An Analytical Study of Words
A Long, But Not Eternal Visit To "Hell"
"In our English translation the word 'hell' seems to speak what is neither warrantable by Scripture or reason."
"'Olam' (the Hebrew for aion) simply
signifies for a long time. The Hebrew Scriptures do no contain any doctrine
to everlasting punishment."
"The writers of Hebrew and Greek Scriptures were inspired to write exactly what God told them to write. Unfortunately, no translator was so inspired."
When I tell church members about God's victorious love and grace, that God through Christ Jesus "will draw all men" (John 12:32); "all men to justification of life" (Rom. 5:18,19); "in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22-28); "to head up all in the Christ" (Eph. 1:10); "That in the name of Jesus every knee shall bow...every tongue should be acclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord, for the glory of God" (Phil. 2:10,11); "Who will have all men to be saved" (1 Tim. 2:4); "We have our hope set on the living God Who is the Savior of all men" (1 Tim. 4:10); "The all is created through Him and for Him" and "Through Him to reconcile the all to Him (making peace through the blood of His cross" (Col. 1:16, 20). When I declare God's glorious plan to restore all back to Himself, church members ask, "But what about hell?"
Jesus never used the English word "hell" and He never used any Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic word meaning what most people believe "hell" means. For years I have asked preachers, "How many times is the word "hell" in the Bible, and how many Hebrew and Greek words are translated "hell" in your King James Bible?" None of them answered the question. Therefore, I will now present for the reader a summary of the original Hebrew and Greek words which the King James' translators rendered into the English word "hell."
The transliterated spelling of these words comes from Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible.
The only Hebrew word translated "hell" in what is commonly called the Old Testament, is the word "Sheol." "Sheol" occurs 65 times. It is translated "hell" 31 times, "grave" 31 times, and "pit" 3 times in the King James Bible. It is obvious that if "Sheol" means "hell," it should not be translated "grave." "Sheol" means the same as the Greek noun "Hades."
"Hades" is derived from the Greek verb "horao." "Horao" means "I am seeing." The Greeks then prefixed the word with "a" (alpha) which negates "to see" thus coining the noun "Hades" meaning "unseen." Therefore, "Sheol" and "Hades" mean "unseen." These two words do not describe what the English theological word "hell" means to convey.
That the King James translators did not understand what "Sheol" and "Hades" meant is proved by the following:
"Out of the belly of hell (Sheol) cried I." (Jonah 2:2) Verse 1:17 tells us he was "in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights." Where was Jonah-in Hell or in a fish? If "Sheol" is translated "unseen" we have no problem. Jonah was in the "belly of the fish" and was "unseen." We know that Jonah was "in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights." (Jonah 1:17) This agrees with the words of Jesus, for He said, "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish." (Matt. 12:40) In the Greek Septuagint, (the Hebrew Old Testament translated into Greek around 200 B.C.) we find the Greek adjective aionios translated "forever" in Jonah 2:6 in the King James Bible. It is obvious that aionios "forever" cannot mean more than three days and three nights. There is a problem here.
In 1 Cor. 15:55, the King James' Greek text contains the Greek word "Hades." They translated the Greek word "Hades" into the English word "grave," but they gave an alternative translation "Hell" in the margin. In Rev. 20:13,14, The Greek Text contains the word "Hades" which they translated into the English word "Hell." In the margin they put the alternative translation of "grave." It should begin to appear to the objective reader of the King James Bible that the translators were uncertain as to the meaning of the words "Hades" and "Sheol." The modern reader of a King James Bible printed in this century will not know this because many of the modern editions of the KJV have removed the marginal readings the original King James contained. Does something smell a little foul here?
"Hades" occurs 11 times in the King's Greek Text (often misnamed "Textus Receptus"). When we study "Hades," let us remember that according to the KJV, Jesus was in "Hell." (see Acts 2:27, 31) Obviously Jesus' soul was not in "hell-fire."
