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STUDY 8: THE BIBLE’S SECOND HELL – PART 2

 

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

Second Death:

 

Gehenna

 

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:

 

  • Matthew 5: 21, 22: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill;

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).

 

  • Another passage containing gehenna is Matthew 10: 28. Jesus says: “Fear not them which

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.

  • Gehenna occurs twice in Matthew 5: 29, 30. Verse 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]. 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.

  • Verse 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].” 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.

  • Matthew 18: 8, 9 is a parallel passage which uses the word gehenna, but being so similar,

we will not consider it here.

  • Mark 9: 43-48 contains three occurrences of the word gehenna. Most parts of this passage

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

wicked.

  • Two more occurrences of the word gehenna are found in Matthew 23: 15, 33. Verse 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.” 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.

  • Verse 33: “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation

[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.

  • The final passage using the word gehenna is James 3: 6: “The tongue is a fire, a world of

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

Death.

 

“Everlasting Fire”

 

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.

 

“Eternal Fire”

 

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

torment.

 

Sheol

 

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).

 

Tartaroo

 

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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