The Gates of Hell Will Not Prevail

The Gates of Hell Will Not Prevail

If you wanted to know the meaning of The Gates of Hell Will Not Prevail you came to the right place. 

Many people have asked about this remarkable statement Jesus made to his disciple Peter:

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18 ESV 

What did Jesus mean by this?

Let’s find out in the coming paragraphs! 

What are the Gates of Hell in the Bible?

In Biblical times, the city gates were the center of commerce and government.

The city council would meet at the city gates, and many commercial transactions would take place.

These gates were the entrance point to the fortified cities in ancient times where councils were held.

In this regard, a sound interpretation from a Biblical standpoint would be that the “the gates of hell” represents a combination of hell’s policy and power.

However, note what follows directly after “the gates of hell” in Matthew 16:18 ESV.

Hint: It’s “shall not prevail”.

The meaning behind this verse is that the strength and plots of the devil and his fallen angels shall not prevail against faithful believers in Christ i.e. the church.

Okay, that’s pretty straightforward – but there’s more to it.

The term gates of hell comes from the Jewish expression “pulai hadou” that means “realm of the dead”.

We find this expression in Isaiah 38:10 ESV in the form of “the gates of Sheol”, where Sheol is a synonym of hell, hades or underworld.

Thus, it’s safe to say that “the gates of hell” is a euphemism for death.

Satan and his minions cannot overcome the saved, those who believe in the redemptive work of God’s only begotten Son Jesus Christ.

Does this mean that we won’t suffer persecution then? Not at all.

Remember these words of Jesus regarding the end of the age:

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.” Matthew 24:9 ESV

Even though the church will and already does suffer persecution, we’re on the winning side as we are confident in our eternal destiny.

That serpent Satan is delusional in thinking that he can overcome God’s faithful church.

But Scripture reassures us that nothing, including the gates of hell will prevail against the church.

We are eternally covered by the blood of the Lamb and even if we are persecuted and killed, we know that we are sealed by the Holy Spirit.

Because we shouldn’t fear those who can kill the body, but the One who can destroy both body and soul in hell (Matthew 10:28 ESV).

Who Guards the Gates of Hell in the Bible?

It’s surprising to most to learn there are no guards to the Gates of Hell. And there’s no greeting party to welcome the unsaved souls that enter hell.

As previously mentioned, the term “gates of hell” refers to the power of Satan and his minions, which will not prevail over Christ’s church.

Any talk about guardians or beings that guard the gates of hell is not Biblical and you need to remember this.

Hell isn’t a place that has a literal gate, through which people enter and leave.

Hell is an eternal destination of neverending torment, so in this sense it doesn’t really need actual gates.

Although there’s no door or gate, the Bible reveals to us who has the keys to hell.

It’s Jesus Christ, the Alpha and the Omega who says:

“I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” Revelation 1:18 ESV

Note that the keys to hell Jesus holds are not literal, physical keys.

This is symbolic of Christ being the only way of escaping hell’s everlasting damnation.

Jesus is the only way to eternal life and our only hope of evading the eternal punishment for our sins in the fiery furnace.

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What are the 3 Gates to Hell?

The theory that there are supposedly 3 gates to hell isn’t true as it’s nowhere to be found in the Bible.

This notion stems from ancient mythology and in particular ancient Jewish religious laws in the form of the Talmud.

According to the Talmud, there are three gates to hell – one in the wilderness, one in the sea and one in Jerusalem.

So, this isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Bible? No, the Bible never speaks of 3 particular gates to hell.

Nonetheless, it’s irrelevant how many gates to hell are there.

What’s important is that every person who rejects the free gift of eternal life offered by Jesus Christ is destined to hell’s eternal fire.

This is why it’s absolutely paramount to believe in what Jesus did on the cross for YOU and for humanity as a whole.

Do it now while you can, because tomorrow isn’t promised (James 4:13-15 ESV).

What Does it Say on the Gates of Hell?

The Living Word of God doesn’t mention any physical gates of hell, neither does it say that there’s something written on such gates.

But based on Dante’s first part of his Divine Comedy poem, this is what’s written on the gates of hell: “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.”

