Hell? What Really Is The Biblical Hell? With Appendix

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Hell? What Really Is The Biblical Hell? With Appendix

Post  Admin on Wed Nov 21, 2012 11:17 am

Hell? What Really Is The Biblical Hell? With Appendix

For different people this question, What Really Is The Biblical Hell? Brings different things or images to mind. Hell is generally thought of as a place of punishment for sin. Concerning sin and its effect, the Bible shows, " That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 5:21 AV).
In addition, the Bible also state: " For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23 AV). As the punishment for sin is death, the fundamental question in determining the true nature of hell is: What happens to us when we die ?
Does life of some kind, in some form, continue after death? What is hell, and what type of people go there ? What is the hope for those in hell? The Bible answers all of these questions.

Is there life after death? Does something inside us, a soul or a spirit, survive the death of the body? Think on how the first man, Adam, came to have life, " And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (Genesis 2:7 AV); therefore, though breathing sustained his life, putting "the breath of life" into his nostrils involved much more than simply blowing air into his lungs. It meant that God put into Adam's lifeless body the spark of life-"the force of life," which is active in all earthly creatures, " And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die." (Genesis 6:17 AV), and " All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died." (Genesis 7:22 AV). This animating force was referred to in the Bible as the 'spirit,' " For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." (James 2:26 AV). This 'spirit' can be likened to an electric current that activates a light bulb or an appliance and enables it to perform its intended function. Since current never takes on the features of the equipment it activates, this life-force likewise does not take on any of the characteristics of the creatures it animates. It has no personality and no reasoning ability.

However where does this 'spirit' go when a person dies? The Bible shows, " His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish." (Psalms 146:4 AV). Thus, when a person dies, his life-activating force or 'spirit' does not go on existing in another realm as a spirit creature, " Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it." (Ecclesiastes 12:7 AV). This means that any hope of future life for that person now rests entirely with God.

The ancient Greek philosophers Socrates and Plato held that a soul inside a person survives death and never dies, and so do many fundamentalist, Catholics, and Authodox. However what does the Bible teach about this soul? In, " And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (Genesis 2:7 AV), it clearly shows that man did not receive a 'soul' but became a living 'soul' or person. The Bible speak of a soul's doing work, craving food, being kidnapped, experiencing sleeplessness, and so forth, " And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people." (Leviticus 23:30 AV), " When the LORD thy God shall enlarge thy border, as he hath promised thee, and thou shalt say, I will eat flesh, because thy soul longeth to eat flesh; thou mayest eat flesh, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after." (Deuteronomy 12:20 AV), " My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word." (Psalms 119:28 AV). Therefore, the Bible shows a person himself/herself is a 'soul.' Thus, when a person dies, the 'soul' dies also since they are one and the same, " Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die." (Ezekiel 18:4 AV).

Now the question is, what is the condition of the dead? When pronouncing sentence Upon Adam, Jehovah stated: " In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." (Genesis 3:19 AV). Where was Adam before God formed him from the dust of the ground and gave him life? Nowhere, he simply did not exist! When he died, Adam returned to that state of complete absence of life. The condition of the dead is made clear in the Bible, " For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten." (Ecclesiastes 9:5 AV) and " Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." (Ecclesiastes 9:10 AV). According to the Bible, death is a state of nonexistence. The dead have no awareness, no feelings, no thoughts!

What is the common end for all of mankind? Unending torment or the common grave?
Since the dead have no conscious existence, hell cannot be a fiery place of torment where the wicked suffer after death. Therefore, what is hell? Examining what happened to Jesus after he died helps to answer that question. The Bible writer Luke recounts: " He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption." (Acts 2:31 AV). Where was this hell to which even Jesus went? The apostle Paul wrote: "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:" (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 AV). This clearly shows that Jesus was in hell, the grave, but he was not abandoned there, for he was raised up, or resurrected. Consider also the case of the righteous man Job, who suffered much for his integrity to God. Wishing to escape his plight, he pleaded: " O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!" (Job 14:13 AV)(Note, In the King James Bible, AV, the Greek word Hades is rendered 'hell' in each of its ten occurrences in the New Testament. For more information see a reliable interlinear lexicon such as "The Rotherham Diaglott-interlinear," "The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures," or "The Emphatic Diaglott). How unreasonable to think that Job desired to go to a fieryhot place for protection! To Job, "hell" was simply the grave, where his suffering would end. The Bible hell, then, is the common grave of mankind where good people (even Jesus went there for parts of 3 days)as well as bad ones go.

