The World Tomorrow

Hades and Gehenna Explained

by Herbert W Armstrong


Well greetings friends. This is Herbert W Armstrong with the Good News of the World Tomorrow.

And now, my friends get out your Bibles and see some things that are going to astonish you. Why is it that you have been brought up to believe exactly the opposite of what the Bible says? That is, to believe that it says exactly the opposite of what it does. Why is it that you have accepted a gospel you have thought was the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is exactly the opposite, which is a gospel about Christ, about His person, but which denies His teaching and teaches exactly the opposite from what He did?

What's the truth about hell fire? What's the truth about hell? Is there a hell? Have people ever gone to hell? We are going to come into that now, if you will open your Bible; Mark the ninth chapter and we're beginning now the thirty-eighth verse. Here we are going through the life of Jesus Christ to see what He taught. To see the example that He set. To see the customs that He practiced, how different they were from those that we practice today. Was He wrong? Did He do the wrong things? Are we right today? Are we better than He was? How did it get started?

And incidentally, my friends, let me just tell you this. A lot of you have thought that Jesus Christ came preaching an Old Testament gospel that, well He spent three and half years preaching it, just in order to nail it to the cross and do away with it; knock it in the head as soon as He got through teaching people to observe it. That wouldn't have been very smart, now would it? And yet a lot of people think that is exactly what Christ did and that Paul brought a new religion for Gentiles. And that Christ had to preach to the Jews because, well for some reason He couldn't get out of it, or something. But, as soon as He got through preaching to them, He knocked it all in the head and did away with it.

You know a lot of these things people have come to believe are so inconsistent, if you just stop to think, it will amaze you. And so a lot of people say, "Well you know, we're not Jews. We're, we're Gentiles and we believe in that gospel that Paul preached." But, if you'll study your Bible, if you'll read in the book of Acts, if you'll study the epistles, or the letters that the apostle Paul wrote that form a part of the Bible, you will see that he taught exactly the same gospel that Jesus Christ had taught.

You will read in Galatians of how he didn't get his gospel from men, he got it directly from Christ. And he got exactly the same gospel that Christ had taught the disciples. I went into that before in a preceding program; how that Paul did not confer with men. He didn't go to the apostles, but he went directly to Christ. And he said I have been with Christ, I have seen Christ (I Corinthians 9:1). But, when he did later go down to Jerusalem and compare notes with Peter and with James and with John, and to find out what they preached and what he did, they found they both preached exactly the same gospel. And then they gave him the right hand of fellowship that he should go to the Gentiles and they to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Well here we are now in the ninth chapter of Mark and the thirty-eighth verse.

Now John said to Jesus, "Master, we saw one casting out demons in thy name. And we forbade him, because he followed not us." (Mark 9:38 paraphrased)

He didn't follow, he didn't do as they did. He didn't follow Jesus. Now we have that situation today. There are many who go about doing things in Jesus' name. That is, they come out in His name and very often they are deceiving the people.

GOD ALMIGHTY COULD HAVE STOPPED THEM. HE COULD HAVE CLOSED UP THEIR CHURCHES. He didn't. He has let them go ahead. Do you know why? If you understand the gospel that Jesus preached, if you know the purpose of God and the plan of God in working out that purpose, you will understand. This, my friends, is the time when God is letting human beings express their free moral agency. When He is letting them learn lessons the hard way by experience. That's the only way the purpose of God can be fulfilled. And I want to tell you, many are deceived, and God knows it. It is foretold in the Bible, that the many would be deceived – not the few. God knows that, God could have prevented it. God could have stopped it, but He didn't. God could have stopped wars, and there wouldn't be any wars today. GOD ALLOWS WAR – WHY?

Well for the simple reason that God allows sin. Do you know what war really is? I have expressed it before on this broadcast. War is a penalty that human beings pay. It's a penalty of transgression. War is a penalty of disobeying the laws of God. The law of God is love. The law of God is loving your neighbor as yourself. It's the way of peace. Men don't know that way; they don't follow it.

