Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.
IN our last study we considered the symbolic expression “lake of fire,” one of the Bible terms
used to describe the Second Death. Let us now consider four other ways the Bible mentions the
The second way the Bible describes the second hell is by the Greek word gehenna. This word
occurs twelve times in the New Testament, and in every case the King James translators
rendered it hell. This has caused confusion since they also translated the Greek word hades by
the word hell, which we have seen refers to the first hell – the unconscious condition of the
Adamic death state. The Greek word gehenna is equivalent to the Hebrew words ge-Hinnom,
translated valley of Hinnom, a valley to the west and southwest of Jerusalem, in which the offal,
refuse, etc., of the city were burned and utterly destroyed.
The Jews used this literal Gehenna, not as a burying place, but as the city’s sewage plant. The
offal, refuse, etc. which fell upon its rocks and ledges was consumed by worms and that which
fell into the bottom of the valley was consumed by the fires mingled with brimstone that were
always kept burning. Living things were never cast into this valley, for the Jews were strictly
prohibited from torturing any creature. After certain particularly wicked criminals were
executed, their dead bodies were cast into this valley in order to make the crime and the criminal
detestable in the eyes of the people. The Jews believed in a resurrection, so the destruction of the
body in Gehenna after death (figuratively) implied the loss of hope for a future life by a
resurrection. The destruction wrought by the worms and fires of this valley fittingly types (or
pictures) the eternal annihilation that antitypical Gehenna works.
Scriptural Passages using the word Gehenna
Let us consider the twelve occurrences of the Greek word gehenna in the New Testament:
and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment [the lower Court of Judges]: 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 [villain, or vile fellow, a
serious accusation], shall be in danger of the council [the High Council, or Sanhedrin, the
Jews’ highest court]: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool [apostate wretch], shall be in
danger of hell [gehenna] fire.”
These verses indicate increasing degrees of malice and hatred, together with corresponding
punishments, increasing in severity. The scribes and Pharisees only considered the letter of the
Mosaic law, for example, the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” was taken as only prohibiting
external, physical killing, so they believed that only those who would take the natural life of
another would be in danger of the judgment. They did not recognize the other application – that
some were in danger of coming into judgment for putting others to death by assassination of
character, reputation, etc., even though they did not kill them physically.
Jesus here emphasized the spirit of the Law, rather than the letter. Sin must be sought out at its
root. The scribes and Pharisees only saw its deadly fruit, when it was ripe. By yielding to unjust
and improper anger, one starts out on the same course that leads to physical murder. He therefore
breaks the sixth commandment from God’s point of view, for He looks on the heart
(1 Samuel 16: 7).
kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul [the right to a future life]: but rather fear him
which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [gehenna].” Luke 12: 5 is similar: “Fear
him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell [gehenna]; yea, I say unto you,
Fear him.” These texts indicate that God has the power to destroy both soul and body
utterly, completely and eternally in Gehenna.
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]. Our Lord here warns
that if we possess some choice knowledge or pet theories which stumbles us, even though it
be as dear as a right eye, nor how well it makes us appear, nor how much we may love it, it
is better to put them away rather than allowing them to lead us to the Second Death.
profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body
should be cast into hell [gehenna].” Our Lord again warns, if we have any depraved desires
that manifest themselves in deeds which stumble us, we should get rid of such deeds with
the desires that caused them, rather than permit them to lead us to the Second Death.
we will not consider it here.
have already been commented on, except for the clause, “where their worm dieth not, and
the fire is not quenched.” This evidently refers to the valley of Hinnom, or Gehenna, which,
as already explained, was just outside of Jerusalem, and served as a place where waste
material was cast and burned. Some of it fell upon the rocks and ledges, where worms bred
and continually devoured it. The remainder fell into the bottom of the valley where fires
were continually kept burning until they completely destroyed everything combustible.
Thus Jesus used this valley of Hinnom as a symbol of God’s absolute destruction of the
“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.” The scribes and Pharisees were very active in making proselytes, believing that
such good works would gain eternal life for themselves. But they made their proselytes
twofold worse by teaching them wrong doctrines and false practices, for conversions gained
by misrepresentations of God instill a poison into the heart that will be difficult to eradicate
in restitution times.
