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Is the teaching of hellfire really true?

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Fri Apr 5, 2013

Editor: Is hellfire really a true teaching? Can we imagine that God, who is loving, will torment bad people in fire, for countless billions of years?{{more}}

Yes, God will punish the unrepentant wicked. But will he burn them up in fire non-stop? God is a God of justice. At Jeremiah 7:31, 19:5, and 32:35, God indicated that the idea of burning people in fire did not come up into his mind or heart; it’s horrible! Yes, such a thought is detestable to God. What does the Bible really teach as the punishment for the wicked? Early in creation, God told Adam that if he ate from the forbidden tree, he would die. Genesis 2:16, 17. When Adam sinned, God explained what death would mean for Adam at Genesis 3:19. There God said that Adam was going to return to dust from which he was made. Before Adam was created he was nowhere, he was nonexistent, dust. When he died, he returned to dust, to that state of non-existence. He did not go to a hellfire to be tormented. The bad people of Noah’s Day, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Pharaoh and his army were all destroyed; they are all out of existence — dead. Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10 shows that dead people are unconscious — cannot feel or know anything etc. Hence, the wicked who are dead do not feel pain or know anything whatsoever. So, they do not feel any burning fire. God has promised either life or death throughout the Scriptures, NOT life or hellfire. Deuteronomy 30:15, 19; Romans 6:23.

Yes, in some translations we read “hellfire,” or “hell” etc. at Matthew 5:22, 29 and elsewhere, as the punishment for the wicked. But careful research shows that this is based on a MISTRANSLATION of the Greek word, Gehenna. (English representation) [Checking a King James Version with footnotes can show you that the Greek term translated as hellfire is Gehenna.] Gehenna in Jesus’ day was Jerusalem’s garbage dump. Dead bodies of criminals who were viewed as unfit to live, unworthy of a resurrection were thrown in Gehenna. So Jesus used Gehenna as a symbol to represent complete, everlasting destruction for those whom God judges as wicked. They will be out of existence FOREVER. The Jews to whom Jesus spoke understood what he meant, since they were familiar with their garbage dump, Gehenna. NO living criminal was thrown in Gehenna, so it CANNOT represent a place of conscious torment, such as hellfire. Gehenna carries the same thought as the lake of fire in Revelation, which is not a literal lake of fire, but stands for the second DEATH. Revelation 20:14.

Therefore, hellfire is NOT real. The real punishment for the wicked is everlasting death, according to God’s inspired Word. May we defend the Almighty loving God and Father against teachings that make Him appear cruel and merciless.

Ariston Coombs

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