Thursday, August 28, 2008

Re: neither does the Bible `clearly' show that hell-fire is real

Pam

Continuing from the first part, Re: Jesus is not Jehovah ... such a thing is unthinkable, of my response to your comment under my post "Main reasons why Jehovah's Witnessism is false."

[Above: Medieval illustration of Hell in the Hortus deliciarum manuscript of Herrad of Landsberg (about 1180): Wikipedia]

Your words are bold to distinguish them from my response.

Again, I don't want to here preempt my eventual posting a separate page under: "9. The Watchtower's doctrine of annihilation, denies the Bible's clear teaching of eternal punishment (Mt 25:46; 2Th 1:9; Rev 20:10) ...." of my "Main reasons why Jehovah's Witnessism is false," so this is mainly a response to your points.

First, by "real" I don't mean literal fire but symbolic representations of real, conscious, painful, punishment, in eternity:

"... the New Testament pictures of hell are metaphors and not literal descriptions. .... Jude calls hell the `blackest darkness' (Jude 13) when only moments earlier in verse 7 he pictures it as an `eternal fire.' ... Both are metaphors for the inexpressible judgment of God." (Crockett, 1992, pp.29-31).

"Gehenna ... translated `hell,' denoting the eternal state of the lost after resurrection. ...There are many phrases in which the overshadowing idea is presented with great distinctness, such as `unquenchable fire,' [Mt 3:12] `the blackness of darkness,' [Jude 13] `furnace of fire,' [Mt 13:42,50] `torment in fire and brimstone,' [Rev 14:10; 20:10] `the smoke of their torment,' [Rev 14:11] `the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone,' [Rev 21:8] `where their worm dieth not,' [Mk 9:44,46,48] `the place prepared for the devil and his angels.' [Mt 25:41] ... the different images under which it is represented cannot possibly be taken literally ... but ... Who shall say that the reality will not infinitely surpass in awfulness the boldest pictures of it?" (Unger, 1966, p.467).

There are eight verses in the King James Version of the Bible that contain both "hell" and "fire." One is in the Old Testament:

Dt 32:22 For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell [Heb. she'ol], and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.

In the context of the above, it is Jehovah speaking (Dt 32:19-20) , and He states that there is a "lowest sheol" and the "fire" of His anger shall "burn" down to it. The New World Translation (1984) has: "For a fire has been ignited in my anger And it will burn down to She'ol, the lowest place ..." and it has a footnote: "Or, `down to the lowest Sheol.'"

Seven of the eight references in the KJV to "hell" and "fire" are in the New Testament (Mt 5:22; 18:8; Mk 9:43,45,47; Jas 3:6; Rev 20:14):

Mt 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca ["empty one," "worthless"], shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire [Gk. ten geennan tou puros - "the Gehenna of the fire"- Kingdom Interlinear Translation (KIT)].

Jesus here teaches that there is a "Gehenna of fire" that those who verbally abuse their fellow humans are "in danger of". Moreover, this is a greater penalty than any human court ("the judgment" and "the council" Gk. to sunedrio - "the Sanhedrin") can impose. But the Jewish Sanhedrin could impose a sentence of death (Mt 26:59; Mk 14:55; Acts 6:12,15; 7:57-58), so this "danger of hell fire" must be greater than that of being executed.

But according to the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, "When a person dies, he ceases to exist" (my emphasis):

"At death Adam would simply cease to exist! ... the dead ... are conscious of nothing at all.' ... the dead know absolutely nothing. .... Our dead loved ones are not conscious of anything." ("Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life," 1995, pp.82-83).

"What happens to us when we die? ... Our memories, feelings, and senses ... do not survive the destruction of our brain ... When a person dies, he ceases to exist. .... The dead do not ... think. Not even one part of us survives the death of the body..." ("What Does the Bible Really Teach?," 2005, pp.57-58).

and "Gehenna is a symbol of annihilation,," "total annihilation," "the state of nonexistence":

"Fear him who after killing has authority to throw into Gehenna,' that is, a symbolic place representing total annihilation. (Luke 12:4, 5; Matt. 10:28)" (Awake, July 22, 1976, p.3).

"Gehenna pictures the state of nonexistence, annihilation ..." (Watchtower, August 15, 1977, p.506).

"So Gehenna is a symbol of annihilation." (Watchtower, November 15, 1997, p.17).

But in that case being executed by the Sanhedrin and ceasing to exist, and being thrown into Gehenna and being totally annihilated, would be equivalent punishments. So being thrown into the "Gehenna of fire" must be a greater punishment than being executed and ceasing to exist. However, only by continuing to be conscious after death could that greater punishment be any punishment at all, let alone being conscious in the "Gehenna of fire"!

In this next verse, Jesus taught that it would be better to live this life on earth without "one eye" [Gk. monophthalmon] than to be in "hell fire" [ten geennan tou puros] with two eyes:

Mt 18:9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

In the previous verse, Jesus taught that this "fire" is "everlasting":

Mt 18:8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire [pur to aionion]

But if Gehenna was "the state of nonexistence" then it would not be better to live this life without a "hand," "foot" and/or an "eye" than ceasing to exist at death.

