Created Saturday, Nov. 23, 2002
From the Old Testament
From the New Testament
Most Christians today have common ideas about the soul and hell. The soul, as far as I can see, is often confused with the spirit or is very similar to the spirit at the very least. I do not believe this is the way the Bible presents the soul. And hell is believed by many to be quite literal. I do not believe this is the case, either.
So I am going review what the Bible actually says, examining
definitions and looking at how these words are used in the Bible. I
will then review some of the basics of what early ecclesiastical
writers had to say on these matters for it is in their writings that
the source of various ideas came into being.
Let us first start with the definition of soul from the original Hebrew language that the Bible was first written in. Below is the Brrown's/ Driver's/ Brigg's Hebrew Lexicon definition of soul. It will be abbreviated from here on in as BDB Lexicon.
BDB Lexicon - Soul
05315 nephesh - neh'-fesh
from 05314; TWOT - 1395a; n f
The Hebrew word we translate as soul is Nephesh. Below are how many times it appears in the King James version as what word. Soul is the most common word used with 475 appearances in the KJV. Life is the word in 117 places. Life is a good choice in many places. I will discuss that more shortly. The whole list is below.
Appears in the KJV as - soul 475, life 117, person 29, mind 15, heart 15, creature 9, body 8, himself 8, yourselves 6, dead 5, will 4, desire 4, man 3, themselves 3, any 3, appetite 2, misc 47; 753
What follow are the many things that soul can mean and the ways it can be used in Hebrew.
1) soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion
1a) that which breathes, the breathing substance or being, soul,
the inner being of man
1b) living being
1c) living being (with life in the blood)
1d) the man himself, self, person or individual
1e) seat of the appetites
1f) seat of emotions and passions
1g) activity of mind 1g1) dubious
1h) activity of the will 1h1) dubious
1i) activity of the character 1i1) dubious
As you can see, soul or nephesh had a number of different meanings and ways it can be used. So when we want to understand what soul means or what it is, we have to understand the individual places it appears in and consider the context it is used in, since it could mean one of several things in any given place. And though we have all been handed down certain beliefs, a smart person will test out what he or she has been taught to see it stands up to examination.
I have also supplied Strong's Hebrew/ Greek dictionary definition of soul so that we have at least two witnesses, so to speak, two well informed sources of expertise to guide our search into this matter. It says pretty much the same things as BDB did.
Strong's Dictionary - Soul
05315. nephesh - neh'-fesh; from 05314; properly, a breathing creature, i.e. animal of (abstractly) vitality; used very widely in a literal, accommodated or figurative sense (bodily or mental):-- any, appetite, beast, body, breath, creature, X dead(-ly), desire, X [dis-]contented, X fish, ghost, + greedy, he, heart(-y), (hath, X jeopardy of) life (X in jeopardy), lust, man, me, mind, mortally, one, own, person, pleasure, (her-, him-, my-, thy-)self, them (your)-selves, + slay, soul, + tablet, they, thing, (X she) will, X would have it. Greek 5590.
The first place where soul (nephesh) appears in the Old Testament is in Genesis 1:20. If you read the King James version, you would not know that because the translators of that version did not translate nephesh as soul in that verse. But Green's Literal translation (GLT) did. I supplied 3 different versions, highlighting in bold face the words translated from nephesh and another Hebrew word, chay, which we will consider after.
(KJV) Genesis 1:20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. 21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
The words "that hath" come from nephesh. Kind of odd, isn't it. Then the word "life" that comes right after is the Hebrew word "chay." We will look at the meaning of that word in a minute. The next translation does it different as you can see, calling "nephesh chay" "soul of life."
And the phrase "every living" comes from "chay" and "creature" comes from nephesh. Again, GLT uses living & soul.
(GLT) Genesis 1:20 And God said, Let the waters swarm with swarmers having a soul of life; and let the birds fly over the earth, on the face of the expanse of the heavens. 1:21 And God created the great sea animals, and all that creeps, having a living soul, which swarmed the waters, according to its kind; and every bird with wing according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
(RSV) Genesis 1:20 And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens." 21 So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
Those who translated the King James version clearly understood how soul was used in Hebrew and used words that would more appropriately convey the meaning of the Hebrew in English. Not that GLT did any harm in choosing as he did, but the English use a number of different words to express various ideas that were all understood using one word in Hebrew. This is, of course, a common thing in the Hebrew language, using one word for many ideas. English, and even more so Greek, are much different in that they use more specialized words in different places to give a more precise, perhaps legalistic, definition.
But from these two verses alone we can see that soul can mean creatures or life. Soul as applied to man is most clearly defined for us in Genesis 2:7 for us. This shall be (should be) our definition for what a soul is in regards to us. The three translations I use all use the exact same words in place of the Hebrew so they are in complete and exact agreement here.
