Turned into Hell

While browsing Instagram, I came across a Christian post which read "Hell Is Real!" followed by a Psalm 9:17 reference. That is, "The wicked shall be turned into Hell, and all the nations that forget God." I simply commented on the post: "You mean... Sheol?" I was told in response:
savedbychristalone: No the final destination of Hell is being referred here. The lake of fire, mentioned only in Revelation 19:20 and 20:10, 14-15, is the final hell, the place of eternal punishment for all unrepentant rebels, both angelic and human (Matthew 25:41). It is described as a place of burning sulfur, and those in it experience eternal, unspeakable agony of an unrelenting nature (Luke 16:24; Mark 9:45-46). Those who have rejected Christ and are in the temporary abode of the dead in hades/sheol have the lake of fire as their final destination.
And so I replied,
whathasbeenwritten: No? Sheol is exactly what is used in Psalm 9:17 (specifically לִשְׁאֹולָה). Yet somehow, you manage to insert "the lake of fire" into Psalm 9:17? Eternal punishment? Matthew 25:46 calls it eonian chastening (Concordant Literal Version, following the Greek text: κολασιν αιωνιον). You also reference Luke 16:24 in the context of the lake of fire. The Bible never calls the "place of torment" there (Luke 16:28) "the lake of fire" specifically. Mark 9:45-46 is about gehenna (γεεννα), which according to James 3:6 is a spiritual concept, something that sets the tongue on fire in this present life.
And I was told after,
savedbychristalone: lol you’re wrong. Hell is a place of torment Greek βάσανος-of those in hell after death. Ps. 9:17 Sheol שְׁאוֹל-sheol, hell, OT designation for the abode of the dead place of no return, wicked sent there for punishment. Repent of your unbelief. 
What started off as a simple question, would later turn into both the discussion displayed here above, as well as a chaotic set of responses sent to my Instagram page afterwards. Not replying any further, I later noticed that my page had been blocked by this individual. That is odd, being all I did was ask a few questions, and state a few points (mostly in response).

More than this, it is clear that "savedbychristalone" is speaking with a double-mind (James 1:8). First they say "No", that it is not Sheol in Psalm 9:17; then, they say the opposite, admitting that Sheol is contained in Psalm 9:17. This is not the first time that I have seen this sort of, let's say, "Christianized" behavior before either (regarding the topic of hell). This subject seems to get handled in a manner of carelessness. But in my view? Any form of ancient literature should be approached with an honest and professional perspective⁠—not a point of view coated in religious bias. The very fact that "No" was said in response to "Sheol?" (regarding Psalm 9:17) should say much. Yet, in this dogmatic scenario of arm stretching desperation, "savedbychristalone" is left conjecturally reading ideas into ancient literature, and what good has it done?

