Hatred—Is It Ever Proper.
Question (1984)—Should God’s people ever have any kind of hatred in their hearts?
Answer.—David said: “Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am I not grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies” (Psa. 139:21, 22). Surely God’s people should hate that which is evil, and not have any sympathy with it. “Ye that love the Lord, hate evil” (Psa. 97:10). “Hate the evil, and love the good” (Amos 5:15). “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good” (Rom. 12:9). Of Jesus it was prophetically stated, “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows” (Heb. 1:9; Psa. 45:7).
Many are more or less under the influence of iniquity by reason of inherited weakness, bad environment and their own willful indulgence in evil practices. We all were born in a fallen condition (Psa. 51:5). While we hate the iniquity, the sin, we must learn more and more to have compassion for the poor human race. God’s compassion is so great that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:6, 8; John 3:16). We must have the mind of our Lord; but we are to have no sympathy for the evil. If there are any who once enlightened and who have come into full sympathy with iniquity (and there are such according to the Scriptures—Heb. 6:4-6; 10:27-31; 2 Pet. 2:1, 12-22; 1 John 5:16; Jude 4, 8-13) they are themselves iniquitous and would properly be classed with Satan.
We are to hate Satan and his works of iniquity “with a perfect hatred”—so much so that we would not compromise or enter into anything that would bring us into relationship with any of his sinful methods. We are to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph. 5:11). All our interest must be on the Lord’s side. And the more we love Him the more we will hate everything to the contrary. Accordingly, we hate Satan, the great Adversary, the Prince of Darkness, with a perfect hatred; and any who prove to be unalterably fixed in evil, to be his followers or sympathizers under full light, deserve the same kind of hatred.
But such a hatred not mean ill will on our part, or any desire for or pleasure in having them mistreated in anyway or tortured for even a little while, let alone throughout all eternity. It would be the same kind of hatred that God has. God is altogether righteous, as seen above, and His hatred will mean the destruction (annihilation) in due time of Satan and all who are of his spirit, fully and unchangeably saturated with and fix in evil (Heb. 2:14; Matt. 25:41, 46—it should read “everlasting cutting off”). This is the proper hatred that we should have, the hatred that would wish to see the irreformable opponents of God destroyed—for the good of all concerned. ’72-30; ’84-6
Question (1958)—Is heaven a place or a condition? If a place, where is it?
Answer.—While it is true that beings might be in a heavenly condition, that is, spiritual and invisible to human sight, and yet be near to us who are in the flesh, we could not agree that heaven is only a condition; it must also be a place, just as truly as the earth is a place. As to its location, the most reasonable suggestion we know of is that offered in Thy Kingdom Come, p. 327 and Creation, p. 171, viz., that the suns and their plan-ets—the solar systems—all revolve about a common center, which astronomers identify with the star Alcyone, one of the heavenly group known as Pleiades. This is in harmony with a hint that God has given, that His gracious power proceeds from the Pleiades, from whence, accordingly, He governs the universe (Job 38:31).
This is attested further by the situation of the Pleiades in the north, where other Scriptures indicate that God’s dwelling place is located. E.g., Psa. 75:6, 7, where we read: “Promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up an-other.” God’s dwelling place, from which His promotions come, is thus shown to be in the direction of the one main compass point not mentioned here, viz., the north. Isa. 14:13, 14 is another. Here Lucifer in gross pride and self-exaltation says: “I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”
As evidence that heaven is a place and at a distance from the earth, and that it requires time to go there and come back notice the fact that our Lord said that He would “go away” and “come again” (John 14:3). This could not be true if to go to heaven means merely a change from human conditions to spiritual conditions, because He will never come again to human conditions, as at the time of the First Advent. “He took upon Him the form of a servant,” “was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death . . . that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Phil. 2:7-10; Heb. 2:9). He has finished that work and has no further use for the body of humiliation—He has been glorified, “highly exalted,” and is the express image of the Father’s person (Heb. 1:3).
Again, our Lord said in the parable that the Nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return (Luke 19:12).
Also, we are informed that the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (John 7:39), indicating that as soon as Jesus would be glorified the Holy Spirit would be given to the waiting Church. And we know that from the time Jesus ascended up on high until the descent of the Holy Spirit was ten days. ’58-70; ’71-78
Hell—Is It A Place Of Darkness.
Question (1977)—I read recently a statement by an eternal torment teacher as follows: “In Hell there will be no light at all but a thick darkness and weeping and gnashing of teeth. Those who want to be with their friends in Hell won’t be able to know where they are in the thick darkness. What a terrifying place to be! All who are without the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior are bound for that awful eternity of suffering—both Jews and Gentiles.” What do you think of this?
Answer.—It seems like a very strange statement, because most teachers of the eternal torment theory say that hell is a place full of flaming fire, and therefore it would not be dark at all. But the Bible clearly shows that hell is a condition of silence, darkness, forgetfulness and absolute unconsciousness (Job 10:21, 22; 14:21; Psa. 6:5; 88:3-12; 146:4; Eccles. 9:5, 10; Isa. 38:18), without any fire or torment. (For an examination of all the Scriptures on hell, including the parable of the rich man in hell, see our Hell of the Bible booklet.) ’77-94
Hell—Explain David’s Words “Let Them Go Down Quick Into Hell” Psa. 55:15.
