H E L L    F I R E



KJV = King James Version      NAS = New American Standard Version

NKJV = New King James Version      NIV = New International Version 

The versions used in this discourse do not mean or imply any preference of one over the other.



     The Hellfire doctrine is prevalent in most Christian religions in one form or another.   In short, what the doctrine says is if you are good you go to heaven, if you are bad you end up in hell where eternal fires torment and torture your immortal soul endlessly and constantly for all eternity.

     There are a variety of sub-plots or what one might call loopholes as to whom and when this occurs.    The Roman Catholic Church has developed a sort of half way house they call purgatory where one ostensibly awaits a final decision on ones ultimate destination.    Apparently the Roman Catholic Church feels that there are some that God can't quite make up His mind about.    However, the Roman Catholic Church is not alone in developing variations on the theme of how one goes about escaping this hell fire concept.   Just the same, 

It is not the intention of these net pages to criticize, reform, or correct religious doctrines.

Here you can study and understand exactly what God has to say about all this directly from His Word :

The Bible.

     Here we will look into what God thinks or says about the hell fire doctrine so prevalent in religion.    First, let us use some reason when we speak of a place where constant continuous torture seems to be the only reason for its existence.    God Himself told us to do this in Isaiah 1:18

"Come let us gather together and reason," saith the Lord

     Since God Himself is telling us to use our reason, how does one go about reasoning with God?    Well, it turns out that God has made that possible for anyone with intelligence enough to read His Word.    His Word, the Bible, answers all reasonable questions.    These answers were written down in the Bible before we were even able to ask the questions.    In fact, even before we were born to think of the questions.  

     To begin with: does God, through miracles, prove his power for HIS benefit … OR OURS?    Think about that for a moment.   Does God really have to prove … ANYTHING … to us?    Does a being with the might and power to create a universe have to prove to us that this universe is there?    On a clear night, if you look up, what do your eyes see?    Do you think your eyes are deceiving you?   When mankind with all its technical marvels searches the sky he finds more stars than can be counted.   Yet God not only knows where and how many there are, He calls each and every single one by name.

Ps 147:4 He counts the number of the stars; he calls them all by name. (NKJ)

     Millions watched their television sets as Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon and heard him say  "one small step for man … "    Well. folks, that one small step cost over 35 billion dollars and all the resources of the finest minds mankind could muster at the time.    It was indeed a major achievement by mankind in the cosmos.   Yet, that same moon was made by God and guided into place along with the sun on the fourth day of creation.    For God this was just  one small step  in the process of creating the universe.    We are speaking here of a being, who's complete scope is beyond our comprehension.

     Concerning a hell fire doctrine ask yourself this.   Would God do that?    Would God create a place where torture was the main stay of its existence?   Then put people there to endure this constant torture of continuous devouring flames for endless eons?   Does this fit the image that one has of a loving creator?

"Well, God can do anything he wants," people argue.

     This, of course, is not true.   God cannot do anything he wants just because he wants to.   For instance, God cannot lie. (Titus 1:2)  God cannot make a one sided coin in a three dimensional world.   For Him to do so would break the laws concerning that dimension instituted by God himself.    God cannot do anything unrighteous, for if He did, that would make God unrighteous.     God cannot break His own rules, for if He did, He would be making Himself into a hypocrite.    Fortunately for us, God governs Himself by His own holy code of morals concerning what is right and what is wrong.

                                    A code we can only dimly perceive.

     Now, regardless of what we think, we have to recognize that Jehovah God has a perfect personality.    What does this mean?   It means many things, but we are speaking here of the attributes of the Creator.    Attributes such as love, mercy, justice, anger, revenge, kindness, goodness, jealousy, hatred etc.    How do we know God has all these attributes?    Because we are told He does from His Word. As an example, we learn that God is a jealous God from his second commandment.

