SHEOL, HADES, PARADISE AND GEHENNA

Dr. Robert A. Morey states, [from his book, 'Death and the Afterlife', Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, Mn, 1984, p. 72-93]:

SHEOL

The Hebrew word Sheol is found 66 times in the Old Testament. While the Old Testament consistently refers to the body as going to the grave, it always refers to the soul or spirit of man as going to Sheol....

THE LEXICOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL

Brown, Driver and Briggs...A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament... define Sheol as: "the underworld... whither man descends at death" (p. 982). They trace the origin of Sheol to either sha-al, which means the spirit world to which mediums directed their questions to the departed, or sha-al, which refers to the hollow place in the earth where the souls of men went at death. Langenscheidt's Hebrew/English Dictionary to the Old Testament (p. 337) defines Sheol as: 'netherworld, realm of the dead, Hades.' The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia in Vol. IV, p. 2761, defines Sheol as 'the unseen world, the state or abode of the dead, and is the equivalent of the Greek: Hades.' Keil and Delitzsch state that 'Sheol denotes the place where departed souls are gathered after death; it is an infinitive form from sha-al, to demand, the demanding, applied to the place which inexorably summons all men into its shade.'

The lexicographical evidence is so clear that the great Princeton scholar, B. B. Warfield, stated that with modern Hebrew scholars, there is no 'hesitation to allow with all heartiness that Israel from the beginning of its recorded history cherished the most settled conviction of the persistence of the soul in life after death...The body is laid in the grave and the soul departs to Sheol.' George Eldon Ladd in The New Bible Dictionary (p. 380), comments:

'In the Old Testament, man does not cease to exist at death, but his soul descends to Sheol.'

Modern scholarship understands the word Sheol to refer to the place where the soul or spirit of man goes at death. None of the lexicographical literature defines Sheol as referring to the grave or to passing into nonexistence.

COMPARATIVE STUDIES

In order to understand what a certain word meant in an ancient language, it is sometimes helpful to find any parallel words in the other languages of that time. Thus comparative studies of Sheol have been done which demonstrate that Sheol's parallels in other languages meant the place where the soul of man goes at death. No research has found a place where Sheol's parallel means the grave or nonexistence. For example, The Ugaritic 'ars' and Accadian 'su alu' clearly refer to the netherworld. The Babylonians, Assyrians, Egyptians, and Greek parallels to Sheol clearly meant the place of departed spirits. The Ethiopian 'Si'ol' cannot mean anything other than the netherworld, the place of conscious life after death.

THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT

What is important about comparative studies is that they place biblical words in their historical context. The word Sheol should thus be understood in terms of what it meant in the Hebrew language and by its parallel in the other languages of that time. Why?

When God wanted Israel to believe something which was unique and contrary to what the surrounding culture believed [and soul sleep would be unique and contrary], He always clearly condemned and forbade the pagan beliefs and then stressed the uniqueness of the new concept. For example, in order to establish monotheism, God repeatedly and clearly condemned the pagan concept of polytheism and stressed monotheism.

While God clearly condemned polytheism in the Old Testament, at no time did He ever condemn belief in a conscious afterlife. At no time did God ever put forth the concept of annihilation or nonexistence as the fate of man's soul at death [nor condemn the concept of a conscious afterlife].

Also, when Israel had a unique and contrary belief, the pagan societies around Israel would use this belief as the grounds to persecute the Jews. Thus the Jews were persecuted for rejecting polytheism and believing in monotheism. Daniel's three friends who were thrown into a fiery furnace are an excellent example of such persecution.

Yet, where in recorded history did pagan religions or societies persecute the Jews because they denied a conscious afterlife? To think that the Jews could go against the universally held concept of a conscious afterlife and that the pagans would not seize upon this as a pretense for persecution is absurd.

Since the universality of belief in a conscious afterlife is irrefutable, and there is no evidence that Israel deviated from this belief, we must assume that the Old Testament taught a conscious afterlife in Sheol as the fate of man's soul or spirit....

SHEOL AND THE GRAVE

The KJV translates Sheol as 'hell' 31 times, 'grave' 31 times, and 'pit' three times. Because of this inconsistency of translation, [objectors to a conscious afterlife] have taught that Sheol means the grave....

[But Sheol] cannot mean the grave.

First, exegetically speaking, the initial occurrence of Sheol in the Old Testament cannot mean the grave. The word Sheol is first found in Gen 37:35. After the brothers had sold Joseph into slavery, they informed their father that Joseph had been killed and devoured by a savage beast. As Jacob held the bloodied and tattered remains of Joseph's coat in his hands, he declared:

'A wild beast has devoured him: Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.' (v. 33)

As a result of the shock of the death of Joseph, Jacob cried:

'Surely I will go down to Sheol in mourning for my son.'

(v. 35, lit. Heb.)

There are several things about this first occurrence of Sheol which should be pointed out.

1. Jacob assumed that his son was still alive and conscious after death and that he would eventually reunite with his son after his own death. The German commentator Lange comments:

'One thing is clear: [Joseph's death] was not a state of non-being....Jacob was going to be with his son; he was still his son; there was yet a tie between him and his son; he is still spoken of as a personality; he is still regarded as having a being somehow and somewhere.'

2. Whatever else Sheol may mean, in this passage it cannot mean Joseph's grave, for Jacob believed that Joseph had been devoured by an animal and had no grave. Since Joseph had no grave, it is impossible for Jacob to be referring to being buried in a common grave with his son.

3. According to the context, Jacob is clearly speaking of reuniting with his favorite son in the underworld, here called Sheol. He even speaks of 'going down' to reunite with his son, because it was assumed that Sheol was the place of departed spirits, probably a hollow place in the center of the earth.

The second reason for not identifying Sheol as the grave is that when the biblical authors wanted to speak of the grave, they used the [Hebrew] word kever. That they did not view kever and Sheol as synonymous is clear from the way these words are used throughout the Old Testament. For example, in Isa 14:19, the king is [figuratively] cast out of his grave (kever) in order to be thrown into Sheol where the departed spirits can rebuke him (vv. 9, 10). In this passage, Sheol and kever are opposites, not synonyms.

[Compare Isa 14:9-11]:

(v. 9) "[Sheol] below is all astir to meet you [the oppressor, Sennacherib, the now dead tyrant king of Babylon, (v. 4)] at your coming; it rouses the spirits of the dead [= rephaim] to greet you - all those who were leaders in the world; it makes them rise from their 'thrones' [a sarcastic figure of speech, for there are no thrones indicated as existing in Sheol] - all those who were kings over the nations.

["spirits of the dead" = "rephaim" = A word as defined in the THEOLOGICAL WORDBOOK OF THE OLD TESTAMENT, (R. Laird Harris, Editor, Moody Press, Chicago, 1980, p. 858):

"An idea of Ugaritic origin, ('rp'i"), which means 'the dead inhabitants of the netherworld' "

...which indicates a conscious albeit spirit existence after death.