[condemnation] of hell [gehenna]?” Jesus called them serpents, because, like Satan, they
loved sin; and He called them a generation of vipers, because they were like the Satan
system, the symbolic viper. Jesus almost despaired that these hypocrites could ever avoid
the Second Death, for, by their willfulness in sinning against such great light, they were so
undermining their characters as to be almost irrecoverable.
iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on
fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell [gehenna].” This strong, symbolic
language, points out the great and bad influence of an evil tongue. The tongue is so
powerful that if not ruled properly, it defiles the whole body – one’s character, work, honor,
office, position, relation to others, etc. It injures all with whom it comes in contact, and is
extremely destructive. When on trial for life, if it is not controlled, it will lead to the Second
The third way the Bible describes the second hell is through the symbolic expression,
“everlasting fire.” This expression is used in Matthew 25: 41, in the parable of the Sheep and
Goats: “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.” At the end of the Little Season, following
the Millennial Age, Jesus will condemn the symbolic goats to destruction. Since this statement is
parabolic, the fire is symbolic, because if we consider the fire as literal, we should also consider
the goats as literal, and not referring to people. In the previous study we proved this fire to be
symbolic by showing that Satan’s final fate is destruction. Revelation 20: 9 also shows, using the
symbol of fire, that utter, complete and eternal annihilation will be the fate of those who are
deceived into sin in the Little Season: “Fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured
them.” The word devoured surely did not preserve them in any sense, let alone in torment.
Some think that Matthew 25: 46 teaches eternal torment: “These [the goat class] shall go away
into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” This verse says nothing about
eternal torment; on the contrary, the Scriptures declare death to be the punishment for sin, not
torment. “The wages of sin is death.” “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” “Every soul, which
will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed” (Romans 6: 23) (Ezekiel 18: 4, 20) (Acts 3: 23).
Make this punishment eternal and you have eternal punishment, eternal death, but not eternal
torment. The Greek word translated punishment is kolasis, meaning literally a cutting off. The
wicked, therefore, go into an everlasting cutting off from life, the opposite of eternal life.
Matthew 18: 8 also uses the expression “everlasting fire,” and it evidently has the same meaning
as in Matthew 25: 41, so we will not discuss it here.
The fourth way the Scriptures designate the second hell is by the symbolic expression, “eternal
fire.” Jude 7: “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving
themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example,
suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” The fire of punishment that the people of Sodom and
Gomorrha and the surrounding cities suffered did not last forever; rather, it destroyed those cities
forever. The destruction of those cities primarily pictures the destruction of certain great
religious systems, and the destruction of the wicked of those cities types the eternal destruction
of the incorrigibly wicked of the Gospel and Millennial Ages.
Luke 17: 28, 29 also mentions the destruction of Sodom in the days of Lot: “Likewise also as it
was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they
builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven,
and destroyed them all.” The people were here engaged in their ordinary occupations when
destruction from the Lord came upon them suddenly. Nothing is mentioned about their eternal
As the fifth and final way, let us consider the Old Testament use of the Hebrew word sheol. As
was shown in study five, the Old Testament uses this word for both the first and the second hells.
Psalm 9: 17 (American Revised Version): “The wicked shall be turned back [returned] unto
Sheol, even all the nations [Gog and Magog – Revelation 20: 7-9, 15] that forget God.” This
passage refers to the willfully wicked in the Little Season. These had previously been brought
out of hades, the first sheol; but forgetting God in the trial of the Little Season, they will return
unto sheol, as the second death state, and will never come back again.
Proverbs 15: 24 (American Revised Version): “To the wise the way of life goeth upward, that he
may depart from sheol beneath.” The way of life for the wise is in the higher things: the things
that are noble and in harmony with truth and righteousness. Their wisdom shows that they are
following these things so that they may depart from sheol beneath – the second hell.
Proverbs 23: 14: “Thou shalt beat him [thy son] with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell
[sheol].” This passage cannot refer to the first hell (sheol), for no matter how much a child is
corrected now, it will go into the first hell regardless. But proper discipline and correction on the
part of parents has delivered many children from going into the second hell (verse 13), for it has
prevented those who have properly responded from going into the way of wrong and iniquity in
this Age, and will therefore help them from going into the second hell in the Millennial Age.
Job 7: 9: “As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave
[sheol] shall come up no more.” This text does not refer to the Adamic death state, the first hell,
for those who go into that condition will come forth again (Acts 24: 15). The simile here used
refers to the second hell, for the cloud which has passed out of existence never returns into
existence, which illustrates the eternal non-existence of those who go into the second hell.
Isaiah 14: 15: “Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell [sheol], to the sides of the pit.” The
context primarily indicates that the devil, because of his evil deeds, shall go into the second hell.
In some cases, the word sheol may have an application to both the first hell and the second hell.
