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Does Hell Exist?

Jun 07, 2009 - 23 comments

Here is my response to Addict3 (did i get that number right???) on why I believe there is no "Hell" in the fire and brimstone sense.

Please note I am not looking to offend. The Bibles are open to interpretation and everyone should feel freee to interpret to find the meanings they need from them.

But I tend to approach these things from a scholarly viewpoint, which means delving into usages and definitions of language and meanings based on the historocity and cultures of the times (boring to some, fun to others!).


I can discuss Hell and the possibility of it's existence from a psychological/ metaphysical/ biblical stand point or a naturalistic viewpoint.

The naturalistic viewpoint is;

"There is no empirical evidence for the existence of Hell".

But we'll leave that alone for now and just deal with the biblical. :-)

Biblically, I use Young's Literal Translation when reading the Bible. It is the most accurate translation out there (... I have access to) and is very true to the Original Greek and Hebrew. True, it isn't perfect, but it's very good. The New American has some good commentary so I'll occassionally refer to it as well.

Young's deals especially with the proper translation of tenses which the original translators where very sloppy with. The King James tended to play loose with the tenses of passages which can entirely change meaning and intent.

In the original translation, there are actually no real references to Hell).

Here are some examples of the actual original words that Hell was switched in for;

Sheol: Described in terms of overwhelming floods, water, or waves.  Also Sheol is pictured as a hunter setting snares for its victim, binding them with cords, snatching them from the land of the living. Sheol is a prison with bars, a place of no return. People could go to Sheol alive.

It is really just "The world of the dead". There is no implied punishment. The above descriptors are more about "there is no return from the world of the dead." It is supposed to infer the finality of death through metaphor.

Hades: The Septuagint gives the meaning of the word Hades as exactly that of sheol.

Gehenna: Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Hinnom, which is the name of a valley outside Jerusalem where garbage and the carcasses of animals were cast into and consumed by fire constantly kept burning.
It actually was a literal, physical place and was not intended as an afterlife. It was used to describe an apt punishment for wicked/ immoral behavior. It would be the modern equivalent of us saying;

"Fresh Kills Landfill" (the dumping ground for most of NY's garbage).

ie; "For doing that, you should be sent to live in Fresh Kills Landfill." (ugh!)

The real issue at hand for Christ with God was that mortals had actually no destination after death. There is a suggestion that mortals either rotted in the grave or wandered the earth in spiritual form. There is also a suggestion that an elect few did gain access to heaven through their deeds and acts of nobility.

But Christ thought it wrong that the everyday mortals did not have access to Heaven.

(side note) Now, this is why I tend to translate his words in a manner which does not suggest that HE himself is the true way to heaven (accepting Christ as a physical, real entity gets you access) but that it is actually HIS MESSAGE that gains you access to Heaven.

When Christ said;

"I am the way", it was characteristic of the manners of speech for that time and not to be meant literally. But to go understand this you have to delve into the psyche of people of that time (it was VERY different from a modern humans' psyche in key ways).

It helps if you understand the true meaning of the original Covenent as intended in the Old Testement to the Jews. It actually didn't really cover the afterlife; the Covenant was intended as a contract between the Jews and God for the physical world they existed in. Ther was really no promise of what happened to mortals after death in the afterlife, the Torah is rather vague.

In this context, the actions of Christ make perfect sense. He felt that a new covenant was neccessary that covered not just the physical real world existence but that of the spiritual afterlife as well.

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736475 tn?1281259327
by sway1, Jun 07, 2009
i thought it was the DMV in Eatontown, N.J., guess i was off by a few miles. you rock!

401786 tn?1309152034
by Jacqui805, Jun 07, 2009
Hey Baron....since you have alot of real knowledge about these things....Doesn't it say in the Bible, in Psalms I think it is, that when you die, you neither sleep, nor ...... that you just stay that way until Jesus comes other words, no mention of dying and then immediately going to any heaven OR hell?

885702 tn?1240942263
by BaronMunchausen, Jun 07, 2009
I wish you could provide a more specific passage notation as there are a number that reference death in this way... and I can't recall the exact one you may be referring too. :-)

There are references in Psalms 16 and Psalms 49 (48?! Curse my failing memory!) to the afterlife and the possibility of being with God.

Psalms does read at times like an instruction manual for "how to react in a given situation" and the rewards of following the instructions properly.

The debate tends to be multi-fold;

Considering the style Psalms is written in, the promise of eternal salvation is not necessarily concrete. This may be hyperbole and metaphor.

If taken literally though, there is NO guarantee of WHEN the reward of being at God's Right Hand (very specific choice of words there, a discussion in itself).

Which is yet ANOTHER dispute. Is it immediate, or after the messiah comes?

