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Hell Is Not Endless Punishment – Part 4

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July 23rd, 2013 | Filed Under: Author, Hell, Mitch Kuhn, Topical Studies0 Comments | Author:

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 4


by Mitch Kuhn

Click here for all articles in this series and more on the subject of hell

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Gehenna
This word is used 12 times in the New Testament, all of which are spoken by Christ except one use in James.

G1067
Γέεννα geenna gheh’-en-nah
Of Hebrew origin ([H1516] and [H2011]); valley of (the son of) Hinnom; gehenna (or Ge-Hinnom), a valley of Jerusalem, used (figuratively) as a name for the place (or state) of everlasting punishment: – hell.

Here is a quote from Schleusner, a distinguished lexicographer and critic, that discusses the origin of the word “Gehenna”.

“Gehenna, originally a Hebrew word, which signifies valley of Hinnom. Here the Jews placed that brazen image of Moloch. It is said, on the authority of the ancient Rabbins (Rabbis), that to this image the idolatrous Jews were wont not only to sacrifice doves, pigeons, lambs, etc., but even to offer their own children. In the prophecies of Jeremiah (vii 31), this valley is called Tophet, from Toph, a drum; because they beat a drum during these horrible rites, lest the cries and shrieks of the infants who were burned should be heard by the assembly. At length these nefarious practices were abolished by Josiah, and the Jews brought back to the pure worship of God. After this they held the place in such abomination that they cast into it all kinds of filth, and the carcasses of beasts, and the unburied bodies of criminals who had been executed. Continual fires were necessary in order to consume these, lest the putrefaction should infect the air; and there were always worms feeding on the remaining relics. Hence it came, that any severe punishment, especially an infamous kind of death, was described by the word Gehenna, or hell.”

from: Expositor for Sept. 1838; Schleusner’s Lexicon on Asbestos; Iliad, lib. i. 599; Cruse’s Eusebius, lib. vi., chap. 41. Note on page 259.

When Jesus uses the word Gehenna, he is directly referring to these passages of Jeremiah. Tophet is another name for the valley of the son of Hinnom, or Gehenna.

Jer 7:31 And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.
Jer 7:32 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be called Tophet, nor the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of slaughter: for they shall bury in Tophet, till there be no place.
Jer 7:33 And the carcases of this people shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beast of the earth; and none shall fray them away.
Jer 7:34 Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride: for the land shall be desolate.

Jer 19:11 And shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Even so will I break this people and this city, as one breaketh a potter’s vessel, that cannot be made whole again: and they shall bury them in Tophet, till there be no place to bury.

To put these verses in context, look at what was said by Jeremiah just one chapter earlier.

Jer 18:3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.
Jer 18:4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
Jer 18:5 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
Jer 18:6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.

God is clearly going to break these people like a clay pot, and bury them in Tophet, this place where the most terrible acts of disobedience were committed. But, he also says that He will make it again another vessel.

Remember this verse from earlier:

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.

This phrase “make this city as Tophet”, is meant to express complete and utter destruction, not eternal torment.

Jer 19:12 Thus will I do unto this place, saith the LORD, and to the inhabitants thereof, and even make this city as Tophet:
Jer 19:13 And the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses of the kings of Judah, shall be defiled as the place of Tophet, because of all the houses upon whose roofs they have burned incense unto all the host of heaven, and have poured out drink offerings unto other gods.

Remember also that the Old Covenant promises redemption and salvation.

Eze 36:25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
Eze 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
Eze 36:27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

Immediately following in Ezekiel 37 we are given this prophesy of the resurrection.

Eze 37:1 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones,
Eze 37:2 And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.
Eze 37:3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.
Eze 37:4 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.
Eze 37:5 Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:
Eze 37:6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

Israel did not understand what was being promised, but this mystery is revealed in the New Testament.

1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Another study in the Milk Doctrines series in on resurrection: http://tryingthespirits.com/milk-doctrines/

So when Jesus Christ spoke of Gehenna, he was referring to the stories of Tophet in the book of Jeremiah. He knew that Jeremiah 18 spoke of both the destruction of the clay vessel (Israel) and the vessel being made new, symbolizing their redemption.
So now let’s read these following verses with this new perspective.

