In the Old Testament, the scriptures about hell are very vague and brief. They were usually used in poems. The commentary on what happens after a person dies isn’t very clearly defined at all. I have been looking and can’t find overly specific details. For whatever reasons, the details on who goes where, when, how, and for how long, simply weren’t things the Hebrew writers were terribly concerned about.
In the New Testament, I have found the word for “hell” used about 12 times, almost always by Jesus. I didn’t count when different writers wrote about the same instance hell was being used so you may count more, if you count every instance that it is repeated by different writers. The greek word for “hell” that gets translated into English is “Gehenna.” Gehenna was an actual valley just south of Jerusalem. It was literally, the city dump. Since it was the dump, there was always a fire going, to burn the trash. Wild animals would fight for leftover scraps of anything they could get. The poor people would often be there, scavenging for anything they could find that someone may have thrown out, that could be useful to them. Of course the poor are not happy and if you are digging through the dump, you are probably crying. You are most definitely, not living your best days. So you get a visual of a place where the fire never goes out and there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. The people listening to Jesus would have known exactly what He was talking about. James used “Gehenna” once when talking about the power of the tongue but all other mentions of Gehenna were from Jesus.
So, let’s go over the times Jesus uses the word Gehenna. In Matthew 5:29 He says “It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” In Mathew 10 and Luke 12 he says “28 do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” In Mathew 23 he says 15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” In Matthew 18 and Mark 9 he says 9 “And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.”
And that’s it. Those are all the mentions of hell from Jesus. There are two other words that are sometimes used for hell. Tartarus and Hades. In 2 Peter chapter 2, Peter refers to the underworld. It was borrowed from Greek myth and was a place where the demigods were judged. Hades is basically the Greek version of Sheol (the Hebrew word for hell). Hades is used in Revelation 1, 6, and 20 and in Acts 2. This by the way is a quote from Psalm 16. Jesus uses Hades in Matthew 11 and Luke 10. He says “You will go down to Hades.” In Matthew 16 He says “The gates of Hades will not overcome it.” He also uses it in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16.
And that concludes all mentions or likenesses of the word hell in the New Testament. Anything people have ever said about hell, they got from those few, obscure verses. For the most part, the ideas we get from hell are held over from primitive, mythic religions that used fear and punishment to control people. But obviously, we have evolved from all of those outdated beliefs, right?
Something that I find very significant is that all the mentions Jesus made of hell; he didn’t use hell to jam up the non-believers. He told the city of Capernaum; they would go to Hades, where the demigods are judged, but other than that he wasn’t overly harsh with His use of the word hell. Except with one particular group of people. There was a group of people that Jesus threatened with hell, more than once. That group was the Pharisees. The so-called religious experts of the day. The people who were convinced that when it came to heaven, they were in. It seems to me that Jesus, repeatedly informed them that they were “not” IN, and the people they were condemning, were going to be ok. I find that very significant because in today’s “church” people are usually condemning non-believers to hell. Since we don’t see Jesus ever doing that, I think Christians should be cautious in how they wield that sword. Especially since, “they” are the type of people Jesus threatened with hell. Not the non-believers.
So the next question would be, “does Victor believe in hell?” The answer is yes. I believe in hell because I see it every day. My wife and I are foster parents. We recently had a child in our home that had been sexually abused. She would stop going to the bathroom in the evening. Then when it was time for bed, she would crawl into bed and immediately pee the bed. So we started restricting her drinks in the evening. To compensate for this she would take a plastic grocery bag and pee in it throughout the day. She was saving it for bedtime. We also had a little boy who had been sexually abused. One day after he first moved in with us, he came out of the bathroom and had smeared poop on himself. I went in the bathroom and it was everywhere. This is not uncommon in foster care. There are usually about 500,000 children in foster care in America. 75% of children in the foster care system have been sexually abused in some way.
Do I believe in hell? Absolutely, I do.
In the world, there is estimated to be 2.5 million people who are stuck in the human sex industry. Most of them are women and children. Portland, Oregon is considered one of the main hubs in America for human trafficking and has the highest rate of human trafficking, per capita, of any city in America. We don’t hear about it as much in America because our leaders want us to feel like we are “safe” and don’t want to admit that something as horrific and disgusting as human trafficking, occurs as often as it does in America. Organizations like Operation Ransom work to fight against human trafficking and have rescued over 87,000 women and children since they were created.
Do I believe in hell? Absolutely, I do.
I believe in “two” hells. There is the hell on earth that if you are willing to look at, you can easily find. We know this hell exists and we can support it with videos, eye witness testimony, police records, and real concrete data. Then there is the hell that exists after we die. This hell, we know very little about. We have no eye witness testimonies, no scientific data, no records of any sort that give any specific details on exactly what takes place or what happens, or long it lasts. As a Christian, I choose to focus on the hells on earth. The hells I can see, touch, experience, prove, and identify with.
An observation that I have made in the Christian community is that the people that focus on the “hells’ on earth now, don’t usually pay too much mind to the “hells” after we die. They seem to be so occupied with helping real people, in real danger, today, that they just don’t seem to have the energy to compare, criticize, and critique how other people live their lives. On the other hand, the people I see that have a condemning and judgmental view of who will be in hell after this life, don’t really get involved in the “hells” that occur on this earth.
But again, that’s just my observations.
So, what will you do, now? Will you focus on the "hells" later or the "hells" now? At the very least, hopefully, you will choose both, if you are a christian. If you are not a christian, I am certain you can agree with me at least in regards to the hells on earth we see everyday. If you are interested in being a foster parent, send me a message. I can help and guide you. If you want to help fight against the human trafficking industry go to the operation ransom website and help. You can also come to my gym and buy some of their retail. We do not keep any of the money. It all goes back to supporting their mission.