Question (1952)—Please explain David’s words: “Let them go down quick into hell” (Psa. 55:15). It seems to teach that there is at present a hell for the wicked. David does not seem to show much love for his enemies.
Answer.—The Hebrew word here translated hell is sheol, which occurs 65 times in the Old Testament. It is 31 times translated grave, 31 times translated hell and 3 times translated pit. It signifies the unconscious condition of death, wherein there is no wisdom, knowledge or device (Eccl. 9:10; Job 14:21; Psa. 6:5; Isa. 38:18). Both good and bad people go to sheol: Jacob said he would go there (Gen. 37:35); Job prayed to be hidden there (Job 14:13); Jesus went there. David says, speaking prophetically for Jesus—“Thou wilt not leave my soul [me] in hell [sheol]” (Psa. 16:10). Compare with Acts 2:27, where Peter explains. The Greek word there translated hell is hades, and has the same meaning as sheol. In Ps. 55 David sees the doings of the wicked, and prays that they may soon die, and thus cease to work mischief. Had David prayed that they might go to a place of torture it would indeed revealed a dreadful condition of mind, and no wonder you might feel shocked. But remember that if it would seem wicked in David, it would be ten thousand times more awful for Jehovah to provide such an endless torture as some suppose. It must be the theology of the Dark Ages that is at fault, for Jehovah, David and Paul seem to have the same mind on this subject. Paul said (Gal. 5:12), “I would that they were even cut off which trouble you,” i.e., let them go down quick into death, and Jehovah says, “I took them away as I saw good” (Ezek. 16:50). The key is found in the fact that the Age for the world’s trial is the coming one, when all shall be made to know God and His Truth under favorable circumstances (Isa. 11:9; Jer. 31:34; Micah 4:1, 2; 1 Tim. 2:4, 6; Psa. 136:1-26). ’52-15
Hell—Is There More Than One.
Question (1959)—Is there more than one hell mentioned in the Bible? If so, how many?
Answer.—Yes. There are three different words, with different meanings, that are translated hell in the King James translation. These are (1) the Hebrew word sheol, which corresponds to the Greek hades (see e.g., Psa. 16:10; comp. Acts 2:31—A.R.V.), (2) the Greek word tartarus (2 Pet. 2:4—R.S.V., margin), and (3) the Greek word gehenna (see, e.g., Matt. 5:29, 30—A.R.V., margin. Thus it may correctly be said that there are three distinct and different hells mentioned in the Bible. Some may be somewhat surprised at there being more than one hell mentioned in the Bible; However, this is very evident from Rev. 20:13, 14, where we read that “death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.” Almost all Bible scholars agree that the lake of fire means hell. How then could one hell be cast into another (the lake of fire), if there were only one hell? The thought of one hell being cast into another and there still being only one hell would be as illogical as the story of the snake that began to swallow itself, beginning at its tail and continuing to swallow itself until it finally disappeared down its own throat! ’59-62; ’65-21
Hell—Immortal Worms And Unquenchable Fire.
Question (1978)—Do not Isa. 66:24 and Mark 9:43-48 prove that the doctrine of eternal torment is Scriptural?
Answer.—The word hell here (Greek, gehenna) means the valley of Hinnom, outside of Jerusalem, where children were sacrificed to Molech, and unto which refuse, offal and bodies of certain criminals were cast 2nd were destroyed by the worms and the fire, which was never quenched. (For details please see BS No.383—a copy free on request.) ’78-55
Hell—(Hades) Not The Lake Of Fire.
Question (1963)—Is hell (hades) the same as the lake of fire?
Answer.—No! Some teach that they are the same, but this is a great mistake. Referring to the thousand-year Judgment Day, the Revelator tells us in the spirit of prophecy that “the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell [hades; margin, the grave] delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell [hades] were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (Rev. 20:13, 14). Obviously, hell (hades) is not the lake of fire, for the lake of fire could not be cast into itself. Such a thought would be as absurd as to claim that a snake by starting at its tail could eventually completely swallow itself!
The book of Revelation is a book of symbols (Rev. 1:1). Things such as its candlesticks, stars, harps, trumpets, lightnings, thunders, hailstones, rivers, waters, frogs, beasts, horns, birds, trees, etc., are symbolic, hence must be interpreted in harmony with symbolic usage in other Scriptures. Thus “fire” is used to represent destruction (Zeph. 3:8; Mal. 4:1; Matt. 3:11, 12), for it is a most destructive agent. This is illustrated in Jude 7, which explains that “Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them . . . are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” Here, then, is our example of what is meant by eternal fire—not that it would be eternally burning and never complete its destruction, but that its destruction would be eternal.
Accordingly, the lake of fire (which is also designated gehenna in the Scriptures) represents eternal destruction—“the second death” (Rev. 20:14, 15; 21:8)—not life in any sense. “Death [the dying process under Adamic condemnation] and hell [hades, oblivion, the unconscious sleep of death]” will be cast into the lake of fire, will be fully destroyed, when the great prison house of the tomb will have delivered up all its dead (John 5:28, 29), and the dying process, including all its aches, pains, mental and moral imperfections of every sort, will have ended in the restitution, restoration, of the human race to full human perfection (1 Cor. 15:26; Acts 3:19-21). For further explanation, please see our booklet, The Hell of the Bible (12c), and also our tract What is Hell? (Free on request). ’63-6; ’95-14
Hell—The Meaning Of Sheol And Hades.
