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I'm not disputing that Hell exists, what I want to know is WHAT IS HELL?

In my opinion there are only two possible answers, but you might inform me of something else. Many people have argued that evil is the absence of God, hell must be evil, thus hell is the separation of us from God. As poetic as this sounds, I've never found the scripture to back this up. Maybe you have some that I haven't read yet.

The second option in my understanding is that hell is the wrath of God against the disobedient. I have found one piece of scripture that debatable states that God is in Hell, but not what He is doing down there.

Can you set me straight with the scripture that I need to understand the lake of fire?

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I'll add this as a comment because I don't understand it enough to speak on it: ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/jp2heavn.htm –  Peter Turner Aug 29 '11 at 16:39
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What's the difference between separation from God and the wrath of God? –  Flimzy Aug 29 '11 at 19:53
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Maybe that's another question @Flimzy :) –  Jonathon Byrd Aug 29 '11 at 19:54
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Your first option seems pretty well on the head to me; since God is the source of and contains all good things, separating anyone from Him would remove any access to any good thing (any of creation, light, etc) as well as place them into eternal torment. As far as I can figure anyway :P –  RCIX Aug 31 '11 at 2:28
    
There's a nice encylopedic writup on hell here: newadvent.org/cathen/07207a.htm –  karategeek6 Aug 31 '11 at 4:17

4 Answers 4

up vote 15 down vote accepted

This is what we know of "Hell".

It's a place of darkness

Jude 1:13 (NIV)

They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.

It's a place of torment

Luke 16:28 (NIV)

for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

It's a place of fire

Jesus says in Matthew 13:42 (NIV)

They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

It is eternal

Mark 9:48 (NIV)

where “‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’

It is separation for God

Matthew 25:41 (NIV)

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

God does not want you to go to Hell

John 3:17 (NIV)

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Those are the highlights. There are many other places that support each one of those facts. I just picked a nice representative of each verse.

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+1 Also the Matt 25:41 is not just saying it is Separation from God but also a place designed for Satan's punishment. (and his angels) –  James Khoury Aug 31 '11 at 1:59
    
@James Khoury Oh, great point! Yeah, it's definitely a place of punishment... –  Richard Aug 31 '11 at 2:00
    
I meant it was a place prepared for Satan's punishment as somepeople think it is Satan's place where he punishes us. –  James Khoury Aug 31 '11 at 2:03
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So.... biblical literalists are no longer Christians? –  Richard Nov 1 '12 at 14:03
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@ĈħőşęņŎńę You're assuming that fire always produces light. Also, if it is the "blackest darkness", how can you tell if it's fire that produces no light or just intense heat? For that matter, what is fire without the heat? That comes down to "what is fire?" and "What is heat without fire?". Given the context of the Bible, this is a deep rabbit hole. –  Richard Jul 9 '13 at 20:55

I'm not disputing that Hell exists, what I want to know is WHAT IS HELL? Hell is an Old English term translated from the Hebrew word for the grave "Sheol" and the Greek translation of Sheol "Hades". Hell means the "Grave" or a "Crematory".

In my opinion there are only two possible answers, but you might inform me of something else. Many people have argued that evil is the absence of God, hell must be evil, thus hell is the separation of us from God. As poetic as this sounds, I've never found the scripture to back this up. Maybe you have some that I haven't read yet. God is Life (John 14:6), the absence of Life is Death (Genesis 2:17). Evil separates life from the body (Isaiah 59:2).

The second option in my understanding is that hell is the wrath of God against the disobedient Yes, the wages of Sin is Death (Romans 6:23).

I have found one piece of scripture that debatable states that God is in Hell, Yes, Jesus was placed in a grave (John 19:42). (aka: went to Hell)

But not what He is doing down there. He was fulfilling his prophecy (Matt 12:38-40).

Can you set me straight with the scripture that I need to understand the lake of fire? First let us replace Hell with the correct usage as grave. "Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death."(Revelation 20:14). Think of the usage of the phrase "Sea of forgetfulness."

By understanding the First Death, we can understand the Second Death. If the First Death is Separation from God, we can assume that the Second Death also is a separation from God. Now if Death (a separation from God) is separated from God. That is a fancy way of saying that nothing else gets separated from God by use as a double negative.

Therefore using replacement ideology for Revelation 20:15 "Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was never thought of by God again."

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The conventional definition of Hell is that it is 'separation from God'. Both Pope John Paul II and Billy Graham have defined Hell in this way, so its is safe to say that this represents the mainstream view of Hell in Christianity.

However this definition does not give any details of what Hell is like. Few Christians would consider the ancient view, of a place with devils and pitchforks, to be anywhere near accurate. While some might agree that there is explicit punishment, for the most part it is considered that eternal separation from God is punishment enough. (An atheist would of course disagree).

Most Christians again agree that the Biblical descriptions of Hell are largely picture-language - that (for example) the fire, brimstone and darkness indicate the quantity and quality of suffering caused by separation from God, rather than actual physical pain; Biblical literalists would be the main dissenters from that view.

There are plenty of online references giving treatises about Hell. My own recommendation for a starter is C.S. Lewis The Great Divorce - though again I would caution that it is intended as allegory and not theology.

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just found out there's a gift shop in Hell. tinkerblue.typepad.com/.a/… –  Darryl May 5 at 0:02
    
Up vote for The Great Divorce. –  Reluctant_Linux_User Oct 13 at 23:08

The ancients believed in Elysium for the good, the Asphodel Meadows for those neither good nor evil, and Tartarus for the wicked.

Throughout history it's been fairly common for Christian proselytizers to subvert ideas already in place and bend them over to a Christian interpretation, a good example being the winter solstice's rebranding to Christmas.

So the early Church came up with Heaven, Purgatory/Limbo and Hell to make conversion more palatable for the pagans. These became ingrained within our culture, but are really pagan ideas and have no basis in Christianity. Artistic depictions of Hell in the middle ages really strengthened this mistaken view of Hell as a physical, burning place of torment underground.

The New Testament speaks only of the resurrection, and when it refers to Heaven and Hell is in fact talking about inward states of mind. Hell is sometimes connected with fire in the New Testament because fire is used there as a symbol of bodily desire (e.g. greed - the more you feed your greed, the greedier you become, and the more you feed a fire, the stronger it burns).

So Hell is the state of mind where you are a slave to your bodily passions of lust, power, greed, revenge, and hatred, and so are separated from God and from peace.

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Welcome to Christianity.SE. Please check out or FAQ. Would you mind substantiating some of the claims you make here? –  wax eagle Aug 31 '11 at 3:10

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