(KJV) Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
(GLT) Genesis 2:7 And Jehovah God formed the man out of dust from the ground, and blew into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
(RSV) Genesis 2:7 then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
Now both the words "life" and "living" both come from the Hebrew word "chay." Below are the two dictionary definitions for you. Chay is most often translated as live or life as you can see from the dictionaries just beyond here. But we want to focus on nephesh or soul. We note that God formed man from the dust/ dirt/ clay of the ground and then blew into the nostrils of His creation the breath of life and the man became a living soul. This breath of life is often called spirit, though not here. But it is elsewhere called spirit as we shall soon see. But when God gives His breath, His spirit to what was formed from the ground into man, man becomes a living soul, just as other creatures were living souls.
The soul did not give life to the man. The breath of God gave life to man and he was then a living soul. Put in other words, man became a living being or entity just as there were plenty of other souls or creatures. It is not here used in any profound way suggesting something separate and distinct from flesh or spirit. The key word accompanying soul was living. The man was alive so he was a soul. He would not have been a soul had he remained without the breath of life. He had to live, first, with breath. He had to be animated, living.
BDB Lexicon - Life, Live
02416 chay - khah'-ee
from 02421; TWOT - 644a
Appears in the KJV as - live 197, life 144, beast 76, alive 31, creature 15, running 7, living thing 6, raw 6, misc 19; 501
1) living, alive
1a) green (of vegetation)
1b) flowing, fresh (of water)
1c) lively, active (of man)
1d) reviving (of the springtime)
3) life (abstract emphatic)
3b) sustenance, maintenance
4) living thing, animal
4d) revival, renewal
Strong's - Life, Live
02416. chay - khah'-ee; from 02421; alive; hence, raw (flesh); fresh (plant, water, year), strong; also (as noun, especially in the feminine singular and masculine plural) life (or living thing), whether literally or figuratively:-- + age, alive, appetite, (wild) beast, company, congregation, life(-time), live(-ly), living (creature, thing), maintenance, + merry, multitude, + (be) old, quick, raw, running, springing, troop. Greek 2222 and 5590.
Now I said previously that God's breath of life was in other places called spirit. Consider these scriptures and what they have to say about spirit and death and the connection between the two.
Ecclesiastes 3:19 For that which happens to the sons of men, and that which happens to beasts, even one event is to them. As this one dies, so that one dies; yea, one breath is to all; so that there is to the man no advantage over the beast; for all is vanity. 20 All go to one place; all are of the dust, and all return to the dust. 21 Who knows the spirit of the sons of man, whether it goes upward; and the spirit of the beast, whether it goes downward to the earth?
Solomon says that all men and all beasts all have the same breath. Remember that Adam received God's breath. The difference is that breath in this scripture comes from the Hebrew word "ruwach." That is the Hebrew word which is usually translated as spirit. All creatures have that same breath, that same spirit. Solomon says they all end up the same, returning to the ground, the dust, from which they came. And the spirit that they all share together? Solomon says we do not know where it goes. Up or down, who can know or tell? The spirit is not some intelligent aspect of us that survives. It is merely the animating force that causes us to breath and respirate and live. It is not a living entity but only a force, like the force of gravity, the electrical force, the energy of the sun and of photosynthesis, or other such forces of nature granted by God.
But this scripture confirms what is said in Genesis 2:7, that God gives us breath, in most places called spirit, and we live and become living souls as a result. The bodies, the flesh we are granted, breath and we live. Our souls are in fleshly form. We do not have souls when we die. Our souls vanish and our bodies return to the ground and we become nothing again as we were nothing before we began as the next scriptures will confirm.
Ecclesiastes 12:6 While the silver cord is not yet loosed, or the golden bowl is crushed, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern; 7 then the dust shall return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return to God who gave it.
Again we are told that the spirit (of life) granted to us by God returns to God and we return as dust to the ground, that is the minerals and elements that make up the composition of everything in our bodies. The next verse clarifies that we cease to be conscious or living in everyway.
Ecclesiastes 9:4 For one who is chosen to be
among all the living, there is hope. For a living dog is better than
a dead lion. 5 For the living know that they shall die; but the dead
do not know anything; nor do they have any more a reward, for their
memory is forgotten. 6 Also their love, their hatred, and their envy
has now perished; nor do they any longer have a part forever in all
that is done under the sun.
10 All that your hand finds to do, do it with your strength. For there is no work, or planning, or knowledge, or wisdom, in Sheol, there where you go.
No doubt about it, when we are dead, we are gone. It is referred to as our departing to and residing in Sheol, a symbolic place of the dead. But we are not conscious or thinking in any way. But the Bible speaks of us in Sheol as being a resting place or a waiting place to symbolize the fact that God can and will bring back, resurrect, those who are deserving, to life again in a future time of God's choosing, namely at the last day when Jesus returns.
Sheol is the symbolic place used in the Hebrew language. We will
deal more with that word and idea soon. Lets finish soul first by
looking at how it is used in places.
Ezekiel 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.
(GLT) Eze 18:4 Behold, they are all My souls. As the soul of the father, also the soul of the son, they are Mine. The soul that sins, it shall die.
Ezekiel 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die.
(GLT) Ezekiel 18:20 The soul that sins, it shall die.