Another Greek word "Gehenna" occurs
12 times in the New Testament; 11 times in the Gospels and one time in the
Epistle of James. Jesus used "Gehenna" about 7 times. Some of
the occurrences of "Gehenna" are in parallel passages, that is,
they refer to the same event. "Gehenna" is the Greek form of the
Hebrew "ge-hinnom." It literally means "valley of Hinnom"
Sometimes it is referred to as the "valley of the sons of Hinnom."
In the Old Testament "Tophet(h)" also refers to this place. (See
Young's Concordance under Hinnom) "Gehenna" is a valley that lays
on the west and southwest of Jerusalem. In the valley, Israel offered up
its children as a burnt offering to a god who came to be known as Moloch.
(The spelling varies)
(Editor's note: Knowing there would be many questions about the Greek and Hebrew words incorrectly translated "Hell," we felt it appropriate to give a few more details to answer some of those questions. There are entire books just on these words. We certainly do not have the space in this work to answer all questions, but hopefully we have included enough material to let the reader see that there are reasonable Scriptural, historical, and scholarly support for our conclusions. The next few pages have been added to Mr. Abbott's work with his permission.)
In Jeremiah, we hear Yahweh speaking to Jeremiah regarding this sacrifice, "And they have turned to Me the back, and not the face;though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not listened to receive instruction. but they set their abominations in the house which is called by My name, to defile it. And they built the high places of Baal which are in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I did not command, nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin." (Jer. 32:33-35) Jeremiah says this valley would one day be called the "Valley of slaughter." (Jer. 7:30-33) This Scripture had its literal fulfillment in 70 A.D. at the destruction of Jerusalem.
King Josiah, in his days, desecrated this place by tearing down all the idols, crushing or burning them, and burning human bones on them (probably those of the priests who presided over these rituals). A Jew was not allowed to touch anything that touched a dead human being. Please note, it was God's own people who were doing the burning, not God, and He said such a thing never entered His mind. Also note, not one single time in the entire Old Testament was this word "Ge-hinnom" translated "hell."
In Jesus' day, this valley was a city dump very much like modern dumps-always being filled, and therefore always having something for the fire to consume and worms to eat. ("where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.) It was a place fit only for waste. Should a Jew, God's "chosen" people ever be given a burial in "Gehenna," it would be the most humiliating thing that could ever happen to him. It would be like saying that one's life here on earth was completely worthless, fit only for the dump. For Jesus to tell a religious Jew, such as a Pharisee, that his life, his religious works, his devotion to God were fit only for the city dump, was to insult him in the worst possible way. Jews went to great efforts to make their funerals great events. Some even hired professional "mourners" to cry at their funeral. Herod was going to have the leaders of Israel killed on his day of death so that Israel would mourn on his death. This is the kind of mentality Jews had regarding their life and they way they should leave this world. Even today, one will hear Jews say that the most important thing a person owns is his name. They will go to great lengths to keep their name alive. They will name buildings, start foundations, etc., to keep their name alive. Many, who no longer believe in a resurrection feel this is the only way they can stay alive beyond the grave-to have their name remain in the minds of future generations.
Returning to "Gehenna," one can walk through this valley even today and return unscathed by its fires and untouched by the worms which actually consumed a good part of the religious Priestly community of Israel in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Their bodies were piled up and their blood ran down into this very valley which Jesus prophesied would be the disgraceful burial place for hundreds of thousands of Jews of that very generation Jesus was speaking to. Please remember, it was not the heathen, not the street sinner, not the Roman who found themselves in this "hell" as the KJV wants to render it-it was God's own people-even more-it was those who thought they were closer to God than anyone else on the earth. Beware, Christian, that you do not find yourself committing the same mistake!
