What Did Jesus Christ Teach About Hell?

Kato Mivule | June 28, 2011

The subject of Hell is a very difficult one to discuss, even among professing Christians. Controversies over Hell made media headlines of recent with the publication of a book by a mega Church Pastor Rob Bell, “Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived”.

Of course the book has received warm reviews in secular media simply because Rob Bell questions the Doctrine of Hell and if a Loving God would ever send people to Hell, or even if Hell exists at all. The book tends to rhyme with Christian Universalism, a belief that since God is love, God will save everyone on earth. Yet, reading the teachings and sayings of Jesus Christ o the same subject show otherwise.

Rob Bell is not the first to make such remarks about the existence of Hell, the subject has been an on going debate among Christian Theologians for years but Rob Bell has pushed the issue into the pop culture, and thus added more of a pop culture appeal to Christianity.

Rather than go allover Rob Bell's book and what other Theologians contend about the Biblical Teachings of Hell, I would rather spend time going directly over what Jesus Christ in the first person spoke about Hell.

One of the first contentions by some Theologians who don't believe in Hell, is that the word “Hell” does not appear in the Greek New Testament, rather we have the word “Gehenna”; and they are right. The Greek word for Hell is “Gehenna”, however, this does not negate any fact that Jesus Christ taught or spoke in His description of Hell. What such Theologians engage in is simply a semantics warfare.

The other contention is that since God is Love, how can a loving God send people to “Gehenna”? The extension of this contention is that Hell is not a place of fire and excruciating suffering. Another extension of the semi-Hell denier theologians is that God will not punish sinners for ever but simply “destroy” and annihilate them, so they will cease to exist and not suffer eternal pain. Yet still the Teachings of Jesus Christ show otherwise, that they contradict with the contentions of semi-Hell denier theologians.  

Yet the same Theologians don't ask why a Loving and Just God would be so loving to the extent that He would forgive the worst terrible murderer sinner, if that sinner repented and asked for forgiveness. Another contention is that “Gehenna” is a temporal place and only for a short time, after which then those souls are redeemed. This argument has been around for centuries, especially with derivatives in the Catholic Christian Church circles called the doctrine of Purgatory.

For now, lets take a look at what Jesus Christ taught concerning Hell or in Greek “Gehenna”...

Jesus Christ describes Gehenna as a Place of Fire...
Matthew 5:22 KJV But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: 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 fire.

In his first mention on the subject of Hell, Jesus Christ warns those who are angry with their brother without cause that they are in danger of Hell fire. Of course this establishes that Jesus Christ acknowledged that indeed there is a Hell and Fire, and the two seem to belong to the same place. The Greek word used for Hell is...

G1067, geenna, gheh'-en-nah: Of Hebrew origin ([H1516] and [H2011]); valley of (the son of) Hinnom; gehenna (or Ge-Hinnom), a valley of Jerusalem, used (figuratively) as a name for the place (or state) of everlasting punishment: - hell.

Interestingly the Greek word for fire is “pur”, meaning lightning, or fiery fire...

G4442, pur, poor: A primary word; “fire” (literally or figuratively, specifically lightning): - fiery, fire.

Some speculate that this “fire” spoken of is just lightning and not burning fire. However, context is key here as we study through what Jesus Christ spoke about hell, we shall see that Hell is a place of eternal punishment and burning with fire. But again even if we speculate that this fire is mere lightning, we know that lightning burns, and therefore that argument is flawed.

Jesus Christ warns about sin and Hell...
Matthew 5:29 KJV 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.

Matthew 5:30 KJV 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.

Jesus Christ clearly warns about the eternal consequences of sin, that it would be better to pluck out your source of sin, that is the eye in this case, than be cast into Hell, to perish in Hell. The Greek word used for “Perish” here is “apollumi” that means to destroy.

G622, apollumi, ap-ol'-loo-mee: From G575 and the base of G3639; to destroy fully (reflexively to perish, or lose), literally or figuratively: - destroy, die, lose, mar, perish.

This is one of the verses that a group theological Hell deniers known as annihilists, claim that Jesus Christ will just “destroy” sinners, that they sinners shall simply cease to exist, disappear, vanish away, and thus suffer no eternal punishment for ever.

