<Page Navigation Menu (Try it!)->     

Please help keep this site up and growing by donating a small amount of money!   I am committed to keeping these resources FREE! How committed are you to helping me at that task? There will be more free books on my website only if there are donations! Your gifts of any size will help us with this website.
Small gifts: use Paypal            More substantial gifts: Orlando Bible Church

34.18 Eternal Punishment, Hell, Purgatory
The Bible Doctrine of Hell

What is hell? Just what you wanted, life without God!

34.18.01 Why eternal punishment is important.   34.18.13 The Intermediate State
34.18.02 The Problem of Evil. 34.18.14 Chastisement as immediate punishment
34.18.03 Overview of positions and terminology 34.18.15 Christ's Descendent into Hell
   a Purgative Nature of Hell 34.18.16 Historical Overview of Eternal Punishment
   b Eternal (unending) Life of Punishment    a Old Testament Period
   c Annihilation, or Ceasing to Exist    b Inter-Testamental Period
   d Universalism (Restoration)    c New Testament Period
34.18.04 Description of Hell    d Pre-Reformation Period
   a What Hell is Like (Elements)    e Reformation and Post Reformation Period
   b What happens to people in Hell (Events)    f  Nineteenth Century Period
   c Reality of Hell 34.18.17 Word Studies on key words
   d Physical Location of Hell    a Gehenna, Hell (NT Concept)
   e Purpose of Hell's Creation    b Seol (OT Concept)
   f Righteous' Attitude toward Suffering in Hell    c Hades
   g Degrees of Punishment in Hell    d Paradise and Abraham's Bosom
34.18.05 The Chambers of Hell    e Destroy, Destruction
34.18.06 God's Purpose in Death    f Eternal, ages aiwnos
34.18.07 Significance of Hell    g Pit, well/depth
34.18.08 Time, Eternity, Duration of Hell    h Purgatory
34.18.09 Can a Just, Loving God punish?     i Limbo
34.18.10 Who goes to Hell?     j Soul Sleep
34.18.11 Resurrection unto Life and unto Death 34.18.99 Literature on Eternal Punishment (Hell)
34.18.12 The Lake of Fire, Finality of the Punishment  

34.18.01 Why the doctrine of eternal punishment (hell) is important? <go to menu>

The importance of this doctrine is that if a group or person can persuade the general public that hell does not exist, then there is no deterrent or threat for severe punishment for sin. These fight has transformed into a public fight both in the legal system and in the childrearing areas. The thought is "It is just wrong (sin) for punishing other people under any circumstances." Of course this is stupid and unbiblical, but that is basically what the push is.

Here we need to understand that legally, the repeal of the death sentence is based after all the discussion in a belief that humans cannot push one another. Our jails have morphed from places of punishment to places of isolation from society. We do not punish people in jails because it would always be "cruel and inhuman punishment". Somehow when a person kills another person, that is not cruel nor inhuman, and the killer has rights which he or she cannot lose. Yet the liberty and right of the dead at their hands is ignored as being unimportant.

Within childrearing, the idea of punishing a child is now branded a perversion. If you actually cause physical pain and suffering, you are a mean and cruel pervert that has no idea of what damages and destroys and perverts our youth. Yet the order to spare not the rod came directly from God. (Prov 10:13; 14:3; 26:3)

Proverbs 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

Proverbs 23:13 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.

Why do some parents utterly refuse to accept this concept of punishment of their children? Because they fear the punishment of God, and to live without being a hypocrite, they must project their concept of "justice" (punishment for sin is just wrong) into their parenting of their kids. Of course these kids generally grow up to be worse sinners than their parents, and the world goes into a horrible tailspin of sin that we experience today. Why is gun control such an issue among some sectors of the general population? It is not because of the danger of guns (which is true), but the issue being fought is that the general public must be held hostage by the civil authorities and absolutely no case will any criminal be punished on the spot, being stopped from perpetrating his crime. In countries where guns are outlawed, the outlaws have no problem getting guns, and more powerful automatic weapons than what the police forces have or what is available in the United States. Individuals in this countries also find ways to kill (with a vehicle for example) that shows that you cannot take away all weapons from people, because it is impossible. Yet the statistics that reveal that a gun toting general public reduces crimes to a mere fraction of what they were before are never revealed. My point here is that punishment, clear and swift, and at times extreme (taking away life of the criminal) is a great and powerful deterrent to crime. God knows that, and God works on that basis. We refuse to accept that, and we suffer from that ignorance and rebellion to God.

The conflict then is very spiritual, because God orders punishment as part of the system of things, and the unsaved world wants to ignore, deny, and overturn the possibility of that punishment. They want to interpret all punishment as somehow excessive and wrong, emotionally and spiritually (they use the term "psychologically") damaging the person.

Here we see the doctrine of punishment clearly imposed by God on the world. First, there is punishment before death, which punishment does not take away the life of the person. Secondly there is a punishment that for the gravity of the infraction, the person should lose his life, and this loss of life is at the hand of the civil authorities.

Genesis 9:6 Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

I do not want to get deeply involved in this, but under the Old Testament economy of things, even the relative of the murderer taking the life of the murderer was in a degree allowed and protected as equally right as self-defense.

34.18.02 The Problem of Evil. <go to menu>

Arminius, James - Public Disputations, and Private Disputations: Section I Ch 9 & Ch 10 On the Righteousness and efficacy of the providence of God concerning Evil.
Pridgeon - Is Hell Eternal or Will God's Plan fail Ch 12 The Problem of Evil
Winslow - Man of God#Ch14 Good and Evil Alike from God

34.18.03 Overview of positions and Terminology <go to menu>

Historically theology has formed around these different positions.

