By Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
February 28, 2009
SECTION ONE: BIBLICAL WORDS FOR HELL
Those who argue against a literal hell for the wicked also deny that souls do not continue to exist at death. The main problem for those who accept the Bible as inspired is the lack of the O. T. word for hell, Sheol, in the many versions. Although this word occurs 64 times in the Old Testament, it is usually inadequately translated as “grave.”
1. SHEOL in the OT is the realm of all the dead, the place of all disembodied spirits. In 64 texts it is far more than the grave or sepulcher.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says Sheol is the “unseen world, the state or abode of the dead” and “not a state of unconsciousness.”
The McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia of the Bible says that Sheol is “the place of departed spirits,” and the “state of the dead.”
Nelson’s Bible Dictionary says Sheol is “The abode of the dead, the unseen world, an underground region, shadowy and gloomy, where disembodied souls had a conscious but dull and inactive existence.”
The Oxford Companion to the Bible says Sheol is “a general dwelling place of souls after death; the wicked dwell in a deeper section than those of the righteous.”
The Vine’s Expository Dictionary (Sheol) says “ the word means the state of death.”
Comprehensive Definition of Sheol: Sheol is the proper place-name for “death,” “the pit,” and “the realm of the dead.” Although it includes the place for both the conscious “soul” and the “grave” for the body, it never stands for either of them alone. While Sheol is the place-name, “death” is the general description, and “the pit” is the geographical description. All three terms contain souls and graves.
In the OT Sheol is a place where the dead are in a semi-conscious state and are capable of being aroused, speaking, suffering and rest.
OT man did not believe that death was the end of consciousness. This is evident from the many laws against conjuring up dead spirits. The OT also descries departed spirits called “rephaim.”
2. OT GEHENNA: During OT times many Hebrews worshipped a Canaanite god named Molech. Molech-worship included the sacrifice of live children into fire in the belly of the idol. These child sacrifices were performed south of Jerusalem in the Valley of Hinnom. God told Israel that he would use this fire as a type of great punishment and cannibalism. 2 Kings 23:10; 2 Chron 28:3; 33:6; Jer 7:31-32; 19:2-9. The threat would be absolutely meaningless if this only referred to death without any further punishment.
3. ABADDON: In the OT there is a place called Abaddon which corresponds to the “bottomless pit” in the New Testament. It appears to be in lowest Sheol.
4. HADES: In the New Testament the OT word, Sheol, is replaced by the Greek word, Hades, but maintains the OT definition rather than the Greek definition. Hades is the realm of the dead, the place of disembodied spirits. It is not only the grave nor is it a description of nothingness. Matt 11:23; 16:18; Luke 10:15; 16:23; Acts 2:27,31; Rev 1:18; 6:8; 20:13-14.
The New Testament sheds further light on the relationship between death and Sheol, or Hades. “Death” and Hades are distinct companions. In Revelation 6:8 death claims the bodies, while Hades claims the souls. In Revelation 20:13-14, in agreement with the OT Sheol, the depths of the “sea” contain both bodies and souls. However, since most do not perish at sea, the general description will be that death will give up the bodies, while Hades will give up the souls! Although this differs somewhat from Old Testament usage, the dual residence for departed bodies and souls is still clear. Annihilation is not seen.
5. NT GEHENNA: This is the word most often used by Jesus himself. Matt 5:22,29-30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15,33; Mark 9:43,45,47; Luke 12:5. It is also the ‘lake of fire.” Gehenna is the place where Sheol-Hades is cast after the Great White Throne judgment in Revelation 20. Far from being merely a grave for the ashes of the body, Jesus taught that there was no escape from Gehenna because “the worm does not die there, neither is the fire quenched.” While it is true that literal modern Gehenna was a garbage dump south of Jerusalem, this does not annul Jesus’ use of Gehenna as the typical future place apart from planet earth where fires are never quenched. If death were non-existence for the wicked, the texts which describe continuing fire would make no sense.
6. TARTAROS: Tartaros is the bottomless pit and is equivalent to Abaddon in the Old Testament. It appears that the most wicked of the fallen angels were placed into Tartaros when Satan fell. 2 Peter 2:4
SECTION TWO: SOULS EXIST AFTER DEATH
1. SHEOL cannot possibly be the same thing as the grave because the Bible describes it as much deeper than the grave. The grave is only a small part of Sheol. Sheol reaches as deep as the heavens are high. Twelve texts prove this.
Job 11:7-9; Num 16:30; Deu 32:22; Ps 86:13; 139:8; Prov 9:18; Isa 7:11; 14:14-15; Eze 31:16; Jonah 2:2, 6; Amos 9:2.
