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Asleep or in Heaven or Hell? Where are they?

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by Debbie, Mar 11, 2002.

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  1. Debbie

    Debbie Active Member

    Do we go to heaven when we die or just asleep til rapture or resurrection? Do unbelievers go to hell when they die or are they asleep til judgement day?
    Then if we just sleep til we are resurrected, what about all these folks claiming they went to heaven or hell & saw this or that then came back to tell us all about it>?
    We teamed up with Faith Counseling. Can they help you today?
  2. zamar

    zamar Member

    There is no such thing as soul sleep.

    I do seem to remember Paul stating the to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
    Is that right?

  3. Droobie

    Droobie Rebmem Raluger

    Mebbe when we wake for the rapture, we wouldn't know the difference in time.
  4. rkbo

    rkbo Member

    Your going to hear a lot from both sides. You will have some try to take the poetic language of Psalms or Ecclesiaties to make a poing about conscienceness of the dead, or lack of. You will have some stand on the word "sleep" and fight to the death to defend their position of "soul sleep". I don't understand their dogmatism?

    The fact is that we go somewhere when we die. Our spirit is never in a state of annihilation or obliteration.
    2 Cor 5:8
    8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

    we also find souls in heaven before the judgment day.

    Rev 7:13-15
    13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
    14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
    15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.

    much much more can be said. I'll let others build on this, or try to detract. This is what forums are all about.
  5. Kristen

    Kristen Blah Blah

    posted by zamar
  6. charlesj

    charlesj Member


    I think this is a place we can agree. Jesus said if we believe on Him, then we will NEVER die (that's a long time).(Jn 11:26).
    NONE of this rapture business, but at death, the Christian will stand before the Lord. Praise His Name!

    your servant in Messiah, Jesus,
  7. Your Neighbor

    Your Neighbor Veteran

    Please pray that the Lord will reveal truth from His word, as you read.

    Does Paul want and/or expect to be with the Lord moments after dying, or at the resurrection, based on this text?

    2 Corinthians 4:5 in 11 Bible translations and paraphrases

    • The New Living Translation
      Our dying bodies make us groan and sigh, but it's not that we want to die and have no bodies at all. We want to slip into our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by everlasting life.
    • The New Revised Standard Version
      For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
    • The Good News Bible in Today's English Version
      While we live in this earthly tent, we groan with a feeling of oppression; it is not that we want to get rid of our earthly body, but that we want to have the heavenly one put on over us, so that what is mortal will be transformed by life.
    • The New American Standard Bible
      For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.
    • Third Millennium Bible
      For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened, not because we would be unclothed, but clothed about, that mortality might be swallowed up by life.
    • The Douay-Rheims Bible
      For we also, who are in this tabernacle, do groan, being burthened; because we would not be unclothed, but clothed upon, that that which is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
    • New Century Version
      While we live in this body, we have burdens, and we groan. We do not want to be naked, but we want to be clothed with our heavenly home. Then this body that dies will be fully covered with life.
    • GOD'S WORD translation
      While we are in this tent, we sigh. We feel distressed because we don't want to take off the tent, but we do want to put on the eternal house. Then [eternal] life will put an end to our mortal existence.
    • World English Bible
      For indeed we who are in this tent do groan, being burdened; not that we desire to be unclothed, but that we desire to be clothed, that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
    • The Bible in Basic English
      For truly, we who are in this tent do give out cries of weariness, for the weight of care which is on us; not because we are desiring to be free from the body, but so that we may have our new body, and death may be overcome by life.
    • Young's Literal Translation
      for we also who are in the tabernacle do groan, being burdened, seeing we wish not to unclothe ourselves, but to clothe ourselves, that the mortal may be swallowed up of the life.

    The discussion does concern:
    • the death of the body,
    • the giving of a new body,
    • and the state that is in between.
    This "in between" state is called being UNCLOTHED and NAKED by the Apostle Paul. What you need to decide is if he is saying this is a desirable position - to be dead without a body. If we were with the Lord in spirit form, I believe Paul would be happy about that. Is he? But first...

    1 Cor 15, NIV
    44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

    Only two bodies - a natural (by birth) and a spiritual (by resurrection/rapture).

