Gehenna A Historic Place Of Perpetual Burning
Gehenna accounts for 12 of the 13 Hell mentions, and most importantly, it comprises 100% of Jesus alleged references to Hell.
So what is Gehenna?
Its a valley. A literal valley. A physical, geographic location. The Valley of Hinom. In fact, heres what this valley looks like today.
There it is. And look, passing right through the middle of it is Gey Ben Hinom St.
The typical response here is that Jesus was using the valley of Hinom figuratively to mean our modern concept of Hell. But figurative to who?
It really doesnt matter what this valley means to us today. Jesus wasnt speaking to us. He was speaking to Jews who lived 2,000 years ago.
So the real question is, what did Gehenna mean to the Jews of Jesus day?
The section of this valley referred to as Gehenna was well known throughout Israel as an evil and dark place, used for a variety of evil acts throughout Israels history. In the time of Hosea, the rebellious Israelites committed child sacrifice there to honor the pagan god Molech , as seen in 2 Chron 28:3.
Moreover, he burned incense in the valley of Ben-hinnom and burned his sons in fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had driven out before the sons of Israel.
Later, in 2 Kings 23:10, it says that King Josiah desecrated Topheth, which was in the Valley of Hinnom, so no one could use it to sacrifice their son or daughter in the fire to Molek.
The Uncomfortable Subject Jesus Addressed More Than Anyone Else
Some months ago, R. C. Sproul was asked which doctrine he struggles with most. He replied: Hell.
Its comforting to know a theological giant like Sproul still wrestles with something Ive struggled with my whole Christian life.
The doctrine of hell is uncomfortable for most of us. However, our understanding of hell shapes our view of the gospel, Gods holiness, and our depravity. If we dont accept the reality of hell, we wont rightly understand the glory of the gospel.
Does The Bible Speak More About Hell Than Heaven
Ive heard and read the same statement a number of times, but have never troubled myself to look up each passage.
Im not surprised that looking up heaven and hell in a concordance would give you contradictory results. This is probably due to the fact that what we refer to as heaven and hell is often spoken of in different terms in the Bible . In John 14:2 Jesus speaks of His Fathers house, which we would call heaven. The same is true for hell. There are terms like the kingdom of heaven in Matthew which occur frequently, and change the statistics considerably.
Another factor is that the statement, Jesus talked more about hell than about heaven, probably refers to the total number of verses devoted to the subject, and not just the number of references to the words hell or heaven.
It may be worth noting that in Deuteronomy 28 , the blessing section is a great deal shorter than the cursing section .
You may wish to read the lessons I have done on heaven and hell on the BSF Website:
The New Bible Dictionary has these words about heaven :
Recommended Reading: What Does The Bible Say About Cremation Billy Graham
Where Is Hell Located
The Bible does not specifically give us the location of hell, but just as the Bible often refers to heaven as up, or speaks of ascending into heaven, several scriptures refer to hell as down.
Ephesians 4:8-10 speaks of Jesus ascending on high, but also descending into the lower parts of the earth. Some interpret the lower parts of the earth to mean that hell is underground somewhere. Others interpret this as meaning death and burial however, Jesus wasnt buried underground but in a tomb cut into the rock.
People in Hades can see the people in heaven. In Luke 16:19-31, the poor beggar Lazarus died and was carried by the angels to Abrahams arms. The rich man, tormented in hell, looked up and saw Lazarus far away but was able to speak to Father Abraham. . Perhaps its more likely that both heaven and hell exist in a different dimension, rather than in a specific geographical location as we would think of it.
What Does Weeping And Gnashing Of Teeth Mean
Jesus foretold the fate of evildoers: In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves being thrown out .
In Matthew 13:41-42, Jesus said: The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will weed out of His kingdom every cause of sin and all who practice lawlessness. And they will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The weeping and wailing in hell are from bitter grief and utter hopelessness. People in hell will be shrieking in uncontainable psychological pain. Likewise, gnashing or grinding the teeth like a wild beast snarling and snapping its teeth portrays extreme anguish and absolute despair.
Gnashing ones teeth also is a sign of anger those suffering in hell will be angry for bringing condemnation on themselves especially those who heard the good news of salvation but rejected it. Many in hell will think to themselves, why didnt I listen?
10. Matthew 8:12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
11. Matthew 13:42-43 And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Fathers Kingdom. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!
You May Like: Is The Bible Chronological
Objections To The Biblical View Of Hell
A loving God would not send people to a horrible hell.
Response: God is just .
