The Doctrine of Hell in the King James Bible
Hell or Hades or Sheol or the Grave?
The doctrine of Hell is getting a lot cooler in the modern versions.
In fact, a lot of theologically important words in the Holy Bible are being toned down or even lost entirely. As examples, here is a partial list of the frequency of certain words comparing the King James Bible Old Testament, with the NKJV, the NASB, ESV and the NIV Old Testament.
TRUTH KJB - 118 times; NKJV - about same; NASB - 92; ESV - 44; NIV - 41
GRACE KJB -38 times; NKJV - 20; NASB - 9; ESV - 7; NIV - 8
MERCY, MERCIFUL KJB - 288 times; NKJV -same; NASB - 51; ESV - 132; NIV - 85
SOUL KJB - 478 times; NKJV - same; NASB - 255; NIV - 110
LUCIFER KJB - 1 time; NKJV - 1 time; NASB - 0; ESV - 0; NIV - 0
JEHOVAH KJB - 7 times; NKJV - 0; NASB - 0; ESV - 0; NIV - 0
HELL KJB - 31 times; NKJV - 19; NASB - 0; ESV - 0; NIV - 0
Examples of other words in the whole Bible, both testaments.
DOCTRINE KJB - 56 times; NKJV - 42; NASB - 14; ESV - 13; NIV - 7
FORNICATION KJB - 44 times; NKJV - 21; NASB - 8; ESV - 0; NIV - 0
DAMNATION, DAMNED KJB - 9 times; NKJV - 0; NASB - 0; ESV - 0; NIV - 0
HELL (whole Bible) KJB - 53 times; NKJV - 32; NASB -13; ESV - 14; NIV - 13
One Bible Critic, named Reese Currie, posts at his site this ignorant criticism of the KJB saying -
"Luke 16:23 KJV: And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
NKJV: "And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom."
The Greek word is hades, which means, "the abode of the dead." Here, the NKJV transliterates the Greek word hades to differentiate "Hades," the abode of the dead, from "Gehenna," the lake of fire. It is much more accurate to do so, since Hades is going to be thrown into the lake of fire in Revelation 20:14. The wording is Jesus’ wording and I have no issues with it. The NKJV is more accurate." (End of his comments)
First, all this Bible Rummager and unbeliever in the inerrancy of ANY Bible is giving us, is his own personal opinion. Many others disagree with him.
And secondly, the word Gehenna is never translated as the "lake of fire" and he cannot prove from Scripture his assertion that Gehenna and the lake of fire are the same thing. He just made that up and gave us his opinion. That's all he did, and his personal opinion cannot be backed up from the Bible.
Hell in the Modern Versions - hades, geenna and tartaros = A very mixed up and inconsistent mess
The words still translated as hell in the N.T. of these modern versions (NKJV, NIV, NASB, ESV) are geenna 12 times (Matthew 5:22, 29, 30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15,33; Mark 9:43,45,47; Luke 12:5 and James 3:6) and tartaros 1 time (2 Pet. 2:4).
The 2001 - 2011 ESVs still translate hades as "hell" in Matthew 16:18 "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
The NIV editions of 1973 and 1984 translated hades as "hell" in Luke 16:23 "in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments", but the 2011 "new" New International Version now has "hades".
The ISV (International Standard Version) has translated hades as "hell" in Matthew 16:18 "the gates of hell".
Petterson's 2002 The Message has translated hades as "hell" in Matthew 16:18, Luke 16:23, Revelation 6:8, and Revelation 20:13 and 14.
Dan Wallace's NET version 2006 is a study in confusion. He has "gehenna" as hell and "tartaros" as hell, but when it comes to "hades" most of the time he has the transliteration "hades" but in Luke 16:23 he goes with "hell" saying - "And in HELL, as he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far off with Lazarus at his side."
And then he twice "translates" a word that is not hell as hell. He does this in Galatians 1:8 and 9 -
"But even if we (or an angel from heaven) should preach a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be condemned to HELL! As we have said before, and now I say again, if any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let him be condemned to HELL!"
The Catholic Connection
It is interesting to compare and contrast the ever changing Catholic bible versions. The other Greek word that is often translated as "hell" in the King James Bible and many others is hades. In the older Catholic Douay-Rheims version, every time the KJB has hades as "hell", so did this older Catholic bible - See Matthew 11:23; 16:18; Luke 10:15; 16:23; Acts 2:27,31; Rev. 1:18; 6:8 and 20:13 and 14.
But the New Jerusalem bible of 1985 has translated the Greek word hades as "hell" in Matthew 11:23 and Luke 10:15, as "the underworld" in Mat. 16:18, and as Hades in Mat. 11:23; Luke 16:23, Acts 2:27,31, and in Rev.1:18; 6:8 and 20:13,14. So we see that all these modern versions are consistently inconsistent.
This particular study will focus on the word Hell and how it is being air conditioned by degrees in many modern versions. There are many who criticize the King James Bible as being wrong for translating certain Hebrew and Greek words as Hell.
