What is the “darkness” of Jude 1:6? Where is it? How and for what purpose was it created? Who are its current and future inhabitants and how long will they remain there? What, in the end, will happen to this mysterious place that Jude seems to think we should be already well aware of?
In this paper I wrote for my Unschooled Master of Theology Program (uThM), I tackle these questions head on and make some fascinating discoveries.
So, buckle up for one hell of a ride, as we decipher the cryptic messages, reveal the hidden mysteries, and peel back the shrouded curtain and, once and for all, figure out what Jude was really trying to tell us.
Let’s get started….
What in the WORLD is Jude Talking About in vs 6?
Nothing much else can make a seminary graduated, professional, modern-day pastor shake in his holy Jesus sandals quite as quickly as bringing up Jude 1:6.
Haven’t read it?
Good. Just steer clear of that entire book if you know what’s good for you. Don’t read it during the holidays. Don’t venture down that road during holy Lent.
Trust me. You’re better off to just leave well enough alone. Stick to your John 3:16’s and your quick passes over the first several chapters of Genesis.
Really. Who needs the hassle?
If you have happened upon this tiny little book, and you by chance stumbled across this perverse verse, then you’re one of the unlucky initiates – member of a world of wild and fanatical flights of fancy, driven mad over and again by speculative theories of fallen angels and sinister demonic spirits, super-inter-dimensional prisons and Christ-like figures preaching to the dead.
What is this, the apocalypse already?
Well, I guess, if you’re still here, I might as well tell you everything.
So here goes.
Jude is the brother of James. And, though he doesn’t mention it in the letter, he also just so happens to be the brother of Jesus (now, that’s a whole other kind of nepotism).
He wrote a tiny little one chapter letter to the saints back in the day that, if you handle honestly, will really throw you’re orthodoxical philosophy on its head.
In it, Jude appears to reference angels that sinned, hints at subterranean supernatural Super-Max prisons, and pulls back the proverbial curtain on an apparently well known old world theological doctrine (or, at least, prevalent world view) that has somehow been all but lost to the dust bins of antiquity.
And, in this paper, we’re going to discuss it all. Fallen Angels. Satan’s pre-arranged thousand year siesta, and the most probable disposition for human souls (at least those who are not written in the Book of Life).
We’ll track how this strange place was created (or, at least, the first place it was mentioned in pre-history), and we’ll also develop an overarching theory that paints a radical and fantastical theology that would bring nothing but consternation from any rational bible professor.
So, let’s tackle the first question of the hour, shall we?
Definition of the Darkness
In Jude 1:6, it states, “…and the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, he has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day.”
This particular darkness, in the Greek, is ζόφου (G2217) “infernal, cloudy gloom” and it’s found three more times in the bible, Jude 1:13; 2 Peter 2:4 and 17.
In both Jude 1:13 and 2 Peter 2:17 (as well as Jude 1:6), the word ζόφος (G2217) also seems to imply “region,” while 2 Peter 2:4 defines the extra word with the use of ταρταρώσας (G5020) “tartarus.”
So, we have “darkness,” “infernal,” “infernal region,” and the transliteration, “tartarus,” all denoting the same place described by both Jude and Peter as a place of captivity.
Hey, it’s not too late to turn back, but, if you’re going to do so, do it now. You’re almost to the point of no return. Don’t say I never warned you!
It Goes By Many Names
And, here is just the beginning of a host of names used to describe or identify this peculiar and quite fascinating realm.
In Romans 10:7; Genesis 1:2; Job 28:14; 38:16, 30; 41:31; Revelation 9:1-2, and Luke 8:31, the term used is άβυσσον (G12) “abyss.”
This abyss is most often (or collectively) described as an abode of the dead, the infernal region, the bottomless pit.
It is the destination where Christ preached to the dead. It is the place in which the demon horde begged Jesus not to send them, but chose, instead, to possess a herd of swine and kill themselves in the ocean.
It’s History in Creation
But, this abyss has a much older history than the New Testament. It’s actually seen as far back as Genesis, at the founding of Creation itself.
In Genesis 1:2 we find, “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep.” The word here for “deep” is none other than thom (H8415) “abyss” in Hebrew and, when translated for the LXX, the word used was none other than αβύσσου (G12) “abyss.”
This subterranean region held the massive quantities of water that God used later to bring a global flood on the entire earth (Genesis 7:11). There is also some speculation that the abyss was the final resting place for Korah after the fateful events of Numbers 16:31-33.
