Question of the week: Does the Bible teach that departed souls literally dwell underneath the Earth in Sheol (Philippians 2:10)?
My Answer: Philippians 2:10 reads, “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” Cross-references to this passage are Proverbs 15:24, which reads, “The path of life leads upward for the prudent to keep them from going down to the realm of the dead” and Revelation 5:13, “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!'”
The Bible refers to dimensions beyond the cosmic dimensions of length, width, height, and time as existing below or above. Modern-day scientists use similar phenomenological language in referring to extra dimensions. Sheol is below and heaven is above in that they reside in dimensions different from the ones that govern the universe. Notice that the Bible teaches that both heaven and hell survive God’s future act of removing the universe and its dimensions from existence. For much more on the subjects of heaven, hell, and extra dimensions see Beyond the Cosmos, 3rd ed.1
- Hugh Ross, Beyond the Cosmos, 3rd ed. (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2017), 177–194.