In the King James Old Testament the Hebrew word Sheol is variously translated as HELL - 31 times; THE GRAVE - 31 times, and as THE PIT - 3 times.
The modern versions disagree among themselves and have little room in which to criticize the KJB.
The NKJV transliterates this same word as Sheol 18 times, but then translates it as HELL 19 times, rather than the 31 times as in the KJB. It also has translated the word as the GRAVE and the PIT.
The NIV never translates it as hell or even as Sheol, but instead has the GRAVE 55 times, DEATH 6 times, the DEPTHS 2 times, the DEPTHS OF THE GRAVE 2 times, and as THE REALM OF DEATH once.
The NASB and the ESV on the other hand, transliterate rather than translate this word every single time as SHEOL. How many Christians know what Sheol is? It strikes fear in the heart, doesn't it?
What we see here is that the very scholars who criticize the King James Bible for translating the word at times as HELL can't seem to agree even among themselves as to what the word means in various contexts.
Let's look at a few examples.
King James Bible - "The wicked shall be turned into HELL, and all the nations that forget God."
NIV - "The wicked RETURN TO THE GRAVE, all the nations that forget God."
There are two big problems with the NIV rendering here. First, you can only RETURN TO someplace you have already been before. Does the NIV teach reincarnation? You can teach it using the NIV, but you cannot get the doctrine of reincarnation from the King James Bible.
Second, most everyone, the wicked and the righteous, go to the grave. So what else is new? The context is the fate of the wicked, and it is not the same as that of the righteous. The NIV rendering is silly at best, and diabolical at worst.
NASB, ESV 2001 - "The wicked will RETURN TO SHEOL, even all the nations who forget God."
The NASB, ESV have two similar problems. How do people return to someplace if they have not been there before? Also what in the world is Sheol? Many criticize the KJB for being hard to understand, but how many of them know what Sheol is?
And again there is no distinction between the wicked and the righteous in the NASB rendering. The liberal RSV has: "The wicked shall depart to Sheol", the ESV 2011 is similar with "the wicked shall RETURN to Sheol" and the Catholic New Jerusalem bible of 1985 has: "May the wicked turn away to Sheol."
The Jewish translations differ among themselves as well. The 1917 JPS (Jewish Publication Society) says: "The wicked shall return to THE NETHER-WORLD, even all the nations that forget God." The Jewish Family Bible 1864 - "Wicked ones shall return unto the GRAVE, and all nations that forget God."
The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907 and the 1936 The Holy Scriptures, Hebrew Publishing Company, say: "The wicked shall be turned into HELL" and the Complete Jewish Bible 1998 says: "The wicked will return to SH'OL, all the nations that forget God."
Psalms 9:17 - "The wicked shall be turned into HELL"
The NKJV - "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." = the KJB here. Also agreeing with the King James Bible are Wycliffe 1395, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew's Bible 1549, the Bishops' Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, the Douay-Rheims Bible of 1610, the Bill Bible 1671, The Longman Version 1841, The Boothroyd Bible 1853, the Lesser Bible 1853, The Revised English Bible 1877, The Sharpe Bible 1883, the Douay of 1950 (Though the 1970 St. Joseph NAB says "to the NETHER WORLD" and the New Jerusalem bible 1985 says "turn away to SHEOL") The Word of Yah 1993, the KJV 21st Century Version 1994, the Third Millennium Bible 1998, God's First Truth 1999, The Revised Geneva Bible 2005, the Bond Slave Version 2009, the Catholic Public Domain Version of 2009, The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2011 and A Conservative Bible 2011 - "The wicked shall be turned into HELL, and all the nations that forget God.", The Revised Douay-Rheims Bible 2012, the BRG Bible 2012.
In 1395 Wycliffe wrote: "Synneris be turned togidere in to HELLE; alle folkis, that foryeten God."
And the 2002 Message paraphrases it in this way: "The wicked bought a one-way ticket to HELL."
This online Hebrew Interlinear Old Testament - “shall be turned The wicked into HELL, all the nations that forget God.”
Foreign Language Bibles
The Portuguese de Almeida of 1681, and the Portuguese La Biblia Sagrada and the 2000 O Livro all read exactly like the KJB saying: "Os ímpios seräo lançados no INFERNO, e todas as naçöes que se esquecem de Deus." , as does the French Ostervald of 1996 - "Les méchants reculeront jusqu'aux ENFERS, et toutes les nations qui oublient Dieu.", the Italian Diodati of 1649 - " Andranno in volta NELL'INFERNO." and the Conferenza Episcopale Italiana Bible - "ornino gli empi negli INFERI", and the Spanish Cipriano de Valera of 1602, 1865, 1909 and the 2010 Reina-Valera Gomez Bible - "Los malos serán trasladados al INFIERNO.", The Romanian Fidela Bible 2014 - “Cei stricaţi vor fi întorşi în iad împreună cu toate naţiunile care uită pe Dumnezeu.” = "the wicked shall be turned into HELL, and all the nations that forget God."