Whatever this valley represented in the Old Testament must be carried over to the New Testament. Nowhere in the Old Testament is this place translated "Hell" and nowhere in the Old Testament is there a hint that this place referred to a place of eternal punishment after death. The word which Jesus referred to most often which the King James Bible unfortunately chose to render "hell," in the New Testament, but did not do so in the Old Testament, is this word "Hinnom" or Ge-hinnom (valley of Hinnom) or "Ge-ben-hinnom" (valley of the sons of Hinnom) which was transliterated into the Greek as "gehenna." A thorough study of this place in the Old Testament will dispel much myth regarding its significance. The Scriptural references for such a study are: Josh. 15:8; 18:16; 2 Kings 9:7; 15:3,4; 23:10, 36, 39; Ez. 23:37,39; 2 Chr. 28:3; Lev. 18:21; 20:2; Jer. 7:30-32; 19:2-6; 32:35. Remember, this place is never referred to as "Hell" in the Old Testament. References to this very same place in the New Testament are: Matt. 5:22; 5:29, 30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15; 23:33; Mark 9:43; 9:45; 9:47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6. It should be mentioned that most of these references come from Jesus' mouth and every reference to this word "gehenna" was addressed to God's own people, not to the nations around Israel.
The Greek word "tartarus" occurs one single time in the entire Bible and it is found in 2 Peter 2:4. It is the place where sinning messengers (angels) are reserved unto judgment.
The English word "Hell" occurs 54 times in the King James Bible, and is a translation of 4 Hebrew and Greek words. Not one of the words has a meaning even closely related to the meaning theologians have given the English word "Hell." Many Bibles translated in the last one hundred years do not contain the English word "Hell." Almost all of them have found no justification for translating "Sheol" into "Hell." Therefore, almost all English Bibles do not contain any references to our modern concept of "Hell" in the Old Testament. From Genesis to Malachi, "Hell" has disappeared as a result of better translating. Many Bibles have eliminated the word entirely and the day will come when all Bibles will no longer teach this pagan concept which should never have been in our translations in the first place.
The King James translators were honest enough to admit in their "To the Reader" found in the original printings of the King James Bible that they built upon other men's work and that others would build up theirs. They did not claim inerrancy nor infallibility. Their many marginal readings proves that. Unfortunately, most modern King James Bible printings have removed that letter as well as the marginal readings. Why? Well, modern Fundamentalists and many Evangelicals have created a doctrine entitled "The Doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy." Since the letter reveals that the translators did not believe they were writing an "inerrant" translation and the alternative readings in the margins would substantiate that, these connivers have removed the letter "To the readers" and the marginal readings to hide this fact. An example of the kind of marginal readings these "inerrancy" advocates have removed: the marginal reading of Luke 17:36 read, "This 36th verse is wanting in most of the Greek copies." They weren't sure of the original Greek for this verse and let the reader know. This kind of honestly is impermissible in the "Inerracy" camp.
The "Doctrine of Inerrancy" is a myth of the most diabolical kind perpetrated by religious leaders seeking to keep God's people in darkness. The King James Bible today will differ from the one printed in the year 1611 in thousands of places. From one publisher to another there will be differences in the KJV.
Returning back to the subject of "Hell," we have found that the Hebrew word "Sheol" should never have been translated "Hell." The Jews today, whose Bible consists of the Old Testament do not translate it "Hell" because in no way does "Sheol" correspond with the images and doctrines the church associates with the word "Hell." The Greek word "Hades" is the equivalent of "Sheol" and has the same meaning.
The Greek mythological place the Greeks called
"Tartarus" occurs one time in the Biblical text to denote a holding
place for messengers (angels) "til" judgment which indicates an
eventual release from this place. The case against "Gehenna" being
translated into "Hell" is very aptly summarized by Dr. J.W. Hanson
in his The Bible Hell when he listed the following regarding "Gehenna"
- Gehenna was a well-known locality near Jerusalem, and ought no more to be translated Hell, than should Sodom or Gomorrah. See Josh. 15:8; 2 Kings 17:10; 2 Chron. 28:3; Jer. 7:31,32; 19:2.
- Gehenna is never employed in the Old Testament to mean anything else than the place with which every Jew was familiar.
- The word should have been left untranslated as it is in some versions, and it would not be misunderstood. It was not misunderstood by the Jews to whom Jesus addressed it. Walter Balfour well says: 'What meaning would the Jews, who were familiar with this word, and knew it to signify the valley of Hinnom, be likely to attach to it when they heard it used by our Lord? Would they contrary to all former usage, transfer its meaning from a place with whose locality and history they had been familiar from their infancy, to a place of misery in another world? By what rule of interpretation, then, can we arrive at the conclusion that this word means a place of misery after death?