The only way God could stop war, would be to cram His religion down our throats. The only way God could stop war would be to enforce His law on people and make everybody obey it. That way is the way of love. God's law is love – it requires the love of God by the Holy Spirit shed abroad in our hearts to fulfill that law. (Romans 5:5)

Now God could, I suppose, crack down on us and cram His truth down our throats. And force His Holy Spirit into every one of us and just make us show forth love and be at peace with our neighbors, but He hasn't done it. No, God Almighty has let these little strutting dictators rise up, with their rabble rousing oratory. He has let the people listen and follow it like dumb sheep, like they have done in some of the nations of the earth. He has permitted these men to become heads of aggressor nations and to be aggressors and to develop great tremendous armies and to attack our people, God has permitted it.

God Not Saving the World Now (PLAY FROM 05:58)

And God permits people to take His name and go out and preach wrong things in it. This is not the time when God is trying to stop them. And by the same token, my friends, this is not the time when God is trying to save the whole world. Now that's about the most astonishing thing that some of you have ever heard. But if you'll read your Bibles a little more, you will see that it is true. You'll see that what you have been taught that the Bible says, is the opposite in very many cases.

Well, let's read on, Jesus didn't stop these people. Verse 42:

"Whatsoever shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me to stumble, it were better for him if a great mill stone were hanged about his neck and he were cast into the sea. And if thy hand cause thee to stumble [if your hand causes you to stumble, so that, that is, it is going to cause you the loss of salvation, cost you your eternal life] cut it off [cut off that hand, if it is going to deny you eternal life, cut it off], it is good for thee to enter into life, maimed…" (Mark 9:42-43 American Standard Version paraphrased)

That is into eternal life, and in this case, the Bible is speaking of life as the life that God has to give, not the existence with which we were born.

Now actually, from this point of view, all we have is a mechanical existence. We are like an alarm clock, not an electric one either, but one that is going, wound up and is going to run down. Of course, the electric clock is going to stop when ever you turn off the current. It will go as long as the current is on. As long as it works, sometimes they break down, don't work anymore, something else goes wrong with them. But, we are all starting to run down and physically we become rather old at thirty years of age, you know. An athlete is an old man by the age of thirty, physically. And we should continue to gain morally and mentally and spiritually for quite some time.

But actually, we're deteriorating, we're running down, if we can realize it. And God has life to give, and that life is in His Son Jesus Christ, and whosoever has the Son of God does have life. But the Bible says in I John five that:

[Whosoever] has not the Son of God has not life." (I John 5:12 paraphrased)

No you are dying while we you yet live. We are all just dying, that's all. All the time gradually, we are running down. We don't realize it; we're not going to live forever.

Some people begin to realize it when they approach age 70. About that time they begin to think. But, while they are young, they think they are going to live forever and they have no time for God. They have no time to consider what is going to happen after death, they are not concerned. They are living now and they are just going to enjoy the present. And they want to get the maximum sensations and exhilarations and everything of that sort out of the moment, and they aren't even concerned about what happens tomorrow, or about the consequences of what they do today. That's why a lot of people that are a little older are suffering from what they did when they were younger. And a lot of people that are younger are doing those things now, are going to suffer a little later.

Now "…if thy hand causes thee to stumble, cut it off. It is good for thee to enter into life [and here life means eternal life] maimed, rather than having thy two hands to go into hell [as it is in the King James and in the American Revised Version] into the unquenchable fire." (Mark 9:43 ASV paraphrased)

Now what is the truth about this matter hell? You know a lot of people have been trying to find hell. And I remember years ago, one man thought he had discovered it. There was a big story, I think it was in a feature section of a Sunday newspaper. Might have been one of the magazine sections of a Sunday paper, I don't remember now, a long, long time ago. And anyhow, as I remember it this man thought that hell was on the surface of the sun and heaven was inside the sun. That the sun had a - was hollow and it was very beautiful inside there. And, of course, the sun you know, is many, many, many times bigger than this earth, it's a pretty big ball. And there would be a lot of space, so this fellow reasoned it out in his own mind. Of course, that didn't make it true, and it isn't true incidentally, but that's the way he reasoned it out. And that the flaming heat of the sun was the hell fire where people go.

And another man one time thought that hell is down in the center of the earth. It is supposed to be a molten mass, so that's where everybody goes. And a lot of people that have died are there.