John Calvin translated it just as it stands in the King James Bible and comments on Psalm 9:17 saying: "
Likewise Baptist Bible commentator John Gill states: "The wicked shall be turned into hell,.... Some render it, "shall return to the grave", to the earth, the original dust from whence they came; but this is common to all men, to the righteous as well as the wicked; rather lwav here signifies the place of torment, commonly called HELL, where devils and damned spirits are; hither the souls of the wicked go immediately upon their departure from their bodies, Luke 16:23; and after the judgment is over, they will be remanded thither in soul and body; and their damnation is called the destruction of soul and body in HELL;... this is true of all the wicked, the beast and false prophet, who shall be cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone, Revelation 19:20"
Jamieson, Faussett and Brown note: "the wicked shall be turned into hell - "under God's vengeance, and driven by Him to the extreme of destruction, even HELL itself."
Matthew Henry comments on Psalm 9:17 saying: " The wicked shall be turned into hell, as captives into the prison-house, even all the nations that forget God. HELL will, at last, be the portion of such, a state of everlasting misery and torment—Sheol, a pit of destruction, in which they and all their comforts will be for ever lost and buried. Though there be nations of them, yet they shall be turned into HELL, like sheep into the slaughter-house (Ps. 49:14)"
And finally Charles H. Spurgeon comments on Psalm 9:17 - "these must all have their own portion with the openly wicked in the HELL which is prepared for the devil and his angels. There are whole nations of such; the forgetters of God are far more numerous than the profane or profligate, and according to the very forceful expression of the Hebrew, THE NETHERMOST HELL will be the place into which all of them shall be hurled headlong."
The Hebrew word Sheol communicates nothing to us in the English language. There are many different views among the scholars themselves as to what this word signifies and it seems to vary with different contexts. Many Hebrew and Greek words have multiple meanings which change their sense according to the context and scholars argue over them all the time.
The 1987 Amplified Bible (Lockman Foundation) translates Psalms 9:17 as: "The wicked shall be turned back [headlong into premature death] into Sheol (the place of the departed spirits of the wicked), even all the nations that forget or are forgetful of God." But we know from the New Testament that the place of the departed spirits of the wicked is called HELL!
The 2012 ISV (International Standard Version) translates Psalms 9:17 differently than most, saying: "The wicked will turn back TO WHERE THE DEAD ARE."
There are times when the word simply means the GRAVE, as in Genesis 42:38 where Jacob says: "My son shall not go down with you (into Egypt)...if mischief befall him...then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to THE GRAVE."
At other times the word means HELL, as the place of the dead in the heart of the earth. Scripture tells us in both the Old and New Testaments that there are compartments or degrees of hell. Both Deuteronomy 32 and Psalm 86 speak of THE LOWEST HELL.
In Deuteronomy 32:22 God says: "For a fire is kindled in mine anger and shall burn unto the lowest hell", and in Psalm 86:13 David says to God: "For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from THE LOWEST HELL."
Shoel as HELL in the Old Testament
Among the various Bible versions that sometimes translate the Hebrew word sheol as "hell" are the following: Wycliffe 1395, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew's Bible 1549, the Bishop's Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1599, Douay-Rheims 1610, the Bill Bible 1671, Webster's 1833 translation, Living Oracles 1835, The Longman Version 1841, the Lesser Bible 1853, The Boothroyd Bible 1853, The Revised English Bible 1877, The Sharpe Bible 1883, the Revised Version 1881, The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907, the Jewish 1936 Hebrew Publishing Company translation by Alexander Harkavy into English, Luther's German Bible 1545, Brenton's translation of the Septuagint 1851, the Spanish Reina Valera 1569, 1602, 1909, the Italian Diodati 1602, the Portuguese de Almeida 1681, Portuguese O Livro of 2000, Rotherham's Emphasized Bible 1902, the Douay 1950, the Bible in Basic English 1961 (2 Sam.22:6; Psalm 18:5), New Life Version 1969 (Pro. 5:5, 7:27, 19:18, 15:24,23:14), God's Word Translation 1995, the KJV 21st Century Version 1994, New Living Translation, the NKJV 1982, Third Millennium Bible 1998, and the 2002 version called The Message in 2 Samuel 22:6; Job 26:6, Psalm 9:17, 16:10, 18:5, 31:17, 49:14, 55:15, 88:3, 89:68, 116:3, 141:7, Proverbs 5:5, 7:27, 9:18, 15:24, 27:20, and Isaiah 57:9!!!