Exod 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; (KJV)

We also learn that He a merciful God:

Exod 20:6 and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. (KJV)

     There are, of course, many places in the Bible that show God exhibiting love, justice, patience, etc.    For example, when his Son walked among us as a man, Jesus exhibited all of these attributes.    However, there is a major difference in these attributes as man uses them and as God uses them.    When someone cuts you off in traffic, love is not one of the attributes, God has given us, that pops into our mind.    Mankind may have all the attributes of God but he, being unrighteous and imperfect, does not use them in the same way God does.    God never allows one attribute to overshadow or outweigh another.    Everything God does is done in perfect balance.    Therefore, even in God's wrath there is mercy, justice, and love evident in other ways.    In other words, just anger and hatred alone do not govern His wrath.    An analogy here might be that God is like a loving father administering a spanking to a child who was doing something that endangered that child's life or limb.    

It would be a poor father indeed that did not concern himself with his child's life.

      However, before we look at what God Himself is telling us about hell, let us first deal with the semantics of the word Hell.    There are 54 verses in the Bible using the word "Hell" in the King James Version, and 30 in the New King James Version.   There are just 13 verses using the word "Hell" in the New American Standard Version.    There are 14 in the New International Version.  

YET, ALL VERSIONS HAVE ALL 54 VERSES.  

Not only that, but the message in all is exactly the same.

     Now if this is confusing to you, it is due to the translation of each Version concerning the meaning or semantics of the word hell.    To make a long story short, it turns out that hell, grave, Sheol, Hades, Gehenna and pit  all, in fact, mean the same thing.    Therefore all versions using any of the above words are talking about the same place.   Hence the message in all versions about the dead is exactly the same.  

     The translation of a given word is not always possible from one language to another and often disputed between translators.    However, the information God has given us in His word is the same in any and all languages.  Wondrous, isn't it?

     Even more so in the cases where man has attempted deliberate alterations of the words, the message throughout the Bible remains intact.    The Bible causes these deliberate alterations to stand out like potholes on a smooth highway of truth.

  Now let's take a look at these verses that speak of hell or the grave.    Perhaps the most striking of these verses is:

Job 14:13 O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! (KJV)

Note that not all versions use the words, "The grave." This emphasizes the point that Hell, Sheol, Gehenna, the Grave and the Pit are all synonymous in the Bible.

Job 14:13 "Oh that Thou wouldst hide me in Sheol, that Thou wouldst conceal me until Thy wrath returns {to Thee,} that Thou wouldst set a limit for me and remember me!  (NAS)

     Job was, by God's own words, the most righteous man on earth at the time.

Job 1:8 Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?" (NKJ)

"A blameless and upright man;" in other words, without sin.    

Job 33:9 I am pure and without sin; I am clean and free from guilt. (NIV)

Now remember it is God himself, before His entire heavenly host, that is declaring Job "Blameless".    If Job had even one sin against him-- would God be declaring him blameless?

     Now Job was, by his own words, requesting death:  "O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave."    However, there is something else very evident by this request of death from Job.   For along with this request for death, Job also asks that God would "appoint me a set time, and remember me."    Job is here stating knowledge of the resurrection that had not yet been unfolded to mankind in general.    Job understood the resurrection because Job instructed others concerning the Creator. That God used Job for this purpose we find out from one of the men, Eliphaz the Temanite, who came to Job in his time of trouble.

Job 4:3 Surely you have instructed many, and you have strengthened weak hands. (NKJ)

     Eliphaz spoke the above verse.    

     Yet, Job had no idea at this point as to why Satan was tormenting him.    He, of course, had not been present at the meeting of angels in heaven before God in which Satan was challenging God concerning Job's faith.    He had no idea that God was actually putting His own credibility on the line with his faith in Job.   Had Job turned from his faith in God, then God would have been made to look the fool.     Now, since Job was privy to knowledge, why would he be asking to be hidden in hell?   For that is exactly how Job starts out his request of God.  "O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave."    Hide him from whom?   From Satan, of course.   Job did not know why Satan was being allowed to torment him but he certainly knew it was not God himself doing it.    How do we know this?   Because God's Word states that.