Yet as I mentioned earlier, context is everything, they annihilists have taken this verse out of context. On reading further on what Jesus Christ spoke about Hell, we see that Hell punishment is eternal, therefore Jesus Christ was not self contradicting but using the word “perish” as in people languishing in this eternal prison called Hell and the Lake of Fire forever.

Jesus Christ warns: fear Him who is able to destroy soul and body in Hell...
Matthew 10:28 KJV And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Once again the word of contention is “destroy”, Greek word being “apollumi”, that is taken out of context to mean that sinners would simply be annihilated, that they would simply disappear away from existence. This would mean that Jesus Christ would be in contradiction with Himself, yet this is not the case as we shall see later.

Jesus Christ warns unrepentant Cities of Hell...
Matthew 11:23 KJV And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

Interestingly, in the Old Testament, God warns that ALL Nations who forget The Lord will end up in Hell...
Psalms 9:17 KJV The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.

Jesus Christ mentions that even Hell forces, that is the gates of Hell, the demons in hell, would not be able to prevail against His Church, meaning there are evil forces in Hell...
Matthew 16:18 KJV And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Once again Jesus Christ warns about sin and being cast into Hell. It is important to note that this is the second time that Jesus Christ warns about sin and calls for the 'plucking out of the eye' that causes one to sin than be cast into Hell. Once again Jesus Christ speaks of Hell Fire the second time, just as in Matthew 5:22...
Matthew 18:9 KJV 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 fire.

Jesus Christ warns, Hypocrites will end up in Hell...

Matthew 23:15 KJV 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 than yourselves.

Matthew 23:33 KJV Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

Interesting, Jesus Christ uses the word “damnation” which means to be judged, or condemned...

G2920, krisis, kree'-sis: (Subjectively or objectively, for or against); by extension a tribunal; by implication justice (specifically divine law): - accusation, condemnation, damnation, judgment.

Therefore Hell has to do with being judged, condemnation, damnation, and justice before God. Those who are sent or cast to Hell have been judged,  so it is a place of eternal judgment. Therefore, even as God is loving, kind and merciful, God is also God of Justice, and those who reject His forgiveness, kindness, and mercy, will be Judged and cast into Hell.

To deny that Hell exists, is to deny that God is God of Justice and inevitably deny that God is Loving and Merciful. Why would God forgive if at all no one has done anything deserving of punishment?

To question Hell and deny or reject the teachings of Jesus Christ on Hell is to reject why Jesus Christ went to the Cross. God's Justice is central and foundational to the Christian Faith and you cannot speak about God's Justice without speaking about eternal punishment and Hell.

Jesus Christ warns that Hell Fire shall never be quenched...
Mark 9:43-44 KJV 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.

Mark 9:45-46 KJV
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.

Mark 9:47-48 KJV 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.

We see from the verses above from Mark's record, Jesus Christ warning that Hell's Fire is never quenched. This is one of the verses that Hell deniers try to explain away. However, the meaning is simple, the Hell fire burns and burns continuously for ever. Secondly, Jesus Christ confirms a fact here that He mentioned in Matthew 5:22, about Hell Fire, that is, there is Fire in Hell as per the account of Jesus Christ. Also established in the verses above is that the Fire in Hell is never quenched.

So, this is serious spiritual material to simply distort as Hell deniers do, and misrepresent the Teachings of Jesus Christ on this subject. If God is God of Justice, then you will be held accountable for telling distorting the Teachings of Jesus Christ, and telling lies that Hell exists not or for that matter exists for a short “Purgatory” time.

The Greek word for “unquenchable” is “asbestos”, meaning, not extinguished, perpetual, unquenchable...

G762, asbestos, as'-bes-tos, From G1 (as a negative particle) and a derivative of G4570; not extinguished, that is, (by implication) perpetual: - not to be quenched, unquenchable.

Therefore, we establish from the Teachings of Jesus Christ that Hell is real, it burns with a perpetual fire that cannot be extinguished, and finally there are worms in Hell that do not die. Yes, if it sounds like a science fiction movie, it drives the point home, Hell is far worse than what we humans can describe.
The Greek word for “worm” is “skolex”, meaning a grub, maggot, or earth worm, while the Greet word for “die” used in the 'worm dieth not' is teleutao, meaning decease, expire, finish life...

G4663, skōlēx, sko'-lakes: Of uncertain derivative; a grub, maggot or earth worm: - worm.
G5053, teleutaō, tel-yoo-tah'-o: From a presumed derivative of G5055; to finish life (by implication of G979), that is, expire (demise): - be dead, decease, die.

