HELL IS THE GRAVE

Eternal Torture a Fiendish Invention of the Fleshly Mind “The dead know not anything .. There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest”—Eccl. 9:5-10closeEcclesiastes 9:5-10 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun. Enjoy Life with the One You Love Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going. (ESV) closeEcclesiastes 9:5-10closeEcclesiastes 9:5-10 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun. Enjoy Life with the One You Love Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going. (ESV) For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun. Enjoy Life with the One You Love Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going. (ESV) .
(It may be thought we are contending with a doctrine no longer believed and taught, but eternal torture of the damned is still Christendom’s official creed, and a necessary corollary of the immortal soul theory.)
OF all the false doctrines of orthodox Christendom, or any other system of religious speculation, surely it can be safely said that the hideous conception of eternal excruciating agony for nine-tenths of the human race in the flames of hell has been the most destructive of faith in God and belief in the Bible—the most productive of atheism and skepticism.
There is no greater blasphemy or perversion of Scripture than to attribute such characteristics to God.
True indeed, He reveals Himself as a God of justice and vengeance upon the wicked and disobedient, and His firm declared purpose is to bring every evil work into remembrance and to pour just retribution upon the ungodly.
But He is never portrayed in Scripture as a merciless fiend who delights in the wanton and purposeless eternal torture of His Own creatures.
We are told, on the contrary, that in the great coming day of judgment, the wicked shall, according to their deserts, receive few or many stripes with shame and contempt, and that the end of them all is eternal destruction—a complete blotting out—a consuming into smoke and ashes.
The conception of eternal intense torture for the vast majority of mankind, with the few redeemed forever feasting their eyes on the scene with pitiless satisfaction, is so hideous and monstrous that it is difficult to think any rational mind has ever believed it.
Perhaps when some sensational preacher luridly portrays such characters as Hitler and his inhuman accomplices in eternal torments, people in the heat of emotion find it possible to conceive of such things and find satisfaction in them.
But just carry it to its logical conclusion. We are asked to believe by the exponents of hellfire traditions that of the people we work with, our neighbors, those we see and meet from day to day—of these the vast majority will, after a few brief years in which sorrow predominates, go to a hopeless destiny of eternal torment by vicious fiends of evil.
This is the view of the providence of God that we are shut up to if we accept these traditions of immortal-soulism and eternal torment.
We would not, upon reflection, wish this fate upon the worst character we could conceive of. Yet upon the flimsy basis of a few scraps of misunderstood Scripture, the orthodox churches have, it seems almost eagerly, built up this fiendish and inhuman doctrine, and have willfully or ignorantly ignored all the plain teachings of the Bible about the dead sleeping, being at rest, knowing nothing, having no thoughts, activities or emotions; and about the wicked being destroyed, consumed into smoke and ashes, being cut off, perishing in their own corruption and like their own dung.
Eternal torment is taught in theory, but denied in fact, for actually, no one is ever actually believed to go there. Some redeeming feature or deathbed repentance or extreme unction takes them to heaven.
This is one of the system’s greatest evils. It is so horrible they are afraid to face it, and they consequently make a mockery of all the principles of equity and justice, and obliterate all distinctions of good and evil, right and wrong, by a thick layer of sentiment.
The Bible teaches plainly that the wicked will he destroyed—and they WILL, to trouble creation no more. This is just, reasonable, scriptural.

HELL

THE original and root meaning of the English word “hell” is “a covered, hidden, concealed, or secret place.” As a verb, to hell or to hele is given in Webster to mean “to cover, conceal or keep secret,” and it is still used in this sense in some parts of England, as to hele a house with a roof, or to hele seeds by covering them.
But this word, like many others has unfortunately acquired a false ecclesiastical color and meaning.
USE IN COMMON VERSION
THE word “hell” occurs in our common version 54 times, 31 in the Old Testament and 23 in the New. It is a translation of four different words in the original, one (Sheol) in the Old, and three (Hades, Gehenna, Tartaros) in the New.
The last, Tartaros, occurs but once (2 Pet 2:4close2 Peter 2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; (ESV) close2 Peter 2:4close2 Peter 2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; (ESV) For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; (ESV) ).
Gehenna appears 12 times, it is always translated “hell,” and it is always connected with
burning and corruption.
Sheol and Hades, the other two, are synonymous terms, as will be demonstrated, and both together occur 76 times. 41 times they are translated hell, 32 times grave, and 3 times pit.
While Sheol, Hades and Tartaros refer to the same place or state, Gehenna is entirely different in meaning.