Question (1959)—What is the meaning of sheol and hades?
Answer.—In the King James translation of the Bible, the Hebrew word sheol is translated hell 31 times, grave 31 times and pit 3 times, while the corresponding Greek word hades is translated hell 10 times and grave 1 time. (That hades corresponds with sheol is manifest from the fact that the Apostles used hades for sheol, when quoting from the Old Testament—comp. Acts 2:27 with Psa. 16:10 and 1 Cor. 15:55 with Hos. 13:14.) Thus it is not possible to get a clear understanding of the meaning of these words from the King James Version Bible. Anyone can see that if it was proper to translate the word sheol 31 times “graves” it would not have been improper to so translate it in every other instance.
Nor have the translators of the American Revised Version and the Revised Standard Version given any more help in understanding the meaning of sheol and hades; in fact, they have given even less help than the King James Version translators! They evaded the issue; instead of giving a translation, they have in almost every case left sheol and hades untranslated, and have used them as proper, nouns. If they had been thoroughly disentangled from the errors of the Dark Ages, as taught by the papacy, and thoroughly honest, they would have done more to help the English student than merely substituting the Hebrew word sheol and the Greek word hades as they have done. They should have translated these words! But they were evidently afraid to tell the truth, and ashamed to tell the lie; and so gave us sheol and hades untranslated, and permitted the inference that these words mean the same as the word “hell” has become perverted to mean. Their course, while for a time it shields themselves, dishonors God and the Bible, which many of the common people are thus led to suppose teaches a hell of torment in the words sheol and hades.
The word hell in old English (Anglo-Saxon) usage, before papal theologians picked it up and gave it a new special significance to suit their own purposes, simply meant to conceal, to hide, to cover—hence the concealed, hidden or covered condition. Dr. Benjamin Wilson, in the Alphabetical Appendix to the Emphatic Diaglott states: “To translate hades by the word hell as it is done ten times out of eleven in the New Testament is very improper, unless it has the Saxon meaning of helan, to cover, attached to it. The primitive signification of hell, only denoting what was Secret or Concealed, perfectly corresponds with the Greek term hades and its Hebrew equivalent sheol, but the theological definition given to it at the present day by no means expresses it.” It is said in some parts of England to this day it is not uncommon to hear the old Saxon use of this word, as when a man speaks of helling potatoes (covering them), or helling his house (shingling, thatching, covering it).
Since (1) in old English the word hell simply meant the concealed, hidden or covered condition, since (2) good people, as well as bad, go there at death (e.g., Jacob went down to sheol, and Job prayed to go there, to be hidden there, until the resurrection—Gen. 37:35; Job 14:13), and since (3) instead of sheol (hades) being a place of fire, torture, shrieks, etc., the Bible say, “There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave [sheol], whither thou goest,” “the dead know not any thing,” “in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave [sheol] who shall give thee thanks,” “the grave [sheol] cannot praise thee: death cannot celebrate thee” (Eccl. 9:5, 10; Psa. 6:5; Isa. 38:18)—in view of these three considerations, it is evident that sheol, hades, means the unconscious, oblivious condition of death, where all souls, good and bad, go at death, and from which a recovery is possible by a resurrection, as is manifest from an examination of a few of the Scriptures in which it occurs: e.g., Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:27; Rev. 1:18; 20:13. ’59-62; ’65-21
Hell—The Meaning Of Tartarus.
Question (1959)—What is the meaning of Tartarus (see 2 Pet. 2:4—R.S.V., margin)?
Answer.—The noun tartarus, or tartaros, was used in Grecian mythology as the name for a dark abyss or prison in which wicked spirits were kept imprisoned and were punished. And when the Roman Catholic Church is the Dark Ages, took over from the heathen the doctrines of the consciousness of the dead and the eternal torment of the wicked, it without Biblical warrant magnified the heathen idea of tartarus.
The noun form, tartarus, is not found in the Scriptures, but the verb form, tartaroo, taken from the same root, occurs one time, in 2 Pet. 2:4. This one verb, tartaroo, is by the translators of the King James Version rendered by five words, “cast them down to hell,”—thus including a verb, a personal pronoun, an adverb, a preposition and a noun. This fact properly arouses suspicion that some violence has been done in this translation of the verb tartaroo. If we keep in mind the basic idea of tartarus as mentioned above--a prison—and make a verb of it, we have the true meaning of the verb tartaroo, i.e., to imprison.
Thus the Apostle Peter by the verb tartaroo tells us that God imprisoned the angels that sinned (Gen. 6:2-4; 1 Pet. 3:19, 20), and he adds that they were delivered “into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment”; and since the Apostle Jude (6, 7) tells us that such imprisonment lasts until the judgment of the great day (into which we have already entered), and since these fallen angels as the power of the air (Eph. 2:2; 6:12, margin) are active among humans, e.g., in demonizing people, appearing in séances and other occult practices, we conclude that earth’s atmosphere is their prison (Matt. 8:28-32; 12:22-28). ’59-63; ’65-21
Hell—The Meaning Of Gehenna.
Question (1959)—What is the meaning of Gehenna?
