Is Everlasting Punishment in Hell Taught in the New Testament?


Upholders of the eternal hell fire theory state that, "hell is a doctrine of the Bible, a doctrine that Jesus preached and taught about more than He did heaven, so..."the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it...settles it in their mind.

The question is: Did Jesus really talk about the torture chamber of hell as the Bible seems to say He does? Does the word translated as hell in the KJV and other translations mean everlasting punishment in the torture chamber of fire and brimstone? Did Jesus really talk about hell more than He did heaven?

According to one computer search calculation there are 1,944 verses in the four gospels that contain Jesus’ words.

There are about 60 of those verses comprising about 3%...that could be construed as either directly or indirectly referring to hell.

On the other hand, there is better than three times as many verses in the gospels in which Jesus references heaven, eternal life, or His coming kingdom: 192 verses in all, comprising about 10%.

Therefore, Jesus did not speak more about hell than He did heaven. But many people who should know better are hell-bent on people being Hell-sent because they accept without question what they have been told. As such, I think their hell gospel that sends people to hell fire for not siding (no matter the reason) with Jesus is NOT the Gospel of God's Grace. Warning people, as Jesus did, about the temporal consequences of sin, is not the same as threatening people with eternal torment in the flames of hell...neither is it Christlike or biblically correct.

There are essentially three different Greek words that translators inconsistently pick and choose to translate as “hell”...Hades, Gehenna, and Tartaroo, but not one conveys hell as is known and taught today. Why not take it on yourself to do a complete word study on these words to see if their is any godly reason they were translated to mean what hell means to hell proponents today.

Would it not be irresponsible of the New Testament writers not to include any mention of hell or eternal torment in their books especially in the book of Acts, where the Good News is being proclaimed to Jew and Gentile alike and Paul's letters, yet there is silence...and...in this case, silence does not give "consent" to the existence of hell?

Should we not be asking how and why Gehenna suddenly was translated as hell and why the translators and those who study and teach Scriptures made the conceptual leap from Gehenna to hell? Perhaps because the Promised Land in the Old Testament is assumed in Christendom to symbolize a future place of eternal rewards or eternal life, they may have made a connection in their minds that Gehenna must symbolically represent the opposite...a place of everlasting punishment and separation from God. If this is how they arrived at such a notion, they didn’t realize that both Gehenna and the Promised Land symbolize temporary conditions of judgments and rewards in Jewish thought, not eternal destinies.

Through the passage of time certain traditions may have aided the degradation process, as recorded about in the New World Encyclopedia: "The rabbinic tradition draws a distinction between Sheol and Gehenna or “Gehinnom.” Originally, Judaism described life after death as a bleak underworld named Sheol, which was known as the common pit or grave of humanity. However, with the influence of Persian thought and the passing of time, the notion of ‘hell’ crept into Jewish tradition and became associated with the biblical word Gehinnom or Gei Hinnom, the valley of Hinnom (Joshua 15:8, 18:16; II Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 7:31; Nehemiah 11:30). This view of hell was allegedly imported into Judaism from Zoroastrianism, and it appears to have supplanted the earlier concept of Sheol (mentioned in Isaiah 38:18, Psalms 6:5 and Job 7:7-10)."

Jews who embraced this view of hell were known as the Pharisees, while the Sadducees maintained their belief in Sheol. While it was the Sadducees that represented the Jewish religious majority it was the Pharisees who best weathered Roman occupation, and their belief in heaven and hell was passed on to both Christianity and Islam.

Gehenna was known by the Jews as a place where the wicked are temporarily punished after death. The godly, meanwhile, await Judgment Day in the bosom of Abraham. “Gehenna” is sometimes translated as “hell,” but not the Christian view of hell as eternal punishment and damnation.

When Jesus warned His disciples and the religious leaders of the fires of Gehenna, He wasn’t warning them of eternal suffering in hell. It may be that He was warning them of the impending acts of injustice, such as the future Roman siege against Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Some forty years later the siege of more than a million Jews resulted in them being killed inside the city and their dead bodies were reportedly taken outside the city and burned in the garbage dump of Gehenna (“hell”), where the worms and maggots infested any remains.

The siege was so severe, contemporary historians recount that some citizens even killed their children and ate them, all happenings that closely resemble a prophecy in Jeremiah 19:4–9: “Because they have forsaken Me and have made this an alien place and have burned sacrifices in it to other gods, that neither they nor their forefathers nor the kings of Judah had ever known, and because they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal,† a thing which I never commanded or spoke of, nor did it ever enter My mind; therefore, behold, days are coming...when this place will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben- hinnom, but rather the valley of Slaughter. ...I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies and by the hand of those who seek their life; and I will give over their carcasses as food for the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth. I will also make this city a desolation and an object of hissing; everyone who passes by it will be astonished and hiss because of all its disasters. I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they will eat one another’s flesh in the siege and in the distress with which their enemies and those who seek their life will distress them.”

Let’s suppose the idea that Jesus was referring to hell, was as believed today...a never-ending conscious suffering and torment after death. Would not most Jews of that day been completely confused since there had been no warnings of such a place in the Torah and the Prophets? The warnings against serious offenses throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, like murder (a life for a life), declared physical death or mortal (temporary) destruction. The very few verses that seem to imply “everlasting” destruction are translated from the word “olam,” a word decidedly associated with duration of time, not eternity. Even the first definition of olam (#5769) in Strong’s Concordance† is “long duration.” Early Jews would have known that “olam destruction” did not imply everlasting punishment in hell fire.

Gehenna was not associated with punishment in the afterlife. Shouldn't those to whom it was addressed as a warning be most familiar with what it represents? On the other hand, if Gehenna actually represented eternal hell when Jesus came along, wouldn’t it have been pretty troubling to the Jews if somehow God changed the stakes and suddenly sent Jesus to warn them about a place of everlasting conscious torment when they had never heard of such a place before? If hell is real, and God really doesn’t want anyone to go there, is it not logical to think that  He would have taken great care to explain it in repetitive detail through Moses and the prophets.

The concept of hell, was never a part of Jewish traditional teachings (though some Jews of our time have adopted the notion from Western Christianity, especially Messianic Jews).

So we now see that hell, as believed today...an everlasting torture chamber housing the vast majority of God's crown of creation, who will suffer for eternity, was not a teaching of Christ, or the writers of the New Testament.

Therefore, why should it be such a dominate doctrine of the Gospel today?

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