The following is my opinion as a member participating in this discussion.
This is a subject I have studied. In used to have a blog on the now-defunct Geocities about Biblical prophesy. One of the chapters was entitled
"Hell does not exist
There has been much misunderstanding of the concept of hell. I was raised a Southern Baptist, where fire and brimstone preaching was the norm, and
every sermon centered around the fiery pits of hell. Imagine my shock the day I learned that the word "Gospel" was literally translated as "Good
The word "hell" appears many times in the King James version of the Holy Bible. Yet rarely is it an interpretation of a word that meant 'pit of
fiery damnation'... instead, it typically refers to either death itself, or to the abode of the dead, i.e. the underworld, which we often refer to as
'Hades' (the actual Greek word) today.
In Mark 9:43 and 9:45, we have one of the exceptions to this: 'hell' is interpreted from the Greek word 'geennha
', which is a word that is
used to represent the concept of a place of eternal fiery torment through association with the valley of Himmon, a location where refuse, including
the dead bodies of animals and executed criminals were burned to prevent the stench of putrification. Thus, we have the reference to fiery punishment
for misdeeds. But was Jesus speaking figuratively or literally here? Jesus was unable throughout the Gospels to adequately explain the things he was
trying to convey; instead he used parables, lessons similar to those found in Aesop's Fables
where situations were described not in order to
show exact details, but to show a comparison between the parable and the reality He was attempting to convey. Jesus Himself admitted this:
10: And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
11: He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
So was the example given in Mark 9:43-49 a parable, or a reality? Well, it would be silly to think of one's hand as 'offending'
, meaning to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way, upon which another may trip and fall, metaphorically to offend, or to
entice to sin). So it makes sense to me that this is more of a parable. That still does not explain completely whether gheenna
was real or a
part of the parable, however; I believe it was a reference to a future spiritual version of the valley of Himmon, the fiery pit of torture that some
preachers love to talk about so much.
I believe this for a reason: there is one place in the Holy Bible where our concept of hell is described: Revelation!
20: And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark
of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
is the hell we are all familiar with, and notice that in this verse, only two entities are cast alive into it: the beast and the false
Of course, later in Revelation we come across another reference:
12: And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and
the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13: And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell (hades) delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged
every man according to their works.
14: And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15: And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
(parenthetic explanation mine)
Here we see that everyone whose name is not written in this book of life is cast as well into the lake of fire. But cast is a bit of a mistranslation;
more appropriate in our modern language would be 'released'. The actual word is ballō
, with the following meaning:
- 1) to throw or
let go of a thing without caring where it falls
- to scatter, to throw, cast into
- to give over to one's care uncertain about the result
- of fluids
- to pour, pour into of rivers
- to pour out
- to put into, insert
So instead of saying something to the effect of "You did not do well, now I sentence you to burn for eternity", God says something more like "You
refused to listen to me before; now you have to stay here". And remember that this comes after
Jesus' reign of 1000 years, wherein I am sure
everyone will know who He is and what He stands for and expects.
So in short, no, there is no hell. No, no one will be tossed into it (except the false prophet and the beast). Yes, there will be a hell. Yes, some
people will willingly choose to enter it rather than enter God's Kingdom.
(All references are from www.blueletterbible.org...
All translations are taken form Strong's Exhaustive Concordance
All Biblical verses are using the King James Version)
Edit to add: come on guys, it takes time to type all this stuff out! Patience!
As an ATS Staff Member, I will not moderate in threads such as this where I have participated as a member.