HELL (Judgment, Punishment, Suffering)
What does the Bible say about hell?
BIBLE READING: Matt 25:41-46
KEY BIBLE VERSE: The King will turn to those on the left and say, "Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his demons!" (Matt 25:41)
The Bible speaks about eternal punishment using different terms. Eternal punishment takes place in hell (the lake of fire, or Gehenna), the place of punishment after death for all those who refuse to repent. In the Bible, three words are used in connection with eternal punishment.
(1) Sheol or "the grave" is used in the Old Testament to mean the place of the dead, generally thought to be under the earth. (See Job 24:19; Ps 16:10; Isa 38:10.)
(2) Hades is the Greek word for the underworld, the realm of the dead. It is the word used in the New Testament for Sheol. (See Matt 16:18; Rev 1:18; 20:13-14.)
(3) Gehenna, or hell, was named after the Valley of Hinnom near Jerusalem where children were sacrificed by fire to the pagan gods (see 2 Kings 23:10; 2 Chron 28:3). This is the place of eternal fire (Matt 5:22; 10:28; Mark 9:43; Luke 12:5; James 3:6; Rev 19:20) prepared for the devil, his angels, and all those who do not believe in God (25:46; Rev 20:9-10). This is the final and eternal state of the wicked after the Resurrection and the Last Judgment.
When Jesus warns against unbelief, he is trying to save us from agonizing punishment.
BIBLE READING: Rom 1:18-32
KEY BIBLE VERSE: God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who push the truth away from themselves. (Rom 1:18)
The punishment of hell is just. In these verses, Paul answers a common objection: How could a loving God send anyone to hell, especially someone who has never heard about Christ? In fact, says Paul, God has revealed himself plainly in the creation to all people. And yet people reject even this basic knowledge of God. Also, everyone has an inner sense of what God requires, but they choose not to live up to it. Put another way, people's moral standards are always better than their behavior. If people suppress God's truth in order to live their own way, they have no excuse. They know the truth, and they will have to endure the consequences of ignoring it.
BIBLE READING: Rev 20
KEY BIBLE VERSE: Death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death — the lake of fire. (Rev 20:14)
There are no second chances in hell. Death and hell are thrown into the lake of fire. God's judgment is finished. The lake of fire is the ultimate destination of everything wicked — Satan, the beast, the false prophet, the demons, death, hades, and all those whose names are not recorded in the book of life because they did not place their faith in Jesus Christ. John's vision does not permit any gray areas in God's judgment. If by faith we have not identified with Christ, confessing him as Lord, there will be no hope, no second chance, no other appeal.
(from The Handbook of Bible Application copyright © 1992 by Neil Wilson. English edition © 2002 by Biblesoft with permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.)