Tuesday, February 1, 2011


     2 Peter 2:4 in Greek says, "ei gar ho theos aggelon hamartesanton 
ouk epheisato alla seirais zophou tartarosas paredoken eis krisin
teroumenous." The translation is, "For if God did not spare angels when
they sinned, but cast them into Tartarus, and committed them to chains of
deepest darkness to be kept for judgment." What is "Tartarus?"

     Historically, in the ancient Greek writings, Tartarus is found in Acusilaus
Historicus in the 5th century B.C. ; Lydus, Joannes Laurentius Historicus
Mensibus 4.158 in the 6th century A.D. and other sources. (cf. Greek-
English Lexicon, 9th Edition, page 1759, H.G. Liddell, R. Scott, Henry
Jones, and Roderick McKenzie)  According to them it means to cast into
Tartarus or hell.

     Tartarus is also used in the patristic writings and covers a wide range
of meanings such as Hades, the nether world, , hell; as a place of torment
and abode of the Devil; metaphorically of this world, opposite heaven;
synonymously with the Devil. (cf. A Patristic Greek Lexicon, pages
1375, 1376, G. W. H. Lampe, editor)

     E. A. Sophocles informs us in his Greek-English Lexicon of the
Roman and Byzantine Periods, volume 2, page 1070, that tartaros
was one of the compartments of hell and that the verb tartaroo means
to cast into Tartarus.

     In Greek mythology Tartarus is the place of the Titans and of
disobedient gods and is conceived as a gloomy place deep under the
earth. Hesiod Theogonia 720ff ; Homer Illiad 14.279f.

     In the N.T. the word occurs only once and is used in the participle
form in 2 Pet. 2:4. It means to "hold captive in Tartarus ." (A Greek-
English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian
Literature, Walter Bauer and Frederick William Danker, page 991)

     It is sometimes stated that, according to the N.T. Tartarus is the place
where the incorrigibly wicked go between death and the resurrection.
That is not quite right and the reason is, the N.T. says Tartarus is the
place where God cast the angels who sinned. It is not viewed as the
place where all the wicked dead go.

     There is no doubt that the wicked are in a place of punishment
between death and the resurrection. Luke 16:23 teaches they are in
Hades, where they are being tormented in a flame. (Also see 2 Peter 2:9)
But, the only time that Tartarus is mentioned in scripture, it is said to
be the place where God cast the angels who sinned. Therefore, we may
conclude by saying, in the N.T. Tartarus is the place of punishment
where angels who sinned are being held till the day of judgment.

Copyright 2011

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