- The French Bible, the Emphatic Diaglott, Improved Version, Wakefield's Translation, and Newcomb's, retain the proper noun, Gehenna, the name of a place as well-known as Babylon. (Many other Bibles since this was written, have also removed "Hell" and put "Gehenna" back.
- Gehenna is never mentioned in the Apocrypha as a place of future punishment, as it would have been, had such been its meaning before and at the time of Christ.
- No Jewish writer, such as Josephus, or Philo, ever used it as the name of a place of future punishment, as they would have done had such then been its meaning.
- No classical Greek author ever alludes to it, and therefore, it was a Jewish locality, purely.
- The first Jewish writer who ever names it as a place of future punishment is Jonathan Ben Uzziel, who wrote, according to various authorities, from somewhere between the second to the eighth century A.D.
- The first Christian writer who calls Hell, Gehenna, is Justin Martyr, who wrote about A.D. 150.
- Neither Christ nor his apostles ever named it to Gentiles, but only to Jews, which proves it a locality only known to Jews, wheras, if it were a place of punishment after death for sinners, it would have been preached to Gentiles as well as to Jews.
- It was only referred to twelve times, on eight occasions, in all the ministry of Christ and the apostles, and in the Gospels and Epistles. Were they faithful to their mission to say no more than this, on so vital a theme as an endless Hell, if they intended to teach it?
- Only Jesus and James ever named it. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jude ever employ it. Would they not have warned sinners concerning it, if there were a Gehenna of torment after death?
- Paul says he 'shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God,' and yet, though he was the great preacher of the Gospel to the Gentiles he never told them that Gehenna is a place of after-death punishment. Dr. Thomas Thayer significantly remarks: 'The Savior and James are the only persons in all the New Testament who use the word. John the Baptist, who preached to the most wicked of men, did not use it once. Paul, wrote 14 epistles, and yet never once mentions it. Peter does not name it, nor Jude; and John, who wrote the gospel, three epistles, and the Book of Revelation, never employs it in a single instance. (the Greek words of "lake of fire" in Revelation is not Gehenna) Now if Gehenna or Hell really reveals the terrible fact of endless woe, how can we account for this strange silence? How is it possible, if they knew its meaning, and believed it a part of Christ's teaching, that they should not have used it a hundred or a thousand times, instead of never using it at all; especially when we consider the infinite interests involved? The Book of Acts contains the record of the apostolic preaching, and the history of the first planting of the church among the Jews and Gentiles, and embraces a period of thirty years from the ascension of Christ. In all this history, in all this preaching of the apostles of Jesus, there is no mention of Gehenna. In thirty years of missionary effort, these men of God, addressing people of all characters and nations, never, under any circumstances, threaten them with the torments of Gehenna, or allude to it in the most distant manner! In the face of such a fact as this, can any man believe that Gehenna signifies endless punishment, and that this is a part of divine revelation, a part of the Gospel message to the world? These considerations show how impossible it is to establish the doctrine in review on the word Gehenna All the facts are against the supposition that the term was used by Christ or his disciples in the sense of endless punishment. There is not the least hint of any such meaning attached to it, nor the slightest preparatory notice that any such new revelation was to be looked for in this old familiar word.
- Jesus never uttered it to unbelieving Jews, nor to anybody but his disciples, but twice (Matt. 23:15-33) during his entire ministry, nor but four times in all. If it were the final abode of unhappy millions, would not his warnings abound with exhortations to avoid it?
- Jesus never warned unbelievers against it but once in all his ministry, ((Matt. 23:33) and he immediately explained it as about to come in this life.
- If Gehenna is the name of Hell then men's bodies are burned there, and well as their souls. (Matt. 5:29; 18:9)
- If it be the name of endless torment, then literal fire is the sinner's punishment. (Mark 9:43-48)
- Gehenna is never said to be of endless duration, nor spoken of as destined to last forever, so that even admitting the popular ideas of its existence after death, it gives no support to the idea of endless torment.
