CHRISTENDOM has become so thoroughly indoctrinated with the paganish
ideas of death and hell that it is practically impossible to get the saints to consider
the subject as it really is in the Scriptures. They are warned to regard with suspicion
and reject all teaching on the subject any different from that which they have been
taught. In fact, to think of the venerable doctrine of the church on this subject as being
false, strikes them as blasphemous. Well do I remember my own I experience. Taught from
childhood the conventional ideas of death and hell, it was a tremendous shock when I gave
conscientious study to the subject in God's word and found what was revealed there to be
so radically different. For months I meditated, studied, and restudied the Scriptures with
a view to finding support for my old ideas, but the closer I searched the more evidence I
found that I was astray from the truth. Out of my personal experience this study is
presented with a sincerity of purpose, praying that it may be used of the Lord to bless
all who read with a clear understanding of the subject in accord with His holy word.
The subject of death presents an enigma, a mystery, an impenetrable darkness, on which
the innumerable opinions and philosophies of men have failed to throw one single
illuminating ray of light. The scientist, with all his instruments for examining and
harvesting the facts of nature with an astonishing exactitude, has nothing to offer on the
subject of death. The philosopher takes up the theories of evolutionary changes and
developments noted in nature, and out of his sentiments and natural instincts, pieces
together a philosophy of progression toward a perfection of existence, and out of these
vague hypotheses proclaims there is no death. Others make death but a change of
condition--the door into the larger, fuller expression of life. The spiritist offers his
proof of a future existence after death by his unscriptural claim of communication with
the spirits of the dead.
There is an infinite variety of solutions to the problem coming from heathenism, but no
satisfactory hope is found among them. Chaos and restlessness reign rather than assurance
Then comes Christendom, which should, above all others, be united in giving the world
the satisfactory explanation. Yet we find it astray from the Scriptures which it proposes
to teach, divided into factions, with the orthodox majority preaching Satan's lie:
"thou shall not surely die;" teaching that all men possess inherent immortality,
and that when death comes, their souls are perpetuated in an endless existence, the good
in a paradise of bliss, and the bad in a hell of misery and torment.
With the world so full of babbling voices, giving forth such a vast variety of
conflicting opinions, the earnest truth seeker finds himself bewildered rather than
enlightened. What is to be done? It would be the greatest folly to attempt to determine
which of the various theories are true or false by our own unaided reason. Hence, it is
obvious to every serious mind that, unless there is an ultimate, authoritative standard to
which we may appeal for the solution of this problem, it will be worse than senseless to
continue our study further. And again, it is evident to all that the subject cannot be
settled by appealing to the belief of any man, society, denomination, or decree of church
councils. Our only hope lies in pursuing the study in accord with the only authority--the
Sacred Scriptures-- given by God for its solution.
THE SACRED SCRIPTURES
All Scripture is inspired by God, and is beneficial for teaching, for conviction, for
correction, for discipline in righteousness, that the man of God may be equipped, fitted
out for every good act (2 Tim.3:16,17).
Believing this implicitly, we are assured that God has made a complete revelation
concerning our subject, so we will call no man master or teacher but will pass by the
oracles of heathenism, the empty babblings of philosophy, the seduction of human
tradition, and pursue our study reverently and scrupulously in accord with this divine
court of appeal.
THE DOCTRINE OF IMMORTALITY
By taking a glance through Christian literature and church hymns, and noting the
constant use of such terms as immortal soul," "never-dying soul,"
"departed soul," "endless woe," "everlasting torment," one
who has never studied the Scriptures on the subject, would be led to believe that they are
filled with such expressions. But what a shock to know that such teaching finds no
countenance in the Scriptures whatever. Take the word "immortal" for instance.
It is found in our King James Bible but one time, and there it is applied to God. The word
is aphthartoo in the Greek, and should be rendered "incorruptible." The text,
concordantly rendered, reads:
"Now to the King of the eons, the incorruptible, invisible, only wise God, be
honor and glory for the eons of the eons! Amen!" (1 Tim.1:17).