Also, Jesus' teaching that one can "enter into life" after death "with one eye" [Gk. monophthalmon] refutes the Watchtower's teaching above that, "Not even one part of us survives the death of the body."

The next three of the eight KJV verses that contain "hell" and "fire," further refutes the Watchtower's teaching that "Not even one part of us survives the death of the body," in that Jesus teaches that one can "enter into life" after death being "maimed", i.e. without one hand, "halt", without one foot, and again with only "one eye":

Mk 9:43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

Mk 9:45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

Mk 9:47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye [Gk. monophthalmon], than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:

The last of these three verses does not have "fire" in the most ancient and best manuscripts (see Mk 9:47 NIV), but the first two of these three verses above does. In those two, Jesus also warned that there is in "hell" "the fire that never shall be quenched" that one could go "into" [eis ton geena eis to pur to asbeston - "into the Gehenna, into the fire the inextinguishable" (KIT)].

Jesus' clear teaching in these above two verses is that there is a place, or state, Gehenna in which there is an eternal and inextinguishable "fire" burning into which unrepentant sinners will "enter into". Whether literal or symbolic, the whole point of Jesus' warning is that in that eternal state of "hell" they will continue to be conscious and suffer painful punishment.

In the next of the eight verses, James likens the tongue to "a fire" [pur] that "is set on fire of hell" [phlogizomene upo tes geena - "being set aflame by the Gehenna" (KIT)]:

Jas 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.

The verb phlogizomene is from the root Greek word phlox - "flame, blaze," and is used as a synonym of pur - "fire." But phlox is the word used of the fire of "hell" in Lk 16:23-24 (see next under "Hades").

The last of the eight verses in the King James Version that contains both "hell" and "fire" is:

Rev 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

Here "hell" is Gk. hades and the "second death" is spiritual death (Rev 2:11; 20:6; 21:8). This "lake of fire" [Gk. te limne tou puros] into which Hades itself is thrown into is clearly equivalent to "the Gehenna of fire" [ten geennan tou puros]. It is "burning with brimstone" and into it will be "cast alive" "the beast ...and with him the false prophet":

Rev 19:20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.

It is redundantly pointless to say they were "cast alive" into "lake of fire," unless they continued to be alive in the "lake of fire."

Then "the devil ... was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone ... and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever":

Rev 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever

which clearly is conscious punishment.

Finally, "whosoever was not found written in the book of life" (Php 4:3; Rev 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12; 21:27; 22:19) "was cast into the lake of fire":

Rev 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

The above verses show to that the Bible clearly teaches that there is a "hell-fire," i.e. "the Gehenna of fire." Here also are some quotes from New Testament Greek-English lexicons that show the Bible does clearly teaches that there is a "hell-fire" in which "the wicked after death will suffer punishment" (my emphasis):

"geena ... Mk 9:45, ... from Heb. ge hinnom ... valley of (the son, sons of) lamentation) ... Gehenna, a valley W. and S. of Jerusalem, which as the site of fire-worship ... became a clumping-place for the offal of the city. Later, the name was used as a symbol of the place of future punishment, as in NT: Mt 5:29,30; 10:28; Mk 9:43, 45, 47; Lk 12:5; Ja 3:6; g. t. puros [Gehenna of fire], Mt 5:22; 18:19, prob. with ref. to fires of Moloch ...." (Abbott-Smith, 1937, p.89).

"geenna ... Gehenna .... Valley of the Sons of Hinnom, a ravine south of Jerusalem. ... In the gospels it is the place of punishment in the next life, hell ... As a place of fire ... hell of fire Mt 5:22; 18:9 ... set on fire by hell Js 3:6. ..." (Arndt & Gingrich, 1957, p.551).

"geenna ... is the Greek form of the Hebrew name for the Wadi er-Rababi. ... it ... came to be equated with the hell of the last judgment ... Later it was also used for the place where the wicked are punished in the intermediate state. .... The NT distinguishes between hades and geenna: a. the former is temporary, the latter definitive (cf. Mk. 9:43, 48); b. the former is for the soul alone, the latter for the reunited body and soul (Mk. 9:43ff.; Mt. 10:28). geenna is ... manifested as a fiery abyss (Mk. 9:43) .... Those who fall victim to divine judgment (Mt. 5:22; 23:33) will be destroyed there with eternal fire." (Kittel, & Friedrich, 1985, p.113).

"geenna ... Gehenna, the name of a valley on the S. and E. of Jerusalem ... The Jews ... cast into it ... the dead bodies of ... unburied criminals ... And since fires were always needed to consume the dead bodies ... the place was called geenna to puros ...and then this name was transferred to that place in Hades where the wicked after death will suffer punishment: Mt. v. 22, 29 sq.; x. 28; Lk. xii. 5; Mk. ix. 43, 45; Jas. iii. 6; geenna tou puros, Mt. v. 22; xviii. 9; Mk. ix. 47" (Thayer, 1901, p.111)

"HELL ... geenna ... `the hell of fire,' Matt. 5:22 ... in Matt. 18: 8, 9 ... in Ver. 8, `the eternal fire'... the two being combined in the phrase `the hell of fire,' Ver. 9. ...in Mark 9:43-47 ... to the word `hell' are applied the extended descriptions `the unquenchable fire' and `... the fire is not quenched.' ... Matt. 10:28 declares ... not the loss of being, but of well-being ...." (Vine, 1940, pp.II:212-213).

