Exhaustive Verse-by-Verse Examination of the “Hell” Scriptures
Introduction: I Don’t Ignore Any Scriptures
It is commonly said by the Church that those who believe in “universal reconciliation”—that is, the belief that all humanity will eventually be saved through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ—do so by ignoring ‘many’ Scriptures which supposedly speak of this eternal fate of the unbelieving. To prove that this is not the case, we will now go through each and every verse in which the words translated “hell” are found. We will all see clearly that this detestable doctrine is completely absent from the Word of God!
Since this will be a rather long study [nearly 100 verses to cover] I will divide this study into 3 hubs. As I showed in my previous hub “The Death & Burial of Hell” [ http://hubpages.com/hub/The-Death-Burial-of-Hell ] the word “hell” found in many English Bibles is translated from FOUR words in the Original Languages—Sheol, Hades, Gehenna, Tartarus. In this first hub we will go through each verse in which the Hebrew Sheol is found in the order it appears in the Old Testament. In the second hub we will go through each verse in which the Greek Hades is found, as well as the one and only time Tartarus is found. In the final hub will go through each verse containing the Greek Gehenna as well as its Hebrew equivalent Ge-Hinnom.
By the end of this study there should be no one left who still believes that the Christian Hell is a real place but in the minds of deceived brethren and sadistic false prophets. Seriously, if the Word of God really does teach such a horrible fate, then there’s no way possible for me to go verse by verse and debunk it! It just wouldn’t be possible—hence, I would have to ‘ignore’ all those warnings for me to insist that Hell isn’t real! With that said, shall we begin our journey?
SHEOL [Dr. Strong’s #H7585]
This Hebrew word appears 65 times in the Old Testament. Using the King James Version as our reference bible, Sheol is translated 31 times as “grave”, 31 times as “hell” and 3 times as “pit”. Below is all 63 verses in which it appears [Sheol appears twice in two verses]. In each verse I have ‘un-translated’ this word.
Okay, listen carefully; if Sheol means “the place or state of eternal punishment of the wicked after death, with Satan as its ruler” [ a modern definition of Hell http://www.thefreedictionary.com/hell ]. then we should clearly see this meaning presented to us in the verses we read. Therefore, let’s now learn what Sheol is according to the Scriptures!
1. Genesis 37:34-35 “And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days. And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into SHEOL unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.”
Jacob had just recently learned that his son Joseph was dead. [or so he thought, as Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery and then used his torn coat to lie to their father by telling him that he was dead] Surely, Jacob isn’t saying that he will go down into the Christian Hell where his son was! He did not believe Joseph was being tortured in eternal fire!
2. Genesis 42:38 And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to SHEOL
Reuben was pleading for his father Jacob to allow him to bring his brother Benjamin back with him to Egypt per Joseph’s request [though at the time, they didn’t know it was Joseph]. Jacob’s response was a logical reaction of a father who’d recently lost a son and was afraid to lose another. He feared he would die from agony if another of his children perished. This has nothing to do with the Christian Hell.
3. Genesis 44:29 And if ye take this also from me, and mischief befall him, ye shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to SHEOL
4. Genesis 44:31 It shall come to pass, when he seeth that the lad is not with us, that he will die: and thy servants shall bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to SHEOL
These two verses are continuing the same thought as the previous one—Jacob’s fear of losing another son.
5. Numbers 16:30 But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into SHEOL; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD.
Don’t make the common mistake of adding something that isn’t here. Immediately following this statement by Moses we read in the very next verses “that the ground clave asunder that was under them: And the EARTH opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, AND THEIR HOUSES, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, AND ALL THEIR GOODS." Unless we are to believe that there are “houses” and “goods” being tortured in eternal fire, this passage clearly has nothing to do with the Christian Hell. This passage reminds me of a certain strange event that recently occurred:
6. Numbers 16:33 They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into SHEOL and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.
Same event as last passage. This has nothing to do with the Christian Hell. We read in the very next verse “And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them: for they said, Lest THE EARTH SWALLOW US UP ALSO.” But doesn’t it say that they went down “alive” in Sheol? So, you’ve never heard of someone being ‘buried alive”? Does someone who’s buried alive, remain alive? No, they die due to lack of oxygen.
7. Deuteronomy 32:22 For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest SHEOL and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.
Oops, there it is! We found Hell, study over…
Not so fast! Unless we are to believe that this “fire” is going to “CONSUME THE EARTH” including “THE MOUNTAINS” then this is not speaking of the fires of a Christian Hell.
This is part of a song of Moses [see last verse of Chapter 31]. He is foretelling the coming judgments that God will pronounce on the Hebrew people for their disobedience to His Laws. In the next few verses we read that their punishments will include starvation, overheating, being slain by beasts and poisoned by snakes, being slain by the sword, including their BABIES [verse 25], and eventually being scattered throughout the earth, no longer having a nation to call their own.
But in spite of all these harsh punishments, there is a glimmer of hope for them, for in verse 39 God testifies that though He kills, He can also make alive, and though He wounds, He can also heal.
*In case you’re wondering, this is the first time “hell” is found in the KJV.
8. I Samuel 2:6 The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to SHEOL and bringeth up.
Yes, God indeed is able to deliver someone UP from Sheol—something you’ll never learn in Sunday School, I’m afraid.
9. II Samuel 22:6 The sorrows of SHEOL compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;
This is part of a song that David sang in celebration for God had rescued him from King Saul who wanted him dead [verse 1]. David was not worried of being tortured in a Christian Hell, he was worried that Saul or one of his men would kill him!
10. I Kings 2:6 Do therefore according to thy wisdom, and let not his hoar head go down to SHEOL in peace.
Here David is on his deathbed speaking to his son, Solomon, the heir to his kingdom, and he tells him not to allow Joab his enemy [verse 5] to die a peaceful death.
11. I Kings 2:9 Now therefore hold him not guiltless: for thou art a wise man, and knowest what thou oughtest to do unto him; but his hoar head bring thou down to the SHEOL with blood.
Again, David is requesting his son, King Solomon, to kill an enemy, this one being Shimei [verse 8]. Though David had promised this man that he wouldn’t slay him with his sword, he said nothing about his son. Sad to see that a man like David, who in many ways had the heart of God, also carried extreme bitterness toward his enemies, and therefore pleaded with his son to kill them, and make it BLOODY!
