posted on Apr, 29 2007 @ 09:45 PM
The doctrine of “Hell” as it is traditionally taught should be removed from the catalogue of Christian beliefs.
Before delving into this study, I wish to make some preliminary remarks regarding assumptions. Any important study should be qualified with the
principles that underlie its conclusions.
REVELATION A BOOK OF SYMBOLS
As herein discussed, the teaching of “Hell” is primarily rooted in references to the “lake of fire” that are found in the Book of
The Book of Revelation comes from a class of literature known as apocalyptic. “Apocalyptic” portends the end of Evil and the triumph of Good.
Revelation, like all apocalyptic literature, communicates this message through symbolism. It is mystical. There are bizarre creatures, numerology, and
allegory. Every aspect of the book is symbolic, including time periods, people, locations, animals, numbers, colors, clothing, and jewelry.
This is no less true of the mystical “lake of fire”.
The book’s introduction identifies its symbolic nature beyond any doubt: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto
his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John” (Revelation 1:1). The word
“signified” means “in signs”, i.e. “in symbols”.
[A symbol is a printed or written sign used to represent something else by association, resemblance, or convention, especially a material object used
to represent something invisible. Linguistically, the word “symbol” is associated with the concepts creed, mark, and throwing (hand signs): Middle
English symbole, creed, from Old French, from Latin symbolum, token, mark, from Greek sumbolon, token for identification (by comparison with a
counterpart) : sun-, syn- + ballein, to throw.]
Regarding the Book of Revelation, one writer has stated, “Sometimes the images draw meaning from different associations, including other biblical
stories. No one really knows what it all means -- the original key, if ever there was such a thing, is long lost. In short, there is no one single
As used in the New Testament, “key” is a symbol for knowledge. In Luke 11:52, Jesus said, “Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key
of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered”.
In the New Testament, the key of knowledge is applied to the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 16:19), David (Revelation 3:7), the Bottomless Pit (Revelation
9:1; 20:1), and Hell and Death (Revelation 1:18). This mystic application of the symbolic “key” suggests that Jesus was introducing a significant
new teaching or an important corrective to an old teaching.
For my present purpose, I wish to focus on the last entry on this list of keys. Jesus said, “I [am] he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am
alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Revelation 1:18).
Jesus claimed to possess the truth regarding Hell and Death! His own resurrection testifies to the truth that there is life after death. This bold,
confident announcement of His possession of the key and the fact that He marshals it as a token befitting close inquiry, suggests it is one of the
primary subjects DESTINED FOR DISCLOSURE; hence, its rightful place in a book called Revelation.
To fully appreciate this revelation, one must attempt to recover the understanding and experience of the typical first-century Jewish audience who
were plagued by uncertainty and fear about the afterlife. By pledging solidarity with the human family, Jesus ensured our immortality and supplanted
any fear they or we might entertain about Hell. I will have more to say about the twin subjects of Hell and Death in my writings on Solidarity
Where did people err, then, in regard to the doctrine of Hell?
They mistook the symbol for the message. This is the first of three causes that contributed to the misapprehension regarding Hell.
The second cause stems from a failure to understand that the Bible predicts two messiahs.