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Concerning The Doctrine of Hell

A response to an online forum question

 By Darren Owen

As concerning the doctrine of hell and matters of judgement the following should be considered,

"I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you ALL the counsel of God." Acts 20:26,27

Ezekiel 33 declares that it was the responsibility of the watchmen to declare unto the people judgement to come. If Paul failed to declare eternal punishment, he is guilty before God.

No where does Paul teach an eternal conscious punishment in all his epistles. Epistles which I might add are the establishing of FUNDAMENTALS to the new believer.

We are even told of Paul to "Preach the Word" and in so doing, rightly divide that we may hold fast the form of sound words, which we have heard of Paul.

Paul establishes time and again, that the consequences of Sin is DEATH. No more, no less.

"The wages of sin is DEATH."

Now lets get real here for a moment folks. I mean if the idea of a punishment as severe as that being preached today were real, then NO MAN in pure conscience would omit this from his teaching. In fact, if you knew for certain that a man or woman when dead and without Christ were to be thrown into a fire that would torment and cause agony beyond imagination, I suspect that you would tell every man woman and child you knew of this consequence WITHOUT CEASING. Yet Paul does not. Which begs the question, why not?

It has been said earlier that Paul states that non believers will be punished with everlasting destruction, and that this means hell. Note, this verse does not say, everlasting torment. I believe it had been said earlier to not change the Word of God.

In Bullingers critical lexicon he states that the word destruction means:

Ruin, death; that which causes death, a ruin to others, destructive, deadly.

There appears to be a theme, namely, DEATH, as in the wages or consequence of sin is DEATH. Nowhere does Paul when teaching the fundamentals of the consequence of sin, mention hell. Curious ...

The problem with man, WAS his sin, which in turn caused death. A death which Christ took in our place and shed the BLOOD necessary for forgiveness.

It is HIS BLOOD that justifies us (Rom 5:9)

It is HIS DEATH that reconciled us (Rom 5:10, 2 Cor 5:18-20

And it it his RESURRECTION (LIFE) that SAVES us. (Rom 5:10)

Nowhere in the dynamics of the cross is there mentioned a penalty of suffering or burning in hell to take away our sins.

Have we not learned anything from the Old Testament as to the sacrifice?
It was the death of an innocent animal and the BLOOD that was poured over the mercy seat to cover the law that the God required. There was no torture or torment for the animal to remit those sins. The burnt offering showed the distinction of the animal for it was DEAD and PERISHED in the fire. It was not burned alive. It was the DEATH and the BLOOD!


Without the shedding of blood is no remission of sins.

It is UNBELIEF today that is the problem and not sin. And if a man chooses to not believe, that is his CHOICE, and he will not see life. He will not have a resurrection.

"He that hath the Son, hath life, he that hath not the Son of God, hath NOT LIFE." 1 John 5:12

And God has giving him free will to make such a choice. But to say that if that man chooses to reject Christ, then he will suffer an everlasting punishment of torment in fire is not a choice, it is in fact, a sick and unjust God who would punish a man whose sins had been forgiven.

To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.  2 Co 5:19

Christ died for the ungodly and is no longer imputing trespasses against them, and that means YOU, ME and the sinner next door who does not believe.

Believe or be tortured is not the will of a loving God who gives all men free choice. History revealed an inquisition with much the same mentality. Yet God is clear, thses horrible thoughts have never entered into his mind..

 And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart. Jer 7:31

No, God says that those who by their own free will decide not to choose Chriat as the Savior will die and return to dust and be remembered no more. As in not in the book of Life or in the Generation of Christ. (note, sing. compare the only two books of generations, Gen 5:1 -- plural as in all die and Mt 1:1 singular as in all shall be made alive. )

"The preaching of the cross is to them that PERISH foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. " 1 Cor 1:18

It may be asked, what does perish mean?
Yes it is the Greek word for destroy, but let us look at what Paul says it means in the English.

12: Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13: But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
14: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
15: Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
16: For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
17: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
18: Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

Paul makes it clear that all BELIEVERS who have died have perished if Christ be not raised.  ( Note, unbelievers are NEVER said to sleep) Why, because they would not have a resurrection, (LIFE). Paul continues, and what follows is the greatest chapter in all the bible on resurrection.

19: If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
20: But now is Christ risen from the DEAD, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
21: For since by man came DEATH, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. (LIFE)
22: For as in Adam all DIE, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (Note IN CHRIST)

26: The last enemy that shall be destroyed is DEATH.


Let it mean what it says where it says it.

One last thought about hell where scriptures were used which plainly use the word Gehenna and not hades. For instance,

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 (Gk. gehenna).