And Sennacherib is clearly indicated in this passage as dead yet still existing in a different sphere, the sphere of Sheol.

[cp Pro 2:18]:

"For her [the adulteress'] house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead [rephaim]."

[Isa 14:9-11 cont.]:

(v. 10) They [the dead ex-leaders of the world in Sheol, (v. 9)] will all respond, they will say to you, 'You [Sennacherib] also have become weak, as we are; you have become like us.

(v. 11) All your pomp has been brought down to [Sheol], along with the noise of your harps; maggots are spread out beneath you and worms cover you... [Referring to the dead corpse of his physical body which was buried in a common grave and not in the customary tomb for a king, having been assassinated by his sons and purposely not given a kingly burial in a tomb, (vv. 19-20). The physical site of his dead body in a common grave covered with worms and maggots is portrayed in contrast to the conscious conversation with him which was going on in Sheol with other dead kings: a different place from the grave].

[Morey, cont., op. cit.]:

Third, in the Septuagint, Sheol is never translated as mneema, which is the Greek word for grave. It is always translated as Hades which meant the underworld. kever is never translated as Hades just as Sheol is never translated as mneema.

Fourth, kever and Sheol are never used in Hebrew poetic parallelism as equivalents. They are always contrasted and never equated. kever is the fate of the body, while Sheol is the fate of the soul...

[Ps 16:8-11]:

(v. 8) "I have set the LORD always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

(v. 9) Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,

(v. 10) because you will not abandon me to 'Sheol', nor will you let your holy one see decay [= David who was holy, i.e., 'set apart' for salvation unto eternal life, (v. 1)].

Allen P. Ross states, (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Walvoord & Zuck Editors, Victor Books, USA, 1987, p. 804):

"David was assured that the Lord would preserve his life in the face of death. He rejoiced because God enabled his body to rest securely even when confronted with death. The reason he could rest is that God would not abandon him to the grave, nor...let His holy one see decay.

This verse refers to David, who describes himself as God's 'holy one,' that is, one of God's saints (cf. v. 3). He took comfort in the fact that God would not, at that time, allow his body to die and decay in the grave. [i.e., he would be resurrected at some time]. In fact God had caused him to know the path of life so he anticipated experiencing further joy in God's presence....

Death posed no threat to David because he enjoyed great blessing and fellowship with the Lord. God would not permit death and the grave to interrupt that marvelous fellowship [so soul sleep was obviously out of the question in David's mind]:

(v. 11) You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand"

[Cp Phil 1:23]:

"[The Apostle Paul states] I am torn between the two ['to live is Christ, to die is gain', (v. 21)]: I desire to depart [i.e., die, (v. 21)] and be with Christ [Who at that moment and this is in heaven, which indicates that Paul would be conscious with the Lord in heaven] which is better by far;

(v. 24) but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body [further indicating that the only other alternative offered: not to be in the body, i.e., be physically dead, results in a conscious existence and presence with Jesus Christ in heaven where He now resides, (Cp 2 Cor 5:8-9)]."

Morey, cont. op. cit., p. 76:

Fifth, Sheol is 'under the earth,' or 'the underworld,' while graves were built as sepulchres above the earth, or caves or holes in the earth. Sheol is called the underworld in Isa 14:9...

[Isa 14:9]:

"'Sheol' below is all astir..."

It is also called 'the lower parts of the earth'..

(cp Isa 44:23)

[Compare Ez 26:20]:

"Then I will bring you down with those who go down to the pit, to the people of long ago. I will make you dwell in the earth below, as in ancient ruins, with those who go down to the pit, and you will not return or take your place in the land of the living."

(cp Ez 31:14, 16, 18, 32:18, 24)

[Cp Ps 63:9]:

"But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth."

Sheol is the opposite of heaven:

[Ps 139:8]:

"If I go up to the heavens, you are there; If I make my bed in the depths you are there."
One must go 'down' to get to Sheol:

[Gen 37:34-35]:

(v. 34) "Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days.

(v. 35) All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he said 'in mourning will I go down to Sheol to my son.' So his father wept for him.

[Notice that Jacob could not be saying that when he dies he would have his dead son dug up to have Jacob's body placed in the same grave with his son. Certainly Jacob means that he will see his son in the afterlife]

Sixth, while bodies are unconscious in the grave, those in Sheol are viewed as being conscious (Isa 14:4-7; 44:23; Ezek 31:16; 32:21).

Seventh, an examination of the usages of kever and Sheol reveals that Sheol cannot mean the grave. The following twenty contrasts between kever and Sheol demonstrates this point:

1. While... kavar (to bury) is used in connection with kever, it is never used in connection with Sheol. We can bury someone in a grave but we cannot bury anyone in Sheol (Gen 23:4, 6, 9, 19, 20; 49:30, 31, etc.).

2. While kever is found in its plural form 'graves' (Ex 14:11), the word Sheol is never pluralized.

3. While a grave is located at a specific site (Ex 14:11), Sheol is never localized, because it is everywhere accessible at death no matter where the death takes place. No grave is necessary in order to go to Sheol.

4. While we can purchase or sell a grave (Gen 23:4-20), Scripture never speaks of Sheol being purchased or sold.

5. While we can own a grave as personal property (Gen 23:4-20), nowhere in Scripture is Sheol owned by man.

6. While we can discriminate between graves and pick the 'choicest site (Gen 23:6), nowhere in Scripture is a 'choice' Sheol pitted against a 'poor' Sheol.

7. While we can drop a dead body into a grave (Gen 50:13), no one can drop anyone into Sheol.

8. While we can erect a monument over a grave (Gen 35:20), Sheol is never spoken of as having monuments.

9. While we can, with ease, open or close a grave (2 Kings 23:16), Sheol is never opened or closed by man.

10. While we can touch a grave (Num 19:18), no one is ever said in Scripture to touch Sheol.

11. While touching a grave brings ceremonial defilement (Num 19:16), the Scriptures never speak of anyone being defiled by Sheol.

12. While we can enter and leave a tomb or grave (2 Kings 23:16), no one is ever said to enter and then leave Sheol.

13. While we can choose the site of our own grave (Gen 23:4-9), Sheol is never spoken of a something we can pick and choose.

14. While we can remove or uncover the bodies or bones in a grave ( 2 Kings 23:16), the Scriptures never speak of man removing or uncovering anything in Sheol.