SHEOL

SHEOL is a term for the place of the dead in general, and for this reason “hell” in its
original and uncorrupted meaning is a better word for sheol than “grave” is
“Grave” primarily means the specific place of a particular corpse or corpses. The Hebrew
for this is geber, as—
“My grave (geber) which I digged for me” (Gen. 50:5closeGenesis 50:5 My father made me swear, saying, ‘I am about to die: in my tomb that I hewed out for myself in the land of Canaan, there shall you bury me.’ Now therefore, let me please go up and bury my father. Then I will return.” (ESV) closeGenesis 50:5closeGenesis 50:5 My father made me swear, saying, ‘I am about to die: in my tomb that I hewed out for myself in the land of Canaan, there shall you bury me.’ Now therefore, let me please go up and bury my father. Then I will return.” (ESV) My father made me swear, saying, ‘I am about to die: in my tomb that I hewed out for myself in the land of Canaan, there shall you bury me.’ Now therefore, let me please go up and bury my father. Then I will return.” (ESV) ).
“The king wept at the grave (geber) of Abner” (2 Sam. 3:32close2 Samuel 3:32 32 They buried Abner at Hebron. And the king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner, and all the people wept. (ESV) close2 Samuel 3:32close2 Samuel 3:32 32 They buried Abner at Hebron. And the king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner, and all the people wept. (ESV) 32 They buried Abner at Hebron. And the king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner, and all the people wept. (ESV) ).
On the other hand, sheol in the Hebrew and “hell” in its primary meaning are general terms as (Psa. 6:5closePsalm 6:5 For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise? (ESV)
closePsalm 6:5closePsalm 6:5 For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise? (ESV)
For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise? (ESV)
)—
“In the grave (sheol) who shall give Thee thanks?”
“Hell (sheol) and destruction are never full” (Pro. 27:20closeProverbs 27:20 20 Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied,
and never satisfied are the eyes of man. (ESV)
closeProverbs 27:20closeProverbs 27:20 20 Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied,
and never satisfied are the eyes of man. (ESV)
20 Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied,
and never satisfied are the eyes of man. (ESV)
).
However, while “grave” used as a general term will well fit all passages where sheol occurs, “hell” in the popular sense would be absurd in some places and would immediately reveal the popular error. For example, where Jacob says (Gen. 37:35closeGenesis 37:35 35 All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him. (ESV) closeGenesis 37:35closeGenesis 37:35 35 All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him. (ESV) 35 All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him. (ESV) )—
“I will go down into sheol unto my son mourning.” And where Job says (14:13)—
“O that Thou wouldest hide me in sheol.”
It is not to be supposed that either Jacob or Job anticipated or hoped to go to eternal
torment.
In all the 65 places where sheol is found, there is not one that gives any countenance to the idea of a place of burning torment of the damned. It is always in the sense of the general hidden state of the dead—all the dead—good and bad alike.
And not only is sheol used as the resting place of all the dead indiscriminately, but we have specific mention of righteous and approved men going there and expecting to go there.
We have seen this of Jacob and Job. Also David (Psa. 88:3closePsalm 88:3 For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol. (ESV)
closePsalm 88:3closePsalm 88:3 For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol. (ESV)
For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol. (ESV)
), Hezekiah (Isa. 38:10closeIsaiah 38:10 10 I said, In the middle of my days
I must depart;
I am consigned to the gates of Sheol
for the rest of my years. (ESV)
closeIsaiah 38:10closeIsaiah 38:10 10 I said, In the middle of my days
I must depart;
I am consigned to the gates of Sheol
for the rest of my years. (ESV)
10 I said, In the middle of my days
I must depart;
I am consigned to the gates of Sheol
for the rest of my years. (ESV)
), Christ (Psa. 16:10closePsalm 16:10 10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption. (ESV)
closePsalm 16:10closePsalm 16:10 10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption. (ESV)
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption. (ESV)
; Acts 2:31; 3:15closeActs 2:31 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. Acts 3:15 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. (ESV) closeActs 2:31closeActs 2:31 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. (ESV) 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. Acts 3:15closeActs 3:15 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. (ESV) 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. (ESV) ), and all the faithful (compare Hos. 13:14closeHosea 13:14 14 Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol?
Shall I redeem them from Death?
O Death, where are your plagues?
O Sheol, where is your sting?
Compassion is hidden from my eyes. (ESV)
closeHosea 13:14closeHosea 13:14 14 Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol?
Shall I redeem them from Death?
O Death, where are your plagues?
O Sheol, where is your sting?
Compassion is hidden from my eyes. (ESV)
14 Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol?
Shall I redeem them from Death?
O Death, where are your plagues?
O Sheol, where is your sting?
Compassion is hidden from my eyes. (ESV)
with 1 Cor. 15:54-56close1 Corinthians 15:54-56 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. (ESV)
close1 Corinthians 15:54-56close1 Corinthians 15:54-56 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. (ESV)
54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. (ESV)
).
Sheol is a place of silence—
“Let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in sheol” (Psa. 31:17closePsalm 31:17 17 O Lord, let me not be put to shame,
for I call upon you;
let the wicked be put to shame;
let them go silently to Sheol. (ESV)
closePsalm 31:17closePsalm 31:17 17 O Lord, let me not be put to shame,
for I call upon you;
let the wicked be put to shame;
let them go silently to Sheol. (ESV)
17 O Lord, let me not be put to shame,
for I call upon you;
let the wicked be put to shame;
let them go silently to Sheol. (ESV)
).
“The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence” (Psa. 115:17closePsalm 115:17 17 The dead do not praise the Lord,
nor do any who go down into silence. (ESV)
closePsalm 115:17closePsalm 115:17 17 The dead do not praise the Lord,
nor do any who go down into silence. (ESV)
17 The dead do not praise the Lord,
nor do any who go down into silence. (ESV)
).
There is no remembrance there (Psa. 6:5closePsalm 6:5 For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise? (ESV)
closePsalm 6:5closePsalm 6:5 For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise? (ESV)
For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise? (ESV)
)—
“In death there is no remembrance of Thee, in sheol who shall give Thee thanks?” Sheol is “in the dust” and there we “rest together” “in darkness” (Job 17:13-16closeJob 17:13-16 13 If I hope for Sheol as my house,
if I make my bed in darkness,
14 if I say to the pit, ‘You are my father,’
and to the worm, ‘My mother,’ or ‘My sister,’
15 where then is my hope?
Who will see my hope?
16 Will it go down to the bars of Sheol?
Shall we descend together into the dust?” (ESV)
closeJob 17:13-16closeJob 17:13-16 13 If I hope for Sheol as my house,
if I make my bed in darkness,
14 if I say to the pit, ‘You are my father,’
and to the worm, ‘My mother,’ or ‘My sister,’
15 where then is my hope?
Who will see my hope?
16 Will it go down to the bars of Sheol?
Shall we descend together into the dust?” (ESV)
13 If I hope for Sheol as my house,
if I make my bed in darkness,
14 if I say to the pit, ‘You are my father,’
and to the worm, ‘My mother,’ or ‘My sister,’
15 where then is my hope?
Who will see my hope?
16 Will it go down to the bars of Sheol?
Shall we descend together into the dust?” (ESV)
). Beauty is
consumed there (Psa. 49:14closePsalm 49:14 14 Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol;
death shall be their shepherd,
and the upright shall rule over them in the morning.
Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. (ESV)
closePsalm 49:14closePsalm 49:14 14 Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol;
death shall be their shepherd,
and the upright shall rule over them in the morning.
Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. (ESV)
14 Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol;
death shall be their shepherd,
and the upright shall rule over them in the morning.
Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. (ESV)
). There is no work or knowledge there—
“There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in sheol whither thou goest” (Ecc. 9:10closeEcclesiastes 9:10 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going. (ESV) closeEcclesiastes 9:10closeEcclesiastes 9:10 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going. (ESV) 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going. (ESV) ).
It is dark there, and is called the “land of forgetfulness,” and “destruction”—
“Wilt Thou show wonders to the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise Thee?”
“Shall Thy loving kindness be declared in sheol? Or Thy faithfulness in destruction?
“Shall Thy wonders be known in the dark? And Thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?” (Psa. 88:10-12closePsalm 88:10-12 10 Do you work wonders for the dead?
Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah
11 Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,
or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
12 Are your wonders known in the darkness,
or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? (ESV)
closePsalm 88:10-12closePsalm 88:10-12 10 Do you work wonders for the dead?
Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah
11 Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,
or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
12 Are your wonders known in the darkness,
or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? (ESV)
10 Do you work wonders for the dead?
Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah
11 Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,
or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
12 Are your wonders known in the darkness,
or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? (ESV)
).
The “mighty” are spoken of as lying there with “their swords under their heads” (Eze. 32:27closeEzekiel 32:27 27 And they do not lie with the mighty, the fallen from among the uncircumcised, who went down to Sheol with their weapons of war, whose swords were laid under their heads, and whose iniquities are upon their bones; for the terror of the mighty men was in the land of the living. (ESV) closeEzekiel 32:27closeEzekiel 32:27 27 And they do not lie with the mighty, the fallen from among the uncircumcised, who went down to Sheol with their weapons of war, whose swords were laid under their heads, and whose iniquities are upon their bones; for the terror of the mighty men was in the land of the living. (ESV) 27 And they do not lie with the mighty, the fallen from among the uncircumcised, who went down to Sheol with their weapons of war, whose swords were laid under their heads, and whose iniquities are upon their bones; for the terror of the mighty men was in the land of the living. (ESV) ). This is a clear reference to the ancient custom of burying warriors in their graves with their weapons of war, but quite at variance with the traditional hell of torment.