As a footnote here, consider that a person's view towards hell greatly influences their political beliefs towards our penal system. Should the civil authority seeks to reform (a purgative nature) those who do wrong? Should the principle purpose of jails be punitive, to make a person suffer for their wrong deeds such that it becomes a great negative influence pushing them to avoid breaking the law again?

    34.18.03 a Purgative Nature of Hell <go to menu>

Hell is a temporary experience in which it purifies the souls there so that they are restored to God's favor and fellowship.
See below on Purgatory.

People holding this position: Origen.

    34.18.03 b Punitive: Eternal (unending) Life of Punishment <go to menu>

This has no idea of reformation or restoration in hell. This is simply punishment for having rejected faith in Jesus as one's Savior. It is an eternal life (or eternal death) of misery and pain, suffering which will never end, and is caused by dying without having accepted Jesus. (Augustine took this position)

Here we must clarify that we cannot affirm a heaven (place of reward for the saved) without also affirming a hell (place of punishment for the unsaved). The attacks against this position usually have to do with the attributes and character of God, that He cannot possibly be possible of an eternal punishment.

People holding this position: Many.

    34.18.03 c Annihilation, or Ceasing to Exist <go to menu>

"Conditional Immortality" - The idea here is basically that only the saved will obtain immortality, and the unsaved at death will cease to exist (annihilation). This position has basically separated itself into two subordinate positions:

(1) this annihilation happening at the moment of death,

(2) others taking that the unsaved must first endure some time in hell, and thereafter they will be annihilated. This future annihilation is usually fixed as the event of God "casting hell into the lake of fire". This makes hell and its punishment temporary in the sense that it will be over one day.

The annihilation position basically is a position which pressures literalness in the concept (their concept) of "death." According to them, death is a ceasing of existing here on the earth, and therefore a spiritual death would be a ceasing of existing at all, anywhere. The argument here is that the concept of "death" should include a total termination, or a complete ceasing of being in some form or way or manner.

This is represented by the Jehovah's Witness approach which tries to deny all reality of heaven and hell. They do this by misinterpreting John's passages about God in the end times destroying the earth, and bring heaven down to a new heavens and earth that God will make after this destruction of the old one. Personally I think this destruction of the old heavens and earth is impasse that God places on things making it extremely clear that nothing material, absolutely nothing from this present life will pass into eternity. We can argue that earth is plagued with sin, and therefore must be destroyed, but heaven? Nothing is wrong with heaven that we can see. Anyway, the Jehovah's Witness (basically they are a mutated Seventh Day Adventist group) wipe the possibly of heaven and hell clean such that their position is essentially is a flawed annihilation. I say flawed because they believe all people are annihilated and ceased to exist anywhere on the moment of death. But then they believe the 144,000 faithful (them exclusively) will be remade, so the people have to exist even if it is in the memory of God.

Fyfe - The Hereafter: Sheol, Hades, and Hell (1890) Ch 6 Annihilation at Death

Mackintosh - Eternal Punishment vs Universalism and Annihilationism (s)

People holding this position: Farrar.

    34.18.03 d Universalism, (Restorationism)  <go to menu>

  • Universalists is a denomination which believes in universalism.
  • Unitarians is another denominational structure which believes in Universalism.
  • Origenism - This term has become synonymous with Universalism.

Universalism is a believe in the ultimate salvation of all mankind, the wicked as well as the good. This movement has used the term "Restoration" which believes that after the resurrection and judgments, the wicked will suffer in hell for a while, and then in measure proportionate to their guilt, will eventually be recovered. The term "restoration" was used mostly in the United States, and later has been picked up by various Pentecostal groups (restoration of tongues, gifts, miracles, etc), and by some Calvinist groups which believe that God will "restore the kingdom" meaning that they or Christians must dominate and control civil government. This is similar to the Roman Catholic Doctrine of Purgatory (except really according to Rome, purgatory is purely for Catholics, while all the rest will go directly to hell for eternity).

Let's take their position for a moment and consider a few important points. Okay, so hell is horrible inaccuracy, in their view actually a heresy from hell, which the Jews took from the heathen and incorporated it into their belief system. Taking that as a "truth" for moment, then why did Jesus (being God) speak so often about hell as apparently a reality which should motive them to change their lives drastically, quickly, and extensively? Jesus promoted error and heresy? I don't think so. So it should not pass under our radar that the same people who attack the reality and biblicalness of hell also attack the deity of Jesus. They have to do so, because if Jesus is flawless and perfect God, and Jesus clearly taught a real hell, then they are in a bad situation. I should also mention that this is a package deal, and some of the other things that are in the package are not so nice. Nobody can be truly saved and go to heaven if they do not acknowledge Jesus as the Christ Messiah come from heaven (the Father). This puts a great cloud of doubt over the actual salvation understanding of all people who want to "write off" the reality of hell. Another element of this "package" is to trash inspiration left and right. Even if somehow you can make Jesus part of the general Jewish misunderstanding about eternal punishment, and somehow believe Jesus used this Jewish "myth" as they want to make it, passages like the rebellion of Korah in Numbers 16, where the earth opens up and the rebels go alive directly into the pit of hell is just going to cause these people problems. The bottom result is that you have to hold to a low view of divine inspiration to allow these beliefs into your belief system. They do not coincide with Scriptures AT ALL!

Other glaring problems with this position is that it "removes the teeth" from the law and will of God. If God does not punish those who refuse His will, or if God punishes them and then restores them to blessed communion with Him when they die never wanting that, this makes God to be weak and impotent.

Satan, his rebellion, and his rebels are all the winners here, and Christ and the saints who are saved are the losers.

34.18.03d.01 Basic Arguments and refutations of Universalists

People holding this position: Origen. John Murray (in USA), Winchester.

