IS THERE A PLACE OF
LITERAL FIRE WHERE LOST
SINNERS WILL BE CONFINED
The Bible was written in three languages:
Hebrew, Chaldee, and Greek. The Bible that we
have today is a translation of the Hebrew, Chaldee,
and Greek writings into our language. There are
many translations of the Bible, the most popular
being the King James Version, which you probably
own. The King James overshadows most all of the
versions of the Bible in accuracy, beauty, and
THE WORD "HELL" IN THE KING JAMES
There are four words in the KJV (King James
Version) translated "Hell." Of these four words,
only one of them is used in the Old Testament.
That word is the Hebrew word "Sheol." In the New
Testament, the three words translated "Hell" are
"Hades," "Gehenna" and "Tartarus"; all, of course,
WHAT DO THESE WORDS MEAN?
We have to go to the Hebrew and Greek for the
meaning of these words translated "Hell." The
English background of the word "Hell" will not give
us the Hebrew and Greek meanings.
(1) The Hebrew word "Sheol" in the Old
Testament (KJV) is translated as follows:
"Hell" -- 31 times. (Deuteronomy 32:22; 2
Samuel 22:6; Job 11:8; 26:6; Psalm 9:17; 16:10;
18:5; 55:15; 86:13; 116:3; 139:8; Proverbs 5:5;
7:27; 9:18; 15:11, 24; 23:14; 27:20; Isaiah 5:14;
14:9, 15; 28:15, 18; 57:9; Ezekiel 31:16, 17;
32:21, 27; Amos 9:2; Jonah 2:2; Habakkuk 2:5).
"Grave" -- 31 times. (Genesis 37:35; 42:38;
44:29, 31; 1 Samuel 2:6; 1 Kings 2:6, 9; Job 7:9;
14:13; 17:13; 21:13; 24:19; Psalm 6:5; 30:3;
31:17; 49:14, (twice) 15; 88:3; 89:48; 141:7;
Proverbs 1:12; 30:16; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Song of
Solomon 8:6; Isaiah 14:11; 38:10, 18; Ezekiel
31:15; Hosea 13:14 (twice).)
"Pit" -- 3 times. (Numbers 16:30; 16:33; Job
But actually, the Hebrew word "Sheol" does
not [just] mean either "Hell," "grave," or "pit."
Strong's Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary says
that "Sheol" is "the world of the dead."
Young's Analytical Concordance says that
"Sheol" is "the unseen state."
Smith's Bible Dictionary says that "Sheol" is
"always the abode of departed spirits."
Fausset's Bible Dictionary and Encyclopedia [non- Christian]
says that "Sheol" is "the common receptacle of the
So it is clear that Sheol is not [just] Hell, but the
place of departed spirits, irrespective of whether
saved or lost. Sheol is simply a term "meaning the
state of the dead in general, without any restriction
of happiness or misery." (Smith). In many instances
where the word is used, however, the reference is
clearly to that compartment of Sheol where the
wicked are punished (Psalm 9:17).
(2) "Hades" is the Greek word in the New
Testament, which is translated as follows in the
"Hell" -- 10 times (Matthew 11:23; 16:18;
Luke 10:15; 16:23; Acts 2:27, 31; Revelation 1:18;
6:8; 20:13, 14).
"Grave" -- 1 time (1 Corinthians 15:55).
But "Hades," like Sheol, is not [just] Hell. Actually,
"Hades" is the corresponding Greek word to the
Hebrew word "Sheol," and both have the same
Strong's Greek Dictionary of the New
Testament , says that "Hades" is "the place (state)
of departed souls."
Young's Concordance: "the unseen world."
A. T. Robertson, world-renowned as a Greek
scholar: "Hades is technically the unseen world, the
Hebrew Sheol, the land of the departed" (Word
The reader is urged to read Luke 16:19-31
where a perfect illustration of Sheol (Hades) is
given. This passage draws back the curtain and lets
us have a look into "the land of the departed."
(3) "Gehenna" or "the Gehenna of fire," is the
Greek word that actually means Hell. It is never
translated by any other word but "Hell," and ten of
the eleven times the word is used, it is used by the
Lord Jesus Christ, Himself. Here is a list of the
passages in which the word "Gehenna" appears:
(Matthew 5:22, 29, 30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33;
Mark 9:43, 45, 47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6).
The word "Gehenna" is of Hebrew origin, from
"valley" and "Hinnom." "Gehenna is the Valley of
Hinnom where the fire burned continually" (A. T.
The Valley of Hinnom was a place near
Jerusalem where Ahaz introduced the worship of
fire gods, the sun, Baal and Moloch. The Jews under
ungodly Mannasseh, offered their children as burnt
offerings in this idolatrous worship (Jeremiah 7:31).
