Summary: What does the Bible say about hell?
THE BIBLE’S DESCRIPTION OF HELL
Biblical words translated “hell”:
• SHEOL (Hebrew)/HADES (Greek) – the place of the unrighteous between death and judgment.
• GEHENNA – the final place of the unrighteous after judgment.
The Greek word Gehenna derives its name from a deep ravine south of Jerusalem called the Valley of Hinnom. During the reigns of the wicked kings Ahaz and Manasseh, human sacrifices to the Ammonite god Molech were offered there. The area eventually became a continually burning city dump and later a figure for the place of final punishment.
“And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched’” (Mark 9:47-48).
Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14-15).
1. Hell is the destiny of every UNBELIEVER.
2. Hell is a place of unspeakable AGONY.
“...will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night...” (Revelation 14:10-11).
3. Hell will be WORSE for some.
“If the miracles that were performed in you [Capernaum] had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you” (Matthew 11:23b-24).
4. Hell will last FOREVER.
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” (Matthew 25:46). The parallel between “eternal life” and “eternal punishment” indicates that both states will be without end.
THE RICH MAN IN HELL
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire’
“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember than in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them, they will repent.’
“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead’” (Luke 16:19-31).
1. He was fully CONSCIOUS.
2. His eternal destiny was forever FIXED.
3. He knew his punishment was JUST.
4. He pleaded for someone to WARN his loved ones about hell.
Charles Peace was a notorious English burglar and murderer. He was about to be executed for his crimes when a chaplain came to visit him. The chaplain told Peace about heaven and hell. Peace replied: “Sir, I do not share your faith. But if I did—if I believed what you say you believe—then although England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would crawl the length and breadth of it on hand and knee and think the pain worthwhile, just to save a single soul from this eternal hell of which you speak.”
I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel (Romans 9:2-4).
HOW CAN A LOVING GOD SEND PEOPLE TO HELL?
1. God is both a God of LOVE and a God of RIGHTEOUSNESS.