"geenna .... Hell, the place or state of the lost and condemned (Matt. 5:29, 30; 10:28 [cf. 23:15; James 3:6]). ... The word Gehenna is derived from the Hebr. expression, ga Hinnom Valley of Hinnom ... it was a place of idolatrous and human sacrifices. ... children to `pass through the fire' to Molech ... in Is. 66:24 it bears this new connotation and the punishment of the apostate Jews is conceived of as eternal: `... their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched ... In the NT Gehenna is presented always as the final place of punishment into which the wicked are cast after the last judgment. It is a place of torment both for body and soul ... Matt. 5:29, 30, ... Gehenna is conceived of as a fire (Matt. 5:22; 18:9); an unquenchable fire (Mark 9:45); a place where `... the fire is not quenched' (Mark 9:48); a `furnace of fire' (Matt. 13:42, 50); ... a `lake of fire' (Rev. 19:20; 20:10, 14, 15; 21:8). Because fire is often used as an apocalyptic symbol of judgment ... such a symbol clearly represents a real and painful judgment." (Zodhiates, 1992, pp.360-361).

Jehovah's Witnesses may not realise that the Watchtower's denial of the Bible's teaching of "hellfire" is based on the personal "strong desire" of its founder, Charles Taze Russell (1873-1912) "to remove ... the teaching of a hellfire of eternal torment":

"Turning the `Hose' on Hell In harmony with Brother Russell's strong desire to remove from God's name the foul stain that resulted from the teaching of a hellfire of eternal torment, he wrote a tract featuring the subject, `Do the Scriptures Teach That Eternal Torment Is the Wages of Sin?' (The Old Theology, 1889). In it he said: `The eternal torment theory ... was unknown to the Lord and the apostles ...' ... Brother Russell ... in 1896, in the booklet What Say the Scriptures About Hell?, ... presented ... every text in the King James Version in which the word hell was found, so readers could see for themselves what these said, and then he stated: `Thank God, we find no such place of everlasting torture ...Yet we have found a `hell,' sheol, hades ... and that `hell' is the tomb-the death condition. And we find another `hell' (gehenna-the second death-utter destruction) ... Brother Russell firmly upheld the proposition that `death is death, and that our dear ones, when they pass from us, are really dead, that they are neither alive with the angels nor with demons in a place of despair.' " (WB&TS, 1993, "Jehovah's Witnesses: Proclaimers of God's Kingdom," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society: Brooklyn NY, pp.128-129).

But Russell had no theological training and couldn't even identify the letters of the Greek alphabet (let alone read the Bible's original Hebrew and Greek):

".... In the trial ... When asked by asked by Attorney Staunton ...whether he knew the Greek alphabet, Russell replied, `Oh, yes.' When he was further asked to identify the Greek letters on top of a page of the Greek Testament which was handed him, he was unable to do so, finally admitting that he was not familiar with the Greek language. ..." (Hoekema, 1972, pp.13-14).

So Jehovah's Witnesses, in their following the Watchtower's (and ultimately Russell's) denial of the Bible's clear teaching that hell-fire (i.e. conscious, painful, punishment after death for unforgiven sin) is real, is a prime example of not heeding Jesus' warning of `the blind leading the blind':

Mt 15:14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

Continued in "Re: `Hades' is mankind's common grave."

Each reference above is hyperlinked to its full quote below (emphasis original italics, emphasis bold mine).

Stephen E. Jones.
My other blogs: CreationEvolutionDesign & TheShroudofTurin


"geena... Mk 9:45, Rec.), -es, e (perh. through Aram. ... from Heb. ge hinnom, Ne 11:30; ... Jo 18:16; ... IV Ki 23:10; valley of (the son, sons of) lamentation); [in LXX the nearest approach to g. is gaienna, Jos 18:16 (Gai `Onnom A), elsewhere pharagx `Onom, (Jos 15:3, al.), v. Swete on Mk 9:43;] Gehenna, a valley W. and S. of Jerusalem, which as the site of fire-worship from the time of Ahaz, was desecrated by Josiah and became a clumping-place for the offal of the city. Later, the name was used as a symbol of the place of future punishment, as in NT: Mt 5:29,30; 10:28; Mk 9:43, 45, 47; Lk 12:5; Ja 3:6; g. t. puros [Gehenna of fire], Mt 5:22; 18:19, prob. with ref. to fires of Moloch (DB, ii, 119b); uios geennes, Mt 23:15; krisis geennes, 23:33." (Abbott-Smith, G., 1937, "A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament," [1921], T. & T. Clark: Edinburgh, Third edition, Reprinted, 1956, p.89. My transliteration).