THE STATE OF THE DEAD

AND what we are told elsewhere concerning the state of the dead fully harmonizes with what we have learned about sheol. Death is always associated with oblivion, corruption, dissolution, returning to the dust, passing away as a shadow, the end of thought, knowledge, activity or memory.
Consider what Job says of the state of the dead and see how IMPOSSIBLE it is to harmonize with it the tradition of reward or punishment at death—
“But man dieth and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost (gava—expires), and where is he?
“As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: so man lieth down and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their SLEEP” (Job 14:10-15closeJob 14:10-15 10 But a man dies and is laid low;
man breathes his last, and where is he?
11 As waters fail from a lake
and a river wastes away and dries up,
12 so a man lies down and rises not again;
till the heavens are no more he will not awake
or be roused out of his sleep.
13 Oh that you would hide me in Sheol,
that you would conceal me until your wrath be past,
that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!
14 If a man dies, shall he live again?
All the days of my service I would wait,
till my renewal should come.
15 You would call, and I would answer you;
you would long for the work of your hands. (ESV)
closeJob 14:10-15closeJob 14:10-15 10 But a man dies and is laid low;
man breathes his last, and where is he?
11 As waters fail from a lake
and a river wastes away and dries up,
12 so a man lies down and rises not again;
till the heavens are no more he will not awake
or be roused out of his sleep.
13 Oh that you would hide me in Sheol,
that you would conceal me until your wrath be past,
that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!
14 If a man dies, shall he live again?
All the days of my service I would wait,
till my renewal should come.
15 You would call, and I would answer you;
you would long for the work of your hands. (ESV)
10 But a man dies and is laid low;
man breathes his last, and where is he?
11 As waters fail from a lake
and a river wastes away and dries up,
12 so a man lies down and rises not again;
till the heavens are no more he will not awake
or be roused out of his sleep.
13 Oh that you would hide me in Sheol,
that you would conceal me until your wrath be past,
that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!
14 If a man dies, shall he live again?
All the days of my service I would wait,
till my renewal should come.
15 You would call, and I would answer you;
you would long for the work of your hands. (ESV)
).
Where is heavenly bliss or torment? He continues—
“O that Thou wouldest hide me in sheol, that Thou wouldest keep me secret, until Thy wrath be passed, that Thou wouldest appoint me a set time and remember me!”
In his affliction, he looked forward to the unconscious, peaceful rest in sheol until the day of resurrection and judgment. He had no illusions about sheol or hell being a place of fiery torment. He knew that there the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest, they lie still and are quiet together, for he says (Job 3:11-19closeJob 3:11-19 11 “Why did I not die at birth,
come out from the womb and expire?
12 Why did the knees receive me?
Or why the breasts, that I should nurse?
13 For then I would have lain down and been quiet;
I would have slept; then I would have been at rest,
14 with kings and counselors of the earth
who rebuilt ruins for themselves,
15 or with princes who had gold,
who filled their houses with silver.
16 Or why was I not as a hidden stillborn child,
as infants who never see the light?
17 There the wicked cease from troubling,
and there the weary are at rest.
18 There the prisoners are at ease together;
they hear not the voice of the taskmaster.
19 The small and the great are there,
and the slave is free from his master. (ESV)
closeJob 3:11-19closeJob 3:11-19 11 “Why did I not die at birth,
come out from the womb and expire?
12 Why did the knees receive me?
Or why the breasts, that I should nurse?
13 For then I would have lain down and been quiet;
I would have slept; then I would have been at rest,
14 with kings and counselors of the earth
who rebuilt ruins for themselves,
15 or with princes who had gold,
who filled their houses with silver.
16 Or why was I not as a hidden stillborn child,
as infants who never see the light?
17 There the wicked cease from troubling,
and there the weary are at rest.
18 There the prisoners are at ease together;
they hear not the voice of the taskmaster.
19 The small and the great are there,
and the slave is free from his master. (ESV)
11 “Why did I not die at birth,
come out from the womb and expire?
12 Why did the knees receive me?
Or why the breasts, that I should nurse?
13 For then I would have lain down and been quiet;
I would have slept; then I would have been at rest,
14 with kings and counselors of the earth
who rebuilt ruins for themselves,
15 or with princes who had gold,
who filled their houses with silver.
16 Or why was I not as a hidden stillborn child,
as infants who never see the light?
17 There the wicked cease from troubling,
and there the weary are at rest.
18 There the prisoners are at ease together;
they hear not the voice of the taskmaster.
19 The small and the great are there,
and the slave is free from his master. (ESV)
)—
“Why died I not from the womb? Why did I not expire (gava) when I came out of the belly? Why did the knees prevent me? Or why the breasts that I should suck?
“For now should I have lain still and been quiet. I should have slept, then had I been at rest, with kings and counselors of the earth, which build desolate places for themselves: or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver:
“Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been: as infants which never saw light.
“There the wicked cease from troubling and there the weary be at rest. There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor. The small and great are there, the servant is free from his master.”
Such is the great silent congregation of the dead, all together in one sleeping host: kings, counselors, princes, still-born infants, the wicked, the weary, the prisoners, the small, the great, the servant and the master. And of them all the preacher says (Ecc. 9:5closeEcclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. (ESV) closeEcclesiastes 9:5closeEcclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. (ESV) For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. (ESV) )—
“The living know that they shall die, but THE DEAD KNOW NOT ANYTHING.”
“In death there is no remembrance of Thee” (Psa. 6:5closePsalm 6:5 For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise? (ESV)
closePsalm 6:5closePsalm 6:5 For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise? (ESV)
For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise? (ESV)
).
“The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence” (Psa. 115:17closePsalm 115:17 17 The dead do not praise the Lord,
nor do any who go down into silence. (ESV)
closePsalm 115:17closePsalm 115:17 17 The dead do not praise the Lord,
nor do any who go down into silence. (ESV)
17 The dead do not praise the Lord,
nor do any who go down into silence. (ESV)
).