What’s So Special About Tartarus?
Before moving on to Hades, it’s important to side track for a moment and discuss a curious designation mentioned above, that of ταρταρώσας (G5020) “tartarus.”
Why is this word so important, especially since it’s only used in the bible one time in 2 Peter 2:4 to describe the “infernal region?”
Well, it’s not so much what the bible says about it (since it says so little), but how the word was used in the rest of antiquity.
In fact, the extra-biblical accounts where this word shows up all refer to a “deep abyss” that serves as a dungeon-like region set aside for torment and suffering for the wicked and for the Titans.
Who are the Titans?
Why they are the god-like creatures of Greek mythology, ancient heroes with supernatural abilities, the offspring of the gods and humans.
And, this is actually how both Jude and Peter refer to the ταρταρώσας and ζόφος. Both are used as descriptors to designate a region set aside as a type of prison for supernatural beings.
Who are these beings? Jude and Peter both state they are the fallen angels of Genesis 6:4. Those angelic creatures that left their own domains, fell to earth and took wives from the human people.
They are now “reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day.”
So, this place, that once was a subterranean cistern for great flood waters, is now, as we speak, being used as a supernatural prison to house and hold angelic beings who have ultimately fallen from grace?
Seriously? Isn’t that a little crazy? You’re probably asking right about now, “Hey, man! Did you forget to take your meds this morning?”
Well, hold on to your britches, because it’s about to get a whole lot worse.
Isn’t Hades Just Hell Dolled Up in a Dress?
Remember the pastor trembling in the rectory at the mere mention of Jude 1:6?
What if I told you that same pastor (and most modern-day professional clergy) have taught the doctrine of hell incorrectly? Would you believe me?
What if I told you there actually wasn’t a hell at all?
Now, calm down. I’m not about to elucidate at great length on the illogical nature of God’s eternal wrath or try to explain away everlasting punishment using the human illogical inconsistency principle.
Instead, we’re going to talk about another term used in the bible for this same mystical and mysterious place. That term is, άδου (G86) “hades.”
This word is a transliteration from the Greek that is used in multiple places in the bible for an intraterrestrial abode.
We find it in Numbers 16:33; Revelation 20:13-14; Luke 16:23, etc. It is most often used in the LXX to translate the Hebrew word Sheol (H7585), which is the “subterranean world of the dead, including inmates.”
This is the word used for the place where the rich man went after his death in Luke 16:23. It is, apparently the destination for souls after death (Acts 2:27, 31). It is a place that has a lock on it and Christ has the key (Revelation 20:13). It follows after or is subservient to or is the natural consequence of death (Revelation 6:8). And, it is more often than not depicted as a place of torment.
Too often, this word hades is translated as hell. This is actually a word with Teutonic roots (from Germans, Scandinavians, and British), that is, unfortunately, used as a kind of catch-all term for hades, sheol, and gehenna.
In some circles, the word ταρταρώσας is used to describe the deepest parts of this place (sheol, hades, the abyss, infernal region, bottomless pit) which is designated as the holding area for the fallen angels of Genesis 6:4 and Jude 1:6.
But, if hell doesn’t exist, and souls that died before the judgment go to hades, are all pre-apocalyptic departed souls destined for this underground dungeon?
Apparently, the answer to that is no.
We can say this because in the story of the rich man and Lazaras, while the rich man did find his way to this foreboding underworld, Lazarus did not. Instead, he found himself in a place of repose, the guest of Abraham.
Not only was he separately located from the rich man, but Lazarus was also in a place that was “afar off” and between their locations, “a great gulf [is] fixed” and between them no one can pass. (Luke 16:25-26).
Is it possible that only Lazarus would go to this place? It doesn’t appear so, since Abraham made it clear “no one” can cross between the chasm.
Does that mean everyone who is good is a guest of Abraham and those who do bad become residents of hades?
There is simply no way to tell. Though, the passage in question does provide us some harsh indication (Luke 16:25).
It’s Future So Bright….It Needs a Flame Retardant Jacket
Now we turn to yet another term in the bible, but this word is NOT and should not be used for a subterranean, supernatural prison within the earth that houses fallen angels and possibly demons and who knows what all else.
Instead, this word singularly denotes the same meaning as our oft misappropriated word “hell.”
