The Neglect of Hell
January 23, 2020
David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
Hell is a major and fundamental doctrine of the Bible. Jesus preached a lot about hell, but it is a neglected doctrine today, and this is one of the reasons why the fear of God is not before men’s faces. Take “Christian America,” for example. Even in the age of skepticism, a large percentage of Americans are church goers, but America doesn’t fear God because the vast majority of its pulpits don’t preach the fear of God. Hell is not the sweet, positive type of religious message that Americans want to hear, because they have been nurtured on cotton candy theology rather than the pure Word of God. If you listen to funeral sermons, you would think that everyone is in heaven, and that is emphatically not the case, for Jesus said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14), and, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3), and, “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).

We need a revival of preaching on hell so that sinners will see their destiny and repent and turn to Jesus Christ for salvation and walk in the fear of God.

Hell is the place of punishment and imprisonment for those who rebel against God. It was created for Satan and the rebellious angels (Mt. 25:41), but unsaved men go there as well (Mt. 25:41-46).

In the O.T. the word hell (
SHEOL) has two meanings. Sometimes “sheol” means the place where the bodies of the dead are laid (Ps. 6:5; Ec. 9:10; Isa.38:18, 19). The common Hebrew word for the grave is not sheol, but geburah. This word is used in such passages as Ge. 35:20; 50:5; Nu. 19:16; 2 Sa. 3:32; 1 Ki. 13:30. Usually, “sheol” refers to the place where departed spirits go (Ge. 37:35; De. 32:22; Ps. 9:17; 55:15; 30:3; Pr. 9:18; 15:24; 23:14; Isa. 5:14; 14:15; Eze. 31:16; 32:21, 27; Jon. 2:2). In the New Testament, “sheol” is translated by the Greek word “hades.” This is the word used in Acts 2:27, when Peter quotes from Psalm 16:10. Thus the “sheol” of the Old Testament is the “hades” of the New. That it had two compartments seems apparent from the fact that both the saved (David in Ps. 16:10) and the unsaved (all nations that forget God in Ps. 9:17) went to “sheol.” It appears that Christ described this compartmentalization in the account of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:23. That this is not a parable is obvious in that Christ did not call it a parable and in that He named the names of Abraham and Lazarus, something He never did in His parables. This is not a parable; it is an account of two men who died and went into eternity. The unsaved man went to hades and the saved man went to Abraham’s bosom. From hades, the rich man talked to Abraham who told him that there was an impassable gulf between the two places. These are probably the two parts or compartments in sheol or hades. Christ did not go to the place of torment. He went rather to paradise, as He promised the repentant thief on the cross, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Lu. 23:43). This probably refers to Abraham’s bosom. Matthew 12:40 says Christ went into “the heart of the earth.” This is what Paul is referring to in Ephesians 4:9, which says that Christ descended “into the lower parts of the earth.” Apparently this is the location of sheol or hades. When Christ rose from the dead, He announced His victory to the unsaved (1 Pe. 3:18-20), and He took the saved to heaven as trophies of His victory (Eph. 4:8-9). He emptied Abraham’s bosom. It is like a victorious king who rescues the captives and brings the captives and the loot on his victory parade. We see examples of this in Ge. 14:14-16 and 1 Sa. 30:3-34.

In the N.T., three Greek words are translated hell.
GEHENNA is translated “hell” nine times. (Mt. 5:29, 30; 10:28; 23:15, 33; Mk. 9:43, 45; Lk. 12:5) and is translated “hell fire” three times (Mt. 5:22; 18:9; Mk. 9:47). Historically it referred to the Hinnom Valley in Jerusalem, a valley used for idolatry in O.T. times and also as a place to burn garbage (2 Ki. 21:6; 2 Ch. 28:3; 33:6; Je. 7:31, 32; 19:1-6; 32:35). HADES is translated hell 11 times (Lu. 10:15; 16:23). It appears that Hades and Gehenna refer to the same place of judgment. The referenced passages describe this hell as a place of fire and conscious, unending torment.