Answer.--Gehenna occurs 12 times in the New Testament, and in each instance is translated hell in the King James Version. Referring again to the Alphabetical Appendix of the Emphatic Diaglott, we read the following under “Gehenna”: It is the Grecian mode of spelling the Hebrew words [ge-hinnom], which are translated. ‘The Valley of Hinnom.’ This valley was also called Tophet, a detestation, an abomination. Into this place were cast all kinds of filth, with the carcasses of beasts, and the unburied bodies of criminals who had been executed. Continual fires were kept to consume these. Gehenna, then, as occurring in the New Testament, symbolizes death and utter destruction, but in no place signifies a place of eternal torment.”
Kimchi, “in commenting on the Valley of Hinnom; says: It was a place in the land [valley] near to Jerusalem, and was a place contemptible where they did cast things defiled and carcasses, and there was there a continual fire to burn polluted things and bones [brimstone was thrown in to continue the fire], and therefore, the condemnation of the wicked in a parabolic way, is called Gi-hinnom.” Gehenna is very similar to “the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is [i.e., represents] the second death”—utter, complete and eternal annihilation; for details on the lake of fire, please see our June issue—a copy free on request.
One thing is sure—nothing was ever cast into this “Valley of Hinnom” to be kept in torment. Only dead bodies were cast into it as a mark of special ignominy; and what the fire did not come into contact with, the worms destroyed, so that in any case the result was destruction (comp. Isa. 66:24). The Jews were not allowed to torture even dumb animals.
Those who are really acquainted with the character of Jehovah and His holy Word know that the doctrine of everlasting torture is contrary to every element of His character. When Israel departed from Him and His ways and turned to the worship of idols and built the high places of Baal in the Valley of Hinnom and, contrary to His instructions (Lev. 20:2-5), caused their children to pass through the fire unto Molech, God severely condemned them, calling it a sin and an abomination, and declared that such an abomination was foreign to His mind and heart (Jer. 7:31; 19:5; 32:35). (For an examination of every one of the twelve occurrences of the word gehenna in the Bible, please see The Bible Standard No. 200—a copy free on request.) ’59-63; ’65-22; *’78-62
Hell—In The So-Called Apostles’ Creed. What Hell Is Christ Arising From.
Question (1959)—In the church I attend the congregation repeats what they call “The Apostles’ Creed,” in which they say of Jesus: “He was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead.” What hell is referred to here?
Answer.—The Apostles did not write what is generally referred to as “The Apostles’ Creed”; nevertheless, there are many good and correct thoughts in it; and the ones here cited are correct, according to the Scriptures. “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3)—He did not merely appear to die, but He really died; “He poured out His soul unto death” (Isa. 53:12, 10). The “hell” into which He descended was not tartarus, for He was not merely imprisoned in this earth’s atmosphere; nor was it gehenna, which symbolizes utter, complete and eternal annihilation—absolute and everlasting destruction; nor was it a place of eternal torment, such as the one invented by the heathen and made more hideous and God-dishonoring by the papacy and its adherents. The “hell” into which Jesus descended at death was hades, or sheol, even as we read of Him in Acts 2:27, 31 (comp. Psa. 16:10): “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [Greek, hades]”; so “His soul was not left in hell [hades].”
It would have been improper for the Apostle to have used the word gehenna here, for gehenna, like the Lake of Fire, symbolizes “the second death”—eternal annihilation, which will be the final condition of “death and hell [hades]” when all the dead that are in them come back in the resurrection, for then death (1 Cor. 15:26; the Adamic dying process) and hell (the Adamic death condition in the tomb) will have been completely destroyed for ever—“cast into the lake of fire”—”the second death” (Rev. 20:13-15); and all the wicked (Jesus, of course, was not such) “shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8); for “all the wicked will God destroy” (Psa. 145:20; Isa. 1:28; 2 Thes. 1:9). There will never be a resurrection from Gehenna, the Lake of Fire, the Second Death. The only hell from which the dead will be raised is hades (or sheol), the temporary death state of unconscious “sleep” (Dan. 12:2; 1 Cor. 15:22; 1 Thes 4:14, 15). It was, therefore, as the Scriptures testify, hades (or sheol) into which Jesus entered at death and in which condition His soul rested until the third day, when He was raised “from the dead” (Rom. 8:11). ’59-63; ’65-22
Hell—Tophet And The King.
Question (1959)—What is Tophet, and who is the king, as referred to in Isa. 30:33?
Answer.—Isa. 30:33 reads as follows: “For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he [Jehovah] hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.” From the description given here of Tophet, and from the meaning of the word--burning place, we understand that it means Gehenna, the lake of fire and brimstone (Mark 9:47, 48; Jas. 3:6; Rev. 20:10, 14, 15). The impossibility of exit therefrom is expressed in the words, “He hath made it deep and large.” The thoroughness of its destructiveness is explained in the words, “The pile thereof is fire and much wood,” and the eternity of its destructiveness is explained in the words, “The breath [power] of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.” The king for whom it is prepared is undoubtedly Satan, the prince (ruler) of this present evil world; for he is the antitypical Pharaoh ruling over antitypical Egypt (vs. 1-14), and the antitypical Nebuchadnezzar of antitypical Babylon (vs. 27-33). (See also “The Lake of Fire which is the Second Death,” in our No. 279 issue—a copy free on request.) ’59-80; *’78-62
Hell—How God Ordained Tophet.
