Unfortunately this original Gospel, the Truly Good News, became corrupted by carnal minds within the Church system. The harmony of God's inspired words of the Bible was lost due to carnal minds creating an image of God according to their thoughts and desires. The darkest doctrine ever devised by men was that of an ETERNAL HELL for the billions of souls that die lost from Christ. Like wolves among the sheep, carnally-minded men within the Church system found it effective to use the fear of an eternal hell to control the masses of pagans entering into their religion.
This study will not go into the history of how this dark doctrine was conceived and help fuel many unbelievable atrocities in the name of Christ, but rather it will investigate some key Greek words upon which this false belief is hinged. When these misconceptions are removed, this dark doctrine of demons falls to the ground and dies along with our fear. The Truth will set us free from fear. The fearful will not enter the Kingdom of God. Are we afraid of the Truth?
Hell- Hades, Gehenna, Tartarus
The first word to consider is "HELL" which is actually many Greek words. The word hell is used 54 times in the King James Bible. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word translated hell is "SHEOL." This would be a good place to start. A couple of interesting points here. First, many believe that in hell souls are separated from God and that there is no way to get out. Consider these verses:
PS 139:8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in HELL, behold, thou art there
Well, it seems those notions don't fly in harmony with these Scriptures. But wait, there is more!
PR 15:11 HELL and destruction are before the LORD: how much more then the hearts of the children of men?
PR 15:24 The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from HELL beneath.
PR 23:14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from HELL.
Acts 2:27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in HELL, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
This verse corresponds to Psalm 16:10:
PS 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in HELL; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
In Psalms, "hell" is from the Hebrew "sheol," and in Acts from the Greek word "Hades." So it should be clear that according to the Holy Spirit of God, Hades and Sheol are equals- the grave or death. Here are a couple of passages from a more accurate translation of the Bible where "HADES" is correctly translated. Remember it means grave or place for the dead.. Let's examine these correctly translated passages:
"and the death and the hades were cast to the lake of the fire -- this [is] the second death;" REV 20:14 Young's Literal Translation of the Bible
So, as we read Jesus Christ has the Keys to death and hades. And further they BOTH are destroyed in the Second Death which is really the death of Death. This is to say the death of sin, suffering, deception and ignorance- the destruction of the "WORKS OF THE DEVIL" as Jesus promised. So it should be clear that HADES or (hell) is destroyed in the Lake of Fire which will be looked at later. Hades- the place of the dead is destroyed along with death. This is Christ's victory! With that settled, we must now consider the other two words that have been translated "hell" in the King James Bible.
"GEENA" or more commonly called "Gehenna" is from "Valley of Hinnom." This word is also translated as "hell" in many Bibles, but not all. Some literal and more accurate Bible correctly render it "Gehenna" which was a garbage dump outside of Jerusalem where the "fire was never quenched and the worm didn't die." In the Old Testament times, this area was used to sacrifice children with fire in worship of Moloch which God found abominable!
JER 7:30 " `The people of Judah have done evil in my eyes, declares the LORD. They have set up their detestable idols in the house that bears my Name and have defiled it. 31 They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire--something I did not command, nor did it enter my mind. 32 So beware, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when people will no longer call it Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter, for they will bury the dead in Topheth until there is no more room.
This is the same valley that was now used to burn garbage continually. As we read, not only did this sacrifice not enter God's mind, but He calls this evil and punishes them for it. I find it a bit ironic that the same thing our Father finds evil and detestable is what many Christians are accusing Him of doing to lost souls. That is throwing His children into the fire of hell. With a little study on this word and its derivation, one will find that Jesus was referring to the dump outside of town in many instances where it has been mistranslated "hell." Here is an example of one:
MT 23:15 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of HELL as you are.
This is one of my favorites as Jesus rebukes the "men of God." Oh yes, the religious ones are still swelled with pride even today- going door to door to "win" someone to Christ. Let no one be fooled- God draws us to Christ and not man. Can you imagine Jesus Christ saying this to the most religious and pious men on earth! Oh, by the way, if your righteousness does not exceed that of the Pharisees, watch out! Another verse which clearly links the "fire of Geena" with this garbage dump is this verse:
MK 9:49 Everyone will be salted with fire.