The word in Greek is γέενναν (G1067) “Gehenna.” It is most often more accurately translated as “hell fire” in verses like Matthew 5:22.
But, this is not a temporary disposition for the pre-judgment departed. This is actually the final destination for virtually everything that is not written in the Book of Life.
It is the final place of judgment for dispossessed souls after verdict is rendered at the Great White Throne. It is the final disposition for the fallen angels (and whatever else) that are being held captive down in the abyss. It is likewise, the final destination for the beast, and the false prophet, and for Satan and the third of heaven that rebelled with him.
Here is where it gets rather….spooky. Not only will all the above, as the apostle John described, “have their part in the lake of fire” (Revelation 21:8), but so will hades and death!
Wait a minute.
How is it possible for a place (which hades, the bottomless pit, and tartarus is) to be “cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14)? How can a process (such as Death) be likewise cast into this peculiar place?
Just as easily as “the earth and the heaven fled away, and their was found no place for them” can be explained, or how the “sea gave up their dead who were in it, and death and hades delivered up their dead.”
These things are beyond the scope and capacity of our finite minds to adequately comprehend.
We will one day witness it. We will one day stand in utter and incomprehensible and inexplicable awe at what we are seeing.
But explain it?
This is and will be impossible.
What we do know with certainty, anyone not found with their names written in the Book of Life, they, too, will be cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:15).
We are also told that death itself is not to be feared. Rather, we should fear the destruction of both body and soul in Gehenna, or the Lake of Fire (Matthew 1:28). This is known as the second death.
This is the End, My Friend
There’s more to the story, though, since Revelation 17:8 tells us that Abaddon or Apollyon will be released from the abyss at the right time.
Who else could that be but the leader of the fallen angels?
Not only this, but Revelation 20:1-3 promises, at the given time, Satan will be bound in the abyss for 1000 years. After which, he will be released, and then he will ultimately be thrown into the Lake of Fire.
In fact, we are told the Lake of Fire was created specifically for, “the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).
But, those who are cast into the Lake of Fire are not simply destroyed to the point they no longer exist. Rather, they are described as suffering “eternal destruction,” or, in a constant state of being destroyed.
Still Unanswered Questions
So, does that clear up everything? Well, not exactly. There are still some questions yet to be answered.
First, why is there a temporary place of torment for those who have died? Don’t the Sunday morning preachers teach that when we die we all go to heaven to be with Jesus?
Second, if there is a special place within the earth that serves as a prison for the angels of Genesis 6:4 (as explained in Jude 1:6 and 2 Peter 2:4) then why are the demons of Luke 8:30-33 not only allowed to wander about possessing people but are then, when exercised, allowed to enter into the pigs instead of going to the abyss?
Likewise, why are the fallen angels of Revelation 12:7-12 presumably roaming free on the earth when the fallen angels of Genesis 6:4 are bound in “everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment?”
The answer to all these questions are still yet unknown.
In addition to the questions pertaining to the supernatural beings that are clouded in great mystery before us, there are also a few questions about our own fates as well.
First, what are the souls in hades being tormented for exactly? They have yet to be judged, correct? Are we not innocent until proven guilty? Oh, no. That’s kind of a myth isn’t it? Certainly not a cosmic standard, I would assume.
But, maybe it has to do with knowledge. Most people in human history, if not all of them, have an innate knack for convincing themselves that their way is “right in their own eyes” (Proverbs 21:2). But, maybe once we die, we no longer “see in a mirror, dimly” but will then “know just as [we] are known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
The story of the rich man is a perfect example, for his entire conversation with Abraham was void completely of what is typical of man – accusation, pleading of innocence, blaming of others. In fact, he was in great torment, and yet he had two specific concerns about which he requested help. 1) he wanted the torment to be alleviated, and 2) he wanted to save his living family from the same fate.
Sobering, is it not? To be honest, I find it rather terrifying.
It is quite possible the torment he is experiencing is caused by his own conscience reacting to the truth of the sheer gravity and weight of his yet to be judged sins.
In the end, what do we come away with?
Well, there seem to be many, many more questions than there are answers at this stage of the game.
There appears to be a place within the earth that is described as a supernatural prison for fallen angels, possibly demons, and the like. This place will serve a multitude of purposes throughout the course of human events, but will ultimately share the fate of all things and beings lost.
Their ultimate destiny? The Lake of Fire that burns into forever.
