Scriptures and Thoughts on Hell

What does “hell” mean?

Hebrew:
Sheol – synonym of pit or abyss. A monster that is never satisfied (Proverbs 1:12, 30:16). Underworld (place to which people descend at death). Does not consistently carry a specific connotation of punishment or reward.

Greek:
Hades – properly, the “unseen place,” referring to the (invisible) realm in which all the dead reside, i.e. the present dwelling place of all the departed (deceased). Does not consistently carry a specific connotation of punishment or reward.

Tartarus – only occurs in 2 Peter 2:4, referring either to the negative side of Hades or to the eternal abode of the wicked.

Ge’enna – appears 12 times, all but once spoken by Jesus. Loan word from the Hebrew meaning “the valley of (Ben) Hinnom,” an actual valley associated with idol worship and child sacrifice.

            Hell is a place of fire:
(Matthew 5:22) “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

(James 3:6) And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.

(Reveltion 21:8) But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Is there a difference between hades and hell?

The KJV translated hades as hell and gehenna as the Valley of Hinnom. Since that time, scholarship and critical reading of the text reveals that Hades is a more general term, like Sheol, while Gehenna is a specific term for the eternal abode of the wicked.

(Revelation 20:13-15) And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

(Acts 2:27) For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.

Is hell forever?

(Matthew 25:46) And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

(Revelation 14:11) And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

(Daniel 12:2) And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Do people experience eternal conscious suffering in hell?
See above references on hell being eternal.  Hell is also a place of conscious suffering:

(Matthew 13:50) And throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

(Luke 16:23) And in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.

(Revelation 20:10) And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Relevant passages for the “annihilationism” discussion:

(Matthew 10:28) And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

(Matthew 7:13)“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.

(2 Pet. 3:7) “by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”

(Hebrews 10:39) But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.

(2 Pet. 3:9) “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance,”

(John 10:28) “and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

(1 Tim. 6:15-16) “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light.”

(2 Timothy 1:10) “Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel”

(1 Corinthians 15:52-53).” “the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality

(Matthew 25:46) And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

(Jude 7) Sodom and Gomorrah “are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.”

(Isaiah 66:24) “And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”

(Isaiah 34:9-10) “Its streams will be turned into pitch, And its loose earth into brimstone, And its land will become burning pitch. It will not be quenched night or day; Its smoke will go up forever. From generation to generation it will be desolate; None will pass through it forever and ever.”

Is Satan in charge of hell?

(2 Peter 2:4) God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;

 (Matthew 25:41) “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

(Revelation 19:20) And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.

(Revelation 20:10) And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Do we talk enough about hell?

Could there be an excessive emphasis? Could there be an under-emphasis?

(Ezekiel 3) watchman principle

(Luke 12:5) But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!

(Matthew 23:33) You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?

(Mark 9:43-48) And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’

(Hebrews 10:26-31) If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.28Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”d and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”e 31It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Why will God send people to hell? How could He do something like that?

(Romans 6:23) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Galatians 6:8) For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

(John 3:16-18) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

(Ezekiel 18:23) Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,’ declares the Lord God, ‘rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?’

(2 Peter 3:9) The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

(Matthew 10:28) And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

(Matthew 25:41) “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

(Matthew 13:41-42) The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

(2 Peter 2:1-10) protecting His people from harm.

(Matthew 3:12) His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.

(Matthew 13:49-50) So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

(Matthew 7:13)“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.

Other Discussion Questions:
Are you afraid of hell daily? Why or why not?
Is it appropriate to scare young children by teaching them about hell?

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Scriptures and Thoughts on “Heaven”

What does the word heaven really mean?

Hebrew:
Shamayim – 1) the sky where birds fly, 2) the heavens where stars are, 3) the dwelling place of God, the highest heaven.
Marom – a roughly equivalent word to Shamayim

Greek:
Ouranos – the space above the earth, or the place where God dwells.

Other terms include: “eternal life,” “new heaven and a new earth,” “the heavenly kingdom,” “the new Jerusalem.”

Since in both Hebrew and Greek the same word was used to refer to both the sky and to God’s dwelling place, and based on art and literature throughout history, we can see that God’s people perceived of heaven as a place that is above us. (Genesis 28 – Jacob’s ladder, etc.)

Whether this is true in a literal sense or not, it is certainly true in a symbolic sense, because God is at the height of perfection, is in a place of absolute authority, and calls us to better ourselves as we move toward Him.

Heaven is where God is (Deuteronomy 10:14, Revelation 4:2) and when we go where He is to be with Him, we will be in heaven, too (Revelation 21)

Jesus must be referring to heaven when he speaks of “a place prepared for us” in (John 14)

 What will heaven by like?

There is much that we do not know… (1 Corinthians 2:9) But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—

(Revelation 21) says God will be among men, and there is no pain or crying, and includes an extended description of many fine gemstones, pearly gates, etc. as well as streets of gold (Revelation 22) continues be describing the river of the water of life and the tree of life with twelve kinds of fruit and leaves with the power to heal, and there is no night.

(Isaiah 25:8) appears to be echoed in Rev. 21: “he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.”