12. Job 7:9 As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to SHEOL shall come up no more.
Despite popular doctrines, when a person dies they really are ‘dead’; not alive in a place called Heaven, or a place called Hell. Sheol is the word used by the Hebrews to describe what happens to a soul after death—though it is not an actual place.
13. Job 11:8 It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than SHEOL what canst thou know?
Here Sheol is used figuratively. This was very common as Sheol in a symbolic sense can represent something ‘unknown’ or ‘not commonly understood’—especially in regards to spiritual and divine wisdom, knowledge and understanding.
14. Job 14:13 O that thou wouldest hide me in SHEOL that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!
Clearly, Job is not asking God to hide him in the Christian Hell! Especially since he also asks God to “remember” him! [similar to the request made by the thief on the cross next to Jesus: http://hubpages.com/hub/The-Thief-on-the-Cross ]
15. Job 17:13 If I wait, SHEOL is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness.
When Job eventually died, he did not make his bed in the Christian Hell, I assure you.
16. Job 17:16 They shall go down to the bars of SHEOL when our rest together is in the dust.
Seeing that those who descend into Sheol “REST TOGETHER… IN THE DUST”, this is clearly not talking of being tortured by fire in the Christian Hell.
17. Job 21:13 They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to SHEOL.
Death is the great equalizer: the rich who die are rich no more.
18. Job 24:19 Drought and heat consume the snow waters: so doth SHEOL those which have sinned,
Since we all sin [Romans 6:23], we all likewise go to Sheol, that is, we all die. That’s what Sheol represents—death, the state of being dead.
19. Job 26:6 SHEOL is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering
Another passage where Sheol is used figuratively—meaning God sees and knows everything.
20. Psalm 6:5 For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in SHEOL who shall give thee thanks?
Dead people don’t remember God, nor can they thank Him, nor can they do anything because they are dead.
21. Psalm 9:17 The wicked shall be turned into SHEOL, and all the nations that forget God.
The correct translation is “the wicked shall RETURN into Sheol”. The Hebrew word here is shub [pronounced shoob], and is the same word found in Genesis 3:19, where God says to Adam, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou RETURN [SHUB] unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou RETURN [SHUB].” It’s the same lesson we learned in Job 17:16 above [#16].
22. Psalm 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in SHEOL; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
I find it interesting that the KJV translators do in fact translate Sheol as “Hell” in this verse; seeing that it flat out goes against the Orthodox doctrine. The Church emphatically teaches that those who go to Hell are lost forever, and can never be delivered up from there. Yet here we read the exact opposite!
23. Psalm 18:5 The sorrows of SHEOL compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.
Same exact passage we read in II Samuel 22:6 above [#9].
24. Psalm 30:3 O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from SHEOL thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.
It’s DEATH that God had delivered David from, not the Christian Hell. God kept David alive.
25. Psalm 31:17 Let me not be ashamed, O LORD; for I have called upon thee: let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in SHEOL.
Despite the Christian horror stories of billions of people screaming in agony in their hell, the truth is there is only SILENCE in Sheol.
26. Psalm 49:14 Like sheep they are laid in SHEOL; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in SHEOL from their dwelling.
Poetic symbolism in regards to death. Have you ever seen a corpse years after death? Truly, the corpse of a dead princess is no longer a beautiful sight.
27. Psalm 49:15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the SHEOL: for he shall receive me. Selah
Similar to Psalm 16:10. God can kill and make alive again; surely He can deliver a soul from Sheol!
28. Psalm 55:15 Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into SHEOL: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.
“Let DEATH seize upon them” Again, nothing to do with the Christian Hell. All sinners die. All dead go to Sheol.
29. Psalm 86:13 For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest SHEOL.
Even those few souls who descend into the LOWEST Sheol can be DELIVERED from there! Wow!
30. Psalm 88:3 For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto SHEOL
When a person runs out of “life” he or she becomes “dead”; not ‘alive being tortured in hellfire’.
31. Psalm 89:48 What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of SHEOL? Selah.
These are obviously rhetorical questions. The answer is “no”. No man that lives shall not see death. No man can deliver his soul from the hand of Sheol—signifying Death.
32. Psalm 116:3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of SHEOL gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.
Again, nothing to do with the Christian Hell. It’s DEATH that compassed the Psalmist; not the fiery lake of eternal torment.
33. Psalm 139:8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in SHEOL, behold, thou art there.
Despite the popular teaching that ‘Hell is separation from God’ the truth is God is in Sheol.
34. Psalm 141:7 Our bones are scattered at SHEOL’S mouth, as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth.
Another example of Sheol being used in symbolic poetry.
35. Proverb 1:12 Let us swallow them up alive as SHEOL; and whole, as those that go down into the pit
In this passage King Solomon warns of being persuaded by sinners to participate in an evil deed. [see verses 10-11]. It is figurative language giving a similar message that a parent would to their child when they suspect some of their friends may be getting into very bad things.
36. Proverb 5:5 Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on SHEOL
A warning against immoral women; such as a prostitute [verse 3]. Sheol in this case is used figuratively to symbolize wickedness; also common use among those of the Hebrew tongue. Notice “her feet go down to DEATH”. Both Death and Sheol are used figuratively to represent darkness, evil, sin, filth, wickedness, and the like all throughout the Scriptures.
37. Proverb 7:27 Her house is the way to SHEOL, going down to the chambers of death.
As with the previous verse this passage is a warning to stay away from a prostitute woman [verse 10].
38. Proverb 9:18 But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of SHEOL
Who is in Sheol? Answer: “THE DEAD ARE THERE”.
39. Proverb 15:11 SHEOL and destruction are before the LORD: how much more then the hearts of the children of men?
I’ll quote this same verse from the Good News Bible translation. Though not an accurate ‘word for word’ translation, it gets the message through successfully:
“Not even the world of the dead can keep the LORD from knowing what is there; how then can we hide our thoughts from God?”
God is omniscient [all-knowing]—that’s the message of this verse.