What is hellfire? Could it be that the fire of hell is symbolic of all-consuming, or thorough, destruction? Separating fire from Hades, or hell, the Scriptures say: " And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death." (Revelation 20:14 AV). "The lake" mentioned here is symbolic, since death and hell (Hades) that are thrown into it cannot literally be burned.

The lake of fire has a meaning similar to that of the fiery Gehenna (hell fire in KJV, AV) that Jesus spoke of at, " 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 5:22 AV), "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: 48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." (Mark 9:47-48 AV). Gehenna the ancient Greek word often translated as 'hell fire' occurs 12 times in the original ancient Greek manuscripts, and it refers to the valley of Hinnom, outside the walls of Jerusalem. When Jesus was on earth, this valley was used as a garbage dump, "where the dead bodies of criminals, and the carcasses of animals, and every other kind of filth was cast." (Smith's Dictionary of the Bible). These fires were kept burning by adding sulfur to burn up the refuse. Jesus used that valley as a proper symbol of everlasting destruction. As does Gehenna, the lake of fire symbolizes eternal destruction.

Death and Hades are "hurled into" it in that they will be done away when mankind is freed from sin and the condemnation of death. Willful, unrepentant sinners will also have their 'portion' in that lake, " But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." (Revelation 21:8 AV). They also will be annihilated forever. On the other hand, those in God's memory who are in hell, the common grave of mankind, shall have a marvelous future.

The common grave of mankind, hell will be emptied, as shown, " 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." (Revelation 20:13 AV). Clearly the Bible shows hell will be emptied, As Jesus promised, " And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43 AV) and " And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust." (Acts 24:15 AV).

In the new world of God's making, resurrected humans who comply with his righteous laws will never need to die again, as shown at " He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it." (Isaiah 25:8 AV). Jehovah (Yahweh), " And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." (Revelation 21:4 AV), What a blessing is to be provided for those in hell, " And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (John 17:3 AV)

For additional information, see Appendix to Hell:
Many Bible translations definitely speak of a "Hell". But is there such a place as a burning Hell where bad people are tormented forever? "Much confusion and misunderstanding has been caused through the early translators of the Bible persistently rendering the Hebrew Sheol and the Greek Hades and Gehenna by the word hell. The simple transliteration of these words by the translators of the revised editions of the Bible has not sufficed to appreciably clear up this confusion and misconception."-The Encyclopedia Americana (1942), Vol. XIV, p. 81.

Websters Dictionary says that the English word "hell" is equal to the Hebrew word Sheol and the Greek word Hades. The King James translated Sheol 31 times a"hell", 31 times as "grave" and 3 times as a "pit". The Catholic Douay Version translated Sheol 64 times as "hell". In the Christian Greek scriptures, the KJV translated Hades as "hell" each of the 10 times it occurs. So what kind of place is Sheol or Hades? The fact that the KJV translates the one Hebrew word Sheol three different ways show that hell, grave and pit often mean one and the same thing. And if hell means the common grave of mankind, it couldn't at the same time mean a place of fiery torment.

Psalm 16:10 says, "For you will not leave my soul in Sheol. You will not allow your loyal one to see the pit." This is a prophecy concerning Jesus. Acts 2:31 says, "he saw beforehand and spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he forsaken in Hades not did his flesh see corruption. Notice in quoting from Psalms 16:10 where Sheol occurs, Acts 2:31 uses Hades. Also, it states that Jesus was in Hades or hell. Are we to believe that God tortured Christ in a fiery torment? Of course not! Jesus was simply in the grave. Notice the account of Jacob when he was mourning for his son Joseph, who he thought had been killed. Genesis 37:35: "I shall go down mourning to my son into Sheol." However, the KJV here translates Sheol "grave," and the Douay Version translates it "hell". Did Jacob believe that his son Joseph went to a place of torment to spend eternity there, and did he want to go there and meet him? Or rather was it that Jacob merely thought that his son was dead and in the grave and that Jacob himself wanted to die?