    Are there any other bodies?

    In the following passage, consider the bold text to represent the natural body. Consider the italicized text to represent the spritual body. Consider the CAPITALIZATION to represent death (without a body).

    2 Corinthians 5
    1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal {where - eternal inside the body? No.} in the heavens.
    2 Here indeed we groan, and long to put on our heavenly dwelling,
    3 so that by putting it on we may not be found NAKED.
    4 For while we are still in this tent , we sigh with anxiety; not that we would be UNCLOTHED, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
    5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
    6 So we are always of good courage; we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord,
    7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.
    8 We are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the (natural physical) body and at home with the Lord (in the RAISED spiritual body).
  8. Your Neighbor

    Your Neighbor Veteran

    Another look at the THREE STATES or CONDITIONS of 2 Cor 5:

    #1 - BODY
    the (natural physical) body

    the earthly tent
    in this tent
    at home in the body

    #2 - BODY
    at home with the Lord (in the RAISED spiritual body)

    a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
    heavenly dwelling
    further clothed



    Are my three categorizations incorrect?

    A closer look, with a use of the terms from 2 Cor. 5:

    New Living Translation
    2 Timothy 4
    6 As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near.

    In verses 6 and 7, he is about to change from this state:
    #1 - BODY
    the (natural physical) body
    the earthly tent
    in this tent
    at home in the body

    to this state:


    New Living Translation
    2 Timothy 4
    7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 8 And now ...

    At the time of his death, does he get:
    a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens?
    further clothed?
    heavenly dwelling?

    What does Paul ACTUALLY SAY?

    Let's see...

    New Living Translation
    2 Timothy 4
    8 And now the prize awaits me--the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his glorious return.

    1 Corinthians 15
    22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
    23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
    24 Then cometh the end....
  9. ZiSunka

    ZiSunka It means 'yellow dog'

    Jesus said to the criminal being crucified with him, "I swear to you that this very day you will be with me in paradise."

    So, what would be the point of being asleep in paradise?
  10. Your Neighbor

    Your Neighbor Veteran

    Punctuation is not inspired. The version you quoted is inaccurate. The Greek allows for reading either "Verily I say unto thee, today thou shalt be with me in paradise" OR "Verily I say unto thee today, thou shalt be with me in paradise." We need to get all of scripture to be in agreement. Jesus wasn't in Paradise on the day of His death. Neither was the thief. The thief knew when he would have an opportunity - he said in the previous verse, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom."
  11. Your Neighbor

    Your Neighbor Veteran

    ATTENTION, brothers and sisters!

    The following point is very important to this discussion.

    Is God the God "of the living" because supposed immortal conscious souls/spirits float off to God in heaven when bodies die, OR because "God who gives life to the dead" "calls things that are not as though they were" (Rom 4:7)?

    The answer is found here:

    Luke 20
    34 Jesus replied, "The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God's children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37 But in the account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord 'the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' 38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive."

    Notice what Moses showed by saying, "He is not the God of the dead, but of the living."
    Was it the immortality of souls that Moses showed by this saying? No!
    Was it a resurrection from the dead that Moses showed by this saying? Yes!

    This fact disproves the popular belief, otherwise Moses was wrong (and so would Jesus have been wrong)!
  12. ZiSunka

    ZiSunka It means 'yellow dog'

    >>Jesus wasn't in Paradise on the day of His death. Neither was the thief. <<

    How do you know?

    >>Notice what Moses showed by saying, "He is not the God of the dead, but of the living."
    Was it the immortality of souls that Moses showed by this saying? No!
    Was it a resurrection from the dead that Moses showed by this saying? Yes!<<

    I don't think so! How can he be the God of the living, if they are dead?! They are alive in heaven. Look at the story of Lazarus and the rich man. Those folks are obviously alive, even after they have died!
  13. Optimus_P

    Optimus_P Super Umpa Lumpa

    I think that it says somewhere that we go to a "holding pen" or "hades" if you will for a short time. but everyone believer or non will go befor the Judge to be judged.
  14. Mandy

    Mandy Well-Known Member

    Hades was where those who died, before Jesus died and rose, went.
    Abraham's Bosom is empty. Jesus descended to bring those who died in faith to heaven. There is no such thing as soul sleep.
  15. ZiSunka

    ZiSunka It means 'yellow dog'

    >>I think that it says somewhere that we go to a "holding pen" or "hades" if you will for a short time. <<

    Scripturally, why would you think that?
  16. Catchup

    Catchup Active Member

    John 3:12I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven--the Son of Man.