40. Proverb 15:24 The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from SHEOL beneath.
Just as life and ascension are used figuratively to represent righteousness, holiness and godliness; so also is Death, Sheol and descension used figuratively to represent wickedness, sin, evil and darkness.
41. Proverb 23:14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from SHEOL
Seeing that this is in regards to a parent disciplining A CHILD [verse 13] it should be obvious that this verse is not talking about delivering him/her from the Christian Hell.
42. Proverb 27:20 SHEOL and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.
Sin begets sin. There’s no such thing as sinning to the point that a carnal man no longer craves to sin. No amount of sexual pleasure can satisfy a man’s lustful desire. It only makes him want more of it.
43. Proverbs 30:15-16 The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give. There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough: SHEOL; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough.
Sheol doesn’t say ‘enough’ as people continue to die. The barren womb does not open itself up to bear offspring. The earth will never be incapable of being filled with more water. A fire does not stop itself from burning as long as there are flammable things in its path.
44. Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the SHEOL, whither thou goest.
Enjoy your life as long as you breathe! For like it or not, you and I will someday die. Death is a return to the former state. Do you remember anything before you became ‘alive’? So it is when you die. In order for a dead person to live again, God must make them alive again—they must be resurrected from the dead.
45. Song of Solomon 8:6 Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as SHEOL: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.
Don’t get rattled because you see the word “fire” here, as this has nothing to do with the Christian Hell. It’s the powerful emotions of LOVE and JEALOUSY that are “coals of fire” and have a “most vehement flame”. O, the things people will do when they are in love; and the things they will do when clouded by jealousy!
46. Isaiah 5:14 Therefore SHEOL hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.
A prophecy of coming calamities upon both Israel and Judah [verse 3] as a result of their sinful deeds—not the least of these calamites is that many will die.
47. Isaiah 14:9 SHEOL from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.
A prophecy that Isaiah spoke to the King of Babylon [verse 4]. He had become arrogant and proud of the great kingdom that he had built, and all the kingdoms he had conquered. In this prophecy God warns this great and mighty King that his time was up, and it was now his turn to be destroyed just as those kings whom he had conquered. Here again is Sheol being spoken of in figurative language. Sheol is not some person or being that literally gets excited to “meet” someone, whether he be a commoner or a King!
It saddens me to see such classic poetry being butchered by preachers who insist these Scriptures must be literal!
48. Isaiah 14:11 Thy pomp is brought down to SHEOL, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.
If you were to dig out a recently buried corpse, you’d probably find worms there too. Yet, I doubt they’d do so well in a fire!
49. Isaiah 14:15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to SHEOL, to the sides of the pit
Compare with Psalm 30:3 above [#24]. Here, however, Isaiah tells the Babylonian King that he would not be rescued from death.
50. Isaiah 28:15 Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with SHEOL are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:
51. Isaiah 28:18 And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with SHEOL shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.
The rulers of Jerusalem [verse 14] were constantly leading their people astray, and using lies and falsehood, and were spreading idolatry throughout the land; all the while thinking they would get away with it. Nope! God sternly warned them that their judgment was coming!
…No, not eternal torture in the fires of a Christian Hell! Have you not been paying attention?
52. Isaiah 38:10 I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of SHEOL; I am deprived of the residue of my years
53. Isaiah 38:18-19 For SHEOL cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known thy truth.
These two passages are part of a letter written by King Hezekiah of Judah [verse 9] shortly after recovering from a sickness that nearly killed him. I included verse 19 to show that this is a comparison between “life” and “death”, nothing to do with the Christian Hell. We read a similar passage in Psalm 115:17, “The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence.”
54. Isaiah 57:9 And thou wentest to the king with ointment, and didst increase thy perfumes, and didst send thy messengers far off, and didst debase thyself even unto SHEOL
Another case of Sheol being used figuratively in reference to evil deeds.
55. Ezekiel 31:15 Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day when he went down to the SHEOL I caused a mourning: I covered the deep for him, and I restrained the floods thereof, and the great waters were stayed: and I caused Lebanon to mourn for him, and all the trees of the field fainted for him.
56. Ezekiel 31:16 I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to SHEOL with them that descend into the pit: and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, shall be comforted in the nether parts of the earth.
57. Ezekiel 31:17 They also went down into SHEOL with him unto them that be slain with the sword; and they that were his arm, that dwelt under his shadow in the midst of the heathen.
Interestingly, in verse 15 of the KJV, Sheol is translated “the grave”, but then in each of the next two verses, it is translated “hell”. If that’s not blatant dishonest scholarship than I’m Santa Claus!
These verses are part of a message to the Pharaoh of Egypt [verse 2]. Here God speaks figuratively of Assyria as a “cedar tree of Lebanon” [verse 3], and it is Assyria that He brought “down to Sheol”—similar to the prophecy of the Babylonian King in Isaiah 14. God destroyed the Assyrian nation. The “trees” that the mourned and fainted for Assyria are nations. Notice the phrase “I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to SHEOL”. Indeed, there were many nations that relied on Assyria for protection, among other things—including the nation of Judah! Naturally, these nations which depended on Assyria for their own survival were terrified to hear of its destruction. Then those very nations whom depended on Assyria were all systematically destroyed and overtaken by Babylon—whom God was using at the time to punish many wicked nations, including His Own—both Israel and Judah. Later God punishes Babylon for their sins.
Once again, nothing at all to do with a fiery underworld ruled by Satanic forces!
58. Ezekiel 32:21 The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of SHEOL with them that help him: they are gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword.
59. Ezekiel 32:27 And they shall not lie with the mighty that are fallen of the uncircumcised, which are gone down to SHEOL with their weapons of war: and they have laid their swords under their heads, but their iniquities shall be upon their bones, though they were the terror of the mighty in the land of the living.
Unless we are to believe that fallen soldiers can bring “their weapons of war” with them down to the Christian Hell, then it should be clear to us that these above two passages say nothing of this place. It’s another example of Sheol being used figuratively; in this case it is a lament for Egypt [verse 18] concerning their rapidly approaching destruction—which was fulfilled when Babylon overthrew them.
60. Hosea 13:14 I will ransom them from the power of SHEOL: I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O SHEOL I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.
