The Teaching Of The Parable
The rich man died and was buried. This class died officially, nationally and its power departed. The kingdom of God was taken from them and conferred on others. The beggar died. The Gentiles, publicans and sinners were translated into the kingdom of God’s dear son where is neither Jew nor Greek, but where all are one in Christ Jesus. This is the meaning of the expression “Abraham’s bosom.” They accepted the true faith and so became one with faithful Abraham. Abraham is called the father of the faithful, and the beggar is represented to have gone to Abraham’s bosom, to denote the fact which is now history, that the common people and Gentiles would accept Christianity and become Christian nations, enjoying the blessing of the Christian faith.
Lightfoot says: “The main scope and design of it seems this: to hint the destruction of the unbelieving Jews, who, though they had Moses and the prophets, did not believe them, nay would not believe though one arose from the dead.”
Our quotations are not from Universalists, but from those who accepted the doctrine of eternal punishment, but who were forced to confess that this parable has no reference to that subject. The rich man or the Jews were and are in the same Hell in which David was when he said: “The pains of Hell got hold on me, I found trouble and sorrow,” and “thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest Hell.” Not in endless wo in the future world, but in misery and suffering in this.
Parables Of Jesus Concerning The Hereafter
In the eschatological discourse of Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus says that, when the Son of Man comes in his glory, he will separate people from one another as a shepherd separates sheep from goats, and will consign to everlasting fire those who failed to aid “the least of his brothers”. This separation is stark, with no explicit provision made for fine gradations of merit or guilt:
Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. …whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.
In a parable about “The Rich Man and Lazarus” in Luke 16:19-31, the poor man Lazarus enjoys a blissful repose in the “bosom of Abraham” , while the rich man who was happy in life is tormented by fire in Hades , the two realms being separated by a great chasm .
What Happens After Death
We know from Romans 3:23 that everyone has sinned and therefore stand condemned before a holy God. But John 3:16-17 tells us that because of Gods great love for the whole world, he stepped in to rescue people from this helpless trajectory, if they only trust in Christ Jesus the Messiah , God incarnate . This rescue is not forced but received by grace through faith. And should someone die without faith in God, the Bible says their sin has condemned them to hell.
The Bible does not indicate further opportunity to receive salvation after a person dies . Jesus told a parable illustrating this in Luke 16:19-31. Verse 26 describes a great chasm between heaven and hades that is set in place, so that no one can cross from one side to the other.
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Does Not Teach Endless Torment
But if it were a literal history, nothing could be gained for the terrible doctrine of endless torment. It would oblige us to believe in literal fire after death but there is not a word to show that such fire would never go out. We have heard it claimed that the punishment of the rich man must be endless, because there was gulf fixed so that those who desired to could not cross it. But were this a literal account, it would not follow that the gulf would last always.
For are we not assured that the time is coming when “every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hiss shall be made low?” Isa. 30: 4. When every valley is exalted what becomes of the great gulf? And then there is exalted, what said of the duration of the sufferings of the rich man. If the account be a history it must not militate against the promise of “The restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of all God’s holy prophets since the world began.” There is not a word intimating that the rich man’s torment was never to cease. So the doctrine of endless misery is after all, not in the least taught here. The most that can be claimed is that the consequences of sin extend into the future life, and that is a doctrine that we believe just as strongly as can any one, though we do not believe they will be endless, nor do we believe the doctrine taught in this parable, nor in the Bible use of the word Hell.
Heathen Ideas Of Hell
During all the time that generations following generations of Jews were entertaining the ideas taught in these sixty-four passages, the surrounding heathen believed in future, endless torment. The literature is full of it. Says Good in his “Book of Nature”: “It was believed in most countries ‘that this Hell, Hadees, or invisible world, is divided into two very distinct and opposite regions, by a broad and impassable gulf that the one is a seat of happiness, a paradise or elysium, and the other a seat of misery, a Gehenna or Tartarus and that there is a supreme magistrate and an impartial tribunal belonging to the infernal shades, before which the ghosts must appear, and by which they are sentenced to the one or the other, according to the deeds done in the body. Egypt is said to have been the inventress of this important and valuable part of the tradition and undoubtedly it is to be found in the earliest records of Egyptian history.’