Books by Universalists (Hell is temporary)
In general Universalists are avid writers in defending their position, and in general concentrate all the force of their teachings on disproving the reality of hell neglecting most other doctrines. Once you disprove the reality of hell or the temporal nature of hell, nothing much else much matters as far as doctrine, prayer, missions, evangelism, preaching on sin, etcétera.

Barrows, Samuel (Unitarian) - The Doom of the Majority of Mankind (1883) (Images).
Campbell, Alexander (universalist) - 5 Discourses on Hell! (images)
Constable, Henry - Duration and Nature of Future Punishment (1871)
Hammond - Future Punishment (1878)
Irvine - Friendly Disputants: Future Punishment Reconsidered (1859)
Townsend - God's Goodness and Severity (1902) (images)
Whittaker (universalist) - Five Discourses on Future Punishment (Images)
Williamson, I.D. - Endless Punishment Refuted (1854).


34.18.04 Descriptions of Hell <go to menu>

34.18.04 a What Hell is Like (Elements) <go to menu>

Vincent, Thomas - Fire and Brimestone in Hell to burn the Wicked (1670)

Edwards, Jonathan - Eternity of Hell's Torments

34.18.04 b What happens to those people who go to hell (Events)

34.18.04 c  Reality of Hell

Perhaps the people who wish to write off hell as a figment of many Christian's imagination should be addressed. Simply put, we do not know a whole lot about hell and things surrounding entering, duration, and what goes on there. But what we do know is enough to scare the bravest person into humility and submission to God if he really believes it.

The entire concept of hell has to here be addressed. If God cannot permit a place like hell, full of suffering and eternal horrible torment, and the reason is supposedly because of His moral goodness (which is debatable), then some questions are due: (1) where did the concept of hell come from? (2) why did Jesus and his most instructive followers promote and use the concept? (3) Why does the Bible promote and use the term to motive people and change conduct using a supposed lie or false belief?

EdwardsJ - Future Punishment of Wicked Unavoidable and Intolerable

34.18.04 d Physical Location of Hell

34.18.04 e Purpose of Hell's Creation

34.18.04 f Attitude of Righteous towards suffering of Wicked in Hell

EdwardsJ - Torments of Wicked in Hell, No Occasion of Grief to the Saints in Heaven (s)

34.18.04 g Degrees of Punishment in Hell

Are there degrees of punishment in Hell? Yes. in Matthew 10:15 (he used Tire and Sidon in Mat. 11:22) Jesus rebukes the Jews of his day saying that it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in judgment day than for the Jews of Jesus' day. This appears to present a degree of judgment (punishment) based on the degree of sin, and the degree of illumination.

34.18.05 The Chambers of Hell <go to menu>

Hell apparently has chambers or (sub)divisions (Proverbs 7:27).

The importance of the above is apparently very keen for those who are to spend all of eternity in hell. There are degrees of punishment, and just being in hell is not the worst that it can. It gets worse for some people depending on their sins (amount and/or gravity of sins).

Degrees of punishment - Luke 12:48 (few or many stripes)

Outer Darkness - special punishment for supposed Christians who produce nothing Mat 25:30, 22:13).

There is a lot of misunderstanding about hell. For an explanation of the places of hell,
see 34.18.05a


34.18.06 God's Purpose in Death <go to menu>


34.18.07 Significance of Hell <go to menu>

Hell is the place of eternal punishment for those who reject faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior. The significance of hell is that it is a place of eternal punishment for those who oppose God and His will, and it is a place of justification for the faithful who have sacrificed all to follow Jesus. It is a counter balance to heaven. Without hell, heaven doesn't make much sense.

2 Peter 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

So God is an expert at making sure that wicked people get their due punishment, and that they escape nothing!


34.18.08 Duration of Hell <go to menu>


34.18.09 Can a Just, Loving God punish? <go to menu>

One of the great arguments against the reality of hell, a place of eternal punishment, is the character and attributes of God. Supposedly because God is love (1John 4:8, 16), therefore God cannot punish. But this is directly against the obvious punishing by God of people in Scripture.

Edwards, Jonathan - Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners (s)

34.18.10 Who goes to hell? <go to menu>


34.18.11 Resurrection unto Life and unto Death <go to menu>


34.18.12 The Lake of Fire, Finality of the Punishment <go to menu>

Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

What does this verse mean if there is no hell? Judgment is not ceasing to exist, but for some it is reward, and for others there has to be punishment. If hell was originally created for punishing Satan and his angels, and hell is the destination of many people in Scriptures, then it is a place of physical, actual torment. Luke 16 speaks of a place of immediate physical pain and suffering for a man. This is the plain and clear presentation of Scripture, and to take it any other way is to twist and distort Scripture.

34.18.13 The Intermediate State

Is there an intermediate state between death and our final state? Absolutely yes. The fact that God has a plan, and we must fit into God's plan and not see things as God having to fit into our plans is exactly the point.

We find that the Bible does teach and intermediate state of people between death and their final eternal state.

First of all we need to clarify why this is very important to certain groups. In certain groups that believe in the purgative view of punishment (that through punishment they eventually enter a state of grace before God where they will enjoy eternal salvation and fellowship with God), so they see this intermediate state as a place for paying through suffering and later getting out of the punishment for a universal salvation of all people. The Bible does not teach this.

What the Bible teaches is that there are intermediary states, like what Jesus presented in Luke 16, Lazarus and the Rich man. Both died, both entered into Seol or Hades, where in one compartment (Paradise) Lazarus was in pleasure waiting for the resurrection (reuniting) of his body (decomposed on earth) with his spirit (in Paradise, Abraham's Bosom). The rich man was in the pit, hell, a place of punishment, waiting for the resurrection of his body with his soul, where he will be judged, and then cast into the lake of fire.