Also, think of the account of Jonah who was swallowed by a big fish. God caused him to be swallowed to save him from drowning. Notice what he prayed: "Out of my distress I called out to Jehovah, and he proceeded to answer me. Out of the belly of Sheol [hell, KJV and Douay Version] I cried for help. You heard my voice."(Jonah 2:2) Obviously, Jonah was not in a place of fiery torment. But the belly of the big fish would have become Jonah's grave.

So clearly, "hell" here refers to the common grave of mankind. Not a place of fiery torment. God's people have gone there and good people have come out, as we have seen in the cases of Jonah and Jesus. Revelation 20:14 shows that more will come out in a future resurrection, where it says that "death and Hades" gave up those dead in them. The Bible is also clear on the condition of the dead. Ecclesiastes 9:5,10 states: "For the living are conscious that they will die, but as for the dead, they are conscience of nothing at all, neither do they anymore have wages, because the remembrance of them has been forgotten... All that your hands find to do, do with your very power, for there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol (Hades, Hell, grave, pit) the place to which your are going." So, why the confusion about a "fiery hell"? Jesus did speak of "burning", but the original word used in those cases of "burning' was Gehenna. The name Gehenna appears 12 times in the Greek scriptures and whereas many translators take the liberty to render it by the word "hell", (in each of those cases), a number of modern translations transliterate the word from the Greek ge'en na.

Translators have allowed their personal beliefs to color their work instead of being consistent in their rendering of the original-language words. Thus because of those 12 cases where the original greek word Gehenna was used and were incorrectly translated burning "hell", the exact meaning of the original-language words have been obscured. However, keeping in mind what has already been established about the words Sheol, Hades, Hell, grave, pit and the condition of the dead, noting in many cases the manner in which Jesus taught is essential. Jesus taught in illustrations so that people would get the point. In each of those cases mentioned the original word used was fiery Gehenna. Why Gehenna?... Because the people in Jesus time could identify with this fire as symbolism. In the Hebrew scriptures Gehenna is the Valley of Hinnom. Hinnom was the name of the valley just outside the walls of Jerusalem where the Israelites sacrificed their children in the fire. In time, good King Josiah had this valley unfit to be used for such a horrible practice. (2 Kings 23:10). It was turned into a huge garbage dump. so during the time Jesus was on earth, Gehenna was Jerusalem's garbage dump. Fires were kept burning there by adding brimstone (sulfer) to burn up the garbage. Smith's Dictionary of the Bible Vol. 1 explains: "It became the common lay stall (garbage dump) of the city, where the dead bodies of criminals (who weren't worthy of a decent burial) and the carcasses of animals and every other kind of filth was cast." Noteworthy is that no live creatures were ever cast there. Even the Catholic periodical Commonweal states: "The final place of punishment, evidently, is Gehenna, the Valley of Hinnom, which at one time had been a place where human sacrifice was offered to pagan gods, but in biblical times had already become the city dump, a refuse heap on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Here the stench and smoke and fire were a constant reminder to the inhabitants of what happened to things that had served their purpose-they were destroyed."

Knowing about their cities garbage dump, Jerusalem's inhabitants understood what Jesus meant when he told the wicked religious leaders, 'Serpents, offspring of vipers, how are you to flee from the judgment of Gehenna. Jesus plainly didn't mean that those religious leaders would be tormented forever. When the Israelites were burning there children alive in that valley, God said that to do such a horrible thing had never come up into his heart. It was clear, Jesus was using Gehenna as an illustration, or a fitting symbol of complete and everlasting destruction. (Example: If you take a piece of paper and throw it in the garbage, if you wanted, you could go back and get it. However if you burned that piece of paper up, it's gone forever, you cannot go back and get it.) Jesus meant that those wicked religious leaders were not worthy of a resurrection. Those listening to Jesus could understand that those going to Gehenna, like so much garbage, would be destroyed forever.

