the pit, bars of the gates, keys of death & hell


Also, I would like to know more about the pit, the bars of the gates and the keys of death and hell which indicate to me that there are more than the two keys that the devil once held, i.e.; the keys of death and hell. Do the unsaved people upon death descend into the place as the Lord described concerning Lazarus and the rich man? Are the compartments where the rich man and Lazarus went literal places in the heart of the earth? Do you believe, although you have not mentioned, or is this something different concerning a key separate and apart from the keys of death and hell that this other key that Satan never had which the Lord now has the keys to. Is this other key the reason for Satan not being able to release the fallen angels that were confined in everlasting chains under darkness as outlined in Jude 1:6? How can the soul and spirit of invisible people like the rich man and Lazarus be incarcerated behind physical restraints in the pit since Jesus appeared to Thomas in the upper room when the door was shut? It seems to me that spirits which are immaterial would be able to go through the physical bars of a physical pit in the heart of the earth.


I’m going to deal with these questions as a group, seeing that they all have the same general subject matter in view. In doing this I may not necessarily deal with the issues you mention in the order in which you mentioned them.

First of all, my understanding is that “the pit” is the basic description of the fact that there is a shaft-like cavity that descends into the earth, just like the word “pit” is used to describe a hole or cavity going deep into the ground, or the shaft of some excavation leading into the earth. This shaft-like cavity descends into the earth and right into the heart of the earth. In connection with this, it is described as “the bottomless pit,” having no visible or detectable bottom, nor designated or specified depth. Instead it is simply designated as being exceedingly deep and descending into the earth without a fathomable bottom. Being “the pit” that it is, as it descends into the heart of the earth it leads to the various places, parts, (and/or as I often refer to) compartments that exist in the heart of the earth. The expression “lower parts of the earth” indicates to me that there are a plurality of literal “parts” or compartments to descend into in the earth, and this is further substantiated to me by the fact that there are separate and distinct designations for these separate places or “parts” in the heart of the earth. Hence the two particular compartments of “hell” referred to by the Lord in Luke 16 are literal compartments, possessing the features which the Lord describes. I also understand, (as I present in “The Battle on The Cross” series), that there is an actual main opening or “mouth” to “the pit,” and that it is located under the Red Sea. In addition, it is also my understanding that all of the compartments in the heart of the earth to which “the pit” leads, are compartments of confinement. All of them are designed to confine and hold on to occupants. Hence the various references, both general and specific, to “bars,” “prison,” “gates,” “keys,” “chains,” etc.

With respect to these “bars,” “gates,” “keys,” “chains,” and the like that belong to these compartments in the heart of the earth, it is also my understanding that they are literal. Now in saying this, this does not necessarily have to mean that they are constructed of the same physical materials that we ourselves use to construct “bars,” “gates,” “keys,” “chains,” and the like here on the earth. But neither does it deny that they very well could be. All I am saying is that I am given to understand by these very words that these very things exist; that they are as real and effective in their function in the heart of the earth as I think of them to be here on the earth; and that they effectually produce the confinement that they are designed to produce for the occupants that are subject to them in the various compartments in the heart of the earth. I don’t pretend to understand the mechanics of how either angelic beings or the souls of men can be restrained, or confined, in these literal places in the heart of the earth. But I know from what the verses say that it is real; that it takes place. (I also know, for example, from the reality of my own make-up that a physical, material entity can both contain and retain a spiritual, immaterial entity. For this is just what my physical body is doing right now to my soul and spirit. My soul and spirit are not free, so to speak, to leave my body until death occurs. Not only that, but in view of what Paul teaches us about the changes that will take place at our rapture/ resurrection, our present bodies are “natural” bodies and not “spiritual” ones. Hence our present bodies specifically respond to our souls and not our spirits. Therefore, it is even possible for a material entity like our physical bodies to affect an immaterial entity (like our soul) different from how it affects another (like our spirit). Again, I do not pretend to know the details of how this is so. But the words God uses to describe it testify to me that it is so.) Therefore, I know that angelic beings and the souls of men can be confined, restrained, imprisoned, and the like, and that it can occur in physical, material places, and even by physical, material means.

With respect to what happens to unsaved people upon their death: they experience “the sting” of death as their soul/ spirit descends into hell, into the very same compartment of it where the rich Pharisee of Luke 16 is, and where they begin to experience the pain of the judicial judgment for their sins, as the debt and penalty of it (the payment for which the Lord Jesus Christ made for them and could have been applied to them had they believed “the gospel of Christ”) begins to be exacted upon them.

Regarding “the keys of hell and of death,” my understanding is that these are literal keys that lock and unlock the “gates of death” (which are probably at the opening of the pit) and the compartment of “hell” itself located down the descent of the pit and in the heart of the earth. My understanding is that these are not the only keys associated with the pit and the “lower parts of the earth,” but they are the ones which pertain to man and the compartments of the pit with which men have to do. For example, there is undoubtedly a key that pertains to the compartment of hell which is the “prison” of the angels that sinned in Noah’s day, as referred to by Peter and Jude. Satan as “the prince of the world” and as the one who had “the power of death” before the battle on the cross etc., would not have possessed the key to this “prison” of those angels. Just like he himself does not possess the key to the particular compartment of the pit that will be the place of his own incarceration for the 1000 years described in Revelation 20. That particular compartment is also a compartment of hell, but according to Isaiah 14 he will be brought down “to the sides of the pit” when he is confined there. Since the word “sides” can be used to refer to the lowest recesses or farther recesses of some large place like a cave, ship, etc., this particular compartment is probably the one at the furthest recess of the pit. Hence the emphasis upon “the bottomless pit” in Revelation 20 in describing the time of Satan’s incarceration. So there are more keys to the pit and its compartments than “the keys of hell and of death.” But these particular ones are the keys that specifically concern man, which Satan held until the battle on the cross.

Keith Blades

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