As to any part of man continuing in consciousness after death, the Scriptures rule out any such theory. All the terms that are used in Hebrew to define the element of life or spirit or breath in man are similarly employed with respect to animals—
Nephesh—”soul, life, body, or person;” Chayiah—”life abstractly considered;” nephesh chayiah—”living soul or creatures;” ruach—”breath or spirit”; and neshamah—”breath.”
All these terms are applied to animals just as to man. And of both the preacher says (Ecc. 3:19closeEcclesiastes 3:19 19 For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. (ESV) closeEcclesiastes 3:19closeEcclesiastes 3:19 19 For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. (ESV) 19 For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. (ESV) )—
“For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts . as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath (ruach).”
And what is “death” in the one case is “death” in the other—the opposite of life, the absence of all life, and of all the things that make up life—vitality, action, knowledge, sensation, emotion, consciousness.
Death is darkness, silence, forgetfulness, corruption, dissolution, smoke, ashes, dust, oblivion—
“All go unto one place: all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.”
All through the Scriptures the picture is the same—
“Man goeth to his long home, the mourners go about the streets … then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit (ruach—breath) shall return to God Who gave it” (Ecc. 12:5-7closeEcclesiastes 12:5-7 they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets— before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. (ESV) closeEcclesiastes 12:5-7closeEcclesiastes 12:5-7 they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets— before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. (ESV) they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets— before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. (ESV) ).
“His breath (same word—ruach) goeth forth, he returneth to his earth: in that very day his thoughts perish” (Psa. 146:4closePsalm 146:4 When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish. (ESV)
closePsalm 146:4closePsalm 146:4 When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish. (ESV)
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish. (ESV)
).
“Thou takest away their breath (ruach) they (the animals—see context) die, and return to their dust” (Psa. 104:29closePsalm 104:29 29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die
and return to their dust. (ESV)
closePsalm 104:29closePsalm 104:29 29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die
and return to their dust. (ESV)
29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die
and return to their dust. (ESV)
).
We know the common, simple meaning of death. We use the word without any difficulty, and we use it of animals just the same as of humans.
Again Paul, when comforting the Thessalonians concerning those who had died, does not say that they are in heaven in bliss and full consciousness as all the clergy tell us, and that the living will soon go to join them there.
He never mentions anything like this, strangely enough, but he says, on the very CONTRARY (1 Thess. 4:13-18close1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 The Coming of the Lord 13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. (ESV) close1 Thessalonians 4:13-18close1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 The Coming of the Lord 13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. (ESV) The Coming of the Lord 13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. (ESV) ), that the dead in Christ are ASLEEP, and that at the coming of Christ they will arise from that condition to join the living in his presence.
And many times we find Jesus, Paul, and others in Scripture, speaking of the dead as being asleep, and not only just asleep, but “asleep in the dust of the earth” (Dan. 1closeDaniel 1 Daniel Taken to Babylon 1:1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god. Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king's palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego. Daniel's Faithfulness But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, 10 and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” 11 Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king's food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” 14 So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. 15 At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king's food. 16 So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. 17 As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. 18 At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. 20 And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. 21 And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus. (ESV) closeDaniel 1closeDaniel 1 Daniel Taken to Babylon 1:1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god. Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king's palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego. Daniel's Faithfulness But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, 10 and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” 11 Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king's food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” 14 So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. 15 At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king's food. 16 So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. 17 As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. 18 At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. 20 And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. 21 And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus. (ESV) Daniel Taken to Babylon 1:1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god. Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king's palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego. Daniel's Faithfulness But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, 10 and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” 11 Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king's food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” 14 So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. 15 At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king's food. 16 So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. 17 As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. 18 At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. 20 And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. 21 And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus. (ESV) 2 : 2 ) . H o w can this possibly be if they are wide awake in heaven or even wider awake in hell?

DEATH, NOT TORTURE, IS THE PUNISHMENT OF SIN

SUCH is death, and the Scriptures declare repeatedly that it is death that is the great penalty for sin. Right from the beginning, death is the sentence, and the wording of that sentence as originally given shows clearly what is meant. God said to Adam as a consequence of his disobedience (Gen. 2closeGenesis 2 The Seventh Day, God Rests 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. The Creation of Man and Woman These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it spanided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. 15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (ESV)
closeGenesis 2closeGenesis 2 The Seventh Day, God Rests 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. The Creation of Man and Woman These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it spanided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. 15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (ESV)
The Seventh Day, God Rests 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. The Creation of Man and Woman These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it spanided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. 15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (ESV)
: 1 7 ) —
“Thou shalt surely DIE”
There was no threatened eternal torment, but on the contrary Adam was told (Gen. 3:19closeGenesis 3:19 19 By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.” (ESV)
closeGenesis 3:19closeGenesis 3:19 19 By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.” (ESV)
19 By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.” (ESV)
)—
“In the sweat of thy face shall thou eat bread, till thou RETURN UNTO THE GROUND: for out of it wast thou taken: for DUST THOU A R T AND UNTO DUST SHALT THOU RETURN”

Paul says, commenting upon the Adamic sentence (Rom. 6:23closeRomans 6:23 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ESV) closeRomans 6:23closeRomans 6:23 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ESV) 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ESV) )—
“The wages of sin is death.”
“By one man’s offence death reigned” (Rom. 5:17closeRomans 5:17 17 For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. (ESV) closeRomans 5:17closeRomans 5:17 17 For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. (ESV) 17 For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. (ESV) ). And Rom. 6:21closeRomans 6:21 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. (ESV) closeRomans 6:21closeRomans 6:21 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. (ESV) 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. (ESV)
“The end of those things (the works of the flesh) is death.” —not eternal living torment, but DEATH.
“Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth DEATH” (Jam. 1:15closeJames 1:15 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (ESV) closeJames 1:15closeJames 1:15 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (ESV) 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (ESV) ).
The penalty of death and destruction is both just and merciful, the penalty of eternal
torture is neither just nor merciful.

THE WICKED DESTROYED, NOT TORTURED

DEATH, we have seen, is oblivion and destruction, and death is the wages of sin. The term “DESTROY” is often used of the fate of the wicked. After the “few or many stripes” of chastisement, the end of all is destruction.
The popular conception leaves no room for few or many stripes, for it sweepingly gives all
the full maximum penalty possible, eternal agony in hell, millions and millions and millions and millions of years for the sins of so brief a lifetime, and this for the overwhelming majority of mankind, for Jesus says (Matt. 7:13)—
“Broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and MANY there be which go in thereat.
“And narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and FEW there be that find it.”
But here again we note that in the Bible it is not eternal torment that is threatened but
destruction, which is something very different.
In Matt. 25:46, Jesus says the wicked go into everlasting punishment, and what this everlasting punishment consists of is explained by Paul (2 Thess. 1:7-9close2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, (ESV) close2 Thessalonians 1:7-9close2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, (ESV) and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, (ESV) ) where he says that when Jesus shall he revealed from heaven, the wicked shall be “punished with everlasting destruction” Again (Heb 10:27closeHebrews 10:27 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. (ESV) closeHebrews 10:27closeHebrews 10:27 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. (ESV) 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. (ESV) )—
“Judgment and fiery indignation shall devour the adversary.”
Jesus says (Matt. 10:28) that God is able to—
“DESTROY both soul and body in Gehenna.”
And Paul told the Philippians (3:19) regarding the fleshly-minded—
“Their end is destruction.”
Peter uses as strong a word as possible when he says (2 Pet. 2:12close2 Peter 2:12 12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, (ESV) close2 Peter 2:12close2 Peter 2:12 12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, (ESV) 12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, (ESV) )—
“These, as natural brute beasts … shall utterly perish in their own corruption.” David declares (Psa. 37:20closePsalm 37:20 20 But the wicked will perish;
the enemies of the Lord are like the glory of the pastures;
they vanish—like smoke they vanish away. (ESV)
closePsalm 37:20closePsalm 37:20 20 But the wicked will perish;
the enemies of the Lord are like the glory of the pastures;
they vanish—like smoke they vanish away. (ESV)
20 But the wicked will perish;
the enemies of the Lord are like the glory of the pastures;
they vanish—like smoke they vanish away. (ESV)
)—
“The wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.”
And Malachi 4:1closeMalachi 4:1 The Great Day of the Lord 4:1  “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. (ESV) closeMalachi 4:1closeMalachi 4:1 The Great Day of the Lord 4:1  “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. (ESV) The Great Day of the Lord 4:1  “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. (ESV)
“For, behold the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch”
Psalm 145:20closePsalm 145:20 20 The Lord preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy. (ESV)
closePsalm 145:20closePsalm 145:20 20 The Lord preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy. (ESV)
20 The Lord preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy. (ESV)

“The Lord preserveth all them that love Him, but all the wicked will He destroy.”