15. While we can beautify a grave with ornate carvings or pictures (Gen 35:20), Sheol is never beautified by man.

16. While graves can be robbed or defiled (Jer 8:1,2), Sheol is never spoken of as being robbed or defiled by man.

17. While a grave can be destroyed by man (Jer 8:1, 2), nowhere in Scripture is man said to be able to destroy Sheol.

18. While a grave can be full, Sheol is never full (Prov 27:20).

19. While we can see a grave, Sheol is always invisible.

20. While we can visit the graves of loved ones, nowhere in Scripture is man said to visit Sheol.

SHEOL AND ITS INHABITANTS

The following things are stated about Sheol... [and its inhabitants]:

First, Sheol is said to have 'gates' by which one enters and 'bars' which keep one in (Job 17:16; Isa 38:10). Such figurative language conveys the idea that Sheol is a realm from which no escape is possible.

Second, the Old Testament describes Sheol in the following ways:

1. Sheol is a shadowy place or place of darkness (Job 10:21, 22; Ps 143:3). Evidently, it is another dimension which is not exposed to the rays of the sun.

2. It is viewed as being 'down,' 'beneath the earth,' or in 'the lower parts of the earth' (Job 11:8; Isa 44:23; 57:9; Ezek 26:20; Amos 9:2). These figures of speech... indicate that Sheol is not a part of this world but has an existence of its own in another dimension.

3. It is a place where one can reunite with his ancestors, tribe or people (Gen 15:15; 25:8; 35:29; 37:35: 49:33; Num 20:24, 28; 31:2; Deut 32:50; 34:5; 2 Sam 12:23). This cannot refer to one common mass grave where everyone was buried. No such graves ever existed in recorded history. Sheol is the place where the souls of all men go at death. That is why Jacob looked forward to reuniting with Joseph in Sheol. While death meant separation from the living, the Old Testament prophets clearly understood that it also meant reunion with the departed.

4. It seems that Sheol has different sections. There is the contrast between 'the lowest part' and 'the highest part' of Sheol (Deut 32:22). This figurative language implies that there are divisions or distinctions within Sheol. Perhaps the Old Testament's emphatic distinction between the righteous and the wicked in this life indicates that this distinction continues on in the afterlife. Thus the wicked are said to be in 'the lowest part,' while the righteous are in 'the higher part' of Sheol. While this is not clearly stated in the Old Testament, there seems to be some kind of distinction within Sheol....

Third, the condition of those in Sheol is described in the following ways:

1. At death man becomes a rephaim, i.e., a 'ghost,' 'shade,' or 'disembodied spirit' according to Job 26:5; Ps 88:10; Prov 2:18; 9:18; 21:16; Isa 14:9; 26:14, 19. Instead of describing man as passing into nonexistence, the Old Testament states that man becomes a disembodied spirit. The usage of the word rephaim irrefutably establishes this truth. Langenscheidt's Hebrew-English Dictionary to the Old Testament (p. 324) defines rephaim as referring to the 'departed spirits, shades.' Brown, Driver and Briggs (p. 952) define rephaim as 'shades, ghosts.... name of dead in Sheol.' Keil and Delitzsch define rephaim as referring to 'those who are bodiless in the state after death.'

From the meaning of rephaim, it is clear that when the body dies, man enters a new kind of existence and experience. He now exists as a spirit creature and experiences what angels and other disincarnate spirits experience. Just as angels are disincarnate energy beings composed only of 'mind' or mental energy and are capable of supradimensional activity and such things as thought and speech without the need of a physical body, even so once man dies, he too becomes a disembodied supradimensional energy being and is capable of thought and speech without the need of a body. This is why the dead are described as 'spirits' and 'ghosts' throughout the Scriptures.

This concept is carried on into the New Testament in such places as Luke 24:37-39. A belief in 'ghosts' necessarily entails a belief that man survives the death of the body.

2. Those in Sheol are pictured as conversing with each other and even making moral judgments on the lifestyle of new arrivals (Isa 14:9-20; 44:23; Ezek 32:21). They are thus conscious entities while in Sheol.

3. Once in Sheol, all experiences related exclusively to physical life are no longer possible. Those in Sheol do not marry and procreate children because they do not have bodies. Neither do they plan and execute business transactions. Once in Sheol, they cannot attend public worship in the temple and give sacrifices or praise. There are no bodily pleasures such as eating or drinking. Those in Sheol do not have any wisdom or knowledge about what is happening in the land of the living. They are cut off from the living. They have entered a new dimension of reality with its own kind of existence (Ps 6:5; Eccles 9:10, etc.).

4. God's judgment upon the wicked does not cease when the wicked die in their sins. Thus some of the spirits in Sheol experience the following:

a. God's anger (Deut 32:22): According to Moses, the wicked experience the fire of YHWH's anger in the 'lowest part of Sheol.' This passage would make no sense if the wicked are nonexistent and Sheol is the grave.

b. Distress (Ps 116:3): The Hebrew word matzar refers to the distress that is felt when in the straits of a difficulty. It is found in this sense in Ps 118:5. Also, the word chevel, which is the poetic parallel for matzar, means 'cords of distress' (2 Sam 22:6; Ps 18:6).

c. Writhing in pain (Job 26:5): The Hebrew word chool means to twist and turn in pain like a woman giving birth.

It is obvious that nonexistence [or soul sleep] can hardly experience anger, distress, or pain. Thus, there are hints in the above passages that not everyone experiences blessedness in the afterlife. Beyond these three passages, the Old Testament does not speak of torment in the intermediate state. While it speaks of the 'everlasting humiliation and contempt; which awaits the wicked after the resurrection (Dan 12:2), the Old Testament tells us very little about the intermediate suffering of the wicked in Sheol.

5. In the Old Testament, the righteous as well as the wicked went to Sheol at death (Gen 37:35)....

While the overall picture of death was somewhat gloomy in the Old Testament, yet God had begun to reveal to His people that they would be ushered into His joyous presence after death. To be sure, these were only hints of glory, but hints they were. The ascension of Enoch and Elijah to heaven indicated that the righteous could be taken into God's presence (Gen 5:24, cf. Heb 11:5; 2 Kings 2:11). The verb which described Enoch's and Elijah's ascension (laqach) was later used to describe the passage of the righteous out of Sheol into heaven (Ps 49:15; cf. 73:24). Asaph expressed the hope that he would go to dwell at the throne of glory at death.

...The Old Testament saints looked forward to reuniting with their departed loved ones (Gen 37:35)....

Also, the Old Testament believers knew that Sheol was open to God's sight (Job 26:6) and that they would still be in God's presence and protection (Ps 139:8).

[Finally, upon simply believing in God's plan for him, (and for that matter all mankind), relative to salvation through the seed of Abraham, Abraham was given God's unconditional guarantee of eternal life - a life after death, one of being in the kingdom of God on earth forever. And those of the faith of Abraham looked forward to the same covenant promise, (cp. Ro 4:1-12)].

