"Hell is just a metaphor for the
There are three words
translated "hell" in Scripture:
Gehenna (Greek): The place of punishment (Matthew 5:22,29;
10:28; and James 3:6)
Hades (Greek): The abode of the dead (Matthew 11:23;
16:18, Luke 16:23; Acts 2:27)
Sheol (Hebrew): The grave (Psalm 9:17; 16:10)
There are those who
accept that hell is a place of punishment, but believe
that the punishment is to be annihilated—to cease
conscious existence. They can’t conceive that
the punishment of the wicked will be conscious and eternal.
If they are correct, then a man like Adolph Hitler,
who was responsible for the deaths of millions, is being
"punished" merely with eternal sleep. His
fate is simply to return to the non-existent state he
was in before he was born, where he doesn’t even
know that he is being punished.
paints a different story. The rich man who found himself
in hell (Luke 16:19–31) was conscious. He was
able to feel pain, to thirst, and to experience remorse.
He wasn’t asleep in the grave; he was in a place
of "torment." If hell is a place of knowing
nothing or a reference to the grave into which we go
at death, Jesus' statements about hell make no sense.
He said that if your hand, foot, or eye causes you to
sin, it would be better to remove it than to "go
into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched"
The Bible refers to
the fate of the unsaved with such fearful words as the
- "Shame and
everlasting contempt" (Daniel 12:2)
punishment" (Mathew 25:46)
- "Weeping and
gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 24:51)
- "Fire unquenchable"
and wrath, tribulation and anguish" (Romans 2:8,9)
destruction from the presence of the Lord" (2
- "Eternal fire...the
blackness of darkness for ever" (Jude 7,13)
tells us the final, eternal destiny of the sinner: "He
shall be tormented with fire and brimstone...the smoke
of their torment ascended up for ever and ever: and
they have no rest day or night."