We’re told in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 1 Thessalonians 5:21Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
American King James Version×to “Prove all things…” This study guide is intended for those who wish to learn and prove the truth about the topic of hell.
What are some of the common ideas concerning hell today?
Where did these different ideas come from? The Bible?
The State of the Dead
Ecclesiastes 9:5-10 Ecclesiastes 9:5-10 5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.
7 Go your way, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God now accepts your works.
8 Let your garments be always white; and let your head lack no ointment.
9 Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of the life of your vanity, which he has given you under the sun, all the days of your vanity: for that is your portion in this life, and in your labor which you take under the sun.
10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, where you go.
American King James Version×For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward,x for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun. (10) there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.
Psalms 6:5 Psalms 6:5For in death there is no remembrance of you: in the grave who shall give you thanks?
American King James Version×For in death there is no remembrance of You; in the grave - who will give You thanks?
1. Describe the state of the dead. Are the dead conscious? Do they think? Of what are they aware?
2. What do the above scriptures reveal about the popular idea that the wicked who have died are conscious in the midst of a fire?
John 5:28 John 5:28Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
American King James Version×Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice
John 11:43 John 11:43And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
American King James Version×Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!”
3. What do these verses teach us about where the dead are?
4. How do these verses answer the question about whether the dead live on somewhere after death?
5. Some believe the righteous are with Jesus immediately after they die, and that they see Him and converse with Him. Explain how these verses contradict such a belief.
Comment: Note that when Jesus resurrected Lazarus who had been dead for 3 days that He did not say “Come down” or “Come up,” but speaking at where Lazarus was entombed, Jesus said “Come forth!”
Genesis 37:35 Genesis 37:35And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave to my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.
American King James Version×And all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and he said, “For I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning.” Thus his father wept for him.
6. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary says this scripture is proof that this is describing a place of conscious existence after death. Do you agree? Why or why not?
When and How the Ungodly Are Punished
2 Peter 2:9 2 Peter 2:9The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust to the day of judgment to be punished:
American King James Version×the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment
Matthew 25:31-46 Matthew 25:31-46 31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungered, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in:
36 Naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we you an hungered, and fed you? or thirsty, and gave you drink?
38 When saw we you a stranger, and took you in? or naked, and clothed you?
39 Or when saw we you sick, or in prison, and came to you?
40 And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me.
41 Then shall he say also to them on the left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungered, and you gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and you visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we you an hungered, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to you?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
American King James Version×” When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. (41) 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…’ ” (46) “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
1. When is the “day of judgment” (and the time of punishment) for the unjust?
2. What is the opposite of eternal life? Compare Matthew 25:46 Matthew 25:46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
American King James Version×and Romans 6:23 Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
American King James Version×.
3. What is the difference between “everlasting punishMENT” and “everlasting punishING”?
4. What is the punishment of the unjust? Read also Revelation 20:15 Revelation 20:15And whoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
American King James Version×and comment.
Jude 1:7 Jude 1:7Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
American King James Version×as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these … are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
1. If Sodom and Gomorrah suffered “the vengeance of eternal fire,” why are they still not burning? If they are not still burning, what is meant by “eternal fire”?
2. Some believe that the wicked sent to hell will burn forever. How does this verse and Malachi 4:1 Malachi 4:1For, behold, the day comes, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yes, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that comes shall burn them up, said the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
American King James Version×contradict this belief?
3. Popular belief is that a “soul” cannot perish in hell fire, but that it will undergo punishing forever. What do Matthew 10:28 Matthew 10:28And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
American King James Version×and Ezekiel 18:20 Ezekiel 18:20The soul that sins, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be on him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be on him.
American King James Version×say about the validity of that belief?
Four Words Translated “hell” in the Bible.
A. Sheol (Hebrew) It’s used 65 times in the Old Testament and means “grave.”
B. Hades (Greek) It’s used 11 times in the New Testament, and like sheol means “grave.”
Comment: The word “hell” itself is an old English word, and when the Authorized King James version of the Bible was being translated, it was common for people of the time to speak of “putting their potatoes in hell for the winter” to preserve them. At that time the word meant merely a hole in the ground which was covered up.
4. Explain what Jesus meant when He said in Matthew 16:18 Matthew 16:18And I say also to you, That you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
American King James Version×, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
C. Tartaros (Greek) It occurs just once (in 2 Peter 2:4 2 Peter 2:4For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved to judgment;
American King James Version×). It is defined thusly: darkness of the material universe, dark abyss, prison.
2 Peter 2:4 2 Peter 2:4For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved to judgment;
American King James Version×For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment
5. Who is in this “hell”? Does this verse say people are there with them?
D. Gehenna (Greek) It is used 12 times. The word is derived from the name of the narrow, rocky Valley of Hinnom located just outside of Jerusalem. It was where garbage and refuse was totally burned up.
Comment: Christ used this word in Matthew 10:28 Matthew 10:28And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
American King James Version×to describe the fate of unrepentant sinners.
Contrast what most people believe with what God, through the Bible, tells us about:
1. Where the dead are
2. The state of the dead
3. The punishment of the unrepentant
4. When they are punished