THE PUNISHMENT OF THE WICKED IS FUTURE

IT will have been noted from many of the foregoing quotations that the judgment and punishment of the wicked is connected with a special day IN THE FUTURE- when Christ will return from heaven.
This is important, for it clearly demonstrates the error of the conception of immediate reward or punishment at death. In Matt 16:27, Jesus says—
“For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels, THEN shall he reward every man according to his works.”
He says in John 5:27-29closeJohn 5:27-29 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (ESV) closeJohn 5:27-29closeJohn 5:27-29 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (ESV) 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (ESV)
“The Father hath given him (Jesus) authority to execute judgment . . . for the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth: they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the
resurrection of condemnation.”
Paul declares (2 Tim. 4:1close2 Timothy 4:1 Preach the Word 4:1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: (ESV) close2 Timothy 4:1close2 Timothy 4:1 Preach the Word 4:1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: (ESV) Preach the Word 4:1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: (ESV) )—
“He SHALL judge the quick and the dead AT HIS APPEARING and his Kingdom.”
And again (1 Cor 4:5close1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. (ESV) close1 Corinthians 4:5close1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. (ESV) Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. (ESV) )—
“Judge nothing before the time, UNTIL THE LORD COME, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts, and THEN shall every man have praise of God”
And Peter (2 Pet. 3:7close2 Peter 3:7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. (ESV) close2 Peter 3:7close2 Peter 3:7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. (ESV) But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. (ESV) ) speaks of a FUTURE—
“Day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”
The word here translated “perdition” is many times translated “destruction.” The future aspect of this judgment, the fact that it is always connected with the day appointed when Jesus will return from heaven to judge and destroy, should be well noted throughout. Paul says (Acts 17:31closeActs 17:31 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (ESV) closeActs 17:31closeActs 17:31 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (ESV) 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (ESV) )—
“God hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained.”
Malachi says of the same day, and of the destiny of the wicked (4:1-4)—
“For behold the day COMETH, that shall burn as an oven: and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
“The wicked . . . shall be ashes under the soles of the feet of the righteous IN THE DAY that I shall do this, saith the Lord.”
Not eternal torture at death, but complete burning destruction in the day of judgment is the consistent scriptural picture.
One of the biggest inconsistencies of the popular belief is the fact that resurrection and judgment at the last day must be either flatly denied, or else it comes after centuries of bliss in heaven or torture in hell.
Where is the necessity or reason for either resurrection or judgment if the dead go to their reward at death? It would not only be unnecessary—it would be plain absurdity!
Hell Is the Grave
Eternal Torture of the Wicked False and Unscriptural
“And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death”—Rev. 20:14closeRevelation 20:14 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. (ESV) closeRevelation 20:14closeRevelation 20:14 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. (ESV) 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. (ESV) .

PART II

WHERE is the necessity or reason for either resurrection or judgment at the return of Christ if the dead go to their reward at death? It would not only be unnecessary—it would be plain absurdity!

RESURRECTION

BUT the Scriptures say there will be a resurrection, and that it is necessary. We find the day of judgment always associated with resurrection of the dead, and we find resurrection
from the grave held out as the only hope of life after death.
Paul devoted 1 Cor. 15close1 Corinthians 15 The Resurrection of Christ 15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. The Resurrection of the Dead 12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. 29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? 30 Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame. The Resurrection Body 35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. 42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. Mystery and Victory 50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (ESV)
close1 Corinthians 15close1 Corinthians 15 The Resurrection of Christ 15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. The Resurrection of the Dead 12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. 29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? 30 Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame. The Resurrection Body 35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. 42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. Mystery and Victory 50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (ESV)
The Resurrection of Christ 15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. The Resurrection of the Dead 12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. 29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? 30 Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame. The Resurrection Body 35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. 42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. Mystery and Victory 50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (ESV)
to refuting the contention that there will be no resurrection. He
says (vs. 16-18)—
“If the dead rise not . . . then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.”
And in v. 32, after describing the perils he encounters, he says—
“What advantageth it me, if the dead rise not?”
His argument is meaningless if men go to heaven at death for their reward. But Paul’s whole hope of reward was centered in resurrection at the last day, as he says in Phil. 3:8-11closePhilippians 3:8-11 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (ESV) closePhilippians 3:8-11closePhilippians 3:8-11 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (ESV) Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (ESV)
“I countallthingsbutloss…Ihavesufferedthelossofallthings…ifbyanymeansI might attain unto the RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD.”
Jesus said (John 6:39closeJohn 6:39 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. (ESV) closeJohn 6:39closeJohn 6:39 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. (ESV) 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. (ESV) ) that all those whom the Father had given him he would—
“Raise up at the last day.”
And in Luke 14:14closeLuke 14:14 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (ESV) closeLuke 14:14closeLuke 14:14 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (ESV) 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (ESV) , he declares that the righteous—
“Shall be recompensed AT THE RESURRECTION OF THE JUST.”
And nowhere do we find either reward or punishment promised before then.

