The word "hell" is used 55 times in the Bible, and comes from four different Greek and Hebrew words with three different meanings. Thirty-one times in the Old Testament it comes from sheol, and 11 places in the New Testament from the Greek word, hades. Sheol and hades are spoken of as identical one with the other. (Compare Ps. 16:10 with Acts 2:31).
1MH 1 Cor. 15:55. One time hades is translated "grave" (margin, "hell") in the King James Version. The primary meaning of hades and sheol is the grave. One time in the New Testament "hell" comes from the Greek word tartarus (2 Pet. 2:4), which means a dark abyss. In this particular text it refers to this dark world, to which Satan's angels were cast down when they were expelled from heaven to this earth. Rev. 12:9. Twelve times in the New Testament "hell" comes from the Greek word gehenna, which refers to that final lake of fire into which the wicked will be cast alive in bodily form with all their members after the second resurrection, at the end of the 1,000 years of Rev. 20. There is no place in the Bible where "hell" means a lake of fire which is burning now, or where the wicked will be burned to all eternity.
2MH Rev. 14:9-11. The disobedient are spoken of here as having no rest day or night. This refers to their suffering during the seven last plagues before Christ comes. The smoke of their torment ascending forever does not mean that they will burn to all eternity, but that they will be forever burned up. (Compare Rev. 19:3 with Rev. 18:8, 21).
3MH 1 Sam. 28:2. The word "forever" is used in the Bible sometimes to denote just an ordinary lifetime. Ex. 21:1-6; 1 Sam. 1:22,28;
Gen. 44:32; 1 Chron. 28:4.
4MH Jonah 2:6. The word "forever" was used in speaking of the three days and nights that Jonah was in the belly of the great fish. So the word "forever" means limited duration as well as infinite duration.
5MH Eze. 18:4. The punishment for sin is not eternal life in misery, but death--the second death, which will last to all eternity. Rom. 6:23; Rev. 21:8. So the punishment of the wicked will last just as long as the eternal life of the righteous. The righteous receive everlasting life, and the wicked receive everlasting death, which is the everlasting punishment mentioned in Matt. 25:46.
6MH 2 Thess. 1:7-9. Destruction is called a punishment; hence everlasting destruction must be the everlasting punishment.
7MH Ps. 37:9,10. There is not and cannot be any such thing as an eternally burning hell, because the time is coming when the wicked will not exist and his place will not exist. The story of he rich man in hell and Lazarus in Abraham's bosom in Luke 16:19-31 was not told by Christ to show what happens to people when they die, because before He told this story, He had declared in plain language that the wicked would not be cast into the fire until the end of the world (Matt 13:40-42), and that every man would be rewarded at His second coming. Matt. 16:27. This story harmonized with the ideas which the Pharisees had of the hereafter, and was given to rebuke them for their covetousness in teaching that riches are a mark of God's favor, and that poverty is a mark of His curse. For more information on Jesus' parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus, click here to go to the document Spirit, Breath, and Soul. To see Bible Passages About Hell Explained, click here.
8MH Isa. 47:14. When God gets through with the wicked, there will not be enough fire in hell to warm a man's hands on a frosty morning. When we ask the question: "What will happen to the wicked?" the Bible tells us in 15 places that they will die, which means that they will cease to live; in 12 places it says that they will perish, which means they will be brought to nothing, and be blotted out of existence, in 13 places it says they will be destroyed, which means they will be annihilated; in 5 places it says that they will be consumed, which means that they will be exterminated.
9MH Rev. 5:13. God will have a clean universe, free from sinners and sin.