Long But Not Eternal
The Harrowing Of Hell
The Case Against Hell
What Is Hell?
Mrs. Magillacutty Goes to Hell
*An Analytical Study of Words
Gehenna Gehenna Hades
Article on Gehenna by Craig Nolin
Craig's Website is Student of The Word
Depending on the usage, Gehenna represents either the literal valley or it represents the judgment that came out
of that Valley. There is good examples here of what Gehenna is, though what is not addressed and probably more
important is that the judgment represented more than what happened in 70AD, in fact I believe it was more talking
about what Paul said in Romans. According to Isaiah, Jeremiah and the Chronicles and the Kings, the judgment that
came out of Gehenna was the Israel, Judah, Jerusalem and the Temple being cut off and destroyed and Paul sets
this up the very reason why the Gentiles are grafted in. If it were not for Gehenna, there would be no
reconciliation of mankind and there would be no mercy upon the Gentile people
I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the
tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don't you know what the Scripture says in the
passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: "Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down
your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me"? And what was God's answer to him? "I have
reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal." So too, at the present time there is a
remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, as it is
written: "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to
this very day." And David says: "May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for
them. May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever."
Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression,
salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world,
and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!
I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope
that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection is the
reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the part of the dough offered as
firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.
If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the
others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do,
consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, "Branches were broken
off so that I could be grafted in." Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do
not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided
that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will
be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by
nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the
natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!
I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced
a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
"The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them
when I take away their sins."
As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are
loved on account of the patriarchs, for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable. Just as you who were at one time
disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become
disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God's mercy to you. For God has bound all
men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths
beyond tracing out! "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?" "Who has ever given
to God, that God should repay him?" For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of
darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
2 Peter 2:4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of
darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
This is the only instance of tartaroo being translated hell. I have read that this term was borrowed from Greek
mythology being the lowest part of Hades. There is really not a lot of information in the Bible about it. Whatever it
is, it seems to be a holding place for the sinning angels as they await their judgment.
How many people have you tried to keep out of Hell today?
When I started my search for the truth about hell I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the word hell
was not in the original languages of the Bible at all. I am curious to know which translation first had the
word hell in it. If you know, send me some feedback, please. .
There are four words in the Bible that are translated hell. They are:
1. Sheol - Hebrew (equivalent to Greek Hades)
2. Hades - Greek
3. Gehenna - Greek
4. Tartaroo - Greek
Sheol is the Hebrew word that is translated hell among other words in the Old Testament. It is also
translated grave and pit. Everybody went to Sheol when they died, the good, the bad, and the ugly :)
According to Hebrew history, going to heaven or hell (traditional view) when they died was not something
they were concerned with.
Here are a couple of examples of the good going to Sheol:
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 the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him. (Jacob) Gen 42:38
This is prophetic of Christ, Himself:
For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption Ps 18:5.
For great [is] thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell. Ps 86:13
An example of the bad going to Sheol:
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 the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have
provoked the LORD. Nu 16:33
We'll call these guys the "ugly":
The wicked shall be turned into hell, [and] all the nations that forget God. Ps 16:10 Note: it is easy to see how this
word "hell" could be misunderstood to be a place of punishment for the wicked because of how it is used. But, this word "Sheol" is not
the same word used for the "hell" scriptures in the New Testament that refer to correctional punishment... That word is "Gehenna". It has
a completely different meaning than Sheol. Proper translation clears a lot of misunderstandings up.
This may be the one lots of people are familiar with:
Therefore hell 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.
It's obvious, isn't it, that "hell" in the Old Testament is not the hell we were taught about?
It means, the state of death or the unseen. Death, in many instances, was punishment for the wicked,
Hades in the New Testament is the same as Sheol in the Old Testament. When the Old Testament was
translated into Greek, Sheol was translated Hades. This is the "hell" that Jesus said could not prevail
against the church. It is also the "hell" that is to be cast into the lake of fire but before that is to be
emptied. The rich man found himself in this particular hell when he died.
Hades, like Sheol, is not always translated hell. We have probably all heard Paul's famous saying, "O death,
where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Death and grave are both translated from Hades. It
wouldn't have done much to further the teaching of endless hell, though, if Paul had said, O hell, where is
thy victory, would it?
And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works,
which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. Mt 11:23 Here,
Jesus tells a whole city that it will be brought down to hell, or brought to nothing. History bears this out, it was destroyed.
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell
shall not prevail against it. Mt 16:18
And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 1Co 15:55 Death and grave are translated from Hades in
I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of
death. Re 1:18
And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell 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. Re 6:8
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in
them: and they were judged every man according to their works. Re 20:13
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
Geenna or...(Gehenna Latin form)
Gehenna, for me, is probably the most interesting of all the "hell" words. Not long after I discovered that
there were people who did not believe in eternal torment or endless hell, I was talking on the phone with
Dr. Harold Lovelace, a teacher of universal reconciliation, about this wonderful discovery I had been
privileged to make. He was the one to point out to me that after Jesus had condemned the Pharisees to
hell in Matthew 23, He then, told them that they would not see him again UNTIL they said, "blessed is he
that comes in the name of the Lord". (that's called repentance from hell)
I have been a Bible reading Christian for 30 years now, and until Dr. Lovelace pointed that out to me, I
never one time noticed it. That was astounding to me. And was also proof that we read the Bible with the
bias that we are programmed with. Up until about five years ago, I never considered the possibility of hell
having an end to it even after reading Matthew 23. It's as plain as the nose on your face but I couldn't see
Read the whole chapter of Matthew 23 then pay close attention to the last verse. Can you see it? Romans chapter 11 goes hand in hand
with it. Amazing!!