Job 1:22   In all this, Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.   (NKJ)

      Job also knew that nothing happened in the universe without God's permission. So he is asking to be put in hell, the grave, Hades, Sheol, the pit until the resurrection takes place.    He is here asking God to hide him in hell.

      Now if hell is a fiery state of constant torment run by Satan with demons poking at you with pitchforks, that would be the last place Job would be asking to go to.    So why, then, is Job asking to be put in hell?    Because he knew hell, or the grave or the pit or Sheol, was a place of total unconsciousness.    How do we know this?    Because Job says so in his lament to God.

Job 3:11-19

11 "Why did I not die at birth? Why did I not perish when I came from the womb?

12 Why did the knees receive me? Or why the breasts, that I should nurse?

13 For now I would have lain still and been quiet, I would have been asleep; then I would have been at rest

14 With kings and counselors of the earth, who built ruins for themselves,

15 Or with princes who had gold, who filled their houses with silver;

16 Or why was I not hidden like a stillborn child, like infants who never saw light?

17 There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary are at rest.

18 There the prisoners rest together; they do not hear the voice of the oppressor.

19 The small and great are there, and the servant is free from his master. (NKJ)

     Is this a concept or belief peculiar to Job in the Bible?   It didn't appear so to Daniel when an angel from God told Daniel directly :

Dan 12:13 "But as for you, go {your way} to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise {again} for your allotted portion at the end of the age." (NAS)

     Would God have sent this message to Daniel if it were not so?   Let us look at some other men of God in the Bible.    Men like Solomon, one of the wisest of the servants of God and a man who was a sinner.

Eccl 9:5 For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. (NKJ)

When Solomon is saying the memory of the dead is forgotten, he is not speaking of God's memory, but of man's memory.   Solomon goes on to say about the grave:

Eccl 9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. (KJV)

     Notice above that Solomon is saying there is no knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave.    What would be the point in punishing someone by tormenting him or her if they gained no wisdom from it or had no knowledge that it was even happening?   At this point let us go to the most knowledgeable of the Word of God, Christ.    When Jesus was going to resurrect Lazarus, He said to His apostles:

John 11:11 " … Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up." (NKJ)

John 11:12-13 Then His disciples said, "Lord, if he sleeps he will get well."

13 However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep.

At this point Jesus makes it very clear to them that he is speaking of the sleep of death.

14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead. (NKJ)

Now when Jesus is with the sister of Lazarus at his tomb he commands:

John 11:39 " … Take away the stone.  " Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, "Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days." (NKJ)

     From these verses Christ, the Son of God, is telling us that Lazarus has been sleeping in death, lying in his grave, for four days.    Jesus is here backing up or verifying what Job, Daniel, Solomon and others have been sure of all along.   What others?    Well, Martha for one.    For when Christ stated:

John 11:23-24 " … Your brother will rise again."

24 Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." (NKJ)

     When Lazarus stepped forth from his tomb no one asked him what death was like or where he had been.    They all knew that for the four days preceding his resurrection by Christ, Lazarus' life or soul had ceased to exist.    That he was just as Jesus, Solomon, and Job had said: asleep in death, unconscious, without knowledge, unaware of anything.

    Now if you think that Christ was being diplomatic in his use of the word "sleep" concerning death, let's look at a scripture that makes it absolutely clear that the sleep of death was what Jesus taught His apostles.    The following is Paul speaking long after the death of Jesus.

Acts 13:36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:  (KJV)

     It should be obvious at this point that reason and the Word of God go hand in hand.   It should be obvious that the Bible as a whole is not presenting mysteries or fantasies.   That it is not presenting God as some sort of demented monster that takes pleasure in punishing the dead forever and ever.   This may be contrary to what religions teach but we are speaking here not of what man imagines will happen when one dies, but what God says will take place.  

