From Peter’s second epistle we read,
“For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment” (II Peter 2:4 – NKJV)
A most intriguing verse, is it not? One that I believe is associated with Genesis, chapter 6 and Jude 6. It has been looked at and scrutinized by a plethora of biblical commentators for ages.
But my use for this text for this particular devotion is not to get into giving my take on who and what this applies to, even though I have a take, but is to have us take note of the word “hell.” And let me say this, that I believe that by getting our understanding of this particular Greek word we can start to understand better the aforementioned texts of Genesis and Jude.
The Greek word used here is tartaroo, and it is only used here in II Peter 2:4. English translators have used the English word “hell” in our text but the word really takes on its own significance when the original languages are looked into.
Spiros Zodhiates writes of this word tartaroo,
“. . . found only in its verbal form in 2 Peter 2:4, meaning to consign to Tartarus (which is neither Sheol of the O.T., nor Hades of N.T., nor Gehenna, nor hell, but the place where certain angels are confined, reserved unto judgment). This punishment for these angels is because of their special sin.”
So we have a word that is translated as”hell” that is not one that is normally used in the bible to speak of “hell.” Considering different translations of the bible we note that the common translation is “hell,” but it is what is written about this “hell” that lends itself to the meaning of the Greek word tartaroo. Examples:
NIV – “. . . hell, putting them in gloomy dungeons”
RSV – “. . . hell, and committed them to chains of deepest darkness”
NAB – “. . . condemned them to the chains of Tartarus”
RNT – “. . . but delivered them, drawn down by infernal ropes to the lower hell, unto torments”
NASB – “. . . but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness”
Interesting that in the New American Bible the translators chose to use the word “Tartarus.” This word defined by the English dictionary means, “a region of the underworld in which evildoers were eternally punished.”
The problem we would have with this particular definition, biblically speaking, is that the “hell” in our text is not one of where the “angels who sinned” will “eternally” reside. No, this tartaroo is actually a holding place for them, a place “reserved for judgment.”
Dr. John MacArthur writes,
“These permanently bound demons are like prisoners who are incarcerated awaiting final sentencing. Tartarus is only temporary in the sense that, in the Day of Judgment, the wicked angels confined there will be ultimately cast into the lake of fire (cf. Revelation 20:10).”
Our text gives a unique Greek word translated in our English bibles as the word “hell.” And there is a reason for its uniqueness. For the Holy Spirit moved Peter to use such a word so as to, I believe, give us insight to the curious texts of Genesis 6 and Jude 6 while also serving to make us aware of a specific other “hell” that actually does exist.
There is a place in “the underworld” that holds the very “angels who sinned” a great sin against God, holding them for the day of “judgment.” It is a very ugly place, this tartaroo, one of “gloomy dungeons,” of “deepest darkness,” a place “of torments,” and it is believed by this writer, a place that serves to give us some sobering insight as to the coming day of the judgment of Satan and his demons and their eternal dwelling place . . . “the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:10), and at the same time, of that same eternal dwelling place for those “not found written in the Book of Life” (Revelation 20:15).
Interesting word for “hell,” is it not?
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