"geenna, es, e Gehenna, Grecized fr. ge hinnom Josh 15:8b; 18:16b; Neh 11:30) Targum ... (cf. Dalman, Gramm.2 183), really ge bene hinnom (Josh 15:8a; 18:16a; 2 Ch 28:3; Jer 7:32; cf. 2 Kings 23:10, where the K'thibh has the pl.: sons of H.) Valley of the Sons of Hinnom, a ravine south of Jerusalem. There, acc. to later Jewish popular belief, the Last Judgment was to take place. In the gospels it is the place of punishment in the next life, hell: krisis tes g. condemnation to G. Mt 23:33. ballesthai ( eis) ( ten) g. (cf. Sib. Or. 2, 291) 5:29; 18:9; Mk 9:45, 47; eubalein eis ton g. Lk 12:5; apelthein eis (ten) g. Mt 5:30; Mk 9:43; apolesai en g. Mt 10:28; uios g. a son of hell 23:15 (Semitism, cf. uios 1cd; Bab. Rosh ha- Shana 17b ... Cf. the oracle Hdt. 6, 86, 3: the perjurer is `Orkou pais). Enochon einai eis ten g. (sc. blethenai) 5:22. As a place of fire g. (ton) puros (PGM 4, 3072 genna puros; Sib. Or. 1, 103) hell of fire Mt 5:22; 18:9; 2 Cl 5:4. Fig. phlogizomene upo g. set on fire by hell Js 3:6.- GDalman, RE VI 418ff; PVolz, Eschatol. d. jud. Gem. '34, 327ff; GBeer, D. bibl. Hades: HHoltzmann-Festschr. '02, 1-29; Billerb. IV '28, 1029-1118. M-M. B. 1485." (Arndt, W.F. & Gingrich, F.W., 1957, "A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature," University of Chicago Press: Chicago IL, Fourth edition, 1952, Revised, p.551).

"Trying to decide whether language in Scripture is literal or symbolic has always proven difficult. In spite of this, there is overwhelming evidence ... that the New Testament pictures of hell are metaphors and not literal descriptions. First, the biblical writers do not intend their words to be taken literally. Jude calls hell the `blackest darkness' (Jude 13) when only moments earlier in verse 7 he pictures it as an `eternal fire.' The same is true for Matthew, who often uses the opposite images of fire (Matt. 3:10, 12; 25:41) and darkness (8:12; 22:13; 25:30) when describing hell. If we extend this to the broad sweep of New Testament theology, we can hardly miss the incongruent images of blackest darkness in Jude and Revelation's vast `lake of fire' (Rev. 19:20; 20:10, 14-15; 21:8). Second, physical fire works on physical bodies with physical nerve endings, not on spirit beings. We see in Matthew 25:41 that the eternal fire was created for spirit beings like the devil and his angels. The fire must in some sense be a spiritual fire, which is another way of acknowledging it to be a metaphor for God's punishment of the wicked. Third, the New Testament descriptions of heaven and hell are symbolic pictures, not itemized accounts of eschatological furniture. The writers use the most powerful symbols available in the first century to communicate their meaning. Heaven is pictured as an ancient city, adorned with the treasures of the world. It comes complete with golden streets, pearled gates, jewel-laden walls, and sparkling rivers. Even the most lowly have plenty of food, spacious living quarters, and eternal rest. Hell is the opposite. There the wicked suffer in darkness and fire, afflicted by maggots and tormented with blows. There they weep and gnash their teeth. Like stars, they wander in eternal night, a symbol of ultimate remorse, where joy and hope are forever lost. Fourth, in ancient times teachers often used words symbolically to underscore their points (rabbinic hyperbole, as we now call it). To be a disciple you must `hate' your father and mother (Luke 14:26), `gouge out' an offending eye (Matt. 5:29), let the dead `bury their own dead' (Luke 9:60). Such colorful language was understood by all to be hyperbole, picturesque speech to bring home the urgency of the situation. The same is true with the images of hell recorded in the New Testament. Their purpose is not to give the reader a detailed, literal picture of torment, but a symbolic one. ... To say that the wicked would `suffer the punishment of eternal fire' (Jude 7) is consistent with saying they will be cast into the `blackest darkness' (Jude 13). Both are metaphors for the inexpressible judgment of God." (Crockett, W.V., 1992, "Response to John F. Walvoord," in, Crockett, W.V., ed., 1992, "Four Views on Hell," Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, Reprinted, 1996, pp.29-31).

"In June, 1912, the Rev. Mr. J. J. Ross, pastor of the James Street Baptist Church of Hamilton, Ontario, published a denunciatory pamphlet about Russell entitled Some Facts about the Self-styled `Pastor,' Charles T. Russell. [Martin, W.R. & Klann, N.H., "Jehovah of the Watchtower," Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 1959, p.18] Russell sued Ross for libel. In the trial, which took place the following year, Russell was proved to be a perjurer. When asked by Attorney Staunton, Ross's lawyer, whether he knew the Greek alphabet, Russell replied, `Oh, yes.' When he was further asked to identify the Greek letters on top of a page of the Greek Testament which was handed him, he was unable to do so, finally admitting that he was not familiar with the Greek language. [Ibid., p.20] Russell, furthermore, had previously claimed to have been ordained by a recognized religious body. Staunton also pressed him on this point, finally asking him point-blank, `Now, you never were ordained by a bishop, clergyman, presbytery, council, or any body of men living?' Russell answered, after a long pause, `I never was.' [Ibid., p.22] In this trial, therefore, Russell's deliberate perjury was established beyond doubt, and the real character of the man looked up to by his followers as an inspired religious teacher was clearly revealed." (Hoekema, A.A., 1972, "Jehovah's Witnesses," [1963], Eerdmans: Grand Rapids MI, Reprinted, 1990, pp.13-14).