Our Lord speaks metaphorically in many instances. His words are Spirit and Life, not torture and death. Do you believe our Lord is speaking literally about throwing souls into a burning dump near Jerusalem? Even so, He is making a point about punishment of those who haven't overcome sin yet. Yes, the fire burns as long as there is something to burn. Have you felt God's fire yet? You will! ALL will be salted with fire- believe it! Only those who have overcome this world and sin with Christ will not be harmed by God's Holy Fire (REV 2:11, 21:8). So, we should understand that Jesus was speaking metaphorically of the punishment for correction, but it doesn't take an eternity which is a silly statement of itself. Eternal and eternity have NOTHING to do with time as we'll look at later.
The last word translated "hell" is "TARTARUS" which is used only once in 2 Peter 2:4 and means to thrust down below the earth. In Greek mythology, it was the prison for the Titans who rebelled against Zeus. It was below ground like a grave or pit which certainly stands in perfect harmony of all of Scripture.
There is so much more that could be said about "HELL," but the main point is that "HELL" is not in the more accurate translations of the Old Testament- not once! And further, "HELL" shouldn't be in the New Testament because it is a mistranslation of other Greek words. Have you ever realized that Paul never used "HELL" in all of his letters! Why not? And have you considered that "HELL" is not mentioned in the Old Testament until Deuteronomy 32:22 and even there it is rendered "DEATH" in better translations? Why was not Adam told of this "ETERNAL HELL"- seems like an important thing that he should have been warned about doesn't it? If Adam was responsible for our fall into sin (though he was NOT), wouldn't it be JUST to warn him of the consequences of his actions? What was Adam told by God would be the penalty for eating of the tree of knowledge? It was death, and we read again that the wages of sin is death- NOT ETERNAL HELL. This concept is from the carnal and cruel imaginings of men. Please reconsider God's word in harmony with His plan and love for mankind, and then perhaps you will see a New Light shining. A Light that will show our God and Father to be more glorious, powerful and forgiving than we ever imagined!
The next word to look at is "AION" and its derivatives- "AIONION" and "AIONIOS." That ugly doctrine of "eternal" hell greatly depends on this word meaning forever. I don't want to get bogged down in semantics, but in it's truest sense, "ETERNAL" is timeless and has nothing to do with time. Something that is eternal doesn't have a beginning or ending and doesn't change which only applies to God. So an "AION" can not be eternal, everlasting or forever. In turn, the "hell" that it describes is not either. "Hell" lasts for an limited period of time bound by the ages or AIONS.
Anytime translators take the same word "AION" (and its derivatives) and translate it into at least 7 different words, confusion is born. This is exactly what has been done with this simple word- "AION." No one who has studied Greek would argue that "AION" means simply "AGE."
Let's backtrack just a bit into the Old Testament, so that we have solid footing and understanding of time and ages. The Hebrew equivalent for "AION" is "OLAM." It may be beneficial to see how those prophets of old used this word. Did "OLAM" mean "forever?" Consider this passage from the NIV Bible:
JONAH 2:6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in FOREVER. But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God.
Do you know how long Jonah was "barred" inside the great fish? Try THREE days, not forever. The word mistranslated "forever" is OLAM which is an age. Some Bibles do correctly translate this an age which means a finite period of time. Here is another passage to show this point from the King James Bible:
Do you suppose that these slaves are taken to "heaven" to be slaves "FOR EVER?" Now that's a sight! No, I hope that all truth-seekers would gather that this was for the life of the slave, or an age. And what of Ecclesiastes 1:4 where it says the "earth abides forever." Doesn't this contradict what Jesus told us in Matthew 5:18 and in other Scripture too about the "earth passing away"? It doesn't if it means an AGE. This is the ONLY way to harmonize God's word. There are many passages I could cite showing that AION or OLAM doesn't mean forever, but concerning an AGE or AGE-LASTING. The many derivatives of AION are relating to an age or of the ages. Aionios is rendered "age-lasting" in better translations. The corrective punishment God uses is only for as long as it takes to bring godly sorrow and repentance. Many literal translations of the Bible have corrected this mistake as to bring back loving harmony to God's word as you will read later in this study. To reiterate, aion means an age- a limited period of time and NOT eternal, forever nor forever and ever.
