Question: What is Hades?
Answer: Many people believe Hades is hell. Actually, with some, Hades is a euphemism for hell.
Hades and hell are two different words. Hades has not been translated, only transliterated. Hades is found eleven times in the Greek New Testament. Out of the eleven occurrences, Hades is translated "grave" once and "hell" ten times in the King James Version. Hell is from the Greek geenna. Geenna is found twelve times and is consistently translated "hell" in most translations.
Hades and hell are not the same. Geenna (hell), as used in the scriptures, denotes a place of eternal punishment. Jesus associates damnation with geenna (Matt. 23: 33). In fact, Jesus used geenna in such a say as to identify hell as the place of damnation (Ibid.). Hell (geenna) is the place of eternal punishment, "fire that never shall be quenched" and "... their worm dieth not" (Mk. 9: 43 ff.). Hades, on the other hand, should never be translated hell.
Hades is the place of departed spirits. Jesus' soul, when He was crucified, went to Hades (Acts 2: 27). The soul of the rich man also went to Hades (Luke 16: 23). Thayer defines Hades as, "The common receptacle of disembodied spirits" (Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon, pg. 11). As best we can determine, Hades includes "paradise" (Luke 23: 43) and probably tarturus (2 Pet. 2: 4). "Paradise" and "Abraham's bosom" appear to be the same, a place of comfort for the saved with tarturus being the holding place of torment for the unsaved. These two areas are separated one from another (Luke 16: 26). Hades, consisting of paradise where Jesus went and tarturus, the place of torment, is temporary (Rev. 20: 12-15). After the Judgment Day, the saved will ultimately go to heaven and the unsaved to hell (geenna, Rev. 20: 12-15).