"(geenna [Gehenna] 1. geenna is the Greek form of the Hebrew name for the Wadi er-Rababi. This acquired a bad reputation because of the sacrifices offered to Moloch there (2 Kgs. 16:3). Judgment was pronounced on it (Jer. 7:32), and it thus came to be equated with the hell of the last judgment (Eth. En. 90:26). Later it was also used for the place where the wicked are punished in the intermediate state. The LXX, Philo, and Josephus do not have the term; Philo has tartaros instead. 2. The NT distinguishes between hades and geenna: a. the former is temporary, the latter definitive (cf. Mk. 9:43, 48); b. the former is for the soul alone, the latter for the reunited body and soul (Mk. 9:43ff.; Mt. 10:28). geenna is preexistent (Mt. 25:41). It is manifested as a fiery abyss (Mk. 9:43) after the general resurrection. Those who fall victim to divine judgment (Mt. 5:22; 23:33) will be destroyed there with eternal fire. The ungodly are sons of geenna (Mt. 23:15). They go to it with Satan and the demons (Mt. 25:41; cf. Rev. 19:20; 20:10-11). The threat of geenna in the NT is used to show the seriousness of sin and to awaken the conscience to fear of the divine anger (Mt. 10:28; 23:33). Even contemptuous words must be avoided (Mt. 5:22); no sacrifice is too costly in the war against sin (Mt. 9:43ff.)." (Kittel, G. & Friedrich, G., eds., 1985, "Theological Dictionary of the New Testament: Abridged in one Volume," Bromiley, G.W., transl., Eerdmans: Grand Rapids MI, Reprinted, 1988, p.113).

"geenna [al. would accent geenna, deriving it through the Chaldee. In Mk. ix. 45 Rec. st geena], -es [B. 17 (15)], e (fr. ge hinnom Neh. xi. 30; more fully ... ['the valley of the son of Hinnom'] Josh. xv. 8; xviii. 16; 2 Chr. xxviii. 3; Jer. vii. 32; ... ['the valley of the children of Hinnom'] 2 K. xxiii. 10 K'thibh; Chald. ...], the valley of the son of lamentation, or of the sons of lamentation, the valley of lamentation, ... being used for ... lamentation; see Hiller, Onomastic; cf. Hitzig [and Graf] on Jer. vii. 31; [Bottcher, De Inferis, i. p. 82 sqq.]; acc. to the cont. opinion .... is the name of a man), Gehenna, the name of a valley on the S. and E. of Jerusalem [yet apparently beginning on the W., cf. Josh. xv. 8; Pressel in Herzog s. v.], which was so called from the cries of the little children who were thrown into the fiery arms of Moloch [q. v.], i.e. of an idol having the form of a bull. The Jews so abhorred the place after these horrible sacrifices had been abolished by king Josiah (2 K. xxiii. 10), that they cast into it not only all manner of refuse, but even the dead bodies of animals and of unburied criminals who had been executed. And since fires were always needed to consume the dead bodies, that the air might not become tainted by the putrefaction, it came to pass that the place was called geenna to puros [this common explanation of the descriptive gen. to puros is found in Rabbi David Kimchi (fl. c. A.D. 1200) on Ps. xxvii. 13. Some suppose the gen. to refer not to purifying fires but to the fires of Moloch; others regard it as the natural symbol of penalty (cf. Lev. x. 2; Num. xvi. 35; 2 K. i.; Ps. xi. 6; also Mt. iii. 11; xiii. 42; 2 Th. i. 8, etc.). See Bottcher, u. s. p. 84; Mey., (Thol.,) Wetst. on Mt. v. 22]; and then this name was transferred to that place in Hades where the wicked after death will suffer punishment: Mt. v. 22, 29 sq.; x. 28; Lk. xii. 5; Mk. ix. 43, 45; Jas. iii. 6; geenna tou puros, Mt. v. 22; xviii. 9; Mk. ix. 47 [R G Tr mrg. br.]; krisis geennes, Mt. xxiii. 33; uios tes geennes, worthy of punishment in Gehenna, Mt. xxiii. 15. Further, cf. Dillmann, Buch Henoch, 27, 1 sq. p. 131 sq.; [B. D. Am. ed.; Bottcher, u. s. p. 80 sqq.; Hamburger, Real-Encycl., Abth. 1. s. v. Holle; Bartlett, Life and Death eternal, App. H.]." (Thayer, J.H., 1901, "A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Being Grimm's Wilke's Clovis Novi Testamenti Translated Revised and Enlarged," T & T. Clark: Edinburgh, Fourth edition, Reprinted, 1961, p.111. My transliteration).