Finally, it should be noted that there are Greek words that would be more akin to "ETERNAL" or never ending. There is "akataklutos" which means indestructible or endless and "eis to dienekes" which means continuous or never ending. Yet, these words are never used to describe hades, gehenna or tartarus (i.e.. Hell). God inspired the writers of Scripture to tell us that the wages of sin is death. And that any punishment is corrective and for an age or age-lasting. He has told us that He is a CONSUMING FIRE. He has told us that ALL will be salted with this Divine Fire of God. In this way, we are sanctified by the Living Christ. Jesus lit a Fire 2,000 years ago. Does He burn in you?
While on the topic of "FIRE," let's consider another strong passage from Revelation.
REV 14:10"...he will be tormented with burning SULFUR in the PRESENCE of the holy angels and the Lamb"
In this verse we see the word "SULFUR" used for "tormenting" (punishing) those who follow the Beast. Also note that this is done in the PRESENCE of Jesus and not in some subterranean fire pit away from God. It is this PRESENSE of our holy God that causes their pain to be sure. So what is SULFUR? Well, in some Bibles it is translated "brimstone," but the Greek word here is "THEION" which can also be translated DIVINE as in something from God. Places that lightning touched were called "theia" and left a sulfurous smell. Also sulfur was used in purification ceremonies in that day by some outside of Judea. The real key here is that THEION is derived from THEOS which is GOD! Yes, THEOS is God in Greek and the word THEION comes directly from this Source.
Act 17:29 "Being then the children of God, we ought no to think that the DIVINE Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man."
The word translated here DIVINE is THEION which has been translated sulfur in other passages like in Revelation. The lake of Fire has a direct connection to the Divine because it comes from God. Not only is this a Divine Fire, but it is one that PURIFIES whatever it comes in contact with. Are we to suppose that our God and Father has no purpose in this Fire that torments those He created in His image and likeness? All that God does has purpose, we simply can't comprehend it yet.
God's punishment is another subject that many misunderstand. Why is it that many see or heavenly Father as a cruel monster who dishes out the punishment and that Jesus Christ comes to our rescue from God's wrath? Dear believers, this is SO WRONG! This thinking breaks my heart and, I am quite certain, the heart of our God and Father. You MUST understand that God's heart is Jesus' heart. THEY ARE ONE! Our invisible God expresses Himself in Jesus Christ and eventually in all of us. God's desire is the same as Christ's- to save us from this world, from sin, from death and from ourselves. Our "old man" must die and the NEW MAN must mature and become a son of God. Sufferings are a necessary part of the salvation process. Jesus was made Perfect through his sufferings (Heb 2:10) and Paul speaks of sharing in Christ's sufferings that we may also share in His Glory (Rom 8:17).
Our Father is love. Love is defined in 1 Corinthians 13 completely. As earthly fathers and mothers we know what love is and how to use it as it concerns our children. Here is where many hearts and minds short circuit by not applying what God teaches us to God Himself. God is love and the Perfect Father yet many believe that He is capable of giving up on His children and their development into sons of God. Have not ALL been created in His glorious image and likeness? Is He going to turn His back on those HE BROUGHT INTO THE WORLD! NO, CERTAINLY NOT! God is the Perfect Father and we should expect Him to be immeasurably better as a Father than we could ever be here on earth. So why do so many not see our Father in this true and loving light? Carnal ideas have created an evil image of our God and Father- one that attempts to veil His love and glory shown in Christ. Well, the veil is being lifted!
The problem is fear of punishment in our carnal minds. The carnal, or natural man fears God's punishment. But fear is not of God and should not be a motivating factor in believers. In 1 John we read this:
1JN 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
All children need correction, or punishment. But no good parent TORTURES their children for doing something wrong. Then why do we suppose our Father in heaven will torture souls FOREVER for committing a few years sin? Some will quickly say that God is not torturing them, but "justly" punishing them. I say that punishment WITHOUT END is torture of the WORST KIND! It would be far worse than the concentration camps of W.W.II. In fact, if just ONE soul is thrown into hell forever, God will administer more pain and suffering than ALL the SINS of mankind ever did- simple math people! You see, ONE "INFINITE" beats a TRILLION "finites" EVERY time!
