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What the Bible says about Gehenna
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Jeremiah 17:27

About 2600 years ago, God said that He would kindle a fire in Jerusalem's gates which would devour the palaces, "and it shall not be quenched"! From this example in Jeremiah, we see that an unquenchable fire is not a fire that burns forever. If that were so, Jerusalem would still be burning! When Jesus said that the fire would not be quenched (Mark 9:43), He meant that it would burn until everything flammable was consumed, and then it would go out. This is what happened in the Valley of Hinnom, which Jesus used as a type of the fire into which the wicked will be thrown. Once the residents of Jerusalem stopped throwing their garbage into that valley, the fire burned out.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Basic Doctrines: The Fate of the Wicked

Jeremiah 19:12

In this passage, God tells the prophet Jeremiah what to proclaim to the Jews after he performs the sign of the broken flask, which is the subject of the chapter. Jeremiah is to take a clay flask to the Potsherd Gate, or the east gate, which opened out into the Valley of Hinnom, the very place that Jesus later used as an illustration of the judgment of the Lake of Fire, Gehenna. He is also to gather some of the elders and priests of Judah and proclaim God's message of judgment upon them and the city of Jerusalem.

Then, he is to break the flask before them, saying, "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Even so I will break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter's vessel, which cannot be made whole again; and they shall bury them in Tophet till there is no place to bury'" (Jeremiah 19:11). Clearly, this is a sign of utter destruction of a sinful people and nation, and the details of what God promises to bring upon them are gruesome and horrifying to an extreme.

What was Tophet? According to the McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia, the word itself means "spittle," of all things, or "filth," signifying something abominable, but it could also mean "place of burning," hinting at the abomination that occurred there. Tophet itself was a small hill within the Valley of Hinnom that had once been part of a grove that Solomon had had planted, where his singers had given concerts to the people of Jerusalem.

Perhaps Solomon had chosen that spot, not just for its fertility and closeness to Siloam, but also to help Israel forget that the Canaanites before them had made their children pass through the fire to Molech—in other words, it was a place of vile child sacrifice (see Psalm 106:38; Jeremiah 7:31). However, it was not long before the Israelites and Jews again "filled this place with the blood of the innocents" (Jeremiah 19:4). During his reign not long before Jeremiah's prophecy, King Josiah had defiled Tophet as part of his purge of idolatry (II Kings 23:10). He did so by overthrowing the altars and then using the place as the city dump, and the filthier the trash the better. But just as soon as Josiah died, the Jews returned to Tophet.

In Jesus' day, it was once again the city's garbage dump, where a fire was always burning to consume anything thrown on the pile (Mark 9:43-48). And of course, the worm did not die there, meaning that there were always new maggots going through their life-cycles, feeding on the trash. It was also a place where, down through the centuries, many have been buried. Thus, the Valley of Hinnom is a fitting picture of the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:29).

So what did God do to Judah because of their heinous sin?

I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies and by the hands of those who seek their lives; their corpses I will give as meat for the birds of the heaven and for the beasts of the earth. . . . And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and everyone shall eat the flesh of his friend in the siege and in the desperation with which their enemies and those who seek their lives shall drive them to despair. (Jeremiah 19:7, 9)

Sounds like justice.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh

Ezekiel 18:4

The church of God does not accept the Doctrine of the Immortality of the Soul, instead believing God's Word, which says indisputably, “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4, 20). One of the very first things God taught Adam in the Garden of Eden was the consequence of sin: “you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17), a truth the serpent hastened to contradict (Genesis 3:4).

In the New Testament, Jesus teaches in Matthew 10:28: “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [Gehenna, a symbol of the Lake of Fire (see Revelation 20:11-15)].” Paul writes, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Humans are mortal, and God must give eternal life; we do not have it inherently (see Romans 2:7; I Corinthians 15:53-54; I Timothy 6:16).

