Door to Hell is a 60 meters wide and 20 meters deep hole in the heart of the hot, expansive Karakum desert in Turkmenistan, that has been on on fire for the last 38 years. But the hole is not of a natural origin. The large crater is a result of a Soviet gas exploration accident that occurred in 1971. On a dark night, the glow of the burning hole can be seen from miles away and the smell of burning sulfur can be detected from a distance that becomes quite strong as you near the hot edge of the crater.
Turkmenistan plans to increase its production of natural gas, intending to increase its export of gas to China, India, Iran, Russia, and Western Europe from its present level to 75 million cubic meters in the next 20 years.
At that time Jesus had not yet established His church. In fact, this is the first instance of the word church in the New Testament. The word church, as used by Jesus, is derived from the Greek ekklasia, which means the “called out” or “assembly.” In other words, the church that Jesus is referencing as His church is the assembly of people who have been called out of the world by the gospel of Christ.
Bible scholars debate the actual meaning of the phrase “and the Door to Hell shall not prevail against it.” One of the better interpretations to the meaning of this phrase is as follows. In ancient times, the cities were surrounded by walls with gates, and in battles the gates of these cities would usually be the first place their enemies assaulted. This was because the protection of the city was determined by the strength or power of its gates.
As such, the “Door to Hell”,“gates of hell” or “gates of Hades” means the power of Hades. The name “Hades” was originally the name of the god who presided over the realm of the dead and was often referred to as the “house of Hades.” It designated the place to which everyone who departs this life descends, regardless of their moral character. In the New Testament, Hades is the realm of the dead, and in this verse Hades or hell is represented as a mighty city with its gates representing its power.
Jesus refers here to His impending death. Though He would be crucified and buried, He would rise from the dead and build His church. Jesus is emphasizing the fact that the powers of death could not hold Him in. Not only would the church be established in spite of the powers of Hades or hell, but the church would thrive in spite of these powers. The church will never fail, though generation after generation succumbs to the power of physical death, yet other generations will arise to perpetuate the church. And it will continue until it has fulfilled its mission on earth as Jesus has commanded:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age”.
Satan has the power of death, and he will always use that power to try to destroy the church of Christ. But we have this promise from Jesus that His church, the “called out” will prevail: “Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live”