HADES

The second key term in the biblical understanding of death and the afterlife is the Greek word Hades. This word forms a linguistic bridge which takes us from the Old Testament view of death to the New Testament position. The importance of a proper interpretation of this word cannot be overstressed.

In the Septuagint, Hades is found 71 times. It is the Greek equivalent for Sheol 64 times. The other seven times it is found in the Septuagint, it is the translation of other Hebrew words, some of which shed significant light on what Hades meant to the translators of the Septuagint.

In Job 33:22, Hades is the translation of the Hebrew word memeteim, or 'destroying angels [KJV] ... the angels who are commissioned by God to slay the man.' In this sense it refers to disincarnate spirit creatures.

It is also used in Job 38:17 as the translation of the Hebrew, 'the realm of ghosts or shades' (KJV).

It is used for 'the shades of the underworld' in Prov 2:18. This refers to the spirits of the departed in Sheol who are viewed as 'the dwellers in the Kingdom of the dead as in Homer and Virgil and like the Latin word Inferi, it stands for the realm of disembodied souls.'

Not once is Hades the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word for grave (kever). Not once does it mean nonexistence or unconsciousness. The times it is used for words other than Sheol, it clearly means the world of spirits. There is, therefore, no way to escape the conclusion that the translators of the Septuagint clearly understood that Hades referred to the realm of disembodied souls or spirits; and, we must also emphasize, that the translators of the Septuagint did not obtain this concept from Platonic Greek thought but from the Hebrew concept of Sheol itself.

THE LEXICOGRAPHICAL EVIDENCE

When we turn to the lexicographical material, we find that the authors of the Septuagint were correct in their usage of Hades as the Greek equivalent for the Hebrew Sheol.

Arndt and Gingrich... A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament... define Hades as 'the underworld ... the place of the dead' (p. 16). Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon (p. 11) states that Hades comes from two words which joined together [which] mean 'invisible,' or 'unseen.' Thus it refers to 'the common receptacle of disembodied spirits.'

The KJV mistranslated the word Hades in every occurrence just as it did with the word Sheol. It is found ten times in the Greek New Testament. The Greek text underlying the KJV [the Textus Receptus] has it an eleventh time in 1 Cor 15:55, but this is a corrupt reading.

Perhaps the best way to clarify what the New Testament teaches about Hades is to first of all state what Hades does not mean. Once we have cleared away any misconceptions of this word, then we can present its meaning in the New Testament.

First, Hades does not mean death, because the Greek word thanatos is the word for death in the New Testament. Also, Hades and death appear together in such passages as Rev 1:18 where they cannot be viewed as synonyms...

[Rev 1:18]:

"I am the Loving One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades."

Second, Hades is not the grave, because the Greek word mneema is the word for grave in the New Testament. Also, all the arguments which demonstrated that Sheol cannot mean the grave apply equally to Hades seeing that Hades is the equivalent for the Hebrew word Sheol. The New Testament's dependence upon the Septuagint demonstrates this point.

Third, Hades is not 'hell,' i.e., the place of final punishment for the wicked, because the Greek word Gehenna is the word for 'hell' in the New Testament.

Fourth, Hades is not 'heaven,' i.e., the place where the soul of the righteous goes at death to await the coming resurrection, because the Greek word ouranos is the word for heaven in the New Testament.

Fifth, Hades is not the place of eternal bliss for the righteous after the resurrection, because the new heavens and the new earth or the everlasting kingdom refer to this place (Matt 24:34; Rev 21:1).

Having clarified what Hades does not mean, we can now state the New Testament meaning of this crucial word.

First, we must once again emphasize the importance of the principle of progressive revelation....

...The New Testament picks up where the Old Testament left off by progressively developing the concept of what happens to the soul of man after death.

...In Luke 16:19-31... the rich man was directly said to be 'in Hades' (v. 23), the phrase 'Abraham's bosom' to which the angels carried Lazarus (vv. 22,23) must be interpreted as the section of Hades reserved for the righteous.....

During the intertestamental period, the Jewish concept of Sheol had progressed to the stage where it was believed that Sheol had two distinct compartments, or sections. One section was a place of torment to which the wicked went while the other was a place of conscious bliss, often called 'Abraham's bosom' or 'paradise,' to which the righteous were carried by angels...."

Compare our Lord's account of Lazarus and the rich man in Hades which testifies to the accuracy of the rabbinic understanding of Sheol:

[Lk 16:19-31]:

(v. 19) "[Jesus said, (v. 15)] Now there was a certain rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, gaily living in splendor every day.

(v. 20) And a certain poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores,

(v. 21) and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.

(v. 22) Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom

[Abraham's bosom was an expression which referred to the paradise compartment in Hades, the place where those who had the faith of Abraham dwelled until they were to occupy the kingdom of heaven]

and the rich man also died and was buried.

(v. 23) And in Hades he lifted up his eyes,

[Notice that our Lord is indicating here in this account that there is a fully functioning consciousness after death, a bliss for those who are declared righteous and torment for those who are not. And the rest of the passages confirms this]:

being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom.

(v. 24) And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame.'

(v. 25) But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.

(v. 26) And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.' "

Although Old Testament saints did not have as much information about the afterlife as the New Testament revelation provided later on, it does not follow that the word Sheol, the Hebrew O.T. word for the place one resides in the afterlife, referred to something different or less than what the word Hades referred to in the N.T., any more than it does when one refers to one's car at one time as a sedan and a '99 Ford Taurus at another. They both refer to the same thing, one reference being more specific than the other.

Although this passage in Luke shows a characteristic of an O.T. historical account, for the beggar's name was specifically given as a proper name - not a symbollic one: "a certain poor man named Lazarus". And since, the passage refers to yet another O. T. historical individual: "Father Abraham". And since all attempts to treat this as a completely symbollic parable that teaches anything but death or the afterlife end up in farfetched interpretations that violate clear doctrinal passages on these subjects; consider another option which best fits the rest of Scripture and has precedent in the rabbinical literary form of Jesus' day:

[Morey op. cit., pp. 85-87]:

"The rabbinic literature before, during, and after the time of Christ is filled with parables which built imaginative stories around real historical characters. There are multiple examples in the Talmud and Midrash of parables in which Abraham had dialogues with people such as Nimrod, with whom he could never have spoken literally. Everyone understood that these parables and dialogues did not literally take place.

[Yet what was being taught by the fictitious account was indeed literal]

It was understood that the rabbis used imaginative stories and dialogues as a teaching method. It was understood by all that these dialogues never took place...

...Christ used a rabbinic story and dialogue in Luke 16:19-31 which was not 'true' or 'real' in the sense of being literal [in a historical sense, but literal indeed in what it is teaching]. It is obvious that Lazarus did not literally sit in Abraham's literal bosom. The rich man did not have literal lips which literal water could quench.