Well, of course, when we read about the resurrection, I don't know why there would have to be a resurrection and then a judgement, which follows the resurrection, in which those that have been dead are to be judged to see whether they should have been sizzling in hell all these years, or not. Maybe a mistake was made and they get to go up to heaven after that. You know, it just wouldn't make sense, would it? It just wouldn't make sense.

If Dead Are Living - Why Resurrection? (PLAY FROM 11:03)

WHY SHOULD THERE BE A RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD, IF THE DEAD ARE ALREADY LIVING AND NOT DEAD, but are in hell or up in heaven? And then again, why if anyone has been up in heaven in all that wonderful heavenly bliss that they picture to you, and they have been up there for a thousand or five thousand years, or a hundred years, or something like that, enjoying all of that. Why is it, my friends, that they should be brought back in a resurrection to this awful terrible earth? And go into a judgement to decide whether they belonged up in heaven or not? Why not have the judgement before they go there?

You know, in this world even human beings are more just than they seem to think God is. Now, actually I am telling you that this thing they think is not the truth, and God isn't doing that at all. But what people seem to think God does, is that He sends them either to heaven or hell, and then He brings them down to look at it and have the judgement and the trial to see whether they should be there. Now a judgement is a trial, that's what it is, to see whether you're innocent or guilty. That's exactly what a judgement is and there is a day of judgement coming. The great judgement day is coming and it comes, according to your Bible, after the resurrection.

What's the use of having a resurrection in order to have a judgement follow those that are resurrected, if they have already gone to their reward, or to their punishment, one way or the other?

You know, you don't send a criminal, or a suspected criminal, one that is accused, you don't send him to the penitentiary for 25 years and let him serve the 25 year penalty for what he did and then, and then have a judgement or a trial to see whether he is guilty. And see whether he should have been given some great reward instead of having been punished or not. It doesn't make sense, does it?

Hell And English Word (PLAY FROM 12:55)

Well now the truth of it is that this word 'hell' is an English word and it had an entirely different meaning when the King James translation was made, or the King James revision. Because actually, it was more of a revision than a translation. Anyway, that was back in the year 1611 and in the original language in which the Bible was written, all we have are English translations in the English language. Of course, over in Germany they have the German translations. Mostly over there, they have the Lutheran translation. And then the other nations have their translations and their languages. Now the Old Testament, mostly was written in Hebrew and all of the New Testament was written in the Greek language.

But we don't speak Greek, you say well that's Greek to me, that means you don't understand it. Because very few people understand Greek. And it wasn't even the modern Greek that the people speak in Greece today. It was the Greek of that time, and even the Greek language has undergone changes too, and is somewhat different today. And, so in translating this English word 'hell' from the original languages in which it is written.

Let me just explain quickly, and I can't take the time to give it all to you, because it would take more than one whole broadcast to do it. But anyway, there are three Greek words, all of which they have translated into the English word 'hell.' And there is the one Hebrew word. The one Hebrew word, 'sheol,' is used and it means, usually the 'grave.' And every place you find the word 'grave' in the Old Testament I think every place, so far as I can remember now, every place is 'sheol' in the original. And some places they translate it into hell, but usually it's sheol, or grave.

Now in the New Testament, the corresponding word is 'hades.' H-A-D-E-S – that is a Greek word. In most places in the New Testament, hades is the word in the original language that Matthew, Mark, or Luke, or John, or the other writers used.

Now in this particular case the word is not 'hades,' but the word is 'gehenna.' And gehenna is another Greek word. It has an altogether different meaning. Now the word 'hades' always did mean 'a hole in the ground' - a grave that is covered up. Now today the higher critics and some of the theologians trying to back up their pagan superstitions that they have put into a so called Christianity, are trying to hang onto that a definition of the abode of departed spirits and all that sort of thing. Well that's a rather fanciful and new definition. But the actual meaning of 'hades' is the grave. And it is a place where they are buried. And to be buried, they have to be covered up. It's a place of burial, and in most of the places where the word hell is used, it is not referring to fire at all, or hell fire, but is referring to a grave.