Which leads us to the third dispute; if it is based on the coming of the messiah, does it refer to Jesus or some as yet arrived Messiah?  

452063 tn?1324074916
by corey411, Jun 07, 2009
I believe
Hell=a state of spiritual suffering...not a place outside of oneself but a state from within.
Not based on any Christian school of thought.

Avatar universal
by addict3, Jun 07, 2009

Yes, you did get the number right. Thank you for taking time to respond. Surprisingly I cannot find the word Hell used in my NIV or King James, I will check a Nelson tomorrow to see if it is there. I was truly surprised that I couldn’t find it in either of them. I do believe the lake of fire, the abyss, references to burning sulphur, etc. are meant to be Hell, I just am not sure where the word comes from at the moment….Who would have thought I couldn’t find the word Hell in two separate translations…. I reserve the right to document it at a later date. Ha!

I think faith plays a role in a mortal’s destination after death. I believe God sent his son to earth to die on the cross for our sins. If the Covenant was only for the Jews while they were here on earth, what are the laws detailed in Leviticus intended to mean, and did Peters interpretation of Cornelius’ dream (Acts 10) give not only the Jews but all people a chance for acceptance in Heaven?

Do you believe you will go to Heaven?  If not, what happens to your spirit when you die?
If there is not a physical Hell where does your spirit go after death? I am assuming you do believe you have a spirit, and you do believe in Heaven.

I am not looking to offend, I am just trying to understand you point of view.

518031 tn?1295575374
by jollyman069, Jun 07, 2009
in the king james version just in the old testament alone there are 16 verses thwat say Hell...I am a christian and beleive the Bible is the true word of God and yes I beleive in Heaven and Hell

2 Samuel:22;6
Job:11;8, 26:6
Psalms:9:17, 16:10, 55:15, 139:8
Proverbs:5:, 7:27, 15:11,24, 23:14, 27:20
Isaiah 5:15

Avatar universal
by petee1000, Jun 07, 2009
well look at it this way, I belive in a terrible place called hell! I conduct my life accordingly, and am a "believer".
Now , if I am wrong, then I do not lose anything. However if you do not belive and are wrong,very hot!!!!!

Avatar universal
by boldsojah4christ, Jun 07, 2009
Amen jolly so do I!! Hell was meant 4 Satan, Antichrist, and his demons, but it was also meant 4 those that chose not 2 accept Christ as their lord n saviour!! Shannon

Avatar universal
by outotown, Jun 07, 2009
The word hell is in the new testament, James says that the tounge is a world of iniquity and is set on fire of hell, Jesus said not to fear him that can destroy the body and after that has no more that they can do with it, but fear him that is able to destroy both body and soul in hell, Jesus speaking to the pharicesies said that they compass land and sea to make one prosolyte, and then make him two fold more the children of hell. and also in the stoy of the rich man and lazarus the rich man lifted up his eyes in hell being in toremnet Luke 15, 0r 16 i believe

Avatar universal
by boldsojah4christ, Jun 07, 2009
Mark chapter 9 versus 42-50! Where the fire does not quench!

203342 tn?1328737207
by April2, Jun 08, 2009
In the Bible, Jesus spoke plainly about heaven and hell.

Consider these Bible verses about heaven from Christ: "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven..." (Matthew 5:12). "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3). "One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven..." (Mark 10:21)

And consider these Bible verses from Jesus about hell: "If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched." (Mark 9:43). "... And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire." (Matthew 5:22). "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28)

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6)

Jesus wasn't in a quandary. He is God.

B]y him (Jesus) were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth...all things were created by him, and for him. Colossians 1:16

All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. John 1:3

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God John 1:1
Jesus is the Word.

...the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us...John 1:14

Jesus said, "Fear not; I am the first and the last:" Revelation 1:17

"[W]ho can forgive sins but God only?" Mark 2:7
Jesus forgives sins.

Jesus...said..."Son, thy sins be forgiven thee." Mark 2:5

[T]the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ...gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity.. Titus 2:13-14

I and my Father are one. John 10:30

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...All things were made by him...He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not...And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us John 1:1, 3, 10, 14

Jesus saith...he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? John 14:9

Jesus and God are one and the same.

885702 tn?1240942263
by BaronMunchausen, Jun 08, 2009
The Baron is drowned in verse!!!

Which is fine, but it will take me time to respond. Some of this stuff takes time (I just got into a tense discussion elsewhere involving Adam & Eve over a ONE word tense change from present to past and it's going to take weeks to hash out. What do you think whole verse/ passage does to me?!?!) :-)

I'm sure jollyman is right and the word hell does appear in the King James version numerous times, but it's understood that the King James Translation isn't very accurate to the original text despite it's beauty of verse. For example, when I read the Old Testament in Hebrew, "Hell" isn't there.

addict3; yes, Jesus is making the conditional that his Word is open to all people including Jews. Of course, the Jews do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah come; to them, he is a false Prophet. So that doesn't exactly help them out. ;->

You will have to be more specific about which Laws in Leviticus you mean. The Laws of Leviticus are like grains of sand on the beach; they are many and cover a wide variety of circumstances. Overall, it is a rule book on what the requirements are for the fulfillment of the Jewish Covenant.

