Sunday, July 24, 2005

Paul's Hell

This is a great article on what Paul had to say about Hell. It's should be considered very authoritative because it's written by the father of the actress on "Wings".

Here is the link

Bible Study: Research


Several years ago I was asked by a professor to write a paper on "Everything That The Apostle Paul Said About 'Hell Fire'." That task, to me, would be easy. For Paul had written most of the New Testament. For out of twenty six books, Paul wrote fourteen of them. And he told his listeners in Acts 20:27, "For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." So, in my thinking, "Hell" was a part of "the counsel of God" and I had Paul's seven sermons in Acts and his fourteen books of the New Testament to gather my information from. With confidence, I moved forward and found a poem that I thought would be fitting.

  • Hell! The prison house of despair,
  • Here are some things that won't be there;
  • No flowers will bloom on the banks of hell,
  • No beauties of nature we love so well;
  • No comforts of home, beauty and song,
  • No friendship of joy will be found in that throng;
  • No children to brighten the long weary night;
  • No love nor peace nor one ray of light;
  • No blood washed soul with face beaming bright,
  • No loving smile in that region of night;
  • No mercy, no pity, pardon nor Grace,
  • No water; Oh God, what a terrible place!
  • The pangs of the lost no human can tell,
  • Not one moment's ease... there's no rest in hell.

  • Hell! The prison house of despair,
  • Here are some things that will be there:
  • Fire and brimstone are there, we know,
  • For God in His Word hath told us so;
  • Memory, remorse, suffering and pain,
  • Weeping and wailing, but, all in vain;
  • The blasphemer, swearer, hater of God,
  • Christ-rejecter while here on earth trod;
  • The murder, gambler, drunkard and liar,
  • Will have their part in the Lake of Fire;
  • The filthy, the vile, the cruel and mean,
  • What a horrible mob in Hell will be seen!
  • Yes, more than humans on earth can tell,
  • Are the torments and woes of Eternal Hell!

Now, I have my poem. Next, I began to look in the Book of Acts at the thirty-one speeches of Paul.

  1. In the Synagogue at Antioch (13:16-41)
  2. Gentiles in the city (13:44-49)
  3. In the Synagogue at Iconium (14:1-3)
  4. At Lystra (14:15-18)
  5. At Derbe (14:21)
  6. At Perga (14:25)
  7. At Antioch (14:27)
  8. At Phenice & Samaria (15:3)
  9. At Jerusalem (15:4)
  10. At Jerusalem (15:12)
  11. At Antioch (15:30-35)
  12. Through cities (16:4,5)
  13. At Macedonia (16:13-15)
  14. In the Synagogue at Thessalonica (17:1-4)
  15. In the Synagogue at Berea (17:10-12)
  16. At Athens on Mars' Hill (17:22-31)
  17. In the Synagogue at Corinth (18:1-4)
  18. In a house next to the Synagogue (18:7-11)
  19. In the Synagogue at Ephesus (18:19-21)
  20. In the Synagogue at Antioch (18:24-28)
  21. At Ephesus (19:1-8)
  22. At the school of Tyrannus (19:9-12)
  23. At Troas (20:7-12)
  24. At Miletus (20:17-35)
  25. On the stairs before the castle (22:1-21)
  26. Before Felix (24:10-21)
  27. Before Felix & Drusilla (24:24,25)
  28. Before Agrippa (26:2-29)
  29. Through a tempestuous wind on the sea (27:21-26)
  30. In Rome (28:23-29)
  31. In his own hired house (28:30,31)

To my amazement, I found that he never mentioned the subject of "Hell" in any speech that was recorded in Acts. However, to me, that was fine. I had fourteen books of the New Testament to look into, that contained everything we needed to know. As I began to go through each Epistle that Paul wrote, my disappointment began to worsen. I found that in his intention to "not shun" from declaring unto them "all the counsel of God," he never mentioned "Hell" in those great spiritual counsels to all Christians about the fate of the lost.

I found one place (First Corinthians 15:55) where he concluded a statement on the resurrection and asked, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave (hades), where is thy victory?" However, no fire was connected with this "grave" and it was never mentioned again by Paul.

