A STUDY OF HELL
This study of hell will be, in one sense, very difficult, and in another sense, very easy. Difficult, because most Christians have a concept of hell which, in many cases, comes from what was taught them in early childhood. Concepts formed in early childhood are often very difficult to let go of. On the other hand, this study is easy, because to understand hell is simply a matter of understanding how the Bible uses certain words. These words are the Hebrew and Greek words translated “hell” and the Hebrew and Greek words translated “soul”.
This study will consist of eight parts.
I. A study of the meaning of the Hebrew word translated “hell”.
II. A list of every occurrence of the Hebrew word translated “hell”.
III. A study of the meaning of the Greek words translated “hell”.
IV. A list of every occurrence of the Greek words translated “hell
V. A study of the scriptural description of death.
VI. A study of “soul”.
VII. A list of passages that seem to prove the traditional view.
VIII. “Everlasting Punishment”
A STUDY OF THE HEBREW WORD TRANSLATED “HELL”
The Hebrew word translated “hell” is “sheol”. It is translated “hell”, “grave” and “pit”. Obviously, the word “hell” has a much different connotation then does the word “grave”. How are we to determine what the Scriptural definition of “sheol” is?
We determine the meaning of a Hebrew word in the same way we determine the meaning of any word with which we are not familiar. Since we do not have a God-breathed dictionary, we must study each occurrence of the word and discover its meaning by how it used. We can not give the same word a totally different meaning in different contexts and hope to come to knowledge of the truth. That is to say, the same word can not mean “grave”, with the connotations we ascribe to it, in one verse, and “hell” with the connotations we ascribe to it, in another verse. We must find a word that fits all verses.
The first occurrence of “sheol” is found in Gen. 37:35, “And all his (Jacob’s) 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 the grave (sheol) unto my son, mourning…”. Jacob will be resurrected (Matt. 8:11) which means that he was saved unto eternal life. Therefore, it is obvious that Jacob did not think that he would go down to a place of eternal suffering and torment. In this verse we must interpret “sheol” as “grave”.
Gen. 42:38, “…if mischief befalls him (Benjamin) by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my (Jacob’s) gray hairs with sorrow to the grave“. Here again, we must interpret “sheol” as grave.
Job 14:13, “O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave that thou wouldest keep me secret until thy wrath past…”. Job was not asking God to hide him in a place of horror and torture, this passage also must refer to the grave.
Job 17:16, “They (destruction and hope) shall go down to the bars of the pit, when our rest together is in the dust”. There are several things in this verse which compel the reader to interpret the word “sheol” (translated here “pit”) as applying to the grave. 1) “hope” would not be in hell. 2) there is certainly no “rest” in the traditional concept of hell. 3) the grave is of dust, we will see several passages in this study that show us that, upon death, even the saved man returns to the dust from whence he came.
Ps. 9:17, “The wicked return to the grave, all the nations that forgot God”. Note the word “return”. This suggests the grave, not hell, as we are reminded that “from dust thou art and unto dust thou shall return” (Gen. 3:19).
Ps. 16:9-10, “Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope, Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell….”. We know that David will not suffer the torments of the traditional view of hell. Also, David would not have been rejoicing if he had thought that he would have had to spend one moment in tradition’s hell. It is clear that a better translation of “sheol” in this verse would have been “grave”.
II Sam. 22:6, “The sorrows of hell compassed me (David) about; the snares of death prevented me”. Here too, “hell” must refer to the grave, David was a man “after God’s own heart”, he was not afraid of being compassed about by eternal torture.
Deut. 32:22, “For a fire is kindled in my anger and shall burn unto the lowest hell.” This verse seems to suggest the traditional view of hell but only when taken out of context. Verses 21b-22 reads, “I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation, for a fire is kindled in my anger and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains“. This passage is about God’s anger with Israel and speaks of that anger in terms of being poured out on the earth, not somewhere under the earth.
A LIST OF ALL THE OCCURRENCES OF THE HEBREW WORD TRANSLATED ‘HELL’
I believe that there is sufficient reason to believe that the Hebrew word “sheol” means “grave” and should be translated that way in each occurrence. I have listed below all the verses in the Old Testament in which the word “sheol” appears. I list these verses without comment so that the reader may come to his or her own conclusions. (These verses are quoted from the NIV, which in some cases translates “sheol” as “grave “, where the King James translates it “hell”)
Gen. 37:35, “….In mourning will I (Jacob) go down to the grave to my son, …”
Gen. 42:38, “….then you will bring down my (Jacob) gray head, with sorrow, to the
Gen. 44:29, “…you will bring down my gray head with sorrow to the grave“.