We believe that man indeed has a spirit (Job 32:8), “the breath of the Almighty [that] gives him understanding,” but that it is not his soul. When combined with a human brain, the human spirit allows a person to have the powers of mind. When he dies, the body returns to the dust, but his spirit returns to God (Ecclesiastes 12:7), who safeguards it as a record of his life.

Solomon also informs us that “the dead know nothing” (Ecclesiastes 9:5), and “there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave” (verse 10), meaning that there is no consciousness in death. The person knows nothing, learns nothing, communicates nothing, does nothing—until the resurrection from the dead when God will unite that spirit with a new body, either a spiritual body or another physical body, depending on the resurrection (see Ezekiel 37:1-14; John 5:24-29; I Corinthians 15; I Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 20).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
What Happened at En Dor?

Malachi 4:1

The ultimate fate of the wicked will be total annihilation. Body, mind, and spirit will be utterly destroyed. They will cease to exist.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Basic Doctrines: The Fate of the Wicked

Matthew 10:27-28

It is not unreasonable that we should fear God. Jesus Christ Himself says that we are to fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell. Why? He is the only One who can revoke the judgment of Gehenna fire. The wages of sin is death in Gehenna fire. If we want to escape this punishment, we can see that it is closely connected to whether or not we actually fear God.

Why? What does the fear of God have to do with escaping a judgment that would otherwise take us into the Lake of Fire?

This series of verses in Matthew 10 contains some encouragement, indicating that, if one really fears God, then there is no need to be fearful of others. Proverbs 29:25 plainly tells us, "The fear of man is a snare." This is an attitude in which we do not want to be entrapped. It is obvious, in the context of Matthew 10:27, that He is talking about fear in the sense of "dread." We are not to fear men because the worst that they can do does not even begin to match the worst that God can do! The basis for this is what God is: omnipotent and omniscient, and in Him are the issues of life and death!

The Christian life is our calling; this is our only chance for salvation. We have been personally chosen by God. The elect are an insignificant number, and we are even more insignificant personally. Yet, He has given us this calling. The world population is somewhere in the vicinity of six billion people, and out of this huge number are a miniscule few who are truly converted and have been given the Spirit of God. This is not something that we want to pass up! The fear of God is crucial to our salvation!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fear of God

Mark 9:43

Here Jesus plainly states that the unrighteous will be punished by being put into "hell," which He describes as a fire that will not be quenched (see also Jeremiah 17:27). In this scripture, the word "hell" is translated from the Greek Gehenna. This word means "Valley of Hinnom," a valley on the south side of Jerusalem where refuse was continually burned. Jesus used this area as a type of the place where the wicked will receive their final punishment.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Basic Doctrines: The Fate of the Wicked

Luke 16:19-31

In the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, the latter, a heartless person, speaks to Lazarus while being "tormented in this flame." This alludes to the wicked being cremated when God burns up the earth, turning it into the final Gehenna, called elsewhere "the Lake of Fire." The rich man is raised out of his grave at the end of God's plan for humanity on earth. Because the dead know nothing, he does not realize the passage of time, but he certainly realizes that he has failed to receive salvation. He sees "a great gulf fixed" between him and those who are with Abraham in the Kingdom of God. At this point, it is impossible for anyone to change his fate.

Martin G. Collins
Basic Doctrines: The Third Resurrection

Luke 16:19-31

In Luke 16:19-31 appears the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, which Jesus spoke to those who would not repent. Jesus uses it to help them understand His earlier words: "Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out" (Luke 13:27-28). In the parable, the rich man—representing all workers of iniquity, all sinners—illustrates what is to befall the unrepentant.

