Hell, what does the Bible say? By Jack Kettler
“Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.” (Psalm 25:4)
In this study, we will look at the biblical teaching about Hell and corresponding words associated with the final judgment. We will not delve into other issues like soul sleep or annihilationism.
As in previous studies, we will look at definitions, scriptures, lexical evidence, commentary evidence and confessional support for the purpose to glorify God in how we live. May God be glorified always!
Definitions from two sources:
The place of eternal punishment for the wicked. *
Hell is the future place of eternal punishment of the damned including the devil and his fallen angels. There are several words rendered as Hell: Hades – A Greek word. It is the place of the dead, the location of the person between death and resurrection. (See Matthew 11:23; Mat 16:18; Acts 11:27; 1 Corinthians 15:55; Revelation 1:18; Rev 6:8). Gehenna – A Greek word. It was the place where dead bodies were dumped and burned (2 Kings 23:13-14). Jesus used the word to designate the place of eternal torment (Matthew 5:22; Mat 5:29-30; Mark 9:43; Luke 12:5). Sheol – A Hebrew word. It is the place of the dead, not necessarily the grave, but the place the dead go to. It is used of both the righteous (Psalms 16:10; Psa. 30:3; Isaiah 38:10) and the wicked (Numbers 16:33; Job 24:19; Psalms 9:17). Hell is a place of eternal fire (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 19:20). It was prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41) and will be the abode of the wicked (Revelation 22:8) and the fallen angels (2 Peter 2:4). **
“Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.” (Proverbs 27:20)
“And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:11-12)
“The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:41-42)
“Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 22:13)
“And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. 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, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 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, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 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 fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9:42-48)
“There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, they have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, if they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” (Luke 16:19–31)
“These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.” (2 Peter 2:17)
“Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” (Jude 1:13)
“And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.” (Revelation 9:2)
“And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.” (Revelation 9:11)
“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 be tormented day and night for ever and ever. And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:10–15)
From Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible on Matthew 13:42:
And shall cast them into a furnace of fire, Not a material, but a metaphorical one; denoting the wrath of God, which shall fall upon wicked men, and abide upon them to all eternity: which is sometimes called hell fire, sometimes a lake which burns with fire and brimstone; and here a furnace of fire, expressing the vehemency and intenseness of divine wrath, which will be intolerable; in allusion either to Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace, or as some think, to the custom of burning persons alive in some countries; or rather, to the burning of chaff and stubble, and the stalks of any unprofitable things that grew in the field (f), for the heating of furnaces, and is the very language of the Jews, who used to compare hell to a furnace; so Genesis 15:17 is paraphrased by them (g),
And behold the sun set, and there was darkness; and lo! Abraham saw until the seats were set, and the thrones cast down; and lo! “Hell”, which is prepared for the wicked in the world to come, “as a furnace”, which sparks and flames of fire surrounded; “in the midst of which”, the wicked fell, because they rebelled against the law, in their lifetime.
Which is expressed in much the same language, and conveys the same ideas as here; and no wonder is it that it follows,
there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth; declaring the remorse of conscience, the tortures of mind, the sense of inexpressible pain, and punishment, the wicked shall feel; also their furious rage and black despair,
(f) Misn. Sabbat. c. 3. sect. 1. & Maimon, & Bartenora in ib. (g) Hieros. Targum in Genesis 15.17. (1)
Hell and words associated with the final judgment:
Apollyon – Abaddon
The Valley of Hinnom
Fire and brimstone
Place of torment
Furnace of fire
Lake of fire
GEHENNA from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:
ga-hen’-a (geenna (see Grimm-Thayer, under the word):
Gehenna is a transliteration from the Aramaic form of the Hebrew ge-hinnom, “valley of Hinnom.” This latter form, however, is rare in the Old Testament, the prevailing name being “the valley of the son of Hinnom.” Septuagint usually translates; where it transliterates the form is different from Gehenna and varies. In the New Testament the correct form is Gee’nna with the accent on the penult, not Ge’enna. There is no reason to assume that Hinnom is other than a plain patronymic, although it has been proposed to find in it the corruption of the name of an idol (EB, II, 2071). In the New Testament (King James Version margin) Gehenna occurs in Matthew 5:22,29,30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15,33; Mark 9:43,15,47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6. In all of these it designates the place of eternal punishment of the wicked, generally in connection with the final judgment. It is associated with fire as the source of torment. Both body and soul are cast into it. This is not to be explained on the principle that the New Testament speaks metaphorically of the state after death in terms of the body; it presupposes the resurrection. In the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) Gehenna is rendered by “hell” (see ESCHATOLOGY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT). That “the valley of Hinnom” became the technical designation for the place of final punishment was due to two causes. In the first place the valley had been the seat of the idolatrous worship of Molech, to whom children were immolated by fire (2 Chronicles 28:3; 33:6). Secondly, on account of these practices the place was defiled by King Josiah (2 Kings 23:10), and became in consequence associated in prophecy with the judgment to be visited upon the people (Jeremiah 7:32). The fact, also, that the city’s offal was collected there may have helped to render the name synonymous with extreme defilement. Topographically the identification of the valley of Hinnom is still uncertain. It has been in turn identified with the depression on the western and southern side of Jerusalem, with the middle valley, and with the valley to the E. Compare EB, II, 2071; DCG, I, 636; RE3, VI.