Some feel that the word "Tartarus" refers to an eternal Hell. However, being cast into "Tartarus" refers to their being debased, cut off from God's favor and all enlightenment. This is evident from the fact that the expression 'throwing into Tartarus' in the original Greek is a verb. So it refers to an act of debasement and not to a literal place. The idea conveyed is similar to the English word "debase," which uses the noun "base" but does not in itself suggest the existence of a literal base. The Bible here uses symbolic language that the Greek speaking populous would have understood. The psalmist states that at death man "goes back to his ground; in that day his thoughts do perish." Psalm 146:4.

Recall too, that when Adam and Eve broke God's law, the punishment was not eternal torment. Instead, they were told that they would "return to the ground, for out of it they were taken." God emphasized to Adam: "For dust you are and to dust you will return." (Genesis 3:19) Thus, the teaching of eternal hellfire is not in the Bible but was borrowed by Christendom from non-Christian peoples who lived before them. But the teachings of the Holy Scriptures about God and his purposes are clear, easy to understand, and reasonable. It tells us about a Supreme Being who does exist and who does care about us and our future. A future where all mankind will be free from false teachings, and will no longer have to fear even death itself. As the Apostle John states at Revelation 21:3-4, "...Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away."

APPENDIX ON HELL:

Many Bible translations definitely speak of a "Hell". But is there such a place as a burning Hell where bad people are tormented forever? "Much confusion and misunderstanding has been caused through the early translators of the Bible persistently rendering the Hebrew Sheol and the Greek Hades and Gehenna by the word hell. The simple transliteration of these words by the translators of the revised editions of the Bible has not sufficed to appreciably clear up this confusion and misconception."-The Encyclopedia Americana (1942), Vol. XIV, p. 81.

Websters Dictionary says that the English word "hell" is equal to the Hebrew word Sheol and the Greek word Hades. The King James translated Sheol 31 times a"hell", 31 times as "grave" and 3 times as a "pit". The Catholic Douay Version translated Sheol 64 times as "hell". In the Christian Greek scriptures, the KJV translated Hades as "hell" each of the 10 times it occurs. So what kind of place is Sheol or Hades? The fact that the KJV translates the one Hebrew word Sheol three different ways show that hell, grave and pit often mean one and the same thing. And if hell means the common grave of mankind, it couldn't at the same time mean a place of fiery torment.

Psalm 16:10 says, "For you will not leave my soul in Sheol. You will not allow your loyal one to see the pit." This is a prophecy concerning Jesus. Acts 2:31 says, "he saw beforehand and spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he forsaken in Hades not did his flesh see corruption. Notice in quoting from Psalms 16:10 where Sheol occurs, Acts 2:31 uses Hades. Also, it states that Jesus was in Hades or hell. Are we to believe that God tortured Christ in a fiery torment? Of course not! Jesus was simply in the grave. Notice the account of Jacob when he was mourning for his son Joseph, who he thought had been killed. Genesis 37:35: "I shall go down mourning to my son into Sheol." However, the KJV here translates Sheol "grave," and the Douay Version translates it "hell". Did Jacob believe that his son Joseph went to a place of torment to spend eternity there, and did he want to go there and meet him? Or rather was it that Jacob merely thought that his son was dead and in the grave and that Jacob himself wanted to die?

Also, think of the account of Jonah who was swallowed by a big fish. God caused him to be swallowed to save him from drowning. Notice what he prayed: "Out of my distress I called out to Jehovah, and he proceeded to answer me. Out of the belly of Sheol [hell, KJV and Douay Version] I cried for help. You heard my voice."(Jonah 2:2) Obviously, Jonah was not in a place of fiery torment. But the belly of the big fish would have become Jonah's grave.

So clearly, "hell" here refers to the common grave of mankind. Not a place of fiery torment. God's people have gone there and good people have come out, as we have seen in the cases of Jonah and Jesus. Revelation 20:14 shows that more will come out in a future resurrection, where it says that "death and Hades" gave up those dead in them. The Bible is also clear on the condition of the dead. Ecclesiastes 9:5,10 states: "For the living are conscious that they will die, but as for the dead, they are conscience of nothing at all, neither do they anymore have wages, because the remembrance of them has been forgotten... All that your hands find to do, do with your very power, for there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol (Hades, Hell, grave, pit) the place to which your are going." So, why the confusion about a "fiery hell"? Jesus did speak of "burning", but the original word used in those cases of "burning' was Gehenna. The name Gehenna appears 12 times in the Greek scriptures and whereas many translators take the liberty to render it by the word "hell", (in each of those cases), a number of modern translations transliterate the word from the Greek ge'en na.