What is obvious here? It is that a soul can and does die. The soul is not immortal. It does not live on after death. We do not think, plan, or act after death, waiting in Sheol! Were it not for the resurrection, we would be gone for good. But because of the sacrifice of God's son later in the Bible, we can all look forward to coming to life again. But in the mean time, we are dead and gone, awaiting for God to bring us back.
Leviticus 5:2 Or if a soul touch any unclean thing
Leviticus 5:17 And if a soul sin
A soul can touch and sin, right?
Leviticus 7:20 But the soul that eateth of the flesh of the sacrifice . . . even that soul shall be cut off from his people.
A soul can eat and it can be cut off, that is, killed, as we have already read.
Leviticus 26:11 And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.
God speaks of Himself as having a soul But we know He is not flesh, but a spirit, for Jesus told us so. But God is living and has consciouness and intelligence and purpose, so He has a soul. Soul has to do with living, being, thinking, feeling and things that living souls so. But His soul is in spirit form, and not fleshly form as we are.
Numbers 30:2 If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.
A soul be obligate it self and become bound by its oath.
Deuteronomy 6:5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
This scripture will also be quoted by Jesus later. But we must love God with everything we have, holding back nothing, reserving nothing from Him. We do this with our hear, with our strength or our might, and with our soul, everything about us that lives. Soul is used a lot and interchangeably with heart, mind, and spirit as we shall see. There is little difference, really. They all pretty much signify the same thing.
Deuteronomy 12:20 When the LORD thy God shall enlarge thy border, as he hath promised thee, and thou shalt say, I will eat flesh, because thy soul longeth to eat flesh; thou mayest eat flesh, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after.
Our souls have appetites and desires. Our flesh is often said to have the same thing as the New Testament shall show us later. Soul and body or flesh are also used in the same way, interchangeably. For really, there is no difference between flesh and soul. Living flesh is a soul, whether of animal or man.
Job 24:12 Men groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded crieth out:
Song of Solomon 1:7 Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth
Jeremiah 13:17 But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep
Souls can cry out and feel emotions, obviously.
1Samuel 18:1 And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
1Samuel 18:3 Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.
Did Johnathan and David get their souls sewn or knit together? Of course not! It is figurative language to indicate that they had strong feelings of friendship and attachment to each other. Heart would have worked just as well here as in the heart of Johnathan was knit or bound with David. Soul is also used to indicate self as when it says that Johnathan lived David as he did his own soul or self.
2Samuel 11:11 and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing.
Isaiah 55:3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live
Souls live and souls can die.
Job 3:20 Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul;
This is one of those interesting scriptures for while here the phrase is bitter in soul, we shall come across others that say bitter in spirit or bitter of heart.
Psalm 42:4 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me:
We can pour our souls out. This can and is also said in other places as pouring out our hearts. Jesus will pour out or give up his spirit, too.
Ps 139:14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
Souls can think and know.
Psalm 143:3 For the enemy hath persecuted my soul;
Souls can be persecuted.
Ecclesiastes 7:28 Which yet my soul seeketh,
Souls can seek, pursue, search, plan, etc.
In short, souls live and do all things that living creatures do. We especially stand out in that we are created in God's image and so have intelligence and emotion above that of the animals and more like God. We have all the qualities of personality, morality, and principle, the ability to make choices and decisions by way of thinking and contemplating. We can examine ourselves and our thinking and behavior and pass judgement on ourselves, with our conscience influencing us.
In every way, we were intended, as fleshly creatures, to resemble God in our mental and psychological aspects, not our bodily ones. We are physical expressions of the image of God. Our minds are supposed to control our flesh in a God-like way. But our minds are themselves exist in fleshly physical form. They are not separate and distinct from the body and physical existence. They are one and the same and so we see that expressed in many scriptures. Both our flesh and souls are often said to do the same things.
Now let us look more at the Hebrew word "ruwach," which we
translate often as spirit but also as other things, too.
07307 ruwach - roo'-akh
from 07306; TWOT - 2131a; n f
Appears in the KJV as - Spirit or spirit 232, wind 92, breath 27, side 6, mind 5, blast 4, vain 2, air 1, anger 1, cool 1, courage 1, misc 6; 378
1) wind, breath, mind, spirit
1b1) of heaven
1b2) quarter (of wind), side
1b3) breath of air
1b4) air, gas
1b5) vain, empty thing
1c) spirit (as that which breathes quickly in animation or agitation)
1c1) spirit, animation, vivacity, vigour
1c3) temper, anger
1c4) impatience, patience
1c5) spirit, disposition (as troubled, bitter, discontented)
1c6) disposition (of various kinds), unaccountable or uncontrollable impulse
1c7) prophetic spirit
1d) spirit (of the living, breathing being in man and animals)
1d1) as gift, preserved by God, God's spirit, departing at death, disembodied being
1e) spirit (as seat of emotion)
1e2) sorrow, trouble
1f1) as seat or organ of mental acts
1f2) rarely of the will
1f3) as seat especially of moral character
1g) Spirit of God, the third person of the triune God, the Holy Spirit, coequal, coeternal with the Father and the Son
1g1) as inspiring ecstatic state of prophecy
1g2) as impelling prophet to utter instruction or warning
07307. ruwach - roo'-akh; from 07306; wind; by resemblance breath, i.e. a sensible (or even violent) exhalation; figuratively, life, anger, unsubstantiality; by extension, a region of the sky; by resemblance spirit, but only of a rational being (including its expression and functions):-- air, anger, blast, breath, X cool, courage, mind, X quarter, X side, spirit([-ual]), tempest, X vain, ([whirl-])wind(-y). Greek 4151 and 5590.