As the word "immortal" or better, incorruptible, is here applied to God as
one of His attributes, it is odious presumption to apply it to mankind. Man is never
spoken of as immortal in the Scriptures. Neither the soul nor the spirit of man is ever
said to be immortal in God's word. Tracing the word soul through the King James Version,
we find it occurs 488 times--430 times in the so-called Old Testament, and 58 times in the
New--but in no instance is it ever associated with, or said to be, immortal or deathless.
On the contrary, the Scriptures speak of the "soul" fainting, dying, expiring,
in the hand of the grave, buried in the grave, destroyed, with nine texts speaking of dead
The fact is, the Scriptures never speak of man, or any part of man, as being immortal.
On the contrary, wherever, in the universe, life is manifested, of whatever kind, God is
always the fountain of it. Paul emphasized this truth to the Athenian philosophers when he
said, "He is existing not far from each one of us, for in Him we are living and
moving and are" (Acts 17: 28). Therefore, life, being, or existence, in the absolute,
is an attribute of God, and all creatures are dependent on Him for the life they have.
Our minds have been so completely filled with the idea of immortality that we are loath
to think that it does not find a large place in the Scriptures. But regardless of all that
we have been taught, we must face the fact that the word immortality is used but only five
times in our common Bible--Rom.2:7; 1 Cor. 15:53,54; 1 Tim.6:16; 2 Tim.1:10. Three of
these occurrences have the Greek athanasia, which means deathlessness, or immortality (1
Cor.15:53,54; 1 Tim.6:16), while the other two have the Greek aphtharsia, and should be
rendered incorruption (Rom.2:7; 2 Tim.1:10). One reference, moreover, is sufficient to
settle the question for all who accept the Scriptures as final. It is 1 Timothy 6:13-16,
"...unto the advent of our Lord, Christ Jesus, which will be showing to its own
eras, the happy and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, Who alone has
Who alone has immortality, speaks of Christ. He was roused from among the
dead, Firstfruit of those who are reposing, was quickened, made
alive, or vivified, and He alone has immortality, with the glory of deathlessness
shining forth from Him with an intensity beyond the possibility of human perception. This
should settle the question concerning immortality. Christ alone, as the great
Firstfruit of those who are reposing, has immortality.
Where and how did this teaching of the "immortality of the soul,"
"deathless soul," "never-dying soul" arise? It was introduced at the
very forefront of revelation. In the garden, Jehovah God said: If you eat of this tree you
shall surely die. But in answer to this, Satan said: You shall not surely
die!-- and man has been duped into believing and preaching Satan's lie rather than God's
truth. May our God grant deliverance from this error!
"Even as through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and through sin death,
and thus death came through into all mankind, on which all sinned (Rom.5:12).
This Scripture reveals that Jehovah's decree in the garden stands in spite of Satan's
lie and man's delusion. Second Timothy one ten reveals that Christ was manifested through
His advent to abolish death and illuminate life and incorruption through the evangel. All
of which shows that man is mortal, subject to death, and will receive immortality or
incorruption only through Christ.
THE CREATION OF MAN
To get a clear grasp of the scriptural meaning of death, we must go back to the very
creation of man and consider every act and element that entered into the operation by
which he became a "living soul." God said, "Let us make man." In the
creation scene which follows, God takes the soil of the ground and forms a man, perfect
and complete in all his parts, yet lifeless. The heart is there, but it is not beating;
the blood is there, but it is not flowing; the brain is there, but it is not thinking; he
has eyes, but does not see; ears, but does not hear. There is no sensation, no
imagination, conscience, memory, reason or affection, simply a lifeless body.