Geerhardus Vos (2)
Hell from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:
hel (see SHEOL; HADES; GEHENNA):
Topical Bible outline for “Hell.”
1. The Word in the King James Version:
The English word, from a Teutonic root meaning “to hide” or “cover,” had originally the significance of the world of the dead generally, and in this sense is used by Chaucer, Spenser, etc., and in the Creed (“He descended into hell”); compare the English Revised Version Preface. Now the word has come to mean almost exclusively the place of punishment of the lost or finally impenitent; the place of torment of the wicked. In the King James Version of the Scriptures, it is the rendering adopted in many places in the Old Testament for the Hebrew word she’ol (in 31 out of 65 occurrences of that word it is so translated), and in all places, save one (1Co 15:55) in the New Testament, for the Greek word Hades (this word occurs 11 times; in 10 of these it is translated “hell”; 1Co 15:55 reads “grave,” with “hell” in the margin). In these cases the word has its older general meaning, though in Lu 16:23 (parable of Rich Man and Lazarus) it is specially connected with a place of “torment,” in contrast with the “Abraham’s bosom” to which Lazarus is taken (Lu 16:22).
See a list of verses on HELL in the Bible.
2. The Word in the Revised Version:
In the above cases the Revised Version (British and American) has introduced changes, replacing “hell” by “Sheol” in the passages in the Old Testament (the English Revised Version retains “hell” in Isa 14:9,15; the American Standard Revised Version makes no exception), and by “Hades” in the passages in the New Testament (see under these words).
See the definition of hell in the KJV Dictionary
Besides the above uses, and more in accordance with the modern meaning, the word “hell” is used in the New Testament in the King James Version as the equivalent of Gehenna (12 t; Mt 5:22,29; 10:28, etc.). The Revised Version (British and American) in these cases puts “Gehenna” in the margin. Originally the Valley of Hinnom, near Jerusalem, Gehenna became among the Jews the synonym for the place of torment in the future life (the “Gehenna of fire,” Mt 5:22, etc.; see GEHENNA).
See also the McClintock and Strong Biblical Cyclopedia.
In yet one other passage in the New Testament (2Pe 2:4), “to cast down to hell” is used (the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American)) to represent the Greek tartaroo, (“to send into Tartarus”). Here it stands for the place of punishment of the fallen angels: “spared not angels when they sinned, but cast them down to hell, and committed them to pits (or chains) of darkness” (compare Jude 1:6; but also Mt 25:41). Similar ideas are found in certain of the Jewish apocalyptic books (Book of Enoch, Book of Jubilees, Apocrypha Baruch, with apparent reference to Ge 6:1-4; compare ESCHATOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT).
On theological aspect, see PUNISHMENT, EVERLASTING. For literature, see references in above-named arts. And compare article “Hell” by Dr. D. S. Salmond in HDB. (3)
Hades from the Dictionary of Theological Terms:
The Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Sheol. Sheol is translated in the AV “hell,” “grave,” and “pit,” while Hades is ten times translated “hell,” and once “grave.”
There has long been controversy over the exact import of the words. There are two views among Bible believers.
Divided Hades View
W. E. Vine expresses what is now perhaps, the most common view: “Hades [is] the region of departed spirits of the lost (but including the blessed dead in periods preceding the ascension of Christ)… It corresponds to ‘Sheol’ in the OT.… It never denotes the grave, nor is it the permanent region of the lost; in point of time it is, for such, intermediate between decease and the doom of Gehenna. For the condition see Luke 16:23–31.