Notice that spirit can be wind and breath. It can be emotion or feeling. It can be a creature, a spirit. It has a number of uses. So like soul, we have to pay attention to how it is used and where in order to be sure what it means at any given time. What follows are some uses of "spirit."
Genesis 6:3 And Jehovah said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man;
Spirit is used here much like heart.
Genesis 26:35 And they were a grief of spirit to Isaac and to Rebekah.
Genesis 41:8 And it happened in the morning, his spirit was troubled.
Genesis 45:27 And they spoke to him all Joseph's words which he had spoken to them. And he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him; and the spirit of their father Jacob revived.
Deuteronomy 2:30 But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the LORD thy God hardened his spirit,
1Samuel 1:15 I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit
Ecclesiastes 7:14 In the good day, be in good spirit, but also consider in the evil day, that God has made one along with the other, so that man should not find anything after him.
In these 6 previous scriptures, we see spirit used as a feeling or attitude. Sadness and depression in particular appear as bitterness or grief of spirit as well as one of being in good spirit, that is, of goo d cheer or happiness. They are feelings more related to mental attitudes and processes not related to anything specifically to do with the body. When someone dies, our bodies are not hurt, but our feelings definitely are. Those feelings that result more from mental pain and pleasure are spoken of as of the spirit. They can also be said to be of the heart.
Judges 15:19 And God broke open the hollow place which is in Lehi, and water came out of it. And he drank, and his spirit returned, and he revived.
This one is interesting for Samson was thirsty, an appetite and drive of the flesh, and when he drank, he was refreshed. The Bible speaks of it as his spirit returning. So even when proper fleshly cravings are satisfied, it revives us inside, our spirits are revived and refreshed as well as our bodies. They are often pretty much the same thing in some ways.
Ecclesiastes 7:8 Better is the end of a thing than its beginning; the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
Ecclesiastes 7:9 Do not be hasty in your spirit to be angry; for vexation rests in the bosom of fools.
Here our spirit can be patient, impatient, proud, and probably more, no doubt. It is our attitude as much as anything as well as some emotion, too. These emotions are often not physical things so are said to be of the spirit, things which in of themselves, are sort of invisible, but felt and they can be expressed, too.
Proverbs 29:11 A fool brings out all of his spirit, but holding back, the wise quiets it.
This one is interesting. A fool lets out all of his spirit, which
I assume is all of himself, so to speak. Maybe he says to much, lets
our all his feeling, or does not inhibit himself in any way. He does
not try to control himself, perhaps. The wise one does not let it all
out but keeps himself under control, not letting out everything about
himself. I see this as control from inside of one's self. Our mental
control, therefore, that which is inside of a mental nature,
invisible to the eye, could be said to be spiritual, I gather.
Genesis 6:5 And Jehovah saw that the evil of man was great on the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the day long.
Genesis 6:6 And Jehovah repented that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved to His heart.
Jeremiah 4:18 Your way and your doings have done these things to you; this is your evil, because it is bitter, because it reaches to your heart.
Genesis 18:5 And I will bring a bite of bread and will sustain Your heart.
Genesis 24:45 Before I had finished speaking within my heart, even behold, Rebekah was coming out, her pitcher on her shoulder. And she went down to the well and drew. And I said to her, Please let me drink.
Genesis 34:3 And his soul clung to Dinah, the daughter of Jacob. And he loved the girl, and spoke to the heart of the girl.
Genesis 45:26 And they told him, saying, Joseph is still alive, and he is ruler in all the land of Egypt. And his heart froze up, for he did not believe them.
Deuteronomy 4:29 And if you shall seek Jehovah your God from there, then you shall find Him, if you seek Him with your whole heart, and with all your soul,
Deuteronomy 10:12 And now, Israel, what has Jehovah your God asked of you, except to fear Jehovah your God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve Jehovah your God with all your heart, and with all your soul;
Deuteronomy 4:39 know today, and lay it to your heart, that Jehovah, He is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.
Deuteronomy 6:6 And these words which I am commanding you today shall be on your heart.
Deuteronomy 11:16 Take heed to yourselves, that your heart not be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods, and bow down to them;
Deuteronomy 15:9 Beware that there is no evil thought in your heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release draws near; and your eye be evil against your needy brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to Jehovah against you and it be sin to you.
Deuteronomy 20:3 and say to them. Hear, Israel, you are drawing near today to battle against your enemies. Do not let your heart be faint; do not fear nor tremble, nor be terrified before their faces.
Deuteronomy 28:47 Because you did not serve Jehovah your God with joyfulness and with gladness of heart for the abundance of all things,
Deuteronomy 29:4 Yet Jehovah has not given to you a heart to know, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, until this day.
