Hebrew and Greek words are presented with English transliterations throughout this study.
(1) The Bible hell (sheol/hades) is the realm of death, that is, the realm of condition of being dead; it is described as a condition in which there is no work, no device, no knowledge, nor wisdom. -- Ecclesiastes 9:10 (many translations render "sheol" as "the grave" here).
(2) The only Old Testament word translated hell in the King James Version is the Hebrew word transliterated as sheol, to which the New Testament word transliterated as hades corresponds.
(3) In the King James translation of the Bible, sheol and hades are translated hell 41 times, grave 32 times and pit 3 times and frequently when translated hell, the margin reads, "or, the grave," or vice versa. -- Psalm 49:15; 55:15; 86:13; Isaiah 14:9; Jonah 2:2; 1 Corinthians 15:55; Revelation 20:13.
(4) Many translations transliterate the words sheol and hades.
(5) Satan is a liar and the father of the lie. (John 8:44) It is Satan who has the world believing that a person does not really die, therefore he lies to the world that those who are bad are roasting somewhere for all eternity, thus making God appear to be some kind of fiend. With such a view being loudly presented by the traditionalists, no wonder thousands are turning away from the Bible and going to paganism, agnosticism and atheism. The doctrine of eternal roasting is a blasphemy to the Creator. Indeed, those who claim to be friends of the Bible are often its worst enemies.
(6) Satan uses all kinds of deceptive means to continue his lies, including spiritism, hypnotism, near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences, etc. "And when they say to you, 'Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,' should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." -- Isaiah 8:19,20, New King James Version.
(7) Contrary to the idea that any part of hell is a place of fire, torture, shrieks, etc., the Bible says: "There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in Sheol, where you are going." - "in death there is no memory of you. In Sheol, who shall give you thanks?" - "For Sheol can't praise you, death can't celebrate you." -- Ecclesiastes 9:10; Psalm 6:5; Isaiah 38:18.
(8) Good people, as well as bad, go to sheol (hell) at death: e.g., Jacob went down to sheol (Genesis 37:35); Job prayed to go to sheol, to be hidden there, until the resurrection (Job 14:13). Nor does the Bible depict the good as going to an alleged section of sheol called "paradise" at death, as is claimed by many. (In the Bible, paradise is never depicted as a section of sheol or hades.) Instead of going to paradise at death, David expected to be in condition in sheol where he could not give thanks to Jehovah and we further read that "Sheol can't praise you, death can't celebrate you." These descriptions of the righteous in sheol do not agree with the added-on idea that paradise was ever a compartment in sheol. -- Psalm 6:5; Isaiah 38:18.
(9) Jesus made his human soul "an offering for sin"; he "poured out his soul to death" (Isaiah 53:10, 12; Matthew 26:38), and descended into the Bible hell, but "his soul was not left in hell [sheol/hades - a state of unknowing]." Thus, Jesus' soul was in the oblivious condition in the Bible hell while he was dead, but it did not remain there. His, "soul", however in coming out of sheol, was not the sacrificed human soul, a little lower than the angels, which was offered once for all time on behalf of mankind, but was the exalted glorified soul, for he was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit. -- Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27,31,33; 5:31; Philippians 2:9; Hebrews 2:9; 1 Peter 3:18.
See our study on "Jesus Died a Human -- Raised a Spirit Being"
(10) In old English the word hell simply meant to hide or to cover - helling potatoes meant putting them into pits, helling a house meant covering or thatching it, etc.; the word hell was therefore properly used as signifying the secret or hidden condition of death. It had no reference whatever to a place of eternal suffering until that meaning was attached to it by the theologians who adopted and adapted such ideas from the Jewish and heathen mythologies.
(11) Nevertheless, in the Bible, hell (sheol or hades) means the unconscious, oblivious condition or realm of death, where all souls, good and bad, go at death, and from which only the awakening from death can deliver any. -- Ecclesiastes 9:10; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22; Romans 5:12-19.
