Talk about the different descriptions of Hell that are in the Bible…In the Bible, ‘Hell’ has been referred to as…
- “An unquenchable fire”
- “The blackness of darkness”
- “Furnace of fire”
- “Torment in fire and brimstone”
- “The smoke of their torment”
- “The lake where burneth with fire and brimstone”
- “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (People will never die but would live on in agonizing torment)
- “The prepared for the devil and his angels”
Ask about Hell: What is hell?…
Define Hell (online dictionary definition): A place regarded in various religions as a spirit realm of evil and suffering, often traditionally depicted as a place of perpetual fire beneath the earth where the wicked are punished after death.
Define Hell (bible dictionary definition): A term in common usage designates the place of future punishment for the wicked. Additionally, hell refers to place after death where there are disembodied spirits without any necessary implication as to their happiness or unhappiness.
Ask about the wicked: Who does the Bible refer to as the wicked?…
Read Proverbs 6:12-19…(Bible Commentary interpretation) Scoundrel is literally “man of belial”, someone who is worthless and wicked. A scoundrel is known by his corrupt mouth, his false and deceptive words. He plans evil actions from a deceitful heart so that people are not aware of his intentions until it is too late. A scoundrel brings disaster on himself. It comes unexpectedly and quickly with no way to offset it.
Read Proverbs 28:1…The wicked run away from God and everything that is good.
Read Romans 3:10-18… It almost sounds like everyone should be considered wicked.
Ask about Romans 3:10-18: What does Romans 3:10-18 mean?…By our actions/sins, we should be considered wicked/unrighteous.
Read Jeremiah 15:19-21 and 1 Corinthians 6:7-11…These verses indicate that God has given us the opportunity to be righteous. God has given us Jesus to remove our inherent wickedness. Because of what Jesus did, we are now considered righteous through the blood of Jesus Christ. We, as Christ followers, have been cleansed.
Talk about Sheol, the first word that is sometimes used to describe Hell…Sheol is sometimes referred to as Hell, but many commentaries differ in interpretation. Most commentaries agree that it is a neutral place, a place where all of the dead go. If you were to say, “Billy spared me from going to Sheol” would probably mean that Billy saved your life, maybe from getting shot or drowning. Sheol generally is a place for the dead, not like how we usually define grave, but a place of those who departed from this life, including both the righteous and unrighteous. In the Bible, it is translated 31 times as ‘grave’, 31 times as ‘hell’ and three times as ‘pit’.
Read Numbers 16:25-35…These verses give a great representation of God’s power. If we rebel against him, he can send us to the “realm of the dead”, even if we are considered “righteous people”. He can open the earth and swallow us if he pleases.
Read Psalm 16:8-10 (NIV)…Psalm 16:8-10 mentions about the “realm of the dead”…It is defined as a place of those who departed from this life (Sheol). It has happened before where God has opened the Earth and swallowed people into Sheol. As long as we “keep our eyes always on the Lord”, God won’t do this to us.
Read Psalm 30:3…Here, most commentaries would agree that “you spared me from going to the pit” meant that David must have been close to dying, maybe from a physical illness, but God healed him and kept him alive.
Read Jeremiah 5:14-31
Ask about fear: What is the only thing we should fear?…God himself
Ask about why we should fear God…Why should we fear God?…His power (Numbers 16:25-35)…He has the power to cause earthquakes to swallow people up.
Summarization of previously read verses: We should obey God, not wickedness.
Introduce Hades, the second term that sometimes used to describe Hell…The second term that is sometimes used to describe Hell is ‘Hades’. ‘Hades’ refers to the underworld, or region of the departed, the intermediate state between death and the resurrection. Out of the words that describe Hell, this word probably has the most differences in interpretations, especially among Christian denominations. Some Christian interpretations say that is similar to Sheol, in which it is neutral and is a place for the dead, not necessarily a place for just the unrighteous. Other interpretations, including the King James Version, translate ‘Hades’ as ‘Hell’. Many religious groups, including the Anglicans, believe that all people are sent to Hades, an intermediate state between death and the resurrection, in which the soul does not sleep in unconsciousness, but exists in happiness or misery until the resurrection, when it shall be reunited to the body and receive its final reward. Furthermore, some believe that souls, with exception of martyrs and saints, remain in Hades until the Final Judgment, similar to a purgatory. Some denominations believe that even the righteous will be temporarily punished in Hades for the sins that they committed or never repented for.
Read Matthew 11:20-24…Jesus was denouncing these people, or publicly declaring that they are doing wrong, because they weren’t repenting. Jesus denounced their sin. Even though miracles had occurred in those locations, they weren’t repenting for their sin. Jesus called them out. If we don’t repent for our sins, Jesus warns us that we could be sent down to Hades. In some interpretations, this could indicate that these people wouldn’t qualify to be sent to Heaven immediately, due to their sins but rather would have to be sent to Hades until the resurrection. Other interpretations would suggest that they would be thrown into Hell for what they did (sin) or didn’t do (repent for their sins).
