A STUDY OF HELL FIRE

A STUDY OF HELL FIRE

CHAPTER
ONE
1.0                                    INTRODUCTION
1.1     BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
          Translators
of the King James and other English versions used the single word
“hell” to translate various Hebrew and Greek words that are not
synonymous. Partly because of this error, universal confusion exists over the
state of the dead. Now you can understand the truth about hell and know what
really happens when we die. Several hundred years ago the belief in hell as a
place of ever-burning torture and torment was almost universal throughout all
Christendom. Today, there is much less teaching about “hellfire and
brimstone” than in the past. Yet Christianity still either implicitly or
explicitly maintains that upon death the good go to heaven while the souls of
the unsaved go immediately to “hell.”
There amid
scorching heat and sulfurous smoke the damned writhe in anguish for an
eternity. With deafening screeches and haunting wails, these pathetic wretches
agonize over their past sins, having no hope for relief from their pain, let
alone redemption. Among Roman Catholics, the teaching is that many will go to
purgatory, to be purified of their sins first, before passing on to heaven.
Hellfire and brimstone sermons of many years past have dangled unsaved
sinners over the eternal fires of hell, even as they were implored to
“come up front and be saved.” If sinners did not take immediate steps
to get “saved,” they may never have another opportunity to get to
heaven. The procrastinator was warned that he might miss out.
1.2     THE MEANINGS OF HELL
It means
to Cover, Conceal
       The Bible clearly teaches the existence of
hell both in the Old and New Testaments. We cannot deny that hell exists, but
we intend to give the proper, Scriptural understanding of what Yahweh’s Word
has to say about hell. Because of traditional teaching, as well as myths and
legends, many have the gross misconception that hell is a place of eternal
torture of humans, a place where Satan reigns supreme. Yet nowhere does the
Bible teach such a thing, or even that Satan lives in hell.
      At the root of the confusion
about the nature of hell is how some English versions render the concept.
Translators chose the single word “hell” to translate no fewer than
four Hebrew and Greek words with different meanings: the Hebrew sheol
and the Greek hades, gehenna, and tartaroo. Because of this
deficiency by the translators, confusion and false ideas about hell prevail
to this day.
      In Old English usage, hell
meant primarily to hide, conceal, to cover. Thus, hell is a hidden, concealed
or covered place. Old English literature describes the “helling” of
potatoes, which meant putting potatoes into pits in the ground; or the
“helling” of a house, meaning to cover or thatch it. The English word
hell was properly translated from the Hebrew sheol and Greek hades
as a grave or pit, signifying the secret or hidden condition of a dead person.
The Hebrew sheol occurs 65 times in the Old Testament. The King
James translates it hell 31 times; grave 31 times; and pit three times. Yet it
is the same Hebrew word and means “the grave” Hades is the
exact Greek counterpart to the Hebrew sheol. Hades also signifies the
grave.
1.2     WORLDLY NOTIONS OF HELL
          Erroneous notions about the Biblical
hell have made their way into dictionaries and other references. Yet we can see
the proper meaning come through in the root words themselves.
The American Heritage Dictionary renders the
following under hell:
A.        
The abode
of condemned souls and devils in some religions; the place of eternal
punishment for the wicked after death, presided over by Satan.
B.        
A state of
separation from G-d.
C.        
The abode
of the dead, identified with the Hebrew sheol and the Greek hades;
the underworld. [Christian Science] Mortal belief, sin or error.
Interestingly, this dictionary also gives the root word of hell as Kel,
meaning to cover, conceal, save: From Kel comes Hel; from Old
Norse Hel, the underworld, goddess of death. From Germanic *haljo,
the underworld, concealed place.”
Smith’s Bible Dictionary agrees with many others in stating of hell:
“This is the word generally and unfortunately used by our translators to
render the Hebrew Sheol. It would perhaps have been better to retain the
Hebrew word Sheol, or else render it always by ‘the grave’ or ‘the pit.’”
Sheol and
Hades
The only Old Testament Hebrew word translated hell is sheol
(Strong’s No. 7585), which corresponds to the New Testament Greek hades.
Both simply mean “the unseen state.” The King James Bible translates sheol
as hell 31 times; grave 31 times and pit 3 times. The marginal reading of hell
in many Bibles often reads, “or, the grave.” This can be seen in the
following: Psalm 49:15; 55:15; 86:13; Isaiah 14:9; John 2:2; 1Cor. 15:55; Rev.
20:13. It is clear that sheol means the place of the unseen dead, the
pit and grave. The Revised Standard Version left the word “sheol
untranslated throughout the Old Testament. The Catholic Douay Version renders sheol
as hell 63 times, pit once and grave once.
Strong’s Concordance No. 7585 says of sheol: “from No. 7592;
hades or the world of the dead (as a subterranean retreat), include its
accessories and inmates:-grave, hell, pit.” Two other Hebrew words, qeber
(or keber, Strong’s No. 6913) and qebuwrah, qeburah
(Strong’s No. 6900) designate ones’ earthly burying place. These are translated
as “grave” 39 times, as “sepulchre” 31 times; 7 times as
“burying place,” and 4 times as “burial”
The New Testament equivalent of the Hebrew sheol is hades,
No 7592, the abode of the dead before Judgement Day. Hades is translated
10 times as hell, and grave once.
Hebrew is rich in figurative words and metaphors. Both sheol and hades
are examples. Sheol and hades are to the unseen world what qeber
(the grave) is to the corpse, seen by the living.
1.3       BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION
OF HELL AS A PLACE OF SILENCE
          The Bible nowhere describes hell as a
place of living beings in torturous fire. Neither is Satan said to be there
with his red body suit and pitchfork! Such concepts came from Greek paganism
and particularly 13th century poet Dante Alighieri’s epic poem, The
Divine Comedy. In this work is a section called The Inferno, in which Dante
gives his own ideas of hell, graphically portraying the sufferings of the
damned.
Hell as a place of endless suffering was adopted by Christianity in the
Dark Ages. It was used to strike fear in the hearts of people, and helped give
the Roman Church more power and influence over the masses.