    ;) Love
  17. rkbo

    rkbo Member

    About Jn 3:12 : what do you say about enoch and elijah.
    II Ki 2:11
    11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

    Heb 11:5
    5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

    The context of jn 3: 12,13 has the emphisis on one returning.let's back up a little and observe the point
    John 3:10-12
    10 Jesus answered and said to him, "Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things?
    11 "Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony.
    12 "If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?

    You see the idea being made is that Jesus qualifies as an eye whitness to heavenly things because he came from heaven. I will let an expert speak further
    John 3:13

    [And] [kai (grk 2532)]. Note the simple connective particle, with nothing to indicate the logical sequence of the thought.
    [Hath ascended]. Equivalent to "hath been in." Jesus says that no one has been in heaven except the Son of man who came down out of heaven; because no man could be in heaven without having ascended thither.
    (from Vincent's Word Studies of the New Testament)
  18. A Sheep

    A Sheep Stop the suffering in Iraq

    Commentary on Luke 23:43 from "John Gills Exposition of The Entire Bible":

    Luk 23:43 - And Jesus said unto him,.... Jesus immediately answered him, though he said not one word to the other that railed at him, or to the multitude that abused him; and promised him more than he asked for, and sooner than he expected.

    Verily I say unto thee, today thou shall be with me in paradise ; "in the garden of Eden"; not the earthly paradise, nor the church militant, but the future place, and state of the happiness of the saints, even heaven, and eternal glory, which the Jews frequently call by this name; See Gill on 2Co_12:4 and is so called, because, as the earthly paradise, or Eden's garden, was of God's planting, so is the heavenly glory of his providing and preparing: as that was a place of delight and pleasure, so here are pleasures for evermore; as there was a river in it, which added to the delightfulness and advantage of it, so here runs the river of God's love, the streams whereof make glad the saints now, and will be a broad river to swim in to all eternity: as there were the tree of life, with a variety of other trees, both for delight and profit, so here, besides Christ, the tree of life, which stands in the midst of it, are an innumerable company of angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect: and as the inhabitants of that garden were pure and innocent creatures, so into this paradise shall nothing enter but what is righteous, pure, and holy: and whereas the principal enjoyment of man in Eden was conversation with God, and communion with him, the glory of the heavenly paradise will lie in fellowship with God, Father, Son, and Spirit, in beholding the face of God, and seeing him as he is: and this is the happiness promised by Christ to the penitent and believing thief, that he should be here; and not only so, but with him here, which is far better than being in this world, and than which nothing can be more desirable: and which, when enjoyed, will be for ever: and this he was to enter upon that very day; which shows, that Christ's soul did not descend into hell, locally and literally considered, or into the "Limbus Patrum", the Papists talk of, to fetch the souls of the patriarchs thence, but as soon as it was separated from the body was taken up into heaven; and also, that the souls of departed saints are immediately, upon their separation from the body, there; which was the case of this wonderful instance of the grace of God; and shows the swiftness of the soul, or the velocity of angels in conveying it thither immediately.

    Some would remove the stop, and place it after "today", and read the words thus, "I say unto thee today"; as if Christ only signified the time when he said this, and not when the thief should be with him in paradise; which, besides it being senseless, and impertinent, and only contrived to serve an hypothesis, is not agreeably to Christ's usual way of speaking, and contrary to all copies and versions. Moreover, in one of Beza's exemplars it is read, "I say unto thee, oti shmeron that today thou shalt be with me", &c. and so the Persic and Ethiopic versions seem to read, which destroys this silly criticism. And because this was a matter of great importance, and an instance of amazing grace, that so vile a sinner, one of the chief of sinners, should immediately enter into the kingdom of God, and enjoy uninterrupted, and everlasting communion with him and that it might not be a matter of doubt with him, or others, Christ, who is the "Amen", the faithful witness, and truth itself, prefaces it after this manner: "verily I say unto thee"; it is truth, it may be depended on. This instance of grace stands on record, not to cherish sloth, indolence, security and presumption, but to encourage faith and hope in sensible sinners, in their last moments, and prevent despair. The Papists pretend to know this man's name; they say his name was Disma; and reckon him as a martyr, and have put him in the catalogue of saints, and fixed him on the "twenty fifth" of March.