Gen. 44:31, “….and your servants will bring the gray head of our father
down to the grave in sorrow”.
Numbers 16:28-30, “And Moses said, This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things…. If these men die a natural death, then the Lord has not sent me. But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, …and they go down alive into the grave, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt.”
Numbers 16:33, “They ….went down alive into the grave and the earth closed upon over them”.
Deut. 32:22, “For a fire is kindled in my anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell,
I Sam. 2:6, “The Lord brings death and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and
II Sam. 22:6, “The cords of death (Heb. “sheol”) coiled around me (David), the snares of death confronted me”.
I Kings 2:6, “Deal with him according to your wisdom, but do not let his gray
head go down to the grave in peace”.
I Kings 2:9, “…..Bring his gray head down to the grave in blood”.
Job 7:9, “As a cloud vanishes and is gone, so is he who goes down to the grave and
does not return”.
Job 11:8, “They (the mysteries of God) are higher than the heavens-what can you do?
they are deeper than the depths of the grave-what can you know?”
Job 14:13, “If only you would hide me in the grave and hide me till your anger has
Job 17:13, “If the only home I (Job) hope for is the grave,…”
Job 17:16, “Will it (hope) go down to the gates of death (Heb. “sheol”)? Will we descend together into the dust?”
Job 21:13, “They (the wicked, see verse 7) spend their years in prosperity and go down
to the grave in peace”.
Job 24, 19, “As heat and drought snatch away the melted snow, so the grave snatches
away those who have sinned”.
Job 26:6, “Death is naked before God, sheol lies uncovered”.
Ps. 6:5, “No one remembers you when he is dead, who praises you from the grave“?
Ps. 9:17, “The wicked return to the grave, all the nations that forgot God”.
Ps. 16:10, “You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see
Ps. 18:5, “The cords of the grave coiled around me, the snares of death confronted me”.
Ps. 30:3, “O Lord, you brought me up from the grave, you spared me from going down
into the pit (i.e. sepulchre”)”.
Ps. 31:17, “….let the wicked be put to death and lie silent in the grave“.
Ps. 49:14 “Like sheep they are destined for the grave and death will feed on them. ….
their forms will decay in the grave”
Ps. 49:15, “But God will redeem my soul from the grave; He will surely take me to
Ps. 55:15, “Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the grave“.
Ps. 86:13, “For great is your love towards me, you have delivered my soul from the
depths of the grave“.
Ps. 88:3, “For my soul is full of trouble, and my life draws near the grave“.
Ps. 89:48, “What man can live and not see death, or save himself from the power of
Ps. 116:3, “The cords of death came upon me, the anguish of the grave came upon me”.
Ps. 139:8, “If I go up to heaven you are there, if I make my bed in the depths (sheol), you are there…”.
Ps. 141:7, “As one plows and breaks up the earth, so our bones have been scattered at
the mouth of the grave”.
Prov. 1:12, “let’s swallow them alive like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit”.
Prov. 5:5, “Her feet go down to the depth, her steps lead straight to the grave“.
Prov. 7:27, “Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of
Pro. 9:18, “But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the
depths of the grave“.
Prov. 15:11, “Death (Heb. “sheol”) and destruction lie open before the Lord, how much more the hearts of men”.
Prov. 15:24, “The path of life leads upward for the wise to keep him from going down
to the grave”.
Prov. 23:14, “Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death (sheol)”.
Prov. 27:20, “Death (sheol) and destruction are never satisfied and neither are the eyes of men”.
Prov. 30:15-16, “There are three things that are never satisfied, four that never have
enough: the grave, the barren womb, land which is never satisfied with
water, and fire which never says, ‘Enough’”.
Ecc. 9:10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it, for in the grave, where you are going,
there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom”.
Cant. 8:6, “..for love is as strong as death, its jealousy as strong as the grave“.
Isa. 5:14, “…the grave enlarges its appetite and opens its mouth without limit”.
Isa. 14:9, “The grave below is all astir to meet you at your coming; it rouses the spirits
of the departed- all those who were leaders in the world …”.