- Clement, a Universalist, (of the early church) used Gehenna to describe his ideas of punishment. He was one of the earliest of the Christian Fathers. The word did not then denote endless punishment.
- A shameful death, or a severe punishment, in this life, was, at the time of Christ, denominated Gehenna, (Schleusner, Canon Farrar, and others), and there is no evidence that Gehenna meant anything else, at the time of Christ." (end of insert from The Bible Hell)
Note: While all this historical and etymological information is very helpful, I am sure it will raise many questions which cannot fully be dealt with in such a short work. However, to show the reader how easy it is to answer some of these answers, I will deal with a couple of what many feel are the most troublesome. The reader should write to us for further works on this most important subject. We have many volumes which deal with this subject very thoroughly.
"Jesus says that the fire of Gehenna is "unquenchable" and one in which God can 'destroy the body and the soul.' That does not sound like a fire of a 'city dump.'"
As we go through some of these passages, I cannot over stress that fact that Jesus did not utter these words at the local bar, or house of prostitution. He did not go to Rome, Babylon, or Athens and utter these strong warnings. He boldly declared these warnings to God's own people soon to be called for a season "not God's people." (see Hosea 1:9; 2:23; Rom. 9:25)
The physical fires of "Gehenna" have long since gone out. Therefore theologians conclude that these fires must refer to spiritual things. This is called "adding to the word." In one sense, they are correct, that is, the stigma associated with the horrible way the nation of Israel was destroyed, the humiliation of being called "Christ-killers" would stay with the name "Jew" throughout the centuries, even to this day. While the physical fires and worms have passed, the humiliation, the hatred, the torment and abuse which comes with the name "Jew" has remained to this day. Remember the Holocaust, only one generation ago? But this stigma will not last into eternity. The label of "not my people" will not be carried into kingdom of God. So while there is a higher meaning and significance to "Gehenna" than the physical destruction of Jerusalem, it is not a symbol of "eternal torment." The shame and persecution will one day be removed.
The Greek word behind the English word "unquenchable" is the word "asbestos." This word has been brought over into the English language describing a substance. Examples of how the word was used in Greek should prove that this word did not define a "fire that would never go out."
"Strabo calls the lamp in the Parthenon, and Plutarch call the sacred fire of a temple "unquenchable," though they were extinguished ages ago. Josephus says the fire on the altar of the temple at Jerusalem was "always unquenchable" (asbestos aei), though the fire had gone out and the temple was destroyed at the time of his writing. Eusebius says that certain martyrs of Alexandria 'were burned in unquenchable fire,' though it was extinguished in the course of an hour."
The above examples should prove the word in the original Greek did not mean a fire that would burn forever. It meant a fire that could not be put out until it consumed that which it was burning. The purpose of the fire on the alter in Jerusalem ended in 70 A.D. when the types and shadows of the rituals in the Law of Moses were replaced by the true light-Jesus Christ, the Light from above and His body of believers who Jesus called the "light of the world."
As to "Gehenna" being a place where God can destroy the "body and the soul," it should be noted that God could also "raise up children to Abraham from these stones," but He didn't. (Luke 3:8) He is able to blot a person out of the Book of Life, but that doesn't mean He will. We must be careful not to add to His Word what is not there.
Jesus' warnings were extremely strong about the fires of "Gehenna." Again, speaking to the "chosen" people,
"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). And if thy right eye 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." (Matt. 5:28,29; see also Matt. 18:9 and Mark 9:43,49)
If these Scriptures are to be taken literally, and if the consequences are eternal torment, then the church should be full of one-eyed, one-armed, one-footed members. The pulpits should have chairs behind them for the multitude of one-footed preachers who have problems with lustful eyes and hearts, and greed never being satisfied with the amount of money they raise.
I met a Christian who took these Scriptures literally and tried to take out one of his eyes. How many preachers would dare be bold enough in their so-called "faith" to counsel such a man that he was doing the right thing because he was following Scriptures? The justice systems would have those preachers behind bars in no time. Can you see the hypocrisy in this kind of reasoning? If Jesus meant what he said and if the consequences were what preachers tell us they are, then they should teach it all from a literal point of view, but they don't. They don't believe their own teachings.