"Hell, a term which in common usage designates the place of future punishment for the wicked. ... Gehenna (q.v.), the valley of Hinnom. A place where the Jewish apostasy, the rites of Moloch, were celebrated (I Kings 11:7). It was converted by King Josiah into a place of abomination, where dead bodies were thrown and burnt (II Kings 23:13, 14). Hence the place served as a symbol, and the name was appropriated to designate the abode of lost spirits. In this way the term was used by our Lord. The word occurs twelve times in the New Testament, and in every case it is properly translated `hell,' denoting the eternal state of the lost after resurrection. That is, the meaning of the English word which overbears all others is particularly the meaning of Gehenna (see Matt. 5:22, 29, 30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33; Mark 9:43, 45, 47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6). The distinction between hades (the intermediate state) and Gehenna ('eternal hell') is of importance, because not only is it necessary to the understanding of quite a large number of passages in the New Testament, but also it may prevent misconstruction and remove uncertainty as to Christ's teaching with regard to the future state of the wicked. It also has important bearing upon the doctrine of `Christ's descent into hell' (hades) and that of the `Intermediate State.' ... There are many phrases in which the overshadowing idea is presented with great distinctness, such as `unquenchable fire,' [Mt 3:12] `the blackness of darkness,' [Jude 13] `furnace of fire,' [Mt 13:42,50] `torment in fire and brimstone,' [Rev 14:10; 20:10] `the smoke of their torment,' [Rev 14:11] `the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone,' [Rev 21:8] `where their worm dieth not,' [Mk 9:44,46,48] `the place prepared for the devil and his angels.' [Mt 25:41] ... That the different images under which it is represented cannot possibly be taken literally will certainly need no demonstration; but it is perhaps not unnecessary to warn against the opinion that we have to do here with mere imagery. Who shall say that the reality will not infinitely surpass in awfulness the boldest pictures of it?" (Unger, M.F., 1966, "Unger's Bible Dictionary," [1957], Moody Press: Chicago IL, Third edition, Fifteenth printing, 1969, p.467).

"HELL 1. GEENNA ... represents the Hebrew Ge-Hinnom (the valley of Tophet) and a corresponding Aramaic word; it is found twelve times in the N.T., eleven of which are in the Synoptists, in every instance as uttered by the Lord Himself. He who says to his brother, Thou fool (see under FOOL), will be in danger of `the hell of fire,' Matt. 5:22; it is better to pluck out (a metaphorical description of irrevocable law) an eye that causes its possessor to stumble, than that his `whole body be cast into hell,' ver. 29; similarly with the hand, Ver. 30; in Matt. 18: 8, 9, the admonitions are repeated, with an additional mention of the foot; here, too, the warning concerns the person himself (for which obviously the `body' stands in chapt. 5); in Ver. 8, `the eternal fire' is mentioned as the doom, the character of the region standing for the region itself, the two being combined in the phrase `the hell of fire,' Ver. 9. To the passage in Matt. 18, that in Mark 9:43-47, is parallel; here to the word `hell' are applied the extended descriptions `the unquenchable fire' and `where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.' That God, `after He hath killed, hath power to cast into hell,' is assigned as a reason why He should be feared with the fear that keeps from evil doing, Luke 22:5; the parallel passage to this in Matt. 10:28 declares, not the casting in, but the doom which follows, namely, the destruction (not the loss of being, but of well-being) of ` both soul and body.' In Matt. 23 the Lord denounces the Scribes and Pharisees, who in proselytizing a person `make him two-fold more a son of hell' than themselves (ver. 25), the phrase here being expressive of moral characteristics, and declares the impossibility of their escaping `the judgment of hell,' ver. 33. In Jas. 3:6 hell is described as the source of the evil done by misuse of the tongue; here the word stands for the powers of darkness, whose characteristics and destiny are those of hell. For terms descriptive of hell, see e.g., Matt. 13:42; 25:46; Phil. 3:19; 2 Thess. 1:9; Heb. 10:39; 2 Pet. 2:17; Jude 13; Rev. 2:11; 19:20; 20:6, 10, 14; 21:8. ... For the rendering `hell' as a translation of Hades, corresponding to Sheol, wrongly rendered `the grave' and `hell,' see HADES. ... The verb tartaroo, translated `cast down to hell' in 2 Pet. 2:4, signifies to consign to Tartarus, which is neither Sheol nor Hades nor Hell, but the place where those angels whose special sin is referred to in that passage are confined `to be reserved unto judgment;' the region is described as `pits of darkness,' RV." (Vine, W.E., 1940, "An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words: With Their Precise Meanings for English Readers," Oliphants: London, Nineteenth impression, 1969, Vol. II., pp.212-213).