     Well, one might ask, what about his immortal soul?    This is really a subject all of its own.   Nonetheless, a brief explanation is needed here.  

     The word soul is a translation of the Hebrew  word "Nephesh" which literally means the ability to live.   However, you will not find a scripture in the Bible that supports the concept of an immortal soul.   Yet, you can find scripture that denies this concept, of a human immortal soul, in the word of God.   In fact, you can find it in Job.

Job 4:17 Shall mortal man be more just than God?   Shall a man be more pure than his maker? (KJV)

     This again is Eliphaz speaking, but Job does not refute this comment as he does in other comments made by his friends that were wrong about what God was doing. It is clear Job does not believe in an immortal soul either.    In fact, none of the prophets speak of an immortal soul.    Neither does Jesus.    You will not find any reference to an immortal soul in any of the books of the word of God.    These man made doctrines, immortality of the soul and the hell fire doctrine conflict with the word of God.   How?   If man has an immortal soul, it means he lives eternally, and he cannot die.    If this were true, then what is the gift of life that Christ has promised?

     Is hell fire spoken of in the word of God?     Yes it is, in fact Christ himself mentions hell and the fires of hell twelve times.   Let us look at these scriptures and use our reasoning powers guided by God's word as God tells us we should.   Let's start when Christ spoke of the hell fire during his Sermon on the Mount.

Matt 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. (KJV)

If the Hellfire doctrine is wrong, why is Christ speaking of it?   Because whenever Christ spoke to the multitudes he spoke in parables.   He spoke in parables with good reason.

Matt 13:34  All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: (KJV)

A parable is a form of metaphor or analogy.    Webster defines it as an allegorical relation, a short simple story, usually of an occurrence of a familiar kind, from which a moral lesson may be drawn.  Metaphors are not meant to have literal meanings applied to the words used.    Just the same, since we have seen from God's word that death is a state of unconsciousness, why is Jesus using the words hell fire?    He is doing so because he is speaking to a multitude.    A gathering of people, the majorities of which worshipped idols and false gods such as Baal, or derivatives of such, and the hell fire doctrine can be traced to these false gods clear back to the time of Elijah.   Therefore, Christ is using hell fire allegorically in a manner these pagan worshippers would understand.    As has been said before, Jesus uses the words 'hell fire' twelve times in the New Testament exactly in this same manner and always to a multitude and always in a parable.    In short, Christ is using the words 'hell fire' so these pagan worshippers would comprehend what he was speaking of, not to suddenly institute pagan ideas or concepts into the Word of the one and only true God.

Lets look at Matt 5:22 again from a different version, in plainer English, and see if we can understand better what Christ is saying;

Matt 5:22 "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, 'You fool,' shall be guilty {enough to go} into the fiery hell. (NAS)

" … Guilty before the court"

What court?    The court system of the land at the time.

" … And whoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; …"

The Supreme Court in those days was the Sanhedrin.

"Raca"- (Roughly translated "fool" but means "You good-for-nothing moron!") (Outline from Nave's Topical Bible)

     In short, Christ is warning the multitude not to be deceived or made a fool of by foolish doctrines.   And his apostles carried this warning after he was gone.

Titus 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. (KJV)

     Now go to your Bible and read the complete chapter of Matt 5 and you will see how what has been said fits all the comments above concerning verse 22.    All of which is really summed up by Christ Himself in:

Matt 7:26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: (KJV)

     Now let us look at another scripture that believers in this pagan doctrine like to use to advance this idea of constant and endless torture that God has supposedly instituted.   Notice it is again Christ speaking these words, but there is something different about His words this time, because this time He is not speaking to a multitude (although there were others present including a child) but to his apostles.  And we know that Christ explained things in detail to his apostles.    He did this to instruct them so they would be prepared for every good work, and it turns out that is exactly what Jesus is doing here.    Let us first read these verses as they appear in the book of Mark.