Question (1978)—Since God “ordained Tophet, and since human beings were caused to “pass” through the fire” and suffer tortures there, would not this indicate that God has ordained eternal torture in literal fire in Gehenna for the wicked?
Answer.—No! In Lev. 18:21, God commanded Israel not to follow this heathen custom, saying: “Thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech” (see also 20:2-5). But the children of Israel disobeyed God. They “built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom [ge-hinnom, Gehenna], to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart [His heart, filled with infinite love, could not agree with such atrocities]” (Jer. 7:31); “neither came it into my mind [He is not minded along the lines of any such a terrible practice; it is foreign to His holy disposition]” (19:5); and He calls it an “abomination” and a “sin” (32:35).
In later times the Molech worship in Tophet ceased, and only dead bodies were cast into it.
God ordained Tophet and its fires for destruction, not for preservation and torture. Those who are really acquainted with God’s character and His holy Word know that the blasphemous doctrine of everlasting torture is contrary to every element of His glorious character of infinite wisdom, justice, love and power. ’78-62
Hell—Distinction Between “Qeber” And Sheol.”
Question (1971)—The Hebrew words qeber and sheol are both frequently translated grave in the KJV Bible. What is the difference in their meanings?
Answer.—The Hebrew word qeber (the q is pronounced like a k) is in the KJV Bible translated grave 35 times, sepulchre 26 times and burying place 6 times, and the related word qeburah is similar in meaning. For example, Jacob used the word qeburah when speaking of Rachel’s grave (Gen. 35:20), and his son Joseph used qeber when speaking of Jacob’s grave, which Jacob had already caused to be prepared before he died (Gen. 50:5). Thus it is evident that qeber refers to a burying place for a dead body.
In the KJV Bible sheol and its Greek equivalent word hades are translated hell 41 times, grave 32 times and pit 3 times; and frequently when they are translated hell, the margin, reads, “or, the grave,” or vice versa (Psa. 49:15; 55:15; 86:13; Isa. 14:9; Jonah 2:2; 1 Cor. 15:55; Rev. 20:13). Sheol, or hades, does not refer to a burying place for a dead body, but rather to the hidden, unseen condition of death, an unconscious oblivious condition, into which all people in general, good and bad, go at death, and from which only an awakening from the sleep of death can deliver any. “There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave [sheol], whither thou goest”; in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave [sheol] who shall give thee thanks?”; “the grave [sheol] cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee” (Eccl. 9:10; Psa. 6:5; Isa. 38:18). Thus it obviously is not a place of fire, torture, shrieks, etc., as some claim.
That good people, as well as bad people, go to sheol at death is shown, e.g., by Jacob’s saying, “I will go down into the grave [sheol] unto my son mourning” (Gen. 37:35); by Job’s praying, “O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave [sheol], that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me [in the resurrection awakening]” (Job 14:13); and by the fact that Jesus “poured out his soul unto death” (Isa. 53:10, 12; Matt. 26:38) and descended into hell, but “his soul [His being] was not left in hell [sheol, or hades]” (Psa. 16:10; Acts 2:27, 31). ’71-70
Hell—No Literal Conversation In Sheol.
Question (1971)—In Ezek. 32:21 we read: “The strong among the mighty shall speak to him [Egypt, v. 18] out of the midst of hell [sheol] with them that help him.” Does not this prove that there is live conversation, and therefore consciousness, in sheol?
Answer.—Not at all. Here the passing of the nation of Egypt (symbolic of the Satan system of this present evil world) into oblivion, with all the material things that belonged to it, is forecast; and other strong nations which went down into oblivion prior to the fall of Egypt are represented as speaking to Egypt in respect to its fall (see context and The At-one-ment between God and Man, p. 372). Thus we say that history tells us certain things—that history repeats her lessons. Accordingly, there is no conversation referred to here by conscious persons in sheol. ’71-71
Hell—No Literal Fire In Sheol, or Hades.
Question (1971)—Do not such passages as Deut. 32:22; Song of Sol. 8:6; Luke 16:22-24 prove that there is literal fire in sheol or hades?
Answer.—No. Song of Sol. 8:6 reads: “Jealousy is cruel as the grave [sheol]: the coals thereof [that is, of jealousy not sheol] are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.” Thus there is no reference here to literal fire in sheol. Similarly, Zeph. 3:8, 9 refers to the fire of God’s jealousy. His righteous anger, which is to destroy the present evil world. That it is not a literal fire is proven by the fact that people, who are yet unconverted are to remain after this fire of God’s jealousy has devoured the “earth” (society) of this present evil world (2 Pet. 3:7-10), and are then to be turned, or converted to the Lord and His service, in the “earth” of the new world (v. 13).