But when God breathes the breath of the living into the nostrils of this lifeless body,
we read: "and the man became a living soul." That is, he could see, smell, hear,
taste, and feel. He was a sentient, intelligent being--a living soul. And may we press the
fact that the "soul" was not breathed into the man, but was the result of the
union of the breath of life, the spirit, with the body. In other words, according to the
Scriptures, there is no existence of the soul apart from the union of the breath of life
with the body. The breath of life must be united with the body before there can be any
soul, or sensation.
WHAT IS DEATH?
Having briefly followed the order of man's creation, we may now profit by a reverent
consideration of the scriptural explanation of his dissolution in death. In the Scriptures
we are told that at death "the spirit returns to God Who gave it" (Ecc.12:7),
the "body returns to the soil" (Gen.3:19), and "the soul returns to the
unseen [sheol or hades]" (Psa.9:17; Acts 2:27,31). Job says, "Thou wilt return
me to death" (Job 30:23). Hence, death is a complete dissolution and return to the
original state in which the elements existed before their unification to make man a living
soul. Paul's understanding of the subject was in accord with all this, for when speaking
of his own death, he said, "the period of my dissolution [not departure] is
imminent" (2 Tim.4:7).
This return to death--the state of complete dissolution and unconsciousness--is likened
in the Scriptures to a sleep, from whence all will be awakened at the
"Look! Answer me, Jehovah, my God! Illuminate my eyes, lest I should sleep in
"For in death, there is no remembrance of Thee, In the unseen, who is acclaiming
"His spirit will pass forth, he will return to his ground, In that day his
reflections perish" (Psa.146:4).
"For the living know that they will die, Yet the dead know nothing whatever, And
there is no further hire for them, For their remembrance is forgotten" (Ecc.9:5).
"And many who sleep in the ground of the soil shall awake, these to eonian life
and these to eonian repulsion and contempt" (Dan.12:2).
"Marvel not at this, seeing that the hour is coming in which all who are in the
tombs will be hearing His voice, and those who do good things shall be going out into a
resurrection of life, yet those who commit bad into a resurrection of judgment" (John
"Yet now Christ has been roused from among the dead, Firstfruit of those who are
reposing....Yet each in his own class: the Firstfruit, Christ; thereupon those who are
Christ's at His presence" (1 Cor.15:20,23).
"For if we are believing [that Jesus died and rose, thus also, those who are put
to repose, will God, through Jesus, lead forth with Him....seeing that the Lord Himself
will be descending from heaven with the shout of command, with the voice of the Chief
Messenger, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall be rising first"
The case of our Lord's death verifies all these Scriptures to the letter. He committed
His spirit to the Father, and "expired" (Luke 23:46), Peter speaks of His soul
being in hades, the unseen (Acts 2:27,31), and His body was in Joseph's new tomb, yet did
not see corruption, for it had been prophesied that it should not be "acquainted with
decay" (Acts 2:27,31). In this particular point, the Lord's death differed from
others. Apart from this there was a complete dissolution and unconsciousness, which He
verifies by His own words, after the Father roused Him from among the dead, saying:
"I became dead, and lo! I am living for the eons of the eons; Amen! And I have the
keys of death and of the unseen" (Rev. 1:18
"Now this He is saying Who is the First and the Last, Who became dead, and
According to the Scriptures, neither man as a whole, or any part of him, enters a new
or unknown condition in death, but all returns to the state from whence it emerged when
life was imparted. Only by acknowledging these facts and holding fast to them in our
study, can we hope to see the true significance of the resurrection which Christ and Paul
emphasized so strongly in their teachings.