This cruel worship was finally abolished, and later,
Josiah made the place a receptacle of dead carcasses
and the bodies of malefactors (criminals), in which
worms were continually gendering. A perpetual fire
was kept to consume the putrifying matter. The
place was still in existence at the time of Christ,
and the Saviour illustrated somewhat the conditions
of Hell, "the Gehenna of fire," by reference to this
Jesus referred to Hell as the "Gehenna of fire,"
into which "both body and soul" will be cast. He
said that it is "unquenchable fire" and that "the
worm (man) dieth not" in the flame, just as the
three Hebrew children of Daniel's day did not die
when cast into the fiery furnace (Daniel 3).
Hell is no myth as infidels, Russellites,
Universalists and Modernists would have you
believe. Christ did not warn of Hell simply to scare
men. He warned of Hell because it is a reality!
(4) "Tartarus," the fourth word translated
"Hell," is used only once in the Greek New
Testament (2 Peter 2:4)
Strong's Greek Dictionary of the New
Testament says that "Tartarus" is "the deepest
abyss of Hades," and that the word means "to
incarcerate (imprison) in eternal torment."
A. T. Robertson: "The dark and doleful abode
of the wicked dead like the Gehenna of the Jews."
Fausset's Dictionary [non-Christian]: "The 'deep' or 'abyss' or
FIRE IN HELL
Leaving the passages that contain these four
words that are translated "Hell" let us notice some
passages that will teach us of Hell with words which
we all can easily understand.
Matthew 13:49, 50 -- "So shall it be at the end
of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever
the wicked from among the just, and shall cast
them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing
and gnashing of teeth."
Matthew 25:46 -- "And these shall go away
into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into
Revelation 9:2 -- "And he opened the
bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the
pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun
and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke
of the pit."
Revelation 14:10, 11 -- "The same shall drink
of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured
out without mixture into the cup of his indignation;
and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone
in the presence of the holy angels, and in the
presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their
torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they
have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast
and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of
Revelation 20:10, 15 -- "And the devil that
deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and
brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet
are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever
and ever... And whosoever was not found written in the
book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
Revelation 19:20 -- "And the beast was taken,
and with him the false prophet... These both were
cast alive into a lake of fire burning with
Be not deceived by the deniers of Hellfire. Such
false teachers are enemies of your soul. Read these
passages for yourself, and cast into the fire the
trashy literature that tries to explain away plain
statements of God's Word.
I have a Watchtower (Russellite or so-called
"Jehovah's Witness") book that tries to do away
with the fact that the Bible means what it says in
such passages as the following:
Matthew 18:8 -- "Wherefore if thy hand or thy
foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from
thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or
maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet
to be cast into everlasting fire."
The Greek word for "everlasting" is aionios.
The word means ageless; without beginning, without
ending, or both. It is used in Romans 16:26 of God
-- "the everlasting [aionios] God[.]" This use of the
word should clearly show us the meaning of the
A. T. Robertson says of the word: "It comes as
near to the idea of eternal as the Greek can put it
in one word. It is a difficult idea to put into
The very same word (aionios) is used to
describe the future life of the righteous and the
future punishment of the wicked in Matthew 25:46
-- "And these shall go away into everlasting
punishment: but the righteous into life eternal." If
the punishment of the wicked is limited, we may
likewise limit the life of the righteous! But such can
not be done.
"FOR EVER AND EVER"
This phrase, "for ever and ever" (eis tous aionas
aionon), occurs 20 times in the New Testament:
of God -- 16 times.
of saints' future blessedness -- 1 time.
of punishment of the wicked and Satan -- 3
Is it likely that the phrase means absolute
eternity 17 times, and only a limited period the
other three times? Nonsense!
Death is never an annihilation. It is always a
Adam's death was a separation from God
(Genesis 2:17; 3:23, 24).
Christ's death was a separation from God
Physical death is a separation of the soul from
the body (Luke 16:22, 23).
The second death is the final and eternal
separation of the unsaved in the "lake of fire"
(Revelation 20:11-15. That the second death is not
annihilation, see Revelation 19:20 and Revelation
Neither does "destruction" mean annihilation.
Something can be destroyed without being
annihilated. There is much destruction of property,
goods, buildings, etc., in war, but such things are
It will certainly be destruction for the unsaved
in Hell -- destruction of peace, joy, happiness,
pleasure, rest; destruction from all that the saints of
God have in Heaven; but no annihilation.
If you are lost, reader, then you are doomed to
eternal separation from God in the Gehenna of fire,
unless you look to Him who was separated that
sinners might have life. If you realize your guilt
before Him, and are aware that you deserve nothing
but Hell because of your sins against the Holy and
Righteous God, there is hope for you. Listen:
"But God commendeth his love toward us, in
that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Much more then, being now justified by his blood,
we shall be saved from wrath through him"
(Romans 5:8, 9).
Christ suffered the Hell -- separation from God
-- for all who will depend wholly upon Him.
"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the
just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God"
(1 Peter 3:18).
"For he [God] hath made him [Christ] to be
sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made
the righteousness of God in him" (2 Corinthians
Look to Him for redemption from sin, death,
The Challenge Press
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Note: CHM added the bracketed word [just] 3 times to the above tract.
We did this to avoid the appearance of Bible 'correcting'.
[Christian Helps Ministry (USA)] [Christian Home Bible Course]