    The story of the penitent thief has sometimes been considered the most surprising, the most suggestive, the most instructive incident in all the Gospel narrative. ... In the salvation of one of the thieves \@vital\@ \@theology finds one of its finest demonstrations.\@

    \@Sacrementalism was refuted,\@ for the thief was saved without recourse to church, ceremony, or good works.

    \@The dogma of purgatory was refuted,\@ for this vile sinner was instantly transformed into a saint and made fit for paradise apart from his personal expiation of a single sin.

    \@The teaching of universalism was refuted,\@ for only one was saved of all who might have been saved. Jesus did not say, "Today shall ye be with me in paradise", but "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise."

    \@The notion of soul-sleep was refuted,\@ for the clear implication of the entire incident is that the redeemed thief would be in conscious fellowship with his Saviour in paradise even while his body disintegrated in some grave.

    Too, it is doubtful whether any other gospel incident presents the plan of salvation more clearly or simply.

    This is not necessarily my opinion, I just posted this to show a view on this verse.

    Blue colour = Scripture
    Red colour = quote of Dr. Charles R. Erdman
  19. dependingonhim

    dependingonhim New Member

    Do you have the Scripture references to support the above statements?
  20. MatthewDiscipleofGod

    MatthewDiscipleofGod Senior Veteran

    Someone sent me this document. Not that I agree or disagree with it but it does talk about the subject on hand, here it is:

    Death. Death entered the world as a consequence of sin (Gen 2:16, 17; 3:19; Rom 5:12), and is labeled an enemy (1 Cor 15:26). All men are appointed to die (1 Cor 15:22; Heb 9:27), but all will be made alive again (Jn 5:28, 29; 1 Cor 15:22).
    In the Bible death is frequently called a sleep. David, Solomon, and many other kings of Israel and Judah were after death described as sleeping with their forefathers (1 Ki 2:10; 11:43; 14:20, 31; 15:8; 21:1; 26:23; etc.). Job referred to death as a sleep (Job 7:21; 14:10–12), as did the psalmist (Ps 13:3), Jeremiah (Jer 51:39, 57), and Daniel (Dan 12:2). In the NT Christ stated that the dead daughter of Jairus was sleeping (Mt 9:24; Mk 5:39). He referred to the deceased Lazarus in the same manner (Jn 11:11–14). Paul and Peter also called death a sleep (1 Cor 15:51, 52; 1 Th 4:13–17; 2 Pe 3:4). Many saints “which slept” arose from their graves at the resurrection of Christ and appeared to many (Mt 27:52, 53). Luke, the writer of Acts, described the martyrdom of Stephen as a falling asleep (Acts 7:60).
    Sleep is a fitting symbol of death, as the following comparisons demonstrate: (1) Sleep is a condition of unconsciousness. “The dead know not any thing” (Ec 9:5, 6). (2) In sleep conscious thought is dormant. “His breath goeth forth … ; in that very day his thoughts perish” (Ps 146:4). (3) Sleep brings an end to all the day’s activities. “There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave” (Ec 9:10). (4) Sleep dissociates us from those who are awake, and from their activities. “Neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun” (v 6). (5) Normal sleep renders the emotions inactive. “Their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished” (v 6). (6) In sleep men do not praise God. “The dead praise not the Lord” (Ps 115:17). (7) Sleep is transitory and presupposes an awakening. “Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee” (Job 14:15). “The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth” (Jn 5:28, 29). See Resurrection.
    In the sleep of death the breath ceases (Ps 146:4), the physical body decays and its elements mingle with the earth from whence they came (Ps 146:4; Gen 3:19), and the spirit returns to God, from whence it came (Ec 12:7). However, the spirit thus separated from the body is not a conscious entity (see Spirit). It is the character of man, which God preserves until the resurrection (1 Co 15:51–54; Job 19:25–27), so that every man will have his own character (see SDACom 6:1093). At Christ’s second coming the righteous will be granted immortality, and will at the same time be clothed with glorified bodies (1 Cor 15:35–49).
    Between the time of dying and the resurrection the dead are represented as sleeping in Sheol (Ec 9:10, RSV) or in Hades (Acts 2:27, 31, RSV). They are not in heaven (vs 29, 34), for they are not united with their Lord until the Second Advent (Jn 14:1–3).
    The Bible refers to a second death (Rev 20:6). The first death comes to all and is the normal outworking on humanity of the degenerative effects of sin. The second death comes to the finally impenitent at the close of the 1,000 years of Rev 20, when the wicked are eternally annihilated (Mt 10:28). In the conflagration the earth is purified by fire (2 Pe 3:10). With the destruction of Satan and the unrighteous, death itself is destroyed (1 Cor 15:26; Rev 20:14). See Second Death.
    Figuratively, sinners are described as being “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1; cf. Col 2:13). Except as the Holy Spirit touches their hearts, they are insensitive to all spiritual things. In Rom 6:2 Paul, reversing the figure, refers to Christians as now being dead to sin, hence no longer living in it.