savedbychristalone: Sheol- שְׁאוֹל/ hell, the OT designation for the abode of the dead, place of no return, wicked sent there for punishment. Hades- ᾅδης/ Hell, In Biblical Greek it is associated with Orcus, the infernal regions, a dark and dismal place in the very depths of the earth, the common receptacle of disembodied spirits. Usually Hades is just the abode of the wicked, Luk 16:23, Rev 20:13, 14; a very uncomfortable place.
Hades (Sheol, Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27) has to do with death in its definition (1 Samuel 2:6; 2 Samuel 22:6; Psalm 6:5; 18:5; 116:3; Hosea 13:14; Habakkuk 2:5). To be in sheol is to be dead (Ecclesiastes 9:2-3, 10), and that is the Biblical meaning of the word. Therefore, God turning the wicked to sheol is language of death upon them if anything. Moreover, there is this association of sheol and "the wicked" at times in the Bible (e.g. Psalm 9:17; 31:17; 55:15; Proverbs 5:5; 7:27; 9:18), and although the Hebraic teaching is that all who die, die by the hand of Yahweh (1 Samuel 2:6; Deuteronomy 32:39; Ezekiel 21:3-4), there is also this sense of God killing the wicked in a specific context seen in the Bible (e.g. Genesis 38:7, 10; Psalm 9:5; 94:23; 145:20; Job 38:13; 40:12-13). Like Ecclesiastes 7:17 says: "Do not be overly wicked, nor be foolish: why should you die before your time?" (also see Proverbs 15:24; 23:14). This Christian idea being presented is that Hades is a place where the wicked are tormented. Such an understanding apparently stems from the KJV sort of reading in Luke 16:23, combined with an assumption of "synonymous terms."
Luke 16:23-24 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
It is this combination of the rich man1 being "in hell" (hades) and being "in torments," or tormented in the flame, that may lead one to conclude that hades is the place of torment mentioned (given their theology). However, the passage simply fits with the normative usage of hades and sheol. That is, the man was dead.
Luke 16:22 . . . the rich man also died, and was buried;
He died, and therefore was in sheol (dead), just like the righteous are elsewhere in the Bible (e.g. Genesis 37:35; Psalm 88:3; Joshua 1:2). Like Psalm 89:48 says: "What man can live and never see death? Who can save himself from the power of Sheol?" (HCSB). And as for his physical location, the rich man was particularly in a "place of torment" in the story (Luke 16:28). However, nothing shifts the "hades" definition into this place of torment, as its same definition of being dead fits the passage perfectly (Luke 16:22-23). So, the confusion is within the mind of people not realizing this evidently. 
savedbychristalone: Hell - γέεννα/ Gehenna, Mark 9:45 γέεννα géenna, gheh'-en-nah; of Hebrew origin (H1516 and H2011); valley of (the son of) Hinnom; ge-henna (or Ge-Hinnom), a valley of Jerusalem, used (figuratively) as a name for the place (or state) of everlasting punishment:—hell
This frequent "valley of Jerusalem" argument is in part based on the Hebrew words גַּיא (valley) and הִנֹּם (Hinnom), verses like Joshua 15:8; 18:16; 2 Kings 23:10; 2 Chronicles 28:3; 33:6; Jeremiah 7:31; 19:2, 6; 32:35 perhaps also being referenced. However, as I pointed out in my Instagram comment (but was not addressed), according to James 3:6, gehenna (γεεννα) is a spiritual concept⁠—something that sets the tongue on fire in this present life. Notice the present tense usage via the indicative verb καθισταται (which is the context of the later participle, φλογιζομενη [being set aflame]). Furthermore, as shown in this passage, to be evil equals "set on fire by the gehenna." And, this "present time fire" concept in James 3:6 parallels Jude 23 which says: "but others save with fear, pulling [them] out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh." To be pulled "out of the fire" describes being made alive spiritually (theologically), since those in it are said to be dead (see Matthew 8:22; Ephesians 2:1).
savedbychristalone: Mark 9:43: “hell” indicates that Jesus was referring to eternal life. hell. The Gr. word refers to the Valley of Hinnom near Jerusalem, a garbage dump where fires constantly burned, furnishing a graphic symbol of eternal torment, the fire that shall never be quenched. 
The "never be quenched" (or more literally, the unextinguished [το ασβεστον]) here refers to gehenna (γεενναν), the same fire of James 3:6 which occurs in the here and now. In Jeremiah 4:4 Yahweh says: "Lest My fury come forth like fire, and burn so that no one can quench."  Interestingly enough, this "no one can quench" idea applied spiritually fits Ephesians 2:8-9 (i.e. no one can grant salvation to themselves, escaping the flames of evil [James 3:6; Jude 23]). Very Gnostic sounding material.
savedbychristalone: Matthew 25:46 (MSB): 25:46 everlasting punishment … eternal life. The same Gr. word is used in both instances. The punishment of the wicked is as never-ending as the bliss of the righteous.
And which Greek word is that? It is αιωνιον, a term that clearly has nothing to do with "eternity" (as shown by its repeated usage in the Bible). Both the Hebrew term עוֹלָם along with it's Greek equivelent αἰώνιος (αἰών) instead depicts "eon" (eonian as an adjective). As the Concordant Literal Version exemplifies in its translating: "the fire eonian" (Matthew 18:8; 25:41 CLV), "fire eonian" (Jude 7 CLV), "chastening eonian" (Matthew 25:46 CLV), "eonian extermination" (2 Thessalonians 1:9 CLV). The term "eonian" is "pertaining to an eon." Thus, eonian punishment would be punishment of the eon (i.e. not a comment of the length, but rather, the adjectival relation). 
Matthew 13:40 “Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this eon.
Which eon is in view in Matthew 25:46? The Bible mentions several eons (e.g. Hebrews 1:2; Matthew 12:32), even "the consummations of the eons"  (1 Corinthians 10:11). 