2. If the death of the wicked only resulted in going into non-existence in the grave, then the Bible would not need to use two different terms — Sheol for the soul and grave for the body. Sheol occurs 64 times in the OT.
Job: 3:21-22; 10:19; 17:11 and 21:32 with 7:9; 11:7-8; 14:13; 17:15-16 and 26:5-6.
Genesis: 23:4, 6, 9, 20; 35:20; 49:30 and 50:5, 13-14 with 37:35; 42:38 and 44:29, 31. Hades
Joshua to Second Chronicles: Scripture does not state that any person died and the body was placed by man into Sheol at death!!! This demonstrates that grave and Sheol are not interchangeable terms!
3. SHEOL-Hades and Death [Mot] are traveling companions. They are not the same thing in Scripture. Those who do not believe that the wicked are punished after death cannot reconcile this.
Job 17:13-16; 24:19-20; Prov 5:5; 7:27; Ps 55:15; Isa 28:15, 18; Hab 2:5; Rev 6:8; 20:13-14.
4. There are a few texts quoted to prove soul-disintegration at death. The purpose of these texts is to teach that there is no return to the “land of the living” after death to communicate with those who are still alive. Those still alive cannot hope to have their departed return, or be conjured up, in a séance to impart truth to them. And those about to die should quickly say what they can before they die. In the eyes of the living they do not communicate.
Job 7:9‑11; 14:12-13; Ps. 6:5; 31:17; Eccl. 9:10-11.
Most of Ecclesiastes, like 9:10, is surrounded by texts like 9:9 and 9:11 which refer to “under the sun.” With few exceptions, Solomon was describing how unenlightened vain men see life without God’s guidance. The conclusion of Ecclesiastes is found in 12:13-14 “Fear God and keep His commandments. For God will bring every act to judgment” (12:14). Without an after-death future judgment and punishment of the wicked and rewards for the righteous, life makes no sense, and God is not fair. Divine justice will be delivered in the next life, whether in Sheol-Hades, Paradise, or Gehenna, the lake of fire!
5. Souls do not cease to exist when the body dies. They go elsewhere. Before the ascension of Christ both went to a place called Sheol in the OT and Hades in the NT where the righteous and wicked were separated.
Ps 16:10 “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [Sheol]; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption [body].”
Also see Psalm 30:3; 49:14-15; 86:13; 88:3; 89:48 and Proverb 23:14. These texts contain a very important fact about the relationship between the “soul” and Sheol at death. In the Hebrew of the above texts, the “soul,” nephesh, goes to Sheol or the “pit” at death!!! The list includes every text that combines “soul” and Sheol. The “soul” is never said to enter the grave, qeber-qeburah, at death!!!
6. The souls of the righteous continue to exist after death. In the Old Testament both righteous and wicked souls went into the various chambers of Sheol at death. They did not cease to exist.
1 Sam 2:6; Job 21:13; Ps 6:5; 18:5). Job 14:13; Psalm 16:10; 49:14-15; Proverb 15:24 and Isaiah 57:2.
Isa 57:2 He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.
Concerning the righteous in Sheol, the preceding texts describe it as a place where “peace” is acquired and where Job wanted God to “hide” his soul from God’s wrath until the resurrection. Also, the righteous in Sheol are able to mourn for their loved ones. See Gen 37:35; 42:38; 44:29; 44:31 where “grave” is “Sheol.”
7. The souls of the wicked continue to exist after death.
Job and Moses believed that Sheol was a place for punishment after the death of the body.
Job 21:13; 24:19; 26:5-6; Numbers 16:29-33 and Deuteronomy 32:22.
The “common death of all men” meant to die and be buried in a shallow grave.
Num 16:29 If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the LORD hath not sent me.
The “new thing” is that they would be buried alive and descend into the pit of Sheol — not merely the shallow grave. Even their bodies would go to deeper places where normally only wicked souls go.
Num 16:30 But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD.
If both body and soul cease to exist at death and if there is not punishment of the wicked after death, then this is not an uncommon fate. These Bible verses are meaningless if Sheol only means “grave”!
Num 16:31 And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them:
Num 16:32 And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.
Num 16:33 They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.
In Deuteronomy 32:22 God’s wrath towards the wicked does not end at the grave. It goes far beyond the shallow grave to the “lowest Sheol” and to the “foundations of the mountains.” These promises make no sense if the grave is only non-existence for the wicked and if there is not further punishment other than death. Deuteronomy 32:22 is also the only verse in which the NIV translators ventured beyond “grave,” “death” and “depth” to translate Sheol as “the realm of death below.” They could not sustain their false interpretation of Sheol here.
