I. The nature of hell is spiritual not physical:

A. Blind men feeling different parts of an elephant to get an overall picture
1. God used physical symbols to describe by representation something that is otherwise impossible
2. How do we teach our children what a cow is? We point it out and say, "look cow!"

B. God employed 6 word pictures to describe heaven:

1. A city: Heb 11:16; Rev 21
2. New heavens and earth: 2 Pe 3:5-7
3. Sabbath rest: Heb 3:12-4:11
4. Restored garden paradise: Rev 2:7; 22:2-3
5. Most holy place in tabernacle: Heb9:11,24
6. Eternal day: Rev 21:25; 22:5

C. Heaven and hell are of the same nature:

1. Not of this world, realm or creation: Jn 18:36; Heb 9:11,24; Rev 20:11=2 Pe 3:10

D. Hades different from hell

1. KJV mistranslates "Hades" as hell in every passage which confuses some
2. Hades will be thrown into the lake of fire proving they are distinct: Rev 20:14
3. Temporary receptacle of dead awaiting resurrection and judgement: Rev 20:13-15
4. Temporary holding place of devil and demons: Rev 17:8
5. hell is not temporary


A. Hell=Greek, "Gehenna": "SENTENCE OF GEHENNA": MT 23:33

1. Used 13x in NT: Mt 5:22,29,30; 10:28; 18:8,9; 23:15,33; Mk 9:43,45,47; Lk 12:5; Jas 3:6
2. Deep narrow valley outside Jerusalem: Valley of Hinnon, Josh 15:8
3. Why did Jesus choose the valley of hinnon as the ultimate picture of hell?
Human sacrifices offered to Baal & Moleck: 2 Chr 28:3; 33:6; 2 Ki 23:10; Jer 7:31; 19:2-6; 32:35 4. Some have speculated it was the garbage dump of Jerusalem at the time of Christ:

filth, dead animals and bodies of executed criminals
Some suggest that fires were stoked to burn and sanitize

Barnes, "...It was the place where to throw all the dead carcasses and filth of the city; and wan frequently the place of executions. The sight was horrible, the air was polluted and to preserve it in any manner of purity, it was necessary to keep fires continually burning there. The Jew's extreme loathsomeness of the place, the filth and putrefaction, the corruption of the atmosphere, and the lurid fires blazing by day and night, made it one of the most appalling symbols with which a Jew was acquainted."

4. Penalty for the sons of Gehenna: Mt 23:15,33
5. Purpose: Body and soul will be destroyed: Mt 10:28
6. Duration of Gehenna: Eternal: Mt 18:8,9 (Eternal fire = Gehenna fire)
Some think Gehenna depicts annihililation, yet the fire itself is described as eternal
7. Only two elements directly mentioned with Gehenna:
Unquenchable, eternal fire: Mk 9:43,45,47; Mt 5:22,29,30; 18:8,9; Jas 3:6
Eternal worms: Mk 9:48

B. Wicked cast into eternal fire: Mt 25:41 (3 FIGURES EXCLUDING GEHENNA FIRE)

1. Unquenchable fire of Gehenna: Mk 9:43,45,47; Mt 5:22,29,30; 18:8,9; Jas 3:6
2. Furnace of fire
Burn chaff with unquenchable fire Mt 3:12; Lk 3:17
Burn tares in furnace of fire: Mt 13:42,50
3. Rain of fire and brimstone:
Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah: Gen 19:24,28; (antitype of hell: Jude 7)
4. Lake of fire which burns with brimstone (sulfur): Rev 19:20; 20:10; 21:8
"Once a brimstone (sulfur) deposit ignites, it would melt & run in burning streams down the ravines spreading everywhere suffocating fumes the ordinary match" ISBE
"Torrents of brimstone" (fast moving flows): Isa 30:33
"Lake of fire" could also be a reference to lava from a volcano