Mark 9:44-46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. (KJV)

Now let us look at exactly what Jesus is saying.    Who is the "Their" Christ is talking about here?     He is talking about the ones that believe in this pagan doctrine.    A doctrine that makes a demented monster of God and gives immortality to worms. "Worms dieth not." Christ is here also pointing out that, according to this doctrine, these worms are not only immortal, they are also fireproof.

"… And the fire is not quenched"  However, God tells us just the opposite in Revelation.

Rev 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.   This is the second death. (KJV)

   The lake of fire used in Revelation represents absolute and total destruction.  

    Christ knows this and by his use of the word 'hellfire' he is here pointing up the absurdity of this doctrine to those in the multitude that are hearing His words and believe in this doctrine.   If you need further proof of this, look at the very next scripture Jesus utters:

Mark 9:49 Everyone will be salted with fire. (NIV)

     Remember what was said about the Bible clearly marking all the potholes of the highway of truth.   Well, here we have a good example of that meaning.  

      Is Christ saying here that everyone, all of mankind, is doomed to spend eternity in flames being eaten by fireproof worms that do not die?    Of course not! That would be a contradiction of everything he preached.    Everything the Bible as a whole teaches.   Everything we know about the attributes of God Almighty.   Well then, what does Christ mean by these six simple words?    Those six words are a condemnation of the whole hellfire doctrine.

      Christ is saying … EVERYONE, and that includes the angels of heaven itself, are to be salted with fire.    Does this mean God spends His time running around sprinkling liberal amounts of salt from a shaker?    Of course not!    That would not only be silly, but absurd as well.    The words "Salt" and "Fire" are here being used in a symbolic manner.    What is salt?    Salt is a condiment that is used to bring out or flavor food.   It is also a preservative.    What is fire?    Fire can be used to cook.    Fire can be used to totally destroy, and fire is also used to refine.   So Jesus Christ is here, with these six words, telling us his Father, the Almighty, intends to flavor, preserve, and refine everyone.   The "everyone" referred to here is all, every single one adopted into His divine family.     How does God do this?     By flavoring with knowledge those that accept His Son.     By preserving with eternal life those that accept His Son.     By refining with a spiritual life those that accept His Son.   "Everyone" that accepts His Son as our Lord and savior.   "Everyone" is tested.   Christ Himself was tested.   That is what the  KINGDOM  is all about.    A Kingdom Christ speaks of 51 times in Matthew alone.

      So far, we've learned from God's Word what the prophets understood about hell or death.    We have also learned what Christ thought and said concerning this pagan hellfire doctrine.   What about the Almighty Himself-- does HE have any comment on this doctrine?     Yes, He does, and most definitively.   

     The Almighty passed judgment on this doctrine when it was first instituted with a lesser pagan 'god' called Moloch.    At a time when Baal was the major pagan lie used by Satan to corrupt Jews of the house of Israel away from the true worship of the Creator.   Moloch, or as the Jews called him, Molech, was an absolutely vicious god that was supposed to be in control of fire.

     It should be noted here that people that worshiped these pagan gods did so out of fear, not love.    It was believed that if you did not appease these pagan gods with sacrifices, then they would strike you with disease or withered limbs or maybe even throw a lightning bolt or two at you.    In short, offer enough sacrifices and these pagan gods would leave you alone ... hopefully.

     Well, as has been said, Molech was particularly vicious in his demands as to what you sacrificed.    He was not happy with anything short of the lives of your own children.  Therefore, to appease Molech for supposed sins against this vicious god, the priests of this pagan religion ritually:  cast  live  infants  into pits  of  fire.    

Listen to what Jehovah says about this:

Jer 32:35 "And they built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-hinnom to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through {the fire} to Molech, which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they should do this abomination, …" (NAS)

            Notice ... God  is  calling  this  doctrine  an  abomination.

Notice also that this abominable doctrine: 

NEVER   ENTERED   GOD'S   MIND!

That  being  the  case,  why  are  we  wasting  our  time  discussing  this foolishness?

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