And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. -Matthew 16:18
πυλαι αδου = pýlē háidēs = gates [of] Hades
Covering all the words translated and words used for “hell” is not part of our scope here, but we need to distinguish Hades from another word used in Matthew which the KJV also translates as “hell.”
And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire . -Matthew 18:9b
Here the Greek for “hell fire” is γεενναν του πυρος = géenna ho pŷr = Gehenna that fire
So, we go back to Hades. Hades is not associated with fire (as Gehenna is). It is “the grave” and is rendered as such in the KJV in 1 Cor 15:55. From other studies, we know 1 Cor 15 is the great resurrection chapter. It is where we read of the future conquering of death and the grave. That brings us back to the Gates of Hell.
“I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave: I am deprived of the residue of my years.” -Is 38:10
(R to L) בְּשַׁעֲרֵ֣י שְׁאֹ֑ול = sha‛ar she'ôl = gates of the grave [Sheol]
Sheol is the Hebrew word which is the equivalent of Hades (gates of Sheol). We find “ πύλη ᾅδης” in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament). This is identical to the Greek used in Matthew 16.
Hezekiah was expecting to die. He spoke of the grave as “the gates of hell,” for that is what it is. Death is not to be celebrated, that comes with resurrection. But we have confidence in death that “the gates of hell” will not “prevail.” If I run a tank into a chain link fence, which will prevail?
κατισχυσουσιν = katischýō = prevail = to be able / overcome [Strong’s #2729]
Let’s go back to Matthew 16...
Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter [Gk: a stone], and on this rock [Gk: bedrock] I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be rescued. - Acts 16:31
This is the witness of scripture, the bereaved are comforted with Resurrection, never with the thought that the dead are anything but dead.
When I die, I will not float about without a body. I will not be “happier than I’ve ever been.” I will not be dancing in heaven. I will be dead... but, in resurrection, the gates of the grave will not prevail and I will rise in a new, sinless body on that day! Because he rose again, I will rise again!
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. -John 11:23-25As we will see in the next two-part study, the Biblical way to comfort the bereaved is not to say "he went on to be with the Lord" or "he's with the Lord now." There is only one scriptural comfort, resurrection!