HADES

Hades in Greek, as sheol in Hebrew, is the general term for the place of the dead. The
Greek had another word for “grave” used specifically. This was mnemeion, as in—
“Jesus therefore cometh to the grave—mnemeion” (John 11:38closeJohn 11:38 Jesus Raises Lazarus 38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. (ESV) closeJohn 11:38closeJohn 11:38 Jesus Raises Lazarus 38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. (ESV) Jesus Raises Lazarus 38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. (ESV) ).
“The graves—mnemeion—were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose” (Matt. 27:52).
Hades appears 11 times in the New Testament, and is always translated “hell” except 1Cor. 15:55closeERROR: No results were found for your search.closeERROR: No results were found for your search., where it is “grave” This is a quotation from Hos. 13:14closeHosea 13:14 14 Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol?
Shall I redeem them from Death?
O Death, where are your plagues?
O Sheol, where is your sting?
Compassion is hidden from my eyes. (ESV)
closeHosea 13:14closeHosea 13:14 14 Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol?
Shall I redeem them from Death?
O Death, where are your plagues?
O Sheol, where is your sting?
Compassion is hidden from my eyes. (ESV)
14 Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol?
Shall I redeem them from Death?
O Death, where are your plagues?
O Sheol, where is your sting?
Compassion is hidden from my eyes. (ESV)
, where the original is sheol. Acts 2:29-31closeActs 2:29-31 29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. (ESV) closeActs 2:29-31closeActs 2:29-31 29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. (ESV) 29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. (ESV) , where hades is used, is also a quotation from the Old Testament (Psa. 16:10closePsalm 16:10 10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption. (ESV)
closePsalm 16:10closePsalm 16:10 10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption. (ESV)
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption. (ESV)
) where the original is sheol.
So it is definitely established that the Holy Spirit uses the word hades as an equivalent for sheol. And the Septuagint (Greek translation of old Testament) uses the word hades throughout for sheol. So whatever sheol means, so we are to understand hades.
Hades in Greek, has just the same primary meaning as sheol in Hebrew and “hell” in English. It is derived, according to the lexicons, from eidon, “to see,” with the prefix a, meaning “not,” therefore it means “not seen” or “unseen.”
All 11 passages where hades occurs are consistent with the meaning of sheol—the universal hidden resting place of all the dead, and none give any possible suggestion of, or support to, the orthodox ideas of hell, except one, Luke 16:23closeLuke 16:23 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. (ESV) closeLuke 16:23closeLuke 16:23 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. (ESV) 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. (ESV) , the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, which will be examined later.
This is the only instance, of all the 76 occurrences of sheol and hades, that gives any hint of consciousness or torment, and it will be apparent when we examine it that Christ is speaking in parables, and is using a popular superstition to confound its own supporters.
In Rev. 20:13-14closeRevelation 20:13-14 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. (ESV) closeRevelation 20:13-14closeRevelation 20:13-14 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. (ESV) 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. (ESV) , we learn that hades (“hell” in our version) is to be “cast into the lake of
fire.” To the orthodox conception, this presents an absurd paradox. To them, hades IS hell, and the lake of fire is hell, therefore hell is going to be cast into hell, and that will be the end of hell—how then can hell be eternal? And what is the hell that hell is cast into in order to destroy hell?
But in the true scriptural picture there is harmony and reason. Hades is the grave and the lake of fire is a symbol of everlasting destruction. As the final glorious conclusion, death and the grave, the signs and inseparable accompaniments of this mortal dispensation, are to be abolished, destroyed, consumed. Paul says similarly (1 Cor. 15:26close1 Corinthians 15:26 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (ESV) close1 Corinthians 15:26close1 Corinthians 15:26 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (ESV) 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (ESV) )—
“The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”
When the wicked have all finally been consumed into smoke and ashes, and all of this dying, mortal race have either been immortalized or destroyed, then there will be no more death, no more grave.
Death and hades (the grave) will have followed all other traces of mortality and evil into eternal oblivion. THIS is hades (the grave) being cast into the lake of fire—completely consumed and obliterated.
Paul says later in the same chapter (1 Cor. 15:54close1 Corinthians 15:54 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (ESV) close1 Corinthians 15:54close1 Corinthians 15:54 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (ESV) 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (ESV) )—
“So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”
Jesus said to Peter (Mt. 16:18)—
“Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it.”
And when he appeared to John in Patmos he said—
“I have the keys of hades and of death” (Rev. 1:18closeRevelation 1:18 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. (ESV) closeRevelation 1:18closeRevelation 1:18 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. (ESV) 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. (ESV) ).
Christ’s church is never, according to the popular conception, in hell, and consequently there would he no point in his having the keys of hell in order to open its gates for them.
But death and the grave DO claim them, but they do not eternally prevail over them. At his return, he will use these keys, and all whom he calls from the graves will come forth (John 5:28closeJohn 5:28 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice (ESV) closeJohn 5:28closeJohn 5:28 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice (ESV) 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice (ESV) ) just as he called Lazarus from the grave and he came forth. To this Paul refers when he says (1 Cor. 15:55-57close1 Corinthians 15:55-57 55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (ESV)
close1 Corinthians 15:55-57close1 Corinthians 15:55-57 55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (ESV)
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (ESV)
)—
“O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory? . .
“Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord !”
To have the keys of death and the grave is to have the power to open its gates and release those held therein.
GEHENNA Gehenna appears 12 times, and is always rendered “hell.”
It has nothing to do with sheol or hades and to translate it by the same word as is done in the Common Version is unfaithful and inexcusable.
Gehenna is a proper name, and should be so used. There is no warrant for translating it “hell,” just theological bias. It is the name of a place. It appears 13 times in the Old Testament and is always there treated as a proper name of an actual site—the Valley of Hinnom.
And in the New Testament, although truly it is used with a symbolic as well as a literal meaning, still it is on the literal meaning that the symbolic is based, and this cannot be understood if it is falsely translated.
For Jesus’ allusions to it to be understood, the facts of the name and place must be known. And one fact we shall find throughout—it was a place of destruction and corruption, and not of preservation in torment.
Utter consuming destruction is always the fundamental idea behind this word.
The Greek Gehenna is a transliteration of the Hebrew Gai Hinnom, meaning “Valley of Hinnom.” This valley of Hinnom was the refuse dump of the city of Jerusalem. It can be seen on any map of Jerusalem, curving around the south-western corner of the city. The Septuagint translators of the Old Testament into Greek use the word Gehenna where “Valley of Hinnom” appears in our version.
Originally, in this valley, there was a place called Topheth, and the history of the valley, as we are interested in it, begins with this place. The word Topheth is generally understood to mean “place of burning,” and that is what it was. It was a place where, in the Canaanitish worship, human victims were burnt on an altar or sacrificed on the altar and the bodies then burned. Of King Ahaz it is recorded (2 Chr. 28:3close2 Chronicles 28:3 and he made offerings in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom and burned his sons as an offering, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. (ESV) close2 Chronicles 28:3close2 Chronicles 28:3 and he made offerings in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom and burned his sons as an offering, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. (ESV) and he made offerings in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom and burned his sons as an offering, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. (ESV) )—
“Moreover he burnt incense in the Valley of the son of Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire, after the abomination of the heathen whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel.”
The same is recorded of King Manasseh (2 Chr. 33:6close2 Chronicles 33:6 And he burned his sons as an offering in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. (ESV) close2 Chronicles 33:6close2 Chronicles 33:6 And he burned his sons as an offering in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. (ESV) And he burned his sons as an offering in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. (ESV) ).
As a result of these practices by the apostate kings of Judah, we find in 2 Kings 23:10close2 Kings 23:10 10 And he defiled Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, that no one might burn his son or his daughter as an offering to Molech. (ESV) close2 Kings 23:10close2 Kings 23:10 10 And he defiled Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, that no one might burn his son or his daughter as an offering to Molech. (ESV) 10 And he defiled Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, that no one might burn his son or his daughter as an offering to Molech. (ESV) that Josiah, the reformer—
“Defiled Topheth, which is in the Valley of the children of Hinnom (Gai Hinnom — Gehenna), that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech.”
This defilement by Josiah was the beginning of its use as the repository of the filth of Jerusalem. Here, right up to New Testament times, fires were kept perpetually burning for the consumption of the refuse of the city. The bodies of criminals were often cast into this place, as a final indignity and degradation.