“The word is used four times in the Gospels, and always by the Lord, Matt. 11:23; 16:18; Luke 10:15; 16:23; it is used with reference to the soul of Christ, Acts 2:27, 31; Christ declares that He has the keys of it, Rev. 1:18; in Rev. 6:8 it is personified, with the signification of the temporary destiny of the doomed; it is to give up those who are therein, Rev. 20:13; and is to be cast into the lake of fire, ver. 14” (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words).
Usual Reformed View
Reformed theologians usually take a very different view. They reject the theory of a divided Sheol or Hades and hold that the Scriptures nowhere warrant our locating paradise in Hades. W. G. T. Shedd summarizes the arguments for the Reformed position as follows:
Sheol Means a Punitive Evil. “That Sheol is a fearful punitive evil, mentioned by the sacred writers to deter men from sin, lies upon the surface of the OT, and any interpretation that essentially modifies this must therefore be erroneous.”
Sheol Often Means Hell. Sheol signifies the place of future retribution.
“1. This is proved by the fact that it is denounced against sin and sinners, and not against the righteous. It is a place to which the wicked are sent in distinction from the good.” Then follows a long list of texts: Job 21:13; Ps. 9:17; Prov. 5:5; 9:18; 23:14; Deut. 32:22; Ps. 139:8; Prov. 15:24; Job 26:6; Prov. 15:11; 27:20. In these last three references, destruction is in the Hebrew Abaddon. Shedd argues that since Abaddon is the Hebrew word for Apollyon who is “the angel and king of the bottomless pit” (Rev. 9:11), the use of Sheol in these texts proves that it denotes hell. “There can be no rational doubt, that in this class of texts the wicked are warned of a future evil and danger. The danger is that they shall be sent to Sheol.”
“2. A second proof that Sheol is the proper name for Hell, in the OT, is the fact that there is no other proper name for it in the whole volume—for Tophet is metaphorical, and rarely employed. If Sheol is not the place where the wrath of God falls upon the transgressor there is no place mentioned in the OT where it does.”
Shedd finds it “utterly improbable” that there should be such silence, when the final judgment is so clearly announced.
“3. A third proof that Sheol in these passages, denoted the dark abode of the wicked and the state of future suffering, is found in those OT texts which speak of the contrary bright abode of the righteous, and of their state of blessedness.”
Shedd then argues that paradise cannot be placed as a part of Sheol: “There is too great a contrast between the two abodes of the good and evil, to allow them to be brought under one and the same gloomy and terrifying term Sheol.” Again he lists proof texts: Ps. 16:11; 17:15; 49:15; 73:24; Isa. 25:8; Prov. 14:32.
4. As a fourth proof that Sheol signifies the place of future retribution, Shedd cites its inseparable connection with spiritual and eternal death. This is true of Hades, as it is used in the NT (Prov. 5:5; Rev. 20:14).
Sheol Often Means the Grave. But, Shedd argues, Sheol has another significance: “Sheol signifies the ‘grave’ to which all men, good and evil alike, go down. That Sheol should have the two significations of hell and the grave, is explained by the connection between physical death and eternal retribution. The death of the body is one of the consequences of sin, and an integral part of the penalty.… As in English, ‘death’ may mean either physical or spiritual death, so in Hebrew, Sheol may mean either the grave or hell. When Sheol signifies the ‘grave,’ it is only the body that goes down to Sheol. But as the body is naturally put for the whole person, the man is said to go down to the grave, when his body alone is laid in it … When the aged Jacob says, ‘I will go down unto my (dead) son mourning’ (Gen. 37:35), no one should understand him to teach the descent of his disembodied spirit into a subterranean world. ‘The spirit of man goeth upward and the spirit of the beast goeth downward’ (Eccl. 3:21).”
Shedd cites the following texts to prove that Sheol signifies the grave: 1 Sam. 2:6; Gen. 44:31; Job 14:13; 17:13; Num. 16:33; Ps. 6:5; Eccl. 9:10; Hos. 13:14; Ps. 88:3; 89:48. He goes on, “Sheol in the sense of the ‘grave’ is represented as something out of which the righteous are to be delivered by a resurrection of the body to glory, but the bodies of the wicked are to be left under its power. Ps. 49:14, 15; 16:10; Hosea 13:14. St. Paul quotes this (1 Cor. 15:55), in proof of the blessed resurrection of the bodies of believers—showing that ‘Sheol’ here is the ‘grave,’ where the body is laid and from which it is raised.”