Edwards, Jonathan - Absent from the Body (s)
Edwards, Jonathan - True Saints, When Absent from the Body are present with the Lord (s)

34.18.14 Chastisement as immediate (temporal) punishment <go to menu>

Although chastisement by God (of saved and unsaved) is very different from eternal punishment in hell, there is a similarity in the sense that it is punishment for sin, and I thought this page would be the best place to put it (at least until I think of another section to put it under).

These files are in my private library and will be upload in the coming days

Alexander, James - Consolation Ch 9 Consolation derived from the uses of Chastisement
MacDuff - The Night Watches, Ch 20 The Chastisements of God
MacDuff - Pillar in the Night Ch 14 The Chastisement of Love
MacDuff - Rest and Refreshment in the Valleys Ch 29 Fatherly Chastisement
Meyer - Way into the Holiest, Ch 28 Chastisement
Murray - Divine Healing Ch 20 Is Sickness a Chastisement?
Murray - Holy in Christ Ch 29 Holiness and Chastisement
Murray - New Life Ch 33 Chastisement
Pink - Subjection under God's Chastisement (Sermon)
Pink - Comfort for the Christians Ch 7 Divine Chastisement
Pink - Exposition of Hebrews
    Chs 86-92
Divine Chastisement
Spurgeon - New Park Street Chapel Sermons Sermon #48 Chastisement

34.18.15 Christ's Descendent into Hell <go to menu>

Luke 23:43; Acts 2:31; 1 Pet 3:19

We must remember that the concept of Seol/Hades was a place of the dead (godly and ungodly) and within that place, there were separations and divisions (chambers) which were very different. We see Jesus went to Seol (Hades) and after his resurrection and ascension we understand that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:6-9).

Jesus went to Seol/Hades, but promised the believing thief on the cross opposite him at his death, that that very day they would be together in Paradise. This means that Jesus DID NOT GO TO THE SUFFERING UNSAVED in hell, but to the chamber of Paradise to comfort and fully explain what was happening to those believers.

34.18.16 Historical Overview of Eternal Punishment  <go to menu>

Buis, Harry - The Doctrine of Eternal Punishment (1957)  (Recommended for Historical survey aspect!)
Pusey, Edward Bouverie - What is Faith as to Everlasting Punishment? (1880) odt (classical, extrabiblical references)


34.18.16 a Old Testament Period  <go to menu>

The OT deals almost exclusively with the future of the godly, not the ungodly although there are references to the ungodly going to the pit. We should interject here that the OT view towards the after life was to group all people together as going to a single place, Sheol (Seol), and there in Sheol, the place of the dead, there were divisions or chambers. Paradise was a place of pleasure and rest, whereas the pit was a place of unending and horrible torture. There is no concept of annihilation except perhaps for animals, but nothing for people. This concept is best described by Jesus in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Jesus hit the OT concept exactly in this parable. Jesus clarified the separation between the two places, and impossibility of anyone getting out of the place of punishment, or anyone from either group returning to the world of the living for any reason, including any kind of communication with the living.

Ecclesiastes 9:4-5 For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. 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.

This last point desires some elaboration and reflection. Ecclesiastes 9:4-5 says the dead know not any thing. The concept of spiritualists which is based on contacting the spirits of the dead is exactly the opposite of the truth. These apparitions and contacts cannot really be the spirits of dead people, because they are in a place of no contact. It is not that they become somehow "dumb" (giving a hint of annihilation) but rather they are ignorant of the events of the world of the living. This ignorance is imposed by God. This is very clear in Abraham's words to the rich man. So all manifestations of supposed dead people (apparitions or "ghosts") are really demons in disguise. The singular exception of someone returning from the dead (Seol) is Jesus Christ.

Ecclesiastes 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 (Sheol), whither thou goest.

Moreover it seems as though there is a kind of restriction or law placed on the dead where there is no "work" (activity, or productive activity that results in bettering one's self or helping one's self to meet any needs or remove any unpleasant situation). There is no device (reason or reckoning) in Seol. I would understand this as being a type of isolation whereby the person cannot make defenses for why the punishment is unfair or undeserved. There is no knowledge in Seol. Knowledge here is defined by Strong's as "knowledge, perception, skill. discernment, understanding, wisdom." Some would grab this "perception" and try to drag us back to annihilation, but I do not see that. It is speaking of being aware of what is going on outside of their "cell". They are ignorant of the events of history that continue on without them. Wisdom here is the beneficial use of knowledge for advantage. All that has been abandoned at the door to hell. There is nothing that will alleviate their suffering or make their stay in hell any better. Absolutely nothing!

We must remember that the concept of Seol/Hades was a place of the dead (godly and ungodly) and within that place, there were separations and divisions (chambers) which were very different. We see Jesus went to Seol (Hades) and after his resurrection and ascension we understand that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:6-9).

Jesus went to Seol/Hades, but promised the believing thief on the cross opposite him at his death, that that very day they would be together in Paradise. This means that Jesus DID NOT GO TO THE SUFFERING UNSAVED in hell, but to the chamber of Paradise to comfort and fully explain what was happening to those believers.

Seol then is a place of blessed reunion for the godly. "Abraham was gathered to his people" (Gen 25:8). The concept of being reunited with one's ancestors has at its base the concept of immortality. The concept was not that one would have his unsensing body rot in the earth with ancestors, but of some kind of reunion and communion of some kind. Jacob understood that at his death, he would join Joseph which he thought was dead (Gen 37:35). David likewise thought at his death of joining his dead child (2 Sam 12:23). In Hebrew, the word for those who inhabit Sheol is Rephaim (Job 26:5 "deceased"). See Isaiah 14:10-11 and Ezek 32:17-32 which shows pictures of persons in Sheol, and shows clearly that the inhabitants of Sheol are sentient beings, thinking, talking, sensing beings.

