Vol.XI No.VI Pg.7
August 1974

?You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Dear Bro. Turner

Do you believe in Hell as a real place where lost soul's burn forever? Give me three scriptures for it.


I do not know how to "place" Hell or Heaven, for "place" is a space-related word, and does not conform to the nature of "eternal", "immortal, and the like. ("Where" is God? Perhaps the best answer is "Where isnt He?") But I believe God is real, even though I cannot limit Him to some "place" and I also believe Hell and Heaven are "real."

The same kind of language that "places" Heaven, and gives it certain characteristics, also defines and describes Hell. The "new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2PE.3:13); have their counterpart in "hell fire (gehenna, rt), where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched," (MAR.9:47-48). Some say "Gehenna" was a valley near Jerusalem, where refuse fires burned continually. Im not surprised. Jerusalem was the beloved city of the Jews. It is not unusual for unknown, eternal conditions to be described in terms known and understood. If "New Jerusalem" can describe the dwelling "place" of the redeemed, on earth and in eternity (HEB.12:22; REV.21:1-2), it is no marvel that the stinking, burning Gehenna should be used to depict the punishment of the wicked.

Will souls be lost in Hell? Yes! Jesus said, "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (MAT.10:28). Lukes record (LUK.12:4-5) reads, "Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell," (gehenna, rt). The word from whence "destroy" comes, is used for "lost" (LUK.15:4,8) but never for "annihilate" or word of like meaning. In these passages the "soul" is made distinct from the body, and from life or "animal spirit" which departs the body at death. The "soul" lives on to be "lost" in hell fire, or saved.

How long in Hell? It is of the same duration as God -- as A. Campbell once wrote, "There is no word in human language that expresses duration without end, which is not applied to the future punishment of the wicked." Gods honor and glory is "for ever and ever" (aionas ton aionon, 1TI.1:17), and the Devil will be cast into the lake of fire and tormented "forever and ever" (aionas ton aionon, REV.20:10). His followers will share His fate, (vs.14-15).

The KJ version used "hell" when the Greek has "hades" -- the place of the dead, or "the nether-world" -- not necessarily referring to punishment. To avoid quibbles, we have limited ourselves to passages which use the Greek "gehenna". Death itself (personified "hades") will be cast into "the lake of fire" with Satan. (above)

C. S. Lewis said, "I have met no people who fully disbelieved in Hell and also had a living and life-giving belief in Heaven". (Let. to Malcolm) This has been my experience. Time spent in trying to argue around Hell had better be spent getting ready for judgement and eternity.