Holding in mind the facts gained thus far in our study, we will now consider the second
part of our subject in like manner, by which we will be enabled to understand and
appreciate the terms in accord with their usage in divine revelation.
|SHEOL - Occurs 65 times - Translated:
| GRAVE - 31 times: Gen.37:35; 42:38; 44:29,31; 1
Sam.2:6; 1 Kings
2:6,9; Job 7:9; 14:13; 17:13; 21:13; 24:19; Psa. 6:5; 30:3;
49:14,14,15; 88:3; 89:48; 141:7; Prov. 1:12; 30:16; Ecc.9:10;
8:6; Isa.14:11; 38:10,18; Ezek.31:15; Hosea 13:14,14.
| HELL - 31 times: Deut.32:22; 2 Sam.22:6; Job
11:8; 26:6; Psa.9:17;
16:10; 18:5; 55:15; 86:13; 116:3; 139:8; Prov. 5:5; 7:27; 9:18;
15:11,24; 23:14; 27:20; Isa.5:14; 14:9, 15; 28:15,18; 57:9;
Ezek.31:16,17; 32:21,27; Amos 9:2; Jonah 2:2; Hab.2:5.
| THE PIT - 3 times: Num.16:30,33; Job 17:16.
|HADES - Occurs 11 times - Translated:
HELL 10 times: Matt.11:23; 16:18; Luke 10:15; 16:23;
Acts 2:27,31; Rev.1:18; 6:8; 20:13,14.
GRAVE 1 time: 1 Cor.15:55 (not in the Greek).
|GEHENNA - Occurs 12 times - Translated:
HELL 12 times: Matt.5:22,29,30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15,33;
Mark 9:43,45,47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6.
|TARTARUS - Occurs 1 time - Translated:
HELL 1 time: 2 Peter 2:4.
|THE LAKE OF FIRE - Occurs 5 times:
For the Wild Beast, False Prophet and Satan,
it is Eonian Torment: Rev.19:20; 20:10.
For irreverent mankind--those not found written in the book of life--
it is the Second Death: Rev.20:14,15; 21:8.
It is astonishing to note the various ideas attached to the word hell in the English
language. It has become a vile, contemptible, odious, calumniating, anathematizing by-word
attached to almost every slang expression imaginable. But we are concerned in this study
about the word in its original significance, and no time will be given to the usages to
which it has been corrupted. It is of Saxon origin, and is derived from the verb helan,
and was spelled hele, helle, hell, heile, and helan. In this original state, the word had
a very mild and harmless significance. It meant simply to cover up, conceal, or hide. The
word in its primitive form is still retained, especially in the western counties of
England, and means something concealed, covered, the grave. To hele over a thing, meant to
cover it. Dr. Clarke says, that tiling or slating of a house is called in Cornwall,
heling, to this day; and in Lancashire the covers of books are so called. Doubtless the
first translators of our English Bible used the word hell in the sense of a covered or
unseen place, the grave, or perhaps the state of death.
But today the almost universal belief of the different divisions of Christendom is,
that there is now existing somewhere, a vast furnace or fiery lake, burning with
brimstone, which they are pleased to call "Hell," spelling it with capital
letters, emphasized with bold face type! Into this place it is believed that all the souls
of the wicked, separated from their bodies at death, are plunged for torment, where the
burning agonies of the flames will never, never cease or be extinguished, the pangs of
which are so intense that the horrors of a furnace would be a paradise!
As a child I recollect being told (and we hear it sometimes today) that the fires of
hell were "seven times hotter than the hottest fire that could be built on
earth!" This, of course, is the result of ignorantly confusing it with the account of
Nebuchadnezzar, who, in his fury, ordered the fiery furnace to be heated much hotter than
it was wont to be heated, into which the three Hebrews, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
were cast alive for refusing to worship the golden image according to his commands. It has
nothing whatever to do with the subject of hell, and the sooner we clear our minds of such
misleading errors the sooner we will be enabled to receive the truth on the subject.
REVOLTING BELIEFS FORMERLY TAUGHT
Believing it will be helpful to briefly note to what lengths men have gone in the past
to uphold the belief of the natural immortality of the soul, connected with the pagan
belief in hell, we will give a few quotations before considering what the Scriptures
really teach. These quotations are taken from creeds and sermons of such illustrious
preachers as Jonathan Edwards, Isaac Ambrose, Samuel Hopkins, John Whitaker, Spurgeon,
Ebenezer Erskine, and others:
"Those wicked men who died many years ago, their souls went to hell,...those who
went to hell in former ages of the world have been kept in hell ever since, all the while
suffering torment; ...they are kept in being for no other purpose."