In Deut. 32:22 God states: “For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell [sheol], and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.” Here again, as shown by the context, it is not literal fire, but the fire of God’s jealousy, the destruction inflicted by His wrath. (Fire is used to represent God’s anger also in Jer. 15:14; 17:4; Lam. 4:11; Ezek. 21:31; Heb. 12:29.) Vs. 24, 25 confirm this: “They shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction: I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust. The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy.” The Apostle Paul, speaking under Divine inspiration (Rom. 10:19; 11), refers to Deut. 32:21 and then applies it to Fleshly Israel and the trouble that came upon them as a nation, when they rejected Jesus, and in turn were themselves rejected by God (Matt. 23:38). In that time of trouble Divine anger burned against them until as a people they had suffered wrath to the uttermost for their national sins (1 Thes. 2:16). The time of wrath upon them and the period in which they have been in “blindness in part” is followed by a time of Divine blessing upon them (Deut. 32:36-43; Rom. 11:25-27).
Concerning the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), the context (vs. 16-18) shows that it refers to the change of dispensation at the end of the Jewish Age, with the Jewish nation (the rich man) losing its favored position before God, and the Gentiles (Lazarus) coming into His favor. After the dissolution (death) of Israel as a nation, and their burial or hiding among other nations, they are pictured as undergoing severe sufferings (torments). For a detailed exposition of this parable, please see BS No. 371 (a copy free on request).
Thus none of these three passages of Scripture teaches that there is literal fire in sheol. ’71-71
Hell—[Hades] Mankind To Be Freed From.
Question (1976)—Will those in the Bible hell ever be set free?
Answer.—Yes, and No, depending on which Bible hell is meant. The Bible mentions two hells. We read, for example, in Rev. 20:14, “death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.” This passage clearly refers to two separate hells. The thought of one hell being cast into another and there still being only one hell would be as illogical as the story of the snake that began to swallow itself, beginning at the tail and continuing to swallow itself until finally disappeared down its own throat!
The first and second Bible hells are conditions (not places) of unconsciousness, oblivion, or destruction. Accordingly, the term first hell is used to denote a condition of oblivion, unconsciousness, which all of Adam’s posterity enter at death as a result of his fall into sin and from which there is hope of recovery through a resurrection; and the term second hell is used to denote the utter, complete and eternal annihilation of those who commit totally willful sins against the full light of the Truth, a condition from which absolutely no hope of recovery is indicated.
In the King James Version Bible, sheol and hades are translated hell 41 times, grave 32 times and pit 3 times. That the Greek word hades corresponds to the Hebrew word sheol is evident from Acts 2:27 and 1 Cor. 15:54, 55 being quoted from Psa. 16:10; Isa. 25:8 and Hosea 13:14.
In Psa. 16:10, David wrote: “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [Heb., sheol]”; but the Apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost explained that David was dead and still in hell [hades, i.e., oblivion, the unconscious condition of death], and that he spoke prophetically “of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell” (Acts 2:25-31).
From this we see that Jesus’ soul was at death in hell. We are not to think that Jesus went into eternal torture when He died. The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23; Ezek. 18:4, 20; James 1:15), so in paying the debt to set us free, Jesus “poured out his soul unto death”; Him “God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it”—“the gates of hell [hades]” could not prevail against Him (Isa. 53:12; Acts 2:24; Matt. 16:18).
By Jesus’ becoming human, humbling Himself to the ignominious death on the cross and as a result being raised from the dead and exalted by the Father (Phil. 2:5-11), He in pantomime preached a wonderful sermon to “the spirits in prison”—the fallen angels (1 Pet. 3:18-20; 2 Pet. 2:4; see BS 403—a copy free on request).
That there is a recovery from the hades condition is manifest also from an examination of other Scriptures in which this word occurs--e.g., Rev. 1:18; 20; 13. Therefore the Greek word hades denotes the first hell of the Bible.
The Greek word gehenna occurs 12 times in the New Testament: Matt. 5:22, 29, 30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33; Mark 9:43, 45, 47; Luke 12:5; Jas. 3:6. It is likewise translated hell. Gehenna is the Greek form for the Hebrew ge-Hinnom, translated “Valley of Hinnom,” which lay just outside Jerusalem and served as a refuse and garbage burner for that city. How appropriate that it should be used to illustrate final and complete destruction, annihilation!
While Jesus, by paying the ransom-price for Adam and his race, guarantees to all a resurrection from the first hell (Hosea 13:14; John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15; 1 Cor. 15:22; Rev. 20:13), there is no provision for a return of any from the second hell, for Christ “dieth no more,” according to the Scriptures (Rom. 6:9; Heb. 10:26); and thus those who fully sin away their grace have no hope of eternal life, seeing their sin would require a re-crucifixion of the Son of God as their individual ransom-price (Heb. 6:4-6).
Such Second Deathers are “enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction” (Phil. 3:18, 19). They are of those who “go away into everlasting punishment [not everlasting life in torment, but everlasting death, cutting off, annihilation, which is indeed a terrible, yet just punishment; only the righteous will have life]” (John 3:36; 1 John 5:12; Matt. 25:41, 46; Heb. 2:14; Psa. 37; 145:20).
Fire is a symbol of destruction, not preservation. Adam and his race, for whom Christ died, will be delivered from Adamic death (the Adamic dying process) and hell (the first hell, the Adamic death state, which will thus by their resurrection be fully destroyed in the “second death”—Rev. 20:13, 14); but all the incorrigibly wicked “shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is [represents] the second death” (Rev. 21:8). Thus their everlasting punishment is utter, complete and everlasting annihilation—the second hell, from which there is no resurrection.
