The King James version of the Bible in Microsoft Word format has about 824,706 words. One of those words is repeated 54 times in 54 verses. That word is hell.
Yes, believe it or not, the word hell accounts for only 54 of the 824,706 words in the Bible. How could a word given such low priority in the Bible cause so much trouble ? You would think this would be an easy enough subject to understand and yet so few know the truth about hell.
Many surface readers and some well-meaning critics of the Bible think they understand what hell is and have based their conclusions about God on misunderstandings about hell.
The diligently, studious Christian, who believes that the Bible is the word of God, understands that not one person is burning in hell today. He or she has learned from the Bible that God will make no one immortal so that they can spend trillions of millenniums in burning flames.
The word hell in the Old Testament appears in 31 verses and is derived from the Hebrew word sheol. It is translated as grave, hell or pit throughout these verses. It means – Hades or the world of the dead. Where will you find dead people assembled together ? In a graveyard. The grave is the world of the dead. It is not a world of just bad people who are dead. It is not a world of simply good people who are dead. The grave is the world of all dead human beings. Hence, the word hell in the Old Testament means the grave.
Sometimes the word grave is referred to as the “pit”. In Isaiah 14:12-14, the Bible reveals why Lucifer fell from heaven and in Isaiah 14:15, we find out what will ultimately happen to him.
Isaiah 14:15 – Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
Contrary to popular belief, Lucifer (or the devil as he is also known) will not be in charge of hell. He will not even hold one pitchfork. Apparently, Lucifer, himself, will be brought down to the “sides of the pit” or hell as it called. What is really meant by “the sides of the pit” ? The Bible further explains itself…
Ezekiel 32:22 Asshur [is] there and all her company: his graves [are] about him: all of them slain, fallen by the sword:
Ezekiel 32:23 – Whose GRAVES ARE SET IN THE SIDES OF THE PIT, and her company is round about her grave: all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which caused terror in the land of the living.
Graves are usually set in the sides of a pit so it is easy to see why grave and pit are used to mean the same thing. In the Old Testament, hell or the pit is the same thing as the grave and this is where Lucifer will be brought down to. The devil will not be in charge of anything; not hell, not the pit and not the grave. The grave is his final destiny; someday he too, will be among the dead.
So what about the New Testament ? Doesn’t the New Testament teach that God will give eternal life to the unrighteous so they can live for billions of centuries in a fiery furnace where the devil is in charge ?
Why not ask Jesus Christ ? He seems to be an authority in the New Testament. He often stated that He was the Son of God. Wouldn’t someone who is related to God know about hell ? First let’s see what Jesus taught about death and the grave. His words are recorded in scripture.
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:28,29)
Jesus taught that the dead were in the grave and not immediately rewarded or punished after death. He said that there would be 2 future resurrections – one for those who did good and a separate one for those who did evil. Notice that Jesus said evil people were in the grave and that they would be resurrected to face damnation at some later point in time. Read the verse again.
Just to be sure we don’t misunderstand what Jesus believed about the dead, let’s consider another verse where He speaks about the resurrection of those who have done good.
And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. (Luke 20:34-36)
Jesus taught that dead people were in the grave; not in heaven and not in hell. He said that there would be 2 resurrections and that dead people would be raised in either the 1st or 2nd resurrection. This would depend upon whether they were good or evil people while they were alive. What Jesus taught about death and the grave was in perfect harmony with the Old Testament because the New Testament had not been written yet.
Christ was the only person in the New Testament to use the words hell and fire together. “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.” (Matthew 5:22)
This verse teaches us that there will be a judgment and there will be hell fire. We have already found that the word hell in the Old Testament means grave. How can a grave be on fire ? Where and when would a grave be on fire ? How is the judgment connected to hell fire ? The Bible gives us a glimpse of the scene.
(Revelation 20:12-15) And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
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.
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Notice what happens to those whose names are not written in the book of life. They are judged according to their un-Christlike works that have been recorded in the books of heaven. They are then resurrected to receive their punishment; the 2nd death in the lake of fire where death and hell will also be destroyed. Read again what happens to the grave or hell as it is called. It is cast into the lake of fire.
HELL CAST INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE = HELL FIRE.
God promises that both death and the grave will be destroyed. This is exactly what happens when death and hell are cast into the lake of fire.
The last enemy [that] shall be destroyed [is] death. (1 Corinthians 15:26) The Lord further promises –
I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O GRAVE, I WILL BE THY DESTRUCTION: (Hosea 13:14)
Death and the grave have always been enemies to life and are the appointed lot of human beings.
What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave ? (Psalms 89:48)
All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. (Ecclesiastes 3:20)
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: (Hebrews 9:27)
According to the Bible, after a person dies, at some later point in time, his or her name will come up in the judgment and the Christlike and un-Christlike works of his or her life are examined. He or she is later raised in the 1st resurrection to receive eternal life and the gift of immortality or raised in the 2nd resurrection to receive the punishment of the 2nd death and be destroyed in the lake of fire. Now we can understand what the Bible means when we read the following…
Blessed and holy [is] he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, Revelation 20:6
The second death is permanent. There will be no restoration or continuation of life anywhere at all for those who die the 2nd death. The punishment of the 2nd death will last forever. Death is the opposite of life. It is an everlasting punishment. It is not everlasting punishing. No one will ever be resurrected from the 2nd death. They will never live again. They will cease to exist after being destroyed in the lake of fire.
In fact, this is what Jesus meant when he said that both soul and body could be destroyed in hell. “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.” (Matthew 10:28) If something is destroyed, it does not continue to exist. The body and the soul can both be destroyed in the lake of fire. This is what is referred to as the 2nd death. This is the punishment for sin. It is the absence of life not a continuance of it.
What about the rich man in hell ? Do angels really carry beggars into Abraham’s bosom after they die ? Some people think so. Maybe they think that Jesus was teaching facts about hell when he spoke of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31. Perhaps, they are not familiar with one of the teaching methods that Jesus used.
All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: (Matthew 13:34) What is a parable ? A fictitious narrative of common life conveying a moral.
The parable of the rich man and Lazarus was the last of 3 parables that are found in Luke 15:11-16:31. All 3 parables were about “a certain” man and all 3 involve principles of stewardship. Unfortunately, many have tried to convert the parable of Lazarus and the rich man into a doctrinal teaching of the Bible.
The lesson of the parable is a lesson for today. “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” (Luke 16:31) There are those who choose to cling to the idea of an eternal life in eternal flames no matter what the Bible teaches.
No one is burning in hell today. It is not necessary for anyone to experience the lake of fire and the 2nd death. Heaven is another option. A Christlike character is the requirement. It is the only kind of character that could enjoy heaven and the only kind of character that could be trusted in heaven. We are given a lifetime, with the offer of God’s grace to develop this character before we die. Many people have different opinions about hell and punishment but only the Bible teaches what you have just read.