Objections to Idea that Sheol Means Grave. Shedd seeks to answer some of the objections to his last point. He argues that Psa. 16:10 and Acts 2:31 use soul to mean body and points out that in Lev. 19:28; 21:11; 22:4; Num. 6:6; 19:11, 13; Hag. 2:13, the Hebrew word nephesh, “soul” is translated properly by “dead body.” He also remarks that Acts 2:31 proves that Psa. 16:10 uses Sheol as he has argued because, “Acts 2:31 asserts that ‘David spake of the resurrection of Christ,’ … but there is no resurrection of the soul. Consequently it is the body that David speaks of.”
Hades Means Hell and Grave. What has been said of Sheol holds good for Hades. Mostly, it signifies the place of torment, and in three places (Acts 2:27, 31; 1 Cor. 15:55) it signifies grave.
In reply to the objection that Sheol and Hades cannot mean grave because there are other words for grave—Hebrew qeber and Greek mnemeion—Shedd replies, “Grave has an abstract and general sense, denoted by Sheol, and a concrete and particular, denoted by qeber. All men go to the grave, but not all men have a grave.… These remarks apply also to the use of Hades and mnemeion.” (All quotations from Shedd’s The Doctrine of Endless Punishment.)
Summary of Differences
Basically then, there are two views current among Bible believers. We may summarize their differences:
1. The first places paradise (at least until Christ’s resurrection) as a compartment of Sheol or Hades. The second denies this and says the location of paradise in the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:2, 4) is the only location given in Scripture, with no hint of its ever having been located anywhere else.
2. The first emphasizes that Sheol refers generally to the region of the departed spirits (as does Hades until the resurrection of Christ). The second repudiates this and holds that “hell” is the proper translation.
3. The first holds that Sheol and Hades never mean grave. The second is equally adamant that in certain texts it does.
4. The first holds that the souls of the wicked and of the righteous both went to Sheol in the OT period (and in the NT until the resurrection of Christ). The second holds that in the OT only the souls of the wicked went to Sheol and that the saints went to heaven—as Elijah, upon his translation, did. In this particular aspect of the dispute, the upholders of the divided Hades view point out that Samuel “came up from the earth” (1 Sam. 28:7–20). Those of Shedd’s persuasion answer that this does not change the plain statement of Prov. 15:24 and that Samuel is represented as coming up from the earth “because the body reanimated rises from the grave” (Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 2:602). Furthermore, in the entire narrative, Sheol is not once employed.
There are many doctrinal issues hanging on the view adopted. According to the first view, Christ’s soul descended into Sheol/Hades. Upholders of this view give differing reasons for His descent and speak of various activities while He was there. Most, however, say it was to proclaim His victory and to lead out the saints from paradise into heaven.
Shedd’s position denies such a descent into Sheol/Hades by Christ to preach or proclaim anything. He says that if such a doctrine were true, it would form a fundamental part of the gospel, on a par with the incarnation, and it is inconceivable that it should be so completely passed over in the great dogmatic statements of faith in the NT. Jesus’ cry on the cross, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit,” Shedd takes to be conclusive evidence that He did not go to any underworld of departed spirits, for “the hands of God” could not be taken as a description of any place but heaven.
One reason for opposing “grave” as a translation of Sheol or Hades is the use the self-styled Jehovah’s Witnesses (see Russellites) make of such a belief. They say Sheol always means “the grave” and nothing more. However, Shedd’s view, with its strong emphasis on Sheol as a place of dreadful punishment, poses arguments that the Jehovah’s Witness sect can never answer.
After observing so many differences of opinion, it is worth noting that both parties hold Sheol/Hades to be a place of disembodied spirits. As the eternal blessedness of the believers in heaven is to be enjoyed by the entire man, including the body, so the eternal damnation of the sinner in hell is to be endured by the entire man, including the body. Thus Hades will give up the dead which are in it and, reunited with their bodies, they will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:13, 14).
See Descent into Hell; Intermediate State. (4)
HELL by R.C. Sproul
We have often heard statements such as “War is hell” or “I went through hell.” These expressions are, of course, not taken literally. Rather, they reflect our tendency to use the word hell as a descriptive term for the most ghastly human experience possible. Yet no human experience in this world is actually comparable to hell. If we try to imagine the worst of all possible suffering in the here and now we have not yet stretched our imaginations to reach the dreadful reality of hell.