Other Bible translations that have HELL in places like Deuteronomy 32:22 - "For a fire is kindled in mine anger and shall burn unto THE LOWEST HELL" are The Jewish Family Bible 1864 - "shall burn unto the lowest HELL", The Word of Yah 1993, God's First Truth 1999, J.P. Green's 'literal' 2005, The Apostolic Bible 2006, Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010, Jubilee Bible 2010 - "For it is a fire that consumes unto HELL and would root out all my increase." (Job 31:12; Psalm 88:11; Proverbs 15:11; 17:20), Conservative Bible 2011, The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2011, Names of God Bible 2011 - "My anger has started a fire that will burn to the depths of HELL." (12 times in O.T. See Ps. 139:8; Job 11:8; Ps. 49:14,15; 83:13; 139:8; Pro. 5:5 "Her steps lead straight to HELL", Pro. 9:18; 15:24; 27:20 - "HELL and decay are never satisfied", the Biblos Interlinear Bible 2011 - "the lowest HELL", The Revised Douay-Rheims Bible 2012, The New Brenton Translation 2012 - "shall burn unto the lowest HELL", The Biblos Bible 2013, the Modern English Version 2014 - "Yet you shall be brought down to HELL, to the sides of the pit." (Isaiah 14:9,15; 28:15; 28:18)
Hades or HELL in the New Testament
In the New Testament the same confusion among the various bible versions is seen in the manner in which they translate or not the word Hades. There are many Bible critics who tell us the King James Bible is in error for translating the word Hades as Hell. Yet, as we shall see, the "scholars" are in total disagreement among themselves regarding this.
Luke 16:19-31 is the classic case showing the division that existed in hell before the resurrection of Christ from the dead. There we see the beggar Lazarus in Abraham's bosom being comforted and in contrast we see the rich man IN HELL being tormented. There was a great gulf fixed between the two sections dividing the righteous from the wicked.
The Greek word used here is hades - αδης. The King James Bible translated it as hell, while the NKJV and NASB have Hades.
The NIV is interesting in that it has variously translated this same word as "Hades -5 times, depths - 2 times, grave - 1 time; and as Hell only once and that is here in Luke 16:23!
Oh, but wait. Apparently that one time as "hell" in Luke 16:23 in the NIVs of 1973 and 1984 was one time too many. Now the late$t NIV revi$ion of 2011 has come out and they have now decided that this should "Hades".
The ESV likewise translates Luke 16:23 as "and in HADES, being in torment", yet they have inconsistently translated this same word as HELL in Matthew 16:18 - "the gates of HELL shall not prevail against it."
Hell itself is not the final state of the wicked. After the great white throne judgment we are told in Revelation 20:14 "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death."
Those who complain about this word being translated as "hell" should check out some other bible versions to see what others, who have just as much education as they do, have done with these passages.
Hades - αδης - as HELL in the New Testament
Even today in the modern Greek language, the word αδης (hades) means HELL. I have a hard copy of Divry's Modern English-Greek and Greek-English Dictionary. If you look up the word "hell" is says αδης, and if you go to the Greek to English side of the dictionary and look up αδης it defines it as HELL; Hades. Hades is a transliteration and Hell is a translation into English of what the word means.
Not only does the King James Bible translate the Greek word hades (αδης) as "hell" but so do the following Bible versions: Wycliffe 1395, Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew's Bible 1549, the Bishop's Bible 1568, Geneva Bible 1599, The Beza New Testament 1599, The Bill Bible 1671, John Wesley's N.T. 1755, Worsley Version 1770, Thomas Haweis N.T. 1795, The Clarke N.T. 1795, The Revised Translation 1815, Webster's 1833 translation, The Longman Version 1841, The Hewett N.T. 1850, The Commonly Received Version 1851, The Revised N.T. 1862, The Alford N.T. 1870, the Smith Bible 1876, The Revised English Bible 1877, The Sharpe Bible 1883, The Clarke N.T. 1913, the Douay 1950, The Basic English Bible 1965, The New Life Version 1969, the New Living Translation 1996 (Mat. 16:18), Today's English Version 1992 (Mat.11:23, Luke 10:15), Good News Bible 1992 (Mat. 11:23; Luke 10:15), Bible in Basic English 1961 (Mat. 11:23; 16:18, Luke 10:15, 16:23, Acts 2:27,31, and the 4 in Revelation), Living Bible 1971- "His soul went INTO HELL", Contemporary English Version 1995 - "He went TO HELL and was suffering terribly", God's Word Translation 1995 - "He went TO HELL, where he was constantly tortured", (Mat. 11:23, 16:18, Luke 10:15, 16:23, Rev.1:18, 6:8, 20:13-14), KJV 21st Century 1994, Third Millennium Bible 1998, and The Message of 2002 (Mat. 16:18, Luke 10:15, 16:23, Rev. 1:18, 6:6, 20:13-14), ESV 2011 (Matthew 16:18) Dan Wallace's NET version 2006 in Luke 16:23, New Heart English Bible 2010 - "In HELL he lifted up his eyes, being in torment", and the Names of God Bible 2012 - "He went to HELL, where he was constantly tortured."
