What about hell?

Some years ago I was at a party and someone came up to me and said to me out of no-where: ‘I don’t believe in hell anymore’ he used a dark grumbling voice, turned his head and made all kinds of funny faces and came with his head very close to my face rolling with his eyes apparently to scare or impress me. I calmly said to him: ‘No matter what happens, I just keep believing in the Bible and in Jesus and I keep trying to do what the Bible says and what Jesus says; that’s all.’ I was shocked indeed, but did not show him that. I did not want to give him that pleasure. I wasn’t shocked, because he tried to achieve the effect with his remarkably weird behavior. No, I tried to stay rather unmoved by it, although it sure was very peculiar. I never had spoken with him about hell, so it totally surprised me. He probably saw me as a biblical fundamentalist, in a negative way. I was shocked because I knew him very well for many years (not just an acquaintance) and I always had regarded him as a Christian. Now he denied hell, which in fact comes down to completely denying a central theme in the Bible regarding the necessity of Jesus’ work. That I knew. It is shocking to see people openly turn away from it, certainly when shamelessly and openly mocking it in your face.

What about hell? Does it exist? Did Jesus preach it?

Let me start by saying that I regard the Bible as the Word of God, as totally trustworthy, the infallible, inerrant love letter given to us by God himself. God had chosen special people to write down the words of God, inspired by his Holy Spirit, so every word in the Bible is entirely true. “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (NASB), Matthew 5: 18.
God cannot lie and, according to this self witness of the Bible, and according to the fact that so many people have written it over a period of say 3400 years or so and that there, at the same time, is a very clear line to be discovered in the Bible, totally pointing to Jesus and his work on the cross, cannot be a coincidence and is a clear sign of the Bible truly being the Word of God (see also: https://gertim-alberda.com/vvv/Pages/EN_TheBibleUnique.html and https://gertim-alberda.com/vvv/Pages/EN_AllMessianicProphecies.html ).

So, I put my trust in what that Bible says about hell and do not even try to make up my own religion, to what may suit a man best, like the guy in the example obviously had done. He apparently could no longer live with the ‘burden’ of condemnation, and, out of pure rebellion, he mocked the Word and Jesus and extinguished hell from the equation. I think it may have a lot to do with the fact that many people nowadays, and certainly in the Netherlands, cannot bear to hear the word hell any longer, or that there would be a hell or that they all would even go there, when they don’t convert. Even Christians are trying to abolish that from their evangelism methods, since many years, because it is not at all attractive and it totally turns people off. They come up with all kind of excuses not to use the word anymore, by saying things like: “Many reverends used to preach hell and damnation here and many people are highly and utterly allergic towards that, and have very negative personal memories about it, so we should not use that word anymore. Period”. And if the main goal is growth, then it is better not to mention it at all. And clearly one can be totally successful in terms of growth, without ever preaching hell. But, sure enough Jesus preached about hell. If Jesus did and thought it was necessary, why shouldn’t we?

So, what exactly does the Bible say about hell? What did Jesus say about it? And moreover why?

You will see from the Bible verses I will mention that Jesus indeed spoke about hell.

But, before I name that, I want to remark that, if Jesus did speak about hell and took it very seriously as He indeed did (as we will see later), we must assume there indeed is a hell. Why? Because, taking the Bible as Gods Word, and Jesus as the Son of God by whom all things are created, then, if anyone can know and knows for sure, it is Him. It is not up to us to question those words of Jesus or even have the boldness to say otherwise by openly and mockingly saying the opposite, like the guy did, which basically comes down to blasphemy. The minute he did that, I knew he wasn’t a born again Christian and probably never had truly and repentantly converted for real. Maybe he had tried very hard all his life to a adopt the faith of his parents (both his parents believed), maybe not to disappoint them, but eventually and finally had concluded that he just couldn’t believe it, and gave up, and that probably may have given him some sort of false sense of relief. I’ve seen that more often. It can feel very liberating, certainly when it always have been like a burden to someone. However, that does not solve the issue that it factually remains true that there is a hell , because the Bible and Jesus do say so. Hell does not depend on reasoning it away or not believing in it. The latter makes no difference at all. It does not go into effect only when believing in it. No, hell does not depend on our believes at all. It exists or it doesn’t. The Bible clearly says it does, but I will show you that.

First of all, when we go into that and when we talk about what the Bible says about hell, we first should make totally clear what the originally used word for hell in the Bible is. There are different words that are often confusingly have been translated with ‘hell’. One of the misunderstandings in the translation of the King James Bible, and it equally applies to the Dutch ‘Statenvertaling’, that those words always wrongly have been translated with ‘hell’, even though they have different meanings. The Greek word for hell is Γέεννα (Geenna or Gehenna), but there is another word, which they translated with hell, but mosten often (not always) it means something else, depending on the context That is the word ᾍδης or Hades in Greek, which in Hebrew is שְׁאוֹל or Sheol. This word means ‘the temporarily place where departed spirits or souls stay after death’; the so called ‘realm or house of death’, where all the dead go (and, as it were, are collected) when they decease. Compare it to a waiting room. It is not the final place. Hades is not the place of condemnation, it is the waiting room, the front portal towards the place of condemnation; the latter is the place of hell. We’ll only look at the latter. By the way, I also want to remark here that some modern (Dutch) translations have gone so far not to use the word hell anymore at all, but use the word Gehenna instead. I think this may also have to do with the fact that people cannot stand to hear hell anymore, so to better leave it out; it is less confronting and shocking to the reader. Otherwise I can't understand why they just have not written/translated ‘hell’ where the Greek says Gehenna; no more and no less (and I haven't find any given explanation for it; so it seems, they 'just' did it...).