Which gets into another topic for Christians that the apologetics have to deal with; Does the (OT) Old Testament apply?. (Ask me a bit later if interested as it's a bit complicated and gets off topic).

As to the existence of heaven and spirit and what happens when I die... my answer is I do not know. :-)

As I said before, I have no empirical evidence for the existence of  spirit or an after life of any kind and therefore can discuss but cannot comment definitively. Because I don't have evidence, I do not believe. I reserve judgement.

885702 tn?1240942263
by BaronMunchausen, Jun 08, 2009
April, you're skimming on some fairly deep metaphysical issues here, dealing with Jesus's divinity and the nature of God.

There is a passage somewhere that says (summing up);

"There is one God, but many divisions". In any context I take the meaning of this to be that (in terms of construct) God is a sum totality of all the parts, which can act seperately or in unison.

Now, the OT has many different names for God. I would say this was because when worshipping the Jews were looking for a specific result in their invocations of God's name and would use the appropriate name neccessary depending on situation and desired result.

For all you ladies out there; an interesting note: up until the time of King David there was a subset worship in Judaic religion that is now often reffered to as "Akasha Worship". The Jews (at least; the women) adopted this worship as a FEMALE personification of God (a division). But... it died out as the codification of the Deuteronomic tradition gradually took hold.

Which explains a lot as to how God became such a male dominated worship. Akasha Worship was essentially written out of existence.

But it is the exact nature of "the many divisions of God" that can rationally explain how Jesus CAN be the Son of God in physical form on earth seperately yet still be God.

However, if you follow this line of thought, then EVERYTHING is in essence, a division of God. You. Me. Chris at the Lumber Store. Patty the Stock Broker.

Which is why I've always believed that Jesus's messages like "I am the way, the truth, and the life." are intended to show that it is not actually he himself that is the way, but the example and belief he sets that are the way.

oh, some of you experssed the belief that Hell is an internal state of suffering, which I can totally get behind. One of you even said it's the DMV in New Jersey, which I'm in 100% agreement with!  

There is absolutely something to be said to the concept we create our own personal hells. I think many of us on here have experienced this very thing.

203342 tn?1328737207
by April2, Jun 08, 2009
I'm confused, Baron, you said there's a passage that says "There is one God but many divisions". I don't see anything like that in the Bible I read. Can I ask where you read that?
And thanks for being so nice on here. I know these type discussions can get pretty heated!

203342 tn?1328737207
by April2, Jun 08, 2009
By the way, it looks like MH has "hidden" your journal. It wasn't easy to find. I had to go to your profile. I know they do this with subjects they think will get out of hand. I guess they thought this would get too heated as well!

Avatar universal
by teko, Jun 09, 2009
The bible tells me that The word of God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  As far as interpetation of the bible and translating it?  I believe it is written for the believer as a guide for living. I believe you only understand what God reveals to you when he wants you to know it.  I believe if we totally understood the Bible, it would be too much for us to be able to handle. We simply could not comprehend it in our wee little human minds. I guess that is where faith comes in. I do not understand why people look for translations, some one elses word for what it says, or for that matter try to find science to back up the greatest story ever told. How can science prove or unprove if the creator is real or not? That simply does not make since to me. I tend to dwell on the red, the words spoken directly to us from he himself. Everything else is speculation to me.  How did the bible fortell a nuclear blast, or have the ability to describe what we see in our world today? I think it is amzng that people will read articles off the internet, someone elses opinion, instead of praying and giving God a chance to reveal himself to them. I do not think I know, I do know that he is real. In all his glory and I also believe in a physical hell where satan and his followers will be placed. After the biggest battle known to mankind. Do, I have all the answers? No. Do I have faith? I practice that one every day. Do I live a perfect life? Nope I could and should do better that is for sure.  But I know this.  I have chosen sides and am not worthy to be called his child or him my father. If he said there is a hell, thats good enough for me.

203342 tn?1328737207
by April2, Jun 09, 2009
I do have a few different translations just so I can see the difference. I also have a Bible concordance to help study and look things up. I think it's good to look at all of that. I do believe, like you, Teko, that God reveals Himself in His Word as well as His creation. He says there's no excuse for anyone because He can be found in His creation.
And actually many, many scientists are believers and believe that science and religion can go together nicely. God is an orderly God. Creation is not only beautiful but orderly and mathematical! Tell me that a creator didn't do that!
The Bible is still the best selling book out there for a reason. People tried to say God was dead for years but He says His Word will never come back void. You can't kill God! Over and over again things have been proven in the Bible, including all the historical accounts as well as the prophecies. Pretty fascinating stuff when you really delve into it, I'd say.