Recently I read Hosea from the NET Bible and discovered something quite intriguing: the way it’s quoted in their translation gives a very different message. Here it is:
“Will I deliver them from the power of Sheol? No, I will not! Will I redeem them from death? No, I will not! O Death, bring on your plagues! O Sheol, bring on your destruction! My eyes will not show any compassion!”
Though the phrase “No, I will not” is not Scriptural, I find the implication might be accurate based on the surrounding context. Notice that the verse appears as questions as opposed to statements. The ESV does the same thing.
Since I am no bible scholar, I’ll have to do some research in the near future to see which way is more accurate and proper; but either way one thing is clear: This verse has nothing to do with the Christian Hell as it is a prophecy of God’s Judgment on backsliding Israel. [It was a future judgment at the time this book was written, though it was fulfilled when they, like many nations, were overthrown by Babylon]
And just to ‘close the book’ on the idea that this verse is speaking of a Christian Hell, I will quote verse 16 below:
“Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: THEIR INFANTS SHALL BE DASHED IN PIECES, and their WOMEN WITH CHILD SHALL BE RIPPED UP.”
Indeed the Babylonians were extremely relentless, showing little remorse, during their time of conquering many nations.
61. Amos 9:1-2 I saw the Lord standing upon the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut them in the head, all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered. Though they dig into SHEOL, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down
This one shouldn’t be difficult to understand. There’s no running, no hiding, no escaping from God’s judgment when it comes. Besides, who would be so crazy as to ‘dig into the Christian Hell’ to escape God, or anything for that matter. Thus, clearly, this has nothing to do with the popular doctrine.
62. Jonah 2:2 And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of SHEOL cried I, and thou heardest my voice
Jonah was in the belly of a fish at the time he cried out to God for mercy; not in some fiery hell of torment! Here is another example of Sheol being used figuratively. Jonah probably thought he would die there inside that fish’s belly, but God showed him mercy and released him after three days and three nights. Even today, we have the popular phrase “to hell and back” referring to people who’ve miraculously survived extremely dangerous and traumatic events.
63. Habakkuk 2:5 Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as SHEOL, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people
The Hebrew Sheol being used figuratively describing the evil and selfish desires of a proud man.
So there you have it! All 63 occurrences of the Hebrew Sheol; and regardless of whether it’s translated “grave”, “pit” or “hell”, Sheol has absolutely NOTHING to do with the popular Church doctrine of eternal punishment in a fiery lake in an underworld ruled by Satan and demons! Let’s now move on to the New Testament and see for ourselves if there be any truth of this evil doctrine there…
Hades and Tartarus
In Part I of this series we looked at every verse in the Old Testament in which the Hebrew Sheol is found, and saw clearly that the idea or doctrine of the Christian Hell is absent from them.
We saw that despite the use of “hell” by the KJV and several other bible translations, Sheol has nothing to do with the popular doctrine, but rather is used to represent the state of the dead, that is, all dead people: whether righteous or wicked, rich or poor, king or commoner, all “go to one place”, Sheol, which signifies being unconscious and at ‘rest together in the dust’.
Sixty-five times Sheol appears in the Old Testament, and not once does it have anything to do with the Church doctrine of eternal punishment for those who reject Christ before they die. In fact, despite the Church’s claim that Hell is ruled by Satan, none of the sixty-three verses we read mentioned anything about him!
So what about the New Testament? Maybe God simply forgot to warn the Hebrew people of this evil underworld? Perhaps he failed to warn people like Adam & Eve, the world’s first sinners, and Cain, the world’s first murderer, about their eternal fiery destiny? Perhaps God ‘goofed up’ when He gave Moses the Law and all the warnings for those who failed to follow it by neglecting to warn him of the fiery lake below that eagerly awaits them? Maybe Jonah really was in Hell for three days and nights, and the Scriptures err by saying he was in the belly of a fish? But then were that true how could he have been delivered seeing that the Church insists that those who go there are lost forever?
Or maybe it’s the Church that lies? Maybe it’s those “wolves in sheep’s clothing” that are guilty of blaspheming the Name of God and leading their flock astray by deception?
TARTARUS [Strong's #G5020]
Let us begin our study with the one and only time the word Tartarus [tartaroo] is found in the Greek Scriptures.
II Peter 2:4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to TARTARUS, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment
First let’s read what this verse actually says in comparison with the popular doctrine. Is Tartarus “the place or state of eternal punishment of the wicked after death, with Satan as its ruler”? Clearly not, as this verse says nothing about ‘eternal punishment’ or ‘death’ or ‘Satan’. Based on what this verse says, Tartarus is essentially a holding cell—seeing that the sinning angels being held there are awaiting their “judgment”! These “angels” in Tartarus have yet to be ‘judged’, so how can they be suffering eternal punishment for actions they haven’t been convicted of? Are we to accuse God of being an unjust God who punishes people without granting them a trial and a chance to give a defense? I think not!
Now let’s put a little logic into this equation. Just what in heck are “chains of darkness”? I’ve heard of chains of steel and chains of iron, and I can imagine those are difficult to break out of… but chains of darkness? The reality is Peter is using figurative language here. There is no literal place named Tartarus.
In Ancient Greek Mythology [which, for the record, predates the New Testament], Tartarus is a deep, dark abyss located in the lowest part of Hades. Though according to ancient myth Hades is a real place, the word itself literally means “unseen” or “imperceptible”.
We will learn next that Hades is not an actual place, but rather carries the same meaning as the Hebrew Sheol. And let me also state that Peter’s use of the mythological Tartarus during his message of warning to the church brethren of “false prophets” [verse 1] in no way proves that he believes this place actually exists. Hence he begins his statement with “For IF…”
HADES [Strong’s G86]
The Greek Hades is found 11 times in the New Testament Scriptures. It is translated “hell” 10 of those times; it is translated once as “grave”. Why the one? Why didn’t the Translators remain consistent when it comes to the one time they felt Hades could not mean “hell”? The answer lies ahead!
1. Matthew 11:23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to HADES: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day
Unless we are to believe that the city of Capernaum was literally in “heaven”, then it should be clear that they did not literally descend into the Christian Hell or anywhere for that matter. This is very similar to the message that Isaiah gave to the King of Babylon in chapter 14, of which we read about in Part I.