Rev. 21 mentions a marriage feast. (Luke 13:29) “People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

(Revelation 7:14-17) “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16 ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,’nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’ ”

(Matthew 6:19-21) “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

(Colossians 3:3-4) For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

How can heaven be perfect if not everyone will be there?

(Revelation 21:27) But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

 (Matthew 7:23) “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’”

This is a hard question to answer. But if we trust that God will do what is right, then we trust that we will agree with Him in His doing what is right.

Do we really get a mansion in heaven?

(John 14:2) My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?

“Mansion” is an obsolete translation, the meaning is not specifically that of a giant, fancy house.

Will this earth be transformed into heaven one day?

Rev. 21 mentions a new heaven and a new earth…

(Romans 8:19-21)For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

(John 14:3) “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”  This does not sound like a renovated earth.

(Hebrews 11:6) But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

(Revelation 21:1) “I saw a New Heaven; and a New Earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.”

(2 Peter 3:10) But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

Will heaven be a physical place?

Some point out that Eden was both physical and perfect, but do we know enough about Eden to draw conclusions from it?

(1 Corinthians 15:42-49)  42So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 43it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 47The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. 48As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 49Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.

I do not know the answer to this question. Are you aware of a clear answer in scripture?

Why is there no marriage in heaven?

(Matthew 22:29-30) Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.  30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.

Will there be dogs in heaven?

(Isaiah 11:6-9) “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea”

(Romans 8:20-21) For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

What do you think? If God’s plan of redemption is for God, wouldn’t that leave animals out of the picture?

Is there a hierarchy or various levels of reward in heaven?

(Matthew 5:19) Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven

(luke 13:29-30) 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”

(1 Corinthians 3:11 – 15) For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,13each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

(Matthew 6:20) “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;

 

Why Do the Right Thing?

It is no secret that God asks us to give up our sins, some of which may be very dear to our hearts. He asks us to change our lives in ways that can be difficult or painful. He asks us to give up our pride. He asks us to step out in faith and do things that get us out of our comfort zone. He asks for a lot.

So why should we do what He asks? Why do the right thing? Here are some possible answers:

So that life will be better for us here and now. After all, God’s commands are designed to protect us from harm. There can be no question that following where He leads is beneficial. In Mark 19:30, Jesus says of anyone who gives something up for Him, “he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age.”

So that we can go to heaven. In Matthew 6:20, Jesus encourages us to “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” Romans 2:6-7 tells us that God “WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life.” Some day we want to hear Him say “well done.”

So that we won’t go to hell. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 says plainly, “the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” For those who really believe all that the Bible says about hell (and the Bible says a LOT about it) this is a real motivation to do the right thing.

There are many other possible reasons to do the right thing. To be a good example to those younger than us. To avoid hurting family and friends. To keep a clear conscience. To maintain personal credibility.

But there is one primary reason to do the right thing that we must not forget.

We do the right thing because, as Christians, we don’t have a choice. God owns us. We gave up our rights when we died with Him through baptism (Romans 6). We signed up to be slaves of righteousness (also Romans 6). It is not we who live but Christ who lives in us (Galatians 2:20). Our lives are living sacrifices (Romans 12:1).

We live in a society that esteems personal freedom over duty. Others may give us advice, but they are not to control us. No one can tell us what to do, we get to weigh the pros and cons and decide for ourselves. But the relationship between the Christian and his God is not this way.

God can and does tell us what to do. If you want to follow Him, you only have one choice: submit. We don’t get to pull out a list of pros and cons every time we want to sin, assess the situation, and decide whether discipleship seems personally advantageous. God either owns you or you do not belong to Him at all.

“Those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” (Luke 14:33)

“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)

This World is Not Good

The account of creation in the book of Genesis is about the beginning of something good. After each day of creation, God sees that what He has made is good. At the end of the sixth day, God sees that His creation is “very good.”

Yet even though there is still so much that is wonderful and beautiful and inspiring in this world, it is no longer good the way it was. The third chapter of Genesis tells us what happened. It gives an account of man’s first sins. They were motivated in part by Satan’s lies (3:4-5). They resulted in difficulties in human relationships (3:16), difficulties in work (3:17-19), and separation from God (3:23-24).

Romans 8:22-23 says “the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.

This whole word has been subjected to futility. Satan’s lies are everywhere. Our relationships are strained or even broken. A part of us wants to dream big dreams, but the weeds choke them out. We try to make progress and we don’t.

The Bible acknowledges the not-goodness of this world in its present state, and we can, too. We do not have to pretend that everything is okay. Everything is not okay. Life is frustrating. It is painful. People hurt each other. It is “not good.” Even for the Christians whose lives seem to be going fairly well, there is a longing for something more than this world can give. Maybe that is why Paul was anxious for the day when he could go to heaven.

I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.” (Philippians 1:23-24).

Yet Paul does realize that there is a reason why he is here.

Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.” (Philippians 1:25-26)

We, too, can trust God to use our lives, though our relationships and our work continue to be corrupted by life’s difficulties. We can trust God to welcome us into a better place some day.

As 1 Peter 5:10 says, “After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

 What a day that will be.