Answer: Did you know that the English word “hell” in the Old Testament of the King James Version Bible comes from the Hebrew word sheol, which simply means “pit” or “grave”? Also, “hell” in the New Testament comes from three different Greek words; hades, gehenna and tartarus. “Hades” is the Greek equivalent to the Hebrew word sheol and can also be translated as “pit” or “grave.”

Jesus Christ warned us: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). The word He used here for “hell” is the gehenna—a word derived from the Hebrew ge hinnom, referring to the Valley of Hinnom, a place just outside of Jerusalem where trash was discarded and burned. Notice that Christ was indicating that a soul can be burned up—destroyed. Your human soul is not immortal, but may receive immortality from God as a gift upon the resurrection of the dead.

Another word for “hell” is the Greek tartarus, which signifies confinement, such as the confinement of fallen angels described in 2 Peter 2:4, where the demons—fallen, sinful formerly angelic beings—are reserved in a pit of darkness until judgment.

So, as you can see, “hell” can be a pit in the earth, from which you might dig up a potato. Or it can be a condition of restraint. Or it can describe the destruction—burning to ashes, not eternal burning—of an object.  The question then becomes:  What hell are you talking about?

We understand that this does not represent a comprehensive answer on this topic. Comments? Suggestions? Discuss with a minister?

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CD: Is There Life After Death?

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