I desperately want you to know that God only uses punishment as any loving Parent would- to correct and bring us back into loving submission. Even Jesus Christ, the Son is submissive to the Father. The Expressed One is not greater than the One Who Expressed Him. Parents mold their children and sometimes this is painful for the child, so it is with God and us. God is creating us in His image and likeness- or has His purpose for mankind changed? Many point to this gripping passage and are fearful:
MT 25:46 "Then they will go away to eternal PUNISHMENT, but the righteous to eternal life."
"And these shall go away into age-abiding CORRECTION" -Rotherham's Emphasized Bible
"And these shall go away into aeonian CHASTISEMENT" -New Covenant by J.W. Hanson
"And these shall be coming away into CHASTENING eonion" -Concordant New Testament
"And these shall go forth to the aionian CUTTING-OFF"-Emphatic Diaglott
"And these shall go away into age-lasting CUTTING-OFF" -The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Anointed
First notice as shown earlier that "AIONION" means "AGE-LASTING" as these more accurate translations show. Now, it may seem strange that translators have taken the word "KOLASIS" and rendered it "CUTTING-OFF," but this is correct as well! "KOLASIS" was used when speaking of pruning fruit trees so they would bear more fruit! It was a necessary "cutting-off" of the dead or useless wood so that the tree would be more fruitful. This was exactly the sense our Lord was speaking of. God wants to correct these children as any loving Father would. He takes no pleasure in the pain that is felt, but He KNOWS what will be produced after this pruning of our souls! He will be quick to provide Water and Sunlight after your pruning! He wants good trees to bear the good fruit of His Spirit!
Many holding on to the Dark Age belief of an eternal hell and everlasting torment are quick to bring up rather frightening passages like this one:
MT 7:13 "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to DESTRUCTION, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
2TH 1:8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting DESTRUCTION and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power
Here are just a couple of the strong warnings relating to man's destruction. But what does it mean to be led to "destruction" or "apollumi"? According to my Vine's Greek Dictionary, the meaning is not of extinction, but of loss of well-being. It is to ruin or to lose. These who are destroyed feel empty, ruined and lost. To further this point, consider this passages where the same Greek word for destruction- "APOLLUMI" has been translated "LOST":
LK 15:22 "But the father said to his servants, `Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was LOST and is found.' So they began to celebrate."
Yes, those who are lost or destroyed can be FOUND! Jesus came to seek the APOLLUMI, but many have not felt that feeling of despair and ruin YET. Don't you have to be lost before you are found? God brings this LOST feeling upon us that we may repent, turn, believe and be saved!
2COR 7:9 yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
ROM 2:4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?
Do we understand and believe that God is in EVERY part of the salvation process? He destroys us, draws us, finds us and restores us! He brings destruction upon us which leads to godly sorrow which leads to repentance. So, it should be clear if you were never "APOLLUMI" then neither could you could have never been FOUND by Jesus Christ.
I hope that no Christian would argue this fact- GOD DESIRES ALL MEN TO BE SAVED AND COME TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF TRUTH. This is the statement made by Paul in his first letter to his student Timothy. Here is that passage:
1TI 2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-- 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who WANTS all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men--the testimony given in its proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle--I am telling the truth, I am not lying--and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.
First, Paul says to pray for EVERYONE to please God WHO wants/desires ALL men to be saved and come to the once hidden knowledge of Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ has ALREADY given ransom for ALL of mankind. Every soul is His by ownership. But not all have been given this testimony yet by the Spirit of Truth which is the ONLY way to truly believe. Paul said that this testimony would be given in its proper time (according to God). He adds, "I AM NOT LYING." "I am a teacher of the TRUE FAITH" which is ALL will be saved. The key word in this whole passage that many try to twist, distort and water down is "WANTS" which is the Greek word "THELO" which is translated "desires," "wills" and "wants" in other instances.
