Hell in the New
What does the word hell mean to you? Most people would define it as
a place of eternal torture in fire for wicked people or for those
who did not accept Christ as their personal Saviour. The word hell
is found in most modern English Bibles. Should that word be in
scripture and is it a correct translation from the original Hebrew
and Greek texts. Most Christians would say that the word hell,
should be in their bibles because it can be found in numerous
translations including the popular King James Version and the New
International version (NIV). Is this is a place of eternal fiery
torment for the wicked when they die? The word hell is translated
from the Greek word Hades.
This is very important because
unless we know the real meaning of Hades, we will be misled
concerning the ultimate destiny of Christians and non-Christians.
Hell never was and never will be a proper translation of the
Greek word Hades. There is a solid scriptural case to be made
against the idea of Hell. The writers of Hebrew and Greek Scriptures
were inspired to write exactly what God told them to write.
Unfortunately, no translator was so inspired. Jesus never used the
English word hell and He never used any Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic
word meaning what most people believe hell means.
the King James version and other English versions are generally well
translated bibles, they have some words which are poorly translated
and have resulted in a serious misunderstanding of God’s work of
redemption and plan of salvation. This is especially true of the
Why is this? Doesn’t God want us to use our
popular English translations to grow in spiritual understanding? Yes
but we are asked to search the scriptures daily to see whether these
things are so, just like the Bereans mentioned in the book of Acts.
Sadly, most Christians are really not taught to study past their
own denominational doctrines, and therefore remain uncertain because
of seemingly contradictory bible verses. All to many Christians just
accept the doctrines of their church or are influenced by a favorite
preacher or pastor.
If one were to take the main theological
words used in church and study their origins, one would learn much
about truth and error. Many people simply can’t be bothered but they
should more inquisitive. All churches have articles of faith or
statement of beliefs. One typical article of faith from one
Christian church reads as follows:
16.2. We believe that glorious and everlasting life is assured to
all who savingly believe in, and obediently follow, Jesus Christ our
Lord; and that the finally impenitent shall suffer eternally in
That article of faith is typical of the vast majority of
Christian Churches They believe in a literal tormenting fire which
burns forever for those who either rejected Christ or never knew
Him. That is so sad, because it is NOT TRUE. Does that scenario
harmonize with the scriptures that tell us that God is love and
Jesus is the Savior of the world? No it does not, so what is the
This brings us to examine the English word Hell. Just
a little study into the history of this word should throw up a
flashing warning sign. Hell never was and never will be a proper
translation of the Greek word hades. The doctrine of hell is an
invention of men and is nowhere found in the Hebrew or Greek
Although not a proper translation of hades, the
old English word hell did have similarities to the word hades long
ago. The old Webster’s Twentieth Century Dictionary has this
definition: hell : n. [ME, helle; AS, hell, hell, from helan, to
cover, conceal.] Notice this – to cover or conceal.
definition has at least some similarity to the Greek elements of
hades. Hades is more properly defined as UN-PERCEIVED or the UNSEEN
or IMPERCEPTIBLE. For proof see Strong’s Concordance G86.
Before the King James Bible, the old Anglo-Saxon word hell simply
meant a dark, hidden, concealed, or covered hole in the ground.
Doesn’t that remind you of a grave.
Hell never was and never
will be a proper translation of the Greek word hades. However, back
in the Middle Ages it did have a totally different connotation than
Yes, before the King James Bible, the old Anglo-Saxon
word simply meant a dark, hidden, concealed, or covered hole in the
ground. But now check a modern dictionary and look what we get:
Webster’s New World Dictionary: hell (hel), n 1. the place where
Christians believe that devils live and wicked people go to be
punished after they die. What happened to the original definition of
the word hell? So we see that back in the Middle Ages it did have a
totally different connotation than today.
definition doesn’t even purport to define the word. It just tells us
what Christians believe it is. Do you really want to base a
definition of a word on what people think, rather than doing an
analysis of its root meaning?
In the Authorized King James
Version the word Hell is found 23 times in the New Testament. In the
New king James Version it found 13 times and in the New
International Version 14 times. Better translations, although not as
popular, such as the Concordant Literal Version, Young’s Literal
Translation, Fentons Holy Bible in modern English and Rotherham’s
Emphasized Bible never use the word hell. The word hell is an
English word translated from 3 different Greek words – hades,
gehenna and tartaroo. We have already looked at the real meaning of
hades. Not one of these three Greek words have a meaning of an ever
burning torture chamber for evil people.
The Greek words
translated incorrectly by the word hell are these:
(discussed in this article)
Gehenna and Tartaroo will be discussed in a future article.