The third Greek word translated “hell” is
TARTAROO (2 Pe. 2:4). This place is also described in Jude 1:6. It is the place of incarceration of some of the fallen angels. They “left their own habitation,” which was heaven. They “kept not their first estate,” which was holy obedience to God’s service. The word “angel” means “messenger,” and they were created to be ministering spirits (Heb. 1:13). These angels rebelled against their created purpose. They are “reserved in everlasting chains under darkness” (Jude 1:6). Pagan Greeks used tartaroo to describe a place of punishment for “the gods,” but the Bible is not referring to mythology. This is a real place where fallen angels are incarcerated to await the final judgment (“the judgment of the great day”). It is a place of chains and darkness. Another place where fallen angels are confined is “the bottomless pit” (Re. 9:1-3; 11; 11:7-8). which is the Greek abussos, the abyss, which was mentioned by the demons who inhabited the demoniac of the Gadarenes (Lu. 8:31). Satan will be incarcerated in the abussos for 1,000 years (Re. 20:1-3). We don’t know why some of the fallen angels are presently imprisoned and some are at liberty to do Satan’s bidding. A popular theory is that Peter and Jude are referring to the “sons of God” of Genesis 6:2-4 who cohabited with women and produced giants, but this is speculation. Jesus taught that angels do not marry (Mt. 22:30), and Genesis 6 says that the sons of God “took wives.” For angels to procreate with men and produce offspring would be contrary to God’s law of creatures reproducing only after their kind (Ge. 1:21, 25). The giants who were the offspring of this union were “mighty men” and not half man/half angel monsters. There were giants after the flood even though all of the people except Noah and his sons were destroyed (De. 2:20; 3:11). Giants and midgets are both possible within the genetic limitation of mankind, just as giant dogs and tiny dogs are possible within the genetic limitations of the dog family. The tallest man in modern history was Robert Wadlow, at 8 feet 11 inches (died in 1940). It is possible, and even probable, that these fallen angels were involved with the rebellion of the pre-flood days and were operating in wicked men with the objective of bringing God’s judgment on mankind. Compare Eph. 2:2, which says that the devil is “that spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience.” Thus, while these fallen angels did not have direct sexual relations with women, they were instrumental in corrupting human society and were cast into tartaroo as a result.

The Bible’s Description of Hell and the Lake of Fire: (1) “hell fire” (Mk. 9:47). (2) “the fire that never shall be quenched” (Mk. 9:43, 45). (3) “where the worm dieth not” (Is. 66:24; Mk. 9:44, 46, 48). (4) “an abhorring to all flesh” (Is. 66:24). (5) “tormented in this flame” (Lk. 16:24). (6) “everlasting destruction” (2 Th. 1:9). (7) “flaming fire taking vengeance” (2 Th. 1:8). (8) “everlasting punishment” (Mt. 25:46). (9) “perdition” (2 Pe. 3:7). (10) “tormented day and night forever and ever” (Re. 20:10). (11) “cast into the lake of fire” (Re. 20:15). (12) “tormented with fire and brimstone” (Re. 14:10). (13) no “rest day nor night forever and ever” (Re. 14:10). (14) “wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Mt. 13:42, 50). (15) “cast into a furnace of fire” (Mt. 13:42, 50). (16) “depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire” (Mt. 25:41). (17) “cast him into outer darkness” (Mt. 22:13).

What Are the Conditions in Hell as described in Christ’s account in Luke 16? This is not a parable, because parables do not name the names of people. (1) A place of torment (Lk. 16:23; Re. 20:10). (2) A place of consciousness and feeling (Lk. 16:23). (3) A place of fire (Lk. 16:24; Mt. 13:42, 50; Mk. 9:44-48; Re. 20:15; 14:10). (4) A place of no comfort or help or mercy (Lk. 16:24, 25). (5) A place of unfulfilled desires and unanswered prayers (Lk. 16:27-31). (6) A place of isolation (Lk. 16:26). (7) A place without hope of escape (Lk. 16:26). (8) A place of remembrance and regret (Lk. 16:27-28). (9) A place of punishment (Mt. 25:46). (10) A place of wailing and gnashing of teeth (Mt. 25:30; 24:51). (11) A place of worms (Mk. 9:44, 46, 48; Is. 66:24). (12) A place of banishment (2 Th. 1:9). (13) A place of darkness (2 Pe. 2:17; Jude 13).

Are the Wicked Annihilated in Hell? (1) Plain Bible passages say the sinner will suffer in hell eternally (Mt. 25:46; Mk. 9:43-48; Re. 14:10-11; 19:20; 20:10). (2) The Bible says the punishment of the unsaved will be worse than violent death (Mk. 9:42). This proves that the punishment is eternal torment rather than annihilation. (3) Jesus said it would have been better if Judas had never been born (Mt. 26:24). Jesus’ words make no sense if Judas was only going to be annihilated.

Christ’s Teaching on Hell. Christ preached much about hell. See Mt. 5:22; 12:23; 13:42, 50; 18:8-9; 23:33; 25:41, 46; Mk. 9:43-48; Lk. 16:19-31. The Lord preached so much about hell because he loves men and does not want them to go there.

No Sinner Has to Go to Hell. See Jn. 3:16; 1 Ti. 2:3-6; 2 Pe. 3:9.

The End of Hell. The occupants of hell will be resurrected to appear before the Great White Throne judgment and then be cast into the lake of fire (Re. 20:11-15).

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