"There was, however, little distinction between the good and the evil people in Sheol; both together were engulfed in comparative gloom. The fine conservative scholar, Oehler, says, "In no part of the Old Testament is a difference in the lot of those in the realm of death distinctly spoken of. Job 3:17-19 describes them there as all alike. Only in Isaiah 14:15, Ezekiel 32:23, where the fallen conquerors are relegated to the uttermost depths can we find an indication of different grades in the realm of the dead — perhaps in the sense in which Josephus (Bell. Jud. iii, 8.5) speaks of an outer darkness for self-murderers. Elsewhere, only a division into peoples and races, and not a division of the just and unjust, is spoken of. 'Tomorrow,' says Samuel to Saul, 'shalt thou and thy sons be with me' (1 Samuel 28:19). The inhabitants of the kingdom of the dead 'have no more reward' (Eccles. 9:5ff). In itself, the condition in Sheol, which is in the main the most indefinite existence possible, is neither blessedness (although longed for as a rest by him who is weary of life), (Job 3:13-19) nor positive unblessedness: for to those who are swept away in the midst of the enjoyment of life the punishment consists in being thus carried away (Numbers 16:30ff., Psalm 4:16).... [G.F. Oehler, Theology of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1883), p. 173.] Later there emerged a clear distinction between the compartment where the good dwelt in Sheol, and that where the evil existed; but that distinction took place after the Old Testament period closed. As to the location of Sheol, it was generally believed to be somewhere underground. Two possible views are tenable regarding the facts just described. One is that at death the Old Testament saints actually did go to this dreary place called Sheol, and that they remained there until the time when Christ paid the price for sin, descended into Sheol, and brought the redeemed into heaven." [http://www.ccel.us/buis.ch1.html]

Job 19:25-27 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: 27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

Job is perhaps the oldest book of the Bible. Even though Genesis recounts creation it was written by Moses much later. The lack of references which pinpoint it's date places it before Abraham. The concept of Job was definitely one of an after life whereby Job would be reunited with a reconstituted physical body (the resurrection), and expresses a situation wherein Job would behold God with his own physical eyes. All of this would happen AFTER Job's death.


This concept of Seol was shared by many groups and peoples in the middle east during this time. The Egyptians called it Amenti, the Babylonians Arallu, the Greeks Hades, and Israelites Seol. The Egyptians were very developed in their concept of punishment in Amenti.

34.18.16 b Inter-Testamental Period  <go to menu>


34.18.16 c New Testament Period  <go to menu>


34.18.16 d Pre-Reformation Period  <go to menu>


34.18.16 e Reformation and Post Reformation Period  <go to menu>


34.18.16 f  Nineteenth Century Period  <go to menu>



34.18.17 Word Studies on key words <go to menu>


34.18.17 a Gehenna (NT Concept) <go to menu>

Read note on Paradise below before reviewing this information.

Gehenna, Hades, and Sheol are presently (after Acts 1) all the place of the damned, the tortured, the unsaved.

Gehenna comes from the Hebrew word Hinnom (24790) which is a deep, narrow ravine separating Mount Zion from the so-called "Hill of Evil Counsel" It took its name from "some ancient hero, a certain son of Hinnom". But its fame came from the idolatrous worship of Moloch where the Israelites offered their living babes to die in the red hot outstretched hands of the god Moloch (Joshua 15:8 etc). A certain part of the valley is called Tophet, or the "fire-stove" where these children were burned alive. Later the Jews abhorred this place so much that they converted the entire valley into a dump for refuse, dead bodies of all kinds, and to kill the smell, they set it afire constantly. Their intent was that the fires never go out, that are extremely fierce (Mat 5:22). The advantage for the Jews to use this place was the steep cliffs whereby they count throw (thus the idea of someone casting something into Gehenna Luke 12:5) their trash and unclean things into it without actually going into it and chancing stepping in the filthiness. Here we see the idea of a deep pit or falling.

For a Jew in the time of Christ, the name Gehenna was associated with the terrible suffering that the babies and children suffered, as well as the extreme corruption of the place. Gehenna was a place of the damned (Mat 23:33).

34.18.17 b Seol (OT Concept) <go to menu>

Seol occurs in the OT 65x. Root is derived from word meaning "to ask", "to demand" hence insatiableness is an idea related to hell (Prov 30:15-16). The general idea is that sheol is the place of disembodied (dead) spirits awaiting the resurrection of their bodies in the last days. "Congregation of the dead" Prov 21:16.

Renderings in our Bible:

"grave" - 31 times.

In the OT, sheol was not restricted to the place of the wicked, but all dead went down to sheol. The wicked were in the chamber called "the pit", and the believers went to paradise. According to Luke 16 (Lazarus and Rich man) there was a great chasm that separated the two even though there was communication between the two parts. We always see a concept of the wicked being down (as in a pit Num 16:30, 33; Eze 31:15-17) and the good being up.

Thus the concept of being deep (Job 11:8), dark (Job 10:21-22), with bars (Job 17:16)

The OT Hebrew Sheol is the equivalent NT Greek Hades = place of the dead.

34.18.17 c Hades <go to menu>

Equivalent of Hebrew Sheol, place of the dead.


