On 10/13/2009 I wrote a blog entry in my old blog entitled: What if I’m wrong and there is no God? In the comments section of that blog, I wrote:
“Hell” as commonly believed and pictured is not Biblical. My hubby has been studying Hell in the Bible, and much of the time it is mistranslated from a word meaning “grave”. My God did not create people knowing they were going to suffer for eternity. X
Last night, I received a response to that comment by a visitor:
Lorraine F wrote:
“To X-Evolutionist : I am quite surprised that you do not believe in Hell. If there is no Hell, (or no Hell for humans, as you imply), then what reason was there for Jesus to die on the cross?” (see blog comments for rest of entry)
I’m not going to try to answer her question in my comments. I’m going to write this post, then put a link to it in the comments.
The topic is of “Hell” especially close to me because I did not believe in God until I was over 40. If I had died before the day I finally came to believe in God and accepted Jesus Christ as my savior 13 years ago, I would be in Hell now, burning for eternity, according to what most of Christendom teaches.
In my travels through the internet in the years since I’ve been a Christian, I’ve seen message boards where atheists and agnostics would ask Christians questions similar to this:
Why would a loving, omniscient God create someone knowing they were not going to believe in Him, and then send them to suffer for eternity in a fiery Hell because of that disbelief.
That question would make me squirm in my seat, and I would avoid answering it. After all, I would wonder, why WOULD a loving, omniscient God do something that horrible? But, always, some Christians would step up to the figurative podium in the message board and explain why the unbeliever got what they rightfully deserved.
I am not a Bible scholar, but In my heart, I just knew that my Jesus would not do such a thing.
It turns out that my hubby, who was raised in a Christian household, started rethinking the subject of Hell after my grandmother died some years back. Grandma was a wonderful person, but not a Christian. According to what my hubby had been taught, Grandma was now in Hell, suffering for all eternity. That did not set right with him. He began to study the topic in earnest.
Over the course of the last year, my hubby has been talking with me about what he learned. Now, neither of us believe that the Bible says that unbelievers suffer in the eternal fires of Hell.
In the “King James” version of the Bible, translated in 1611, words were inaccurately translated as “hell”. Some more recent translations of the Bible, using older manuscripts found after 1611, have the correct translations, some in a footnote:
- The Hebrew word “sheol”, used in the Old Testament, was correctly translated “grave” sometimes, and incorrectly translated as “Hell” other times.
- The Greek word “hades”, used in the New Testament means “grave” but it was incorrectly translated as “Hell”.
- The word “gehenna” is also translated as “Hell” but it was just the valley of Hinnom outside of Jerusalem where the trash was piled up and burned.
“Hell”, the place for eternal torture, is not in the Bible.
Here is a Bible verse that most people are familiar with, whether they are Christian or not. This is Jesus talking as he teaches a Pharisee named Nicodemus who came to see him in secret:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. John 3:16 (NIV)
I’d like you to noticed a couple of things about that verse:
“whoever believes in him shall not perish”.
It does not say:
“whoever believes in him shall not suffer for eternity in Hell“.
Here is another thing to notice:
“whoever believes in him shall … have eternal life”.
So, according to this well-known verse, you only have “eternal life” with Jesus. How then can somebody suffer for eternity in Hell if you only have eternal life with Jesus? You can’t suffer if you are dead.
The apostle Paul teaches:
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”. Romans 6:23 (NIV)
Here is the first mention of death in the Bible — in the book of Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament:
The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:15-17
There was no death before Adam and Eve disobeyed God, before they “sinned”: Here is part of the punishment for their sin:
By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:19
Later in the Old Testament, God gave specific instructions with atonements for each sin. Animals were sacrificed to pay for the sin. But, in the New Testament we learn that God came to earth to be born a baby named Jesus (as celebrated on Christmas, which was a few days ago). He came from Heaven to be born a man, and then to die, on our behalf, to pay for our sins.
Jesus died to pay for our sins and to give us everlasting life with God. That, Lorraine F, is why Jesus died on the cross.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. John 3:16 (NIV)
There is no fiery pit of Hell that unbelievers go to. In fact, here is further evidence:
This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe. (NIV) 1 Timothy 4:9-10
Notice that it says “especially” those who believe, not “only” those who believe. But, that’s a topic for another day……