What is the Force of “Hades” as used in Scripture?
Question: Would you infer that in Luke 16 you get two compartments in Hades—a great gulf fixed between, so that there is no passing between the two in the spirit-world, the occupants of the one in comfort and happiness, that of the other in suffering and misery? Also in 2 Corinthians 5 where we read, “To be absent from the body” is “to be present with the Lord,” if the spirit is in Hades what does this mean?
To get a right idea of Hades you must look at it as in relation to Death. Hades is not a place, but a condition. Death is not a place, but a condition. Hades is the condition of the SOUL without the body; Death is the condition of the BODY without the soul. The condition of the soul of the unbeliever is one of suffering and misery; the condition of the soul of the believer, one of comfort and happiness. “The great gulf fixed” is a symbolical expression signifying the truth of the eternal separation between the believer and the unbeliever without the hope of a second chance.
If you apply the test of Hades being a condition and not a place you will find that this is the Scriptural thought. One striking instance is found in Revelation 20:14—“And Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire.” This means that all the dead bodies being raised and the disembodied souls being re-united to the resurrected bodies, the individuals, who in their former state represented the conditions of Death and Hades, will be cast into the lake of fire. If Hades were a place then we should have the incongruous idea of a condition (Death) and a place (Hades) cast into a place (the Lake of fire). But keeping in mind that Hades is a condition and a counterpart to Death, all is simple and plain.