What the Bible Says About Hell Part 1
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Title: What the Bible Says About Hell
Series: What the Bible Says About....
Text: “So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom” (Luke 16:22-23).
Scripture Reading: Matthew 25:41-46
In common usage, Hell designates the place of future punishment for the wicked. Satan hates the doctrine of an eternal hell. As a result, many groups today (some supposedly evangelical) either deny the existence of hell or make it a place of annihilation. Satan has even used mythology to discredit the existence of hell in modern minds. For example, there is the “River Styx”; Pluto, who was conceived to be the ruler of this region in the depths of the earth in the book Dante’s Inferno; and so on. But what I want to know is what the Bible has to say about hell.
There are five issues that the Bible will address about hell today:
First, the description of hell.
Second, the reason for hell’s existence.
Third, the punishment of hell.
Fourth, the condition of the inhabitants of hell.
Fifth, the major words for hell in the scriptures.
We are going to look at all of these issues in the light of scripture. But keep in mind that others may interpret scripture differently. However, there are some issues which are not in doubt; that hell is eternal and that it is a place of separation from God. Jesus died so that you don’t have to go there, so if you are a child of God, rejoice because you will spend eternity in heaven with the Savior.
Let’s begin our study with the DESCRIPTIONS OF HELL.
Jesus described hell as a place of everlasting fire (Matthew 25:41) and eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46). He said, “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”’ It is a fire that fastens on immortal souls; it can never go out because it is kept burning by the wrath of immortal God.
Jesus also said, “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” There will be no reprieve granted, for those who have resisted the Spirit of Grace. They will be made to go away into the darkness of hell.
Jesus also called hell a place of outer darkness (Matthew 8:12). He said, “But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” The “sons of the kingdom” to whom he referred were apparently Jews who, because of natural birth, considered themselves automatically children of the kingdom of God. But being born to professing Christian parents doesn’t make us children of the kingdom; if that’s all we have to depend on, we will be cast out into outer darkness.
In hell there is fire, but no light; it is utter darkness. Paul referred to hell as a place of everlasting destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:9). He wrote, “These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” In other words, anyone who has not accepted the gospel will suffer “everlasting destruction” or be cut off from the presence of the Lord forever.
Perhaps the most common description of hell is found in John’s Revelation (Rev 19:20). This is what it says: “Then the beast was captured and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.”
Next, let’s see what the Bible has to say about THE REASON FOR HELL’S EXISTENCE.
Jesus clearly taught that hell was prepared “for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). He said, “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” The kingdom of God was prepared for believers; however, here it says that the fires of hell were created primarily for the devil and his angels. But those who choose to unite themselves with Satan by indulging their lusts, while refusing to repent and accept Christ; will share in the misery prepared for him and his associates.
Hell exists for the wicked (Revelations 21:8). John wrote in Revelations, “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” For the wicked, there will not be any pleasure, but burning in the lake of fire, the second death. A believer may be called on to pass through one death, that is to say, physical death (and if the Rapture intervenes, he will even forego that death). But an unbeliever faces two deaths: physical death and the second death.
But why are the cowardly and liars spoken of in two categories? It is because the first are afraid to accept Christ and bear the ridicule of the world. The second are those who have denied their sin and need of Christ as Savior.
And hell exists for those who are disobedient (Romans 2:8-9). It says in Romans, “But to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek.” The disobedient are those who “do not obey the truth.” The implication is that they know the gospel and have rejected it; that they know the truth, but they willfully sin. Therefore, on the Great Day of Judgment, they will face the wrath of God.
Hell was also prepared for the fallen angels (2 Peter 2:4). The apostle Peter wrote, “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment.” This is how God dealt with the angels who sinned. They may have advantages over men, but they are not spared; they are cast out of heaven and are sent down to hell.
Finally, hell awaits those who reject the gospel (Matthew 10:15). “Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!” Jesus announced this judgment against Capernaum, where he had spoken more often and had done more miracles than any other city. They should have believed in Him, but they didn’t. They received more of the light of the gospel than anyone else, but they rejected Christ. Therefore, their punishment would be worse than for others, who received less light than they did. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire from heaven, but those who reject Christ will suffer from the fires of hell.
Now, let’s see what the Bible says about THE PUNISHMENT OF HELL.
There are four things to know about this punishment.