- God has provided the way of salvation to all .
- Even those who havent heard of Christ are accountable for Gods revelation in nature . God will seek those who seek Him .
- Therefore God doesnt send people to hell, they choose it .
Hell is too severe a punishment for mans sin.
Response: God is holy-perfect .
- Sin is willful opposition to God our creator .
- Our sin does merit hell .
- What is unfair and amazing is that Christ died for our sin and freely offers salvation to all .
Why Did God Create Hell
God created hell as a place of judgment for Satan and his fallen angels. Ezekiel 28:12-19 tells us that Satan was an anointed cherub who was in Eden, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty, until unrighteousness was found in him. He was internally filled with violence, and his heart was proud because of his beauty, so God cast him down from His holy mountain.
Then He will also say to those on His left, Depart from Me, you accursed people, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels .
God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, held for judgment .
The everlasting fire of hell was prepared for Satan and his angels. But when humans joined the devil in rebellion against God, they were condemned to share the punishment prepared for the fallen angels.
What Is Hell Like In The Bible
In the Gospels, Jesus spoke of hell more then he did of heaven. In the Gospel of Matthew, hell is mentioned 7 times and Hades is mentioned 2 times, along with 8 descriptive terms concerning fire. Out of all the Gospels, Matthew speaks of hell the most, and out of the entirety of New Testament writings, Matthew contains the most content on hell, with Revelation falling in second. In Matthew 3:10, John the Baptist teaches that those who do not bear fruit will be cast into the fire. Scholar William Hendriksen writes, The fire into which the unfruitful trees are cast is evidently a symbol of the final outpouring of Gods wrath upon the wickedThe fire is unquenchable. The point is not merely that there is always a fire burning in Gehenna but that God burns the wicked with unquenchable fire, the fire that has been prepared for them as well as for the devil and his angels.
He also explains in Matthew 3:12 that the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, will come again and that He will separate wheat , from the chaff , which will be burned by an unquenchable fire. Hendriksen also writes,
Key Passages About Hell
Hell was designed originally for Satan and his demons .
Hell will also punish the sin of those who reject Christ .
Hell is conscious torment.
- Matthew 13:50 furnace of fireweeping and gnashing of teeth
- Revelation 14:10 he will be tormented with fire and brimstone
Hell is eternal and irreversible.
- Revelation 14:11 the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever and they have no rest day and night
- Revelation 20:14 This is the second death, the lake of fire
- Revelation 20:15 If anyones name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire
You May Like: How Many Verses In The Psalms
Hell In The New Testament
In the New Testament, hell is described both clearly and vividly. There are three words used in the Greek for hell Gehenna, Hades, Tartaros, and pyr. Greek Scholar William D. Mounce, states that gehenna comes about later as a translation from Hebrew and Aramaic phrase referring to a desecrated valley south of Jerusalem. In New Testament usage it refers to an eternal, fiery abyss of punishment where both body and soul are judged The Lexham Bible Dictionary states,
It is a noun derived from the Hebrew phrase gy hnwm, which means Valley of Hinnom. The Valley of Hinnom was a ravine along the southern slope of Jerusalem. In Old Testament times, it was a place used for offering sacrifices to foreign gods. Eventually, the site was used to burn refuse. When the Jews discussed punishment in the afterlife, they employed the image of this smoldering waste dump.
View Of Conditional Immortality And Annihilationism
A minority of Protestants believe in the doctrine of conditional immortality, which teaches that those sent to hell will not experience eternal conscious punishment, but instead will be extinguished or annihilated after a period of “limited conscious punishment”. A phenomenalist view of immortality holds that there would be no experiential difference between eternal hell and limited conscious punishment.
Prominent evangelical theologians who have adopted conditionalist beliefs include John Wenham, Edward Fudge, Clark Pinnock, Greg Boyd, and John Stott . Conditionalists typically reject the traditional concept of the immortality of the soul.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church holds annihilationism. Seventh-day Adventists believe that death is a state of unconscious sleep until the resurrection. They base this belief on biblical texts such as Ecclesiastes 9:5 which states “the dead know nothing”, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13 which contains a description of the dead being raised from the grave at the second coming. These verses, Adventists say, indicate that death is only a period or form of slumber.
Recommended Reading: Chronological Order Of Bible
What Is Hades In The Bible
In Acts 2:29-31, Peter spoke of Jesus soul not being abandoned to Hades, nor His body decaying, quoting from Davids prophecy in Psalm 16:10. Peter uses the Greek word Hades, when quoting from Psalm 16:10, where the Hebrew word Sheol is used.