Hell is trivialized when it is used as a common curse word. To use the word lightly may be a halfhearted human attempt to take the concept lightly or to treat it in an amusing way. We tend to joke about things most frightening to us in a futile effort to declaw and defang them, reducing their threatening power.
There is no biblical concept more grim or terror-invoking than the idea of hell. It is so unpopular with us that few would give credence to it at all except that it comes to us from the teaching of Christ Himself.
Almost all the biblical teaching about hell comes from the lips of Jesus. It is this doctrine, perhaps more than any other that strains even the Christian’s loyalty to the teaching of Christ. Modern Christians have pushed the limits of minimizing hell in an effort to sidestep or soften Jesus’ own teaching. The Bible describes hell as a place of outer darkness, a lake of fire, a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, a place of eternal separation from the blessings of God, a prison, a place of torment where the worm doesn’t turn or die. These graphic images of eternal punishment provoke the question, should we take these descriptions literally or are they merely symbols?
I suspect they are symbols, but I find no relief in that. We must not think of them as being merely symbols. It is probable that the sinner in hell would prefer a literal lake of fire as his eternal abode to the reality of hell represented in the lake of fire image. If these images are indeed symbols, then we must conclude that the reality is worse than the symbol suggests. The function of symbols is to point beyond themselves to a higher or more intense state of actuality than the symbol itself can contain. That Jesus used the most awful symbols imaginable to describe hell is no comfort to those who see them simply as symbols.
A breath of relief is usually heard when someone declares, “Hell is a symbol for separation from God.” To be separated from God for eternity is no great threat to the impenitent person. The ungodly want nothing more than to be separated from God. Their problem in hell will not be separation from God, it will be the presence of God that will torment them. In hell, God will be present in the fullness of His divine wrath. He will be there to exercise His just punishment of the damned. They will know Him as an all-consuming fire.
No matter how we analyze the concept of hell it often sounds to us as a place of cruel and unusual punishment. If, however, we can take any comfort in the concept of hell, we can take it in the full assurance that there will be no cruelty there. It is impossible for God to be cruel. Cruelty involves inflicting a punishment that is more severe or harsh than the crime. Cruelty in this sense is unjust. God is incapable of inflicting an unjust punishment. The Judge of all the earth will surely do what is right. No innocent person will ever suffer at His hand.
Perhaps the most frightening aspect of hell is its eternality. People can endure the greatest agony if they know it will ultimately stop. In hell there is no such hope. The Bible clearly teaches that the punishment is eternal. The same word is used for both eternal life and eternal death. Punishment implies pain. Mere annihilation, which some have lobbied for, involves no pain. Jonathan Edwards, in preaching on Revelation 6:15-16 said, “Wicked men will hereafter earnestly wish to be turned to nothing and forever cease to be that they may escape the wrath of God.” (John H. Gerstner, Jonathan Edwards on Heaven and Hell [Orlando: Ligonier Ministries, 1991], 75.)
Hell, then, is an eternity before the righteous, ever-burning wrath of God, a suffering torment from which there is no escape and no relief. Understanding this is crucial to our drive to appreciate the work of Christ and to preach His gospel.
1. The suffering of hell is beyond any experience of misery found in this world.
2. Hell is clearly included in the teaching of Jesus.
3. If the biblical descriptions of hell are symbols, then the reality will be worse than the symbols.
4. Hell is the presence of God in His wrath and judgment.
5. There is no cruelty in hell. Hell will be a place of perfect justice.
6. Hell is eternal. There is no escape through either repentance or annihilation.
Biblical passages for reflection: Matthew 8:11-12, Mark 9:42-48, Luke 16:19-31, Jude 1:3-13, Revelation 20:11-15. (5)
Westminster Confession, Chapter 32:
Of the State of Men after Death, and of the Resurrection of the Dead with scriptural proofs.
I. The bodies of men after death return to dust and see corruption;a but their souls, (which neither die nor sleep,) having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them.b The souls of the righteous, being then made perfect in holiness, are received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies;c and the souls of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torments and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day.d Besides these two places for souls separated from their bodies, the scripture acknowledgeth none.
a Gen. 3:19; Acts 13:36.
b Luke 23:43; Eccl. 12:7.
c Heb. 12:23; 2 Cor. 5:1,6,8; Phil. 1:23 with Acts 3:21 and Eph. 4:10.
d Luke 16:23,24; Acts 1:25; Jude ver. 6,7; 1 Pet. 3:19.
