This study shows that Hell is not endless punishment. The doctrine of endless punishment was not Jewish, but rather a pagan Egyptian doctrine that Jews and Christians adopted.
This is part 1
by Mitch Kuhn
Audio Player:Play Hell is not endless punishment part 1 Bible Study
Most Churches and Pastors today teach that everyone is going to be judged after this life and that they will either enter eternal bliss with God or suffer eternal torment in Hell. I believed these same things since I was a small child and then began to teach others when I realized that there were eternal consequences to these beliefs.
I spent a year as a full time missionary in Pisa, Italy working for Campus Crusade for Christ. I took a year off after my sophomore year of college because the reality of eternal damnation hit me like a ton of bricks. The only logical thing to do in light of my belief in eternal torment was to spend my life telling others about salvation through Christ to avoid hell and dwell in heaven forever.
Most people think that Italy is Catholic, but in reality only the older generations are practicing Catholics. Most young Italians think that the bible is a bunch of fairy tales. As we began to talk with students at the University of Pisa it became abundantly clear that they could not understand what we were telling them about salvation through Christ.
Our team leader read us these verses in 2 Corinthians and explained that the only way someone could believe the truth of the Gospel and be saved was if God himself removed the veil from their eyes.
2Co 3:14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.
2Co 3:15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.
2Co 3:16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.
I had never quite realized before how powerful this blindness was. I talked with literally hundreds of students and other Italians that year and only two expressed any interest in what I was preaching. I’m not sure if either of them ever really fully grasped what I was trying to teach them . This verse became quite clear to me.
Joh 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
I remember sitting in my bed in Pisa realizing that the only reason I was saved from this hell that I so dreaded was that God randomly chose me to be given eyes to see.
So a few years later after returning from Italy I had this thought “If Christ died for everyone and if God is the one that opens and closes eyes then why can’t everyone be saved?” This then led to the thought, “does hell really exist as I have been taught?”
I got on the internet and did a search for “hell”. One of the first things I found was a paper by Thomas Thayer written in the 1850s called “The Origin of the Doctrine of Eternal Punishment”.
In this profound paper, Mr. Thayer clearly demonstrates that the doctrine of hell and eternal torment was not a Jewish teaching and was most certainly not taught by Christ and the Apostles. While everything that Mr. Thayer says is not true scripturally, he helped to legitimize my thoughts and got me to see that I had been taught pagan lies all of my life and not the true doctrine of Christ.
In the following pages I’m going to show you from the scriptures how eternal torment was never mentioned anywhere in the Old Testament but was a very well developed theology among pagan cultures that significantly influenced the Jews and early Christians. The true Gospel of God, that all will be saved, has been hidden from the masses of Christianity. I hope and pray that this study will be used to set you free and open your eyes to the truth.
Adam and Eve
Here is the warning that God gives to Adam and Eve about what will happen if they disobey and break his command to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Gen 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
He simply said “you will die”, and nothing more.
Here is the description of the punishments given to Adam, Eve, and the serpent.
Gen 3:14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
Gen 3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
Gen 3:17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
Gen 3:18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
Gen 3:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
Notice that all of the punishments are temporal in nature, meaning that they are not said to last forever. In verse 19 God even says “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” This is a very odd way to explain being burned in hell forever…if that was indeed the true fact of Adam and Eve.
Let’s see if the first murderer in the bible was warned of this eternal torment to come.
Gen 4:10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.
Gen 4:11 And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand;
Gen 4:12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.
Gen 4:13 And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.
Cain is quite dismayed over his punishment which involves difficulty in cultivating the ground along with being a fugitive and vagabond in the earth, but there is absolutely no mention of eternal torment.
So God has some mercy on Cain and says that he will avenge anyone that would kill him seven fold, and gives him a mark to keep him safe.
Gen 4:14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.
Gen 4:15 And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.
God has mercy upon the first murder and reduces his concern of being killed by others, so why would he not have mercy upon those who cry unto him for all of eternity out of the torturous fires of hell?
Do you see the terrible inconsistency here if God will torment some forever?
Noah and the Flood
God was angry with the sin upon the earth in Noah’s time and causes a world-wide flood to destroy everyone but Noah and his family.
Gen 6:11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.
Gen 6:12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
Gen 6:13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
God does not say that he will torment these disobedient and sinful people in hell for all eternity. He simply says that he will destroy them.
Gen 7:23 And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noahonly remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.
Sodom and Gomorrah
What do we learn from Sodom and Gomorrah?
Gen 18:20 And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;
Gen 18:21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.
Gen 19:24 Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;
Gen 19:25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities,…
Again there is no mention of eternal torment after their destruction. Sodom and Gomorrah are actually mentioned in the book of Jude in the New Testament.
Jud 1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, 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.
