Is there a place where the damned live in eternal agony in searing flames? Is there a place ruled over by an immortal, eternal anti-god and his demons?
The answer to this question is no. The place mentioned above does not, and has never existed.
To fully answer this question, we need to explain several things:
- What happens to a man after he dies?
- Where does the word “Hell” come from?
- What is God’s punishment for the wicked?
- Where did this doctrine of Hell, Devil and Demons come from?
What happens to a man after he dies?
First of all, the supposed existence of “Hell” is based upon the belief that there are people who will be there. The bible makes it clear however, that men, when they die, do not go to other realms of existence to enjoy bliss and punishment. They all, righteous and wicked, Good and bad, go to the grave where their thoughts cease until Christ resurrects them back to life.
- Psalms 146:4 His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
- Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing…Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished…
- Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
- 2 Peter 2:17 These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.
The bible continues that the cessation of thought in the grave is so complete, that men can’t even praise God, which is our whole purpose for being:
- Psalms 6:5 For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?
- Psalms 115:17 The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence.
- Psalms 88:10-12 ¶ Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah. 11 Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction? 12 Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
- Isaiah 38:18 For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. 19 The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day…
- Psalms 30:8 …go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth?
The state of man after he has died is metaphorically called sleep by God, Christ, the Apostles and the prophets. Just like we close our eyes in sleep and we don’t know what is going on around us until we have awoken; likewise, man in death is senseless and unknowing. For some this sleeping state is temporary while they await resurrection to life by Christ. For others who have never been baptized, the state of unconscious destruction is eternal:
Death referred to as sleep
- Psa 13:3 Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
- Luke 8:52 Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth. 53 And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.
- John 11:11-14 Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. 12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
- 1 Corinthians 15:51 ¶ Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible…
- 1 Thessalonians 5: 9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:13 ¶ But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. …15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Sometimes this sleep is eternal if they have never been baptized:
- Job 14:12 So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.
- Jeremiah 51:57 and they shall sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.
- Isaiah 26:14 They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise: therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish…
So, the bible is clear, that no one goes to a place described as hell, because they are all asleep in the grave. Unknowing, unthinking, beyond all pains and sorrow of this life or any other.
If no one can go to Hell, where do people get the understanding that a place called “Hell” exists?
Where does the word “Hell” come from?
The word “Hell” is a translation of a couple of Hebrew and Greek words, none of which mean a place where the damned are punished for all eternity. The translators of the King James Bible and other bibles were all influenced by the beliefs of the Catholic and Protestant Churches who had already formulated a belief in a place of terrible torment based upon the mixing of the teachings of Jesus Christ with the beliefs of the pagan churches.
When Constantine declared the Roman Catholic Church the supreme church of the Roman Empire, the Catholic church quickly absorbed the pagans, their temples, their idols, their beliefs and their holidays into Christianity to consolidate their position. What they ended up with afterwards in no way represented the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostles and the prophets.
One of these new doctrines included an underworld of torment ruled over by an anti-God called the Devil who strongly resembled the Roman God Pan (see the attached link for the Wikipedia Article on Pan). Pan was widely worshipped amongst the pagans with many physical attributes and character similarities to the Devil including horns on his head, the hind quarters of a goat, the ability to multiply himself into swarms of Pans (later turned to demons) and he was worshipped not in temples like all the other deities, but in caves (leading to his being the god of an underworld).
The devil was supposed to rule an underworld called “Hell”, where those rejected by the church would be tortured for all eternity. But the concept of Hell didn’t exist in the bible, and no words representing the concept of hell, so translators took the Hebrew word “sheol” (which literally means “the pit” or “the grave”) and retranslated it to “Hell”. Because it is impossible to translate the word “sheol” to Hell every time it appears (it wouldn’t make sense in the context of the chapter), you will find that the same word hebrew word “sheol” translated differently “Hell” or “Grave” based on the context of the verses around it. As you can see by this link, the same hebrew word Sheol is translated 31 times as “Hell” and 31 times as “grave” in the bible, this also should show how the translation of the word was manipulated to be translated two very different ways instead of just one
The other word the translators redefined are the Greek words “Hades” and “Gehenna” from the New Testament. In Greek mythology, Hades was the realm of the dead. All went there, not just the wicked and evil, but the righteous and virtuous as well. As such, it was a Greek word that could describe the common end of all men. Gehenna was a burning dump for the city of Jerusalem in the Valley of Hinnom, where Kings had sacrificed children to Moloch and Baal. It was the place for the refuse of the city of Jerusalem to be burnt and the place of disposal for men so wicked, they did not deserve a burial and were dumped there with the household trash. This word represents men who have earned the eternal contempt of God and the complete destruction of eternal death.
There are some parables in the bible (like the rich man and Lazarus which was a parable, not a literal story) that can be misconstrued to be teaching eternal torment, but God’s word does not contradict itself. Those very few bible verses are parables or misunderstandings of scripture. Contact us if you are looking for an explanation of a bible verse.
The beginning of this article showed bible verses that made it clear that the dead are not alive or conscious in any way after they have died. There is no place of eternal torment, there is no one who can be there, because all the dead are unconscious, not enjoying bliss or suffering eternal punishment. The word “Hell” is mistranslated from Hebrew and Greek words that do not support the concept of hell and a place of torment for the damned.
The hope of the Gospel is as follows:
- Understand the truth and get baptized. No unbaptized person has any hope of being in the kingdom of God. They will sleep in the grave forever. (Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned).
- Read your bible to learn God’s truth (I recommend the book “The Great Salvation” by Thomas Williams to aid in your bible study). The bible truth is very different from what the churches around you are preaching. We invite you to come study the bible with the Christadelphians and worship with us. Please contact us, and we will get someone for you to study with.
- Realize that when you die, you will sleep in the grave until Christ returns.
- This lifetime is your only opportunity to serve God. You will be judged by God on how you manifest him in this life, so follow his commands faithfully.
- God’s reward for the righteous is Eternal Life. Serving God for all eternity in his kingdom with the blessing of eternal life, health and power.
- God’s reward for wickedness is eternal destruction. The wicked will return to the grave, and to the dust for all eternity.
Thank you for allowing us to share this bible article with you!