It should be clearly accepted that it is one thing for man to desire something and quite another thing for God to desire something as we read:
ISA 55:11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Strong words from an Almighty God! God's will or desire is absolute and guaranteed! There is NOTHING in His universe that will stop His desire. If there is, please tell me what it is and perhaps you should remind God of this too. But in my study of Greek words, I found that this Greek word for "wants" in 1Tim 2:4 is "THELO." After searching the Scriptures, I found this exact same word used in exactly the same context by the same author. Here is that passage:
RO 9:16 It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he WANTS to have mercy, and he hardens whom he WANTS to harden.
Again, it should be clear to believers that God does as He wants, wills or desires. This passage is speaking clearly of God's sovereignty and purposes. God's ways are above ours and yet we question how He accomplishes His wonderful plan to restore creation and to universally reconcile mankind! Has God hardened your heart as well? The words are simple and true. God speaks and it happens. His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Now, this last one is one of my favorites! Have you ever REALLY considered what is said in 1 Timothy 4:10? Many see these simple words and say, "huh, does that really mean what it says it does?" Let's look at that wonderful passage that crystallizes Paul's ministry and God's plan.
1TI 4:9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance 10 (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.
Hellfire preachers would likely avoid this Perfect Passage. It is complete and trustworthy, so why do so many discredit what it clearly says? It says that God is the Savior of ALL men. It doesn't say that He would be if they would ask Him; it doesn't say that He is the "potential" savior of all men; it doesn't say that He could be the savior of all men. It plainly says that HE IS the Savior of ALL men. Well, those hell-bent on discrediting the word of God, must scramble for an explanation because they have been sending millions, perhaps billions, of souls to hell including unbaptized children, pagans and others outside "their" church. Many will argue that "especially of those who believe" is the key to their dilemma. They say that "especially" here means that these are really the only ones who are saved. They say that God "wants" (already covered that, right?) to save ALL of mankind, but that ONLY those who believe will be saved. Sounds plausible, but what does this word "especially" mean? Well the Greek word that has been translated "especially" is "MALISTA" in the Greek. When trying to discover a word's true meaning and the author's true intent, it would be nice to compare a similar verse with exactly the same word. Well, we have such an example found here:
"Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, ESPECIALLY to those who belong to the family of believers."
As it turns out, Paul uses the same exact Greek word here in exactly the same context. Thank God! Do you suppose that Paul only wants Christians to do good to those of our faith? No, he is saying do good to ALL, but ESPECIALLY to those of our faith. You see clearly here that the word especially means exactly what God's loving harmony would dictate. "Especially" means MORE SO---- TO A GREATER EXTENT!
For myself, it wasn't necessary to understand these Greek words to believe that our Father and God was being misrepresented in the worst way. My heart has sought God most of my life and knows that He is our Father. My heart seems to have always known that ALL underestimate God's goodness, grace, mercy, power and love. Many don't understand that He has a plan that can NOT fail. Many really don't believe that He does ALL that He desires. They believe that man's will is greater than God's.
The only advantage to knowing these Greek words and their true meanings is that my head is catching up to where my heart was led by God many years before. God told my heart that hell was for correction. God told my heart that He has a perfect and glorious plan for mankind that we can't even imagine! God told my heart that His Kingdom is coming! Finally, my mind is starting to understand. The Mind of Christ must renew our thinking. We must let go of carnal traditions, doctrines and beliefs that were and are still used to enslave church members with the fear of hell. Instead, God has the only pure motivation- LOVE.
Love from God conquers all things and is stronger than all things. We will carry out God's will because we love Him as Jesus said, "if you love me, you will obey my commandments." But the ONLY way we can do HIS WILL is if the Living Christ is within our being. Only Christ can love God and can be perfect like His Father. Out of God came Jesus Christ. Then we along with ALL that is seen or unseen came out of Jesus Christ. We are to return to God through Christ by God's love, or grace.
JN 14:15 "If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."
Believe that God is God and there is no other. He will accomplish all that He desires. He will save YOU and EVERYONE from sin and death. How much "salting" from His Fire do we need?