"The damned shall be packed like brick in a kiln, and be so bound that they cannot
move a limb, nor even an eyelid; and while thus fixed, the Almighty shall blow the fires
of hell through them forever."
"Only conceive the poor wretch in the flames. See how his tongue hangs from
between his blistered lips! How it excoriates and burns the roof of his mouth, as if it
were a firebrand! Behold him crying for a drop of water. I will not picture the scene,
...When the damned jingle the burning irons of their torments, they shall say
"The bodies of the damned will be salted with fire, so tempered and prepared to
burn the more fiercely, and yet never consume."
"Think now, O sinner, what shall be thy reward when thou shalt meet thy
Judge?...The drunkard shall have plenty of his cups, when scalding lead shall be poured
down his throat, and his breath draw flames of fire instead of air...The wicked shall be
crowded together like bricks in a fiery furnace....What wailing, weeping, roaring,
yelling, filling both heaven, earth, and hell!"
"The smoke of their torment shall ascend in the sight of the blessed forever and
serve as a most clear glass always before their eyes to give them a constant, bright and
most affecting view....This display of the divine character and glory will be in favor of
the redeemed, and most entertaining, and give the highest pleasure to those who love God,
and raise their happiness to ineffable heights....Should this eternal punishment and this
fire be extinguished, it would in a great measure obscure the light of heaven, and put an
end to a great part of the happiness and glory of the blessed."
Remember, dear reader, that these quotations are only the wild, misguided blasphemous
ravings of men lost in the mazes of their own speculations. I am sure it will be a relief
to turn to the blessed truth of the sacred Scriptures, and sit at the feet of the One Who
spoke as never man spoke, and learn the truth of the subject.
Having learned the original meaning of the word hell, let us note that the word has
been used to translate four different words in the Scriptures--one Hebrew and three
Greek--sheol, hades, Gehenna, and Tartarus. We will now give study to each.
The word sheol occurs sixty-five times in the Hebrew Scriptures, and has been rendered
into English thirty-one times "grave," thirty-one times "hell," and
three times "the pit." See chart on Hell, accompanying this chapter. Now a
comparative study of the occurrences in the King James Version will enable all to see that
the usage, regardless of its rendering, is concerned with the state of death, where all
human activities cease--the unseen or imperceptible.
In the Greek Scriptures, or New Testament, we find hades used by the holy spirit to
convey the idea of sheol in the Hebrew. Hebrew, as we are aware, had no human usage to
corrupt it before being incorporated in the Scriptures. All knowledge of Hebrew starts
with the Scriptures. They are the fountain head of that language, and there is no previous
literature behind them. Hence, the usage of words in the Hebrew Scriptures establishes
their meaning beyond any quibble or doubt. But when we study the Greek word hades, we are
confronted with the fact that it had been in use by the Greeks for centuries, and was, of
natural consequence, in harmony with their mythological traditions. It had become the
embodiment of Satan's lie, "thou shall not surely die." To the Greeks, hades was
the world of darkness, the spirit world, or intermediate state, as it is used by
Spiritists today, which permeates the orthodox theology of Christendom.
But the question before us is, Does the holy spirit expect us to follow this
perversion, or the truth in its purity? A consideration of the evidence which the holy
spirit lays before us, should settle the question for every truth seeker. Take the
familiar passage of Acts 2:27,31, in which hades is used by the spirit as the equivalent
of the Hebrew sheol in the quotation of Psalms 16:10. This is a divine commentary that
hades in the Greek Scriptures is to embody the meaning of sheol in the Hebrew Scriptures.
In other words, when God breathed this word hades as a synonym for His own word sheol in
the Hebrew, that purified the word of all its heathen ideas, and settles once for all the
sense in which we, who receive the love of the truth, are to understand it.