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause 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 hell fire. Mt 5:22
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 hell .Mt 5:29
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 hell. Mt 5:30
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 hell. Mt 5:30
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 hell fire.
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 hell than yourselves. Mt 23:15
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Mt 23:33
A few of things to notice about the scriptures listed above:
1. Do you see anything about accepting Jesus as savior?
2. Who was Jesus talking to about Hell? Sinners? His chosen people?
Matthew uses Gehenna more than Mark or Luke. John doesn't use it at all. James uses it one time.
Here is how James used it:
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 hell. James 3:6 Literal fire? That would
give new meaning to "burn the hairs off your tongue". Think about it.
** Jew's View of Gehenna **
I asked the question of a Jewish person just what did the first century Jews consider Hell(Gehenna) to be.
This was their reply to me.
That's a complicated question, but the answer isn't "hell" in the modern (or Medieval) Christian sense.
First thing you need to appreciate is that Jesus was himself a Pharisee. The term means, merely, those
Jews who tended to follow the Rabbinate as religious leaders, rather than the Priesthood (the
Sadducees). The roots and context and history of the split are complicated, but to cut a long story short,
the Sadducee party later on fell from prominence, and essentially all modern Jews are Rabbinic
(Pharisees) - so the term no longer has any "meaning" in the modern world.
All that said, there is still not any one answer. The reason is because, on this one, neither the Pharisees
nor the Sadducees nor the Essenes (a third group completely) nor the Zealots nor any other Jewish group
of that time or any other time, has ever had a clear and unambiguous picture of the Afterlife. Like, we're
not even agreed that there even IS one, in the Christian sense. There could be, and some think so, but
maybe there isn't, and maybe there's an earthly resurrection "in the flesh" and, well, even if you pick one
of those there are fifty different versions of how it might work. Bottom line, we don't know. See JewFAQ
for the modern range of opinions.
So. What was Gehenna to a 1st-century CE Pharisee?
Certainly it was a valley, Ge-Hinnom, outside of Jerusalem. This was a despised place which had been, in
various eras, a place of human sacrifice by the worshippers of Moloch; the place of execution of criminals
by the Jewish courts; the garbage dump; a permanent open garbage-fire, sort of an iron-age incinerator;
the burial ground of executed criminals; and generally speaking the worst place known to Jerusalemites
and a figure of speech meaning "the worst thing anybody can think of, nasty, accursed, dangerous,
unholy, despised, defiled a thousand ways, and generally the destination of all things unwanted."
Today, it's just a neighborhood in the modern urban sprawl, southeast of the Old City. If you take a
Christian tour of Jerusalem, you will certainly visit Golgotha/Calvary Hill. From there, look across at the
Temple Mount; that valley in between is Gehenna.
It was a figure of speech, meaning "everything bad." To "go to Gehenna" was to be taken out with the
trash, at best.
What did they think it meant, on a "spiritual" level? Tricky. Ideas of the afterlife were just beginning to be
assembled in Judaism, and as that link makes clear, we sort of never finished choosing a model, in large
part because our texts give almost no clues at all, and what clues DO exist have been looked at differently
by different readers. But we have no "hell" and no "salvation" and no "damnation" and we never did.
The only reference I can find in Mat ch 23, is the reference in v 15 (trans: KJV) where the Greek word
rendered as "hell" is geennes, "Gehenna":
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 hell than yourselves.
Here we have a fascinating point; the period of proselytizing just preceding the first C. CE was the only
active period in Jewish history, and it was a disaster - it brought us King Herod, of all the prize-packages
the world had to offer us. So Jesus is not only calling them hypocrites and generally engaging in an
extended excoriation of how badly they've failed their own standards - he's also pointing out how they've
gone outside of the traditional Jewish "fold" to recruit what has become a horribly cruel dictator.
A "child of Gehenna" or more probably in the Aramaic "bar gehinnom" - "son of Gehenna" is a person of
the "lineage" or "nation" or "substance" of Gehenna. Compare "bar Mitzvah" or "bar Kochba."
It has no reference at all to an eternal destination; rather it is a term of abuse meaning, roughly, "spawn of
the garbage heap."
Or, to use the fuller turn of phrase, "twofold more the bar-Gehinnom than yourselves."
I guess you could say, he wasn't really very impressed with them that day ;-)
I believe it is very safe to say that we have been taught wrongly when it
comes to Hell. Our churches use the threat of Hell to evangelize the
Jesus used it to warn His followers not to become useless in His
kingdom. Salt needs to be salty!