Deut 32:22 For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell [Sheol], and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.
King David and King Solomon clearly describe sorrow and suffering for the wicked in Sheol after death. See also Psalms 9:17; 86:13; 8:3-6; 116:3; Proverb 23:14 and Song of Solomon 8:6.
2 Sam 22:6 The sorrows of hell [Sheol] compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me.
The prophet Isaiah believed that the wicked would be conscious, see and speak from Sheol after death.
Isa 14:9 9 Hell [Sheol] from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.
Isa 14:10 All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?
Isa 14:15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell [Sheol], to the sides of the pit.
Isa 14:16 They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms
The prophet Ezekiel believed that the dead would continue to be conscious in Sheol. Eze 31:16-17; 32:21-31. They are in the “nether parts of the earth.”
Ezek 31:16 I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to hell [Sheol] with them that descend into the pit: and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, shall be comforted in the nether parts of the earth.
Ezek 31:17 They also went down into hell [Sheol] with him unto them that be slain with the sword; and they that were his arm, that dwelt under his shadow in the midst of the heathen.
Ezek 32:21 The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell [Sheol] with them that help him: they are gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword.
Ezek 32:24 There is Elam and all her multitude round about her grave, all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which are gone down uncircumcised into the nether parts of the earth, which caused their terror in the land of the living; yet have they borne their shame with them that go down to the pit.
Ezek 32:31 Pharaoh shall see them, and shall be comforted over all his multitude, even Pharaoh and all his army slain by the sword, saith the Lord GOD.
The prophet Jonah believed that the souls of the wicked were conscious after death. His description is that of a still-conscious soul in Sheol.
Jonah 2:2 I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell [Sheol] cried I, and thou heard my voice.
Jonah 2:4 Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.
Jonah 2:6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God.
Jesus Himself used Jonah’s experience to explain how his own soul would descend lower than the grave into the lower parts of the earth after death and not simply cease to exist.
Matt 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Job, Moses, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jonah all used the word, Sheol, to describe a place of suffering after death. While taking this imagery into consideration, the vocabulary reflects what Old Testament man “believed” happened after death.
For the wicked, Sheol was a dark place of consciousness deep inside the earth or in the deepest parts of the sea. God punished sinners there (Num 16:29-33; Deu 32:22; Job 24:19). It was a place of sorrow, distress, terror, trembling and jealousy (2 Sam 22:6; Job 26:5; Ps 88:3-6; 116:3; Song of Solomon 8:6; Jonah 2:6). And it was a place where the wicked were expelled from God’s presence (Jonah 2:4).
Although souls in Sheol appear to be in a state of weakness and stillness (Isa 14:10; Eze 32:21), they are neither non-existent nor completely unconscious. The souls are fully capable of becoming aroused and becoming excited (Isa 14:9). Once fully aroused, the wicked in Sheol could see, hear and speak (Isa 14:10; Eze 32:21, 31).
8. REPHAIM: The OT Hebrew word, REPHAIM, proves that souls continue to be conscious after death.
Prov 9:18 But he knoweth not that the dead [rephaim] are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell [Sheol].
The rephaim are the spirits of the dead. The word occurs eight (8) times in the Old Testament. See Job 26:5; Psalm 88:10; Proverbs 2:18; 9:18; 21:16 and Isaiah 14:9; 26:14, 19. Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon calls the rephaim “ghosts of the dead,” “shades” and “spirits.” The rephaim are not dead bodies in a tomb. Job 26:5 says they “tremble” and Proverb 21:16 mentions the “assembly,” or “congregation of departed spirits.” In Isaiah 14:9, Sheol is excited and arouses the “spirits of the dead.”
Isaiah 26:19 is the most interesting rephaim text. First it says that the “dead” [mut: 4191] will live and their “dead bodies” or “corpses” [nebelah: 5038] will rise. Second it says that the “departed spirits,” or rephaim will awake and shout. By defining Sheol as the place of both souls and bodies, this passage makes sense. None of the rephaim texts suggest that they are either unconscious or non-existent.
Isa 26:19 Thy dead men [mot] shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead [rephaim].
9. NECROMANCY: The OT practice of necromancy, worship of the dead, proves that OT Israel believed that souls continued to exist after death. See Leviticus 19:26, 31; 20:6; Deuteronomy 18:10; First Samuel 28:3-9; First Chronicles 10:13-14 and Isaiah 8:19; 29:4.
