The term Tartarus many times is also translated Hell. It is found only one time in the New Testament. It is in 2 Peter 2:4, in the verbal form tartaroo. This is the place of the subterranean region, doleful and dark, regarded by the ancient Greeks as the abode of the wicked dead, where they suffer for their evil deeds. The argument that this place is for the “angels who sinned” mentioned here and not for mankind destroys Peter’s argument. This is a comparison for the sinful angels and sinful man. The unrighteous will suffer the same as the angels and will be kept “under punishment unto the day of judgment.” They (I hope not any of us) will remain conscious of their pain, separation, un-redeemable condition until the blowing of the final trump as Christ calls His church up to be with Him. The ungodly will be consigned to the “blackness of darkness,” just like the angels that were “committed to pits of darkness.” If the angels continued in a conscious existence in their chains of darkness then we must conclude that the humans so consigned continue in a conscious existence, and under punishment!!
Gehenna is another word, of all those we can study that can rightly be translated Hell in our modern sense of eternal punishment. It is used eleven times by Jesus and once by James. It has a literal origin and describes a situation many resist. The valley of the sons of Hinnom was a ravine south of Jerusalem. In the gospels it is the place of punishment in the next life. The first mention of it is found in Joshua 15:8. It was a pleasant valley; it became later a place of pagan sacrifices. The pagan god Moloch was erected there to which children were placed in the fires of the idol in sacrifice. “Moreover, he burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom , and burnt his children in the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom Jehovah cast out before the children of Israel.” 2 Chronicles 28:3
The term TOPHETH means “abomination, detestation” and comes from a word meaning “to vomit with loathing.” It is a detestable place. The burning of children in the fires of Moloch of itself was detestable. It was also a place of debacle in what it became. After king Josiah defiled the valley by filling it with the “blood of the innocent”, making it a place unfit in which man could habitat , a place of corruption, it became what God prophesied it would be. It became the garbage dump of the city of Jerusalem. The stench was terrible; animals and worms fed on the garbage thrown there. It is said that fires were kept burning there to control the refuse, and that some criminals were sometimes thrown there after being put to death. But the imagery of the place, from the burning fire of Moloch to the detestable nature of the garbage dump is carried into the portrayal of Hell. Like the word Paradise, of Persian origin, used in the New Testament to characterize Heaven, the word Hinnom became figuratively a reference to eternal punishment. “And if thy hand or thy foot causeth thee to stumble, cut it off, and cast it from thee; it is good for thee to enter into life maimed or halt, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into the eternal fire. And if thine eye causeth thee to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is good for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into the hell of fire.” Matthew 18:8-9 Notice the “eternal fire” of verse 8 is the same as the “hell (Gehenna) of fire” of verse 9!! Mark 9:43 says it “into unquenchable fire.” The punishment last as long as the fire, punishment is not punishment unless it is experienced!! Thayer says this is the definition of “where the worm dieth not”. The term WORM stands for the conscious, continuous punishment experienced. This type of worm preys upon dead bodies in Hell!!