Jesus rebuked God's "chosen people" evangelists declaring they were making their converts "two times the sons of Hell (Gehenna) as yourselves." (Matt. 23:15) If eternal torment is what is implied here, then God has a serious problem. He chose them to be His "evangelists." From the very beginning of Israel's history, God told them that they would forsake Him and become rebellious. (Joshua 23:16 and many other prophesies) If God knew that Israel was going to misrepresent God to the nations, that they would accept false God's and images and make their converts two times the sons of Hell (Gehenna) as themselves, then God is ultimately responsible for the fate of the peoples of this world because He knew in advance that Israel would misrepresent the Truth. If "Gehenna" is eternal torment, God has indicted Himself in being an accomplice to making the world full of people who are "two times the sons of Hell." God Himself chose these people as a nation of priests to the world. It was their responsibility to show the world His standards. They miserably failed. But God knew they would fail before they even began. Therefore, since He had foreknowledge of this fact, He is directly responsible for the world being deceived by His own priests. The buck stops at the top. If eternal torment is the punishment for not living up to God's standards, then God will ultimately have to be blamed for those who are in "Hell." When one studies the church record as being a standard of righteousness and truth in the world, we have even a worse example than Israel. The church, for a long time in its history, forbid people even owning a Bible at the penalty of death! Study church history from a non-denominational point of view and one will see liars, hypocrites, fornicators, murders, covetous, whoremongers, incest, false doctrines, power hungry leaders, Christians killing Christians etc. How can a human being make a reasonable decision regarding the truth when presented with such a miserable example of righteousness and holiness? Ultimately God will have to take the blame if "Hell" is full of "two-times the sons of 'Hell.'" His own evangelists made them that way.
"The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But into whasoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the street of the same, and say, 'Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: not withstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.' But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell." (Luke 10:9-15)
This portion of Scripture will reveal how distorted the Bible becomes when literalists refuse to acknowledge that the Hebrew language is a rich one full of idiomatic expressions. It also reveals some major differences between God's judgments and much of the modern churches concept of judgment. The Greek word behind the word "hell" is this passage is the word "hades" meaning "the unseen." Almost every translation since the KJV of 1611 has eliminated the word "hell" in this passage and substituted the word "Hades" or "the depths," (NEB) or "the dead," (Godspeed) or "realm of death" (NAB). Even the New King James Bible, in the KJV tradition, has abandoned "hell" for "Hades," the unseen.
Most English Bible translations have abandoned "hell" in this passage because there is obviously a problem here if one takes this passage literally. When was an entire city (Capernaum) ever in literal heaven? It never was! And neither will it ever be in the "Hell" of our modern theologians. But Capernaum did experience "heaven" in the idiomatic language of Hebrew and Capernaum also experienced the Biblical experience of the meaning of the Greek word "Hades."
Capernaum means "village of Nahum." The Book of Nahum is a short prophetic book which contains a strong prophesy against the city of Ninevah, capitol of Assyria. It prophesied its utter destruction. Capernaum was abandoned in the Islamic invasion in 638 A.D. No one knew the exact location of the city until Tell Hum was excavated in 1968.
In what way was Capernaum ever in "heaven?" Looking into a Concordance and studying all the Scriptural references relating to Capernaum will bring forth great understanding. I will only touch the surface here.