Ask about why we should repent: Why should we repent?…Repenting involves giving your sins to the Lord. He promises us that our sins will be forgotten and wiped away when we repent. When we sin, we lose our connections with God. When we repent, our connection with Him is restored.
Talk about the cities of Tyre, Sidon and Sodom…The cities of Tyre, Sidon and Sodom have NEVER repented. Most people that have lived there have not been saved by God’s grace.
Ask about these cities: Have you heard of these cities? Do you know their reputation?…They had a reputation of wickedness, including child sacrifice, worshiping idols, and sodomy.
Talk about Bethsaida, Chorazu, and Capernaum…In these cities, the people had seen Jesus and his miracles, but still refused to believe the truth that He was saying.
Talk about Jesus’s words…Here is something that is scary. Jesus is saying that these people would suffer an even greater punishment that that of the wicked cities that didn’t see Jesus. The people in the cities that did see Jesus saw Him and rejected the truth. Well, God has the power to do that. Imagine being in Hell, the place of eternal separation from God, and suffering 100 times more than everyone else. That is something to be afraid of…
Summary of this section: Repent and believe in the truth of Jesus Christ.
Read Matthew 16:13-18… We, as Christ followers who have confessed that Jesus is Lord, are the church which has been built with Jesus Christ as the cornerstone (1 Peter 2:4-6), thus the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
Read Revelation 20:11-15…The book of life may refer to the record of those who are saved (it is not extremely clear whether this is the case) while the book of death may include the judgment of works of those who were not saved. According to verse 12, “The dead were judged by what they had done”.
Ask about the books: Which book would you rather be in?…Here are the choices: ‘Book of Life’ or ‘Book of Death’.
Talk about Hell…Currently, there is limited understanding of Hell, but from what we do know, it sounds terrifying. It is described as a lake of fire or a second death.
Reflecting on yourself: Do you have a relationship with God? Are you sure? Have you been taking advantage of your gifts, opportunities, and responsibilities as a Christ follower?…As a Christ follower, we are required to faithfully obey God in everything.
Ask about Hell/lake of fire…According to the Bible, who is destined for the lake of fire?…Satan, the false prophets, the demons, death, Hades, and all of those that are not recorded in the book of life.
Talk about Gehenna, the third word to describe hell… Gehenna is a word that is commonly agreed upon as a word to describe Hell. Gehenna’, the valley of Hinnon, is a place where Jewish apostasy, or the abandonment or renunciation of Jewish belief, was celebrated. It was outside Jerusalem. Additionally, Gehenna was known for having child sacrifice, idolatry and injustice. Also, King Josiah converted it into a place of abomination, where dead bodies were thrown and burnt. It plays as a symbol of Hell as a place with lost spirits.
Read James 3:6…Even though Gehenna was an actual place, several translations use Gehenna to describe hell in a Greek translation of the Bible. If you look up “Verses with Gehenna in the Bible” on the internet, you will find many verses about hell as fiery.
Talk about what God wants: God wants to heal us, not to look at whether we are good or not
Important aspects of Hell
- Hell’s main purpose is not torture
- Similar to Gehenna, Hell (like Gehenna) is contained outside of Heaven (like Jerusalem). Hell (and Gehenna) was contained so that it could no longer destroy anything outside of it. Jerusalem build up their walls to protect themselves from Gehenna. Read Nehemiah 2:17
- Both Heaven and Hell are continuations of where your life is headed. God warns us that if we don’t live together with him, our life may lead down a destructive path. Like Gehenna, in which they actively ‘worshiped’ other idols, gods, and ways of life that was outside God. In God’s eyes, these acts of idolatry are like having an affair with God. He warns us that a life of idolatry and following other gods will lead us to destruction. This destruction is Hell…
- The flames are lit by human hands. Similar to Gehenna, the acts of destruction and fire that we will be experiencing in hell are lit by us and our choices to choose sin over God. When sin is contained in one area and God (goodness) is removed, it won’t be sunshine and rainbows anymore.
Which view is the right view of God?… God saying,
- “Marry me and bring your old lovers”…Here, creation hasn’t been redeemed
- “Marry me or I’ll kill you”…God annihilating the unrepentant sinner. This minimizes the scope of the resurrection.
- “Marry me or I’ll lock you in the basement”…Coercion doesn’t incite/encourage love
- “Marry me or go your own way”…God wants to be with us and take the destruction on him. We are destined for destruction without Him. It is easy to do because it is free and it is hard to do because it costs everything.
Bible Study Tools. (2017). Retrieved from http://www.biblestudytools.com/
NIV Life Application Study Bible. (2011). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament. (2004). Colorado Springs, Colorado: International Bible Society.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament. (2004). Colorado Springs, Colorado: International Bible Society.
Unger, M. F. (1976) Unger’s bible dictionary. Chicago, IL: The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.