1 Sam 28:11 Then said the woman [witch], Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he [Saul] said, Bring me up Samuel.
“Necromancy” was (and still is) an almost universal practice of consulting “familiar spirits” through séances. “Familiar spirits” occurs sixteen times in the Old Testament. It is irrelevant whether these were true spirits of the dead or demons. The very practice only makes sense if OT man believed that souls continued to exist after death.
10. ABADDON: The existence of ABADDON demonstrates that OT Israel believed souls survived death in a place of punishment. See Job 26:6; 28:22; 31:12 and Proverbs 15:11; 27:20. Sheol and Abaddon are paired in Job 26:6; Proverbs 15:11 and 27:20.
Job 28:22 Destruction [Abaddon] and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears.
Prov 15:11 Hell [Sheol] and destruction [Abaddon] are before the LORD: how much more then the hearts of the children of men?
God is constantly viewing two places — Sheol and Abaddon (Job 26:6). This would not be necessary if they only contained dead bodies!!! Both those in Abaddon and those in the death of Sheol consciously “hear” (Job 28:22).
2 Pet 2:4 “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into Hell [Tartaros] and committed them to pits of darkness [gloomy dungeons.”
Since fallen angels do not cease to exist in Tartaros-hell then it should be evident that souls of men do not cease to exist either.
Rev 9:11 “They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon.”
The abyss, or bottomless pit, is another biblical name for part of hell. Since the fallen angel, Apollyon, survived in a place called hell, then it is wrong to say that hell is the grave and souls cease to exist there. Again, if Satan does not cease to exist when cast into the bottomless pit, is cannot be said that souls of the wicked cease to exist in hell.
Rev 20:1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
Rev 20:2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
Rev 20:3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
11. HADES: The soul of Jesus went to Sheol-Hades at death and did not cease to exist. Since man was created in God’s image, this is a good evidence that the soul survives the death of the body. The New Testament says that Jesus’ soul was not “left in Hades.” It does not suggest that souls cease to exist at death.
Ps 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [Sheol] ; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption [qeburah].
Acts 2:27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [Hades], neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Acts 2:31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell [Hades], neither his flesh did see corruption.
Jesus’ grave (tomb, or sepulcher) was a cave above ground. Although the Greek word for grave occurs forty times in the New Testament, it is clearly not the “lower parts of the earth” which has a distinctly Sheol-Hades implication. Jesus’ soul did not merely descend into a shallow grave. Where did he go at death? He went into Hades, into the lower parts of the earth where souls went before his ascension.
Eph 4:9 Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
Eph 4:10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.
12. PARADISE: The biblical discussion of “Paradise” proves that the soul continues to exist after the body has died.
Although some problems exist in explaining Luke 1619-31 is it inconceivable that Jesus would illustrate a true point by using an illustration which is totally false and of pagan origin. He was clearly teaching that death is not the end of everything for the righteous or the wicked. It seems like the upper region of Sheol-Hades where the righteous were before Christ’s ascension was called Paradise. If death resulted in non-existence for the wicked, then Jesus point of the parable would have been stated to reflect it.
Luke 16:22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
Luke 16:23 And in hell [Hades] he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Luke 16:26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
Since Paradise had not been taken to heaven at Jesus’ ascension, Luke 23:43 must refer to Jesus’ descent into the nether regions as seen in Ephesians 4:9-10. And since Jesus’ soul did not ascend to heaven on the day he died, the text must be referring to what happens to souls at death.
Luke 23:43 Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. [thief on the cross]
Paradise is now in heaven itself and not in Hades of Luke 16 or Luke 23:43. Paradise must be the abode of souls prior to the resurrection of the body.
2 Cor 12:4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
Rev 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
13. THE INTERMEDIATE STATE: Souls of the righteous go immediately to the presence of God when the body dies. This was Paul’s “confidence.”
2 Cor 5:1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
2 Cor 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
Phil 1:23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better.
Heb 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
14. JUDGMENT: The promise of an after-death judgment prove that God will punish the wicked after they die. If this were not true, then the promise of God is meaningless and the wicked have nothing to fear other than an ordinary death after living a life of defiant willful sin. The following texts make no sense at all if death is non-existence of the soul or if there is no punishment after death for the wicked. Read them carefully. A disbelief in after-death punishment encourages a life of debauchery with no fear of consequences.
Job 10:14-15 “If I sin, then thou markest me, and thou wilt not acquit me from mine iniquity. If I be wicked, woe unto me …”
Eccl. 12:14 “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
Matt 10:15 Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.
Matt 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.