If you recall, after His temptation in the wilderness, Jesus went to Galilee. Either the first city, or at least among the first cities He visited was Capernaum. Prior to entering the city, he preached outside the city. Many people from as far a Sidon and Tyre came to hear Him. Sidon and Tyre were not part of Israel, they were pagan cities! Visiting Capernaum was a fulfillment of Isaiah 9:1,2 declaring a light to the Gentiles. (Matt. 4:13-17) It was here Jesus began to preach the Kingdom of God. It was here He healed the Centurion, a non-Jew and said of the Centurion, "I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!" It was here Jesus said, "But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt. 8:5-13) It was here Peter, the apostle of the Circumcision lived. It was here Jesus said, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy ladened, and I will give you rest." (Matt. 11:28) It was here He preached the principles of the kingdom. (Matt. Chapter 18 and other references) It was here the demons declared in public who Jesus was and He cast them out. (Mark 1:21-36)
Being the home of Peter the apostle, who apparently had a large house, Jesus spent a great deal of time in this city. It was in this city that many of the things Jesus did and the words He spoke which were recorded in our Bibles were spoken. It was here the disciples disputed among themselves who was the greatest. (A pastime still in favor among God's present people) (Mark 9:33,34) It was here He raised the dead. (Luke 7:1-17) It was here Jesus said, "Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting (aionios) life, which the Son of Man will give to you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him." (John 6:26,27)
Is it too difficult to see that Capernaum was indeed a very privileged, an honored, an exalted, no-even further-a city in which the very kingdom of God on earth was not only declared, but manifested!? What a glorious privilege! It was indeed in "heavenly places" without being lifted up to some place millions of miles away with golden streets!
In the same manner, when Capernaum was covered up by the sands of Galilee's seashore after the Moslem's took over the region, can we not see the word "Hades" (unseen because it was covered up, forgotten, and abandoned) perfectly describes the condition of Capernaum after 638 A.D.? Does this city have to go to a physical fiery eternal place to fulfill Jesus' words?
Most Bible translations have abandoned their attempts to maintain modern Christianity' concept of "Hell" regarding Capernaum because they see it doesn't work very well. One day, they will discover, the modern concept of "Hell" doesn't work in any part of the Bible because this pagan myth doesn't exist.
Which brings us to the English word "Hell"
itself. Just a little study into the etymology of this word should throw
up a warning flag. But Christians are really not taught to study past their
own denominational doctrines, and therefore remain "in outer darkness!"
It is always amazing to me how much knowledge we have of ancient times. It seems God, in His wisdom, tucked bits and pieces of information aside in the forms of an inscription, a piece of papyrus, a ruin, etc., and man, with his God-given abilities, has been gathering together in recent years these bits of ancient knowledge and reconstructing the past.
The study of word origins (etymology) is a very developed science few Christians spend any time studying. If one were to take the main theological words used in church and study their origins, one would learn much.
Remember, the Greek word "Hades" literally meant unseen. The pagans then turned a perfectly good usable word into the name of a God named "Hades" and created a place of the underworld called "Hades." They turned an everyday word with easy to understand meaning into a theological pagan word which, if one studies the "underworld" mythology of the Greeks, into a mass of confusion.
The English word "Hell" suffered the same unslaught, but not from pagan Greeks, but from pagan Christians! According to Arcade Dictionary of Word Origins by John Ayto, the etymology of the word "hell" is as follows:
hell (OE) Etymologically, "hell" is a 'hidden place.' It goes back ultimately to Indo-European 'kel' (cover, hide), which has contributed an extraordinary number of words to English, including 'apocalypse,'' cell,' 'cellar,' 'conceal,' 'helmet,' 'hull,' 'pod,' 'occult,' and possibly 'colour' and 'holster.' Its Germanic descendant was 'khel-,' 'khal-,' whose derivatives included 'khallo' and 'khaljo.' The first became modern English 'hall,' the second modern English 'hell-'-so both hall and hell were originally 'concealed or covered places,' although very different ways: the 'hall' with a roof, 'hell' with at least six feet of earth. Related Germanic forms include German 'Holle' (O with an umlaut), Dutch 'hel,' and Swedish 'helvete' (in which 'vete' means punishment').
Isn't it rather interesting that the place where people met under a roof and therefore "covered," (hall) and the place where people are "six feet under" and therefore "unseen," come from the same word? A church and a grave yard therefore have much in common. This book will not go into other theological words such as the word "church," but I assure you, there are many embarrassing surprises hidden in theological word origins.
We have found then, that the modern English word "Hell" was originally not a specific region for those eternally damned, as theologians would term it, but a common everyday word which basically meant "covered up" and therefore often "unseen." This word was useful to describe a number of different things.