This verse is often used to support the doctrine of eternal hell fire, but is the city of Sodom and Gomorrah still burning with fire today? Obviously no it’s not, so this example demonstrates that the punishment is not eternal.
Here is the truth of the matter:
Pro 26:20 Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.
Once the wicked city and its inhabitance were destroyed, the fire went out. We will cover this in detail later in the study, but the word translated as “eternal” in most English translations is the Greek word “aionios” and does NOT mean eternal. It means lasting for an unspecified period of time. It is better translated in Young’s Literal as “of fire age-during”.
The fire of God’s judgment burns until all the evil is gone and then the judgment stops and we are SAVED.
1Co 3:15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
What’s being burned is our evil works, not a literal person burning in hell fire.
Curses in Deuteronomy
When God gave Israel the law, he described in detail the consequences for disobedience, but there is no mention of eternal torment. I’m taking the time to show you all of these verses because I want it to be abundantly clear that eternal torment is a pagan doctrine.
Deu 28:14 And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.
Deu 8:15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:
Deu 28:16 Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field.
Deu 28:17 Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.
Deu 28:18 Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.
Deu 28:19 Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.
Deu 28:20 The LORD shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me.
What about Suicide?
Some people teach that that suicide is the worst sin you can possibly commit. Was there any warning of eternal torment for committing this grievous act?
2Sa 17:23 Now when Ahithophel saw that his advice was not followed, he saddled a donkey, and arose and went home to his house, to his city. Then he put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died; and he was buried in his father’s tomb.
Again, there is no mention of the eternal fate of this person. That seems like quite a grievous omission if eternal torment is in fact true.
Let’s consider for a moment the justice of God. In Hebrews we are told that every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward.
Heb 2:2 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;
In the courts of the world, the punishment is equivalent to the crime committed. The worst thing you can do in this life is kill another human being and the punishment for this in many places is death. What could man possibly do that deserves ETERNAL TORMENT? Is God not capable of teaching us to be obedient and delivering us from our evil thoughts and actions? Is he less just than the carnal men that rule this world?
The Hebrew Word for Hell
The word translated as hell in the Old Testament is the Hebrew word “sheol”, H7585.
In the King James Version it is translated as follows:
31 times: grave
31 times: hell
3 times: pit
These words most often are the place of the dead which is simply the grave.
Gen 37:35 And 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 unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.
Job 7:9 As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more.
This word is also used to express distress or deliverance from great danger.
Job 17:11 My days are past, my purposes are broken off, even the thoughts of my heart.
Job 17:12 They change the night into day: the light is short because of darkness.
Job 17:13 If I wait, the grave is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness.
Job 17:14 I have said to corruption, Thou art my father: to the worm, Thou art my mother, and my sister.
David did not die but is using the grave to express the great danger that he was delivered from by the Lord. He even says in verse 3 that he has been kept alive so that he should not go down to the pit.
Job even asks God to “hide him in the grave” from all the wrath and trials that are upon him. If this is a place of eternal torment then why would Job be asking God to hide him there?
Job 14:13 O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!
Now let’s look at some verses where the KJV translates sheol as hell.
Deu 32:22 For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.
Deu 32:23 I will heap mischiefs upon them; I will spend mine arrows upon them.
Deu 32:24 They shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction: I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust.
Deu 32:25 The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of gray hairs.
Deu 32:26 I said, I would scatter them into corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men:
So with a mind tainted with the pagan doctrine of eternal torment, these verses in Deuteronomy seem to be referring to there being fire and burning in hell (the grave). However, look as verse 24, “they shall be BURNT with hunger”. God is using fire and the grave (hell) just like David does in Psalms, as a way to describe great trials. The chapter continues on describing very physical and temporal consequences for disobedience.
All of the following verses would make much more sense to be translated as “grave”, because saying the English word “hell” brings to mind all of the pagan doctrines that are not a part of Jewish doctrine.
2Sa 22:6 The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;
Job 11:8 It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know?
Psa 9:17 The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
Psa 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Moses was Aware of Endless Punishment
Moses was taught all the ways of the Egyptians, and yet never mentions any of their pagan doctrines related to eternal torment.
Act 7:21 And when he was cast out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son.
Act 7:22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.
Here is a quote that describes the Egyptian teachings on the afterlife.
Those souls whose scales of good had outweighed their scales of bad would be granted permission to enter the blissful afterlife. On the other hand those whose scales of bad deeds were heavy would be handed over to the Devourer of the Dead, which was the Egyptian equivalent of hell.”
So Moses was well aware of this doctrine of eternal torment and never made any mention of it in his writings for Israel. Moses did however consistently warn the people to not go after the false gods of other nations, of which he was well aware. This is compelling evidence that eternal torment was certainly NOT a Jewish teaching.