    Second Death. A term appearing 4 times in the Bible (Rev 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8), describing the death suffered by the wicked at the close of the 1,000 years (ch 20:2, 3, 4, 6, 7), or *millennium. At the beginning of the millennium the wicked are struck down at the presence of Christ (ch 19:11, 16–21). At the end of the millennium they, together with all the wicked of previous ages, are resurrected (Rev 20:5; Jn 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15). They then join in a final act of defiance against God, at which fire flashes from heaven and consumes them (Rev 20:8, 9). This is the second death (v 14). The Bible teaches that this second death is not an endless fiery torment but total destruction (Mt 10:28). See Death; Hell; Soul; Spirit. The righteous are shielded from the second death (Rev 2:11), which is reserved for the fearful, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and liars (ch 21:8; cf. ch 20:15).

    Hell. [Heb. sheÕoÆl; Gr. hadeµs and geenna; the Greek verb tartarooµ, “to cast (down) to hell,” occurs once (2 Pe 2:4).] The Heb. sheÕoÆl and the Gr. hadeµs refer to the unseen world, the world of the dead, as does the English word “hell” in one of its meanings. However, since the English term “hell” connotes also a place of punishment for the impenitent, such a translation often creates confusion. Consequently, the RSV and other modern translations prefer to transliterate the Heb. sheÕoÆl as Sheol and the Gr. hadeµs as Hades. This trend in translation is a recognition of the difference in meaning between the English “hell” as often understood today and the Hebrew and Greek terms.
    The close connection between Sheol and death may be illustrated from Hebrew parallelisms. For example, in the song of David recorded in 2 Sa 22:2–51 the following appears: “When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid; the sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me” (vs 5, 6). In Isaiah appears this parallelism: “We have made a covenant with death, and with hell we are at agreement” (Is 28:15; cf. v 18).
    Hadeµs, the Greek equivalent of sheÕoÆl, occurs 10 times in the NT and is generally transliterated in the RSV as “Hades.” The following are instances of its use: Capernaum shall be “brought down to hell” (Mt 11:23; Lk 10:15). “The gates of hell” shall not prevail against the church (Mt 16:18). The Messiah’s “soul was not left in hell” (Acts 2:27, 31). Jesus holds “the keys of hell and of death” (Rev 1:18). “Hell” followed with the pale horse (ch 6:8). “Death and hell” delivered up their dead (ch 20:13), and “death and hell were cast into the lake of fire” (v 14). The Revelation passages particularly reveal the close connection between “death” and “hell.” In only one Bible reference is punishment in Hades indicated (Lk 16:23, RSV), but this is in a parable which by itself must by no means be regarded as doctrinally definitive.
    The Greek term denoting a place of punishment is geenna, used 12 times in the NT. Geenna (in the RSV footnotes: Gehenna) is the Grecized form of GeÆ Hinnom, “Valley of Hinnom,” a gorge near Jerusalem repeatedly mentioned in the OT (Jos 15:8; 2 Ki 23:10; 2 Chr 33:6; Jer 7:31). Here the barbaric heathen rite of burning children to Molech was conducted (2 Chr 28:3; 2 Chr 33:1, 6), an abomination that King Josiah abolished, desecrating the high places where this form of worship had been practiced. Jeremiah predicted that because of this sin the Lord would make the valley of the son of Hinnom a “valley of slaughter” where the corpses of the Israelites would be buried till there was no more place for them, and the remaining dead bodies would be food for the fowls of the heavens (Jer 7:32, 33). This doubtless led to the valley’s being regarded as a place of judgment of the wicked. See Valley of Hinnom. Later rabbinical tradition claims that the Valley of Hinnom was also a place outside the city for burning carcasses and rubbish.