Additionally, notice how the Greek and Hebrew terms2 are used in the Bible. Micah 5:2 gets translated as "from everlasting," but is actually "from days of eonian" (מִימֵ֥י עוֹלָֽם). Notice, days, not eternity. It's usage demonstrates that it does not mean eternal (to the disappointment of Christians). Another instance is Daniel 12:2 which would be saying "forever and further" instead of "for eon and further." There is no further beyond forever, otherwise the concept is cancelled out. Notice also in the Septuagint, Psalm 52:8 (51:8) says "I have trusted on the mercy of God into the eon, and into the eon of the eon" (ηλπισα επι το ελεος του θεου εις τον αιωνα και εις τον αιωνα του αιωνος). This "I have trusted" is past tense (ηλπισα), yet into the eon, and into the eon of the eon.  The blatant error of "forever" can be seen in Brenton's translation:

I have trusted in the mercy of God for ever, even for evermore. (LXXE)
If he trusted already, then "for ever" has passed. The past tense of the verb exemplifies that "the eon" or even "the eon of the eon" can occur within one's lifetime. In light of this, notice Isaiah 65,
Isaiah 65:20 “No more shall an infant from there [live but a few] days, Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; For the child shall die one hundred years old, But the sinner [being] one hundred years old shall be accursed.
This "die one hundred years old" is in the context of "rejoicing" and "joy" within Jerusalem (Isaiah 65:18-19). In essence, it is an "eonian life" (life of the eon) which has an end (100 years), but is nevertheless a reward. See, regarding the argument of "punishment of the wicked is as never-ending as the bliss of the righteous," the Bible doesn't demand some "eternal life" as translations often read. It is eonian life, a reward of life (like Isaiah 65:20). See, the "life of the eon" is distinct from immortality Biblically. Immortality is also something that is "put on" according to 1 Corinthians 15:53. Where does the Bible demand that it "stays on" throughout all eternity? Notice Revelation 22:2, "leaves of the tree [were] for the healing of the nations." Healing? What if one refuses the leaves? Either way, neither the righteous or the wicked are given "eternal" in Matthew 25:46.
savedbychristalone: a place of torment with “fire and brimstone” where “the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever” (Rev. 14:10, 11); and a “lake of fire and brimstone” where the wicked are “tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20:10). Here Jesus indicates that the punishment itself is everlasting—not merely the smoke and flames. 
This connection of Revelation 14:10, 11 and Revelation 20:10 is simply unsubstantiated. The punishment in Revelation 14 is being tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the angels and the lamb. The smoke of their torment ascends into eons of eons (cf. Isaiah 34:10), but notice, fire and brimstone kills people in the book of Revelation (Revelation 9:17-18; 11:5), and nothing indicates anything is different here. It is all a matter of assumption in the Christian's mind that this is some continuing process of hell torment. The smoke ascending into eons of eons does not reveal that they are still alive while it ascends either. It simply ascends from their torment (like it says), and how long the torment lasts is not mentioned. Moreover, "they have no rest day or night" is in the same present indicative tense (εχουσιν) as the verb λαμβανει ("is getting" speaking of the mark). Thus, when they receive the mark is when they have no rest (the same timing). When did they receive the mark? Verse 9 shows they receive it, and as a consequence that follows they are tormented with fire. Just compare this wording with Revelation 4:
Revelation 4:8 [The] four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they have no rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”
This is used in a context of worship here. That is the same context in Revelation 14:9 ("If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives [his] mark"). Thus, they have no rest day or night while worshipping the beast and his image (beforehand), as this is when they take the mark. As a result, they are tormented with fire and brimstone, and the placement of verse 11 after appears to be a focus on why they are tormented in the verse prior (i.e. for their evil). Thus, they have no rest in worship, are punished by God with torment therefore, and the smoke ascends into eons of eons from that torment. Other than this, we are not given specific detail. 

The lake of fire is defined as "the second death" (Revelation 20:14; 21:8); the righteous are said to not be "hurt by the second death" (Revelation 2:11), and of those who reign with Christ for 1000 years it says "Over such the second death has no power" (Revelation 20:6). Who it does hurt⁠—if anything⁠—is "the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars," as they are said to go there (Revelation 21:8). It says that "anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:15) as well. This is close to the concept of "hell," but there is nothing describing it as lasting for eternity (as the Christians teach).

Revelation 20:10 And the Adversary 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 shall be tormented day and night for the eons of the eons. (Concordant Literal Version)
Frequently, the eons of the eons get's changed into "forever and ever" in translations, pushing the eternal idea (like some sort of promotional pamphlet). The fact of the matter is, there is no such "eternity" in the Hebraic belief. They were a culture of "eons" (as shown). Many of these translations ignore the genitive construct of Revelation 20:10 as well (i.e. τους αιωνας των αιωνων) and end up adding the word "and" in (even though there is no such "και" found there). And moreover, the general group of unbelievers (Revelation 21:8) are never said to remain in the lake of fire "for the eons of the eons" like the devil in Revelation 20:10. It doesn't specify the exact length of time for the wicked in general.