What is important for us to grasp is that Christ used the mental images conjured up by this rabbinic parable to teach that, in the hereafter, the wicked experience torment and the righteous bliss. This is clear from the rabbinic sources from which he drew this parable.

Since the dialogue between the rich man and Abraham was a teaching tool used by the rabbis before Christ, it is obvious that Christ was not trying to teach that we will talk with the wicked in the hereafter. He was merely using the dialogue method to get across the concept that there is no escape from torment, no second chance, and we must believe the Scriptures in this life unto salvation."

[Morey, cont.]:

"Before Christ's ascension, believers as well as unbelievers were said to enter Sheol or Hades. After Christ's ascension, the New Testament pictures believers after death as entering heaven to be with Christ...(Phil 1:23), which is far better than Hades.

[Compare Jn 3:13]:
"No one has ever gone into heaven except the One Who came from heaven - the Son of Man."

Notice that "No one has ever gone into heaven"= No Old Testament saint had as yet occupied heaven after they died, yet there is evidence in Scripture that O.T. saints did occupy some place after they did die. After the cross, Scripture indicates that believers occupied heaven:

[Phil 1:23-24]:

(v. 23) "I [Paul] am torn between the two: [duty on earth or going to be with the Lord in heaven, (vv. 21-22)]: I desire to depart and be with Christ [Who is at this moment in heaven], which is better by far;

(v. 24) but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

[Morey, cont.]:
"[So believers] are present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:6-8), worshipping with the angelic hosts of heaven (Heb 12:22, 23) at the altar of God (Rev 6:9-11). Thus believers do not now enter Hades but ascend immediately to the throne of God....

[ on the believer's immediate destiny in heaven when he dies]

...That Christ went to Hades, i.e., the world beyond death, is clear from Acts 2:31."

[Compare Acts 2:31]:

"He [David, (v. 29) looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades ["hadou" = Hades], nor did His flesh see decay.

[Notice that this indicates that our Lord did go to Hades]

To Jews at that time it was on the 4th day that corruption set in thus revealing most unequivocally that our Savior’s human soul was in Hades while His body lay in the sepulcher, He ascending out of Hades to receive His body instead of descending down from heaven. Ephesians 4:8-10 vividly describes the descension of our Lord "into the lower parts of the earth," which never could mean the sepulcher or grave in which He was deposited. It is not in the lower parts of the earth, but on the surface, excavated out of a great rock in the mountain side, and entered horizontally. No grave is in the "lower parts of the earth," much less our Savior’s sepulcher.

Furthermore, Paradise was not in heaven before the cross, for Jesus testified to the women on the morning He was resurrected that He had not yet gone up to His Father, (Jn 20:15-18), whereas He had met the thief in Paradise on the preceding Wednesday."

[Compare Jn 20:15-18]:
(v. 15) ''' "[Jesus said] 'Woman,' He said, 'why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?' Thinking He was the gardener, she [Mary Magdalene] said, 'Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will get Him.'
(v. 16) Jesus said to her, 'Mary.' She turned toward Him and cried out in Aramaic, 'Rabboni!' (which means Teacher).
(v. 17) Jesus said, 'Do not hold on to Me, for I have not yet returned to the Father [in heaven]. Go instead to My brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.' " '''


(Note: our Lord was crucified on the Passover Sabbath Wednesday:.. on the crucifixion/resurrection chronology)

[Compare Luke 23:43]:

"Jesus answered him [the thief on the cross, (v. 40)], 'I tell you the truth, today [Wednesday the Passover Sabbath] you will be with Me in paradise.' "


[Morey, cont.]:
"While 'paradise' in the gospel account (Luke 23:43) referred to the section of Hades reserved for the righteous [before the cross], by the time Paul wrote 2 Cor 12:2-4 paradise had been taken out of Hades and was now placed in the third heaven.


[Compare 2 Cor 12:2-4]:
(v. 2) "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know that this man - whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows -
(v. 4) was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.

[Morey, cont.]:
"According to the post-resurrection teaching in the New Testament, the believer now goes to heaven at death to await the coming resurrection and the eternal state. But, what of the wicked? The wicked at death descend into Hades which is a place of temporary torment while they await the coming resurrection and their eternal punishment.

First, it is clear that the souls of the wicked are in torment during the intermediate state in Hades. The Apostle Peter stated this in language which could not be clearer:

[2 Pet 2:9]:

"Then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment."

First, Peter says that the wicked are 'kept' unto the day of judgment. This word ['kept'] is in the present, active, infinitive form, which means that the wicked are being held captive continuously. If the wicked merely pass into nonexistence at death, there would be nothing left to be 'kept' unto the day of judgment. Obviously, Peter is grammatically picturing the wicked as being guarded like prisoners in a jail until the day of final judgment.

Second, Peter says that the wicked are 'being tormented.' This word is in the present, passive, participle form and means that the wicked are continuously being tormented as an on-going activity.

If Peter wanted to teach that the wicked receive their full punishment at death by passing into nonexistence, then he would have used the aorist tense. Instead, he uses those Greek tenses which were the only ones available to him in the Greek language to express conscious, continuous torment. The grammar of the text irrefutably establishes that the wicked are in torment while they await their final day of judgment.

When the day of judgment arrives, Hades will be emptied of its inhabitants, and the wicked will stand before God for their final sentence....

[Rev 20:13-15]:

(v. 13) "The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.

(v. 14) Then death and Hades were thrown into the Lake of Fire. The Lake of Fire is the second death.

(v. 15) If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the Lake of Fire."

Thus, we conclude that Hades is the temporary intermediate state between death and the resurrection where the wicked are in conscious torment. Hades without Paradise, i.e., without the O.T. saints will thus be emptied into the Lake of Fire at the resurrection of all unbelievers, and then the wicked will be cast into 'hell' (Gehenna).

PARADISE

PARADISE IN HADES

Lk 16:19-31]:

(v. 19) "[Jesus said, (v. 15)] Now there was a certain rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, gaily living in splendor every day.

(v. 20) And a certain poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores,

(v. 21) and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.

(v. 22) Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom [Abraham's bosom was an expression which referred to the paradise compartment in Hades, the place where those who had the faith of Abraham dwelled until they were to occupy the kingdom of heaven]; and the rich man also died and was buried.

(v. 23) And in Hades he lifted up his eyes,

[Notice that our Lord is indicating here in this account that there is a fully functioning consciousness after death, a bliss for those who are declared righteous and torment for those who are not. And the rest of the passages confirms this]:

being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom.

(v. 24) And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame.'

(v. 25) But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.

(v. 26) And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.' "

Although Old Testament saints did not have as much information about the afterlife as the New Testament revelation provided later on, it does not follow that the word Sheol, the Hebrew O.T. word for the place one resides in the afterlife, referred to something different or less than what the word Hades referred to in the N.T., any more than it does when one refers to one's car at one time as a sedan and a '99 Ford Taurus at another. They both refer to the same thing, one reference being more specific than the other.