One example is Isaiah 28: 15-18. Verse 15 reads: “Because ye have said, We have made a
covenant with death, and with hell [sheol] are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge
shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under
falsehood have we hid ourselves.” The nominal people of God have made a covenant with death,
declaring it to be a friend to those who join their denominations; that they need not fear death,
claiming that when they die they are much better off and more alive than before they died. The
Scriptures, however, declare that death is an enemy (1 Corinthians 15: 26). Many in the various
denominations are in agreement with sheol, whether we consider it from the standpoint of the
first hell or the second hell; they have magnified sin’s penalty into being eternal life in torture,
but that all within their sectarian systems are safe from going into this place. They therefore use
fear of eternal torture in hell as a means of driving people into their churches. They claim that
the overflowing scourge (the great Time of Trouble) will not affect their members, but they fail
to realize that this very Time of Trouble will overthrow their evil institutions. They have made
lies (the doctrines of eternal torment, the immortality of man, the consciousness of the dead, etc.)
their refuge, and under falsehood have hid themselves, preferring their own errors and ways
instead of seeking guidance from God’s Word.
Verses 16, 17: “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone,
a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation [Jesus]: he that believeth shall not make
haste. Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall
sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.” Those who
believe will not make haste, but will wait on the Lord. The Lord will require strict adherence to
doctrinal Truth (judgment) and conduct in harmony with the Truth (righteousness). Hard,
distressing truths (hail), which God has been giving here in the end of the Age, shall sweep away
the doctrines of eternal torment, the consciousness of the dead, etc., and the Truth (waters) will
utterly destroy these errors.
Verse 18: “And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell
[sheol] shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be
trodden down by it.” The understanding that death is a friend (covenant with death) shall be
completely refuted. They shall be forced to see that membership in sectarian systems (agreement
with hell [sheol]) will not avail them anything. The “overthrowing scourge” is primarily God’s
Truth on various subjects, such as the death state, hell, etc. The various systems and their
erroneous doctrines shall be destroyed by God’s Truth in the Time of Trouble.
Isaiah 28: 15-18 also has an application to the Millennial Age. Those who make a covenant with
death at that time are the two classes of Isaiah 65: 20 (discussed in study five). They will make
lies their refuge and will think that they can escape the Second Death. They will hide themselves
under falsehoods (errors). The faithful then will have our Lord and His Church as their precious
corner stone (Acts 3: 22, 23). Those who believe will not make haste then, but will wait on the
Lord. Strict conformity to the Truth and conduct in harmony with it will be required. Those who
will be faithful to the New Covenant arrangements, obeying them from the heart, will gain
eternal life. The hard, distressing truths of that time will destroy Satan’s lies; he and his deceived
ones will be plunged into complete and eternal annihilation, and they will be an everlasting
abhorrence to all flesh (Isaiah 66: 24).
Finally, let us consider 2 Peter 2: 4: “God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down
to hell [tartaroo], and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.”
The fall of the angels who sinned was from honor and dignity into dishonor and condemnation.
The thought seems to be, “God spared not the angels who sinned, but demoted them, and
delivered them into chains of darkness.”
This agrees with our knowledge of these fallen angels from other Scriptures, for these fallen
spirits were in the earth in the days of our Lord and the Apostles. They were not down in some
place, but “down” in the sense of being degraded from former honor and liberty, and restrained
under darkness, as by a chain. They have been confined to this earth’s atmosphere as their
prison, and are unable to leave. Spititistic séances manifest the powers of these fallen spirits, in
which they pretend to be certain dead human beings; they always have had to do their work in
the dark because darkness is the chain by which they have been bound until the Day of
Judgment. The repentant will be given the opportunity during the Millennial Age of gaining life,
on the condition of obedience. The unrepentant, along with Satan their leader
(Revelation 20: 2, 3), will probably be spirited so far away from the earth as not to know what
will be transpiring here. At the end of the Millennial Age, in the Little Season, they will be
loosed along with Satan, and will seek to deceive mankind. Together with Satan (Hebrews 2: 14)
and the “goat” class (Revelation 20: 7-10), they will be annihilated, symbolized by their being
cast into everlasting fire (Matthew 25: 41).
We close our study of the Bible use of the word hell. We have found that there is no place of
eternal torture such as the creeds of the Dark Ages and many hymn books and churches teach.
Yet the Bible does teach a hell (sheol, hades) – the unconscious, oblivious state of death, to
which our entire race was condemned on account of Adam’s sin, but from which all are
redeemed by our Lord’s death. We have also found another hell (gehenna – the Second Death –
utter, complete and eternal annihilation) as the final penalty upon all who, after being redeemed
and brought to the full knowledge of the Truth (1 Timothy 2: 4) and to full ability to obey it,
shall choose a course of opposition to God and righteousness. Praise God that He has provided
so much light for us on these subjects in His Holy Word, and that through the elimination of the
first hell and the eternal existence of the second hell, there will be a clean universe
(2 Peter 3: 13). “Every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and
such as are in the sea, and [even] all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and
glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
(Revelation 5: 13).
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