There is also an argument some may make, that the same words in Revelation 20:10 (εις τους αιωνας των αιωνων) are used for God who lives εις τους αιωνας των αιωνων (Revelation 4:9-10; 10:6; 15:7), the argument being that God lives forever. But as it turns out, the Bible does not necessarily teach that God lives forever (see Eternality of God). The ancient tribal view of what a God was differs from today's church theology. Really this topic can be summed up with a few passages:

Ecclesiastes 1:4 One generation goes, and another generation comes, yet the earth is standing for the eon. (CLV)
Here, לְעֹולָם is used. Some translations of course turn this to "forever," but according to 2 Peter 3:7, 10 and Revelation 21:1, the earth does not abide forever (see also Isaiah 65:17). Yet the point can still be made that generations of people come and go, while the earth remains for the eon. That is, the earth stays as people come and go, but this does not comment on just how long the earth remains for overall. Other passages say it has an end. This same kind of comparison is made with Yahweh and mankind:
Psalm 90:1-2 Yahweh, You Yourself have become our Habitation in generation after generation; Ere the mountains were born, And You travailed with the earth and the habitance, From eon unto eon You are El. (CLV)
Psalm 90:1-2 Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You [are] God. (NKJV)
This is very parallel to Ecclesiastes 1:4. God remains from eon to eon, while generations of people come and go (Psalm 90:1-2, 4-6, 9-10). Yet this is in comparison to mankind; it does not comment of if Yahweh lives eternally or not. It simply comments on Him remaining eon unto eon while generations of people come and go. And, the eons have an end ("consummation of the eons" 1 Corinthians 10:11). Additionally, some may argue that the plurality seen with τους αιωνας των αιωνων proves eternity. This view is simply a reach for the stars however. It's amazing how "forever" means eternal in the Christian mind, and yet "forever and ever" somehow means the same thing. What is the and forever? The plurality is no different than the "eons" (αιωνων) in 1 Corinthians 10:11 which have an end.

Moreover, some may claim that the "they" in Revelation 20:10 refers to the beast and false prophet who are cast into the lake (Revelation 19:20). It actually appears to refer to the devil as "they" (βασανισθήσονται, third person plural indicative). The "where the beast and the false prophet are" can be translated "where the beast and the false prophet were" (e.g. ESV), since it is a matter of context, and nothing demands that they are still in the lake of fire at this time or not. If they are not, the "they shall be tormented" refers to "the Devil" as the antecedent. That is, the serpent of old, the great dragon, the devil (Revelation 12:9). A singular can be referred to as a plural Biblically (see Mark 5:9).


Additionally, later in Revelation, "Death and Hades" are cast into the lake of fire (Revation 20:14), and Revelation 21:4 says there will be "no more death" after. It is not eternally in existence after being cast into the lake of fire therefore. It is no more. But what about the people in Revelation 20:15?

Revelation 21:4 “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
After stating that "anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:15), it says "the former things have passed away." Who is God wiping away every tear from? What pain is there no more of? The context is judgment, the second death. Evidently, the belief here was that after being cast into the lake of fire, all people are reconciled. The timing is very odd in Revelation however. At times it is not only hard to determine who is speaking (e.g. see Revelation 22:6-21), but also what time frame is in view. The claim of the wicked having their part in the fire in Revelation 21:8 referencing back to 20:15, at the judgment. Revelation 21:10 shows Jerusalem descending out of heaven, and yet this occurs before in 21:2. What is shown in Revelation 22:14-15 appears to go back to in judgment time of chapter 20. Based on Revelation 21:4-5, it appears that the wicked are eventually made new (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17).
Colossians 1:20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
Here again you can see this reconciliation of all things doctrine. The context here is in Colossians 1:16, "all things were created" by God, the same "all things" he reconciles to himself. The idea is salvation ("the blood of His cross"). Colossians 1:21 speaks of believers saying "yet now He has reconciled" them, and defines this as having faith (Colossians 1:22 "in the faith"). Thus, the reconciliation here is defined as faith, and 1:20 says this occurs with "all things." When does it occur?
1 Cor 15:28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.
This passage speaks of the future. This "God may be all in all" is parallel to Galatians:
Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the [life] which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
That is, Christ (God) is Paul ("it no longer I"), and "Christ lives in" Paul. Just as 1 Corinthians 15:28 says, "that God may be all in all." It is clearly language of salvation, just as in Colossians 3:11 ("Christ [is] all and in all"). Moreover, Ephesians 1:10 mentions God gathering "together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth–in Him," and later "the whole family in heaven and earth" are mentioned (Ephesians 3:15), yet given the Colossians 1:16, 20 description, even angelic spirit beings (Psalm 104:4; Hebrews 1:6-7) are in view. Nothing forces the concept of people "dying and entering heaven" in the Bible. The view is that God is in the sky, he is even seen riding upon a cherub in the context of "the wings of the wind" (Psalm 18:10). In Genesis 28:12, angels are seen ascending and descending. Zechariah 6:5 mentions "four spirits of heaven." There are clearly angels in heaven in the Bible (Mark 13:32). The Philippians 2:10 passage that states: "every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth" apparently refers to angels, men who are alive on earth, and those who are in the sea, as "under the earth" is a apparently a reference to the sea in the Bible (e.g. Exodus 20:4). In Revelation 5:13 it says "every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea."