Although this passage in Luke shows a characteristic of an O. T. historical account, for the beggar's name was specifically given as a proper name - not a symbollic one: "a certain poor man named Lazarus". And since, the passage refers to yet another O. T. historical individual: "Father Abraham". And since all attempts to treat this as a completely symbollic parable that teaches anything but death or the afterlife end up in farfetched interpretations that violate clear doctrinal passages on these subjects; consider another option which best fits the rest of Scripture and has precedent in the rabbinical literary form of Jesus' day:

[Morey op. cit., pp. 85-87]:

"The rabbinic literature before, during, and after the time of Christ is filled with parables which built imaginative stories around real historical characters. There are multiple examples in the Talmud and Midrash of parables in which Abraham had dialogues with people such as Nimrod, with whom he could never have spoken literally. Everyone understood that these parables and dialogues did not literally take place.

[Yet what was being taught by the fictitious account was indeed literal]

It was understood that the rabbis used imaginative stories and dialogues as a teaching method. It was understood by all that these dialogues never took place...

...Christ used a rabbinic story and dialogue in Luke 16:19-31 which was not 'true' or 'real' in the sense of being literal [in a historical sense, but literal indeed in what it is teaching]. It is obvious that Lazarus did not literally sit in Abraham's literal bosom. The rich man did not have literal lips which literal water could quench.

What is important for us to grasp is that Christ used the mental images conjured up by this rabbinic parable to teach that, in the hereafter, the wicked experience torment and the righteous bliss. This is clear from the rabbinic sources from which he drew this parable.

Since the dialogue between the rich man and Abraham was a teaching tool used by the rabbis before Christ, it is obvious that Christ was not trying to teach that we will talk with the wicked in the hereafter. He was merely using the dialogue method to get across the concept that there is no escape from torment, no second chance, and we must believe the Scriptures in this life unto salvation."

[Morey, cont.]:

"Before Christ's ascension, believers as well as unbelievers were said to enter Sheol or Hades. After Christ's ascension, the New Testament pictures believers after death as entering heaven to be with Christ...(Phil 1:23), which is far better than Hades.

[Compare Jn 3:13]:
"No one has ever gone into heaven except the One Who came from heaven - the Son of Man."

Notice that "No one has ever gone into heaven" = Since this statement was made by our Lord at the time of His three year ministry on earth, we can conclude that no Old Testament saind had as yet occupied heaven after they died.

...That Christ went to Hades, i.e., the world beyond death, is clear from Acts 2:31."

[Compare Acts 2:31]:

"He [David, (v. 29) looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades ["hadou" = Hades], nor did His flesh see decay.

[Notice that this indicates that our Lord did go to Hades]

To Jews at that time it was on the 4th day that corruption set in thus revealing most unequivocally that our Savior’s human soul was in Hades while His body lay in the sepulcher, He ascending out of Hades to receive His body instead of descending down from heaven. Ephesians 4:8-10 vividly describes the descension of our Lord "into the lower parts of the earth," which never could mean the sepulcher or grave in which He was deposited. It is not in the lower parts of the earth, but on the surface, excavated out of a great rock in the mountain side, and entered horizontally. No grave is in the "lower parts of the earth," much less our Savior’s sepulcher.

Furthermore, paradise was not in heaven before the cross, for Jesus testified to the women on the morning He was resurrected that He had not yet gone up to His Father, (Jn 20:15-18), whereas He had met the thief in Paradise on the preceding Wednesday."

[Compare Luke 23:43]:

"Jesus answered him [the thief on the cross, (v. 40)], 'I tell you the truth, today [Wednesday the Passover Sabbath] you will be with Me in paradise.' "
(Note: our Lord was crucified on the Passover Sabbath Wednesday:.. on the crucifixion/resurrection chronology)

[Compare Jn 20:15-18]:
(v. 15) ''' "[Jesus said] 'Woman,' He said, 'why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?' Thinking He was the gardener, she [Mary Magdalene] said, 'Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will get Him.'
(v. 16) Jesus said to her, 'Mary.' She turned toward Him and cried out in Aramaic, 'Rabboni!' (which means Teacher).
(v. 17) Jesus said, 'Do not hold on to Me, for I have not yet returned to the Father [in heaven]. Go instead to My brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.' " '''


[Morey, cont.]:
"While 'paradise' in the gospel account (Luke 23:43) referred to the section of Hades reserved for the righteous [before the cross], by the time Paul wrote 2 Cor 12:2-4 paradise had been taken out of Hades and was now placed in the third bn heaven.


[Compare 2 Cor 12:2-4]:
(v. 2) "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know that this man - whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows -
(v. 4) was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.

[Morey, cont.]:
"According to the post-resurrection teaching in the New Testament, the believer now goes to heaven at death to await the coming resurrection and the eternal state.

[Phil 1:23-24]:

(v. 23) "I [Paul] am torn between the two: [duty on earth or going to be with the Lord in heaven, (vv. 21-22)]: I desire to depart and be with Christ [Who is at this moment in heaven], which is better by far;

(v. 24) but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

[Morey, cont.]:
[So believers] are present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:6-8), worshipping with the angelic hosts of heaven (Heb 12:22, 23) at the altar of God (Rev 6:9-11). Thus believers do not now enter Hades but ascend immediately to the throne of God....

[ on the believer's immediate destiny in heaven when he dies]

OUR LORD DESCENDED TO HADES INTO PARADISE AND BROUGHT THE OLD TESTAMENT TIME BELIEVERS TO HEAVEN WITH HIM

[Ps 68:17-18 NAS]:

(v. 17) "The chariots of God are myriads, thousands upon thousands; The LORD is among them as at Sinai, in holiness.

[NIV: The chariots of God are tens of thousands and thousands of thousands; the LORD has come from Sinai into His sanctuary]

(v. 18) Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast led captive Thy captives; Thou hast received gifts among men, even among the rebellious also, that the LORD God may dwell there."

[Compare Eph 4:7-10]:

(v. 7) "But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.

(v. 8) Therefore it says, [cf. Ps 68:18]

'When He ascended on high [to heaven],

He led captive a host of captives,

[O.T. saints were held 'captive' in the Paradise compartment in Hades who were saved on credit, (Ro 3:25-26). They were held 'captive' there awaiting our Lord's atonement for them so that He could then lead them 'captive', i.e., in a group, into heaven]

And He gave gifts to men.

[Refers to spiritual gifts, (ref. Eph 4:11-14)]

(v. 9) (What does 'He ascended' mean except that He also descended to the lower, earthly regions"

['descended to the lower, earthly regions' = descended to where Hades/Paradise is located - in order to take 'captive' the O.T. saints held their in 'captivity' until our Lord came for them to ascend with them to heaven]:

(v. 10) He Who descended is the very One Who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe).