Other English Bibles that have the word HELL in places like Luke 16:23 - "and in HELL he lift up his eyes, being in torments" are The Word of Yah 1993, Lawrie Translation 1998, God's First Truth 1999, Last Days Bible 1999, The Evidence Bible 2003, Bond Slave Version 2009, The Public Domain Version 2009, The Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010, The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2011, Conservative Bible 2010 - “And he reopened his eyes in Hell, being in torment there”
Many foreign language Bible translate the Greek word hades as HELL. These include Luther's German Bible 1545 (Luke 16:23) -"in der Hölle", the Spanish Sagradas Escrituras 1569, Cipriano de Valera 1602 - "en EL INFIERNO, alzó sus ojos, estando en tormentos, y ve a Abraham lejos, y a Lázaro en su seno.", Reina Valera 1909, and 2004 Reina Valera Gomez Bible (infierno), the NIV Spanish edition Nueva Versión Internacional 1999 - “ En EL INFIERNO, en medio de sus torments" = "in HELL, in the midst of his torments", the Portuguese de Almeida 1681 "E no INFERNO, ergueu os olhos estando em tormentos” - “and in HELL, he lift up his eyes, being in torments”", the Italian Diodati of 1649 and the New Diodati of 1991 and the 2006 La Biblia della Gioia - "essendo tra i tormenti nell'INFERNO", the French Martin 1744 and the French Ostervald of 1996 - "Et étant en ENFER.", the Maori Bible - "A i te reinga ka titiro ake ia, i a ia e whakamamaetia ana" = "and in HELL he looked up in torments", the Chinese Union Traditional Bible - 他 在 陰 間 受 痛 苦 - "IN HELL", the Hungarian Karoli Bible - “És a pokolban felemelé az õ szemeit” = “IN HELL he lift up his eyes”, the Polish Updated Gdansk Bible 2013 - “A będąc w piekle i cierpiąc męki” = “and being IN HELL and suffering torment”, the Romanian Cornilescu Bible - “ Pe cînd era el în Locuinţa morţilor, în chinuri” = “while he was IN HELL in torment”, the 2006 Russian Slovo Zhizny Bible - “В аду, где богач терпел мучения” = “the rich man, IN HELL, being in torment”, the Afrikaans Bible 1953 - "En toe hy in die doderyk sy oë ophef" = "And IN HELL he lift up his eyes, being in torment", the Danish Bible Det Gamle Testamente 1931 - "Og da han slog sine Øjne op i Dødsriget" = "IN HELL he lift up his eyes", the Czech Kralicka Bible - "Potom v pekle pozdvih očí svých" = "IN HELL he lift up his eyes in torments", the Swahili N.T. - "Huyo tajiri, alikuwa na mateso makali huko kuzimu" = "Rich man, he was IN HELL torments", the Ukranian N.T. - "І в пеклї зняв він очі свої, бувши в муках" = "IN HELL he lift up his eyes being in torment".
Wordsmyth Dictionary defines Hades as:
1. in Greek mythology, the underworld inhabited by the dead, or the god who rules there; Pluto. 2. in the New Testament, the state or home of the dead. 3. the place of punishment for the wicked after death; HELL.
The American Heritage Dictionary 2000 defines Hades as:
1. Greek Mythology a. The god of the netherworld and dispenser of earthly riches. b. This netherworld kingdom, the abode of the shades of the dead. 2. also hades HELL.
Notice that the first definitions given refer to Hades as myth, or merely as the place of the dead, without any reference to suffering or torment. For a preacher to say: "Repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ or you will go to Hades" seems to lack the visceral impact of "or you will go to Hell." What do you think?
The American Heritage dictionary defines hell as: 1. Hell - The abode of condemned souls and devils in some religions; the place of eternal punishment for the wicked after death. b. A state of separation from God; exclusion from God's presence. 2. The abode of the dead, identified with the Hebrew Sheol and the Greek Hades; the underworld.
The New KJV is not the same as the King James Bible. Here are some examples:
KJV: "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of HELL shall not prevail against it."
NKJV: "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of HADES shall not prevail against it." Luke 16:23
KJV: "And in HELL he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom."
NKJV: "And being in torments in HADES, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom."
The New KJV is inconsistent in the Old Testament in that it does render the word sheol as "hell" 19 times, yet it transliterates this same word as Shoel 18 times to match the NASB rendering. The word Hell is removed in 2 Samuel 22:6, Job 11:8, 26:6, Psalm 16:10, 18:5, 86:13, 116:3, Isaiah 5:14, 14:15, 28:15,18, 57:9, Jonah 2:2, Matt. 11:23, 16:18, Luke 10:15, 16:23, Acts 2:27, 31, Rev. 1:18, 6:8, 20:13,14.
Some Bible critics, mockers and others who would try in vain to do away with the doctrine of hell appeal to the book of Jonah where Jonah prays to God from the whale's belly saying: "out of the belly of HELL cried I, and thou heardest my voice." "See", they say, "Jonah wasn't literally in HELL, so no such place really exists. It is just a figure of speech."