So, we have to distinguish between those words, unlike the King James and the Statenvertaling do, when researching what the Bible says about hell. There is also a verb that talks about being thrown in hell. That word is the Greek verb Greek verb ταρταρῶ , which occurs once in the New Testament (in 2 Peter 2:4), and is almost always translated by a phrase such as "thrown down to hell" (Jesus talks about the judgment of angels; look it up). So, we mainly take into account what the Bible says about ‘Gehenna’ and 'the lake of fire', which is the same place (as will become clear). Hell (Gehenna) is a place of eternal punishment, where the fire is not quenched. There is conscious existence, conscious life in a body resurrected and suited for everlasting punishment. In the Old Testament, the word “Sheol” does make reference to that in a general way. In the New Testament, the word “Hades” is sometimes with reference to that (like in Luke 16:23 and 2 Peter 2:4). But always the word “hell,” coming from the Greek word Gehenna speaks of what the book of revelation calls this “lake of fire” where people are punished and tormented forever.


NASB (1995)


Matthew 5:22

But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

Matthew 5:29

If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

Matthew 5:30

If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.

Matthew 10:28

Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 18:9

If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.

Matthew 23:15

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

Matthew 23:33

You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?

Mark 9:43-44

If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

Mark 9:45-46

If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

Mark 9:47-48

If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

Luke 12:5

But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!

James 3: 6

And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.

Lake of Fire

Revelation 19:20

And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.

Revelation 20:10

And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Revelation 20:14-15

Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Revelation 21:8

But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

So, the above Bible verses from the New Testaments, namely the words of Jesus himself and from Revelation, make abundantly clear that there is a hell. There is no use in denying it. You can’t reason hell away. I mean you can, but that in itself won’t make it disappear. We have to take it into account, whether we like it or not. Truly God, being pure, holy and just did invent a hell as punishment for the unholy, the sinful and the ones that refuse to accept the offer on the cross by Jesus himself.

God has provided only one way out. That way is Jesus. Like John 14: 6 says: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me”. As sinners we all are in a condemned and lost state. We're all on death row! The only solution God provided is: repent of our sins, understand the necessity of salvation for yourself , personally, and believing, accepting and fully trusting in Christ’s redeeming work on the cross for you. If you don’t, you’re hopelessly lost and will end up in hell, the Bible says.

I often heard people ask? If God is a God of love, how could he ever have invented hell in the first place?

That questions stems from the fact that those people judge someone by their own standards, even God. Most people, including many name Christians think they are basically good. We live in a world where sin is freely exploited and so much part of our culture, that we hardly notice sin anymore as such or think anyone does it, so it basically doesn’t matter and one can still be good (like lying, steeling, looking with lust, etc). We, as humans, are so much used to sinning in general, and at the same time convinced of our own good, we are not aware of it any more. According to God’s moral standard we have a warped sense of good and evil, and a distorted understanding of justice. That’s not Gods problem, that’s ours. Romans 2 says that “you are storing up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” You’re not getting away with anything. No act of fornication, no act of adultery, no sin in the mind, no sin in the behavior, no sin with the lips, no lie, no deception, no cheating – you’re not going to get away with any of it; you’re just accumulating iniquities, all of which will be confronted and judged. You’re storing up wrath.

So, when we talk about salvation we must talk about hell. Jesus was a hell fire preacher, as all the Bible verses above show. We can’t deny that. He did and wasn’t shy in it. And it makes sense, because salvation is a word that means deliverance or rescue, and the question is, “From what?”

Contemporary Christianity offers many psychological and material substitutes for hell.

There is a tendency to say things like: Jesus wants to save you from loneliness,” or, “He wants to save you from purposelessness,” or, “He wants to save you from anxiety,” or, “He wants to save you from poverty,” or, “He wants to save you from failure,” or, “He wants to save you from sickness,” or, “He wants to save you from disappointment.” Or “Jesus, saved you, so you can be entirele whole as a person, and come to your full purpose, because no-one knows you better than He”. No, those are not the right reasons. He desires to save you from hell, from the fiery hell, the lake of fire that is eternal. I heard someone say once that because the Bible also talks about 'outer darkness' (Matthew 8:12, 22:13 and 25:30), which also refers to the hell, and where fire is cannot be any darkness, that this shows that both termns are not meant litteraly. That conclusion is not entirely right, because it leaves out the option that one of both might not be meant literal. If so, I think the obvious one would be th first (outer darkness), considering what the Bible clearly and specifically says about that firy place (see table above). 'Outer darkness' is clearly meant as the totally opposite place of where the Lord is (and where Christians will be), totally separated from Him. He is light and in him can be no darkness. The message of Scripture is that salvation is a rescue from a real fiery place called hell (lake of fire, unquenchable fire - not quenched, that burns with fire and brimstone is on multiple occasions very specific) and, weather that is a real fire or not, certain is that it is a place of real everlasting torments, to be endured for ever; as an eternal punishment. It is a place in outer darkness (totally separated from the Lord), where non-believing people and the devil and his angels and the beast and the false prophet (from Revelation) are punished and tormented forever.