885702 tn?1240942263
by BaronMunchausen, Jun 10, 2009
April, I've been driving myself to distraction trying to remember the origin of "there is one God but many divisions". I'm beginning to suspect it's an argument presented and represented by one of the Judaic or Catholic theologians/ philosophers. It's a controversial view which probably got more than one person branded a heretic. ;-)  It skates dangerously close to the concept of other God/ Idol worship if taken in the wrong context. I will see if i can find the origin of it and let you know if you'd like.
The problem is I can't remember WHICH passage the writer was analzying or the writer's name. Ah well. the Baron is growing old and losing his mental faculties!

I was not aware the thread was hidden. While I'm not happy I can understand it considering the nature of this board and it's goal.

That said let me state the following;

I believe that God (should he exist) made humans inquisitve by nature for a reason. It would be counter productive to his plan to NOT question and seek answers and truths. The very nature of the relationship between a perfect God  (his Word) and an imperfect human demands that we continual examine and redefine our understanding of that Word. I would go so far as to say that seeking these truths can only deepen your understanding of God and bring you closer to his perfection (and happiness).

A faith that cannot stand scrutiny is a weak faith that will inevitably fail andl not give you comfort in time of need. Like any tool it needs excercise.

That being said; people on this forum are all going through their own personal problems and I have no wish to cause distress to theoe whose faith is helping them cling to sanity and get them through the tortures of a painful daily life.

So if you come across this journal and don't care for it's tone, by all means take a pass. Or don't; go ahead and comment. I for one don't mind if someone blows off steam in my direction.

April, using a concordance is a good idea. The idea that  God's Word is Perfect but humans are imperfect and therefore can only aspire to truly understanding perfection has kept many a philosopher and theologian fed and clothed for millenia. :-)

The belief that text should be accepted at face value and not examined is a curious concept to me. Perhaps this is because of my early Judaic training, Debate over God's word is part and parcel of Judiasm. Then again, it was also a part of the Catholic Church as well. Well, part of it. It depended on entirely which priest or nun you talked to.

Tough as Nails Sister Mary; "God gives you perfect love because he's God. Now sit down and be quiet or  you'll wishing for Divine Intervention! " :->

203342 tn?1328737207
by April2, Jun 10, 2009
Oh believe me, I'm a curious person by nature and have lots of questions and check everything out, when I can. My grandmother was like that. She said she nearly got kicked out of Sunday school when she was a kid because she had so many questions, lol. We used to have these deep philosophical conversations, she and I. She passed away almost 3 years ago and I really miss her. I'm hoping she got all her questions answered now. :)

Baron, I've read the Bible straight through more than once and there's no where to my knowledge that says there's one God but many divisions. The only thing close I can think of is the trinity, which is also confusing, by the way! And it doesn't actually say trinity in the Bible but talks of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Yeah, some of it is hard to understand and I'm not sure I'll ever know everything but I think that's where faith has to step in.
Did I ever tell you my mom had a miracle and was healed? Medically, it really was impossible, but with God all things are possible!

885702 tn?1240942263
by BaronMunchausen, Jun 10, 2009
Being healed is something that one can always be happy about. :-)

I can't press the issue because I just don't remember right now. At some point i'll have to sit down and figure out who was the guilty party who came up with the concept originally.

You'd be surprised at some of the concepts the  Catholic Church debated over in the beginning... like the divinity of Jesus. That was a debatable issue at one of the many Nicean Councils. I'll bet you one kitten which side won!

203342 tn?1328737207
by April2, Jun 10, 2009
That's interesting. I actually don't know a lot about the Catholic faith but do like to learn about other's beliefs and why they believe what they do. It's all very interesting. No offense to any Catholics out there but I heard the earlier church was a bit deceptive and kept some things out of the Bible or something like that. Did you hear that? If so, that would be dangerous. God warns not to add to or take away from His Word.

Avatar universal
by boldsojah4christ, Jun 10, 2009
Amen!! Anyone that adds 2 the bible will be added 2 the plagues that are mentioned revelations! And if anyone takes away from the bible he will be taken out of the book of life!!! Shannon:

547913 tn?1317355667
by jimi1822, Jun 10, 2009
                                                                        Jesus said:

                                                               "Here I am! I stand at the
                                                               door and knock. If anyone
                                                            here's my voice and opens the
                                                              door, I will come in and eat
                                                          with him/her, and he/she with me."

                                                                                                            Revelations 3:20 (NIV)

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