Well, in part, they are right. It is a figure of speech here. Most older and more correct Bibles have the word "hell" here, like Wycliffe, Coverdale, Great Bible, Matthew's Bible, the Bishops' Bible, the Geneva Bible and even the Douay Rheims bible. Newer versions like the RSV, NKJV, ESV, NASB have "Sheol" while the NIV has "the grave", but Jonah was not literally in Sheol (the realm of the dead) nor in a literal grave.
The story of Jonah (real history, not an allegory) is a type or prophetic picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. In Jonah the "type" is figurative, but in the anti-type or the fulfilled reality, the language is literal. Jonah pre-figured the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Himself tells us in Matthew 12:40 "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."
Jesus Christ did literally die, spent three days and nights in the heart of the earth and was then literally raised from the dead. "He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in HELL, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses." Acts 2:31-32.
It seems that our Lord visited both sections of this realm of the dead. He told the dying thief on the cross who believed in Him - "Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise." Luke 23:43 It appears that the section referred to as "Abraham's bosom" is the region of the Old Testament saints who had faith in God, and was also referred to as "paradise".
But it appears from Scripture that our Lord also visited the section called "hell", but we are not told how long He stayed there. This seems to be alluded to in 1 Peter 3:18-20 where we read: "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water."
It does appear that our Lord did go to the "prison" side called Hell where he perhaps announced His victory over death and hell. Bible commentators have lots of different opinions about where He went and what He did when he got there, but as I presently understand the Scriptures, I think this explanation makes sense.
As a side note, I personally wish there were no such place a hell or such a thing as the eternal torment of the damned. I really wish no such place or condition existed. BUT, if I really believe God's words, then I have to also believe that such a place exists. I see no way of getting around what the Bible itself seems to clearly teach. Jesus Christ Himself talked about the reality of a place called Hell more than He talked about a place called Heaven.
The Lord Jesus tells us in Luke 12:5 "But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him." The Lord also told of the rich man in Luke 16 who lived a wicked life and then died, and was buried. "And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments" and was further told "remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented." Luke 16:23-25.
Likewise I find no way that I can reasonably get around or explain away the verses found in the book of the Revelation where we read "If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; AND HE SHALL BE TORMENTED WITH FIRE AND BRIMSTONE in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of THEIR TORMENT ASCENDETH UP FOR EVER AND EVER: AND THEY HAVE NO REST DAY NOR NIGHT, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name." Revelation 14:9-11
Notice the text here does NOT say "the smoke of their extinction" or the "smoke of their annihilation" or "the smoke of their obliteration" but "the smoke of their TORMENT".
Coupled with what we read in Revelation 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 (the verb is plural, and includes the beast and the false prophet) DAY AND NIGHT FOR EVER AND EVER." These are extremely sobering verses and I have to take them at face value. After all, I am not God and He is and this is what He says in His words of absolute truth.
In view of these stern warnings, if you have not done so already, I urge you to repent of your sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to save you from ever having to hear these awful words that shall be spoken to those who did not believe the gospel - "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels...And these shall go away into EVERLASTING PUNISHMENT: but the righteous into life eternal." Matthew 25:41, 46.
Notes from the Internet
At one of our Facebook clubs a guy came on telling us that No Bible was perfect and he kept listing a series of what he thought were errors in the King James Bible. He had this to say about Sheol or the grave. ""WRONG! Sheol is not a word with multiple meanings, and the grave has its own words. Those who do not believe in an eternal hell will conveniently claim sheol always refers to the grave, when in fact it not only never does, but it never makes sense to translate that way unless your theology leads you to do so. Sheol cannot translate as the grave, and the KJV is wrong! "
My Response: Genesis 37:35 the Grave or Sheol?
King James Bible - “And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into THE GRAVE unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.”
Not only does the King James Bible correctly say “the grave” here but so also do the 1917 JPS (Jewish Publication Society), the 1936 Hebrew Publishing Company version, the 2004 Judaica Press Tanach - “Nay, but I will go down to the grave to my son mourning.”, Coverdale 1535, the Bishops’ Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, Webster’s translation 1833, the English Revised Version 1881, the Complete Jewish Bible, the New Berkeley Version in Modern English 1969, the New Life Bible 1969, The Word of Yah 1993, the Message 2002, the Contemporary English Version, the NIV 1978, 1984 and 2011, God's First Truth 1999, Green’s Modern KJV 2000, the Judaica Press Complete Tanach 2004, New Living Translation 2007, the NKJV 1982, the KJV 21st Century Version, Dan Wallace and company’s NET version 2006 - “I will go to the grave mourning my son.”, Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010, the Knox Bible 2012, the Third Millenium Bible 1998, Biblos Interlinear Bible 2011, the Natural Israelite Bible 2012 - I will go down to the GRAVE".