Isa. 14:11, “All your pomp has been brought down to the grave…”.
Isa. 14:15, “But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit”.
Isa. 28:15, “You boast, ‘We have entered into a covenant with death, with the grave,
we have made an agreement”.
Isa. 28:18, “Your covenant with death will be annulled, your agreement with the grave
will not stand…”.
Isa. 38:10, “I said, ‘In the prime of my life must I go through the gates of death (Heb. “sheol”) and be robbed of the rest of my years?’”
Isa. 38:18, “For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot sing your praise, those who
go down to the pit cannot hope for your faithfulness”.
Isa. 57:9, “….you descended to the grave itself”.
Ezek. 31:15, “…on that day it (Lebanon) was brought down to the grave..”.
Ezek. 31:16-17, “I made the nations tremble at the sound of its fall when I brought it
down to the grave. …….Those who lived in its shade, its allies among the nations, had also gone down to the grave with it, joining those killed by the sword”.
Ezek. 32:21, “From within the grave the mighty leaders will say of Egypt and her allies,
‘they have come down and they lie with the uncircumcised, with those killed by the sword'”.
Ezek. 32:27, “Do they not lie with the other uncircumcised warriors who have fallen,
who went down to the grave….”.
Hosea 13:14, “I will ransom them (Israel) from the power of the grave, I will redeem
them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?”.
Amos 9:2, “Though they dig down to the depths of the grave, from there My hand will
Jonah 2:2, “…. From the depths of the grave I (Jonah) called for help, and you listened to
Hab. 2:5, “…. Because he is greedy as the grave and like death is never satisfied…”.
I believe that after studying all of the occurrences of the Hebrew word “sheol” as given above, the reader can not help but come to the conclusion that “sheol” means the grave. It is imperative that we understand the meaning of “sheol” because the Greek word “hades”, as we shall see, means the exact same thing.
A STUDY OF THE GREEK WORDS TRANSLATED ‘HELL’
There are three Greek words translated “hell”. They are: “hades”, “gehenna” and “tartaroo”. We shall consider them in that order.
In Acts 2:25-27 we read Peter’s address to the “men of Israel”. “David said about Him, ‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore, my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave (hades), you will not let your Holy One see decay”. Peter quotes Psalms 16:8-10 in this address. The Greek word “hades” used to translate the Hebrew word “sheol”, is the God-breathed translation. In other words, the Greek “hades” is the equivalent of the Hebrew “sheol”.
So then, if “sheol” is the grave, then hades is also the grave. Consider I Corinthians 15:53-55, “For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ Where, O hades is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?” The immediate context has to do with the hope promised to believers, i.e. resurrection. There is nothing in this passage of eternal suffering and punishment in hades. Hades is, as sheol is, the grave. I suggest that the reader examine the list of the occurrences of the Greek word, “hades” given below in part IV.
E.W. Bullinger writes the following paragraphs about Gehenna in his Companion Bible, Appendix number 131. “This is the transliteration of the Heb. Gai Hinnom, i.e. the Valley of Hinnom or ‘the Valley ‘ of [the sons of] Hinom, where were the fires through which children were passed in the worship of Moloch. In the Old Testament Tophet was the Hebrew word used, because it was a place in this valley. In our Lord’s day the idolatry had ceased, but the fires were still continually burning there for the destruction of the refuse of Jerusalem. Hence, “gehenna” was used for the fire of destruction associated with the judgment of God”.
We read of this valley in Jeremiah 7:30-34. This portion of Scripture gives a very clear picture of Gehenna. “The people of Judah have done evil in my eyes, declares the Lord. They have set up their detestable idols in the house that bears my Name, and have defiled it. They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire -something I did not command nor did it enter my mind. So beware, the days are coming declares the Lord, when people will no longer call it Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter, for they will bury the dead in Topheth until there is no more room. Then the carcasses of this people will become food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and there will be no one to frighten them away. I will bring an end to the sounds of joy and gladness and to the voices of the bride and bridegroom in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem, for the land will become desolate”.
It is clear that the Valley of Hinnom, or Gehenna, is a very real place on earth. Mark 9:47 is one of the 12 occurrences of “Gehenna”. In this verse we read a quote from Isaiah 66:24, “And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me;their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched and they will be loathsome to all mankind”. Two things are important to note in this verse.1) These are dead bodies, not conscious spirits, and 2) These dead bodies are seen, they are not even in a grave.
