There are three words translated “hell” in Scripture:
- Gehenna (Greek): The place of punishment (Matthew 5:22,29; 10:28; James 3:6)
- Hades (Greek): The abode of the dead (Matthew 11:23; 16:18; Luke 16:23; Acts 2:27)
- Sheol (Hebrew): The grave (Psalm 9:17; 16:10)
There are those who believe and teach that hell is a place of punishment, but say that the punishment is to be annihilated – to cease conscious existence. They cannot conceive that the punishment of the wicked will be conscious and eternal. If they are correct, then a man like Adolph Hitler, who was responsible for the death of millions, is being “punished” merely with eternal sleep. His fate is simply to return to the non-existent state he was in before he was born, where he doesn’t even know that he is being punished.
However, Scripture paints a different picture of hell. The rich man who found himself in hell (Luke 16:19-31) was conscious. He was awake and aware. He was able to feel pain, to thirst, and to experience remorse. He wasn’t asleep in the grave; he was in a place of “torment.” And for those who teach that this passage is simply a “parable,” not one time did Jesus ever use proper names in parables. No, this is an actual account of two men that died and had two different destinies.
If hell is a place of knowing nothing or a reference to the grave into which we go at death, Jesus’ statements about hell make no sense. He said that if your hand, foot, or eye causes you to sin, it would be better to remove them than to “go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:43-48).
The Bible refers to the fate of the unsaved with such fearful words as the following:
- “Shame and everlasting contempt” – Daniel 12:2
- “Weeping and gnashing of teeth” – Matthew 24:51
- “Everlasting punishment” – Matthew 25:46
- “Fire unquenchable” – Luke 3:17
- “Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish” – Romans 2:8-9
- “Everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” – II Thessalonians 1:9
- “Eternal fire…the blackness of darkness for ever” (Jude 7, 13)
- Revelation 14:10b-11 tells us the final, eternal destiny of the sinner: “…and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone…And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night…”
Hell is no joke. Some people who are not Christians think they are going to hell and there will be bright lights and a party time for all of eternity. WRONG! There will be outer darkness, torment, and weeping and gnashing of teeth. That’s why Jesus spoke of hell twice as much as He did heaven, as a warning not to go there. That’s also why Jesus died upon the Cross, to keep you and me out of hell IF we repent of our sins and receive Him as Savior and Lord. Thank God He took my hell for me!
Are you saved? If not, why not? Be saved today! Let us know if we can help you! If you are saved, the doctrine of hell should break our hearts, drive us to weep for the unsaved, and then motivate us to put feet to our prayers and plead with sinners to turn to the Savior (read II Corinthians 5:18-21).