"You [Isaiah] will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: 'How the oppressor has ceased, the insolent fury ceased! …How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' But you are brought down to SHEOL, to the far reaches of the pit."—Isaiah 14:4, 12-15, ESV
Jesus was foretelling the complete destruction of the city of Capernaum. And today, just as is the case with Babylon, this ancient city of Capernaum lies in ruins.
2. Matthew 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 HADES shall not prevail against it
The word “prevail” here comes from the Greek katischuo, and it literally means “to overpower”. Though all men die and descend into Sheol/Hades, including those of the “church”, tis true that the gates of Hades shall not prevail/overpower against the Church because their Head, Jesus Christ, holds "the keys of HADES and of death" [Revelation 1:18] and is therefore able to deliver them out!
3. Luke 10:15 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to HADES
Same passage we read in Matthew 11:23 above [#1].
4. Luke 16:23 And in HADES he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom
Unless we are to believe that Lazarus, by dipping his finger into water, could have cooled the Rich Man’s tongue, which was on fire [verse 24], it should be obvious that this is not literal story. In fact, it is the final section of a five-part parable, which began all the way back in Luke 15:3. To avoid making this hub ridiculously long, I invite you to read my hub “Lazarus & the Rich Man” for an in-depth analysis of this parable: http://hubpages.com/hub/Lazarus-The-Rich-Man
5. Acts 2:27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in HADES, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption
This is an exact replica of Psalm 16:10. The only difference being that the above is in Greek instead of Hebrew. Notice:
“For thou wilt not leave my soul in SHEOL; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”—Psalm 16:10
Here then is Scriptural proof that Sheol and Hades are synonymous. Neither have anything to do with the doctrine of the Christian Hell! They both represent the unconscious state of the dead, and these Scriptures also confirm that a soul can be delivered from Sheol/Hades!
6. Acts 2:31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in HADES, neither his flesh did see corruption
And here we learn that Psalm 16:10 was a prophecy of Jesus Christ—who was DEAD for three days, but was resurrected, and thus He is alive today! Yet how many Christians truly believe that the Messiah was actually DEAD for three whole days? Though they say it, they accept other unscriptural doctrines which deny that Jesus was actually dead, but rather descended into the underworld and preached to dead people who were apparently ‘alive’ trapped inside Hades. Aw, ancient paganism is alive and well, my friends! It lives and breathes through the Christian Church! Only in fictitious mythology and fairy tales can a dead person be alive!
I’ll stick with the very words of Christ Himself who said, “I died, and behold I am alive”!
7. I Corinthians 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O HADES, where is thy victory?
Ladies and Gentleman, I would like to formally introduce you to the one and only verse in the entire New Testament where we find Hades NOT translated into the English “hell”. But why not? What’s wrong with:
“O death, where is thy sting? O HELL, where is thy victory?”
Oh, but I know why! No way the Church would want its deceived flock to “know the truth” that there is VICTORY OVER THEIR HELL! Heaven forbid they know! For if they did the light bulb would go off and they may realize that they’ve been lied to all their lives, and the eyes of the helpless sheep may be opened to the realization their shepherds have led them down the PATH TOWARD DESTRUCTION!
"But thanks be to God, who gives us the VICTORY [over Death and Sheol/Hades] through our Lord Jesus Christ."—I Corinthians 15:57
8. Revelation 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of HADES and of death.
Notice how Christ makes a distinct difference between “life” and “death”. He WAS alive; He then DIED; and now He LIVES AGAIN! Yet the Church would have us believe that “dead” Christians are “alive” in Heaven; while “dead” sinners are “alive” in Hell. Can you say contradiction? Can you say squared-circles? Can you say BLASPHEMY?
Thank God that Jesus Christ has the “keys of Hades and of death” because that means He is able to deliver all who have been imprisoned by them!
9. Revelation 6:8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and HADES 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 the earth
So “Death” and “Hades” were given the power to do what? To torture souls in eternal fire? To punish the wicked in everlasting damnation? No, TO KILL people!
10. Revelation 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and HADES delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
Who is “delivered up” from Death and Hades? Answer: THE DEAD. And notice that it is only after being delivered up from Hades that they who were “dead” are “judged… according to their works”.
Those who are in Hades have not been judged. And yet we are to believe that they are being tortured in the eternal fire of a Christian Hell? …For what crime?
11. Revelation 20:14 And death and HADES were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
The last time we read of Hades it is cast into the Lake of Fire—also known as the Second Death. Here is Scriptural proof that the Lake of Fire is not Hades. And since the Lake of Fire is the Second Death, and Hades is not the Lake of Fire, then we also now have Scriptural proof that Hades is not the Second Death.
Thus we read that Hades is cast into the Second Death. This is the fulfillment of I Corinthians 15:26:
“The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”
Truly, truly, O death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory? There is no victory for death or for Hades… or for the Christian Hell! They will all fall by the wayside in utter defeat at the hands of THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE… Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World! Praise God!
The Valley of Hinnom & Gehenna Fire
Fellow brethren and truth-seekers, welcome to the third and final edition of this study of all the verses in which we find the word “hell” inserted into our English Bibles. As stated in the beginning, the purpose of this study was to prove that those who believe in universal salvation, and claim that the Christian Hell is a lie need not “ignore” any Scriptures to do so! On the contrary, it is those who teach that “damnable doctrine” who do so by ignoring many Scriptures foretelling the future salvation of mankind, as well as mistranslating, misinterpreting, and misrepresenting the Word of God—twisting it into saying something that it does not! Any honest student will quickly find this to be true—unfortunately, there aren’t too many of them in this world. [I would say there weren’t too many “left” in this world, but truth is, there never were “many” of them to begin with]
So now we come to perhaps that most popular section of “hell” scriptures. Among the “Gehenna” verses are some of the Church’s favorites—ones they just love to cast at people. Ironically, any person who stops and actually reads these verses can see the folly in their claims. Oh, it is such an amazing thing how an otherwise sound-thinking person will forsake all logic in order to defend their religion! Unfortunately, it is the “folly” of the Church system and its sheep that leaves the false impression on the unbeliever that all religion is folly.