    The expression geenna occurs 3 times in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:22, 29, 30). In ch 10:28 Jesus spoke of Him who “is able to destroy both soul and body in hell,” and in ch 18:9 of “hell fire.” He warned the Pharisees of “the damnation of hell” (ch 23:33). He stated that it is better to be maimed and yet gain eternal life than to be cast into hellfire (Mk 9:43, 45, 47). His reference to hell in Lk 12:5 makes clear that hell is an experience beyond death. In Mt 23:15 the expression “child of hell,” literally “child of Gehenna,” is used for converts to Judaism who were even more bigoted than the Pharisees who had converted them.
    These references to a final punishment of sinners by the fire of hell are further clarified in such texts as Mt 3:12, where sinners are likened to chaff that is burned with unquenchable fire (cf. Mk 9:43–48; Lk 3:9). In Mt 25:41 the wicked are represented as being consigned to “everlasting (aioµnios) fire,” which is defined as “everlasting (aioµnios) punishment” (v 46). This fire, which will purge the earth (2 Pe 3:10–12; cf. Mt 3:12; Lk 3:17), will be kindled at the close of the *millennium, when both soul and body of the finally impenitent will be annihilated by fire (Mt 10:28; Rev 20:9).
    A study of the usage and meaning of the Greek term aioµnios, as used in connection with the fire of the last days, shows that the emphasis is on its destructiveness rather than on its duration. For example, Sodom and Gomorrah met with the punishment of eternal (aioµnios) fire (Jude 7). The fire completely destroyed these cities, but became extinct long centuries ago. Jude set forth the destruction of these cities as an “example” of the fate that awaited the licentious apostates of his day. The term “unquenchable” may be similarly understood. Jeremiah predicted that God would kindle a fire in the gates of Jerusalem that would “not be quenched” (Jer 17:27). This prediction was fulfilled when the city was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar (ch 52:12, 13; cf. Neh 1:3). Obviously that fire is not burning today. Clearly the meaning is that it would not be quenched but would thoroughly destroy.
    Although aioµnios fire denotes fire that is effectively destructive, the expression also implies that the fire will endure for a time (see Everlasting). This is consonant with the teaching that hell will be a place of punishment (Mt 25:41, 46; 2 Pe 2:9), and that there will be degrees of punishment. Christ comes “to give every man according as his work shall be” (Rev 22:12). The servant who “knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself … shall be beaten with many stripes,” whereas the servant who did not know his lord’s will, and committed things worthy of stripes, “shall be beaten with few stripes” (Lk 12:47, 48). The punishment is described as much more severe than the death penalty anciently inflicted in the Jewish economy (Heb 10:28, 29, 31). So, although hell’s fires will eventually annihilate the wicked (Mt 10:28), it is obvious that the destruction is not instantaneous. See Death.
    Tartarooµ, “to cast into Tartarus,” is used only once (2 Pe 2:4). According to the Greeks and to Jewish apocalyptic literature Tartarus was a place lower than Hades where divine punishment was meted out. Peter uses the term to describe the place where the rebellious angels were cast (cf. Jude 6).

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