The implications here are that life does not end when one physically dies, but there is a spiritual life to live either in Heaven with God or Hell in eternal judgment, a place of unquenchable fire, were maggots move around in that fire and don't die.  However, the important point is that Hell is not a place for annihilation, since maggots don't die there, it is a place of eternal suffering, a place where God desires that all men should not go but that they should believe in His Son Jesus Christ and receive forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ.

What we have is a description of Hell by Jesus Christ, and from the teachings of Jesus Christ, Hell is a pretty damned and cursed place. It is for this reason that we preach the Gospel, warning every man about this place of eternal judgment called Hell and that God out of His love and mercy desires that all men don't go to this place of eternal punishment but receive forgiveness through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ once again warns unrepentant Cities of the dangers of Hell...
Luke 10:15 KJV And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.

Jesus Christ warns people to fear God who has power to cast into Hell...
Luke 12:5 KJV But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

The story of Poor Lazarus and the Rich Man...
Luke 16:19-31 KJV  There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:  (20)  And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,  (21)  And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.  (22)  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;  (23)  And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  (24)  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.  (25)  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.  (26)  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.  (27)  Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:  (28)  For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.  (29)  Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.  (30)  And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.  (31)  And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

As if to sum up His teachings on the subject of Hell, Jesus Christ gives a very vivid verbal description of Hell yet as not before, in Luke 16.  In this story, Jesus Christ gives a clear picture of what Hell is like. In the story, both Lazarus and the rich man die and the rich man ends up in Hell while poor Lazarus ends up in Abraham's bosom, a place of comfort.

While in hell, the rich man lifted up his eyes and could see Lazarus, he remembered Lazarus and asked Abraham for water to quench his thirst. The rich man tells Abraham that he is being tormented in Hell. From the story, we learn that the dead rich man had all his senses in Hell, he felt tormented, he was thirsty, he could see, he had memory of his loved ones on earth, he cried out to Abraham that at least messengers be sent to warn his loved ones on earth to repent and not to go to Hell.

So, we learn from this story of Jesus Christ, that Hell is not a good place, it is a place where sinner who refuse to repent, and reject God's forgiveness end up. The fire burns perpetually in Hell, the maggots(worms) don't die, there is torment,  there is unquenchable thirst just as the fire is unquenchable.

We see that there is no contradiction in the teachings of Jesus Christ concerning Hell, they all line up and confirm each other. Brothers and Sisters, Hell is real just as Jesus Christ clearly taught in His teachings. Those who deny that Hell exists are denying the redemption work of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ holds the keys of Hell and Death...
Revelation 1:18 KJV  I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

Last but not least, Jesus Christ holds the keys of Hell and Death. He has all authority of Hell and death. This means that those who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, those who accept His forgiveness are not bound to Hell but Heaven, for where The Lord is, so shall they be. All all welcome, to accept and receive forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

The Lord God is God of Justice and desires that no one will perish but that all will be saved. However, and sad as it is, some have decided to reject all the goodness of God, and reject forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ, for every man and woman is given a choice, and our prayer is that you choose Eternal Life in Jesus Christ, that you choose forgiveness in Jesus Christ and after passing through this life, you will enjoy life eternal in Christ Jesus. For Hell and spiritual death have no power over those who are redeemed in Jesus Christ.

Final destination of Hell is the Lake of Fire...
Revelation 20:14-15 KJV  (14)  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.  (15)  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Finally, some theologians and some Hell deniers argue that Hell is not forever, and yes, to a point they right. At the end of time, The Lord will cast Hell and Death into the Lake of Fire. However, all those who rejected Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, whose names are not found written in the Book of life, will be cast into the Lake of Fire too.

The Greek word for “Lake” is “limne”, meaning a large pond or lake. The Greek for fire here is still “pur” as we saw earlier...

G3041, limnē, lim'-nay:Probably from G3040 (through the idea of the nearness of shore); a pond (large or small): - lake.

The lake of fire will be the final destination for Hell, Death, and all those who reject Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

The Lake of Fire Burns with Fire and Sulfur...
Revelation 21:5-8 KJV  And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.  (6)  And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.  (7)  He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.  (8)  But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

We see once again in this description of the Lake of Fire, as described by Jesus Christ to John, a place of burning fire and brimstone or sulfur. The Greek word for “burneth” is “kaio” meaning to set on fire, to kindle, to consume.  At the same time the Greek word for “brimstone” is “theion”, meaning sulfur...