I had heard Evangelists and Pastors say that there is more in the New Testament about Hell than there is about Heaven. Now, what am I to do with this surprising, new found information? I looked up the details of the creation of the English word, "hell." It is from the Anglo-Saxon hel, or (the genitive case) helle = a hidden place, from the Anglo-Saxon helan = to hide or cover. Our word, helmet is a covering for the head. "Hell" is the cover that hides the dead from the view of those who are still living.

I found that the Greek word, hades was translated 31 times in the Old Testament as "grave" and 3 times as "pit." However, this did not help me. I was looking for a place of FIRE that was kindled by brimstone. The Hebrews believed that Hell was the world of no sound. Whereas the Greeks thought of Hell as the world of no sight. One was quiet. The other was dark. One was empty of sound. The other was empty of light. The Hebrew word, sheol was translated 65 times, in the Old Testament, into three English words, "grave" (31 times), "pit" (3 times) and "hell" (31 times). "The grave" is obviously the best rendering, meaning the state of death or the act of dying, as an examination of all the occurrences of both words will show. However, "Pit" means "the grave" that it may at once be substituted for it in Numbers 16:30-33 and Job 17:16.

"The grave" (not "a grave") exactly expresses the meaning of both Sheol and Hades. "The grave" is always down: as to place, it is in the earth. It is always in contrast to the state of the living. It is associated with...

  1. mourning: (Gen. 37:34,35)
  2. sorrow: (Gen. 42:38; 2 Sam. 22:6; Psalm 18:5; 116:3)
  3. fright and terror: (Num. 16:27, 34)
  4. mourning: (Isa. 38:3,10,17,18)
  5. silence: (Psalm 6:5; 31:17; Ecc. 9:10)
  6. no knowledge: (Ecc. 9:5,6,10)
  7. punishment: (Num. 16:29,34; 1 Kings 2:6,9; Job 24:19; Psalm 9:17; Ecc. 9:10)
  8. corruption: (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27,31)
  9. only resurrection is the exit from it: (Psalm 16:11; Acts 2:27,31; 13:33-37; 1 Cor. 15:55; Rev. 1:18; 20:5,13,14)

I discovered that the English word, "hell" in the New Testament was translated from only two Greek words, gehenna and hades. The Hebrew word, sheol was translated into the Greek to hades. Hades appears 11 times in the New Testament. Two verses prove to me that Sheol and Hades are one and the same.

  1. "For thou wilt not leave my soul in sheol." Psalms 16:10
  2. "Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hades." Acts 2:27

If the words sheol and hades mean grave, then it cannot mean a literal burning hell in the way most modern preachers think of it. It seemed that the translators of the King James Version translated it grave when it spoke of good men going into sheol. And, they translated it hell if it referred to evil men going there. The translation from sheol and hades to the English word, pit is a mystery.

I had been told that all of the Old Testament Saints went into "Paradise," awaiting the resurrection of Christ. If that is the case, they are still there if the Parousia did not happen in AD 70. After the resurrection of Christ, Peter said in Acts 2:34, "For David is not ascended into the heavens." I carefully examined every one of the seventy-six occurrences of sheol and hades and came to the conviction that not one of those verses suggest that the departed human spirit ever went to sheol. The word spirit never appears in connection with sheol or hades.

We have looked at the words Sheol and Hades. Now, let us look at the word, Gehanna.

The Greek word, Gehenna is a transliteration (not a translation) of the Hebrew, Gai' Hinnon, i.e. the Valley of Hinnon or "the Valley of the sons of Hinnon," This location, just South of Jerusalem was named by the Hebrews, Tophet. It was where the fires burned constantly, through which children were passed in the worship of Moloch. Tophet, the Hebrew word used, was a particular place in this valley of Hennon. When our Lord Jesus Christ walked in Jerusalem, the idolatry of Moloch had ceased, but the fires were still continually burning there for the destruction of the rubbish of Jerusalem. The dead bodies of the sick, dying and poor were thrown into the dump and the fire (that seemingly was not quenched) and worms (that seemingly did not die) worked continually on the dead bodies and compost. The Prophets warned Jerusalem that the city that forgot God would be turned into "ge-henna" (the valley of Hinnon). 2 Kings 23:10 - Isa. 30:33 - Jer. 7:31,32 - 19:11-14

After Titus destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70, for six months, the rubbish was pushed into the Valley of Hinnon. Not one stone of the adjoining Temple was left standing upon another. The judgment was so thorough that nothing was left to identify that a city had ever been there. The city was destroyed by being plowed under by farmers and the stones moved into the Valley of Hinnon. It actually was pushed into "hell," covered up and hidden from view.

