As promised on my personal Facebook page I want to start a mini series on Hell.
This is one of those hot bottom topics when it comes to debating certain doctrines in the Christian faith. So it won’t be something that people can easily agree on. Nonetheless it will be good for us to establish whatever we believe and profess after subjecting it to objective review.
We should always ensure that our faith is standing on tested truth and not passed down theology that can’t be reviewed because we are simply trying to protect our ideologies of who God is and how he does he things.
The first thing to note is the shocking fact that the word “Hell” is not in the original language of the Bible. In all honesty this a bad translation coming the KJV and some older translations.
Now I must let you know that I grew up believing and teaching that hell was a place reserved by God to eternally torment those that reject Jesus.
Whenever we used the word “hell” we meant that is eternal conscious torture with no merciful pause or end to the suffering. So when we stated that “People choose hell,” what they really mean is “People choose never-ending fiery conscious agony.”
This installment will focus on scriptures references to the use of the word translated “Hell”
In the KJV “Hell” is mentioned 54 times. “Hell” is found 31 times in the KJV Old Testament where it is translated from the Hebrew word “Sheol.”
OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCES
The Old Testament uses the word “Sheol” to refer to a place in the depths of the earth. The expressions “go down” or “brought down” are used twenty times in connection with Sheol.
The “depths of Sheol” are mentioned six times (Deut. 32:22; Ps. 86:13; Prov. 9:18; 15:24; Isa. 7:11; 14:15).
Four times Sheol is described as the farthest point from Heaven (Job 11:8; Ps. 139:8; Isa. 7:11; Amos 9:2).
Often Sheol is parallel with the “pit” (Job 17:13-14; 33:18; Ps. 30:3; 88:3-4; Prov. 1:12; Isa. 14:15; 38:18; Ezek. 31:14-17).
Nine times it is parallel with death (2 Sam. 22:6; Ps. 18:4-5; 49:14; 89:48; 116:3; Prov. 5:5; Isa. 28:15,18; Hos. 13:14; Hab. 2:5).
Sheol is described in terms of overwhelming floods, water, or waves (Jonah 2:2-6).
Sometimes, Sheol is pictured as a hunter setting snares for its victim, binding them with cords, snatching them from the land of the living (2 Sam 22:6; Job 24:19; Ps. 116:3). Sheol is a prison with bars, a place of no return (Job 7:9; 10:21; 16:22; 21:13; Ps. 49:14; Isa. 38:10).
People could go to Sheol alive (Num. 16:30,33; Ps. 55:15; Prov. 1:12).
But nowhere do we see Sheol as a fiery place of torment.
In the KJV New Testament the word “Hell” is found 23 times. It is translated from the word “Hades,” which is the Greek equivalent of Sheol (the place of the dead), 10 times. It is translated from the Greek word” Tartaroo” once, and 12 times from “Gehenna.”
Now we must also know that Gehenna was a place that had become identified in Jewish minds as a dirty and ill-fated place where useless and evil things were destroyed.
It was a defiled place as it also became the garbage dump of Jerusalem. It was a place where fires burned continuously. Off course you would find repulsive and ugly worms ate at the garbage. That became the symbol of judgment in Jewish expression and writings.
Gehenna is used 12 times in the New Testament, 11 in the Gospels and once in James, which says the tongue is set “on fire by Gehenna.” The 11 in the Gospel are not speaking of final punishment, but of the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70. Every use of Gehenna (except for the one in James) is from Jesus speaking to Jews that live in or around Jerusalem. It is never used of Gentiles and never used outside the Gospels because Gehenna was the city dump outside Jerusalem.
So none of the KJV’s uses of “Hell” have anything to do with a fiery place of torment.
The NASB has the word “Hell” 13 times. ESV has it 14 times and Young’s Literal Translation does not have the word “Hell” in it, not once.
This fact alone should get to study and mirror the attitude of the Berean Christians.
We’ll take it from here in the next series…