C. Exiled & banished from God's kingdom:

1. "Away from God's presence": 2 Th 1:9; cast into outer darkness: Mt 22:13


D. Eternal night:

1. "outer darkness": Mt 22:13; 25:30; black darkness, Jude 13; 2 Pe 2:17
2. Counterpart: Heaven likened unto eternal day: Rev 21:25; 22:5

E. The second death: Rev 2:11; 20:6,14

F. A scourging, shackled torturing in prison:

1. Scourge: "lashes, cut in pieces" Lk 12:47-48; Mt 24:51
2. Shackled: "bind hand & foot" Mt 22:13
3. Tortured: "handed over to torturer: Mt 18:34

G. Worse than drowned in sea with millstone hung around neck: Mt 18:6

III. Facts about hell

A. A place of everlasting destruction: 2 Th 1:9; Phil 3:19; Heb 10:39

B. A place of conscious punishment

1. Both the rich man and Lazarus were fully conscious: Lk 16:19-31
2. "away from the presence of God": 2 Th 1:9
indicates conscious existence in exile not annihilation
3. A place of suffering, affliction and retribution: 2 Th 1:5-8
4. Weeping and gnashing of teeth: Mt 13:42,50; 25:30

C. Duration of punishment is forever, eternity

1. The same words that describe hell also describe God and duration of heaven
forever: Rev 14:11; 20:10
black darkness forever: Jude 13
Eternal: Mt 25:46 (heaven and hell alike)
2. Eternal day of Christians is same duration as eternal night of lost
3. The undying worm, everlastingly consuming an unconsumable body
4. No second chance:
Appointed to die once then comes judgement: Heb 9:27
Great gulf fixed between good and bad: Lk 16
5. Annihilation is a false doctrine:
6. Based fundamentally upon the false doctrine that rejects the dichotomous nature of man. Eternal punishment is likened unto setting fire to dry leaf. The leaf is destroyed forever, it ceases to exist and the fire goes out although nothing could extinguish the fire before the leaf was fully consumed. "Carnalists" believe the Bible teaches "eternal destruction" (destroyed forever) rather than "eternal punishment" (conscious pain forever). The Bible mentions a punishment worse than physical death: Heb 10:28-29 What is it if not hell?

D. Hell is a demonstration of God's justice: 2 Th 1:5-10

1. The "carnalist" type groups who teach annihilation argue that God would not be just to punish a man forever.
2. Just as no one can actually understand the logic behind God's mercy in saving us through Christ dying on the cross, we probably can't understand God's justice with hell.

E. Degrees of punishment in hell

1. Proof texts:
Many and few lashes: Lk 12:47-48
Both lost but one judgement more tolerable than other: Mt 11:24
Hypocrites will receive "greater condemnation": Mk 12:40
Better for them if they had never been Christians: 2 Pe 2:20-21
2. The basis of the degree of punishment is not the frequency or magnitude of sin, but rather how accountable the individual was to God: (teachers- stricter judgement Jas 3:1)
The elder who runs off with another women will be punished more severely than any of the recent mass murder-rapists.
It is not a matter of how bad they sinned but the degree they knew it was sin.

IV The 10 descriptions of Hell are symbolic not literal

A. Physical garbage dump outside of Jerusalem

B. 4 Different figures of fire: (including gehenna)

1. Fire of Gehenna
2. furnace of fire
3. rain storm of fire and brimstone
4. lake of fire and brimstone
huge furnace with lake of fire inside, raining fire located in valley of hinnon in Jerusalem?
Or 4 different figures to depict the spiritual counterpart

C. Exile and banishment

D. Eternal night

E. A bottomless pit (Hades)

F. Scourged, while shacked in a prison

G. Worse than drowned in sea with millstone hung around neck: Mt 18:6

Conclusion: Not A Pretty Place

God appealed to all our five senses to describe hell as a bad place:

1. Touch: pain from burning fire
2. Taste: dry mouth, extreme thirst, blood from gnashing teeth
3. Smell: rotting garbage-gehenna; rotten eggs-brimstone
4. Sight: smoke-fire; corruption-gehenna or black darkness
5. Sound: moaning, weeping, crying, screaming

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