I've been told that people NEED the teaching of hell to keep them on their toes. It is commonly taught that folks wouldn't reach for heaven if hell wasn't ready to swallow them up. It is also said that believers wouldn't preach the gospel of Christ if hell wasn't waiting for its victims.
Perhaps we might ought to consider the different kinds of "gospels" that have been preached under the influence and fear of hell before we fall for the rationale given to believe it. It was for freedom that Christ freed us, not the fear and intimidation of the law.
To continue, here are a few more "hell" verses based upon the Greek word "Hades" to consider.
Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Acts 2:27-31 (KJV)
The two references Peter made to hell in the above passage are translated from the Greek hades. In his speech, Peter quoted David (Psalm 16) who did not use the word hell nor did he use hades, but instead he used the Hebrew Sheol. Now, some Christian tradition would have us believe that Jesus spent some time in hell. I remember believing that. Apparently, the "it is finished" wasn't enough, since Jesus needed to do some more suffering in the flames of hell on our behalf. Once again, man's reasoning endeavors to understand what it means for Christ to have paid for sin.
The question remains: did Jesus have an out of body experience so that his soul could go into a place called hades or did the core of his being lie in stasis until life returned to him? Did Jesus need to go and do something while his body lay in the grave or did he accomplish everything necessary simply by his death? I suspect some have concocted elaborate explanations because his death just doesn't seem sufficient. In dying, Christ removed the offense. As a seed that falls to the ground and dies, new life sprang forth. Peter indicates that Christ's resurrection from the dead removed him from the grave so that his body did not rot in the ground. We sure make things complicated, don't we?
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 1 Corinthians 15:55 (KJV)
Notice that the KJV conveniently translated the Greek Hades in this verse as grave. Are we to believe that God inspired them to translate it differently here or was their choice a little more practical? In other words, did they opt for an alternative simply because hell seemed too out of place, both here and in the OT verse Paul had quoted? It seems quite clear that neither Sheol nor Hades must mean Hell if they are better translated otherwise in certain places, don't you think?
I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes. Hosea 13:14 (KJV)
Death and Hades appears to be the same as Death and Sheol. So, what's the real message here? In Christ, death has no power, and the unknown that lays waiting for man beyond the grave has no victory. Also consider that the theme of Paul's message to the Corinthians was not about one's final resting place but this:
For I determined to know nothing among you except Christ and him crucified 1 Corinthians 2:2
We are the ones who keep forcing final destiny into the context, and in doing so miss out on the living connection to the two verses that follow:
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:56-57
Paul's meaning is obviously not regarding a place of final destination, but of the true freedom brought about in Christ. Somehow, modern Christianity uses verses like the above to scripturally prove that after we physically die we won't have to be cast into the burning pit to exist forever and ever in torment; and at the same time it scoffs at the very reality of God's true freedom in Christ in having released us from the power of sin through law. How do we keep proving stuff like that using words that say something else?