Author: Ron Graham
Heaven and Hell
—Is Hell Eternal?
Does the Bible promise an eternal home in heaven? What will happen to our present home, planet earth? Is there an eternal hell? Let's find out.
¶“1Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me. 2There are many dwelling places in my Father’s house. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go there to prepare you a place? 3Since I go away to prepare a place for you, I will return and receive you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3).
1 Home in Heaven Clearly Promised
Notice where our promised dwelling place is. According to John 14:1-3 (above) our promised home is in heaven where Jesus has gone.
That contradicts those who teach that the Bible doesn't promise an eternal abode in heaven to all believers in Christ. The eternal Father dwells in heaven and that's where Jesus said he would make our abode.
If it is argued that this promise is only for a brief visit to heaven, why did Paul say, "And thus we shall ALWAYS be with the Lord" (1Thessalonians 4:17)?
2 Destruction of Earth Clearly Predicted
God is creating "A new heavens and a new earth" (Isaiah 65:17, Isaiah 66:22-24, Revelation 21:1-8, 2Peter 3:13).
Notice that this is a NEW heavens and earth, not the heavens and earth of Genesis chapter 1. That old heavens and earth is going to be destroyed, dissolved by fire (2Peter 3:7-13).
When we are caught up to meet the Lord at his return (1Thessalonians 4:17), "the sky will be rolled up like a scroll" (Isaiah 34:4) and the beauty of earth will be no more. We shall then be transported to a place unimaginably more beautiful, an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.
3 Unsaved of Earth Clearly Forewarned.
There is a place of "everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels" and Jesus warns that those who have not followed his word will go there with them —instead of going to the eternal kingdom of heaven with him (Matthew 25:31-46, especially v41).
People question whether this hell is an eternal abode. To put the question in other words, is hell a place where people dwell forever in torment as heaven is a place where people dwell forever in joy? Are these opposites so equally opposite?
The Greek word for eternal or everlasting is αιωνιον, aionion. That very same word is used in the terms “eternal life” and “eternal punishment”. Hell is as eternal as heaven.
Jude emphasises this when he writes of "everlasting chains... eternal fire... darkness forever" (Jude 1:6-7,13).
The judgment scene in Revelation 20:10,15 pictures the torment of the wicked as being "for ever and ever".
Some people cannot accept that a loving God would send any soul into unending punishment. However God has shown his love, not by promising that the wicked will cease to exist, but that those who will believe and obey his Son will have eternal life (John 3:16).
The wicked in hell will suffer "everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord" (2Thessalonians 1:8-9). Some interpret this to mean that the unsaved will cease to exist, their souls will be destroyed, and they'll never be raised again in all eternity. However this is not in line with the other passages quoted above.
Those unhappy passages are balanced by statements such as this: "God is not willing that anyone should perish, but that everyone should come to repentance" (2Peter 3:9).
Some Notes on Hell
The English word hell has been used to translate three different Greek words in the New Testament.
- ταρταρος, tartaros used once in the New Testament (as a verb) (2Peter 2:4). The wicked angels are "reserved for judgment" in this place. However we know very little about it.
- αδες, hades is the dwelling place of the dead until the resurrection (Acts 2:27,31). In the Old Testament this place is called Sheol
- γηννα, gehenna is the word referred to in this lesson, the eternal dwelling place of Satan, his angels, and unsaved humanity.
- It gets this name from the Gehenna, also known as the Valley of Hinnom, outside Jerusalem. There Solomon built a “high place” for worship of the detestable idol Moloch (1Kings 11:7).
- The good king Josiah turned it into a place of abomination and desolation (2Kings 23:10-14). Apparently thereafter it became a place despised and fit only as a dump for burning rubbish and dead animals.
- Jesus spoke of those who will "go to hell into the fire that shall never be quenched" (Mark 9:43). The word there translated hell is Gehenna.
This lesson was taken from original lesson material published by me circa 1980 in The Communicator.