Among foreign language translations that also say “the grave” are the French Martin 1744 and the French Ostervald 1996 - “Certainement je descendrai en menant deuil au sépulcre vers mon fils”, the Portuguese A Biblia Sagrada em Portugués and the Almeida Actualizada - “Porquanto com choro hei de descer ao meu filho at sepultura.”, the Spanish Las Sagradas Escrituras 1569, Reina Valera 1909, NIV Spanish 1999, Reina Valera Gómez 2010 - “Porque yo tengo de descender a mi hijo enlutado hasta la sepultura. Y lo lloró su padre.”, the Italian Diodati 1649 - “Certo io scenderò con cordoglio al mio figliuolo nel sepolcro.”, Luther's German Bible 1545 - "Ich werde mit Leide hinunterfahren in die Grube zu meinem Sohne." and the Modern Greek Bible -”Οτι πενθων θελω καταβη προς τον υιον μου εις τον ταφον. Και εκλαυσεν αυτον ο πατηρ αυτου.” = "to the grave".
Versions like the liberal RSV, the ESV and NASB say “I will go down to SHEOL” (whatever the heck that is?!?)
The Catholic Douay-Rheims of 1610 says: “I will go down to my son into HELL, mourning.” Rotherham’s Emphasized bible of 1902 says: “Surely I will go down unto my son mourning to HADES! “ And the 2012 International Standard Version is weirder still with; “I'll go down to THE NEXT WORLD, still mourning for my son." So Joseph's father wept for him.
So, Mr. Con, here are a whole bunch of Bible translators that disagree with you. What we see from you is just your own very fallible and mistaken opinion regarding the meaning of this Hebrew word in different contexts.
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Is the KJV Wrong About Hell?
by David W. Daniels
The Greek word “hades” is found just 11 times in the New Testament. It is translated “hell” 10 of those 11 times. The only exception is found in 1 Corinthians 15:55, where it is translated “grave.”
1 Corinthians 15:55 “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
This verse is a reference to Hosea 13:14. This is written in the exact same order:
Hosea 13:14 I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.
Note that the Hosea and 1 Corinthians passages are not talking about redeeming people from punishment in hell. It is talking about death, not hell.
Why is Sheol sometimes translated “the grave”?
Translating hades or sheol as “hell” would be in negative passages referring to the afterlife. Translating them as “grave” would be in passages referring to death, but nothing further than that.
Translating Sheol as “grave,” when paired with maveth, “death,” referring to death, but not to punishment or anything negative (6 times in the Old Testament).
Psalm 6:5 For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?
Psalm 49:14 Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling.
Psalm 89:48 What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? Selah.
Song of Solomon 8:6 Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.
Isaiah 38:18 For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth...
Hosea 13:14 I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.
Translating Hades as “grave,” paired with thanatos, “death” (1 time in the New Testament).
1 Corinthians 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
This is similar to Isaiah 53:9, where it pairs qeber (grave, sepulcher) with maveth, death. This clearly prophesies of the Messiah, who was not punished in hell:
Isaiah 53:9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
Why is Sheol sometimes translated “hell”?
But when the topic is negative, such as punishment or wickedness or negative aspects of the afterlife, then sheol is translated as “hell,” even when paired with maveth, “death” (9 times in the Old Testament).
2 Samuel 22:6 The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;
Psalm 18:5 The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.
Psalm 55:15 Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.
Psalm 116:3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.
Proverbs 5:5 Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.
Proverbs 7:27 Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.
Isaiah 28:15 Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:
Isaiah 28:18 And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.
Habakkuk 2:5 Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people:
The same is true in the New Testament, when the topic is negative, and the terms hades “hell” and thanatos “death” are paired (4 times in the New Testament, all of them in the Book of Revelation).
Revelation 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
Revelation 6:8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
Revelation 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
Revelation 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
When should Sheol or Hades be translated as
“hell” or “the grave”?
So both sheol and hades are translated “hell” when the topic is negative. But they are translated as “grave” when the topic is neutral, and no punishment or wickedness is in view.
Which is True, Eternal Torment or Annihilation?
