Q. 1. Are the words "Hell" and "Hades" the same? Are they interchangeable words? Or do they have a totally different meaning?
A. 1. The word "Hell" in the Apostles' Creed means the "nether world," the abode of the dead. That same word is translated "Sheol" in Hebrews and "Hades" in Greek." It is translated to "Inferno" in Latin.
The usage of the English word "Hell," including in the Bible, represents four different locations:
1. The place known as limbo where dwelled the souls of the just who died before the death of Christ. There they waited for their admission into Heaven which was closed against them because of the punishment applied to all humans for the sin of Adam.
2. The place of punishment for those who are damned, Satan, his angels and humans who have rejected the saving grace of God.
3. The place known as the limbo of infants who died without personal sin, but having inherited original sin that was not removed through the Sacrament of Baptism.
4. Purgatory, the place where the just, who died in venial sin or who still owed a debt of temporal punishment for sin, are being cleansed by suffering for an indefinite period of time before their admission to heaven.
Number 1 above is frequently referred to as "Hades," a spiritual world. This is totally different from "Hell" mentioned in number 2, the placed of the damned. When it is said that Jesus descended in "Hell" after He died, it is usually a reference to His descending into "Hades" where He revealed the Good News to those who died before His time. The following Bible passages support this teaching.
"He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey..." [1 Peter 3:19-20] "A proclamation to the spirits in prison" means to teach the Good News to those who dwelled in a spiritual world while awaiting their entry into Heaven.
"For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does." [1 Peter 4:6]
The following passages declares that Hades could not hold Christ who had been crucified. "For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One experience corruption." [Acts 2:27, 31]
So does "Hell" and "Hades" means the same thing? No! Are they interchangeable words? No! Hades was the place of the living who were waiting for the glorious Resurrection of Christ in order to follow Jesus into Heaven. Hell is the place of the damned.