They also have nothing to do with the hell of mainstream
In conclusion, the word hell as defined by
orthodox Christianity is incorrect. It is derived from the pagan
beliefs in the immortality of the soul. The concept of an immortal
soul within us that cannot die first became a ‘Christian’ doctrine
at the end of the second century AD. Hell had been taught in Greek
philosophy long before the time of Jesus, with Plato (427-347 BC) as
the important leader in this thinking. At the end of the 2nd century
Christianity had begun to blend Greek philosophy and human
speculative reasoning, with the teachings of God’s Word. These ideas
had come straight from Plato, the Greek philosopher, all those years
before Jesus. Other phrases used were ‘the soul to remain by itself
immortal’, and ‘an immortal nature’. It was taught that this is how
God made us. But this idea derives from philosophy, not divine
inspiration. There are no such words regarding man's immortality
anywhere in the Bible.
Ask any bible scholar or your pastor
if the words grave and hell mean the very same thing in the Bible,
and see what they will say. They will tell you, no, that they are
not the same, that they are very much different. However, the
context will show that grave or its literal meaning of the unseen
can be consistently used in the New Testament without jeopardizing
or violating the context. That is the truth.
teaching, that when wicked people die they go to a place ofeternal
torture in fire is a pagan/heathen belief and doctrine. This
teaching far antedates the Christian era, and even the Old Testament
knows nothing of a place of eternal torture in fire upon death. Dead
people do not go anywhere. Good dead people do not go to heaven and
bad dead people do not go to a place called hell to be tortured in
fire for all eternity. Dead people are dead and will remain dead
until the resurrection from the dead described in scripture (see
Eccles. 9:5). That resurrection is yet future. The apostles had
consistently taught that death is a sleep, to be followed by
When a person dies they are buried in a grave,
a place which is unseen. Those who perish in other ways such as in a
fire or at sea also come to a condition of the unseen or
In the next article in this series we
will explore what the Old Testament reveals about the condition of
dead people. What happens to them when they die?
the 23 verses in the King James version (Authorized Version) where
the Greek is incorrectly translated as hell with the Greek word in
Mat_5:22 But I say unto you, That
whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in
danger of the judgement: and whosoever shall say to his brother,
Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say,
Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell (Gehenna)
Mat_5:29 And if thy right eye
offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is
profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not
that thy whole body should be cast into hell ( Gehenna).
Mat_5:30 And if thy right hand
offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable
for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy
whole body should be cast into hell ( Gehenna).
Mat_10:28 And fear not them
which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather
fearhim which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (
Mat_11:23 And thou, Capernaum, which art
exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell (hades – grave):
for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done
in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
Mat_16:18 And I say also unto
thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my
church; and the gates of hell (hades – grave) shall not prevail
Mat_18:9 And if thine eye offend thee,
pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter
into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into
hell (Gehenna) fire.
Mat_23:15 Woe unto you, scribes and
Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one
proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child
of hell (Gehenna) than yourselves.
Mat_23:33 Ye serpents, ye
generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell
Mar_9:43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut
it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having
two hands to go into hell (Gehenna), into the fire that never shall
Mar_9:45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut
it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having
two feet to be cast into hell (Gehenna), into the fire that never
shall be quenched:
Mar_9:47 And if thine eye offend thee,
pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God
with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell (Gehenna)
Luk_10:15 And thou, Capernaum, which art
exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell (hades – grave).
Luk_12:5 But I will forewarn
you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath
power to cast into hell (Gehenna); yea, I say unto you, Fear him.
Luk_16:23 And in hell (hades –
grave) he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham
afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Act_2:27 Because thou wilt not
leave my soul in hell (hades – grave), neither wilt thou suffer
thine Holy One to see corruption.
Act_2:31 He seeing this before
spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in
hell (hades – grave), neither his flesh did see corruption.
Jas_3:6 And the tongue is a
fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that
it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of
nature; and it is set on fire of hell (Gehenna).
2 Pe_2:4 For if God spared
not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell
(tartaroo), and delivered them into chains
of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
Rev_1:18 I am he that liveth,
and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have
the keys of hell (hades – grave) and of death.
Rev_6:8 And I looked, and
behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and
Hell (hades – grave) followed with him. And power was given unto
them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with
hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
Rev_20:13 And the sea gave up
the dead which were in it; and death and hell (hades – grave) delivered
up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man
according to their works.
Rev_20:14 And death and hell (hades –
grave) were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
The next few articles on Hell in this series will explain
further information about the word Hell.
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