Mat 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.

This is not eternal fire but is a warning that God will destroy our wicked works… remember the promise to make the vessel new as well from Jeremiah 18:4.

Mat 5:29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell (Gehenna).
Mat 5:30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell (Gehenna).

Is Christ saying that we should literally pluck out our eye or cut off your hand? No, it is a warning that wicked works will be judged because the fire of Gehenna symbolizes God’s Judgment.

Mat 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.

A child of Gehenna refers to someone that is disobeying God’s commands just like the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees. Keep in mind that we all break God’s commands and will suffer the judgment symbolized by Gehenna fire. This judgment is painful but does work for our good.

Heb 12:7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
Heb 12:8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

Heb 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Tartarus
G5020
Ταρταρόω tartaroō tar-tar-o’-o

Definitions:

1. The name of the subterranean region, doleful and dark, regarded by the ancient Greeks as the abode of the wicked dead, where they suffer punishment for their evil deeds; it answers to Gehenna of the Jews to thrust down to Tartarus, to hold captive in Tartarus
from: http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/tartaroo.html

“Thurst down to Tartarus, and hold captive in Tartarus” are examples of how this word are used.

2. Tartarus, or Tartaros (Greek: Τάρταρος, from τάρταρον “tartar encrusting the sides of casks”), is the deep abyss in ancient Greek mythology that is used as a dungeon of torment and suffering for the wicked. A part of Hades (or the underworld) and, in turn, below Uranus (sky), Gaia (earth), and Pontus (sea), Tartarus is the place where, according to Plato in Gorgias (c. 400 BC), souls were judged after death and where the wicked received punishment. Like other primal entities (such as the earth and time), Tartarus is also a primordial force or deity.
Tartarus was used as a prison for the worst of villains, including Cronus and the other Titans who were thrown in by Zeus. Uranus also threw his own children into Tartarus because he feared they might overthrow him. These mishaps included the “hundred-handed-ones”, the “cyclops” and the “giants”.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tartarus

Just as Gehenna brought powerful memories of destruction for the evil of the Jews, so does Tartarus do this for the Greeks. The Romans adopted much of their mythology from the Greeks, and the Romans were ruling over Israel at the time of Jesus’ ministry and writings of the Apostles thus making this reference to Taratarus quite powerful and relevant to Peter’s audience. In modern times this would be like saying, “your life will be a living hell”. It’s an expression that carries great weight and power given the common beliefs about hell.

So in the following verses Peter is explaining that false prophets will arise, and both these false prophets and those that follow them will suffer judgment from God. He is going to make a reference to Tartarus to express how those living in disobedience are trapped in the abode of death until judgment. Anyone that is carnally minded is spiritually dead. We have a carnal mind while we are yet living, so we can be physically alive and spiritually dead at the same time.

Rom 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Luk 9:60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.

2Pe 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.
2Pe 2:2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.
2Pe 2:3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.
2Pe 2:4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell (Tartarus) and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;

The word angel in the Greek and Hebrew both mean messenger. This is not only a spiritual being as we have been often taught but rather can refer to any messenger, which can be a prophet or teacher in the scriptures.

o Greek (G32) – aggelos

o Hebrew (H4397) – mal’âk

We have been these false teachers and have been or will be judged for our false teachings. We have also followed the wisdom of men and believed the lies of the false teachers in the world and in the churches.
Until our time comes to be judged we are held in the abode of death, Taratrus, held with chains of darkness, awaiting judgment.

Pro 4:19 The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.

Joh 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
Joh 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

Anyone that does evil loves the darkness rather than the light and is symbolically trapped in that darkness until Christ drags them to the light to be reproved and judged. Peter is saying we all will be judged for the evil that we do.

2Pe 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:

I hope and pray that by now you can see how neither Jesus nor any of the Apostles taught that there would be eternal torment in hell. They all taught that there are severe consequences for evil and that we will all be judged for what we do.
While this judgment feels quite grievous and severe as it is happening to us, we will eventually learn to be obedient and then experience the peaceable fruits of righteousness.

Heb 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

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