The Bible’s teachings about hell and the state
of the dead are considerably different from the common ideas. Notice what
Ecclesiastes 9:10 says about the state of the dead: “…there is no work,
nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave [sheol],
Death obviously is not a place of continued
existence in another form. We are not aware of any
thing in the grave. That is why death is
compared to sleep, where all conscious of the world a
round us ceases and we are in effect dead to
anything happening around us.
Notice what the prophet Isaiah reveals about
death (the grave): “For the grave [sheol] cannot
 praise
you, death cannot celebrate you…”
(Isa. 38:18). Once we die, all
conscious awareness stops. The Bible says “the dead know not
anything”
(Eccl. 9:5), and “the dead praise not Yahweh,
neither any that go down into silence”
(Ps. 115:17).
Neither are patriarchs and peoples of old living in and watching from
heaven: “though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel
acknowledge us not: you, O Yahweh, are our father, our redeemer, you Name is
from everlasting”
(Isa. 63:16).
Notice what Peter tells us about King David: “Men and brethren,
let me freely speak unto you
of the patriarch David, that he is both
dead and buried, and his sepluchre is with us unto this day…For David is not
ascended into the heavens…”
(Acts 2:29, 34). If David himself has not
yet risen from the grave, why do people today think they are destined
for heaven (or hell) when they die? Notice the following Scriptures describing
what happens to human beings when they die: “Will you show wonders to
the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise you?”
(Psalm 88:10)
“His breath goes forth, he returns to his earth; in that very day his
THOUGHTS PERISH.”
(Psalm 146:4): “And many of them that SLEEP
in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to
shame and everlasting contempt.”
(Dan. 12:2)
1.2     STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
God is so merciful that He gave His only
begotten Son (Jesus) to suffer and die for the world so as to reconcile man to
himself. Yet Hell is  mentioned in the
Bible as abode for sinners. Some schools of thought say there is no hell that
God is not so wicked to the extent of sending people who He created to hell
fire whole others say there is hell fire some where.
Can we then say that hell exist? If
there is no hell, does heaven exist? If there is hell fire and heaven or
paradise who are the occupants of them both? How can one escape condemnation
into hell fire? How can one enjot the joy, peace and other goodies associated
with heaven or paradise. The ways and manners by which people view the concept
of hell fire and heaven need to be researched and documented so that everyone
available can have better understanding of the concepts and take decision on
where to belong.
1.3     PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
Many schools of thought exist on the
concept of Hell Fire. The purpose of the present study is to attempt the
harmonization of the thoughts and to examine the concept of hell, its nature,
heaven and what qualifies people to go to either. Also the nature of occupants
in heaven and hell is within the context of the purpose.
1.4     AIM AND OBJECTIVES
The aim of the study is
to to make a comprehensive examination of the Biblical and extra Biblical
concept of Hell and its attendant fire as well as its nature, origin, the
occupants.
The objectives to
achieve the above aim are to:
1.       carry
out a review of the scriptures and other literature in order to gather pices of
information in relation hell fire.
2.       attempt
to harmonize different school of thoughts about definition and existence of
hell
3.       examine
the Biblical instances of and references to hell and heaven
4.       Identify
the eternal, present and future occupants of hell
5.       Recommend
to readers and believers what one can do to miss the scourging hell fire
1.5     CONTRIBUTION TO KNOWLEDGE
This study is important
for several reasons: Firstly, the finding will help individual to have better
understanding about hell fire. Secondly, it will provide comprehensive
information for people within and outside the Christiandom in how to be free
from damnation in hell fire and stay glued to heaven and its way.
Furthermore, it will
serve as contribution to people knowledge about what God is interested in and
or not interested in. Finally, it will guide people in taking decision about
where to end their journey after leaving the earth to embark on an eternal
journey.



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