But as with "Hades," and "Gehenna," a superstitious religious priestcraft used these normal everyday words and concocted images to hold people in their power. They used their deceptive power-hungry minds to tell the ignorant what was in the "unseen" place of the grave (hell).
They created a goddess in charge of affairs in "hell." She was called "Hel." The hole in the ground became a huge underground empire of which she was ruler. The word with a little "h" became a place with a capital "H."
This information I am bringing forth is not hidden away in some ancient monastery. It can be found in almost any book on word origins, regular dictionaries, and encyclopedias. But when Christians have been taught to stick their heads into a "hole" or "hall" called our "church building" and not to look at anything which does not conform to "their" teachings, it leaves most Christians in "gross darkness"-in other words in a "hell" of their own.
Even excellent study Bibles such as the Companion Bible by Dr. E.E. Bullinger, perhaps the best KJV Study Bible available, brings out the fact that these words have been greatly tampered with by the priestcraft. Under his appendage number 131 The synonymous words for "Hell", etc. he states:
"The English word is from the Anglo-Saxon 'hel', Genitive Case 'helle'=a hidden place, from the Anglo-Saxon 'helan'=to hide."
Dr. Bullinger covers the others words we have just been discussing. His appendages bring great light into a darkness many Christians have been placed into, allowing themselves to be "covered" by false shepherds.
A quick tour through the Norse and Germanic mythologies of the goddess Hel and her domain Hell should be a wake up call to any person whose mind is still functioning. The Encyclopedia Britannica tells us of "Hel":
"Hel or Hela, in Scandinavian mythology, goddess of the dead, a child of Loki and the giantess Angurboga, dwelt beneath the roots of the sacred ash, Yggdrasil (q.v.), and ruled the nine worlds of Helheim. In early myth all the dead went to her: in later legend only those who died of old age or sickness; she then became synonymous with suffering and horror." It is common knowledge to anyone who has studied church history even just a little bit, that the Roman Catholic church made it a practice to absorb the pagan traditions of the nations which it tried to covert. She, the Roman Catholic church, by the power she claimed, just Christianized them. From this practice, we Christians have inherited all the superstitions of the world. Under the word "Hell" they incorporated the mythologies of the Romans, Greeks, Babylonians, Egyptians, Teutons, Druids, and only God knows what else.
This work cannot go into the thousands of pagan words, myths, rituals, artifacts, originating in pagan religions which have been brought into the Christian religion. Reading Hislop's Two Babylons, published by Loizeaux Brothers, or Babylonian Mystery Religion by Ralph Woodrow would be two good places to begin. For those of the Protestant persuasion who think they are immuned to the influence of Romanism, think again, the entire Protestant Sunday morning church ritual, including the structure of the building and its interior furniture, will not be found among the early believers in Jesus Christ.
While the Scriptures correctly translated have nothing to say about the modern theological concept of "Hell," nor do they speak of "eternal punishment," they do have much to say about "judgment."
-end of editor's note.
Those who believe in "hell" as a place of punishment (although the two words never appear together in the Scriptures, even in mistranslations) do not seem to remember the verse which says Jesus' soul was in "hell" three days and three nights. For what was He being punished? In the KJV at 1 Cor. 15:55, the word translated "grave" in the text is changed to "hell" in the margin, and at Rev. 20:14-15, the word "hell" in the text is changed to "grave" in the marginal reading! Apparently the translators could not make up their minds which word should be used. The word in the text used by the translators of the KJV is hades, meaning "unseen." It means neither "grave" nor "hell."
The evangel, or gospel, contained GOOD NEWS, for that is the meaning of the Greek word euaggelion, good news "which shall be to ALL people" (Luke 2:10). There is little "good news" in condemning the majority of humanity to eternal damnation, or punishment and saving just a few. It is noticeable that those who are so eager to condemn others to "hell" eternally do not include themselves, their families, or their friends in such a fate. Most, however, object to the idea that God loves ALL of mankind. Instead, they believe God loves only those whom He calls, but not the sinners.