One might object that Gehenna could represent the fires of hell where unbelievers are tortured. This however, is not a valid objection because there are no passages in the Bible that even hint of a place of torture of the unsaved. (Please see the comment on Luke 16 in part seven of this paper). As faithful students of God’s Word, we can not make up a place of torture, and then substantiate it with a supposed representation.
The third Greek word translated “hell” in the New Testament is “tartaroo”. It occurs only once, II Peter 2:4, “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell (tartaroo) putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment”. Because this word occurs only once, and in the context of the judgment of angels, and never in the context of humans, as students of God’s Word we should not, in my opinion, ascribe to tartaroo the traditional picture of hell where there are human beings.
A LIST OF THE OCCURRENCES OF THE THREE GREEK WORDS TRANSLATED ‘HELL’
Matt. 11:23, “And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go
down to the depths (Gr. “hades”)”.
Matt. 16:18, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of hades will not overcome it”.
Luke 10:15, “And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted? No, you will go down to the
depths” (Gr. “hades”).
Luke 16:23, “In hell, where he (the rich man) was in torment, he looked up and saw
Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side”.
Acts 2:27, “because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy
One see decay”.
Acts 2:31, “…he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the
I Cor. 15:55, “Where, O death (hades) is your victory?”
Rev. 1:18, “…I hold the keys of death and Hades“.
Rev. 6:8, “I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named death and
Hades was following close behind him”.
Rev. 20:13, “….and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them”.
Rev. 20:14, “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire”.
Matt. 5:22, “…anyone who says, ‘You fool’ will be in danger of the fire of hell“.
Matt. 5:29, “…It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body
to be thrown into hell”.
Matt. 5:30, “It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body
to be thrown into hell”.
Matt. 10:28, “…Rather, be afraid of one who can destroy both soul and body in hell”“.
Matt. 18:9, “It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be
thrown into hell”.
Matt. 23:15, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel
over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are”.
Matt. 23:33, “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned
Mark 9:43, “…It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into
hell, where the fire never goes out”.
Mark 9:45, “It is better to enter into life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown
Mark 9:47, “It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have
eyes and be thrown into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire
is not quenched”.
Luke 12:5, “…Fear Him, who, after killing the body has the power to throw you into
James 3:6,” …It (the tongue) corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life
on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell”.
II Peter 2:4, “For if God did not spare angels when they, sinned but sent them to hell,
putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment….”
THE SCRIPTURAL DESCRIPTION OF DEATH
If the traditional view of hell is not Scriptural, and I believe that it is not, what does happen to the unsaved person at death? Let us see what the Bible says of death.
One of the most succinct pictures of what happens at death is found in Ecclesiastes 3:19-21, “Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath, man has no advantage over the animal. …..All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?
Another clear picture of death is found in Psalms 146:3-4. “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing”.
Let us consider some other Scriptural passages that describe death. Ps. 31:17, “Let me not be put to shame, O Lord, for I have cried out to you; but let the wicked be put to shame and lie silent in the grave (sheol)”. Ps. 115:17, “It is not the dead who praise the Lord, those who go down to silence“. These verses show that there is silence in the grave. There are no scriptures that tell of the traditional view of death, therefore we must conclude that the traditional view of death is unscriptural and therefore false.
A STUDY OF “SOUL”
At this point the reader might say, ‘Yes, but what about the soul? “Man is three parts”, one might object, “where does the soul go?” That is a very good question. What about the soul? As mentioned at the beginning of this paper, the subject of hell is both difficult and easy to understand. Difficult because most Christians come to it with preconceived notions, and yet easy, because it is clearly described in the Bible. The same is true of “soul”. Let us first consider the concept of man being three part; body, soul and spirit.
Gen. 2:7 describes the creation of man. “And the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul”. Note, in this verse, man is two part, i.e. 1) the body from the ground, and 2) the breath of life which was breathed into the body. When these two were combined, man became a living soul. We must see how the words translated “soul” are used in the Bible in order to understand the meaning that the Holy Spirit intended.