More than this, what is interesting about the Book of Revelation (also called the Apocalypse of John) is the way it is structured. As mentioned, the time frames are written randomly, and the speaker change is complicated. At the end of the book, there is a warning given to not add or take away from the book (Revelation 22:18-19). It is possible that this is exactly what was going on, hence the warning at the end (kind of like the "longer ending" of Mark's gospel) to perhaps put a nail in the coffin once and for all.

Besides this, the Apocalypse of John (Revelation) appears to draw from the Apocalypse of Peter. Some may date it before Peter, but the dating is clearly ambiguous. Where Revelation mentions things randomly without explanation, the Apocalypse of Peter gives context and flow. For instance, "the prayers of the saints" spoken of in Revelation 5:8 and 8:4 are not explained, yet in Peter's Apocalypse Jesus says:

"It is also because of them that have believed in me, that, at their word, I shall have pity on men." (Ethiopic)
This concept parallels Revelation 20:15- 21:4. Also, the second death and lake of fire are spoken of in Revelation as if it is understood what they are already. Peter gives a context of Jesus showing things to his disciples and says:
23 And there was a great lake full of flaming mire, wherein were certain men that turned away from righteousness; and angels, tormentors, were set over them. (ibid.)
In summary, the ancient Hebraic point of view is certainly coated in punishment of the wicked (even lasting for eons in the case of the Dragon/Satan). However, it is the Christian idea of "Hell" that differs from the Biblical view. Thus, it is all a matter of handling ancient literature from an honest perspective.

Robert Anthony

____________________________________

Footnotes:


1. 
What is interesting about Luke 16:19-31 is, it shows dead people conscious, speaking as if they are alive. This idea of the dead is similar to what is seen in Homer's The Odyssey, and "the house of Hades" in general. This is quite different than teachings on the dead found elsewhere in the Bible (e.g. Job 3:11-19). The rich man being dead, yet oppressed in torment is the opposite of what is seen in Ecclesiastes actually.

Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 Then I returned and considered all the oppression that is done under the sun: And look! The tears of the oppressed, But they have no comforter–On the side of their oppressors [there is] power, But they have no comforter. Therefore I praised the dead who were already dead, More than the living who are still alive. Yet, better than both [is he] who has never existed, Who has not seen the evil work that is done under the sun. 
Here, the belief is that the dead are not oppressed, but instead, they are comforted (contrary to the living). The dead are basically placed in the category of non-existence, the difference with those who have "never existed" being that they have not seen the evil under the sun (unlike the dead). Nevertheless, both are in a better position than the living. This sort of teaching of the dead being praised in comfort completely opposes what Luke 16:23-24 says. 

However, this "place of torment" is very close to the idea of "hell." The problem is, it does not specify that all unbelievers go there (which is a vital concept when it comes to the Christian Hell). It mentions the rich man, and the context is "the Pharisees, who were lovers of money" (Luke 16:14). That is who this entire thing is spoken to. Thus, this implies a condemnation of the rich (e.g. Matthew 19:23-24), and nobody else specifically. With this context in mind, the rich man's brothers were apparently under the same condemnation as he was (riches). It also does not say that the "torment" will last for  eternity. The Bible mentions "greater condemnation" when it comes to the Pharisees (Luke 20:47). This may have to do with length of time, but no specific details are given beyond that.


2. When it comes to עוֹלָם or αἰώνιος (αἰών), some might argue that the words can mean eternal or forever sometimes, and that it simply depends on the context. The issue there is that in every single usage (in the Bible), nothing demands an eternal context. The eon (or eonian) concept fits in every single case. Therefore, such an argument is completely unconvincing.



[note: parts of this post contain excerpts from a lengthier study on the afterlife I did over time. To request the full written study, send an email to whathasbeenwritten@gmail.com]


No comments:

Post a Comment