The Church View:
It is represented by the church to mean a place of eternal,
fiery torture for those who don't believe in the Christ as Saviour,
and in extreme cases, those who question the authority of the
church. This obviously means that the majority of humanity is
destined for eternal, fiery torture. Not very fair for a loving and
forgiving God, but then the church does not seem to deeply embrace
fairness or forgiveness. A vengeful and unforgiving God more suits a
pulpit that spews eternal, fiery condemnations for everything from
style of dress to political affiliation as a matter of standard
practice. Hell also fulfills the strongest motivational force for
the church in its arsenal of flock control, fear. There are no
statistics on how many people attend church, not out of belief in
God, but more out of conditioned fear of a fiery torture. It would
be a good bet that if fear of hell were eliminated, church revenues
would drastically shrink.
The Bible View:
In most instances "hell" is translated from words which mean a
hole in the ground into which bodies are placed after death. Other
instances leave it highly unlikely that hell is a place exclusively
created for the eternal torture of unbelievers.
Of all biblical concepts, hell is
one of the most mysterious and feared. The word "hell" appears 54
times in the Bible, 30 times in the Old Testament, 24 in the New
Testament. In the Old Testament, hell is taken from the word,
Sh'owl, pronounced sheh-ole' or Sh'ol; Hades or the world of the
dead (as if a subterranean retreat), Sheol, including its
accessories and inmates: KJV--grave, hell, pit. It is
interchangeable with the word grave or a pit. Basically, hell is a
hole in the ground where bodies are buried. A thorough study of its
appearance in Old Testament scripture will show it is not referred
to as place of eternal fiery damnation.
In the New Testament it is taken
from three words. First, we will examine the one from which the
fiery place of eternal torture, so often associated with this word,
is taken, Ghenna. It may surprise many to realize that we actually
know where this place is, not an ethereal place where Satan dwells,
but actually the Jerusalem city dump.
The word is Geena, pronounced gheh'-en-nah of Hebrew origin;
valley of the son of Hinnom; ge-henna, or Ge-Hinnom, a valley of
Jerusalem, used figuratively as a name for the place or state of
The actual place referred to is Hinnom, a deep, narrow ravine
separating Mount Zion from the so-called "Hill of Evil Counsel" to
the southwest of Jerusalem.
Hinnom is first mentioned here:
♦ Joshua 15:8. And the border went up by the valley of the
son of Hinnom unto the south side of the Jebusite; the same is
Jerusalem: and the border went up to the top of the mountain that
lieth before the valley of Hinnom westward, which is at the end of
the valley of the giants northward:
It was formerly the place where the idolatrous Jews burned
their children alive as a sacrifice to Moloch and Baal. A particular
part of the valley was called Tophet, the "fire-stove" or furnace,
where the children were burned. After the Exile, in order to show
their abhorrence of the locality, the Jews made this valley the
receptacle of the refuse of the city. As with refuse, in those
times it was burned to keep down vermin, the obvious offensive
odors, to maximize space, and a fire was kept constantly burning
there. Excavations carried out at this site from 1975 to 1980 by an
archaeological mission turned up remains of nine burial caves around
the ravine. In earlier excavations of the actual dump, it was found
that the fire was still smoldering after centuries.
Here we have all the elements of the modern concept of Hell.
A place of death, a burial area, destruction, anything placed in
this fiery pit was consumed, a fiery furnace, where in the past
children were burned alive, and unquenchable and everlasting fire,
which is burning to this day.
are the instances where Ghenna is used:
♦ Matthew 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry
with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment:
and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of
the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger
of hell fire.
♦ Matthew 5:29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it
out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one
of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be
cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off,
and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy
members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast
Matthew 10: 28 And fear not
them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but
rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Matthew 18:9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it
out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life
with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
Matthew 23:15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees,
hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and
when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than
Matthew 23:33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how
can ye escape the damnation of hell?
Mark 9:43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is
better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to
go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44 Where
their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 45 And if thy
foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt
into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire
that never shall be quenched: 46 Where their worm dieth not, and the
fire is not quenched. 47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it
out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one
eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:
Luke 12:5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear
him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I
say unto you, Fear him.
James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity:
so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body,
and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of
next word is familiar to most, the Greek word Hades. And, as with
the Hebrew word Sheol, it is interchangeable with the word grave.
There is a serious problem trying to designate this as a place of
eternal fiery torture rather than a burial place, the problem being,
mainly, that Jesus spent three days in Hades after his crucifixion.
Since it is clear that this place was actually a sepulchre, not a
furnace, and that Jesus committed no sin to warrant such punishment;
it would justify the logical conclusion that this is the grave.
Attempting to insinuate that Jesus had to go to this fiery Hell to
defeat it presupposes that such a place exists without solid
scriptural evidence. Jesus performed his ultimate miracle by
defeating death, not fire. In the case of Lazarus, it must be noted
that this is a parable and is used in a metaphoric sense as with the
use of the word Ghenna.
The word hell is translated from is haides, pronounced
hah'-dace; properly, unseen, i.e. "Hades" or the place (state) of
departed souls: KJV--grave, hell.
are the instances where the word Hades is used:
♦ Matthew 11:23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto
heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works,
which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have
remained until this day.
♦ Mark 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell
shall not prevail against it.
♦ Luke 10:15 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to
heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.
♦ Luke 16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in
torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
♦ Acts 2:27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell,
neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
♦ Acts 2:31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection
of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did
♦ Revelation 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and,
behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and
♦ Revelation 6:8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and
his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And
power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill
with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of
♦ Revelation 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were
in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them:
and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And
death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second
death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life
was cast into the lake of fire.
third word translated into hell is only used once and refers to the
place of imprisonment for the angels that are described here:
♦ Genesis 6:4. There were giants in the earth in those
days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the
daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became
mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
Enoch gives a detailed description of this place and can more
easily be understood by reviewing the section in this book about the
Flood. The word is Tartaroo, pronounced tar-tar-o'-o from Tartaros
(the deepest abyss of Hades); to incarcerate in eternal torment. Here is the verse and its relation to the angels of the flood:
♦ 2 Peter 2:4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned,
but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of
darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; 5 And spared not the old
world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of
righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;
If one chooses to embrace the
concept of an eternity of suffering in a furnace, that is one’s
prerogative, but it is not a biblical concept based on a strong
foundation. It can be speculated and implied, but there is ample
evidence against this concept.
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