Metaphysical meaning of hell (mbd)
hell, (marg. and A.V.)--Gehenna (Gk.)--region of lamentations; place of purifying fires; place of defilement. Ge Hinnom (Heb.)--region of lamentations; place of groaning. Hades (Gk.)--not to be looked upon; outer darkness. Sheol (Heb.)--hollow; cavernous; empty; outer darkness; place of unquenchable, consuming desires.
The Hebrew sheol; translated grave in I Samuel 2:6, pit in Numbers 16:30, and hell in Job 11:8, in the Old Testament, the Authorized Version; in the New Testament Hades and Gehenna are translated hell in Matthew 5:29. Gehenna, or Ge Hinnom, implies a place of fires and lamentation (Matt. 5:22, 29, in margin, and so forth), while Hades and Sheol give the thought of outer darkness, a place of consuming and unquenchable desires.
One does not have to die in order to go to hell, any more than one has to die to go to heaven. Both are states of mind, and conditions, which people experience as a direct outworking of their thoughts, beliefs, words, and acts. If one's mental processes are out of harmony with the law of man's being, they result in trouble and sorrow; mental as well as bodily anguish overtakes one, and this is hell.
The booklet, "The Bible and Eternal Punishment," by A. P. Barton, gives the following definition of the word "hell": "The English word hell is from the Saxon verb helan, 'to cover, or conceal,' and intrinsically contains no idea of a place of torment, and never did smell of fire and brimstone in its Saxon home."