(12) When God told Adam of sin's penalty, He did not say, "In the day that you eat from it you will live forever in eternal suffering," but He told him the truth: "dying thou dost die [Hebrew, "muth temuth" (more literally, to die, you will die) i.e., cease to live- or "dying, thou shalt die" - margin of KJV]." -- Genesis 2:17, Young's Literal Translation.
(13) Adam began to die in that very (dying, thou shalt die -- see KJV margin) day he ate the forbidden fruit.
(14) Contradicting God, Satan told the lie (John 8:44), "`Dying, ye do not die," (Genesis 3:4, Young's Literal, or, 'You will not be dying until dead'), by which he has since deceived many into believing that the dead are not really dead, but that at death they live on, and, without waiting for the resurrection day, go directly into heaven or into eternal torment; whereas the Bible states plainly that "the dead don't know anything". Thus "the dead don't praise Jah, Neither any who go down into silence"; that a dead man's "sons come to honor, and he doesn't know it; They are brought low, but he doesn't perceive it of them". Additionally, the scriptures reveal that Abraham, being dead, didn't know those living in Isaiah's day. -- Ecclesiastes 9:5; Psalm 115:17; Job 14:21; Isaiah 63:16.
(15) The Bible states plainly that the soul that sinneth, it shall die." (Ezekiel 18:4, King James Version); that "the wages of sin is death [cessation of life-not life in roasting]; but the free gift of God is eternal life in [by means of] Christ Jesus our Lord.." -- Romans 6:23; Acts 4:12.
(16) "God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish [i.e., forever cease to live], but have eternal life.". "The man Christ Jesus" "gave himself a ransom [a corresponding price] for all [Adam and his race]." -- John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:4-6.
(17) If the penalty against Adam and his race had been conscious eternal suffering, Jesus would have had to suffer the same suffering for all eternity in order to pay this debt; but, because the "wages of sin is death," "Christ died for our sins," He tasted death for every man; "Christ also suffered for sins once [not for eternity]," and He "was raised from the dead." When Jesus was raised from the dead, he was not raised as a human living soul of flesh, but as a living spirit soul. -- 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4; Hebrews 2:9; Romans 5:6-10; Colossians 1:18; 1 Peter 3:18; Revelation 1:18.
(18) Jesus, when on earth, said, "No man has ascended into heaven." Peter corroborates this in the case of David. -- John 3:13; Acts 2:34.
(19) The Bible says the dead, good and bad, are "asleep" (2 Peter 3:4; 2 Kings 21:17, 18; John 11:11-14; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17), i.e., oblivious, unconscious, in sheol or hades, waiting for the awakening; "if the dead aren't raised, ... then they also who are fallen asleep in Christ have perished.." -- 1 Corinthians 15:13-18.
(20) God through Christ ransoms all, not from eternal torture or eternal conscious suffering, but "from the power of the grave [sheol]" (Hosea 13:14, King James Version). None, however, actually come forth from sheol/hades until Jesus calls them in the resurrection awakening at His Second Advent (John 14:3; 1 Corinthians 15:21-23, 52), when (and not previously) the apostle Paul and others receive their crowns of life and rewards. -- 2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Peter 1:5; 5:4; Luke 14:14.
(21) Eventually, "all that are in the tombs will hear his [Jesus'] voice, and will come forth" (John 5:28,29). When sheol/hades thus delivers up all who sleep in Adamic death, sheol/hades will forever cease to exist-"O Grave, [sheol] I will be your destruction!" (New King James Version); "Death and hades [also the devil, the beast, the false prophet and the incorrigibly wicked] were thrown into the lake of fire [fire consumes; Jehovah's jealousy for his name and righteousness is represented as fire, which when kindled destroys -- Zephaniah 1:18; Exodus 34:14; Deuteronomy 32:16,17; 1 Kings 14:22; Ezekiel 5:13; 36:5], This [lake of fire] is [represents] the second death [utter, complete and eternal annihilation, from which none will ever be recovered]." -- Hosea 13:14; Revelation 19:20; 20:14, 15; 21:8; Galatians 6:8; Hebrews 6:4-8; 10:26-31; 12:29; 1 John 5:16; Jude 12, 13.