"For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to GIVE INSTRUCTION IN SOUND DOCTRINE and also to REBUKE THOSE WHO CONTRADICT IT [“it” being “sound doctrine”]. For there are MANY who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. THEY MUST BE SILENCED, since they are upsetting WHOLE FAMILIES [including the family of God] by teaching for shameful gain what they ought NOT to teach."
Titus 1:7-11, ESV
For anyone who wonders why I write these hubs—there’s your answer.
Quick History Lesson on Gehenna
Before diving into this last batch of verses, we need to do a brief history lesson. When studying the Scriptures, the average reader neglects the fact that these books were written from 2,000 years ago and longer. It’s no reason why so much confusion is widespread as it is today, because most are virtually or wholly ignorant of what is commonly referred to as “the biblical ages”. That being said, here’s an excerpt from the book titled, “The Origin and History of the Doctrine of Endless Punishment” by Thomas B. Thayer:
"Gehenna, originally a Hebrew word, which signifies valley of Hinnom. Here the Jews placed that brazen image of Moloch. It is said, on the authority of the ancient Rabbins, that to this image the idolatrous Jews were wont not only to sacrifice doves, pigeons, lambs, &c., but even to offer their own children. In the prophecies of Jeremiah (vii 31), this valley is called Tophet, from Toph, a drum; because they beat a drum during these horrible rites, lest the cries and shrieks of the infants who were burned should be heard by the assembly. At length these nefarious practices were abolished by Josiah, and the Jews brought back to the pure worship of God. 2 Kings xxiiI After this they held the place in such abomination that they cast into it all kinds of filth, and the carcasses of beasts, and the unburied bodies of criminals who had been executed. Continual fires were necessary in order to consume these, lest the putrefaction should infect the air; and there were always worms feeding on the remaining relics. Hence it came, that any severe punishment, especially an infamous kind of death, was described by the word Gehenna, or hell.
HINNOM [Strong’s #H2011]
Below is every Old Testament Scripture, in which, you find “gay-Hinnom” [or “gay ben Hinnom”—valley of the son of Hinnom]. It occurs 13 times in a span of 11 verses. While reading through these, ask yourself: If “Gehenna” means “Hell”, and since Gehenna is the Greek translation of “gay-Hinnom”, then why is it not once translated as “Hell” in the Old Testament? Furthermore, how can any respectable bible scholar be content with translating the same word into completely different words when going from the Hebrew Scriptures, to the Greek Scriptures?
1. Joshua 15:8 And the border went up by the valley of the son of Hinnom [gay ben Hinnom/Gehenna] 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 [gay Hinnom/Gehenna] westward, which is at the end of the valley of the giants northward
Where there you have it! Hinnom Valley is located on the “south side of Jebusite” an ancient city which once stood exactly where Jerusalem was later built. So if “Gehenna” is the Christian Hell, then we now know exactly where it is located: NOT in the center of the Earth or ‘underworld’ but on the “south side of Jerusalem” on the surface of the Earth! In fact, you can go visit Hell at any time—why wait till you die?
2. Joshua 18:16 And the border came down to the end of the mountain that lieth before the valley of the son of Hinnom [gay ben Hinnom/Gehenna], and which is in the valley of the giants on the north, and descended to the valley of Hinnom [gay Hinnom/Gehenna], to the side of Jebusi on the south, and descended to Enrogel
Second witness to Joshua 15:8—Hinnom Valley is located south of Jerusalem. [Jebusi is shortened form of Jebusite]
3. II Kings 23:10 And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom [gay ben Hinnom/Gehenna], that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech
Here we read of some rather disturbing acts that the Hebrews did in Hinnom Valley—thus earning it the nickname “Topheth”. Thankfully, for those living at this time, King Josiah repented to God for the sins of his predecessors and for the people and abolished these pagan rituals and sacrifices. More on this ahead.
4. II Chronicles 28:3 Moreover he [King Ahaz—verse 1] burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom [gay ben Hinnom/Gehenna], and burnt his children in the fire, after the abominations of the heathen whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel
Just where did King Ahaz get this idea of burning his children in fire in “Hell”? From God? No—from the HEATHEN! Ah, this is getting interesting…
5. II Chronicles 33:6 And he [King Manasseh—verse 1] caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom [gay ben Hinnom/Gehenna]: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger
I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to understand why the translators didn’t translate the Hebrew form of Gehenna into “hell”. Just imagine if this verse read like this:
“And he caused his children to pass through the fire in HELL: also he observed times, and USED ENCHANTMENTS, and used WITCHCRAFT, and dealt with a FAMILIAR SPIRIT [referring to mediums], and with WIZARDS: he wrought MUCH EVIL in the sight of the LORD, TO PROVOKE HIM TO ANGER”
How in the world could the Church teach that God will torture the majority of His Children in Hell fire without turning Him into the Biggest Hypocrite of All Time! They couldn’t—hence they had to hide these things. Seriously, how many of my hub readers were aware that this “valley of Hinnom” is from the SAME WORD translated “Hell” in their New Testament Bibles before reading this hub? Welcome to REALITY—where shepherds aren’t hesitant, nor afraid, to lead their flock of sheep off a steep cliff, and feel NO REMORSE for doing so! Welcome to REALITY—where truth-tellers are hated and spit upon and liars and deceivers are cheered for and honored as saints!
6. Nehemiah 11:30 Zanoah, Adullam, and in their villages, at Lachish, and the fields thereof, at Azekah, and in the villages thereof. And they dwelt from Beersheba unto the valley of Hinnom [gay Hinnom/Gehenna]
7. Jeremiah 7:31 And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom [gay ben Hinnom/Gehenna], to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart
These evil, PAGAN rituals of sacrificing their children continued in the land of the Hebrews—each time daring the wrath of God to come down on them! How much more will the wrath of God come down on those who would accuse God of doing a billion times worse to His Own Children? Oh, don’t be fooled into thinking that just because the Christian Hell doesn’t exist that there is no judgment coming for the wicked servant, or the lying prophet! If you are guilty of teaching this madness, then you had better repent and change your ways now, lest the judgment of God be awaiting you in the coming age!