The Hebrew word translated “soul” in the verses quoted above is nephesh”. Its first occurrences are found in Genesis, chapter one. Gen. 1:20, “And God said, ‘Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature (nephesh) that hath life…”. Gen. 1:21, “And God created great whales and every living creature (nephesh) that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly…”. Gen. 1:24, “And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth the living creature (nephesh) …the cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth…”. Gen. 1:30, “And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth wherein there is life (nephesh) I have given every green herb for meat…”.
The traditional view of soul is something spiritual that man has, that is part of man. But the verses quoted above show something very different. How can we come to a definition of soul that allows for the fact that the first occurrences of the Hebrew word translated “soul”, are translated “creature” and “life”?
In the King James Version of the Bible “nephesh” is translated in 45 different ways. In my opinion, every occurrence of “nephesh” can be translated with one of only three words, these are “being”, “life” or “person“. These three words all have the same connotation and will not contradict the meaning of the others.
Let us go back to the first occurrences in Genesis to see if one of the three words suggested above will adequately translate the Hebrew word “nephesh”. Gen.1:20, “…bring forth the moving beings…”. Gen. 1:21, “….God created every living being….”. Gen. 1:24, “….bring forth the living beings”. In my opinion “beings” is a better translation of “nephesh”.
Now let us go back to the creation of Man. Gen. 2:7 “…and man became a living being“. This translation allows for the word to have the same connotation in all its occurrences, and will not be a stumbling block to the reader when it is applied in the Bible twenty-two times to the lower animals.
May I suggest to the reader that he or she consult a Hebrew Concordance and look at all 754 occurrences of “nephesh” to see if the meaning of that word is held in tact better by the three words I have suggested, than the 45 translations in the King James.
Let us come back, once again to the creation of man. When God brought body and spirit together man became a living being. May I be allowed a rather mundane example from every day life to clarify my point? If I combine a pie- crust with a pie filling I get a pie. That is to say, by combining the two things they became something else. So, when God combined the breath of life with the body from the dust of the earth, man became something else, he became a living being.
There is only one Greek word translated “soul” in the New Testament, it is “psuche”. “Psuche” corresponds exactly to the Hebrew word “nephesh” as can be seen by the following comparison. Deut. 6:5 reads, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul (nephesh) and with all your strength”. In Mark 12:30, Christ quotes this passage, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul (psuche) and with all your mind and with all your strength”. We have in this comparison the God-breathed translation of the Hebrew “nephesh” to the Greek “psuche”. We know from this that “psuche” is equivalent to the Hebrew word “nephesh”. (The translation of “nephesh” and “psuche” could, in these verses, be translated “being” and convey the meaning intended).
To continue our discussion of “soul”, once we understand that man does not have a soul, but that man is a soul, we can take at face value (i.e. we don’t have to add something that is not there) the scriptures in Ecclesiastes and Psalms that we looked at above. That is to say, when we read for example in Psalms 146:4 of man’s spirit departing and the body returning to the dust of the ground, we do not have to add that the soul, which is, of course, not mentioned in these passages, goes somewhere. So then, at death, the body goes back to dust, the breath of life departs.
SCRIPTURES THAT SEEM TO TEACH THE TRADITIONAL VIEWS
THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS
Luke 16 is one passage that seems to teach the traditional views of hell and death. I believe however that the paper The Rich Man And Lazarus will show otherwise. Because this is such a widely misunderstood passage I will not condense the points made in the paper on the rich man and Lazarus, but I pray that the student of God’s Word will consider it.
THE LAKE OF FIRE
Many Christians believe that the lake of fire spoken of in Revelation 20 and 21 is the same thing as hell. But Rev. 20:14 shows that they are not the same. “Death and Hades” were cast into the lake of fire. If Hades was the same as the lake of fire, how could Hades be thrown into it.
On this same subject let us consider Rev. 14:11 which, as verse 10 shows, speaks of the lake of fire. “And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name”. At first reading it appears that those who are cast into the lake of fire suffer eternally, but let us look a bit closer. First, we read that the smoke “rises for ever and ever”, this does not mean that the torture is for ever and ever. Secondly, E.W. Bullinger writes in his note in the Companion Bible on this verse, that it is in the present tense. What that tells us is that there is no rest for those worshiping the beast, i.e. while they are alive worshiping the beast, they will receive no rest. Also, the paper on this web-site (Will Unbelievers Be Raised For Judgment?) will show that the lake of fire is reserved for a specific group of people, and is not for all the unsaved in every dispensation.