(22) Sodom and Gomorrah are set forth by God "as an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire." (Jude 7) - not that the literal fire is still burning and is unable to destroy those cities, but that the fire of God's jealousy brought upon them eternal destruction as cities, even as the "everlasting fire [of God's jealousy] prepared for the devil and his angels" will bring everlasting destruction upon them. -- Hebrews 2:14; Ezekiel 28:19; Psalm 145:20.
(23) In Revelation 20:10 (compare 14:10, 11) the word translated "tormented" in most translations should have been rendered "tested" or "examined". The evil deeds and teachings of the devil, the beast and the false prophet will be examined forever by the righteous, and will be recognized as highly deserving destruction. -- compare Isaiah 14:15-17.
(24) "Narrow is the gate, and restricted is the way that leads to life," but "broad is the way that leads to destruction [not eternal suffering], and many are those who enter in by it.." -- Matthew 7:13,14.
(25) After an individual final judgment, the wicked "will pay the penalty: eternal destruction" (2 Thessalonians 1:9); they 'bring upon themselves swift destruction' (2 Peter 2:1, 12); their "end is destruction" (Philippians 3:19); they "shall go away into eternal punishment [not eternal suffering or eternal torturing, but death, for 'sin, when it is finished, brings forth death' (James 1:15; 4:12); everlasting death is the everlasting punishment], but the righteous [who only will have everlasting life after the final judgment -- Psalm 37:9-11] into eternal life." -- Matthew 25:46.
(26) Also, the New Testament word gehenna is rendered as hell (or, hell-fire) in the KJV and many other translations; its Old Testament equivalent is ge-Hinnom -- valley of Hinnom. Into this valley outside Jerusalem refuse was cast, and it was destroyed there either by worms or by fire and brimstone. Gehenna., "'where their worm doesn't die [literally, "where the maggot of them not ends], and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:43-48; see also Isaiah 66:24), represents the Second Death -- not that their worm exists eternally, nor that there is place where they will exist in a burning condition for eternity, but God's destruction of the wicked is sure, pictured by everything cast into the valley of Hinnom being completely destroyed, either by the worms or by the fire. The literal fires of Gehenna indeed were kept burning, and never allowed to be quenched. Likewise, any body thrown into the valley that did not reach the fires would be consumed by the maggots along the walls, that never ceased to be present.
(27) God "is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna". "Every soul that will not listen to that prophet [Jesus] will be utterly destroyed". "Jehovah preserves all those who love him, But all the wicked he will destroy." -- Matthew 10:28; Ezekiel 18:4,20; Acts 3:23; Psalm 145:20.
(28) God is just (Deuteronomy 32:4) and will punish every sinner according to his guilt (Matthew 12:36; Luke 12:47,48), but His justice forbids His exacting a greater extreme penalty than the one He declared, i.e., death - "'Shall mortal man [what man who loves righteousness would consider torturing even a cat in fire for one minute, let alone for eternity] be more just than God? ... Far be it from God, that he should do wickedness." -- Job 4:17; 34:10.
(29) "God is love" and He desires us to 'worship him in spirit and in truth,' out of love for Him, and not because of fear of punishment now and roasting or suffering in the hereafter for eternity - "perfect love casts out fear [dread]." -- 1 John 4:8-12, 16-21; John 4:24.
(30) There are those that claim that the doctrine of eternal roasting is needed to bring people into fear of God. Our fear (reverence) of him should be motivated by our love for him, not because of some fiendish plot to eternally roast us if we do not fear him. True reverence for God comes from an awe at the creation around us and within us, plus the fact that God sent his Son to die for us, to save us, not from eternal roasting, but from death.