It is Satan who has blasphemed God’s holy name and deceived many people into believing his false teachings that the wages of sin is eternal life in torment, that hell is a place of literal fire and that God will eternally torment billions of people, most of whom never had a chance to hear of the only name under heaven whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
For further information on the Bible’s teaching on this and related subjects, see the “Life—Death—Hereafter” book, “The Hell of the Bible” booklet and the free booklets “Where are the Dead? And “What is the Soul?” ’76-54; ’87-55
Question (1985)—In Isa.1:13, 14 we read: “The new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with it; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and appointed feasts my soul hateth; they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.” Does this refer to the observance of Presidential, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, etc., holidays?
Answer.—It obviously had reference to the Israelites’ special observance of certain days—weekly (sabbaths), monthly (new moons) and festivals, such as Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles (or Ingathering). There was nothing wrong with such special observances, for God told them to observe them (see, e.g., Num. 28; Lev. 23). He surely did not object to such observances of holy days if done in a proper attitude and cleansed condition; but, as the context in Isa. 1 shows, He could not approve of such observances by His people while they were “laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters” who had forsaken and provoked Jehovah to anger, “as Sodom and . . . like unto Gomorrah” (vs. 4, 9, 10).
While Isa. 1 was given to Israel, the same principles would apply in general. Any observances of holidays by mankind, if not done with the proper spirit of acknowledgment and praise to God, while they are in an unrepentant and uncleansed condition, cannot be, in proportion to the measure of the light of Truth received, acceptable to Him, but must be unacceptable and abominable in His estimation.
God’s enlightened people may use such and other holidays, with cessation of regular secular work, as times of special rejoicing in Him, His Word, and His blessings, of fellowship, of witnessing, etc. They are not to be used as occasions for going to excess in any direction (Phil. 4:5). ’85-95
Hope—Any For The Heathen.
Question (1961)—What hope is there, if any, for the billions of heathen people who have died without ever having a chance to learn about Jesus and the Gospel message?
Answer.—There are various answers to this question:
Atheism answers: They are eternally dead—extinct. There is no hereafter; they will never live again.
Calvinism answers: According to our creed, “God out of His mere good pleasure elected some to be eternally saved, and the rest to be eternally damned.” They were not elected to be saved. God foreordained and predestinated them to be lost, to go to hell (which we believe is a place of eternal torment); they are there now, writhing in agony, and there they will forever remain without hope.
Arminianism answer: We believe that God excuses them on account of ignorance, for surely He would not eternally torment them if they did not have a chance to learn of Jesus their Savior. If they did the best they knew how, they are sure of being a part of the “Church of the Firstborn” as is the Apostle Paul himself.
To this last view the great majority of Christians in various denominations hold, from a feeling that any other view would be irreconcilable with justice on God’s part. But does God leave His children to grope in darkness on such an important subject, and merely to guess on it? Surely not! Let us, then, learn of Him.
The Bible answers: Salvation cannot be gained through ignorance, for ignorance is not a ground for salvation, but for alienation from God and perdition (Eph. 4:18; Hos. 4:6; Rom. 2:12). Salvation comes only through FAITH. “By grace are ye saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8). Justification by faith is the ground-rock of the whole system of Christianity. When the jailer at Philippi asked the Apostle Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” he answered: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:30, 31). Again, St. Peter says (Acts 4:12): “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved,” than the name of Jesus.
St. Paul reasons (Rom. 10:14) that a man must hear the Gospel before he can believe: “How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” And he shows (1 Cor. 1:21-23) that the thought of “Christ crucified” was “unto the Jews a stumblingblock [because they expected salvation as a reward of keeping the Law], and unto the Greeks [the worldly wise] foolishness.” But, nevertheless, “it pleased God by the foolishness [in the eyes of men] of preaching to save them That Believe.”
“And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed” (Gal. 3:8); “In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 22:18; 28:14). “Judgment must begin at the house of God [the Church during the Gospel Age]” (1 Pet. 4:17); “Now is the accepted time [the Gospel Age, when the Church’s sacrifices are acceptable]; behold, now is the day of salvation [to the heavenly calling]” (2 Cor. 6:2); but God also “hath appointed a [thousand-year] day, in the which he will judge the world [after the Church’s judgment day, the Gospel Age] in righteousness” (Acts 17:31; 2 Pet. 3:8).
Jesus tasted death “for every man” (Heb. 2:9); “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9). “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (Luke 2:10), for God “will [literally, willeth to, is determined to] have all men to be saved [from the curse of Adamic death and the grave], and [addition-ally] to come unto the knowledge of the truth [after being freed from the Adamic sentence]. For there is one [wise, just, loving and powerful] God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due times [plural in the Greek—the Gospel Age is the due time for the elect, and the Millennial Age is the due time for the non-elect, the world of mankind]” (1 Tim. 2:4-6).