Heb 9:27 “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”
John 3:18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged [condemned] already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
John 5:24 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation [judgment] but is passed from death unto life.”
Rom 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation [contrary judgment sentence] for those who are in Christ Jesus.
15. JESUS’ USE OF GEHENNA: Jesus taught the existence of Gehenna, the lake of fire, more than any other Biblical person. Jesus used the word in Mt 5:22, 29, 30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33; Mk 9:43, 45, 47; Luke 12:5. Its only other occurrence is James 3:6.
The progression in Mt 5:22 is from judgment to the council to Gehenna. This escalation would make no sense if the punishment in Gehenna were either very quick or non-existent.
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 (Gehenna).”
Contrary to the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists and many liberals, Matthew 10:28 and Luke 12:5 teach that the body and the soul are two separate entities. The punishment of Gehenna is greater than mere death of the body.
Matt 10:28 And 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 (Gehenna).
Luke 12:5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell [Gehenna]; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.
If Gehenna were the same thing as death and the grave in Mt 23:15, there is no reason to use a different word.
Matt 23:15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell [Gehenna] than yourselves.
Mark 9:42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.
Mark 9:43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell (Gehenna), into the fire that never shall be quenched:
Mark 9:44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
Mark 9:45 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 (Gehenna), into the fire that never shall be quenched:
Mark 9:46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
Mark 9:47 And if thine eye offend 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):
Mark 9:48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
Mark 9:49 For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.
Almost everybody who denies that the wicked will be punished after death remind us that there is a literal garbage dump south of Jerusalem which is called the Valley of Hinnom — the original place where Israel sacrificed its children to an idol. Arguing that there is a literal place named Valley of Hinnom does not prove that it also has another application any more than arguing that there is a literal place named Megiddo proves that there will be no future battle of Megiddo in Revelation 16:16. The logic is absurd.
The argument falls far short of explaining Jesus words. It is “better to be cast into the sea” –and die a normal death– “than to go into Gehenna.” It is “better” to have a hand cut off, a foot cut off, or an eye plucked out –“than to be cast into Gehenna.” Why? Because there is no escape from Gehenna. Because suffering in Gehenna is prolonged as if preserved by salt! Because the fires of the real Gehenna are not quenched. That is the description of Gehenna given by Jesusd and it does not fit the plot of earth south of Jerusalem.
16. THE BOOK OF REVELATION: This final book of the Bible contains some of the strongest descriptions of punishment for the wicked. Surely persons like Adolph Hitler and Charles Manson deserve more punishment than mere death, burial and a cessation of existence. No punishment for the wicked makes a mockery of ultimate justice.
In 6:9 Souls of Christian martyrs cry out for God to punish those who killed them. This does not depict non-existence at death for the soul.
Rev 6:9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.
Revelation 14:9-11 is, oddly, part of the Seventh-day Adventists “Three Angels’ Messages” yet they teach that the fires of Gehenna will only last a short time because the body-souls will quickly be burned up.
Rev 14:9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
Rev 14:10 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:
Rev 14:11 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.
In Revelation 19:20 the beast and the false prophet were cast into the lake of fire. Yet 1000 years later, in Revelation 20:10 they are still in the lake of fire. Yet both the beast and the false prophet are people, not angels.
Rev 19:20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
Rev 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
If death is non-existence for the wicked, then these texts make no sense. Why would God raise the wicked from Sheol-Hades only to consign them to non-existence again?
Rev 20:13 “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
Rev 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
Rev 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
Punishment of the wicked after death is very clear in the Bible. It is so clear that Bible-believers should not question it. We, like Job, must resign ourselves that God is just and that God will remain true to his own character.
SHEOL TEXTS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
Genesis 37:35; 42:38; 44:29,31; Numbers 16:30,33; Deuteronomy 32:22; 1st Samuel 2:6; 2nd Samuel 22:6; 1st Kings 2:6,9; Job 7:9; 11:8; 14:13; 17:13,16; 21:13; 24:19; 26:6; Psalm 6:5; 9:17; 16:10; 18:5; 30:3; 31:17; 49:14,15; 55:15; 86:13; 88:3; 89:48; 116:3; 139:8; 141:7; Proverb 1:12; 5:5; 7:27; 9:18; 15:11,24; 23:14; 27:20; 30:16; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Song of Solomon 8:6; Isaiah 5:14; 14:9,11,15; 28:15,18; 38:10,18; 57:9; Ezekiel 31:15,16,17; 32:21,27; Hosea 13:14,14; Amos 9:2; Jonah 2:2; Habakkuk 2:5.