Deuteronomy 29:19 and it happens when he hears the words of this curse, that he should bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, even though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart, to snatch away the drunken with the thirsty.
Deuteronomy 30:14 For the word is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.
Deuteronomy 32:46 and said to them, Set your heart on all the words which I have testified against you today, that you command your sons to take heed to do all the words of this law.
Judges 19:5 And it happened on the fourth day, they rose up early in the morning, and he rose up to go. And the young woman's father said to his son-in-law, Sustain your heart with a bit of food, and afterward you shall go on.
1Samual 1:13 And Hannah was speaking in her heart; only, her lips moved; but her voice could not be heard. So Eli thought that she was drunk.
As you can see from this short review of some of the ways in which heart is used, that it is used almost exactly as soul and spirit are also used. Hearts can feel, have attitudes, they can know and think, be grieved and exult. They can be deceived, taught. You can speak in your heart, this is, internally without uttering words as when we think to ourselves. So whether you use hear, spirit, or soul, you are often saying much the same thing. It is not some entity we are referring to, but a figurative use of language to describe our emotions, our motivations, our thoughts, our thinking, and what goes on internally within us. Whatever we experience in the flesh, it affects every aspect of us in heart, mind, soul, and spirit.
It would be silly to take all these terms literally as for one, they all do the same thing. Do we have 4 or 4 places where our thoughts and feelings literal reside and originate from? Obviously not! It is simply a use of literary techniques to convey our feelings, thoughts and actions that take place in the brain. We know now that all things issue from the brain. So when we say they are of the heart, or the soul, or the mind, or the spirit, or even the body, we know it is only figuratively speaking. That should be clear even if we did not know anything about the brain, but all the more so since we do know of the brain.
What we are not talking about is some ethereal, incorporeal, invisible part of us that only shares our body but is separate and distinct from the body. It is a result of the body being alive and when the body dies, so does our soul. And as for the spirit, it is not in possession of any consciousness but is only a force belonging to God.
Do not forget that there is spirit as in God's force animating us
and then there is spirit as in our attitude and what is inside of us
for feelings and the life. Two different things. Now lets look at
that word Sheol more closely.
Appears once or twice in:
Genesis - Numbers - Deuteronomy - 1 Samuel - 2 Samuel - 1 King - Ecclesiastes - Song of Solomon - Hosea - Amos - Jonah - Habakkuk
It appears many times in:
Job - Psalms - Proverbs - Isaiah - Ezekiel
07585 sh@'owl sheh-ole' or sh@ol sheh-ole'
from 07592; TWOT - 2303c; n f
Appears in the KJV as - grave 31, hell 31, pit 3; 65
1) sheol, underworld, grave, hell, pit
1a) the underworld
1b) Sheol - the OT designation for the abode of the dead
1b1) place of no return
1b2) without praise of God
1b3) wicked sent there for punishment
1b4) righteous not abandoned to it
1b5) of the place of exile (fig)
1b6) of extreme degradation in sin
07585. sh@'owl - sheh-ole'; or sh@ol - sheh-ole'; from 07592; Hades or the world of the dead (as if a subterranean retreat), including its accessories and inmates:-- grave, hell, pit.
It is translated often as grave as that is what it basically symbolizes. But later translators started to call it hell. But it is not hell, it is Sheol and no one is conscious in Sheol so it can not be a place of suffering or torment. We are not alive in anyway, anymore, when we are dead and in Sheol. BDB says it means among other things, "wicked sent there for punishment." They are not punished after going there, they are punished by being sent there, that is, killed. Being sent there and then punished can not be found in the Old Testament. It did not come about as a teaching until the Apostles died out.
There is a specific word for "grave" in Hebrew. It follows next, just for your information.
Grave in Hebrew
06900 q@buwrah - keb-oo-raw' or q@burah - keb-oo-raw'
pass part of 06912; TWOT - 1984b; n f
Appears in the KJV as - sepulchre 5, grave 4, burial 4, burying place 1; 14
1) grave, burial, burial site
06900. q@buwrah - keb-oo-raw'; or q@burah keb-oo-raw'; feminine passive participle of 06912; sepulture; (concretely) a sepulchre:-- burial, burying place, grave, sepulchre.
The Hebrew Sheol would later become Hades in the Greek scriptures. Not that they were the same thing but that they symbolized the same thing. The Jews and Christians did not believe in Hades as the Greeks believed about it. It is also very helpful to consider the figurative and sometimes literal use of fire in the Old Testament so I do that now.
Fire in Old
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Psalm 11:6 He shall rain snares on the wicked; fire and brimstone and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
Psalm 18:8 A smoke went up out of His nostrils, and fire devoured out of His mouth; coals were kindled from it.
Psalm 18:12 Out of the brightness before Him, His dark clouds passed through, hailstones and coals of fire.
Psalm 21:9 You shall set them as a fiery furnace in the time of Your presence; Jehovah will swallow them up in His wrath, and the fire will devour them.
Psalm 46:9 causing to cease wars to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts apart spears; He burns the chariots in the fire.