The wicked will be raised to physical life in their resurrection, and then, immediately knowing that they are doomed, they will be cast into the Lake of Fire designed by God to consume them. The Lake of Fire will burn them up completely and finally. Jesus pictures the rich man crying out for help because of his mental and physical anguish at this time, but he is not burning eternally in hell fire. He is soon consumed while Lazarus the beggar dwells safely in immortality.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Part One)

Luke 16:19-31

In the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:19-31), Jesus illustrates death—total unconsciousness—as being followed by a resurrection from the dead and a restoration to consciousness. Secondly, Jesus describes the second death, eternal death, in the Lake of Fire that will totally destroy the wicked. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), not endless torment.

Jesus shows that the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear the voice of God and come forth—those who have lived righteously to the resurrection of life, and those who have lived wickedly (including the rich man) to the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:28-29). We need to understand how vital it is to hear and submit to God's voice now.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Part Two)

Luke 16:22-23

Jesus does not say the rich man is taken immediately to an eternally burning hell. He says the rich man dies and is buried. People are buried in a grave and covered with earth. Hades (verse 23) is the Greek word for "grave." The King James Version generically translates hades into "hell," as it also does the Greek words tartarus (the present condition of darkness and restraint of the fallen angels or demons) and gehenna (a place at the bottom of a high ledge at the south end of Jerusalem where garbage and dead bodies were dumped and burned). Other Bible translations correctly distinguish the different meaning in these words. The rich man went to the same kind of place Jesus did when He died—"hell" (KJV) or "Hades" (NKJV)—but the Father did not leave Him there (Acts 2:31-32).

Daniel 12:2 speaks of those who will be resurrected to eternal life (the just) and of those who will be resurrected to damnation or judgment (the unjust). In the parable, Jesus speaks of two different, separate resurrections (John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15; Revelation 20:4-5, 11-12). Jesus pictures the rich man as wicked and lost, but even he will open his eyes and rise from his grave after the Millennium. Having passed up his opportunity for immortality by choosing this world's temporary, material riches and pleasures rather than eternal, spiritual riches, he is without hope, doomed to perish in the Lake of Fire.

The Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man shows the resurrection from the dead, not an instantaneous going to heaven or hell. It is a resurrection from death, not from life. It depicts mortals who die and are dead, not immortals who never lose consciousness and live forever under punishment in a fiery hell. Jesus describes bringing back to life one who was dead, who had no conscious realization of the lapse of centuries and millennia since his death.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Part One)

Luke 16:23-25

The flame he sees and feels upon his resurrection is the ultimate fate of the wicked: being burned up'destroyed'in Gehenna fire, the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14-15). The Lake of Fire represents the second death from which there is no return to life. This death is final and permanent; it is the absence of life for all eternity. It is eternal punishment, not eternal punishing.

When the rich man opens his eyes in the resurrection, he sees the flame of fire that is about to destroy him permanently, and it paralyzes him with terror, making his mouth go dry. He complains that the flame is tormenting him. In these verses, the Greek word translated "tormented," odunomai, means "to cause pain; to pain, distress; pain of body, but also pain of mind, grief, distress." This rich man, resurrected to physical life, sees this Lake of Fire and realizes the terrible doom he is about to face. Sobbing, he suffers mental anguish and despair and begs for a little water from the tip of Lazarus' finger to cool his tongue. Nevertheless, he must reap what he sowed'death!

Martin G. Collins
Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Part Two)

Revelation 20:10

What effect does fire have upon a spirit? It does not say exactly here, but does this mean that God, who created these spirit beings, also knows a way to destroy them utterly? Perhaps.

In the Bible, fire is pictured as the final curse. It is used in the sense of being the symbol of complete purging, so that when something passes through fire, it is then clean. It is interesting to think about the possible ramifications of this verse.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part Three)

Revelation 20:13-15

This third resurrection will comprise those who are unwilling to live by God's laws and refuse to repent. These incorrigible people will be cast into the Lake of Fire and completely burned up. They can never be resurrected again, having rejected God's wonderful offer of salvation and eternal life.

Staff
Basic Doctrines: Eternal Judgment


Find more Bible verses about Gehenna:
Gehenna {Nave's}
 




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