Now, somebody might says: “Does that sentence really fit the crime?” Isn’t it totally excessive?

The Lawgiver determines that. The Law that is written determines the extent of the crime and what is a fitting punishment for the crime. And God has determined that the crime is heinous enough that it should be judged in this way. And that is always the hurdle that people have trouble getting over. How can a temporal sin or sins result in an eternal punishment? Or how can someone who sinned all his life and accepts Jesus at the end of his life, can get away with it, while someone who tried to live good, even according to the 10 Commandments, does not get there (heaven) for not accepting Jesus?

But, to God, the amount of sin or time that a sinner sins is irrelevant. Crimes against the infinitely holy and exalted God are considered infinitely wicked, and therefore the punishment fits the crime. Infinite crimes against an infinite God deserve an infinite punishment. And here’s the key: sinners who go to hell will never repent. They continue to rebel. In hell they continue to hate God. In hell they continue to curse God. In hell they continue to mock God and blaspheme God and hate Christ. The punishment never catches up to the sin because the sinning never, ever, ever ceases. People don’t go to hell and then never sin forever and just get punished forever. They go to hell and keep on sinning forever. So, the punishment can never catch up with the wretchedness. That is why the Bible, in Mark 3, describes this as eternal sin.

But some, again, might say, how can a God of love at the same time be a God of wrath and punish like that? To understand that one has to understand the nature of God, and let go of human perceptions of right and wrong. Those are by far not Gods standards. Gods standard is infinitely higher and we can hardly get a grip of it, when we don’t accept that and let go of our own interpretations. And because He is so ultimately holy and just, God’s honor and God’s glory is manifest in the punishment of the wicked. He is absolutely holy. He is absolutely righteous and just, and therefore He must punish sin. If not He would cease to be, who He claims to be. Hell is for those who hate God. They deliberately act and have acted against His mercy; they act against His grace; they act against His holiness; they act against His sovereignty; they act against His glory. They act against His Word. They are rebellious against God, which any non-believer basically is in his/her heart. And they will continue to do so forever. Such a God, as the Bible describes, cannot tolerate that and He doesn’t. For us it seems harsh, but we are not God. His law is not our law and His ways are not our ways.

All human beings, since the Fall, are sinners and we’re all heading for hell. We are all under sin, as it is written,

“There is none righteous, not even one;

There is none who understands,

There is none who seeks for God;

All have turned aside, together they have become useless;

There is none who does good,

There is not even one.” Romans 3: 10-12.

We have a problem. We cannot be reconciled with God, unless the fine, the penalty for our sins, for our guilt has been paid in full. That is what Jesus did and therefore He said on the cross, when He died: It is finished. He had paid in full with His life, with His blood.

That is the only one way for all of us to escape hell. Only one way. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” 1 Thessalonians 1: 10 says, “Jesus rescues us from the wrath to come”.

The key is believe. That is what is absolutely necessary and the only condition that must be met. This means that you should realize that you are a sinner and that you fall short and totally need the sacrifice of Jesus. Without realizing this deplorable state, you won't really see any need for a cure. Regarding oneself as basically good does not work out repentance at all! Often that is the problem for non-real 'conversions'. Fake conversions, when group pressure has been applied or saying formulas like the Sinner's prayer does not work! Not a formula, but a deep heartful realization of being sinful in Gods eyes is what is totally needed! And, if you see yourself in the light of God, through the work of the Holy Spirit on your heart, then and only then you will thankfully accept the cure; the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Jesus died for you, to rescue you from hell, from eternal punishment by fire! One must believe that and that He died and rose again and that it was for you also, personally! That you really need that, or otherwise you'll be lost for ever, with the consequences described here! Believe that, accept it and then fully trust on the fact that Jesus said; if you do that (believe) you will be saved for ever and receive eternal life. Not just after you die, but from that very moment on! You'll be instantly transferred into God's Kingdom, be born again, receive the Holy Spirit and become a new creation in Him. You should then fully trust and stand on Gods promise. Then you shall not perish and have eternal life!

This is not something to think about when you're old and wise. Don't delay! There really is no time to loose. 150.000 people die every day (on average). You don’t know when you will die. Don’t postpone it. I urgently call on you to repent of your sins right after reading this. Don’t delay. Accept and trust Jesus as your Lord and Savior, right now! Today!

Email: gertim . alberda @ gmail.com (without spaces)