How Biblically Accurate Is the Popular Teaching About Hell?

How can we reconcile the belief in a very loving, merciful, and forgiving God — who doesn’t hold his anger forever — with the popular teaching of an ever-burning hell fire to torture humans? Can both opposite teachings be true at the same time? What’s the answer?

Since both opposite teachings cannot logically be true at the same time, apparently there is a great master deceiver who is confusing and deceiving all of humanity. Surprisingly, every culture of every nation in this world, and all religions therein have beliefs of hell which is a place of endless torture and torment.

Satan and His Demons Will Suffer Eternal Torment

In his most deceptive and diabolical manner, Satan has foisted his very own punishment upon less knowledgeable and hapless humans.

Concerning Satan, the Bible states the following:

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.
~Revelation 20:10
[NOTE: The NIV renders this verse somewhat more accurately.]

Satan and His Companion Demons Will Be There

For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell [Gk. “tartaroo”] and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment…
~2 Peter 2:4

Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels…
~Matthew 25:41

How Did This False Deceptive Teaching of Hell Get Into Popular Christianity?

From ancient pagan beliefs, such ideas eventually became part of Roman Church doctrine. In the third century, Cyprian of Carthage wrote:

The damned will burn forever in hell.
Devouring flames will be their eternal portion.
Their torments will never have diminution or end.
~Peter Toon, Heaven and Hell: A Biblical and Theological Overview, 1986, p. 163

The Lateran church council in 1215 reaffirmed its belief in everlasting torture:

The damned will go into everlasting punishment with the devil…
~Peter Toon, p. 164

The Augsburg Confession of 1530 reads:

Christ will return… to give eternal life and everlasting joy to believers and the elect, but to condemn ungodly men and the devils to hell and eternal punishment.
~Peter Toon, p. 131

Furthermore, the common concept of hell was popularized by the Italian poet Dante Alighieri in his satirical novel, La Divina Comedia, detailed especially in the book section on Inferno.

Centuries later, the belief on hell was documented in the book, My Catholic Faith:

IS MORTAL SIN a great evil?

Mortal sin is a great evil, the greatest evil in the world, a greater evil than disease or poverty… Mortal sin must be a most appalling thing indeed to make a just and merciful God create hell for the everlasting punishment of the rebellious angels and of sinners who die with even only one mortal sin.
~My Catholic Faith, 1949, Bishop Louis LaRavoire, page 53

WHO ARE PUNISHED IN HELL?

Those are punished in hell who die in mortal sin; they are deprived of the vision of God and suffer dreadful torments, especially that of fire, for all eternity.
~My Catholic Faith, 1949, Bishop Louis LaRavoire, page 174-175

Among the Puritans, one of the most graphic descriptions of the torments of hell was given by the Puritan minister Jonathan Edwards in a 1741 sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”

Here are some of the things that he said:

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire…He looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire…

You are ten thousand times more abominable in His eyes than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours…

O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in:… You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder.
~Karen Armstrong, A History of God, 1993, p. 284

One of the reasons this terrible concept of hell was preserved is because theologians and preachers believed that such teaching deterred people from evil (fear religion).

There Are Four Biblical Words Translated As “Hell” but Nothing Depicts Torture for Humans

Sheol and Hades

Hebrew “sheol” is equivalent to the Greek “hades” which means grave.

Compare Psalm 16:10 and Acts 2:27 where sheol is translated as hades.

For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
~Psalm 16:10

For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
~Acts 2:27

Tartaroo

Greek “tartaroo” used only once in the Bible and it refers to the place of restraint reserved for demons while awaiting their judgment.

For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell [Gk. “tartaroo”] and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment…
~2 Peter 2:4

Gehenna

Greek “gehenna” from Ge-Hinnom, the valley of Hinnom (Joshua 18:16) which was used a city garbage dump. Dead bodies of animals and criminals are thrown there and allowed to burn with other refuse.

Does a Loving and Merciful God Torture and Punish Fallible Humans Forever?

He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.
~Psalm 103:9

Who is a God like You, Pardoning iniquity And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in mercy.
~Micah 7:18

Difference Between Punishment and Punishing

These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power…
~2 Thessalonians 1:9

(NOTE: When it says “everlasting destruction” it means the destruction is permanent [not a continuously on-going punishing]. And since the destruction is permanent, such individual no longer has access to God’s presence and glory. It means, they would not be part of God’s glorious eternal kingdom.)

“You shall trample the wicked, For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet On the day that I do this,” Says the LORD of hosts.
~Malachi 4:3

(NOTE: God’s fire is really very hot fire which can instantly burn up and turn bodies into ashes within that same day—not thousands of years later or never able to burn up at all.)

When Will God Punish the Incorrigibly Wicked?

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
~2 Peter 3:10

After the end of the millennium and the extended period of time to allow opportunity for all those who have never had the chance for salvation; the surface of this earth will be engulfed in a great worldwide fire, so hot such that even the elements will melt with fervent heat and all the waters in all the seas and oceans will be dried up (Revelation 21:1).

Under such intensely hot fire from God, all those who have remained mortals (not having received a glorified spiritual body) will be completely burned up in a matter of seconds.

Our God is not a SADIST (who enjoys to see suffering) contrary to what most imagine Him to be.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
~2 Peter 3:9

Conclusion

We have just uncovered another Satanic deception where God is pictured to be a sadist, bent on punishing sinners forever and ever. The truth is, God gives permanent punishment — not eternal punishing — to the incorrigibly wicked, who will just be a problem, not only to him or herself, but will also create chaos in God’s Kingdom.

I know this is a big subject. We intend to address each of the other remaining questions in future articles which will be published in BiblicalTruths.com. Please watch out for future articles.

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3 Comments

  1. Lorna Macaraeg

    What a wonderful TRUTH…and what an AWESOME God we honor and praise…thanks for sharing…

  2. Antonio r pilar jr

    There are people who say to God: Your will be done…and there are other people to whom God would say: your will be done.

    • Edmond Macaraeg

      Hello Tony,
      Those statements you mentioned seem to indicate an attitude of irresponsibility of some, and lack of seriousness and sincerity regarding their salvation. They ignore what the apostle Paul admonished the Philippians when he said: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always OBEYED, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING…” (Philippians 2:12)
      In other words, God will not save people who do not WORK OUT and value their salvation.

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