Here the text plainly states the soul and body would be DESTROYED and not tormented in gehenna.

I would normally find it unecessary to draw attention to the following verses considering the company of believers on this board, but...

21: Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
22: 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.(Gk. gehenna)

The Judgement here refers to an inferior court that could condemn to death by the sword.

The council was known as the Sanhedrin and had the additional power of condemning to death by stoning, which was a great ignominy to a Jew. Moreover, the Sanhedrin could condemn a man to be denied burial, and be cast after death into the valley of Hinnom, the city dump as it were, to be an abhorring to all flesh.

This is the same idea that is given in Isaiah when in 66:24 he says:

24: And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.

Note the verse says carcasses or DEAD BODIES.

as in:

But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcass trodden under feet. Isa 14:19

Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all DEAD CORPSES. Isa 37:36

The idea here is that a Jew to be denied burial was the worst that could happen, for he would be thrown in the city dump where the fire was used to burn the contamination of the waste, and whatever the fire did not get, the worms would eat. Nothing in either of these verses speaks to a place of conscious punishment and torture.

Gehenna, the valley of Hinnom or Tophet (can mean a place to spit upon or abhor or drums) is where the children of Israel made the babies to pass thru the fire in worshiping the god Molech. And where they would play drums loudly as to drown out the cries of the babies being cast into the iron chest of their god. Noteworthy here to state that God said:

And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, NEITHER CAME IT INTO MY HEART. Jer 7:31

Hell here, or Gehenna is a defiled place:

And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech. 2 Kings 23:10

Josiah stopped this abomination and filled the valley of Hinnom with the bones of men, 2 Kings 23:14

It has since become the cesspool or garbage dump for the city of Jerusalem and here can be found the Hill of evil council, the dragons well, Neh 2:13, Judas's field of blood or Aceldama. Here the Dung gate from the city opens to it. Neh 3:14. In other words, God has set his stamp upon this place and declares

"For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it. Isa 30:33 (Comp. 2 Thess 1:8,9)

Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be called Tophet, nor the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of slaughter: for they shall bury in Tophet, till there be no place. Jer. 7:32

And go forth unto the valley of the son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the east gate, and proclaim there the words that I shall tell thee,
3: And say, Hear ye the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle.
4: Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents;
5: They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind:
6: Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that this place shall no more be called Tophet, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of slaughter. Jer 19:2-6

The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.
He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the DEAD BODIES; he shall wound the heads over many countries. Psl 110:5-6

Gehenna as translated hell in all it's references must be seen in the light of the "Word" and not as man sees it. To teach gehenna as hell in the traditional sense is a miscarriage of justice and will not lead to the truth. Our conceptions as to what hell is or is not is not up to us to choose, but rather to find out but what God has said.

XXXXXXX, it's only in grace that I write these things. As I told you in the car, this is a topic which is a tough one for brethren to discuss. If I were to be wrong, though I strongly believe that I am not, you know that I will change and follow the truth. But as it stands, I cannot see where or with what purpose God should choose to torture people, when death is his said consequence of Sin. His word is clear, and these are but a few of the truths concerning this subject. Consider also.

 1. God never told Adam or Eve of such a place of torment.

2. Moses never wrote about it in any part of the Law. How can this possibly be if God must be just and have never told anyone at anytime in the law that there was a consequence of eternal torment? There can only be one answer.

One of my favorite scriptures for those who believe they can never die, is rarely quoted, so here it is, Duet. 32:39-40

See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.
For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever.

As I see scripture, ONLY God hath immortality 1 Tim 6:16 and lives forever. Death is the enemy which must be destroyed and the only escape is IN CHRIST and that through resurrection. I look forward to your response to which I am sure will be forthcoming.

 As to Luke 16

Here is just one of MANY different proofs that Luke 16 is a parable.

Lets pull a few verses together so that YOU can see by the WORD OF GOD whether or not Luke 16 is a parable.

In Matthew 13 it is common knowledge that Christ chose to speak in parables in an effort to HIDE the mysteries of the kingdom so that they that were without, would not understand what he was saying.

And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
11: He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
12: For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
13: Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
14: And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
15: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
16: But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. Mt 13:10-15

And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable.
11: And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:
12: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them Mk. 4:10-12

All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them:
35: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world. Mt 13:34-35

And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it.
34: But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples. Mk 4:33-34

Jesus made it clear that going forward he would not speak to anyone but in parables, which he would explain only to the 12.

To add to this, there are certain believers who are certain that if the Lord used the word certain
in Luke 16, then this proves that it was not a parable.

Let us see what the Word of God has to say.
He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.
7: Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?
8: And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:
9: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down. Luke 13:6-10

and again...

