This is what I prepared for my latest sitdown with the Jehovah’s Witness lady… which has led to a discussion of the immortal soul (anyone who wants to contribute verses, please do). Today we talked about hellfire. And I found out they don’t believe that souls are immortal.
Sharing what I put together, maybe it will be of use to you, maybe not. Sibs do that, right? 🙂
Notes on Gehenna, Hades, Tartarus…
Hades and Tartarus are from Greek mythology, but since the NT was written in Greek and divinely inspired, we can assume that the Lord knew what He was doing in choosing these terms.
Hades is a general term for the afterlife – it’s not a pleasant place, and most dead go there. Tartarus is a specially nasty place where punishments are handed out. (Ellysium is the only positive Greek afterlife, but of course it is not mentioned in the Bible. )
Gehenna (/ɡɪˈhɛnə/; Ancient Greek: γέεννα), Gehinnom (Rabbinical Hebrew: גהנום/גהנם) and Yiddish Gehinnam, are terms derived from a place outside ancient Jerusalem known in the Hebrew Bible as the Valley of the Son of Hinnom (Hebrew: גֵיא בֶן־הִנֹּם or גיא בן-הינום); one of the two principal valleys surrounding the Old City.
In the Hebrew Bible, the site was initially where apostate Israelites and followers of various Ba’als and other Canaanite gods, including Moloch (or Molech), sacrificed their children by fire (2 Chr. 28:3, 33:6). Thereafter it was deemed to be cursed (Jer. 7:31, 19:2-6).
In Jewish, Christian, and Islamic scripture, Gehenna is a destination of the wicked. This is different from the more neutral Sheol/Hades, the abode of the dead, although the King James Version of the Bible usually translates both with the Anglo-Saxon word Hell.
(That’s wiki, but we study this in church. I just wanted a text reference).
As a Christian, I understand Hades as a holding place for the damned who have not yet been judged. It’s really awful, but it’s not as awful as Gehenna will be – as Hades is set to be burned up IN Hell.
(All Scripture used is NASB, which is the closest word-for-word translation available excepting an interlinear).
Revelation 20:11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whosepresence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
(I know Dante wrote an epic poem called “Inferno” and that the concepts have infected our cultural understanding of the afterlife, but that’s not Scriptural, so I’m not paying any attention to it).
Are there any of the damned burning right now? Yes, I think so, based on the story of Lazarus and the rich man. (I do believe this to have been a specific person, because Jesus never lied, and therefore, He would not have given a specific name to someone if they didn’t really exist).
Luke 16:19 “Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. 20 And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, 21 and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. 22 Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham *said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”
Lots of verses about Hell. Most of them spoken by Jesus.
Matthew 5:29 If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, [ac]than for your whole body to go into hell. (Gehenna is used here)
Matthew 5: 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. (Gehenna of fire)
Matthew10: 27 What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. 28 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. (Gehenna is used here)
Matthew 13: 40 So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
Matthew 13: 49 So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, 50 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 23:32 Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? (Gehenna is used here)
Mark 9:43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, 44 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. 45 If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell, 46 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.47 If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, 48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. (Gehenna is used here)
Luke 12:4 “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! (Gehenna is used here)
2 Peter 2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; (Tartarus)
Revelation 14: 9 Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”
Yet more on fire… as used in the sense of hellfire.
Matthew 3:12 His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
Matthew 25: 41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;
John 15:6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.
Hebrews 10:26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries
James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.
2 Peter 3:7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
Jude 1:7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.
Revelation 19:20 And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.
Revelation 21:8 But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”