34.18.17 d Paradise and Abraham's Bosom <go to menu>

Paradise and Abraham's Bosom is the place of the believing (saved) dead. This was physically in an upper chamber of Sheol-Hades, and was not a place of torment but blessed waiting. When Jesus died and salvation was "complete" or "finished", Christ went to this place (hades-sheol) to preach the details of their salvation to these saved people in paradise. Upon Christ's resurrection, some apparently also were resurrected with Christ, and now this paradise is in heaven with Christ the Lord.

After Christ's ascension into heaven (Acts 1), all dead believers go directly to heaven to be with the Lord. Hades and Sheol now is only for the tortured lost.

34.18.17 e Destroy, Destruction <go to menu>


34.18.17 f Eternal, ages aiwnos <go to menu>

One of the favorite studies of Universalists is a word study on the word "ages" which the KJV translates "eternal". They insist that grammatically and linguistically it cannot mean forever, but for a time only. What they want to argue is that the word has no time element to it. Because God created time and eternity, they want to make it a finite creation which has an end just like it has a beginning.

2 Corinthians 4:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

If God uses the terms "temporal" and "eternal" as opposites, then eternal is the opposite of temporal. Temporal ends, eternal does not. Is this so difficult to see and understand?

Mark 9:47-48 If thine eye offends thee, pluck it out; it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire (Gehenna); where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

Jesus in teaching on hell proposed that hell is a place of torment where the worm never dies, and the fire never dies. If hell is temporary, then both will stop, die, or cease.

Revelation 14:10-11 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

Again we see people suffering "for ever and ever", and an additional comment, "they have no rest day nor night". Annihilation is a rest of a sort. It ends.

34.18.17 g Pit, Well, Depth. <go to menu>


34.18.17 h Purgatory  <go to menu>

"Purgatory" is not a biblical word, but we need to deal with it anyway. The concept of purgatory hinges on the idea that it is possible to appease God's wrath over sin by suffering. This premise in itself is something that does not have a good argument (logical or scriptural) why or how it would be. Catholicism is about the only religion that believes in purgatory, and their understanding is built up from a works-salvation standpoint. They believe that salvation is gradual and secured by good works which obtain merit before God, but the Catholic view also has the individual earning his own salvation by his own suffering (penance). This is placed side by side with Christ's work on the cross which saves a person from some of his sins. Grace communicated through works saves him from some of the rest of his sins. At death, most people apparently to the Catholics die with still some sins unresolved, for which they must be sanctified before entering heaven.

Here the argument of Catholics is to force a need for an intermediate place before reaching heaven, and this intermediate place where we get rid of these last sins is purgatory.

God has accepted Christ's suffering as payment for our sins, but Christ is God Himself, and is pure and sinless. This "suffering pays for sin" cannot necessarily transfer over to a teaching or understanding that our suffering will somehow "pay for our sins." This is never stated in Scriptures, but assumed by Catholicism.

Definition of Purgatory: From a Catholic website newadvent.org, we see that the word "purgatory" comes from the Latin "purgare" to clean or purify. According to Catholic doctrine, it "is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God's grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions." Catholicism teaches that salvation is a gradual process of sanctification over time, where purgatory is the place where they are cleansed from their earthly sins not pardoned by Christ on the cross.

We would note that contrary to popular belief, purgatory is not for everybody. Only those dying "in God's grace" which in the Catholic mindset is only good Catholics. Everybody else gets an express ticket to hell.

The authority for this doctrine is the Decree of Union drawn up at the Council of Florence (Mansi t. XXXI, col 1031) and in the decree of the Council of Trent. Officially purgatory was accepted as a church doctrine in the 16th century, though the Catholic historians trace it with prayers for the dead back to the early church fathers (Council of Carthage in 394 A.D.). More recently, the popes have presented purgatory as not "a place but [rather] a condition of life." [John Paul II in a Wednesday general audience in late 1999 July.]

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church page 896 - Purgatory - "a state of final purification after death and before entrance into heaven for those who died in God's friendship, but were only imperfectly purified; a final cleansing of human imperfection before one is able to enter the joy of heaven." Seems their view is that God didn't quite do a good or complete job of sanctifying us?

Why temporal punishment of the "saved"?

The Catholic concept is that there needs to be an additional suffering and payment for our sins even though we are saved by Christ's work. From the newadvent.org website,

"The temporal punishment is due to sin, even after the sin itself has been pardoned by God... God forgave the incredulity of Moses and Aaron, but in punishment kept them from the 'land of promise' (Numbers 20:12). The Lord took away the sin of David, but the life of the child was forfeited because David had made God's enemies blaspheme His Holy Name (2 Samuel 12:13-14)... God requires satisfaction, and will punish sin, and this doctrine involves as its necessary consequence a belief that the sinner failing to do penance in this life may be punished in another world, and so not be cast off eternally from God."

Here what we see is that the Catholic church does not believe that the sacrifice of Christ pays the penalty of all sin. They believe in system whereby we also pay for our sins either in the earth, or also in an intermediate place between death and heaven. I would note that their examples are of God chastising His servants on earth, but it is a great leap of faith to say that God somehow chastises His children after death.

2 Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

It would seem pretty obvious that immediately after death, the believers go to heaven to be with Jesus Christ. Any other situation simply does not agree with our understanding of the afterlife that God has revealed to us. Even in the Old Testament dispensation, we see Jesus presenting the parable of Lazarus and the rich man where immediately upon death, the next moment, Lazarus awakes in blessedness in the present of Abraham and the rest of the saints. The thief on the cross likewise was going that very day to be with Jesus in Paradise. These indications mean that there is no time nor any indication that the faithful go to an intermediate state where they "pay for their sins".