And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.
12: He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
13: And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. Luke 19:11-13

Twice the Lord states that a CERTAIN MAN and leaves no doubt as to whether these are parables.

Christ said he would only speak to those that were without the little flock in parables. Is he a liar?

Look how he pulls out a parable to those who thought they were righteous,

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
10: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11: The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12: I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13: And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14: I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

There can be no doubt that Luke 16 is a parable.

It must be remembered the context for which Luke 16 is prefaced by. First we see 16:1 start with another parable of a certain rich man. Later we read..
"And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him" verse 14.

Then 5 verses later he begins the Parable of a certain rich man.

There is no doubt as to whether this is a parable. Christ Himself said he would not speak but by parables.

The testimony of John Lightfoot (1602-75)

Bishop John Lightfoot was a Rabbinic scholar and one of the most influential members of the "Westminster Assembly." He was contemporary with the elder, Sir Lancelot Andrewes, one of the Translators of the King James Bible. J. Lightfoot was also contemporary with, Oliver Cromwell and it was during this time Lightfoot was at the height of his fame as a scholar. He was a master of Latin, Greek, Classical Hebrew, Mishnaic Hebrew, and the Aramaic of the Talmud. His greatest work is his, "Horae Hebraicae PT Talmudicae" which was designed to show the bearing of Jewish studies on the interpretation of the N.T.

Concerning the "parable" of the -Rich Man and Lazarus , (Lk.16:19-31) Lightfoot says this "Whoever believes this not to be a parable, but a true story, let him believe also those little friars whose trade it is to shew the monuments at Jerusalem to Pilgrims, and point exactly to the place where the house of the "rich glutton stood." ("A commentary on the N.T. from the Talmud and Hebraics"-vo13, Pg. 165-Baker).

The Talmud

Many allusions to the Rich Man and Lazarus are given in the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmud, though they differ in some degree among themselves. (1) "Paradise", and "the carrying away by Angels, "Abrahams bosom, etc" are the popular expressions constantly used. (Kiddushin fol 72) (2) There is the story of a woman who had seen six of her sons slain. She heard the command given to kill the youngest son (2 1/2 yrs old) and running into the embraces of her little son, kissed him and said, "Go thou my son to Abraham my father and tell him thou saith thy mother. Do not thou boast saying, "I have built an alter, and offered my son Isaac". For thy mother hath built seven alters, and offered seven sons in one day", etc. (Midrach Echal, fol.68.1). (3) Then there is the story of the good man and wicked man who died but the good man "had no funeral rites solemnized" but the wicked had. Afterward there was one who saw in his dream the good man walking in gardens ...but the wicked man with his tongue trickling drop by drop at the bank of the river, endeavouring to touch the water, but he could not." (Chagigah, fo1.77 Treatise on Ex.23:17) (4) "The Great Gulf", (Midrash on Coheleth 103 .2) etc , etc.

From all of this it is clear that the Lord in Luke 16 is not delivering this Parable as one of His own teachings on the state of the dead. He was taking the current traditional teachings of the Pharisees, to condemn them out of their own mouth, as He did earlier concerning divorce, which they abused 16:18 to show them that they were the unjust stewards of 16:1-17. As concerning the State of the Dead, the Word of God is very explicit: Ps. 6:5, 30: 9, 31: 17, 88:11, 115:17, 146:4, Eccl. 9:6,10, 12:7, Isa 38:17-19, etc.


It is translated 31 times "Hell", 31 times "The Grave" and 3 times "The Pit"

They are as follows:

Gen 37:35, 42:38, 44:29, 31 1 Sam 2:6, 1 Ki 2:6, 9, Job 7:9, 14:13, 17:13, 21:13, 24:19, Ps 6:5, 30:3, 31:17, 49:14, 15, 88:3, 89:48, 141:7, Pro 1:12, 30:16, Ecc 9:10, Sol 8:6 Isa 14:11, 38:10, 18, Eze 31:15, Hos 13:14, Duet 32:22 2 Sam 22:6, 11:8, Job, 26:6, Ps:9:17, 16:10, 18:5, 55:15, 86:13, 116:3, 139:8, Pro 5:5, 7:27, 9:18, 15:11, 15:24, 23:14, 27:20, Isa 5:14, 14:9, 28:15, 28:18, 57:9, Eze:31:16, 17, 32:21, 27, Amos 9:2, Jonah 2:3, Hab 2:5, Nu 16:30, 33, Job 17:16

 I challenge any seeker of truth to do just that. Lay your opinions of what you have been told, and seek God's wisdom and truth and search and see for yourself how He uses the word HELL. There they are above... are you really a Berean??????