Jesus used the word Hades when telling the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. It is a place of torment from flames of fire. However, it is a temporary place of punishment before final judgment in the lake of fire. In Revelation 20:13-14, death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
Hades may be the same places as the Abyss, a place of imprisonment and punishment for Satan and the demons. When Jesus was casting the legion of demons out of the man in Luke 8:31, they were begging Him not to order them sent to the Abyss.
Satan is bound and thrown into the Abyss for 1000 years in Revelation 20:3. When the Abyss was opened in Revelation 9:2, smoke rose up from the pit like from a great furnace. However, in the Bible, the word Abyss isnt used in association with humans, so it may be a different place of imprisonment for fallen angels.
Has Anyone Been Released From Hell
Yes. The Bible provides detailed accounts of nine people who went to the Grave and were brought back to life by resurrection. * If they had been aware of their surroundings in hell, they would have been able to speak about that from personal experience. Significantly, though, none mentioned being in torment or experiencing anything at all. The reason? As the Bible consistently teaches, they had been unconscious, as if in a deep sleep.John 11:11-14 1 Corinthians 15:3-6.
^ Most modern English translations do not use the word hell in Acts 2:27. Rather, some use expressions such as the grave, the realm of the dead, the dead . Others simply transliterate the Greek word as Hades.Holman Christian Standard Bible, NET Bible, New American Standard Bible, English Standard Version.
Recommended Reading: What Does God Say About Loneliness
Surprising Truths About Hell In The Bible
I know talking and thinking about hell is unpleasant to say the least. Most of us would rather just avoid it and often we do just ignore it. C.S. Lewis said in the Problem Of Pain, There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this , if it lay in my power. Hell in the Bible is tough to talk about. Its caused some to question God and others to leave Christianity all together. So, what does the Bible say about hell?
Yes, hell is a difficult topic to talk about. But its something the Bible teaches and we cannot ignore it. We need to lean into the description of hell in the Bible, grapple with it, and learn from it.
One of the biggest challenges when addressing the topic of hell is that many of the common beliefs about hell are not found in the Bible. Hell has been so influenced by culture, opinions, and misinformation that many of the common beliefs about hell look nothing like hell in the Bible. Thats a problem.
I want to take a fresh look at what hell is and while look through the lens of, what does the Bible say about hell?
We will get to the 6 truths about hell in just a minute. But first we need to take a look at the description of hell in the Bible and see what it teaches us.
What Is Hell In The Bible
There is possibly no biblical concept that is more abhorred by unbelievers and believers alike than the idea of hell. No teaching of Scripture terrifies our mind more than the possibility of one day ending up in a place called hell. Now, the question becomes what is hell and why do people loathe the idea of it?
Hell is the place where those who reject Christ will undergo the fierce wrath and justice of God for all of eternity.
This next statement is something that weve all heard before. Hell is total, conscious, eternal separation from the Lord. Weve all heard this before but what does it mean? It means this, those who end up in hell will be cut off from God forever. Luke 23:43 teaches us that believers will end up in the presence of God, but 2 Thessalonians 1:9 reminds us that unbelievers will end up away from the presence of God.
Also Check: Rhema Bible College Courses
There Are 4 Distinct Words Translated As Hell
Most of the confusion around Hell starts with translation error. There are four separate Hebrew and Greek words which are translated into the single English word Hell, despite having drastically different meanings.
The English language is often very limited when trying to express certain concepts. A perfect Biblical example of this is the multiple Greek words translated to the single English word Love. Agape is a special version of love that speaks about Gods love toward humanity. Phileo speaks about brotherly love and Eros refers to sexual love or desire.
And just like love, the English word hell is unilaterally translated from the Greek and Hebrew words Sheol, Hades, Gehenna, and Tartarus, each of which have different meanings.
tartarootar-tar-o-oFrom Tartaros to incarcerate in eternal torment: cast down to hell.
Below, Ive listed the full 13 times Hell is used in the NASB translation of the Bible. Sheol and Hades are always correctly translated as the grave in the NASB and other more accurate translations, which is why you dont see any references below. Ive included those words in our discussion simply because they will come up incorrectly as Hell in the KJV.
In other words, Hell is NOT actually in the Bible.
But a claim like this warrants a worthy defense, and thats why we are going to look at EVERY single time the word Hell is used in the Bible.
Using the NASB, we see 13 references:
- 2 Peter 2:4 Tartarus