Psalm 80:16 It is burned with fire, cut down; they perish at the rebuke of Your face.
Psalm 106:18 And a fire burned in their company; the flame burned up the wicked.
Isaiah 1:7 Your land is a desolation; your cities burned with fire. Foreigners devour your land before you; and behold, ruin, as overthrown by foreigners.
Isaiah 5:24 So, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and the flame burns up the chaff; their root shall be like rottenness, and their blossoms shall go up like dust, because they have cast away the law of Jehovah of Hosts; and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
Isaiah 29:6 you shall he visited from Jehovah of Hosts; with thunder and earthquake, and great noise, tempest and storm, and flame of devouring fire.
Isaiah 33:14 The sinners of Zion are afraid; terror has seized profane ones; who of us shall tarry with consuming fire? Who of us shall tarry with everlasting burnings?
Isaiah 66:15 For, behold, Jehovah will come with fire, and His chariots like the tempest, to return His wrath in fury, and His rebuke in flames of fire.
Isaiah 66:16 For by fire and by His sword Jehovah will execute judgment with all flesh; and the slain of Jehovah shall be many.
Jeremiah 17:4 And you, even through yourself, will let drop from your inheritance which I gave you. And I will cause you to serve your enemies in a land which you do not know. For you have kindled a fire in My anger; it will burn forever.
Jeremiah 21:14 But I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings, says Jehovah. And I will kindle a fire in its forest, and it shall devour all things around it.
Ezekiel 15:4 Behold, it is put in the fire for fuel. The fire devours both its ends, and its middle is charred. Will it prosper for work? 5 Behold, when it was whole it was not made for work. How much less when the fire has devoured it, and it is charred! Shall it yet be made to work? 6 Therefore, so says the Lord Jehovah: As the vine tree among the trees of the forest, it which I have given to the fire for fuel, so I will give the dwellers of Jerusalem. 7 And I will set my face against them. They shall go out from the fire, and the fire shall devour them. And you shall know that I am Jehovah when I set My face against them.
Ezekiel 28:18 By the host of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your trade, you have profaned your holy places. So I brought a fire from your midst and it shall devour you, and I will give you for ashes on the earth in the sight of all who see you.
As you can plainly see, fire was often threatened as a means of execution and punishment, so as to completely destroy someone or some city. Fire does not leave much behind and does not leave it in any recognizable form. Fire is complete in its devastation and destruction. So fire provided some very good imagery for God to convey His intentions. And we even see the mention of brimstone (sulfur) and coal fire, which is also very hot. Scorching wind is also used.
So it is only fitting that fire be used by Jesus and his disciples, too. If it was good before, there is not reason why it should not continue to be effective. But there is no description of hell or punishment after death to be found in the Old Testament. It would take a misunderstanding of New Testament imagery to create that and so we will move on to that next.
But from what we have seen to here, neither soul nor spirit
constitute any intelligence or consciousness outside of the body or
from beyond the grave. There is no afterlife. We await a resurrection
to bring us back to life. This becomes more clear in the New
Testament as I show in other articles linked at the end of this in
Thayer's Dictionary - Soul
5590 psuche - psoo-khay'
from 5594; TDNT - 9:608,1342; n f
Appears in the KJV as - soul 58, life 40, mind 3, heart 1, heartily + 1537 1, not tr 2; 105
1a) the breath of life
1a1) the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing
1a1a) of animals
1a1b) of men
1c) that in which there is life
1c1) a living being, a living soul
2) the soul
2a) the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions (our heart, soul etc.)
2b) the (human) soul in so far as it is constituted that by the right use of the aids offered it by God it can attain its highest end and secure eternal blessedness, the soul regarded as a moral being designed for everlasting life
2c) the soul as an essence which differs from the body (distinguished from other parts of the body)
Strong's Dictionary - Soul
5590. psuche - psoo-khay'; from 5594; breath, i.e. (by implication) spirit, abstractly or concretely (the animal sentient principle only; thus distinguished on the one hand from 4151, which is the rational and immortal soul; and on the other from 2222, which is mere vitality, even of plants: these terms thus exactly correspond respectively to the Hebrew 05315, 07307 and 02416):-- heart (+ -ily), life, mind, soul, + us, + you.
*This Greek word is translated primarily as soul or life.
Tatian passes down this as regards to how the Greeks defined soul. "For soul is defined as follows: a substance <greek>fantastikh</greek> and <greek>ormhtikh</greek>, which may be rendered into Latin, although not so appropriately, sensibilis et mobilis. This certainly may be said appropriately of all living beings, even of those which abide in the waters; and of winged creatures too, this same definition of anima may be shown to hold good."
Oddly, the definition of soul here is somewhat accurate and similar to the Bible, mobilized senses. That is, the spirit or animation of the flesh, as best as I can tell. I am no Latin expert, though and have not looked into this thoroughly so do not take my word for it. But Greek philosophers did not stick to this language definition and redefined it, each in their own terms. There were many ideas and definitions of what the soul was in the world of Greek philosophers. But the language definition is the one closest to the truth.
