Personal opinions on the subject of hell range from a profession of its existence as the fire-and-brimstone punishment for the person with unrepentant sin to a belief that it’s a mythical place since, “A good god would never kill his people!” The truth is that God is a just god who offered us a choice: follow Him and His Christ and live or don’t and die (spiritually). He created a place within the earth to serve as a means of destruction – a consequence that awaits the spirits of those who didn’t choose life through faith and resulting obedience.
Originally created for eventual judgment of the fallen angels (including their leader, Lucifer) hell will also be the final destination for the spirits of unrighteous humans. As well, this is the holding place of those spirits of the unrighteous awaiting judgment. Scripture is pretty clear about this. We also find references to this holding place and the fiery judgment from others like Enoch, the grandson of Adam.
- Hell – holding place Hades = Sheol: holding place of the spirits of those whose names aren’t recorded in heaven as they await judgment. This place will be unnecessary and eliminated when death is abolished at God’s great judgment (cf. Revelation 20:15).
References include: Matthew 11:23 and 16:18; Luke 10:15 and 16:22-23; Acts 2:27 & 31; 1Corinthians 15:55; 2Peter 2:4; Revelation 1:18, 6:8, and 20:13-14
- Hell – fiery judgment Gehenna & Lake of Fire: last-days consequences for the wicked after judgment. Scripture and the Book of Enoch describe this as a place within the earth that produces incredible heat and flames. Read Luke 16:23-24 and you’ll see words and phrases like ‘hades’ and ‘torment’ and “I am in agony in this flame”. So, for those who believe hell is figurative or a parable – I’d reconsider.
- Gehenna references include: Matthew 5:22-30, 10:28, 18:9 and 23:15 & 33; Mark 9:43, 45, & 47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6
Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. —Matthew 10:28.
- Lake of fire references include: Revelation 19:20, 20:10 & 14-15, and 21:8
Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. —Revelation 20:14-15.
Now that we know what hell is, let’s address what it isn’t. Contrary to popular opinion, hell isn’t a multi-layered furnace where sinners are divided and placed based on the bad things they did on earth. This concept is fantasy based on “Dante’s Inferno” – the first part of a poem titled Divine Comedy. It’s not even loosely based on Scripture and shouldn’t be taken as such. Anyone whose name isn’t recorded in heaven among the righteous at their time of death will find their spirit waiting in holding-place hell until their final disposition: hell as a fiery judgment.
What’s your destination?