We may also be profited by a study of the literal meaning of the Greek word hades,
apart from any traditions, through its component elements. It is made up of the clement a,
which is a prefix, equivalent to our UN, or not, and idein, meaning to perceive. These
united, give us the unquestionable significance of the word in its purity: "not to
perceive," the "unseen." This definition is in strict accord with divine
usage of the words, both sheol and hades, in the Scriptures.
To more forcibly verify these facts, let us consider the origin, component,
manifestation, and the dissolution of man in his return to death as related to sheol and
hades, and note the accord:
The body returns to the soil, the spirit, the source of life, returns to
God, and the soul, or sensation, returns to the unseen- -sheol or hades. A point which
will help us much in this study is the fact that the "soul" only is coupled with
sheol or hades. The spirit is never associated with either sheol or hades. The body is
never related to sheol or hades except in the extraordinary cases of the sons of Korah,
Dathan, and Abiram, who went down alive into sheol, and Jonah, who found his sheol in the
great fish. In contrast with this, the soul is definitely spoken of as being in sheol in
at least six passages (Psa.16:10; 30:3; 49:15; 86:13; 89:48; Prov 23:14), and in hades in
two (Acts 2: 27,31). In confirmation of this evidence, is the fact that, in every context,
the thought is always concerned with sensation (which corresponds to the soul) when the
reference is to humanity.
A very practical analogical comparison may be drawn from an electric light. Electricity
may be compared with spirit, the principle of life, the filament to the body, the light to
the soul. If we cut off the current, the light goes to "the unseen." The
filament remains. And so it is with man. When the thread of life is broken at death, man
vanishes from among the living. The spirit, the seat of life, returns unto God Who gave
it, the body returns to the soil, and the soul--all of sensation and
consciousness--returns to the unseen, sheol or hades. Scripturally, all mankind, saints
and sinners alike, undergo this dissolution and return to death, the state in which they
remain until the resurrection.
Our next word in the Greek Scriptures in the study of hell, is Gehenna. It occurs
twelve times and is translated hell in every instance. It evidently is not a Greek word,
as it does not occur in any classic author. It seems to be the Grecian mode of spelling
the Hebrew words which mean "The Ravine of Hinnom." There is nothing Greek about
it except the letters. Our translators had no more authority for translating Gehenna hell,
than they would have had for translating Sodom or Gomorrah hell. The word is seldom
translated in foreign versions.
Originally the ravine of the son of Hinnom was a delightful vale on the southwestern
side of Jerusalem, planted with trees and beautified with fountains watered by the torrent
Kedron. Later, for idolatrous worship, the kings of Judah erected there a brazen image, of
Moloch, which had the face of a calf, and a body resembling a man in sitting posture with
extended arms. Here, the Jews, accustomed to sacrificing doves, rams, calves, and bulls,
idolatrously sacrificed their own children. The valley is also called Tophet, meaning a
detestation, an abomination, from toph, to vomit with loathing. Others derive it from
toph, meaning a dram, because the perpetrators of these horrible sacrifices beat drums, so
that the shrieks of the infants who were being burned in the arms of the image could not
Later, the pious king Josiah caused it to be polluted and made a place of desecration.
It became the incinerator for all the filth and garbage of the city, together with the
carcass 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. There the worms, or maggots, were ever feeding on the portions of the corrupted
bodies not consumed by the fire, which reveals the origin of the expression, "where
their worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched."
The valley is further signalized by two memorable occurrences. The army of Sennacherib,
consisting of 185,000 men, were slain there in one night, and their bodies consumed by
fire. Also the Babylonians made a great slaughter of the idolatrous Jews in the valley,
and their carcasses, more than could be buried, became the prey of the scavengers of the
air and field.