Would you love someone because they threaten to torture if you don't?
Or, would you love someone because they gave their own life to save
Think about it and study the scriptures to see if what you have been
taught about Hell is true.
Try to see God as a father. Paul
told the idol worshipers in Athens,
"we are all His children". He was
quoting one of their own poets,
true enough, but if that had not
been a true statement he missed
a really good opportunity to offer
correction and he offered none.
Also note that not once did he say
anything remotely close to the
notion of hell to those heathens.
Being the one chosen to carry the
gospel to the gentiles, why would
Paul not warn them of hell?
Based on the knowledge that God
is the father of all creation and the
fact that He said all will come to
know Him, that all men
everywhere will repent, we should
be able to at least question the
teaching of eternal torment without
feeling that we are being disloyal
to the Bible.( I see God as father of
all in that He created all, I don't
believe that He indwells all men
John said God's wrath abides on
those who do not believe. Paul
said God's wrath is revealed from
Heaven when He gives people
over to their own desires. Proverbs
says there is a way that seems
right to a man but the end of that
way is death. Paul said to turn a
man over to Satan for destruction
of the flesh that his spirit may be
saved. Isaiah said that when the
judgments of God are in the earth
it's inhabitants will learn
righteousness. Paul said Godly
sorrow works repentance.
* Are you seeing a pattern? *
Could it be that God intends for
His wrath to abide on one until
Could it be that He gives them
over to their own reprobate mind
until they see that their way that
seems so right is only bringing
death and destruction and
Could it be that the wayward living
of your prodigal son and it's
consequences are bringing him
right back to the safety and security
and love of his heavenly Father in
this life or the next?
Remember, it's in Hell that the
Pharisees have the change of
heart that causes them to say
"blessed is he that comes in the
name of the Lord".
(1) Early Old Testament
view: Everyone returns to
dust and goes down to
(2) Later Old Testament
view: Book of the Daniel
contains the first
unequivocal mention of
resurrection, and life after
death. (Before such ideas
appeared in the very late
Hebrew book of Daniel,
those same ideas had
already appeared in the
holy books of
religion of the Persians
who allowed the Hebrews
to return to their homeland
after having been held
captive by the
(3) Evangelical scholars
disagree on what the New
concerning the afterlife. In
fact, Zondervan published
a debate between three
such scholars, titled,
THREE VIEWS ON THE
evangelicals hold to
eternal heaven and hell,
others hold to a temporary
hell which burns souls to
death so they suffer only
finite punishment, and the
third view is based on
hints of universalism in
the N.T.(from" Sheol and the
In Matthew chapter 23
verse 15 Jesus calls the
Pharisees children of Hell and
their converts twice the children
of Hell that they are.
In verse 33 He asks them, "how
can you escape the damnation of
Ahh, but look what He tells them
in verse 39...
"you won't see me again until you
say..blessed is He that comes in
the name of the Lord"
Every knee will bow and every
tongue will confess that Jesus is
Lord. Everyone, from the serial
killer to the goody two shoes
sitting on the church pew judging
everybody else. We can bow now
and rule and reign with Christ or
we can stiffen our neck and
experience God's judgment, and
be stripped of everything. But, in
the end we all will bow, we all will
know the Lord.
All of the Hell words in Matthew
23 are from the Greek word
Jesus is a Jew speaking to Jews.
It just makes sense that if we
want to understand "Hell" as He
spoke of it here, we need to know
what those 1st-century Jews
considered it to be. Right?
Doesn't that make more sense
than trying to force our traditional
English definition on it?
**(see letter from a Jew
answering this question on right)
Think about it...
If those Pharisees considered
Hell to be a place of eternal
torment, where, in the Old
Testament, did they get that
Daniel 12:2 is the first reference
in the Old Testament to indicate a
resurrection of rewards and
punishments and he just calls it
being raised to everlasting
shame and contempt.
It is interesting to note that Daniel
was a later book to be written
and it was written after the
Hebrews came out of exile in
Babylon, where they did believe in
Gehenna was referred to in the
Old Testament as the Valley of
Hinnom or the Valley of the Son of
Hinnom. This is a literal valley
outside of Jerusalem that was
used as a trash dump in Jesus'
day. It is also where many
children we offered to the god
Molech as human sacrifices. In
condemning this heinous
practice, God, through the
prophet Jeremiah said it never
entered His mind to do such
things. The first two pictures at
the top of the page are of Gehenna
Perhaps this is something
close to what Gehenna
looked like in Jesus' day.
The trash dump.
It was also the place where
babies were sacrificed to
the god Moloch
Isaiah 66:24 speaks of the
national judgment of Israel in
Tophet or the valley of Hinnom
And they shall go forth, and look
upon the carcases of the men
that have transgressed against
me: for their worm shall not die,
neither shall their fire be
quenched; and they shall be an
abhorring unto all flesh.
This scripture is most likely why
some believe that the saints will
be able to look over into Hell and
see people burning in agony. The
word "carcases" seems to go
completely unnoticed because of
the preconceived notion of