Now, in this particular case here in Mark nine, and also you will find it in Matthew 18:8, and in other places in the Bible, the word is 'gehenna.' Now Gehenna was the name of a place at the south border of the city of Jerusalem. It was down off of a high ledge. There was a bank and a high ledge up above it. This is down at the bottom and it was a place that was not used for any other purpose. In other words, it wasn't a business or residential section, or anything of that sort. But, they dumped over refuse, and trash, and the bodies of dead animals, and even criminals. When they died, their bodies, their dead bodies were thrown over that ledge.

And down below the fires were kept burning continually. And I presume that they had attendants down there to see that the fires kept burning and keep everything aflame, otherwise it would soon burn up and burn out. But they kept dumping things down, and it took more and more things dumped over that ledge – over the precipice at the top to drop down to continue to keep those fires fed, so they would continue to burn. Because you know, fire finally burns a thing up and then it just stops. You don't quench it, you don't put it out, but it just goes out when it's burned up what ever was being burned.

Chemistry of Fire (PLAY FROM 17:40)

Now if you have studied fire, it is a matter of very elementary chemistry. I think a good many of you studied that in high school. And if you did, you found that fire is a chemical process. It's a matter of chemical action of material substance. It is the combining of the substance with the oxygen in the air in a chemical matter. Now a certain life or a certain energy has to be imparted to it, like the spark that ignites the gasoline in your automobile. And actually, when you strike a match, it is like a sort of a spark; it starts a fire. And that will ignite other things, and once it is started, that action will continue. It is the uniting of the oxygen in the air with the product being consumed.

Now what it does, it consumes the product. And it changes it into a different condition. Now our, our scientists, our physicists tell us that, it is not this, actually destroyed, that is the matter itself. The, the thing or the substance in the form, or shape in which it was, is totally destroyed but the matter that composed it is not. But, part of it is left as ash on the ground, or where ever it is and part of it goes up in smoke and gas, up into the air. It's just changed into a different form.

Now part of it has been changed into gas or into smoke, and part of it has been changed into ash. And that's what happens to a thing that is burned. It is just changed into a different kind of physical substance altogether. And it is a process of destruction that destroys it in the form or shape in which it was.

Now, Jesus is talking about having two hands go into gehenna - into the unquenchable fire. Now they never let them quench that fire. No one was allowed to go down there and put the fire out. They couldn't pour water on it. They couldn't call out the fire department, or anything like that. They simply let it burn until it burned up the things that were in it.

Now back in the Old Testament, you will read that the wicked are not only going to perish, but they are going into a fire so hot it will burn them up. It will burn them up, and you read that they are to be ashes under the souls of the feet of those that are given eternal life and go on living forever. That's what your Bible teaches. (Malachi 4:3)

And gehenna was exactly that picture. Now gehenna fire DID NOT IN ANY MANNER SHAPE OR FORM picture anything that would just burn and keep burning and burning and burning forever. It didn't picture anything of the sort.

Unquenchable Fire (PLAY FROM 20:24)

Now let me give you an illustration about unquenchable fire. If you will take, just take a piece of paper, because that will burn about as quickly as anything. Set it in a pan, so it can't catch anything else on fire. Take a pan, put a piece, a little piece of paper in it, and set it on fire with a match. And watch it, and now don't you quench that fire, don't quench it. Just let it burn. You won't have to wait hardly a minute, if it is a little piece of paper. And you'll see some flame and gas going up and a little smoke and after a while you'll have a little black piece of ash left. And if it is on the floor, you can step on it and the ashes will be under the soul of your feet. And there you are. And that is what happens to the wicked, according to your Bible.

BUT, THAT ISN'T WHAT YOU HEARD TAUGHT. THAT ISN'T WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN BROUGHT UP TO BELIEVE, most of you. That's what the Bible says. And so, I tell you, my friends, they have turned the Bible upside down.