Out of all this, the valley became a place of loathing and abhorrence. It is with this
significance that Christ related it to transgressors of Jehovah's law in the future day of
the millennial kingdom. As we have already shown in our study of the millennial reign, the
least infraction of the law will receive immediate adjudication, and those deserving of
death will be executed and the whole body cast into the fire of Gehenna (Matt.5:22,29,30;
Isa. 66:24). Hence the significance of Christ's statement:
"And be not afraid of those who are killing the body, yet are not able to kill the
soul. Yet be fearing Him rather Who is able to destroy both the soul and the body in
With the kingdom of the heavens at hand, in the days of our Lord, and in the future,
during the time of awful tribulation, many of the sons of Israel will be killed
"because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God." Yet with the
establishment of the kingdom, they will be resurrected to priestly sovereignty and satiate
their souls in the bounty of good things promised in that era. But, under the reign of
Messiah, transgressors of the law will not only be executed, but the soul (the seat of the
sensations by which they enjoy the fullness of the blessings of the kingdom) and body will
be destroyed in Gehenna. Such a judgment gives them no further right to the blessings of
the kingdom, and the Jews, to whom these teachings of Christ were addressed, apprehended
the truth it involved and the shame and abhorrence that would be the portion of those
coming under the accursed judgment.
The conventional idea of hell should never be thought of in connection with the
passages where Gehenna is used. To do so, is a monstrous perversion of the idea conveyed
by the original term.
The word Tartarus occurs but once in the Greek Scriptures and has been translated hell
by our translators. Let us give studied consideration to a concordant rendering of the
"For if God spares not sinning messengers, but, thrusting them into the gloomy
caverns of Tartarus, gives them up to be kept for chastening judgment" (2 Pet.2:4).
And of these same messengers, Jude evidently speaks:
"Besides, the messengers who keep not their own sovereignty, but leave their own
habitation, He has kept in imperceptible bonds under gloom for the judgment of the great
day" (Jude 6).
Now let us observe that these passages speak of messengers, or angels, and not men; and
that they do not refer to a final state, but to a place where they are kept in
imperceptible bonds under gloom for the judgment of the great day. There is not the
faintest intimation of any torment in Tartarus, but simply a temporary dungeon where
sinning messengers are kept for chastening judgment at the Great White Throne. There is
not the faintest suggestion in text or context of the Scriptures that Tartarus carries the
horrible conception which hell brings to the minds of people in general, and there is, not
the slightest justification for so translating it. It is simply forcing ideas into God's
word which He never intended to be there, and must be accounted for by those who, knowing
better, continue to spread the error among the saints. May our God save all who read this
from propagating the corruption any further, and inspire them to help eradicate it by
pressing the positive teaching of the word in its purity.
THE LAKE OF FIRE
The phrase the lake of fire occurs five times in the scroll of the Unveiling, and in
only two of these occurrences is there said to be consciousness and torment. Therefore,
with this distinction emphasized by the holy spirit it will be wisdom for us to study the
subject from that standpoint.
"And the wild beast is arrested, and with it the false prophet, who does signs
before it, by which he deceives those getting the emblem of the wild beast, and those
worshiping its Image. Living, the two were cast into the Take of fire burning with
"And the Slanderer who is deceiving them was cast into the lake of fire and
sulphur, where the wild beast and where the false prophet are also. And they will be
tormented day and night for the eons of the eons" (Rev.20:10).
In these Scriptures we find three individuals--Satan, the Wild Beast, and False
Prophet--who never come before the Great White Throne Judgment. They are the only ones
said to be tormented for the eons of the eons in the lake of fire. The Beast and the False
Prophet are superhuman, the minions of Satan--for he gives them all their power and
authority. The Wild Beast has been dead, and was recalled to life (Rev.13:3). The False
Prophet was endowed with power to give spirit to the image of the wild beast
(Rev.13:11-15). This is evidence that they possess vitality unknown to other mortals, and
this is secured by lawlessly yielding themselves to Satan. This superhuman, miraculous
vitality, by which they are enabled to command the wondering worship of mankind, becomes
the cause of the severest and longest punishment in the Scriptures. They are arrested and
cast into the fiery lake alive, and exist in its torment for the eons of the eons, that
is, until the consummation, when death is abolished.