A very real part of this Catholic doctrine is that prayers must be made for the dead in purgatory in order to get them out faster. Catholicism admits that nobody has every gotten out of purgatory yet, and most probably nobody will until the time of the Great White Throne Judgment in the last days. The prayers for the dead goes hand in hand with the mysticism and spiritualism of the Catholic church. The communication with the dead, and the dead's communication with the living. At the bottom of all of this is the Catholic practice of having mass for the dead, which in almost every case is a income producing act for the priest and the Catholic Church. Priests usually don't hold mass for dead people unless some living person pays their fee. This playing on the sentiments of the living because they feel for their recently departed is just wrong and unethical. Let's look again at their biblical argument for the existence of purgatory (from newadvent.org again)...

New Testament

There are several passages in the New Testament that point to a process of purification after death. Thus, Jesus Christ declares (Matthew 12:32): "And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come." According to St. Isidore of Seville (Deord. creatur., c. xiv, n. 6) these words prove that in the next life "some sins will be forgiven and purged away by a certain purifying fire." St. Augustine also argues "that some sinners are not forgiven either in this world or in the next would not be truly said unless there were other [sinners] who, though not forgiven in this world, are forgiven in the world to come" (De Civ. Dei, XXI, xxiv). The same interpretation is given by Gregory the Great (Dial., IV, xxxix); St. Bede (commentary on this text); St. Bernard (Sermo lxvi in Cantic., n. 11) and other eminent theological writers.

A further argument is supplied by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15:

"For other foundation no man can lay, but that which is laid; which is Christ Jesus. Now if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay stubble: Every man's work shall be manifest; for the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire; and the fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is. If any man's work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work burn, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire."

While this passage presents considerable difficulty, it is regarded by many of the Fathers and theologians as evidence for the existence of an intermediate state in which the dross of lighter transgressions will be burnt away, and the soul thus purified will be saved. This, according to Bellarmine (De Purg., I, 5), is the interpretation commonly given by the Fathers and theologians; and he cites to this effect:

From the site catholic.com, and their article on purgatory, they cite Mat 12:32 "will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come". This passage can be clearly understood if one looks at the Greek underlying the passage. The word "age" is only used once, and the verse read more correctly "either in this world nor in the future." This does not prove purgatory, as this website contends. They say, "suggesting that one can be freed after death of the consequences of one's sins."

They also cite 1 Cor 3:15 "He will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire". Their view is that this cannot refer to hell fire, and it cannot mean heaven which has no suffering or fire, therefore it proves purgatory. This passage does not say he will "suffer", but uses the old English term for forfeit, or to lose something. The idea has nothing to do with suffering but with losing rewards and benefits that a Christian should legitimately receive, but because of improper conduct in procuring those rewards, he will lose them.

Historical Pre-Catholic Background of Purgatory

Egypt for example had a well defined concept of purgatory well before the Catholic church was formed, and as with the Catholic concept, prayers for the dead was an important part of this doctrine. Always these prayers for the dead are inefficient without the intercession of the priests, and these functions must be paid for. This paganism well reminds us of the words of our Lord, "devouring widows' houses". These practices are found in many different pagan religions, and their abuse is well noted by people in those cultures.

Hislop - Two Babylons (1853) Chapter 2B Purgatory and Prayers

Defense or Explanation of the Doctrine

Wikipedia.com - Purgatory
NewAdvent.org - Pugatory
catholic.com -
catholic.com - Roots of Purgatory (quotes in early centuries construed as supporting purgatory)
religioustolerance.org -
Purgatory: History and Current Beliefs
religioustolerance.org - Purgatory: What the Bible says about it (not very biblical)
scripturecatholic.com - Purgatory (a lot of scripture twisting here!)

Polemics against the Doctrine of Purgatory

Davis, Jeffrey - Does Purgatory Exist? Excellent article


34.18.17 i Limbo <go to menu>

Again Limbo is an exclusively Catholic doctrine. Purgatory addresses the fate of those who are considered "Christian" (to Catholics this is exclusively Catholics), but Limbo addresses the state of those who have not "had a chance to obtain salvation." In order to meet this problem the church devised the doctrine of Limbo. Limbo is reserved for those who are not evil enough to be sent to hell or purgatory, and not good enough to go to heaven. This is almost exclusively reserved for unborn or new born babies that die. Oriniginally it was thought of as a place of mild suffering, but even this was too harsh for many Catholics so it was made a "kinder," "nicer" place. Most recently the Catholic church has rejected out of hand Limbo as not the teaching of the Catholic Church today. We wonder what happened to those babies in limbo then?

Davis, Jeffrey - Does Purgatory Exist? Excellent article

34.18.17 j Soul Sleep <go to menu>

When the Bible speaks of sleep in relationship to death, it speaks of the body of the person "sleeping" in the sense that it is not active as in life. In John 11:11 "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep." Jesus went to resurrect Lazarus from "his sleep."

The Bible presents that we are composed of more than one entity. The Bible speaks of our body, of our soul, of our mind, of our spirit. When a person dies, their body goes back to the earth as dust.

Ecclesiastes 12:7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

Daniel write in Daniel 12:2 about those who sleep in the dust of the earth, and their awakening. But when we speak of the body "sleeping" in the dust of the earth, this does not mean that that person's consciousness is asleep, nor his soul is asleep. It is very clear from the story of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16 that a person never loses consciousness for anything like a "sleep" where they are not conscious. Both Lazarus and the rich man were very awake, and the rich man would have very much liked to "cease to exist" or in some way "sleep" and escape from his torturous existence. That is posited as an impossibility by Abraham.

The Scriptures always represent the truth that at death, the righteous immediately are with the Lord.