G2545, kaiō, kah'-yo: Apparently a primary verb; to set on fire, that is, kindle or (by implication) consume: - burn, light.
G2303, theion, thi'-on: Probably neuter of G2304 (in its original sense of flashing); sulphur: - brimstone.

Therefore the lake of fire is a place of burning fire and sulfur, not a pretty good place to go have a party as some none believers joke about. The Lord wishes that no one goes there. It is why we preach the Gospel, that you may receive eternal life and not eternal damnation. Those who deny the teachings of Christ concerning Hell, reject the work of redemption of Jesus Christ at the Cross.

Is the Lake of Fire forever or just a few days?

Revelation 20:10 KJV  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.

One of the most contentions that semi-Hell denier Theologians hold, is that The Lake of Fire will not be forever but for a season. They claim that the Greek word for “forever” means a set period of time. They then go ahead to concoct their Hell doctrine that The Lake of fire will be for a short time after which God will grant forgiveness for all mankind. This is baloney and spiritual speculation with no substantive scriptures to back their claims.

When we check the word “forever” in Greek, we get “aion” which means, properly an age, perpetuity, eternal, forevermore, world without end...

G165, aiōn, ahee-ohn': From the same as G104; properly an age; by extension perpetuity (also past); by implication the world; specifically (Jewish) a Messianic period (present or future): - age, course, eternal, (for) ever (-more), [n-]ever, (beginning of the, while the) world (began, without end).

Yet what these semi-Hell denier Theologians do is to go to the Greek text and pick out “age”, then turn around and sell that to none discerning Christians to mean , 'a set period of time', all in the guise of purposefully misleading souls away from Truth in Jesus Christ, simply because they know a majority of people will not read their Bibles.
However, 'forever', means for ever and not a contradiction with the Mission of Jesus Christ to grant ETERNAL life for all who accept and believe in Him. If the Lake of fire and Hell punishments are for a limited period of time, so is eternal life for those who accept and believe in Jesus Christ. You cannot have it one way.

There is eternal life, everlasting life, for those who accept forgiveness in Jesus Christ and believe in Him and eternal damnation for those who reject forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ.

John 3:14-16 KJV  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:  (15)  That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.  (16)  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

We see that the Greek word for “eternal” and “everlasting” are the same, “aionios”, meaning, perpetual, eternal, forever, everlasting, world began without end; and perpetual meaning,  ageless,  aeonian,  eonian,  unending,  unceasing,  eternal...

G166, aiōnios, ahee-o'-nee-os: From G165; perpetual (also used of past time, or past and future as well): - eternal, for ever, everlasting, world (began).
G166, aiōnios, ahee-o'-nee-os:From G165; perpetual (also used of past time, or past and future as well): - eternal, for ever, everlasting, world (began).

Therefore the word “forever” in the context of Hell and the Lake of Fire is perpetual, ageless, and unceasing punishment, a place that The Lord desires that NO ONE GOES TO. The Lord has given you the choice to make, He will not force His will on you, though He could. However, The Lord God of Justice desires that you receive His forgiveness of sins, mercy, love and grace through His Son who died for our sins on the Cross and rose again from the dead, Jesus Christ.

Hell exists and is real, Jesus Christ clearly taught about Hell and the need for humans to repent and not go there. Denying this important teaching about Hell, or trying to water it down is to deny the teaching of Jesus Christ and The Gospel of Jesus Christ.

To the best of my ability, by The Lord's Grace, Mercy, Love, and leading of The Holy Spirit, I believe I have presented the sayings of Jesus Christ concerning this topic of Hell. It is another thing to struggle with this subject but yet it is another issue to try and dilute the teachings of Jesus Christ so as to appeal to the present pop culture.

There are consequences for our actions, in our present legal systems, we pursue Justice, even it is flawed context, yet we love to assume that The Lord God of Heaven will not pursue Justice. Our justice system, is void of perfect mercy, grace, and love. Yet God's Justice is perfect in love, forgiveness, and mercy; that mercy and forgiveness is now available to ALL to receive freely in Jesus Christ.

It is not God's will that you should choose Hell and eternal fire but that you choose eternal life in Jesus Christ.

God Bless You All
Kato Mivule