Church Education Resource Ministries
Read how the Bible describes Hell.
Lake of Fire Rev 20:15 Bottomless Pit Rev 20:1 Horrible tempest Psa 11:6 A Place of everlasting burnings Isa 33:14 A furnance of fire Matt 13:42 A devouring fire Isa 33:14 A Place where people will pray Lk 16:27 A Place where people blaspheme God Rev 16:11 A place of no forgiveness Matt 12:32 A place of filthiness Rev 22:11 A place of weeping Matt 8:12 A place of sorrows Psa 18:5 A place where people have no rest Rev 14:11 A place of blackness and darkness forever Jude 13
Lake of Fire
A Place of everlasting burnings
A furnance of fire
A devouring fire
A Place where people will pray
A Place where people blaspheme God
A place of no forgiveness
A place of filthiness
A place of weeping
A place of sorrows
A place where people have no rest
A place of blackness and darkness forever
Regardless of the many scripture descriptions of Hell which many choose to ignore, there is a work (Dante's Inferno) which many have used to learn about Hell. This work is not Biblical and its accuracy's are unknown. Although those with a NDE do account some accuracy's in the Inferno work, no one knows for sure how accurate are the stories of those with a NDE. One thing the bible does make clear is that Hell is where all unbelievers will spend eternity separated from God. Hell is where you will find Hitler, Judas, Joseph Smith, and the countless of other souls that will go there after they die.
In the New testament most references to Hell are found in the 3 synoptic gospels. In Literature of the NT we were taught that the synoptics were Matt, Mark, and Luke, because they were all seen with the same eye and had very similiar accounts in the three works. I believe the best reference to Hell would be in Luke 16:19-31 which is below.
The Rich Man and Lazurus story from Luke 16:19-31
Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. "And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.  "Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. "In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. "And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.' "But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. 'And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.' "And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father's house&emdash; for I have five brothers&emdash;in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' "But Abraham *said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.' "But he said, 'No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!' "But he said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.' "
This passage seems to be a literal event and not a parable like some others may believe. If the story above were not literal, then we could only imagine what hell is like. But with a clear passage on the subject we know very clearly that our efforts to redeem the lost are even greater.
Greek/Hebrew translations of Hell in the bible
Throughout the bible there are three words that are translated into Hell from the original languages.
Sheol- This Hebrew term occurs several times in the bible and is often meant to mean "A place for the dead."
The term is thus used with reference to both the righteous and the wicked: of the righteous (Ps 16:10; 30:3; Isa 38:10; etc.), of the wicked (Nu 16:33; Job 24:19; Ps 9:17; etc.). This is in accordance with the general character of the OT revelation, which presents much less clearly and strongly than the NT the doctrine of the future life with its distinct allotments of doom. But there are many hints, and more than hints, of the difference in the conditions of the departed. The psalmist prays: "Do not drag me away with the wicked and with those who work iniquity" (Ps 28:3; see also Isa 33:14; 66:24; Da 12:2) (NUBD).
Hades- This term is only found in the NT. Like the previous term, Hades has nearly the exact same meaning as the word Sheol. The Greek word Hades appears in these passages of scripture Mt 11:23; 16:18; Lk 10:15; 16:23; Ac 2:27,31; Rev 1:18; 6:8; 20:13-14. Looking at the passages where Hades is used it would appear that Hades is the waiting ground that comes before Hell. Hell would ultimately be the Lake of Fire, but scripture is quite clear in the book of Revelation that there is no one in the Lake of Fire just yet.
Gehenna- The last major word used in the scriptures to describe Hell. This Greek word appears 12 times in the NT. One such verse where this word is used is Matt 23:33.
New American Standard
[Mt 23:33] "You serpents G3789, you brood G1081 of vipers G2191, how G4459 will you escape G5343 the sentence G2920 of hell G1067?
[Mt 23:33] Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
[Mt 23:33] "Snakes! Brood of vipers! How can you escape being condemned to hell?
The eternal Fate of Unbelievers
Some believe in a annihilation theology. In such a teaching the wicked are eliminated or done away with. While others believe that the wicked will suffer for all eternity in the Lake of Fire.
Mal 4:1 is one such passage that those that believe in a annihilation theology hold to.
[Mal 4:1] For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
The phrase "burn them up" sounds more attractive to the unbelievers than everlasting torment and I would have to agree. But I do believe that one thing that those who hold this Annihilation or elimination of the wicked theology overlook is a term taught in a basic Hermeneutics course called "hyperbole." The term means exaggeration for effect. Hyperbole is found all throughout the bible, go see for yourself!
In my opinion I think accurate verses that describes the fate of unbelievers are below.
[Rev 20:10] And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.[Rev 20:15] If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
To conclude I believe its very important to watch how we minister to unbelievers knowing the fate of their eternal souls. We know where they will go when they die so I believe that we need to show great compassion for the lost. Jesus himself wept as he overlooked Jerusalem. He knew that so many would eventually end up in the Lake of Fire before they even died. I believe that the attitude of Christ is what we should have.
Resources Used & Recomended
A good scholarly Theological resource that I've used a half dozen times is the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society.
New Dictionary of Biblical
New Dictionary of Theology
New Ungers Bible Dictionary
Eastons Bible Dictionary
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