I will ransom [Hebrew, Padah: to ransom, redeem, rescue, deliver] them from the power [Hebrew, Yad: hand] of Sheol. I will redeem them from death! Death, where are your plagues? Sheol, where is your destruction? Compassion will be hidden from my eyes. — Hosea 13:14, World English
In this verse Yahweh is speaking, declaring that he will rescue, or deliver, his people — Israel — from the power of sheol. The Hebrew word translated “ransom” does not mean exactly the same as the Greek word translated “ransom” in 1 Timothy 2:6, yet the offsetting price provided by Jesus is the means by which Yahweh does deliver the Israelites from the power of sheol. Since Paul refers to this scripture in 1 Corinthians 15:55, we have reason to believe that its application goes far beyond natural Israel.
Many translations render the scripture differently than the World English Bible translation. The King James Version renders this as: “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.” Some other translations render it similarly. The King James states that sheol will be destroyed — exterminated (Strong’s Hebrew #6987). In contrast, the World English Bible renders it with the thought that it is sheol that does the extermination, but that such extermination will come to an end by means of deliverance of those in sheol. Either way, the traditional idea of eternal torture in sheol is not supported by what is stated, but the very opposite. As it reads in the KJV, sheol will be destroyed, and this harmonizes with Revelation 20:14, which shows that death and hades will be destroyed in the second death. If the other view is correct, then the verse shows that those in sheol would be exterminated permanently if it had not been for the the fact that those in sheol are delivered. Paul’s reference to this verse in 1 Corinthians 15:55 indicates that the World English Bible translation is correct for Hosea 13:14.
Some claim that the context demands that the verse should be rendered as in New Revised Standard Version: “Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from Death? O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your destruction? Compassion is hidden from my eyes.” They would interpret the verse as being condemnatory rather than showing that there would be a ransom from sheol. In effect, they would have Yahweh saying: “Shall I ransom them from the power of sheol? Absolutely not! Shall I redeem them from death? Absolutely not! Rather, death, come to them with your plagues, and sheol, come upon them with destruction! My eyes have no compassion for you!” The claim is that all the surrounding text contains denunciations of Israel, therefore this verse should also be a furtherance of that denunciation. The reasoning is that for a scripture concerning deliverance to be amidst verses of denunciation would not be logical.
However, let us reason on this a little. Even if this verse is rendered as it is in the NRSV, we would say that this would be the general destruction promised for Israel’s apostasy — that God would withhold his compassion as he sent them to sheol, but it would not be a permanent destruction, nor would they be in sheol for eternity. If one would read into this scripture that it is saying that Israel will never be delivered from sheol, then Israel has become lost forever. We have shown in other studies scriptural proof that this is not so. For instance, look at Ezekiel 16, which contains both denunciation, but also the promise of deliverance, or a coming time when the people of Jerusalem will be brought back to their former state of life.* Additionally, since Paul shows that he does not view Hosea 13:14 as it is rendered in the NSRV, the only reason we can see to interpret the verse this way is to give it a semblance of support for the eternal suffering theory. Nevertheless, even if it should be translated as it is in the NRSV, it still is speaking about destruction in sheol, not about anyone suffering for all eternity there.
*See our publications: Mankind’s Course to the Day of Judgment and The Restoration of All Things
Nevertheless, those in sheol/hades are indeed redeemed, delivered, through the ransom sacrifice of Jesus, and then sheol/hades is destroyed in the “lake of fire”. — John 12:47,48; Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22; Revelation 20:14.