But it is the height of folly to insist and teach, as is so generally done, that this
is to be the portion or doom of all unbelievers, even infants, and the heathen, some of
whose lives and benefactions put to shame the saints. All will be judged and paid their
due according to the just judgment of God, as we have shown in our former chapter on this
subject. But here we learn, by a discriminating study of the Scriptures, the doom of those
not found written in the scroll of life. Concerning these, it is written:
"And death and the unseen were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second
death--the lake of fire. And if anyone was not found written in the scroll of life, he was
cast into the lake of fire" (Rev.20:14,15).
"Yet the timid, and unbelievers, and the abominable, and murderers and paramours,
and enchanters and idolators, and all the false-- their part is in the lake burning with
fire and sulphur, which is the second death" (Rev.21:8).
These Scriptures tell us that, after the great and small have been judged before the
Great White Throne and paid their due, those not found written in the scroll of life were
cast into the lake of fire--which is the second death. Now there is no need for us to
incriminate ourselves by insisting on the doctrine of "eternal torment" for
wicked mankind here, when the Scriptures say, unequivocally, that they are returned to
death. Neither is it wisdom or reverence for us to seek an explanation of the lake of fire
in the commentaries and philosophies of men, when God Himself has given us His own
explanation. It is the second death, therefore, it can be nothing more than a repetition
of the first, and as the first death was simply a complete dissolution and return to the
state of unconsciousness, so will be the second death. It is never said to be punishment
for mankind in the Scriptures. Such teaching has grown out of a misguided zeal of teachers
in behalf of the unscriptural, heathenish idea of the "immortality of the soul,"
connected with a perverted doctrine of eternal punishment in a hell of which the word of
God in its purity knows nothing. God says it is the second death. This should be final for
all truth lovers.
By this discriminating study of God's word concerning death and hell, we find that
death is a return: the spirit returns to God Who gave it, the body returns to the soil,
and the soul returns to the unseen. In death, man is in a state of complete dissolution
and unconsciousness--"the dead know nothing whatever." All mankind, saints and
sinners alike, are thus returned to death, when God withdraws the breath of the living
from them. In this state they remain until they hear the voice of Him Who will call them
forth to life at the resurrection.
In the Greek Scriptures, hades means the unseen, or imperceptible, and in the
Hebrew the holy spirit uses sheol as the equivalent of hades. Only the soul, or sensation,
is connected with hades; the spirit, never.
Gehenna speaks of the ravine of Hinnom on the south side of Jerusalem where
the refuse and the bodies of dead animals were incinerated. Criminals, executed for
transgression of the law, were cast into the fires of Gehenna. The portions of the bodies
not consumed by the fires, were infested by the worms, or maggots, which became an
abhorring to all flesh. It will be reinstated in the millennial reign, according to the
teachings of Christ and Isaiah.
Tartarus is the temporary dungeon, or prison, of sinning messengers, reserved
for chastening judgment at the great white throne judgment.
The lake of fire is eonian torment for the Wild Beast, the False Prophet, and
Satan, and the second death for irreverent men--those not found written in the book of
The Scriptures do not teach a conscious intermediate state between death and
resurrection. Neither do they teach that there is a place now in existence where the
wicked dead are in torment. Furthermore, the passages referring to future judgment give
positive statements that in the just judgment of God, all will be paid, or judged, in
accord with their acts. In no instance is everlasting punishment or eternal torment so
much as hinted at in the Scriptures in their purity. The pagan idea of hell should never
have been allowed to defile the pages of holy writ. There is no word in all the original
Scriptures--Hebrew or Greek--which carries the significance of hell according to the ideas
taught and believed in Christendom today. Such teachings have been forced into the
"Bible" by heathen dogmas and false translations, and on these orthodoxy depends
to propagate the error. Worst of all, by this teaching, they have blotted the character of
the God of love.