8. Jeremiah 7:32 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be called Tophet, nor the valley of the son of Hinnom [gay ben Hinnom/Gehenna], but the valley of slaughter: for they shall bury in Tophet, till there be no place
There are those who would make the claim that the above verse is a prophecy of the Christian Hell, using the Hinnom Valley as a symbol. But these false teachers are guilty of “adding to” the Word of God. Just read the verse: “for they shall BURY in Tophet”. And in the very next verse we read, that in the Hinnom Valley, there shall be "DEAD BODIES" which shall be “food for the birds of the air, and for the beasts of the earth..." followed by verse 34, where God says "I will SILENCE" the land! Silence—not eternal screaming of those being tortured by fire! This is a prophecy of Israel and Judah’s DESTRUCTION—which happened not too many years later.
9. Jeremiah 19:2 And go forth unto the valley of the son of Hinnom [gay ben Hinnom/Gehenna], which is by the entry of the east gate, and proclaim there the words that I shall tell thee,
Most assuredly, God wasn’t telling Jeremiah to go to the East Gate of Hell to prophesy.
10. Jeremiah 19:6 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that this place shall no more be called Tophet, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom [gay ben Hinnom/Gehenna], but The valley of slaughter
Same prophecy we read in Jeremiah 7:32 above. [#8]
11. Jeremiah 32:35 And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom [gay ben Hinnom/Gehenna], to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin
Another reference to the abominable pagan rituals of Judah of which
God had specifically told them NOT to do! [Leviticus 18:21]
So there you have it! Thirteen times Gehenna appears in the Hebrew Testament. Thirteen times it is accurately translated “valley of Hinnom”. It’s a crying shame that the knowledge and logic of the bible translators regarding Hinnom Valley ends here. It’s as if they just forgot what Gehenna was! Oh, but they didn’t—they knew exactly what they were doing; and God has not forgotten. Those responsible will be held accountable for the heresy they have caused to become widespread!
GEHENNA [Strong’s #G1067]
Two-thousand years ago, when Jesus of Nazareth first used Gehenna in His Gospel Message, those listening knew that He was referring to Hinnom Valley located on the south side of Jerusalem, which was at that time being used as the city dump. So, when He spoke of Gehenna fire, they knew that He was making reference to the continual fires that were set in this Valley to burn up the trash and dead carcasses of animals and criminals. And while it’s true, they didn’t understand the Message He was preaching at that time, none of them thought He was speaking of eternal damnation in the Christian Hell. The pagan teachings of the underworld had already been around for a long, long time when Christ walked the earth in human flesh. For Him to teach it would’ve made Him no different than the dozens of other philosophers that were teaching in their theological schools throughout the land.
1. Matthew 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother * 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 GEHENNA fire
“Raca” from rhaka means “empty-headed” or “worthless”.
“Fool” from moros means "stupid" and is the origin of the English word “moron”.
Okay, let’s borrow the popular method of a “literal” translation for a moment just to see if it makes sense:
So, basically what Christ is saying here is, If you call your brother “worthless” then you’ll be in danger of being judged by the Jewish Sanhedrin [#G4892, sunedrion]—which is a human council that existed at the time—BUT if you call your brother a “moron” then you’re in danger being burned in fire… Make sense to you? …Me either. Also let it be known that a person thrown into a literal fire would be turned to ash—so even if this verse were literal it still couldn’t be used in support of the Christian Hell.
* I took out the phrase “without a cause” because it is not found in the manuscripts, but was added by the Catholic Church years later. http://www.bibletoday.com/htstb/spurious.htm
2. 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 GEHENNA
3. Matthew 5:30 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 into GEHENNA
So where are these faithful Christians who obey their Lord’s Commandments to pluck out their right eyes, and cut off their right hands, and cast them aside? Have you ever met one of these maimed believers? They wouldn’t be that hard to find! Aw, but they know this teaching isn’t literal. They know Jesus was using figurative language; AND YET, they contradict themselves by teaching that “thy whole body should be cast into Gehenna” is literal. Nonsense—this whole sentence is figurative language.
A few real important factors that the average reader, and most theologians, overlook:
a. This Message that Christ gives about plucking out our eyes, and cutting off our hands, is part of the infamous Sermon on the Mount, in which He was teaching His disciples only; while the rest of the multitude waited at the bottom of the mountain [Matthew 5:1-2]. Jesus isn’t warning ‘the world’ to pluck out their eyes, and cut off their hands, lest they be cast into Gehenna, He’s warning His Own Disciples to do these things. That along with the fact that He relays this entire sermon in a calm, relaxed voice should be a real clue that He wasn’t speaking of some eternal hellhole of terrorism!
b. Pay close attention to what He says: “if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out” and “if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off”, lest what? “and not that thy WHOLE body should be cast into Gehenna”. So if you do these things, then your WHOLE body won’t be cast into Gehenna—only part of it! That’s what He’s saying! Christ did NOT say that if you do these things that none of your body will be cast into Gehenna. He says if you don’t do these things then your WHOLE body willbe cast into Gehenna, but if you DO these things, then your WHOLE body won’t be cast into Gehenna—but nobody escapes Gehenna! More on this later…
4. 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 GEHENNA
This is one of the more favorite verses among the ‘Hellers’ of Christendom… I’m going to repeat what I just told you in section “b” of the previous verse comments: Pay close attention to what Christ says! Notice, Christ does not say ‘don’t fear those who can kill the body but not kill the soul, but rather fear Him who can kill both soul and body in Gehenna. That’s not what Christ said… He says don’t fear them who can “kill” the body but cannot “kill” the soul; but instead fear Him who “is able to DESTROY both soul and body in Gehenna”. How many readers noticed the subtle switch from kill to destroy? Don’t worry, it wasn’t until someone showed me that I first noticed it too.
The Greek word for "kill" is apokteino which literally means "to slay".