"He led captive a host of captives" = lit. "He led captive captivity", i.e., he went to those in Hades/Paradise who were captive in the sense of being restricted to Paradise and led them in a captive group to heaven with Him. Since the verb in the Greek, "EchmalOteusen" = [str. # 162] = led captive, [Pershbacher] then this is best interpreted as an actual leading of a specific group of individuals who were already in captivity in a captive group from one destination to another. This is preferred to the concept of interpreting it as the setting free [different verb] of all mankind from Satan's captivity by redeeming them from the slave market of sin. (Although Scripture indeed teaches the latter as a truth, it is not in view here in Eph 4:7-10).

Paul reflects on Psalm 68 of which verses 17-18 are quoted above - which passage indicates that a military victor such as the LORD God over His and Israel's enemies, gives gifts to those who are identified with him in His victory. This time it is about our Lord's victory over sin through His redemptive work on the cross as a result of which He set the specific captives free in Paradise/Hades by redeeming them from the slave market of sin and then leading them in a captive group to heaven where He ascended to. The parenthetical statement in verses 9 & 10 indicate our Lord's descent into the depths of the earth, i.e., Hades/Paradise where He led them captive to Heaven. The OT saints from Paradise were captive in the sense of being confined there under the promise of Abraham of eternal life until they could be released for entrance into heaven when that promise was fulfulled through the Seed of Abraham via our Lord's sacrificial atonement for the sins of the whole world. So our Lord ascended with the 'captives' into heaven, having fulfilled the promise.

[Compare Mt 8:11]:

"I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven."

Notice that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all OT saints who occupied Paradise/Hades after they died, are destined for the kingdom of heaven.

[Compare Rev 20:14-15]:

(v. 14) "Then death and Hades were thrown into the Lake of Fire. The Lake of Fire is the second death.

(v. 15) If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the Lake of Fire."

[THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARY HOLINESS COMMENTARY COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT VOL. 2 HEBREWS - JUDE by Rev. W. B. Godbey, A.M. B o o k s F o r T h e A g e s AGES Software Albany, OR USA Version 1.0 © 1997, pp. 196-7]:

"On Sunday morning begins that wonderful ascension (Ephesians 4:8-10), in which He leads captive all the occupants of Abraham’s Bosom, now that the Abramic covenant has been verified, and sealed with His blood, thus opening heaven to all the blood-washed. Wonderful is the rapture of that triumphant ascension, accompanied by all the Old Testament saints. He comes up to the sepulcher and receives His body on the third morn. As this mighty host of Old Testament saints were all disembodied, of course they were invisible to mortal eyes. Jesus, the only one seen, because He only had His body. Meanwhile this mighty host accompany Him in His abiding forty days with His disciples, and constitute His triumphal procession when from Mount Olivet He ascended up to the glorified home of His Father in heaven. Jesus must be the first fruits of them that slept. His glorified body, the eternal confirmation of the redemptive scheme, must first of all enter heaven. Though a number of others were raised from the dead before Christ, we have no evidence that their bodies were transfigured. Hence Jesus was the first one to raise from the dead, receiving the resurrection body. It was pertinent that all the Old Testament saints should be detained in that Intermediate Paradise till the plan of salvation was literally consummated by the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. David (Psalms 24) catches a prophetic vision of this wonderful ascension. Having risen from Mount Olivet with the velocity of lightning, they sweep through ethereal space, passing rolling worlds, glittering sphere, luminous comets and flaming suns, till now the celestial metropolis, in its ineffable glory, bursts upon their enraptured vision.

[Ps. 24:7-10]

(v. 7) "Lift up your heads, O you gates;

be lifted up you ancient doors,

that the King of glory may come in.

(v. 8) Who is this King of glory?

The LORD strong and mighty,

the LORD mighty in battle.

(v. 9) Lift up your heads O ye gates,

lift them up, you ancient doors,

that the King of glory may come in.

(v. 10) Who is He, this King of glory?

The LORD Almighty - He is the King of glory."

The celestial portals all open wide, while millions of angels pour out to greet them with loud shouts: "Welcome home, ye blood-washed." Now the King of glory entered amid the enraptured songs of the seraphim, the thrilling paeans of the cherubim, the golden harps of the archangel and the tremendous hallelujahs of the heavenly hosts, accompanied by the innumerable procession of the Old Testament saints, on and on they sweep around the clarion jubilations of countless millions, till halting before the effulgent throne, the Son salutes the Father: "Behold, I and the children whom Thou hast given me." Such a testimony meeting as heaven has never seen now follows. Father Abraham leads the way, followed by Job, Moses, Joshua, Daniel, the prophets, patriarchs, saints and martyrs, to the ravishing delight of the angels."

Since OT saints are to occupy the kingdom of heaven,

and since the OT saints did go to Paradise/Hades when they died,

then the OT saints will be taken from Paradise/Hades to the kingdom before Hades is thrown into the Lake of Fire.

Since our Lord's sacrifice for sins has paved the way for OT saints to be taken to heaven,

and since NT saints themselves go immediately to be with the Lord in heaven,

and since our Lord descended to Paradise on Wednesday when He died on the cross and did not ascend to heaven until after that

then there is strong reason to believe that our Lord Himself took the O.T. saints from Hades to heaven with Him at His resurrection.

PARADISE IN HEAVEN

While Paul lay dead under the shower of stones at Lystra, he ascended up to the third heaven, (i.e., to heaven proper, as the firmament is the first heaven, astronomical worlds the second, and the home of the glorified the third). This third heaven is also Paradise [2 Corinthians 12:2-4]. Of course the thief did not go to this Paradise, but to Abraham’s Bosom, the Intermediate Paradise.

GEHENNA

The third and last crucial term is the word Gehenna. This word is found twelve times in the New Testament and is correctly translated each time by the KJV as 'hell.' It is a word which describes the ultimate fate of the wicked after the general resurrection and judgment. While Sheol and Hades describe the temporary abode of the dead until the resurrection, Gehenna is the place of future punishment in the eternal state.

THE LEXICOGRAPHICAL EVIDENCE

The word Gehenna is the Greek equivalent for 'the valley of Hinnom' (Josh 15:8; 18:16; Neh 11:30). It thus originally referred to the Valley of Hinnom, which was just outside the city of Jerusalem. According to Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon (p. 111), it was the place where idolatrous Jews gave human sacrifices to pagan dieties (2 Kings 23:10; 2 Chron 28:3; 33:6). Because of these horrible idolatrous practices, the Valley of Hinnom was hated and considered 'unclean' by pious Jews. In Christ's day, this hatred of the Valley of Hinnom caused the valley to become the town dump where all the garbage of Jerusalem could be thrown. Unclean corpses as well as normal garbage were thrown into it. Because garbage was constantly being thrown into the valley, the fires never stopped burning and the worms never stopped eating.