Until my next paper….
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Excerpt from Ashen Monk Mountain:
There was an old elm tree near the end of the lawn, with a circular picnic table and several short benches.
“This looks like a lovely spot,” Mr. Eckey said, taking a seat.
He set his briefcase on the picnic table and flipped the latches, opening the lid.
Christopher took a seat opposite him and removed his hood, folding his arms in front of him.
“I have a tablet and a pen here somewhere,” Mr. Eckey said. “I had it when I left, that is. Not sure if I can find it in this disorganized briefcase of mine…”
He chuckled at himself.
“So – ”
Christopher ran a hand over his short cropped scalp.
“I’m confused about all this. I’m not sure I understand why exactly you wanted to meet with me.”
Mr. Eckey nodded.
“How long have you been a novitiate here?”
“Going on seven months now.”
He glanced up at Christopher as he fetched his notebook and ink pen.
“How are you liking it at Saint Joseph’s?”
“It has been – ”
Christopher thought about the question for a moment.
“ – wonderful.”
“I would assume it much different than – ”
Mr. Eckey flipped the first page over, scanned handwritten notes he had on the second page.
“I received some background from the Precept’s office, as well as from Abbot Greenly. You grew up in – North Platte, Nebraska? Is that correct?”
“I’m native of the Boston area myself,” Mr. Eckey said. “Tell me a little about how you came to the decision.”
Mr. Eckey smiled.
“To become a monk. It must have been quite a journey from Nebraska.”
“Not really. I guess. I just – ”
Unwanted images flashed through his mind.
Mr. Eckey took a deep breath before speaking again.
“Mr. Ward, I don’t actually know a whole lot about this request, to be perfectly honest. As you know, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Apostolic Life – that’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it – we are entrusted with monitoring abnormal behavior among those called to the consecrated vocation.”
He tapped his pen on the tablet.
“Tell me, what do you like about Saint Joseph’s exactly?”
“It’s the – well – I feel at home here. Like I belong. I very much enjoy the silence.”
“Yes, I know the Trappists to be quite ardent in their devotion.”
Christopher nodded in agreement as Mr. Eckey took a few notes.
“I enjoy the early mornings, the worship, the offices. The undivided devotion.”
“To God?” Mr. Eckey asked.
“Yes,” Christopher said. “Exactly.”
The stranger focused on his notes for several seconds, silently mouthing the words he wrote.
“Tell me, how does your life now differ from your previous one?”
Mr. Eckey stopped writing.
“Your military career.”
“Oh,” Christopher said, looking down. “I guess – I – I don’t know. There are lots of differences. I’m not – sure I – what is this inquiry about exactly?”
Mr. Eckey put his pen down.
“Mr. Ward,” he said. “The Vatican apparently has interest in your particular gifts and abilities for a – call it – a special appointment. I guess that’s the best way to put it.”
He shifted his weight on the hard bench.
“Normally, the Congregation does not get involved in appointments or a particular monk’s vocational choices. But, sometimes, when the need arises, special arrangements can be made.”
“Are you talking about another monastery?”
“Actually – ”
Mr. Eckey picked his pen back up.
“It’s an entirely different Order.”
Christopher leaned forward as a gust of wind billowed the long sleeves of his tunic.
“I don’t really understand,” he said. “Are you saying the Vatican wants me to move to a different monastery – to a different Order? But…I…”
Mr. Eckey waited a moment.
“Tell me, Mr. Ward, about your military training.”
“What about it?”
“Your experiences. You were a special operator, is that correct?”
Christopher shot him a quizzical look.
“How do you know that?”
“You were part of the 7th SFG? Assigned to operations in Afghanistan for the majority of your enlistment, surrendering your commission as a Captain. Is that correct? What did you like or dislike about your military career? Why was it you left?”
Christopher looked out over the cornfields in the distance.
“Sir,” he said, wringing his hands together. “I don’t really understand why you’re asking these kinds of questions. To be honest, they’re making me a little uncomfortable. I think I – ”
“Please, Brother Christopher,” Mr. Eckey said, putting up a hand. “I don’t mean to pry. As I said, this is a peculiar and rather sensitive situation, not at all normal procedure. So, I do apologize for my rather tactless approach. Let me explain a little, if I can – ”
Christopher tried to relax.
He struggled to repress the memories rising in the back of his mind, the bloody and gruesome images of dead bodies, a horrible, yet all too familiar wave of fear and dread washing over him.
