Is there a place where the damned live in eternal agony in searing flames? Is there a place ruled over by an immortal, eternal anti-god and his demons?
The answer to this question is no. The place mentioned above does not, and has never existed.
To fully answer this question, we need to explain several things:
What happens to a man after he dies?
First of all, the supposed existence of "Hell" is based upon the belief that there are people who will be there. The bible makes it clear however, that men, when they die, do not go to other realms of existence to enjoy bliss and punishment. They all, righteous and wicked, Good and bad, go to the grave where their thoughts cease until Christ resurrects them back to life.
The bible continues that the cessation of thought in the grave is so complete, that men can't even praise God, which is our whole purpose for being:
The state of man after he has died is metaphorically called sleep by God, Christ, the Apostles and the prophets. Just like we close our eyes in sleep and we don't know what is going on around us until we have awoken; likewise, man in death is senseless and unknowing. For some this sleeping state is temporary while they await resurrection to life by Christ. For others who have never been baptized, the state of unconscious destruction is eternal:
Death referred to as sleep
Sometimes this sleep is eternal if they have never been baptized:
So, the bible is clear, that no one goes to a place described as hell, because they are all asleep in the grave. Unknowing, unthinking, beyond all pains and sorrow of this life or any other.
If no one can go to Hell, where do people get the understanding that a place called "Hell" exists?
Where does the word "Hell" come from?
The word "Hell" is a translation of a couple of Hebrew and Greek words, none of which mean a place where the damned are punished for all eternity. The translators of the King James Bible and other bibles were all influenced by the beliefs of the Catholic and Protestant Churches who had already formulated a belief in a place of terrible torment based upon the mixing of the teachings of Jesus Christ with the beliefs of the pagan churches. All of this is described in great detail in "The Two Babylons", by Alexander Hislop
When Constantine declared the Roman Catholic Church the supreme church of the Roman Empire, the Catholic church quickly absorbed the pagans, their temples, their idols, their beliefs and their holidays into Christianity to consolidate thier position. What they ended up with afterwards in no way represented the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostles and the prophets.
One of these new doctrines included an underworld of torment ruled over by an anti-God called the Devil who strongly resembled the Roman God Pan (see the attached link for the Wikipedia Article on Pan). Pan was widely worshipped amongst the pagans with many physical attributes and character similarities to the Devil including horns on his head, the hind quarters of a goat, the ability to multiply himself into swarms of Pans (later turned to demons) and he was worshipped not in temples like all the other deities, but in caves (leading to his being the god of an underworld).
The devil was supposed to rule an underworld called "Hell", where those rejected by the church would be tortured for all eternity. But the concept of Hell didn't exist in the bible, and no words representing the concept of hell, so translators took the Hebrew word "sheol" (which literally means "the pit" or "the grave") and retranslated it to "Hell". Because it is impossible to translate the word "sheol" to Hell every time it appears (it wouldn't make sense in the context of the chapter), you will find that the same word hebrew word "sheol" translated differently "Hell" or "Grave" based on the context of the verses around it. As you can see by this link, the same hebrew word Sheol is translated 31 times as "Hell" and 31 times as "grave" in the bible, this also should show how the translation of the word was manipulated to be translated two very different ways instead of just one
The other word the translators redefined are the Greek words "Hades" and "Gehenna" from the New Testament. In Greek mythology, Hades was the realm of the dead. All went there, not just the wicked and evil, but the righteous and virtuous as well. As such, it was a Greek word that could describe the common end of all men. Gehenna was a burning dump for the city of Jerusalem in the Valley of Hinnom, where Kings had sacrificed children to Moloch and Baal. It was also the place of refuse for the wickedest of men who deserved no burial, and were dumped there with the household trash. This word represents men who have earned the eternal contempt of God and the complete destruction of eternal death.
There are some parables in the bible (like the rich man and Lazarus which was a parable, not a literal story) that can be misconstrued to be teaching eternal torment, but God's word does not contradict itself. Those very few bible verses are parables or misunderstandings of scripture. Contact us if you are looking for an explanation of a bible verse.
The beginning of this article showed bible verses that made it clear that the dead are not alive or conscious in any way after they have died. There is no place of eternal torment, there is no one who can be there, because all the dead are unconscious, not enjoying bliss or suffering eternal punishment. The word "Hell" is mistranslated from Hebrew and Greek words that do not support the concept of hell and a place of torment for the damned.
The hope of the Gospel is as follows:
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