This article continues a new Prophecy Q/A series, where I do my best to answer questions from readers like you.
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Q: Are there different levels of hell? If so, what are they and where in Scripture can I learn more?
Dr. Tony Evans likens hell to Alcatraz. Just as Alcatraz was a prison that held various levels of offenders and was located in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, hell will contain various levels of offenders, enduring various levels of punishment, who will be hopelessly stuck in the middle of the Lake of Fire.
Luke 12:48 and Luke 16:19-31 (the account of the rich man and Lazarus) are the primary passages indicating that there are different degrees of punishment for non-believers. These degrees of punishment may also be related to different sections of hell: the abyss, place of torment, etc.
One section, Tartarus, mentioned in 2 Peter 2:4, may be either a physical location or a spiritual, unseen realm. Some translations render it “lowest hell,” and 2 Peter 2:4 says that it is a place where certain demons are kept locked up—at least until the end times, when, eventually, death and hell will be thrown into the Lake of Fire and will stay locked away forever (Revelation 20:14).