“WEEPING AND GNASHING OF TEETH”
We read in Matt. 8 the phrase, “But the children of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”. Many take this to mean that there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth in hell. But this paper has offered the Scriptural evidence proving that the traditional view of hell is incorrect. How then, are we to understand this phrase?
We read in Matt. 8:5-13 of a centurion who came to our Lord and asked Him to heal his servant. When Christ said that He would go and heal him, the centurion replied “‘Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed’. When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, ‘I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of Heaven. But the children of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”. (The paper on this web-site on the kingdom of Heaven will prove from Scripture that it is the 1,000 year reign of Christ over Israel. That is to say, it is limited to Israel as opposed to Christ’s rule over all the nations of the earth.)
Note that many will be gathered to take their places in the kingdom of Heaven. This gathering is spoken of in Ezek. 20 were we read in verses 34-38, “I will bring you from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered….. . As I judged your fathers in the desert of the land of Egypt, so I will judge you, declares the Sovereign Lord. ……I will purge you of those who revolt and rebel against me.. Although I will bring them out of the land where they are living, yet they will not enter the land of Israel“.
So Israel will be gathered and judged, but some will not be allowed entrance into the Land of Israel for the millennial reign, i.e. they will be cast out of the kingdom of Heaven. But why will there be weeping and gnashing of teeth outside the land of Israel? That question will be answered as we consider a few of the passages that speak of the conditions outside the kingdom of Heaven.
Is. 60:2, “See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples but the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you”. Note the contrast between the darkness that covers the earth but not upon Israel.
Is. 33:24, “No one living in Zion will say, ‘I am ill’; and the sins of those who dwell there will be forgiven”. Note the geographical limitations of those who will be so blessed. .
Is. 32:18-20, “My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. Though hail flattens the forest and the city is leveled completely, how blessed you will be, sowing your seed by every stream, and letting your oxen and donkeys range free”. Note some catastrophes will occur, but not in Israel.
Is. 60:11-12,”Your gates will always stand open, they will never be shut, day or night, so that men may bring you the wealth of the nations- For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined”.
Is. 61:5-6, “Aliens will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast”.
I am suggesting that those who will be cast out of the kingdom of Heaven will live outside the Land of Israel and will not participate in the millennial blessings promised throughout the Old Testament. There will therefore, be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
But what about Matt. 13:42 where we read of a fiery furnace? That passage is found in verses 40-43 and reads, “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will weed out of His kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They 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 the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear”.
Does this passage tell us that there will be a literal huge furnace in the grave? I don’t think anyone interprets this as a literal furnace, it is a figure of speech. It is a metaphor emphasizing the misery that will be suffered by those who will be cast out of the kingdom of Heaven.
We read in Matt. 25:46, “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal”. There is no question but that this verse does speak of eternal punishment. But that seems to contradict everything that has been proved from Scripture as presented in this study. There are, of course no contradictions in the perfect word of God.
As is true of the passage in Luke 16 which concerns the rich man and Lazarus, this subject too requires a complete consideration. May I suggest the student of the Bible consider the paper on this subject Who Will Go Into Everlasting Punishment?
What I have tried to show in this paper is:
1. The Hebrew and Greek words translated “hell” do not refer to a place of torment where conscious people suffer in torment. It refers to the grave, or in the case of “Gehenna” to a place on earth where there are dead bodies, not living spirits. Or, in the case of “tartaroo” to a place reserved for angels .
2. Man does not have a soul, he is a soul. Therefore, we can not speak of the soul suffering in hell.
3. Sheol/ Hades is described in the Bible as a place of silence, not a place of suffering.
I believe that when man dies his body returns to dust and his spirit departs. The believer will live again in resurrection. The unbeliever in the dispensation of the mystery dies and his body goes back to the dust of the earth and his spirit departs, and that’s the end of him. In the above mentioned paper on the unbeliever (Will Unbelievers Be Raised For Judgment) I give the reasons for my belief that the unsaved of this dispensation are not raised for judgment.
I realize that these views are nontraditional. That fact in and of itself does not make it false, neither does it make it true. My prayer is that each one will “search the Scriptures to see if these things are true”.
This paper was written by Joyce Pollard.
If the reader would like to E-mail me with a response or a question, I would be happy to hear from you. My e-mail address is: Janjoyce@aol.com