What Does the Bible Say About Hell?

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The Hebrew word “Sheol” and the Greek word “Hades” are used in the Old and New Testaments respectively to describe the “kingdom of death”, where all people go after death to await the Day of Judgment and the Resurrection. In the New Testament, the word “Gehenna” is used to refer to hell after Judgment Day. Gehenna is another word for the “Valley of Hinnom”, where Israel sometimes engaged in horrific child sacrifices to the idol Molech. The expression “Lake of Fire” refers to the final place where the Devil, his angels and all people who do not receive eternal life through faith in Jesus end up. The lake of fire is described as a place of utter darkness, a burning furnace where people weep and gnash their teeth, an eternal fire and torment. Those who end up in hell suffer eternal depravity, are completely separated from God, and are described as weeds that burn up in fire.

Bible Verses

22For a fire is kindled by my anger, and it burns to the depths of Sheol, devours the earth and its increase, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.(Dt 32:22)

40Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.(Mt 13:40–42)

36Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.(Jn 3:36)

7But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.(2 Pe 3:7)

3and he made offerings in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom and burned his sons as an offering, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel.(2 Ch 28:3)

28And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.(Mt 10:28)

7and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.(2 Th 1:7–10)

41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.(Mt 25:41)

46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”(Mt 25:46)

1Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.(Re 20:1–3)

10and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.(Re 20:10)

14Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.(Re 20:14–15)

8But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”(Re 21:8)

Study Questions

  1. Why does hell exist?
  2. Who goes to hell?
  3. Where does the soul end up after death?
  4. Will people who end up in hell be tormented for all eternity or will they miss out on eternal life and thus die like weeds burned up in fire?
  5. If the first death means dying physically, does the second death mean dying spiritually as well?

Additional Bible Verses

Luke 16:19-31, John 8:21, 2 Peter 2:17, Matthew 16:18, Revelation 1:18, Jude 7

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