II. At the last day, such as are found alive shall not die, but be changed:e and all the dead shall be raised up, with the self-same bodies, and none other, although with different qualities, which shall be united again to their souls forever.f
e 1 Thess. 4:17; 1 Cor. 15:51,52.
f Job 19:26,27; 1 Cor. 15:42-44.
III. The bodies of the unjust shall, by the power of Christ, be raised to dishonour; the bodies of the just, by his Spirit, unto honour, and be made conformable to his own glorious body.g
g Acts 24:15; John 5:28,29; 1 Cor. 15:43; Phil. 3:21.
“Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.” (Psalm 119:12)
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
1. John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Matthew, 9 Volumes, Romans, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), 2011, p. 645.
2. Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, “Entry for ‘ GEHENNA,’ “International Standard Bible Encyclopedia,” (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), p. 1183.
3. Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, “Entry for ‘Hell,’” “International Standard Bible Encyclopedia,” (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), p. 1371.
4. Alan Cairns, In Dictionary of Theological Terms, (Belfast; Greenville, SC: Ambassador Emerald International 2002), pp. 169-171.
5. R.C. Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, (Wheaton, Illinois, Tyndale House, 1992), pp. 285-287.
“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)
Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. He served as an ordained ruling elder in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. He worked in and retired from a fortune five hundred company in corporate America after forty years. He runs two blogs sites and is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com
For more study:
* For a great source of theological definitions go to Rebecca writes at Rebecca Writes: http://www.rebecca-writes.com/theological-terms-in-ao/
Jonathan Edwards SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD http://www.monergism.com/thethresho…/…/pdf/edwards_angry.pdf
Hell a PDF by Jonathan Edwards, C H Spurgeon, Edward Donnelly, J C Ryle http://www.chapellibrary.org/files/2713/7643/3243/hellfg.pdf
Death and the Afterlife Robert A. Morey, Death and the Afterlife (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1984). ISBN: 0871234335 (paperback edition 076422686X). “For readers seeking a scholarly, thorough discussion of the biblical doctrine of death and the afterlife, this volume will provide the answer. It is one of the most extensive and scholarly discussions of the subject which has come to the attention of this reviewer. Morey has covered a wide range of research and holds solidly to conservative orthodox theology on the reality of heaven, hell, and life after this life. The book deals with biblical terms relating to the subject, such as spirit, soul, body, Sheol, Gehenna, and eternal punishment. The second half of the book is an apologetic for the biblical teaching on the subject of death and a defense of scriptural teaching as opposed to liberal views of annihilationism and universal salvation. Comprehensive indexes and an extensive bibliography support the conclusions of the author.” –J. F. Walvoord.
William G. Shedd, The Doctrine of Endless Punishment (Carlisle: Banner of Truth, 1986). ISBN: 0851517544. Reprint of the original edition of 1885. “The rejection of the doctrine of Endless Punishment cuts the ground from under the gospel. Salvation supposes a prior damnation. He who denies that he deserves eternal death cannot be saved from it so long as he persists in his denial. If his denial is the truth, he needs no salvation. If his denial is an error, the error prevents penitence for sin, and this prevents pardon. No error, consequently, is more fatal than that of Universalism. It blots out the attribute of retributive justice; transmutes sin into misfortune, instead of guilt; turns all suffering into chastisement; converts the atonement work of Christ into moral influence; and makes it a debt due to man, instead of an unmerited boon from God. No teaching is more radical and revolutionizing, in its influence upon the Christian system. The attempt to retain the evangelical theology in connection with it is futile.”
John H. Gerstner, Repent or Perish: With a Special Reference to the Conservative Attack on Hell (Ligonier, Pennsylvania: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1990). ISBN: 187761114X.
John Blanchard, Whatever Happened to Hell? (Darlington, United Kingdom: Evangelical Press, 1993). ISBN: 0852343035.
Robert A. Peterson, Hell on Trial: The Case for Eternal Punishment (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Press, 1995). ISBN: 0875523722.
Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson, eds., Hell Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents Eternal Punishment (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004). ISBN: 0310240417. Contributors include Douglas J. Moo, J.I. Packer, Gregory K. Beale, Daniel I. Block, Sinclair B. Ferguson, R. Albert Mohler, and Robert Yarbrough.