"A proper fear of the Creator even eliminates what is generally viewed as the greatest unwholesome fear-a morbid fear of death, especially of a violent death. This fear of death has been a tool by which ruthless men have controlled many people. Succumbing to fear of torture or execution, many men and women have gone against their conscience and obeyed the orders of dictatorial superiors to commit horrible atrocities against their fellow humans. This has not been the case with fearers of Jehovah God. They know that the present life is not all there is. Even though men may kill them, they do not doubt God's promise of a resurrection. They, therefore, act in harmony with Jesus Christ's words: `Do not fear those who kill the body and after this are not able to do anything more. But I will indicate to you whom to fear: Fear him who after killing has authority to throw into Gehenna,' that is, a symbolic place representing total annihilation. (Luke 12:4, 5; Matt. 10:28) Yes, not man, but God can destroy in Gehenna a person's title to be a living being." (WB&TS, 1976, "Fear Has Its Place," Awake, July 22, p.3).

"Those who are sentenced to Gehenna do not enter into the kingdom of God, either the heavenly rule with Christ or its earthly realm during the millennial reign of Christ. Those whom God sentences to Gehenna do not enter into life at all, even though having all their body members. Hence, Gehenna pictures the state of nonexistence, annihilation, destruction by the adverse judgment of God. Just as the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day stumbled themselves into Gehenna, so a dedicated, baptized Christian of today can stumble himself into being sentenced by God to Gehenna, everlasting destruction. Let us remember Judas Iscariot." (WB&TS, 1977, "Have Salt in Yourselves," The Watchtower, August 15, p.506).

"Jehovah clearly explained what death would mean for the sinner Adam. God said: `In the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return.' (Genesis 3:19) Adam would return where? To the ground, to the dust from which he had been created. At death Adam would simply cease to exist! ... In this regard, human death does not differ from that of the animals. They too are souls, and the same spirit, or life force, energizes them. (Genesis 1:24) At Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20, the wise man Solomon tells us: `As the one dies, so the other dies; and they all have but one spirit, so that [in death] there is no superiority of the man over the beast ... They have all come to be from the dust, and they are all returning to the dust.' Man was superior to the beasts in that he was created in God's image, reflecting the qualities of Jehovah. (Genesis 1:26, 27) Yet, at death humans and animals alike return to the dust. ... Solomon further explained what death means, saying: `The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.' Yes, the dead know absolutely nothing. In view of this, Solomon urged: `All that your hand finds to do, do with your very power, for there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol, the place to which you are going.' (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10) Where do the dead go? To Sheol (Hebrew, she'ohl'), the common grave of mankind. Our dead loved ones are not conscious of anything. They are not suffering, and they cannot affect us in any way." (WB&TS, 1995, "Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life," [1984], Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, Second edition, pp.82-83).

"An unbridled tongue `spots us up' completely. For instance, if we are caught lying repeatedly, we may become known as liars. How, though, does an unruly tongue `set the wheel of natural life aflame'? By making life like a vicious circle. A whole congregation may be upset by one uncontrolled tongue. James mentions `Gehenna,' the Valley of Hinnom. Once used for child sacrifice, it became a dump for the disposal of Jerusalem's refuse by fire. (Jeremiah 7:31) So Gehenna is a symbol of annihilation. In a sense, Gehenna has lent its destructive power to the unruly tongue. If we do not bridle our tongue, we ourselves may become victims of the blaze we have started. (Matthew 5:22) We may even be expelled from the congregation for reviling someone.-1 Corinthians 5:11-13." (WB&TS, 1997, "Faith Moves Us to Action!," The Watchtower, November 15, p.17).

"What happens to us when we die? ... The world's religions offer differing answers to these questions. Some teach that if you live a good life, you will go to heaven but if you live a bad life, you will burn in a place of torment. ... Still other religions teach that the dead go to an underworld to be judged ... Such religious teachings all share one basic idea-that some part of us survives the death of the physical body. According to almost every religion, past and present, we somehow live on forever with the ability to see, hear, and think. Yet, how can that be? Our senses, along with our thoughts, are all linked to the workings of our brain. At death, the brain stops working. Our memories, feelings, and senses do not continue to function independently in some mysterious way. They do not survive the destruction of our brain ... What happens at death is no mystery to Jehovah, the Creator of the brain. He knows the truth, and in his Word, the Bible, he explains the condition of the dead. Its clear teaching is this: When a person dies, he ceases to exist. Death is the opposite of life. The dead do not see or hear or think. Not even one part of us survives the death of the body. ... After Solomon observed that the living know that they will die, he wrote: `As for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.' He then enlarged on that basic truth by saying that the dead can neither love nor hate and that `there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in [the grave].' (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, 10) Similarly Psalm 146:4 says that when a man dies, `his thoughts do perish.' We are mortal and do not survive the death of our body. The life we enjoy is like the flame of a candle. When the flame is put out, it does not go anywhere. It is simply gone." (WB&TS, 2005, "What Does the Bible Really Teach?," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, pp.57-58).

