simply the abode of the dead, not eternal punishment. The Hebrew word Sheol has a broader meaning than the modern English word “hell.”

A close-up shot of an ancient, weathered Bible with pages missing, symbolizing the mystery surrounding why the book of Eli was excluded from the official scriptures.

New Testament References

The New Testament contains 23 verses with the word “hell”, rendered from the Greek words Gehenna, Hades, and Tartarus.

Gehenna refers to the Valley of Hinnom near Jerusalem, an actual physical valley that, according to extra-biblical tradition, became a garbage dump where smoldering fires burned continuously.

In the NT, Gehenna symbolizes the place of eternal torment for the wicked after death.

For example, Mark 9:43 says:

  • “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched.”

Hades is the Greek term translated as “hell” in the KJV, but it generally refers to the abode of the dead, similar to Sheol. Occasionally, it too refers to the place of eternal punishment. For example, Luke 16:23 states:

  • “And in hell (Hades) he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.”

Tartarus refers to a Greek mythological pit of torment in the afterlife and appears once, in 2 Peter 2:4, stating:

  • “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell (Tartarus), and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.”

So while the New Testament refers to Hades/Sheol as simply the abode of the dead, Gehenna/Tartarus refers specifically to the place of fiery eternal punishment for the wicked after death and final judgment.

Key Takeaways

  • The KJV Bible contains 54 verses with the word “hell” in it.
  • In the Old Testament, “hell” usually translates the Hebrew Sheol, meaning the abode of the dead.
  • In the New Testament, “hell” refers to Gehenna, symbolizing the place of eternal punishment, or Hades, meaning the abode of the dead.
  • Context determines which meaning applies in each case.

So in the Bible, the concept of “hell” as a place of eternal suffering after death develops gradually, until by the New Testament, it refers specifically to the fiery punishment for the unrighteous after death and judgment.

I hope this detailed overview gives you a better understanding of every occurrence of the word “hell” in the Bible! Let me know if you have any other questions.

Notable Observations and Theological Implications

Hell as a Place of Torment

The Bible clearly presents hell as a place of torment for those who reject God. Descriptions depict it as a place of fire, darkness, weeping and pain (Matthew 8:12; Matthew 13:42; Matthew 25:30; Revelation 14:11).

While the images may be symbolic, they convey the terrible anguish of being separated from God’s presence.

Notably, Jesus himself taught more about hell than anyone else in Scripture, emphasizing its realness and severity (Matthew 10:28; Matthew 23:33; Mark 9:43).

Hell as Eternal and Irreversible

In addition to being a place of suffering, Scripture underscores the eternal nature of hell’s punishment. Several passages depict hell as “everlasting fire” and “everlasting punishment” (Matthew 18:8; Matthew 25:41; 2 Thessalonians 1:9).

The smoke of torment goes up “forever and ever,” indicating unending duration (Revelation 14:11). Jesus tells of a great chasm fixed between heaven and hell, meaning no escape after death (Luke 16:26).

This runs counter to some modern conceptions of hell being temporary. As theologian R.C.

Descriptions of Hellfire and Punishment

Graphic metaphors help convey hell’s intensity. Images include a fiery furnace, blazing furnace, fiery lake, everlasting fire, and burning sulfur (Matthew 13:40-42; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10; Revelation 21:8). Simply put – hell is hot.

Wailing and gnashing of teeth depict acute emotional and physical suffering (Matthew 13:42; Matthew 25:30). Undying worm and unquenchable fire illustrate ceaseless torment (Mark 9:44, 48). Such symbols likely point to unimaginable misery beyond description’s grasp.


Examining each instance of the word ‘hell’ in the KJV provides invaluable insights into the biblical doctrine of hell. While debated and controversial, the concept of an eternal place of suffering apart from God is found throughout the pages of Scripture.

By looking closely at the original languages and contexts of these 54 verses, we gain a sobering understanding of hell as a literal place of everlasting fire and torment for the wicked.

This highlights the urgency of putting our faith in Christ to escape this terrible fate.

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