Translators have allowed their personal beliefs to color their work instead of being consistent in their rendering of the original-language words. Thus because of those 12 cases where the original greek word Gehenna was used and were incorrectly translated burning "hell", the exact meaning of the original-language words have been obscured. However, keeping in mind what has already been established about the words Sheol, Hades, Hell, grave, pit and the condition of the dead, noting in many cases the manner in which Jesus taught is essential. Jesus taught in illustrations so that people would get the point. In each of those cases mentioned the original word used was fiery Gehenna. Why Gehenna?... Because the people in Jesus time could identify with this fire as symbolism. In the Hebrew scriptures Gehenna is the Valley of Hinnom. Hinnom was the name of the valley just outside the walls of Jerusalem where the Israelites sacrificed their children in the fire. In time, good King Josiah had this valley unfit to be used for such a horrible practice. (2 Kings 23:10). It was turned into a huge garbage dump. so during the time Jesus was on earth, Gehenna was Jerusalem's garbage dump. Fires were kept burning there by adding brimstone (sulfer) to burn up the garbage. Smith's Dictionary of the Bible Vol. 1 explains: "It became the common lay stall (garbage dump) of the city, where the dead bodies of criminals (who weren't worthy of a decent burial) and the carcasses of animals and every other kind of filth was cast." Noteworthy is that no live creatures were ever cast there. Even the Catholic periodical Commonweal states: "The final place of punishment, evidently, is Gehenna, the Valley of Hinnom, which at one time had been a place where human sacrifice was offered to pagan gods, but in biblical times had already become the city dump, a refuse heap on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Here the stench and smoke and fire were a constant reminder to the inhabitants of what happened to things that had served their purpose-they were destroyed."

Knowing about their cities garbage dump, Jerusalem's inhabitants understood what Jesus meant when he told the wicked religious leaders, 'Serpents, offspring of vipers, how are you to flee from the judgment of Gehenna. Jesus plainly didn't mean that those religious leaders would be tormented forever. When the Israelites were burning there children alive in that valley, God said that to do such a horrible thing had never come up into his heart. It was clear, Jesus was using Gehenna as an illustration, or a fitting symbol of complete and everlasting destruction. (Example: If you take a piece of paper and throw it in the garbage, if you wanted, you could go back and get it. However if you burned that piece of paper up, it's gone forever, you cannot go back and get it.) Jesus meant that those wicked religious leaders were not worthy of a resurrection. Those listening to Jesus could understand that those going to Gehenna, like so much garbage, would be destroyed forever.

Some feel that the word "Tartarus" refers to an eternal Hell. However, being cast into "Tartarus" refers to their being debased, cut off from God's favor and all enlightenment. This is evident from the fact that the expression 'throwing into Tartarus' in the original Greek is a verb. So it refers to an act of debasement and not to a literal place. The idea conveyed is similar to the English word "debase," which uses the noun "base" but does not in itself suggest the existence of a literal base. The Bible here uses symbolic language that the Greek speaking populous would have understood. The psalmist states that at death man "goes back to his ground; in that day his thoughts do perish." Psalm 146:4.

Recall too, that when Adam and Eve broke God's law, the punishment was not eternal torment. Instead, they were told that they would "return to the ground, for out of it they were taken." God emphasized to Adam: "For dust you are and to dust you will return." (Genesis 3:19) Thus, the teaching of eternal hellfire is not in the Bible but was borrowed by Christendom from non-Christian peoples who lived before them. But the teachings of the Holy Scriptures about God and his purposes are clear, easy to understand, and reasonable. It tells us about a Supreme Being who does exist and who does care about us and our future. A future where all mankind will be free from false teachings, and will no longer have to fear even death itself. As the Apostle John states at Revelation 21:3-4, "...Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away."

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