“Here in a lonely land, and gloomy cells, The dusky nation of Cimmeria dwells The sun ne’er views the uncomfortable seats, When radiant he advances or retreats. Unhappy race! whom endless night invades, Clouds the dull air, and wraps them round in shades.”
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But Lets Assume Im Wrong
Lets just assume, for the sake of argument, that Jesus is using Gehenna as a reference to death and the afterlife. While each of the references to Gehenna can be easily interpreted via our new historical lens, there are a few verses where an argument can conceivably be made otherwise.
Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.
Lets assume here that Jesus is using Gehenna to mean Hell. In this case, we dont see a picture of eternal torment. Jesus is saying to His audience that they should be more concerned about a God who CAN permanently destroy their body and soul.
Lets look at that word destroy.
apollumi ap-ol-loo-mee From G575 and the base of G3639 to destroy fully , literally or figuratively: destroy, die, lose, mar, perish.
Thats a word of finality. Its not a word of perpetual torment. The entire idea of perpetual fire comes from the imagery of Gehenna. Even if we interpret Jesus to be figuratively referencing Hell, wheres the eternal suffering of unbelieving humans? Where is that narrative?
What Does The Word Hell In The Bible Mean
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The word hell appears in the Bible 54 times and is translated from several different words with various meanings, as indicated below:
In the Old Testament:
31 times from Sheol, which means the grave.
In the New testament:
10 times from Hades, which means the grave.
12 times from Gehenna, which means the place of burning.
1 time from Tartarus, which means a place of darkness.
Gods purpose for hell is to destroy the devil and all sin and make the world safe for eternity. The Lord did all He can to save His children from death , but if a person chooses to follow the devil, God will have no choice but let him share the devils destiny. Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels . And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire . For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be.The enemies of the Lord shall consume into smoke shall they consume away .
Hell will not be forever
The work of destroying the wicked in hell fire is so foreign to Gods nature that the Bible calls it His strange act . Gods great heart will ache at the destruction of the wicked . And, an eternal hell of torment would perpetuate sin which is not part of Gods great plan .
For Bible references on the question: Is Hell forever? Check the following link:
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Hell Meaning: The Difference Between Gehenna Sheol And Hades
In the New Testament, the word hell is translated from the Greek word, Gehenna, which is Hebrew for the Valley of Hinnom . This is a place southwest of Jerusalem where, years before the Jews inhabited Israel, pagans in the land would worship Molek by sacrificing children .
This was a place outside Jerusalems walls desecrated by Molech worship and human sacrifice, thus turned into the dump where rubbish and refuse were burned. The smoldering fires and festering worms made it a graphic and effective picture of the fate of the damned, according to David Guzik.
In the Old Testament, the King James Version translates as hell, but this is more appropriately translated by most other versions as Sheol, meaning underworld or place to which people descend at death .
In the New Testament, this word is translated as hades in Greek, which also refers to the place of the dead.
In Hades, where he was in tormenthe called, I am in agony in this flame .
In this passage, we find the term hades, which is the invisible world of the dead .
The New Testament use of Hades builds on its Hebrew parallel, Sheol, which was the preferred translation in the Septuagint, according to Bakers Evangelical Dictionary.
The Damnation Of Hell
“Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers! how can ye escape the damnation of Hell?” Matt. 23: 33. This verse undoubtedly refers to the literal destruction that soon after befell the Jewish nation, when six hundred thousand experienced literally the condemnation of Gehenna, by perishing miserably by fire and sword. The next words explain this damnation: “Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes and some of them ye shall kill and crucify and some of them ye shall scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this generation.”
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Is Hell A Real Place
“The Scriptures assure us that hell is a real place. But hell was not part of God’s original creation, which He called ‘good’ . Hell was created later to accommodate the banishment of Satan and his fallen angels who rebelled against God . Human beings who reject Christ will join Satan and his fallen angels in this infernal place of suffering.”
–Ron Rhodes, The Big Book of Bible Answers, page 309.