However, this is NOT based on Scripture i.e. it’s not entirely Biblically accurate!

This is a huge problem because Dante Aligheri’s popular poem doesn’t exclusively rely on Scripture as the foundation for his writings.

Instead, he utilizes various secular and outright pagan philosophies when writing this poem, including medieval traditions, mythology and Roman Catholicism.

Mr. Aligheri even went as far as to draw inspiration from the Islamic tradition Hadiths…

Please, don’t view Divine Comedy as a theological and Biblically-sound piece of writing.

It’s a huge mixture of various philosophies and should be taken with a grain of salt.

But Dante is right about this: there is no hope for the eternal residents of hell, because there is no way for them to escape. The only hope for all is to rely on Jesus Christ’s victory over sin and death.

What Did Jesus Mean by the Gates of Hell?

One of the most feasible and Biblically-sound explanations is that Jesus referred to the paganism of the Roman and gentile world at the time.

This is especially true when we read that “the gates of hell shall not prevail” against the church of Christ.

The essential part here is that nothing will prevail over the church that Jesus built.

It’s his church and no evil can overcome it.

We also have to keep in mind that the place where Jesus decided to make this important statement was a pagan stronghold so to speak.

It was in a district named Caesarea Philippi that was located north of the Galilee region.

And this place was paganism galore. There was a temple to the Roman god (small “g”) Pan, inside of which was a crack that the pagans there used for sacrifice and believed it to be a doorway into the underworld.

By standing there and saying that the “gates of hell shall not prevail”, Jesus essentially challenged paganism.

He let his disciples know that none of the perverted and wicked pagan world will prevail against his unstoppable church.

Okay, so how do we interpret this in modern terms?

Simple – nothing can prevail against the community of the Lord’s chosen people, because it’s His church.

Gates of Hell Bible Verses

As you can see, the Gates of Hell -and Hell itself- are very relevant topics.

Some folks have wrong ideas about hell. They think that it doesn’t exist, or that it is only for a few of the very worst sinners.

We need to remind ourselves that hell was created for the fallen angels, but people actively choose hell and eternal punishment by rejecting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Now, let’s take a closer look at 20 relevant Bible verses that are connected to the gates of hell:

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18 ESV

“And the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” Revelation 1:18 ESV

“I said, In the middle of my days I must depart; I am consigned to the gates of Sheol for the rest of my years.” Isaiah 38:10 ESV

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 ESV

“But if the Lord creates something new, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol, then you shall know that these men have despised the Lord.” Numbers 16:30 ESV

“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment”. 2 Peter 2:4 ESV

“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.” Luke 16:19-26 ESV

“Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:14 ESV

“So that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” 2 Corinthians 2:11 ESV

“He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” Colossians 2:15 ESV

“Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men. (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) Ephesians 4:8-10 ESV

“The cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me.” Psalm 18:5 ESV

“And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:22-23 ESV

“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice.” Jonah 2:2 ESV

“In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound” Isaiah 61:1 ESV

 “In which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience”. Ephesians 2:2 ESV

“It is higher than heaven – what can you do? Deeper than Sheol – what can you know?” Job 11:8 ESV

“Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 ESV

“For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.” Psalm 16:10 ESV

Final Thoughts

The gates of hell represent the combination of our enemy’s policy and power.

It’s a wrong interpretation to think of it as a literal gate or an entry point to hell.

Hell cannot have a physical gate that lets the unsaved enter and leave because the fiery torment in that place is everlasting.

The Bible is very clear that hell is not a place that you can go to and leave.

It’s a horrible place of eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth without end.

“They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” 2 Thessalonians 1:9 ESV

Thus, God doesn’t need to incorporate physical gates to hell as whoever ends up there stays there. Forever.

But even though this sounds truly horrifying, there’s a way out.

The Lord is so merciful and loving that He has provided a way for us to evade eternal damnation, although each and everyone deserves to burn in the fiery furnace forever because of our iniquities.

And the way through which we escape hell and are saved has a name.

His name is Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

All that you have to do is believe in him and you shall be saved (Acts 16:31 ESV).

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