Fifty Pointed Questions Regarding After Death—What?(In consideration of denial of everlasting consciousness of all in the disembodied state.)1. What did our Lord mean, when He said not to fear those "who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do," if the loss of soul is the same as physical death?2. A soul which cannot be killed with the body, is it not mortal?3. Have you noticed that Scripture uses the terms "Mortality," and "mortal, "immortality" in relation to the body? (See Rom. 3:11; 1 Cor. 15:53).4. If a spirit cannot live without a body, how do you account for the existence of God, who "is a Spirit?" (John 4:24).5. What of the angels, who are called “spirits?” (Heb. 1:7, 14)6. How do you account for the prolonged existence of demons, who are wicked and lost spirits? (Luke 8:27-29; Mark 1:23-26).7. What of the angels that: stoned, who are reserved under chains of darkness unto the judgment of the great day? (Jude 6)8. How could the people of Sodom/Gomorrah be suffering the vengeance of eternal fire, if they were annihilated, or totally unconscious, when destroyed by material fire? (Jude 7)9. When the Lord told the thief on the cross, “To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise," (Luke 23:43) did He mean that He should be fast asleep and know nothing?10. How could Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob be said to "live unto Him," thousands of years after they had died, if death and extinction of being are synonymous? (Luke 20:38).11. Do you think all who heard the Lord Jesus relate the story of the rich man and Lazarus, would naturally suppose He meant to teach conscious existence after death in happiness or woe? (Luke 16:19-31).12. If it "only a parable," and represents the changed relations of Jew and Gentile after Christ’s rejection, as some teach, why the great gulf fixed?13. Could you honestly say that they who would pass from Judaism to Christianity or vice versa cannot do so?14. If "eternal does not mean eternal," why is it put in contrast with "temporal?" - "The things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are unseen are eternal." (1 Cor. 4:18)15. If there is a stronger word for eternal than that used for eternal or everlasting punishment, why is not the stronger word used for "eternal life," the "eternal Spirit," and the "King eternal? (Matt. 25:46; Heb. 9:14; 1 Tim 1:17)16. If all the solemn all statements as to an undying worm, outer darkness, and a lake of fire are symbols, is it to be supposed that the reality is weaker or less that the figures employed to picture it?17. If final punishment is extinction, how will it be possible of Sodom to be more tolerable that of those of Capernaum? or that of Tyre and Sidon, than Bethsaida and Chorazin? (Matt. 11:21-2418. If Judah annihilated what special force can you see is the Lord's words, "It had been good for that man if he had not been born?" (Matt. 26:24)19. In what sense will it be any worse for Judas than for another lost one, if all are to be annihilated together?20. If "cast into the lake fire" results in extinction, how It that "the beast and the false prophet" are described as alive in it a 1,000 years after being cast into it? (Rev. 20:10)21. If “perish” means to be annihilated, why are not the bottles of Luke 5:37 annihilated?22. What warrant have you to explain, "Thy throne, 0 God, is forever and ever," and "He, that liveth forever and ever, as meaning eternity, while you limit, "tormented day and night forever and ever," to a brief period?23. Do you really see any hint or thought of annihilation in the expression, "Wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever?” (Jude 13)24. Do not the words just quoted at least seem to picture the lost as comets or stars out of their orbit, for all eternity away from the Sun of righteousness?25. Can you logically couple the thought of abiding wrath with annihilation? (1 John 3:36)26. Could unconscious spirits "desire a better country?" If not, how do you explain Heb. 11:16?27. If Paul believed that his soul and spirit would become unconscious at death, what did he mean when he wrote of being "willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord?" (2 Cor. 5:8)28. Could one be absent from the body and asleep in the body at the same time?29. What did Peter mean when he wrote "Knowing that I must shortly put off this my tabernacle?" (2 Peter 1:14).30. Does it not imply, at least, that he would be living apart from his bodily tabernacle?31. If souls cannot consciously exist out of the body, why so pictured in Rev. 6:9-11?32. In what sense are some to be beaten with few stripes and others with many, if all who die in their sins are to be annihilated? (Luke 12:47, 48)33. Is it honest to say, "Death means extinction, or annihilation," in the face of, "She liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth?” (2 Tim. 5:6)34. If death means extinction, did Christ become extinct when He died?35. If so,' do you not see that He could not be "that Eternal Life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us?"? (1 John 1:2)36. Have you observed that the same Greek word which, is translated "destroy" in many passages, is translated lost in Luke 15:32?37. Would you conclude from this that the prodigal had been annihilated while he was in the “far country?”38. If not, is it logical--is it true or false--to maintain that destruction and annihilation are synonymous?39. Have you observed that in Scripture life and existence are never confounded?40. If men exist now, who "have not the life" (1 John 5:12), why may they not exist eternally without that life--which is eternal life?41. Christians are said to "have come to . . . the spirits of just men made perfect" (Heb. 12:23). In what sense have these spirits been made perfect? In what sense have these spirits been made perfect, if unconscious?42. It is sometimes said that as no human father would cast his child into material fire, so God will never cast sinners into the fires of hell and let them suffer there forever; but is not this an ignoring of what we see every day?43. Would you allow one you loved to be afflicted with a painful or loathsome disease if you could hinder it?44. Does not God permit such affliction to go on for years?45. If He permits great anguish in this life as a result of sin, who can say what sin may entail in the world to come?46. Have you observed that sinful men eagerly accept the teaching that punishment is not eternal, while holy men have ever received the Bible's teaching as to it?47. If annihilation is the punishment of sin, why did the Lord Jesus speak of "weeping and gnashing of teeth," following the being cast into outer darkness? (Matt. 8:12)48. If hell--or rather "hades," is merely the grave, why is it put in contrast with heaven in Luke 10:15?49. Since the people of all cities of the past have gone down to the grave, in what sense was Capernaum's punishment different from theirs?50. Caviler, consider this well: "How shall you escape the damnation of hell?" (Matt. 23:33)
-- copied from the Baptist Examiner