We see, then, that some are privileged to hear the good tidings of salvation and be begotten of the Spirit and then have their trial for life in the Gospel Age, while the others will be privileged to hear and have their opportunity for salvation later—in their due time—for all the dead (even the people of Sodom—Ezek. 16:48-63, for whom it will be “more tolerable” in the thousand-year Judgment Day than for others—Matt. 10:15) “shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear [obey] shall live. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth” John 5:25, 28). Then “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters over the sea” (Isa. 11:9; Num. 14:21). There will be no second chance for any of Adam’s race, no second trial for eternal life; but since Jesus tasted death for every man, every man will benefit by it and have one full and complete opportunity for gaining eternal life; for God “is the Saviour of all men [from Adamic condemnation], specially [unto everlasting life] of those that believe” (1 Tim. 4:10). Jesus promised: “I will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32); but “every soul which will not hear [obey] that prophet shall be [utterly] destroyed [not preserved in fire to be eternally tormented] from among the people” (Acts 3:23). They will be cast into the lake of fire—which is (represents) the second death (Rev. 20:14, 15; 21:8), for “all the wicked will God destroy” (Psa. 145:20). ’61-85
Human Body—Formation Described.
Question (1959)—Does Psalm 139:14-16 refer to the formation of the human body?
Answer.—David in this passage seem to refer to the power of God in a manner that might be applicable either prophetically to the resurrection or reflectively to the first formation of the human body. He says: “ I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance [organism] was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, curiously wrought in the lower parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being imperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance [gradual-ly] were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”
As we look upon the human bodies about us we, of course, see them more or less imperfect by virtue of the fall. Yet even in its fallen condition the human body is a marvel and a miracle. We have much reason to praise God when we consider the marvels, the wonders, of the universe, the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms, the astronomical realms, etc. The fields of chemistry, mechanics and invention outrank the primeval concepts of magic, and all testify of God’s great wisdom. But the greatest mechanism in the material world about us seems to be the human body.
Wonderful is its framework, with its more than 200 bones, more durable than steel, with every joint tightly enclosed, moving in a constant bath of oil and producing its own oil.
Wonderful is its running gear—consisting of over 500 muscles—with its system of co-ordinate contractions and relaxations among different groups of muscles.
Wonderful is its breather system, starting at the nose, with the thermostatic control—the lungs and skin, with its millions of tiny pores and glands.
Note also its pumping system. How wonderful is the human heart, which, when properly cared for, stays on the job constantly, miraculously efficient in spite of the punishment it takes, making 4,320 strokes and pumping 15 gallons of blood an hour! It beats 40 million times a year, with no rest except between contractions, and it keeps the blood flowing regularly through 100,000 miles of blood vessels.
A most marvelous fact about the human organism is that it is not a single thing. It is made up of myriads of individual units, microscopic in size, each having a structure of its own, a function of its own, and a life of its own. So small are they and so numerous that in a drop of blood the size of a pinhead there are five million of them.
Is any telegraphic mechanism equal to our nervous system?
Is any radio system as wonderful and as efficient as the human voice and ear? Is any camera as perfect as the human eye? Can any ventilating plant compare with the nose, lungs and skin? Can any fuel system compare with that of the human body? Can any electrical switchboard compare with the human brain, or any communication system compare with the spinal cord and its intricate network and efficiency? Surely, as we consider our human bodies, we should more and more appreciate them and praise God, our great Benefactor! ’59-87
Husband—And Wife Relationship (Eph. 5:22-25).
Question (1966)—In Eph. 5:22-25 we read: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” Since conditions today are so far different than they were in the Apostle Paul’s day, does this Scripture still apply?
Answer.—Yes, this Scripture (compare. Titus 2:4-6; 1 Pet. 3:1-7), which emphasizes the proper relationship between husbands and wives, applies just as much today as it ever did. It is true that here “in the last days” of this Gospel Age “perilous times” have come, and they are filled with many evils (2 Tim. 3:1-7, 13); but this is no reason why the righteous standards of God’s Word should be lowered in order to conform to the low standards so prevalent in the world today. On the contrary, the holy standards of truth and righteousness are more needed today than ever.
We should, however, carefully analyze this Scripture and not misapply it or read into it anything that is not there. Note, for example, the phrase “in everything” (v. 24) is certainly modified by “as unto the Lord” (v. 22), or “as it is fit in the Lord” (Col. 3:18), so that the wife is not required to be in subjection to her husband in things contrary to the instructions of God’s Word. Nor does this text allow for a husband exercising tyrannical headship; for he is to love his wife as his own body (v. 28) and beyond this, with a sacrificial love, ‘even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (v. 25).
When after the fall God said to Eve, “Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Gen. 3:16), some claim that He there established domestic slavery. Truly domestic slavery has followed; but God did not establish it. Man, created to bless by his power to rule, too often falls into the error of tyrannical misrule, and the desire of the wife toward her husband—for his love, appreciation and approval—alas, too often ends in bitter disappointment! But if the husband loves his wife like our text says, and if the wife is in harmony with the teachings of the Scriptures, the question of subjection becomes one of sweet willingness, as in the case of our being bond-servants to Christ, taking His yoke upon us and enjoying the liberty wherewith He makes us free (Matt. 11:28-30; Gal. 5:1). In this same epistle St. Paul delights to call himself a prisoner of the Lord (Eph. 3:1; 4:1).
If a husband really desires the love and devotion of his wife, let him love her as this text exhorts, remembering that Christ first sacrificed for us and that now “the love of Christ constraineth us” (2 Cor. 5:14, 15). This principle of unselfish love works in the realm of marriage. And it works also in all other relationships. Children love to submit themselves to parents who understand, properly provide for and express love for them. How wonderful and how happy is the family where God’s holy Spirit rules in their relationships one to another! ’66-78
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