"geenna; gen. geennes, fem. noun. Hell, the place or state of the lost and condemned (Matt. 5:29, 30; 10:28 [cf. 23:15; James 3:6]). Represents the Hebr. ga-Hinnom (the Valley of Tophet) and a corresponding Aramaic word. Found twelve times in the NT, eleven of which are in the Synoptic Gospels and in every instance spoken by the Lord Himself. ... Terms descriptive of hell are found in Matt. 13:42; 25:46; Phil. 3:19; 2 Thess. 1:9; Heb. 10:39; 2 Pet. 2:17; Jude 1:13; Rev. 2:11; 19:20; 20:6, 10, 14; 21:8. The word Gehenna is derived from the Hebr. expression, ga Hinnom Valley of Hinnom (Josh. 15:8; Neh. 11:30) which is an abbreviated form of `valley of the son of Hinnom' (2 Kgs. 23:10; 2 Chr. 28:3; 33:6; Josh. 18:16; Jer. 7:31, 32; 19:2, 6). .... This place became so notorious through its evil associations that it was simply called `the valley' (Jer. 2:23; 31:40), and the gate of Jerusalem leading toward it `the valley gate' (2 Chr. 26:9; Neh. 2:13, 15; 3:13). This valley lay to the south and southwest of Jerusalem. Topographically, it provided the boundary between Judah and Benjamin (Josh. 15:8; 18:16) and the northern limit of the district occupied by the tribe of Judah after the captivity (Neh. 11:30), and it lay in front of the gate Harsith of Jerusalem (Jer. 19:2). Religiously it was a place of idolatrous and human sacrifices. These were first offered by Ahaz and Manasseh who made their children to `pass through the fire' to Molech in this valley (1 Kgs. 16:3; 2 Kgs. 21:6; 2 Chr. 28:3; 33:6). These sacrifices were probably made on the `high places of Tophet which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom' (Jer. 7:31 [cf. Jer. 32:15]). In order to put an end to these abominations, Josiah polluted it with human bones and other corruptions (2 Kgs. 23:10, 13, 14). But this worship of Molech was revived under Jehoiakim (Jer. 11:10-13; Ezek. 20:30). In consequence of these idolatrous practices in the Valley of Hinnom, Jeremiah prophesied that one day it would be called the `valley of slaughter' and that they should `bury them in Tophet, till there be no place to bury' (Jer. 7:32; 19:11). It is also referred to as a place of punishment for rebellious or apostate Jews in the presence of the righteous. Gehinnom or Gehenna is not actually mentioned with this meaning in the OT, but it is this and no other place that is implied in Is. 50:11, `in a place of pain shall ye lie down' (a.t.). Furthermore, in Is. 66:24 it bears this new connotation and the punishment of the apostate Jews is conceived of as eternal: `They ... shall look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.' The punishment of Gehenna is implied also in Dan. 12:2, `some to shame and everlasting abhorrence' (a.t.). This particular word `abhorrence' occurs in these two passages only, and the reference in both is to Gehenna. Therefore, Gehenna was always conceived of as a place of both corporeal and spiritual punishment, not only for the Jews, but for all the wicked in the presence of the righteous. In the NT Gehenna is presented always as the final place of punishment into which the wicked are cast after the last judgment. It is a place of torment both for body and soul as indicated in Matt. 5:29, 30, `It is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body go into Gehenna' (a.t.). The Lord Jesus did not have the living in mind here, but the dead, for it is not until after the final judgment that the wicked are cast into Gehenna. At the resurrection, the spirit and the body are united. Both are punished in Gehenna. Gehenna as the last punishment was conceived of also as the worst. It slays both soul (the incorporeal spiritual part of man) and body (the corporeal)-not in the absolute sense of annihilation, but relatively in that it permitted a change of state that could suffer the pain and punishment of Gehenna. Thus in Matt. 10:28, `Fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna' (a.t. [cf. Luke 12:5]). Gehenna is conceived of as a fire (Matt. 5:22; 18:9); an unquenchable fire (Mark 9:45); a place where `their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched' (Mark 9:48); a `furnace of fire' (Matt. 13:42, 50); `the outer darkness' (Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30); a `lake of fire' (Rev. 19:20; 20:10, 14, 15; 21:8). Because fire is often used as an apocalyptic symbol of judgment (especially eschatological judgment) it is difficult to insist that the flames are material. Nevertheless, such a symbol clearly represents a real and painful judgment. Hades, the place of the disembodied wicked spirits, is finally cast into it (Rev. 20:14)." (Zodhiates, S., 1992, "The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament," AMG Publishers: Chattanooga TN, Reprinted, 1994, pp.360-361. My transliteration).

2 comments:

Craig Erik said...

Why does the bible need to clearly show anything? Its FAITH that pleases God. Doubting Thomas had to touch the wounds of Christ or else he would not believe. Jesus said more blessed is he who has NOT seen and yet BELIEVES!!!

Stephen E. Jones said...

Craig

>Why does the bible need to clearly show anything? Its FAITH that pleases God. Doubting Thomas had to touch the wounds of Christ or else he would not believe. Jesus said more blessed is he who has NOT seen and yet BELIEVES!!!

You contradict yourself. You question why the Bible needs to clearly show anything. Then you quote the Bible to prove that the Bible does not need to clearly show anything!

You are positing a false dichotomy between the Bible clearly showing us things and faith. But faith is always in something.

The Bible writers went to a lot of effort to give us a clear basis for our faith. Indeed, a few verses later than the Doubting Thomas incident you cite, the Apostle John in John 20:31 states the reason he wrote his gospel:

"But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God ...

Stephen E. Jones