The Greek word for "destroy" is apollumi which literally means "destroy, perish, lose". Let’s take a look at a few other verses where we find apollumi:
But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost [apollumi] sheep of the house of Israel - Matthew 15:24
For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost [apollumi] - Matthew 18:11
It would have been futile for Christ to be sent to save the “apollumi sheep” if the state of being apollumi is eternal. Thus the same is with the one who’s soul and body are apollumi in Gehenna. They are not lost, destroyed beyond the point of being saved. One more verse:
He that findeth his life [Gk: “soul”] shall lose [apollumi] it: and he that loseth [apollumi] his life [Gk: “soul”] for my sake shall find it. - Matthew 10:39
Not only is the soul that is apollumi not hopeless, but we must apollumi our own souls if we are to ever find them in Christ! Having your soul apollumi is a symbol for ‘dying to the flesh’ something every believer is commanded to do:
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live. - Romans 8:13
Notice the stunning comparison between this verse in Romans with what Christ said in Matthew 5 [#2-3]. Paul even goes so far as to say he died “daily” [I Corinthians 15:31]. It means to overcome your sins and transgressions and be renewed in the Spirit by learning to love, forgive, and do all the things we, believers, are commanded by our Lord and Savior to do—to “become perfect as our Father is perfect”.
5. 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 GEHENNA fire
Christ repeats His Message from the Sermon on the Mount. Again, compare this with Romans 8:13, where we are told to “mortify [or put to death] the deeds of the body”. But using the “literal” interpretation for a moment—this makes no sense! Nobody’s EYE has ever “offended” or caused them to sin. When a man looks at a pretty woman in lust, it’s not his “eye” that is guilty of the lust—it’s his HEART. The heart is the seat of all evil thoughts and actions. [Matthew 15:19] Since this is a spiritual message, not literal, then the “Gehenna fire” is no more ‘literal’ then one is to ‘literally’ pluck out their eyes!
If you sincerely believe that this Gehenna fire is a literal fire that is going to literally burn up billions of human bodies, then you better not have “two eyes”, because everyone is guilty of lust and coveting at least a few dozen times in their lives!
6. 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 GEHENNA than yourselves
Here Christ uses Gehenna as a derogatory term—something that was very common during these times. Notice that He is talking to the “scribes and Pharisees”—who are the equivalent of today’s Preachers and Theologians. So you think much has changed over the past 2,000 years? You think that our modern day scribes and Pharisees aren’t guilty of compassing sea and land to make one proselyte, of which they make twofold more the child of Gehenna then themselves?
7. Matthew 23:33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of GEHENNA?
Again, these harsh words of Christ are directed to the scribes and Pharisees. For sure, all liars, hypocrites, and false prophets will have their day before the “judgment seat of Christ”! But does that mean they will be tortured in real fire for all eternity? No, because after Christ’s long-winded rebuking of these deceitful Church leaders, He ends it with a promise:
For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, TILL YE SHALL SAY, BLESSED is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. - Matthew 23:39
These are hardly the words of men who are about to be cast into eternal torture! And for those who’d try to twist this verse, Christ did NOT say, ‘You shall not see me henceforth, unless you shall say…” so as to suggest that they have to ‘freely choose’ to say these words… No, Christ said, “You shall not see me henceforth, TILL [UNTIL] ye shall say, BLESSED is He that comes in the Name of the LORD”!
8. 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 GEHENNA, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
9. Mark 9:45 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 GEHENNA, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
10. Mark 9:47 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 GEHENNA fire
In these passages, we get a more detailed description of Christ’s Gehenna fire sermon than we did in Matthew 5 & 18 [#2-3, 5]. Despite the fact that no Christian takes Christ commandments to cut off their hands, there feet, and pluck out their eyes, literally; they still insist that this Gehenna fire is literal—and for ‘proof’ they use the quote “the fire that never shall be quenched”. The common misconception is that an ‘unquenchable fire’ is an ‘eternal’ or never-ending fire. Any firefighter would tell you this is NOT the case! To ‘quench’ means to ‘put out’—as in the case of a firefighter ‘putting out’ a fire by use of a water hose. But often times they are faced with ‘unquenchable fires’, especially in dry areas and forests. But though these fires cannot be ‘quenched’, they do burn themselves out when they run out of things to burn. Let’s now look to the Scriptures for more proof that ‘unquenchable fires’ are not eternal fires:
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched - Jeremiah 7:20
But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched. - Jeremiah 17:27
These “fires that shall not be quenched” were in reference to the wrath of God poured out onto the nations of Judah and Jerusalem. Yet once the men, the beasts, the trees of the field, the fruit of the ground, the gates of Jerusalem, and the palaces of Jerusalem were all burned up in this fire—it ceased to burn! There are a few more examples of ‘unquenchable fires’ in—Ezekiel 20:47-48; Isaiah 1:31 & 34:5-10; Jeremiah 4:4 & 21:12; Amos 5:6. Each of these fires burnt out long ago after they served their purpose.
11. Luke 12:5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into GEHENNA; yea, I say unto you, Fear him
Same warning we read in Matthew 10:28 [#4]. Nothing to do with a Christian Hell; though it’s very true that: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” [Hebrew 10:31], Who “is a consuming fire” [Hebrew 12:29]!
But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap - Malachi 3:2
There are many, many people who are in desperate need of this “refiner’s fire” and “fuller’s soap”—especially those who hold high and respectable positions in the Church! The consuming spiritual fire of God’s judgment will certainly burn all the evil and wickedness out of every sinner when they are cast into it! But despite the Church’s effort to proof otherwise, the fact is:
If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be SAVED; yet so as by FIRE - I Corinthians 3:15
12. 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 GEHENNA
Here’s another case of Gehenna being used figuratively, in the negative sense. Gehenna was symbolic of ‘shame’ and ‘disgust’ because of it’s dark history concerning the acts of Israel there. We are all guilty of opening our mouths before filtering them. We are all guilty of speaking harsh things when we should have kept silent. These sinful words bring shame upon us—and indeed “defileth the WHOLE body”. The words of our mouths can do great damage to our reputation—even nullifying many good deeds that we do.
So we’ve gone through all the “hell” verses and have found nothing in relation to the Christian Hell—"the place or state of eternal punishment of the wicked after death, with Satan as its ruler". If you haven’t already, maybe it’s time you reconsider your belief in regards to this hideous doctrine the Church is shoving down the throats of millions of helpless sheep throughout the world?
This study shows that there is good reason why Paul told Timothy to “STUDY to show yourself approved unto God”. False prophets are not idiots! They are masters at deception—they’ve had many years of practice, and they also have the Father of Lies and the great Deceiver of the World as their Leader:
But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. - II Corinthians 11:12-15
Imagine that—Satan transformed into an Angel… Who would do such a thing?