A wave of putrid death enveloped and permeated everything.
He took a deep breath, tried to ignore it.
Mr. Eckey put down his pen again.
“There is a remote monastery in British Colombia. It is of a separate Order, not Cistercian, but similar. It’s rather distinctive, as I am led to believe.”
“What is the Order?” Christopher asked.
Mr. Eckey shook his head.
“You would not be familiar with it,” he said. “There is actually only one monastery in the Order. But it has had a long, and quite fascinating history, to say the least. And, somewhat of a fantastic service.”
“So, why me, then?” Christopher asked. “I’m a novitiate. I don’t have much to offer. I’m not sure what you are asking of me.”
“The Vatican is asking a favor of you, Brother Ward. They are requesting that you take a leave of absence from Saint Joseph’s and visit this other monastery for a time.”
“I’m – I don’t – ”
“I’m honored that the Vatican has called on me,” he said. “I really do feel settled here, though. I would not wish to – ”
Mr. Eckey interrupted.
“Consider it simply a sabbatical of sorts. Without strings attached. We are interested solely in God’s working here in this matter.”
“Are you wanting me to relocate?” Christopher asked.
Mr. Eckey smiled.
“How about we say the Vatican is open and interested in the Father’s call on your life. We simply wish to – test the waters – see if this would or would not be a good fit.”
“So, if I go, and it is not a good fit?”
“Your place here at Saint Joseph’s would be available to you at any time you see fit. Like I said, no strings attached.”
“I would not feel comfortable going without Abbot Greenly’s blessing,” Christopher said.
“You have it,” Mr. Eckey said, his smile widening.
Christopher said nothing.
“Think of it as a vacation. Though, if I’m hearing you correctly, you really are in no need of one. But, then again…. ”
The man shrugged.
“May I – ”
Christopher pondered his words.
“Is it possible to consider this awhile before I decide?”
“Certainly,” Mr. Eckey said. “Because of the situation, though, we would need you to go sooner than later. Is there anything upcoming that you are thinking about in particular?”
Christopher shook his head.
“No,” he said. “I would just like to sit with this for a day or two. Pray about it. How long would the visit be?”
“As long as you need to decide,” Mr. Eckey said. “Preferably a month to start. Longer is encouraged. Like I said, it is a unique situation, so tradition does not really lend itself easily. But, I would ask – ”
He put his notepad and pen back in his briefcase and closed the lid.
“Because of the sensitive nature, the Vatican has requested that you do not discuss this with anyone except me. Not the other monks here, your family, not even Abbot Greenly.”
“But, how – ”
Mr. Eckey put up a hand.
“I’m heading back to discuss the situation with Abbot Greenly before I leave the grounds. He will certainly not have an objection. Not that I can imagine, anyway.”
He fished out a business card from the inside pocket of his blazer.
“Here is my contact information,” he said, handing him the card. “You can reach me on my cell phone any time. Whenever you decide, one way or the other. There is a great need, though, so I do hope you will consider at least visiting.”
Christopher took the card, looked at it, then looked up at Mr. Eckey.
“What kind of need, exactly?”
The man just smiled.
“All in due time,” he said. “Just let us know as soon as you are able.”
Christopher looked back at the card.
“Thank you, Brother Ward, for your time. I do think I can find my way back to the abbot’s office from here.”
He briefly looked around the grounds.
“I do envy you a little,” he said. “What a majestic space you monks have created here. It’s like a slice of Eden. Really.”
He got up, shook Christopher’s hand, then left him there alone, as the stranger retraced his steps to the abbot’s office.
Christopher took a deep breath, then sighed.
The wave of putrid death still lingered as another wind gust blew across the fields, dredging up memories he would have altogether wished could have remained buried, soaking him again in the blood of the past.
He stayed there for a long time, just watching as the endless sea of cornfields waved in the winds.
Buy my book Ashen Monk Mountain to find out what this cryptic and mysterious appointment is the Vatican is asking Christopher to take on. An unheard of monastery, hidden deep in the Canadian Rockies? A secret mission and call? What in the world could be going on?
Click here and grab your copy today! Whatever you do, don’t let this fantastically epic story get away!
But, trust me when I say, you’re not going to believe the truth even when you discover it for yourself. Find out what secrets lay hidden underfoot at Ashen Monk Mountain!