Now this gehenna fire; this 'hell' is 'gehenna.' Which was a place that BURNED UP what ever was put into it. Now we read back here just a few days ago, how Jesus said, that the man to fear was the one who could DESTROY THE SOUL as well as the body in gehenna fire. There again, He was speaking of gehenna, not of hades, but gehenna. Now where the word 'hades' is used – and it's always 'hell' in your Bible. You don't know the difference, until you get the Greek copy of the original, but in the original, in some places it is 'hades.' And where ever the word 'hades' is used, it never talks about burning. And it never talks about destroying them or burning them up. That's always where the word 'gehenna' is used, and it is referring to this fire that burned them up. It's a lot hotter than one that just burns you, but doesn't burn you up. That wouldn't be a very hot fire.

No, the real hell fire that Jesus talked about, and He did talk about a fire that will burn them up. Now if you want to know about that fire, it is described over here in the book of Revelation. And in the twentieth chapter of Revelation. And finally the last three verses:

"And the sea gave up the dead which were in it…" (Revelation 20:13)

This is the last and final resurrection. You know the Bible talks about more than one resurrection. And it talks of the first resurrection and so on, and then a second resurrection. Well this is the last resurrection. Revelation 20:13:

"And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell [now there that's hades not gehenna, but hades. That's the grave], …gave up the dead which were in them." (Revelation 20:13 paraphrased)

Now those dead weren't burning. They were just in a grave. They were covered up.

"And they were judged, every man according to their works." (Revelation 20:13)

You know that word 'hades,' called hell, well that was the original meaning of hell in England back in the early seventeenth century and the sixteenth century. And the early seventeenth century when the King James translation was made. And you know that back there at that time in England, the people talked about putting their potatoes in hell for the winter. Sure, they put their potatoes in hell.

Now that means they dug a hole in the ground, they put the potatoes in it. They covered them up and it is a very fine way to preserve potatoes for the winter. You might try it sometime, it's a nice way to protect and preserve potatoes. Just bury them in the ground and some of you people living up in Idaho know what I mean. Those wonderful potato cellars that you have up there in Idaho, partly under the ground at least, but pretty well covered up on top too. It's a place to protect and to preserve potatoes.

Well those great big potato caves up there in Idaho, you might call them hells, that's what they are. And the Greek word is 'hades.' Now that's what is used here.

"…death and hell [or hades here, which means the grave] delivered up the dead which were in them, and they were judged every man according to their works." (Revelation 20:13)

Now there is the judgement. And now they decide what happens to them.

"And death and hell [or hades, that's the grave – that's those resurrected out of there] were cast into the LAKE OF FIRE [this is the hell fire – a lake of fire.] this is the second death." (Revelation 20:14)

It's the second death and that death is for all eternity. Now, my friends, what does your Bible say? Does your Bible say that the wages of sin is eternal life in hell fire? Now you have been taught that, that is you have been taught to believe that. That if a person dies, that he will live for ever in hell fire, haven't you been taught that?

Well that is not what the Bible says. But it says:

"…the wages of sin is death…" (Romans 6:23)

D-E-A-T-H. And it is eternal punishMENT, IT IS NOT ETERNAL PUNISHING. It is eternal punishMENT, and the punishment is death. And that death is for ALL ETERNITY. It is not a temporary death; it is an eternal death.

Now "it is appointed to all men once to die…" (Hebrews 9:27)

We die this first death, because of Adam's sin, we all die. But the death that you die because of your own sins, if you are not pardoned by the blood of Jesus Christ, and if you do not receive eternal life as the gift of God, that death is the second death - from which there will be no resurrection. That is eternal death. That is your punishment and that is eternal punishment.

Now there's the truth and a few words about this matter of hell. And the wicked are going to perish.

"…God so loved this world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not PERISH…" (John 3:16)

THE WORD IS PERISH. But you have been taught to believe live for ever in hell fire. Now right away you'll think about Lazarus and the rich man, won't you? Well let me tell you something, Lazarus, who people think was up in heaven was able to look down and see this rich man and what they think was a burning hell, and talk to him. And they saw him, they heard his screams, his, his yellings, but couldn't help him a bit. If that is true, if what you have thought about Lazarus and the rich man is true, then I tell you, my friends, that saved mothers up in heaven are hearing the shrieks of their lost children in hell. THEY ARE SEEING THEM, THEY ARE TALKING TO THEM, BUT can't help them – would that be heaven?