In the New Testament, Ge'enna occurs 12 times and is always rendered "hell."

  • Matt. 5:22,29,30 "..whosoever shall say, 'Thou fool,' shall be in danger of hell fire." (ge'enna fire) "...and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell." (ge'enna) "...not that thy whole body should be cast into hell." (ge'enna).
  • Matt. 10:28 "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." (ge'enna)
  • Matt. 18:9 "...rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire." (ge'enna fire).
  • Matt. 23:15,33 " make him twofold more the child of hell..." (the son of ge'enna = Gehenna's people); "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" (same damnation of the Gehenna people).
  • Mark 9:43-48 repeated statements: "...go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched." (The Valley of Hinnon was where the worms lived in the dead bodies that were thrown daily into the fires of the trash dump.)
  • Luke 12:5 "...Fear Him, Which after He hath killed, hath power to cast into hell..." (the Gehenna)
  • James 3:6 "...(the tongue)... is set on fire of hell." (The tongue is a little camp fire that will cause the whole forest to be destroyed. It has it's origin in the garbage dump, Ge'enna.)

So, if these words are speaking of gravedom or the realm of the dead, what does the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus mean?

In the past, I had been asked to preach on the subject of Hell. In preparation, I took the story in Luke 16:19-31 to get my ideas of what Hell was like. Ninety-nine per cent of all that I had ever heard was taught from this story. This story was told by Jesus and seemed to be the state of the believer and unbeliever at death. However, there were some questions that I could not answer.

  1. Why was a rich man chosen to represent the wicked? Did money have anything to do with it?
  2. Why was a beggar, covered with sores, chosen to represent the believer and the man of faith?
  3. Was the beggar a righteous man? If so, why was he a beggar? (Psalm 37:25)
  4. Why did not the beggar look to God for a full meal instead of looking to the rich man for crumbs?
  5. Can it be true that the beggar represents the true man of faith? Nothing was said of his faith.
  6. Did the angels carry the beggar to Abraham's bosom? Is this what happens at death?
  7. If the rich man saw Lazarus and Abraham in bliss, could they not see the rich man in torment?
  8. If not, why did the rich man have better eyesight?
  9. If so, how could Lazarus and Abraham see a man in torment and be happy?
  10. Did Lazarus have a finger (before resurrection) to dip in water? Or was this after the resurrection?
  11. Did the rich man (before resurrection) have a tongue?
  12. If they did not have tongues and fingers, what kind of water was being asked for?
  13. Why did the rich man appeal to Abraham for mercy?
  14. Was Abraham himself or God?
  15. Was Abraham tormenting him?
  16. Would I preach from verse 25 as a message for today? What would it mean?
  17. Are positions in this life reversed in the life to come?
  18. If we get good things in this life, will we get evil things in the life to come?
  19. Why did Abraham say to the rich man, "My Son?"
  20. Was the bosom of Abraham a literal or a figurative place?

The only facts that come from this story that can stand the test of Scripture is the statement that came from Abraham's mouth. "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them (the Rich Man's brothers) hear them. And he (the Rich Man) said, 'Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." (Luke 16:29-31) This group of Hebrews to whom Jesus was speaking believed in the resurrection OF the dead. This included the whole Nation. However, they did not believe that one would rise FROM the rest of the dead, leaving the nation behind.

I decided to leave this story alone in preparing for my message on Hell, until I found out what it was talking about. I understood that there were many stories like the Rich Man and Lazarus in the traditions of the Jews. The Jews believed that the rich men were blessed by God and were the sons of Abraham. If a Jew was poor, then he was not blessed by the God of Abraham. My thought, back then, was that before I use the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus to prove what is actually going on in a fire filled Hell, and a heaven with it's happy occupants looking over into hell and talking with the lost, they were going to have to wait until I can get a better grip on the story, or they will have to wait until I get it right.

Some wise man said, "Give light, and students will find their own way." This is enough "light" to help you get started in your search into the subject of everything that the Apostle Paul said about Hell Fire. I apologized to the professor that I had no information on the subject. He said, it is as important to know that nothing is said about something as well as it is to know the tangible facts concerning that something. He gave me a "well done" for my efforts.


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