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Hell: The Final Judgment

Hell is a word that is used in everyday speech to emphasize a point, but that is unfortunate since the reality of the matter is, that Hell is a real place that people will go without Christ. There are three Greek words translated “Hell” in the New Testament, “hades,” “gehenna” and “tartaroo.”

  • Hades is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew term “sheol,” which refers in general to the place of the dead, but more specifically to a place of torment where unbelievers go at the moment of death (Psalm 9:17; Luke 16:22-23).
  • Gehenna was originally the valley of Hinnom, a valley near Jerusalem where children were sacrificed by fire to the god Molech (Jeremiah 32:35). Later garbage and dead bodies were burned in this valley. Gehenna was such an awful place that Jesus used this Greek term to refer to the final Hell. It is synonymous with the “Lake of Fire” described in Revelation 19:20. The Bible teaches that every unbeliever goes to “hades” the moment after death, but then they will be summoned to the Great White Thone Judgment to be sentenced and finally sent to the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:11-15).
  • The third Greek word is tartaroo and it appears only once in the Bible in 2 Peter 2:4. This is a mysterious place that we know little about, except that there are demons locked up there who sinned against the Lord. They are in darkness awaiting their final judgment at the hands of the Lord.

The Place of Everlasting Punishment

Contrary to popular opinion, Hell is a place of eternal punishment. 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, speaking of Christ rejectors, states,

These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.
The term “punished” here literally means to pay a penalty. Hell is confinement and those who go there are paying for their sins forever. Notice that Hell will also be “everlasting.” There is no end to Hell. There is no escape, no relief, no second chances. It is continual punishment. There is no idea in the Bible of people being annihilated or going out of existence. Hell is eternal and those who go there will suffer eternal torment (Mark 9:43-44). Revelation 14:10-11 affirms the eternality and punitive nature of Hell:
10 He himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night.
Any teaching about Hell that minimizes the duration, punishment or reality of its existence must be rejected on the basis of the clear teaching of Scripture.


A Reality for Unbelievers

If a person does not know Christ as Lord and Savior, their soul, and one day their body, will be in unparalleled torment forever. It is hard for us to imagine and sad for us to fathom, but it is true. We are blessed beyond measure that God promises us who have repented and believed in Christ’s work, will be saved from the horrors of Hell and enjoy eternal life in heaven. However, we are grieved and have great sorrow to know that there are people who reject Christ and His Gospel, even people close to us. The reality of Hell makes us motivated to share the glorious Gospel of God’s grace with them.

Scripture Reference

The wicked will return to Sheol,

Even all the nations who forget God.

22 “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. 23 “In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom.

“They built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-hinnom to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.

Judgment at the Throne of God

11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.

12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.

13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.

14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment;

9 For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God,

10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.

43 “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire,

44 [where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.]

10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed 1in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.

11 “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

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