Did Jesus lie about hell? In Numbers 23:19, God clearly states that unlike us, He is not a liar. He makes a similar statement in 1 Samuel 15:29. So obviously let me say right out of the gate, I do NOT think that Jesus, who I also believe is God (another blog for another day), ever lied about anything!
OK, am I now trapped, because even a casual reader of the Bible may say something sounding like my good friend Larry with his heavy Italian accent (mind you Larry believes in God’s plan to one day redeem all of mankind, as I do, I’m just saying what if an objector ‘sounded’ incredulous like this);
“Hey yo, whadda u kiddin’ me or ‘wat! U sayin’ Jesus n’ver told ‘em ‘bout hell?”
May I explain? In the Bible that you may be reading, you may see a word written, spelled “h-e-l-l.” Depending on the version of your Bible, the word “hell” may be written 11-13 times in the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,) as spoken by Jesus. And if you happen to have a red letter edition, the word “hell” would be written 11-13 times in red ink!
HOWEVER, Jesus never uttered the word hell…the H word was never on His lips! The word Jesus actually spoke was rather, “Gehenna.”
OK, big deal one may say, “Hell… Gehenna… so what, they mean the same thing.” Do they?
On the homepage of my website, www.PhilHenryPowerGospel.org, you’ll see a Power Hour sermon that I recently preached entitled, “Contending for Universal Reconciliation.” The early portion of this message describes in more detail with a few helpful charts, the differences between Hell and Gehenna.
Here is an example; in Matthew 23, Jesus ranted against the arrogant religious leaders of His day, and He wasn’t very nice.
- Matt. 23:33 (YLT) Serpents! brood of vipers! how may ye escape from the judgment of the gehenna? Lo, left desolate to you is your house;
By the way, YLT stands for Young’s Literal Translation, which is, as its name denotes, is an extremely literal translation that endeavors to preserve the original Greek and Hebrew writings.
So where and what is Gehenna?
- Gehenna was and is a geographical place, a real place on the map, located below the city of Jerusalem. It actually is the Valley of Ben Hinnom, which also was called Gehenna.
- Gehenna is a place that was and is “this-worldly,” not “other-worldly.”
- Gehenna served a very real purpose for the inhabitants of Israel…it was the town garbage dump- the town incinerator! Waste was burned there…all the time…seemingly 24/7.
- In 586 BC, the First Temple in Jerusalem (called Solomon’s temple) was destroyed by the Babylonian armies. The city was burned and bodies were tossed into Gehenna. The prophet Jeremiah warned of this; (Jer. 7:32, 19:3-7).
- In 70 AD, the Second Temple in Jerusalem (called Herod’s temple) was destroyed by the Roman armies. The city was burned and bodies were tossed into Gehenna. Jesus Christ, warned of this and said this destruction would occur “to this generation.” This means the events had to occur before 70 AD, which they did (Matt. 23:35-37, Matt. 24:34).
So Gehenna was a real place on the map and a very real place of historical judgment and punishment. It will NOT be an other-worldly abode for the dead! It will NOT be a final prison where a vengeful God, full of wrath, sends unbelieving sinners to with an everlasting sentence of interminable pain, suffering, agony, and separation from Him for all of eternity!
Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah to Israel and Savior to the world. Here’s a Bible secret…all who do not believe in Him now, will indeed believe in Him later (later in their life or later after they are dead) since a clear teaching of Scripture is the willing bowing of the knees and confessing of allegiance to Him by all of humanity (Isaiah 45:22-23, Rom. 14:11, Phil 2:10, Rev. 1:7).
God has a far better plan than retributive justice, destroying unbelievers and having them suffer forever. After judgement (another blog for another day which by the way, everyone will undergo to some extent (Prov. 24:12, Matt. 12:36), wouldn’t RESTORING and TRANSFORMING UNBELIEVERS into His image be a better idea?
So to respond to the voice that sounded like Larry, but as we established, it was not Larry,
“Hey yo…Jesus did not lied about hell- He told the truth… about Gehenna.”
NOTE: Please know that I will blog about the word “forever” in the Bible which are the Greek words “aion” and “aoinios.” In the meantime if you want to go more information now, here is a great article from the website Merciful Truth: http://www.mercifultruth.com/eternity-detailedstudy.html