Philippians 1:20-24 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. 23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

2 Corinthians 5:6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

Paul's understanding goes right in line with the OT understanding which Jesus presented in Luke 16 with Lazarus and the rich man. When a person dies, they immediately go to their judgment (pleasure with God, or torture in hell). Hebrews 9:27 also indicates this is the truth of God. When a Christian dies, immediately he is in the presence of Jesus Christ in heaven. There is no intermediate state. He is sanctified immediately by God on entering heaven.

Revelation 6:9-11 speaks of the saved who constantly cry out to God for vengeance for their bloody deaths. The dead are definitely in a conscious state.

34.18.99 Literature on Eternal Punishment (Hell) <go to menu>

These files are in my private library and will be upload in the coming days

Books <go to menu>

Anderson, Robert - Human Destiny
Arendzen, JP (Catholic) - Eternal Punishment (38pgs)
Carpenter-Hughes- Debate on the Destiny of the Wicked
Coon, Reune - Doctrine of Future Punishment (1850)
Fyfe - The Hereafter: Sheol, Hades, and Hell, and the World to Come (1890)
Pink, Arthur - Eternal Punishment (b) 171K (25 pages)
Pridgeon, Charles Hamilton - Is Hell Eternal or Will God's Plan Fail? (1920)
Pusey, Edward Bouverie - What is Faith as to Everlasting Punishment? (1880) odt (reference type)
Reimensnyder, Junius - Doom Eternal: Bible and Church Doctrine of Everlasting Punishment (1887)
Rider, Wilson C. - A Course of Lectures on Future Punishment (1836) (images)
Shedd - Doctrine of Endless Punishment
Torrey - Heaven or Hell

Sermons and Articles <go to menu>

Classic Sermons

Alquist - A Placed Called Hell (a)
Future Punishment (s) Excellent attack against purgative punishment
- Misery of the Lost
Anonymous (1601)
- Hell's Torments
Biederwolf -
Hell: Why, What, and How long?
Brengle -
Future Punishment and the Bible
Bullinger - Rich Man and Lazarus: An Intermediate State?
Charnock - A Discourse on Afflictions
EdwardsJ - Divine Retribution (Excellent)
EdwardsJ - The Eternity of Hell Torments
EdwardsJ - The Final Judgment: World Judged Righteously
EdwardsJ - Future Punishment of Wicked Unavoidable and Intolerable
EdwardsJ - Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners
EdwardsJ - The Portion of the Wicked
EdwardsJ - Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God
EdwardsJ - Torments of Wicked in Hell no occasion of Grief to Saints in Heaven
Mackintosh, CH - Eternal Punishment versus Universalism and Annihilationism
Moody - Hell
Spurgeon - Sermon 40 Hell
Torrey - God's Blockades on the Road to Hell part 1
Part2 (very preachable!)
Torrey -
Hell - What sort of place is it, and who is going there?
Turretin -
Wesley -
Of Hell Sermon #73
Westminster Confession Article 6
Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of Punishment thereof

Baptist Confession of 1689 - Article 6 Of Fall of Man, of Sin, and of Punishment thereof
Hodge, A.A. - Westminster Confession of Faith Art 6
Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment Thereof

Modern Sermons

Nichols - Terrors of Hell.  

Chapters in Books <go to menu>

Baxter, Richard - The Saints' Everlasting Rest. Ch6 Losing the enjoyments of time, and suffering the torments of hell.
Boston, Thomas - Human Nature in the Fourfold State, Ch12 Hell
Boyce - Abstract of Systematic Theology#The Final States of the Righteous and the Wicked Ch 43
Boyce - Abstract of Systematic Theology#Death and the Soul's Immortality Ch 40
Brengle - Loves Slaves, Ch 3 Future Punishment and the Bible
Brooks, Thomas - Golden Key to Open Hidden Treasures
Ch 6 Christ, bearing and enduring all these punishments for the elect
Ch 8 Hell is a place of endless, easeless, and remediless torment
Brooks, Thomas - London's Lamentations,
Ch 12 The Fire of Hell
Clarke, Adam - Christian Theology
Ch 33 Hell
Clarke, Samuel - A Discourse Concerning the Being and Attributes of God
Book 2 Chapter 3 These Moral Obligations are apart from Reward or Punishment, but both rewards and Punishments must all exist
Book 2 Chapter 4 Because these Rewards & Punishments are not given in present state, they must be given in a future State
Dabney - Manual of Theology
Ch 46 Nature and Duration of Hell Torments
Dabney - Christ our Penal Substitute
Ch 4 The Utilitarian Theory of Punishments
Dagg - Manual of Theology
Ch 08 Section 6 Future World - Hell
Finney, Charles - Skeletons on a Course of Theological Lectures
    Ch 36 Reasons why an Atonement was Preferable to Punishment
Flavel - Method of Grace in the Gospel of Redemption
    Ch 21 Aggravation of Sin, and the Punishment of Unbelief
    Ch 33 Of the Aggravation of Sin, and Punishment of Unbelief under the Light of the Gospel (John 3:19)
Gill, John - A Body of Doctrinal Divinity,
    Book 3 Ch 13
Of the Punishment of Sin
Book 7 Ch 10 The Final State of the Wicked in Hell
Hodge, A.A. -
Outlines#Heaven and Hell
Hodge, Charles - Systematic Theology, Vol 3 Ch 4 Para. 6 Future Punishment
Kempis - Imitation of Christ, Ch 24
On Judgment and the Punishment of Sinners
Kersten - Heidelberg Catechism vol 1 Section 17 Death of Christ and His Descent into Hell
Moss - Christian Faith: Introduction to Dogmatic Theology Part II Chapter 74 Hell and Heaven
Winslow - Ministry of Home, Ch 16
The Punishment of the Wicked
Winslow - Nightingale Song of David,
Ch 11 Hell, at last and forever


tag. -->