Topheth is mentioned many times in Jeremiah 19closeJeremiah 19 The Broken Flask 19:1 Thus says the Lord, “Go, buy a potter's earthenware flask, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the elders of the priests, and go out to the Valley of the Son of Hinnom at the entry of the Potsherd Gate, and proclaim there the words that I tell you. You shall say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing such disaster upon this place that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. Because the people have forsaken me and have profaned this place by making offerings in it to other gods whom neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah have known; and because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents, and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind— therefore, behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, when this place shall no more be called Topheth, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter. And in this place I will make void the plans of Judah and Jerusalem, and will cause their people to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hand of those who seek their life. I will give their dead bodies for food to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the earth. And I will make this city a horror, a thing to be hissed at. Everyone who passes by it will be horrified and will hiss because of all its wounds. And I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and their daughters, and everyone shall eat the flesh of his neighbor in the siege and in the distress, with which their enemies and those who seek their life afflict them.’ 10 “Then you shall break the flask in the sight of the men who go with you, 11 and shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: So will I break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter's vessel, so that it can never be mended. Men shall bury in Topheth because there will be no place else to bury. 12 Thus will I do to this place, declares the Lord, and to its inhabitants, making this city like Topheth. 13 The houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah—all the houses on whose roofs offerings have been offered to all the host of heaven, and drink offerings have been poured out to other gods—shall be defiled like the place of Topheth.’” 14 Then Jeremiah came from Topheth, where the Lord had sent him to prophesy, and he stood in the court of the Lord's house and said to all the people: 15 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, behold, I am bringing upon this city and upon all its towns all the disaster that I have pronounced against it, because they have stiffened their neck, refusing to hear my words.” (ESV) closeJeremiah 19closeJeremiah 19 The Broken Flask 19:1 Thus says the Lord, “Go, buy a potter's earthenware flask, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the elders of the priests, and go out to the Valley of the Son of Hinnom at the entry of the Potsherd Gate, and proclaim there the words that I tell you. You shall say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing such disaster upon this place that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. Because the people have forsaken me and have profaned this place by making offerings in it to other gods whom neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah have known; and because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents, and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind— therefore, behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, when this place shall no more be called Topheth, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter. And in this place I will make void the plans of Judah and Jerusalem, and will cause their people to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hand of those who seek their life. I will give their dead bodies for food to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the earth. And I will make this city a horror, a thing to be hissed at. Everyone who passes by it will be horrified and will hiss because of all its wounds. And I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and their daughters, and everyone shall eat the flesh of his neighbor in the siege and in the distress, with which their enemies and those who seek their life afflict them.’ 10 “Then you shall break the flask in the sight of the men who go with you, 11 and shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: So will I break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter's vessel, so that it can never be mended. Men shall bury in Topheth because there will be no place else to bury. 12 Thus will I do to this place, declares the Lord, and to its inhabitants, making this city like Topheth. 13 The houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah—all the houses on whose roofs offerings have been offered to all the host of heaven, and drink offerings have been poured out to other gods—shall be defiled like the place of Topheth.’” 14 Then Jeremiah came from Topheth, where the Lord had sent him to prophesy, and he stood in the court of the Lord's house and said to all the people: 15 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, behold, I am bringing upon this city and upon all its towns all the disaster that I have pronounced against it, because they have stiffened their neck, refusing to hear my words.” (ESV) The Broken Flask 19:1 Thus says the Lord, “Go, buy a potter's earthenware flask, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the elders of the priests, and go out to the Valley of the Son of Hinnom at the entry of the Potsherd Gate, and proclaim there the words that I tell you. You shall say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing such disaster upon this place that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. Because the people have forsaken me and have profaned this place by making offerings in it to other gods whom neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah have known; and because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents, and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind— therefore, behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, when this place shall no more be called Topheth, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter. And in this place I will make void the plans of Judah and Jerusalem, and will cause their people to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hand of those who seek their life. I will give their dead bodies for food to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the earth. And I will make this city a horror, a thing to be hissed at. Everyone who passes by it will be horrified and will hiss because of all its wounds. And I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and their daughters, and everyone shall eat the flesh of his neighbor in the siege and in the distress, with which their enemies and those who seek their life afflict them.’ 10 “Then you shall break the flask in the sight of the men who go with you, 11 and shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: So will I break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter's vessel, so that it can never be mended. Men shall bury in Topheth because there will be no place else to bury. 12 Thus will I do to this place, declares the Lord, and to its inhabitants, making this city like Topheth. 13 The houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah—all the houses on whose roofs offerings have been offered to all the host of heaven, and drink offerings have been poured out to other gods—shall be defiled like the place of Topheth.’” 14 Then Jeremiah came from Topheth, where the Lord had sent him to prophesy, and he stood in the court of the Lord's house and said to all the people: 15 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, behold, I am bringing upon this city and upon all its towns all the disaster that I have pronounced against it, because they have stiffened their neck, refusing to hear my words.” (ESV) . The prophet is sent there to prophesy against Jerusalem, and Topheth, the place of refuse and burning, is used as a symbol of destruction and defilement and consuming judgment.
Isaiah uses the same symbol in foretelling the destruction of Assyria. He says (Isa. 30:33closeIsaiah 30:33 33 For a burning place has long been prepared; indeed, for the king it is made ready, its pyre made deep and wide, with fire and wood in abundance; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of sulfur, kindles it. (ESV) closeIsaiah 30:33closeIsaiah 30:33 33 For a burning place has long been prepared; indeed, for the king it is made ready, its pyre made deep and wide, with fire and wood in abundance; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of sulfur, kindles it. (ESV) 33 For a burning place has long been prepared; indeed, for the king it is made ready, its pyre made deep and wide, with fire and wood in abundance; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of sulfur, kindles it. (ESV) )—
“Tophet is ordained of old; for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.”
The use here is both literal and figurative, for while it was actually in this valley that the host of Sennacherib was destroyed, the prophecy obviously refers to the greater complete destruction of the latter day Assyrian power—the combined forces of Russia and Papal Europe.
In the New Testament the same is true. The literal Gehenna, just outside of Jerusalem, will figure largely as a site of the destructive fiery judgments to which the term is figuratively
applied.
Thus the terms Tophet, Hinnom, or Gehenna were used to indicate devouring judgments and the destruction of anything that was cast out as useless and offensive and utterly consumed by corruption and fire.
Christ accordingly used the term of the destiny of the wicked, whom we have seen will be consumed to smoke and ashes by God’s fierce anger.
As in the literal all which was rejected, undesirable, and unclean was cast into Gehenna outside the city, so into the consuming lake of fire outside the spiritual new Jerusalem will be cast all who are found unfit for access into the city.
Not one of the 12 references to Gehenna give any hint of sustained torment, but always, in keeping with other references to Tophet and Hinnom, to burning consumption and destruction. There is not the slightest support for the popular doctrine in any of the uses of Gehenna.
UNQUENCHABLE FIRE
Unquenched or unquenchable fire neither means everlasting fire nor everlasting torment. Unquenchable fire, as scripturally used, means fire that completely consumes its object and fulfils its purpose of destruction.
Sodom and Gomorrah “suffered the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7closeJude 1:7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (ESV) closeJude 1:7closeJude 1:7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (ESV) just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (ESV) ). It is not still burning.
God warned Israel (Jer. 17:27closeJeremiah 17:27 27 But if you do not listen to me, to keep the Sabbath day holy, and not to bear a burden and enter by the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem and shall not be quenched.’” (ESV) closeJeremiah 17:27closeJeremiah 17:27 27 But if you do not listen to me, to keep the Sabbath day holy, and not to bear a burden and enter by the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem and shall not be quenched.’” (ESV) 27 But if you do not listen to me, to keep the Sabbath day holy, and not to bear a burden and enter by the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem and shall not be quenched.’” (ESV) ) that He would—
“Kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and shall not be quenched.”
The fire was kindled. Jerusalem was burned, but the fire is not still burning. It was not quenched—it was not halted in its purpose.
Isaiah in the last verse of his prophecy, although he does not here mention Topheth or Gehenna, clearly refers to the same final judgment to which they are applied. He says—
“And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against Me:
“For their worm shall not die: neither shall their fire be quenched: and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.”
He does not, it is significant to note, speak of living persons in torment, but of carcasses being consumed by worm and fire.