This picture of an unclean garbage dump where the fires and the worms never died out became to the Jewish mind an appropriate description of the ultimate fate of all idol worshipers. Gehenna came to be understood as the final, eternal garbage dump where all idolators would be thrown after the resurrection. The wicked would suffer in Gehenna forever because the fires would never stop burning them and the worms would never stop gnawing them.

Arndt and Gingrich also point out that the Jewish belief, before Christ, placed the last judgment of the wicked in the Valley of Hinnom. They concluded that it means 'the place of judgment.' The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Vol II, p. 1182) states that Gehenna refers to 'the place of eternal punishment of the wicked.' McClintock and Strong's Encyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature defines Gehenna as 'the place of eternal punishment.' Both Coon and Mills define Gehenna as referring to 'the place of eternal punishment.'

CHRIST AND GEHENNA

Out of its twelve occurrences in the New Testament, Gehenna is found no less than eleven times on the lips of the Lord Jesus Himself...

The mere fact that Christ utilized the rabbinic language connected with Gehenna, such as 'unquenchable fire' and 'never-dying worms,' demonstrates beyond all doubt to any reasonable person that He deliberately used the word Gehenna to impress upon His hearers that eternal punishment awaits the wicked after the resurrection. No other conclusion is possible.

The teaching of Christ concerning Gehenna is as follows:

First, Gehenna is the place of judgment...

[Mt 23:33]:

"'You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to Gehenna [Gk = geennes]?

He even used the rabbinic expression, 'the judgment of Gehenna' [from Talmudic writing: Bab. Tal. ER126]

Second, Gehenna is always placed at the end of the world after the resurrection (Matt. 5:22; 23:33). This was expounded by John in Rev 20:1-15.

Third, Gehenna is the place where the body as well as the soul is punished...

[Mt 10:28]:

"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One Who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna [Gk = geenna]."

[Mk 9:43-48]:

(v. 43) "If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna [Gk = geenna], where the fire never goes out."

Cp Mt 5:22

Fourth, Gehenna was the place of conscious torment. When Christ used the phrases 'unquenchable fire' and 'never-dying worms'... He was utilizing biblical, [Old Testament] images which all meant conscious suffering:

[Mark 9:47-48]:

(v. 47) "And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into Gehenna [Gk = geenna]

(v. 48) where 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.' "[Isa 66:24],

[Isa 66:24]:

"And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against Me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind."

[Ojectors to eternal torment] have a counter argument at this point. They point out, literally speaking, while the worms and the fire in a city dump may destroy a dead carcass, it cannot be said that the dead carcass feels any torment. Therefore, they conclude that Christ's language must be interpreted to mean that the wicked will be annihilated, not tormented.

The problem with this interpretation is that it fails to take into account that when Christ spoke of Gehenna in such terms as 'worms and fire,' He was clearly using rabbinic phraseology. Thus, it is more crucial to discover how these words were understood in rabbinic literature than by pointing to modern city dumps.

The intertestamental literature is clear that the Jews believed that the departed could feel what was happening to their dead body. Indeed, when the worms start gnawing on the body, 'the worms are as painful to the dead as a needle in the flesh of the living.' (Bab. Tal. Shah. 777, 778)."...

[So considering the normative rules and meanings of the language of the Bible at the time of our Lord, our Lord's words must be taken as they were meant to the understanding of the people to whom they were spoken: indicating conscious eternal torment]

[Fifth, the wicked are cast into Gehenna and do not get annihilated, otherwise the graphic and detailed pictures including specific ones of the kind of torment and conditions one would receive whose destiny is Gehenna would be pointless:

[Mt 5:29-30]:

(v. 29) "If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into Gehenna [Gk = 'geenna'].

(v. 30) And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell."

[Mt 10:28]:

"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One Who can destroy [Gk = 'apollumi' = delivered up to eternal misery*] both soul and body in Gehenna.

Furthermore the Greek word 'apollumi' translated as 'destroyed' in Mt 10:28 and is correctly rendered 'to be delivered up to eternal misery' by Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon.

[Morey, cont. op. cit.]:

"Since Thayer himself was a Unitarian who did not believe in eternal punishment, his definition could only be the result of his knowledge of the meaning of this Greek word. There is no lexicographical evidence for the annhilationist's position that apollumi means 'to annihilate'; or 'to pass into nonexistence.'

That this word cannot mean 'nonexistence' is clear from the way it is consistently used in the New Testament....

[Mt 9:17]:

"Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined...."

ruined = 'apolountai' = not annihilated

[Lk 15:4]:

"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses [= 'apolesas'] one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-none in the open country and go after the lost sheep [lost= 'apolesas' = same word = not annihilated] until he finds it?"

(cp. vv. 6, 8, 9)

[Jn 6:12]:

"When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, 'Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted." [wasted = 'apoletai' = same word, and not to be rendered annihilated]

(Cp Jn 6: 27; 2 Cor 4:9, etc.)]

...Do people pass into nonexistence when they are killed by a sword (Matt. 26:52) or a snake? (1 Cor 10:9). Do people become nonexistent when they are hungry? (Luke 15:17). Do wineskins pass into nonexistence when they are destroyed by bursting? (Matt 9:17). Is food annihilated when it spoils? (John 6:27)?

In every instance where [forms of] the word apollumi is found in the New Testament, something other than annihilation is being described. Indeed, there isn't a single instance in the New testament where apollumi means annihilation in the stict [i.e., literal] meaning of the word [i.e. pass out of existence.]"

[Compare Rev 19:20, 20:10]:

(Rev 19:20 NIV) "But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.

(Rev 19:20 Greek) "kai ...epiasthE ..to ..thErion kai ..met ..autou

................................ "And was taken the beast, ....and .with .him

ho .pseudoprophEtEs ho ...poiEsas .ta ..sEmeia enOpion autou

the false prophet ........who wrought the signs ....before ....him

en hois ....eplanEsen tous ..........labontas to ..charagma tou ....thEriou

by which he misled ..those who received the mark ........of the beast

kai .tous ..........proskunountas tE eikoni autou .zOntes eblEthEsan

and those who do homage ............to his image. Alive ....were cast

hoi duo eis ..tEn limnEn tou puros .tEs .....kaiomenEs .en ...theiO"

the two into the .lake.............of fire which .burns .........with brimstone"

[Notice that the two were cast into 'the lake of fire,' with the definite article, 'tEn' which portrays a specific lake of fire which burns with brimstone. It is later referred to in Rev 20:10 "And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever."

(Rev 19:21) The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

(Rev 20:1) And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain.

(Rev 20:2) He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.

(Rev 20:3) He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time."