Sin Invites Hell Into Your Life
Now that we know the historical background of Gehenna, lets look at what Jesus says about this place.
Matthew 5:30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell .
Remember that dead bodies were literally thrown into this dump, so Jesus is making a parallel by saying thrown into Gehenna.
In traditional Hebrew thought, Earthly physical bodies were left on Earth while spirits were preserved, so it wouldnt have made sense for Jesus to speak about a physical body being cast into a spiritual hell. Instead, Jesus is using a well-known landmark to illustrate how significant and pervasive the destruction of sin is.
Jesus is literally saying that cutting off your hand will be less damaging to your life than a lifestyle of sin.
Jewish thought views sin as self-inflicted judgment. In other words, when you sin, you inflict judgment upon yourself. This belief is so sincere, that even today, many orthodox Jews believe the Holocaust was their own fault that it was their deserved judgment for the sins of Israel and the failure of the Jews to bring the world into the knowledge of Yahweh.
As extreme as that sounds, it gives us insight into the perspective of the Jews that were hearing Jesus words. Its better to lose your eye than to let your eye result in your total self-destruction via sin.
Evil from one body part corrupts the whole body. Sound familiar?
The Existence Of Hell In The Bible
IsHell real? Christs Descent into the place we commonly refer to today as Hellis referred to in the Apostles Creed and theAthanasian Creed. We as Biblebelieving Lutherans have always believed in hell. , in asermon delivered in Torgau in 1533, stated that Christ descended intoHell. The Formulaof Concord states, We believesimply that the entire person, God and human being, descended to Hell after hisburial, conquered the devil, destroyed the power of Hell, and took from thedevil all his power. . This makes it pretty clear that this was avictory march. Some will try to saythat Luther hedged his bets on this and wouldnt come clean as to whether ornot he saw this event as part of the humiliation or exaltation of Christ, but, without knowing the actual citationsthey use, I dont see how we can attribute to Luther any belief except that ofa victory march.
Some of the biggest obstacles to understanding Jesusdescent into hell come out of Catholicism and are caused by the use of LatinVulgate translations of the Bible and the creeds. The Latin is a translation of the Bible fromits original Greek and Hebrew languages and can add insight but is to berejected, therefore, out of hand if it disagrees with the Greek and Hebrewrecords. The meaning is always lost witha translation. Therefore we willdisregard the Latin word Limbo, translated sometimes as hell, from theLatin Vulgate translation of the Bible.
Destroy Soul And Body In Hell
“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. Matt. 10: 28. “But I will forewarn you whom you shall fear: Fear him which, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into Hell: yea, I say unto you, fear him.” Luke 12: 5. The reader of these verses and the accompanying language, will observe that Jesus is exhorting his disciples to have entire faith in God. The most that men can do is to destroy the body, but God “is able,” “hath power” to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. It is not said that God has any disposition or purpose of doing so. He is able to do it, as it is said he is “able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” He never did and never will raise up children to Abraham of the stones of the street, but he is able to, just as he is able to destroy soul and body in Gehenna, while men could only destroy the body there. Fear the might power of God who could if he chose, annihilate man while the worst that men could do would be to destroy the mere animal life. It is a forcible exhortation to trust in God, and has no reference to torment after death. Fear not those who can only torture you-man-but fear God who can annihilate
1. This language was addressed by Christ to his disciples, and not to sinners.
2. It proves God’s ability to annihilate and not his purpose to torment. Donnegan defines apollumi, “to destroy utterly.”
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Thrust Down To Hadees
Matt. 11: 23 and Luke 10: 15: “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to Hell.” “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to Hell.” Of course, a city never went to a place of torment after death. The word is used here just as it is in Isa. 14, where Babylon is said to be brought down to Sheol or Hadees, to denote debasement, overthrow, a prediction fulfilled to the letter. Dr. Clarke’s interpretation is correct: “The word here means a state of the utmost woe, and ruin, and desolation, to which these impenitent cities should be reduced. This prediction of our Lord was literally fulfilled for, in the wars between the Romans and Jews, these cities were totally destroyed so that no traces are now found of Bethsaida, Chorazin or Capernaum.”