TARTAROS

The third word in the New Testament translated “hell” in the Common Version is Tartaros

This occurs only once, 2 Pet. 2:4close2 Peter 2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; (ESV) close2 Peter 2:4close2 Peter 2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; (ESV) For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; (ESV)
“God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to tartaros, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.”
To the Greeks, tartaros appears to have signified a subterranean prison of dense darkness, or the outer void confines of the earth. And Peter here uses it as synonymous with hades. The chains of darkness and the reservation to future judgment are harmonious with this.
This verse is no support for the popular idea, but very much the reverse, for it describes hell
as a place of darkness and confinement WAITING FOR judgment—a perfect description of sheol or hades scripturally understood, but nothing like the orthodox hell.

TWO PLACES APPEAR TO TEACH TORMENT

For this hideous and blasphemous doctrine, there are only two places in all the Bible which could be considered to give it the slightest shadow of support, and both of these upon examination demonstrate the utter baselessness of the belief. It is almost unbelievable that on the basis of such meager and twisted evidence, orthodox priestcraft should build such a repulsive and repugnant doctrine, in the face of the whole teaching and tenor of Scripture. One would consider that men would be extremely reluctant to believe such things even on strong evidence, instead of eagerly snatching at isolated straws to support them in the very face of strong evidence. Unfortunately, the men who translated the Scriptures into our tongue were steeped in this error and have colored their translation with it, as we have seen. No honest and careful study of all the appearances of the words Sheol, Hades and Gehenna, and of the teachings of Scripture on the nature of man and the destiny of the wicked, could possibly produce the lurid nightmare that is the orthodox conception of eternal torments amid the fiery demons of hell.

THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS

First, we ask, is this parable to be taken literally and all the other plain teaching of Scripture rejected upon the strength of it? We must face this issue squarely and choose. The Scriptures say the dead are asleep in the dust of the earth, they know nothing, they will come forth to resurrection and judgment at the last day. We have seen that this is the consistent teaching of the Bible throughout.
Now we must either flatly reject ALL this testimony, or we must regard this story for what it truly and obviously is, a parable worded according to the false doctrines of the very class Jesus was addressing—the Pharisees.
As is apparent from the contemporary Jewish historian Josephus, this account of Abraham’s bosom, the great gulf, the tormenting flame, was part of the pharisaical tradition by which they made void the Word of God (Mark 7:13closeMark 7:13 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” (ESV) closeMark 7:13closeMark 7:13 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” (ESV) 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” (ESV) ), and Jesus was merely confounding them with their own errors and “answering a fool according to his folly” (Pro. 26:5closeProverbs 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes. (ESV)
closeProverbs 26:5closeProverbs 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes. (ESV)
Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes. (ESV)
) and “taking the wise in their own craftiness” (1 Cor. 3:19close1 Corinthians 3:19 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” (ESV) close1 Corinthians 3:19close1 Corinthians 3:19 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” (ESV) 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” (ESV) ).
Compare his treatment of a similar Pharisaic fable (Matt. 12:27) and how he picked it up and turned it against his adversaries—
“If I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges.”
We are clearly told that Jesus deliberately spoke to them in parables that they should not understand (Matt. 13:10-13; Luke 8:10closeLuke 8:10 10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ (ESV) closeLuke 8:10closeLuke 8:10 10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ (ESV) 10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ (ESV) ). This parable is in the middle of an obvious chain of other parables, and opens with the same introduction.
Taken literally, it is not in harmony with the orthodox conception of hell that it is claimed to prove. So-called immortal souls according to popular belief, do not possess fingers and eyes and tongues, neither is there visibility and conversation between heaven and hell. Taken literally, it is an absurdity from any point of view.
REV. 20:10 and 14:9-11
The other place used to support the theory of eternal torment is Rev. 20:10closeRevelation 20:10 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (ESV) closeRevelation 20:10closeRevelation 20:10 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (ESV) 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (ESV)
“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall he tormented day and night for ever and ever.”
Similarly in Rev. 14:9-11closeRevelation 14:9-11 And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur 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, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” (ESV) closeRevelation 14:9-11closeRevelation 14:9-11 And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur 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, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” (ESV) And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur 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, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” (ESV)
“If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation.
“And he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.
“And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.”
Here then is the whole case for eternal torment—a parable, and a case of obvious symbolism.
We submit that any attempt to take the admittedly symbolic book of Revelation literally to teach doctrines that are at complete variance with the whole tenor of plain Scripture is extremely unsound and unjustified interpretation.
It would not be suggested that the wine of the wrath of God, and the cup of His indignation, and the beast, and the mark on the forehead, and the great city Babylon, all mentioned in these very same verses, are to be taken literally. All these things must be understood in harmony with the first principles of Scripture.
In Rev. 20:14closeRevelation 20:14 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. (ESV) closeRevelation 20:14closeRevelation 20:14 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. (ESV) 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. (ESV) we have death and hell cast into this same lake of fire. Can death he literally cast anywhere? Is hell cast into hell? To childishly take isolated parts of this symbolism to bolster unscriptural notions is not the course of honesty or wisdom.
The plain scriptural teaching on the state of the dead and the destiny of the wicked is too clear and repeated to give any excuse for false doctrines to be built on such passages as these.
And it could be mentioned in passing that the expression here translated “for ever and ever” does not in the Greek carry the same unlimited sense as the English, and must be understood in relation to the matter involved.
On the basis of all the foregoing, we conclude without doubt that HELL, as scripturally understood, is the grave, the silent, dark, unseen resting place of ALL the sleeping dead, the land of oblivion and forgetfulness—and not the eternal, flaming torture-chamber of orthodox superstition.

—G.V.Growcott, The Berean Christadelphian, June and July 1964