Lets see how soul is used in the Bible.
Matthew 2:20 saying, Rising up, take along the child and His mother and pass over into the land of Israel; for those seeking the soul of the child have expired.
Matthew 16:26 For what will a man be benefited if he should gain the whole world, but forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give as an exchange for his soul?
Mark 3:4 And He said to them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbaths, or to do evil? To save a soul, or to kill? But they were silent.
Matthew 10:28 And you should not fear the ones killing the body, but not being able to kill the soul. But rather fear Him being able to destroy both soul and body in Hell.
Acts 3:23 And it shall be that of every soul, whoever should not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.
Luke 12:20 But God said to him, Fool! This night they demand your soul from you; and that which you prepared, to whom will it be?
John 15:13 Greater love than this has no one, that anyone should lay down his soul for his friends.
In seeking the soul of the child, they mean the life. They wanted to kill the infant Jesus but died themselves. Soul is life in many of those scriptures above. Souls can also be saved or rescued from death, as well. Souls can still be killed so there is no sense in believing they survive after death or are immortal.
Acts 12:23 And instantly an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give the glory to God. And having been eaten by worms, his soul went out.
Not "out" as if the soul were alive but divorced from the body but "out" in that his life went out from him. You might say his spirit went out of him and therefore, his soul or living existence, too.
Matthew 6:25 Because of this, I say to you, Do not be anxious for your soul, what you eat and what you drink, nor for your body, what you put on. Is not the soul more than the food and the body than the clothing?
Like in Hebrew, souls eat, drink, wear clothes, etc.
Matthew 12:18 "Behold My Child whom I chose, My Beloved, in whom My soul has delighted!
Matthew 26:38 Then He said to them, My soul is deeply grieved, even unto death.
Souls feel emotion just as in Hebrew. God has a soul as well. These are also feelings attributed to one's spirit and heart as well.
Matthew 22:37 And Jesus said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind."
Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:5, which we covered earlier.
Acts 4:32 And of the multitude of those who believed, the heart and the soul were one. And no one said any of the possessions to be his own, but all things were common to them.
How are the hearts and souls of the multitude one or united? It is their attitudes, their feelings and their beliefs. Luke could have used spirit in this way, too, as Paul does. Soul is not some separate entity just as in the Old Testament it was not.
Luke 12:19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take rest, eat, drink, and be glad.
Soul here is used as we use the word "self" or our name, addressing ourselves.
Acts 2:27 because You will not leave My soul in Hades, nor will You give Your Holy One to see corruption.
To leave his soul or his life in Hades is to leave him dead. He knew God would not do that. Hades was used in place of the Hebrew Sheol. It was symbolic of the waiting place or resting place of souls/ people due to be brought back to life. But again, they are not alive, or thinking, or feeling while in Hades. It is used in a figurative and symbolic sense.
Now let us look at Spirit in Greek.
Thayer's - Spirit
4151 pneuma - pnyoo'-mah
from 4154; TDNT - 6:332,876; n n
Appears in the KJV as - Spirit 111, Holy Ghost 89, Spirit (of God) 13, Spirit (of the Lord) 5, (My) Spirit 3, Spirit (of truth) 3, Spirit (of Christ) 2, human (spirit) 49, (evil) spirit 47, spirit (general) 26, spirit 8, (Jesus' own) spirit 6, (Jesus' own) ghost 2, misc 21; 385
1) the third person of the triune God, the Holy Spirit, coequal,
coeternal with the Father and the Son
1a) sometimes referred to in a way which emphasizes his personality and character (the Holy Spirit)
1b) sometimes referred to in a way which emphasizes his work and power (the Spirit of Truth)
1c) never referred to as a depersonalized force
2) the spirit, i.e. the vital principal by which the body is
2a) the rational spirit, the power by which the human being feels, thinks, decides
2b) the soul
3) a spirit, i.e. a simple essence, devoid of all or at least all
grosser matter, and possessed of the power of knowing, desiring,
deciding, and acting
3a) a life giving spirit
3b) a human soul that has left the body
3c) a spirit higher than man but lower than God, i.e. an angel
3c1) used of demons, or evil spirits, who were conceived as inhabiting the bodies of men
3c2) the spiritual nature of Christ, higher than the highest angels and equal to God, the divine nature of Christ
4) the disposition or influence which fills and governs the soul
of any one
4 a) the efficient source of any power, affection, emotion, desire, etc.
5) a movement of air (a gentle blast)
5a) of the wind, hence the wind itself
5b) breath of nostrils or mouth
For Synonyms see entry 5923
*You will note that not all the definitions given are supported by the scriptures as we shall see.
Strong's - Spirit
4151. pneuma - pnyoo'-mah; from 4154; a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively, a spirit, i.e. (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, demon, or (divine) God, Christ's spirit, the Holy Spirit:-- ghost, life, spirit(-ual, -ually), mind. Compare 5590.
How Spirit is Used
Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit! For theirs is the kingdom of the Heavens.
I do not think this means spiritually poor or lacking spirit. rather, it is that the poor are blessed in spirit and shall therefore inherit the kingdom of the heavens. The word order throws it off.
Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, that you do not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Mark 2:8 And instantly knowing in His spirit that they reasoned this way within themselves, Jesus said to them, Why do you reason these things in your hearts?
Mark 8:12 And groaning in His spirit, He said, Why does this generation seek a sign?
Luke 1:47 and my spirit exulted in God My Savior.
Luke 1:80 And the child grew, and became strong in spirit.
Luke 23:46 And crying with a loud voice, Jesus said, Father, "into Your hands I commit My spirit." And saying this, He breathed out the spirit. Psa. 31:5
Matthew 27:50 And crying again with a loud voice, Jesus released His spirit.
John 19:30 Then when Jesus took the vinegar, He said, It has been finished. And bowing His head, He delivered up the spirit.
John 6:63 It is the Spirit that gives life. The flesh does not profit, nothing! The words which I speak to you are spirit and are life.
Like in Hebrew, spirit can apply to feelings and used interchangeably with soul, heart, and even mind in the same ways.
KJV John 3:8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
Wind in that scripture is actually the word usually translated as spirit. It can be translated as wind, just as it is in Hebrew. Below are two more versions of the same verse.
GLT John 3:8 The Spirit breathes where He desires, and you hear His voice; but you do not know from where He comes, and where He goes; so is everyone who has received birth from the Spirit.
RSV John 3:8 The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit."
Thayer's - Blow, Breath
4154 pnew pneo pneh'-o
a root word; TDNT - 6:452,876; v
KJV - blow 6, wind 1; 7
1) to breathe, to blow
1a) of the wind
Strong's - Blow, Breath
4154. pnew pneo pneh'-o; a primary word; to breathe hard, i.e. breeze:-- blow. Compare 5594.
*You can see that blow (pneo) is closely related with spirit
Thayer's dictionary - Hades
86 hades - hah'-dace
from 1 (as negative particle) and 1492; TDNT - 1:146,22; n pr loc
Appears in the KJV as - hell 10, grave 1; 11
1) name Hades or Pluto, the god of the lower regions
2) Orcus, the nether world, the realm of the dead
3) later use of this word: the grave, death, hell
Strong's dictionary - Hades
86. adhv hades hah'-dace; from 1 (as negative particle) and 1492; properly, unseen, i.e. "Hades" or the place (state) of departed souls:-- grave, hell.
Hades only signified what Sheol in Hebrew did. Nothing more. How it got to hell is a long story. But it should stand for the grave. The idea of hell did not come from Hades, although they sometimes translated it from that. It came more from the illustration of the rich man and Lazarus and some other words of Jesus as well as visions in Revelation. I will get to that shortly. Lets look at appearances of Hades first.
Matthew 11:23 And you, Capernaum, who "have been exalted to the heaven, you will be thrown down to Hades." For if the powerful acts happening in you had taken place in Sodom, it would remain until today. [From Isaiah 14:13, 15].
Jesus used Isaiah and the contrast between Heaven high up and formerly Sheol, now Hades down into the earth or ground where we return as dust.
Matthew 16:18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against her.
Acts 2:27 because You will not leave My soul in Hades, nor will You give Your Holy One to see corruption.
Acts 2:31 foreseeing, he spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, "that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption." LXX (Septuagint) -Psa. 15:10; Mt (Hebrew)-Psa. 16:10
1Corinthians 15:55 "O death, where is your sting? Hades, where is your victory?" Hos. 13:14
Revelation 1:18 and the Living One; and I became dead; and, behold, I am living forever and ever. Amen. And I have the keys to Hades, and of death.
Revelation 6:8 And I saw, and behold, a pale green horse, and the name of the one sitting on it was Death; and Hades followed after him. And authority was given to them to kill over the fourth of the earth with sword, and with famine, and with death, and by the wild beasts of the earth.
Revelation 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead in it. And death and Hades gave up the dead in them. And they were each judged according to their works.
Revelation 20:14 And death and Hades were thrown into the Lake of Fire. This is the second death.
Hades, the waiting/ resting place of the dead, shall one day give up its dead in resurrection. Then Hades will be thrown into the lake of fire. So Hades can not be hell because it will be tossed into what some interpret as hell in the lake of fire. But Hades, standing for nothing more than the Hebrew Sheol, is a symbolic place and a symbolic way to convey to people that they shall not be dead and gone forever and that God intends to bring them back so they are in a state of waiting and expectation in Sheol/ Hades.
So when translators translate Hades as hell, they are wrong and
are injecting their own interpretation into things. They have no
right to do so. If they call it grave, it is not as serious for that,
too, is our waiting place and is often called grave, anyway.
You will not find Gehenna in every Bible. Some use hell in place of it. Some use Gehenna as that is the word, a place name, that appears in the original Greek translation. It is the proper rendering of the Greek.
Thayer's dictionary - Gehenna
1067 geenna geenna gheh'-en-nah
of Hebrew origin 01516 and 02011 Mnh-ayg; TDNT - 1:657,113; n f
Appears in the KJV as - hell 9, hell fire + 3588 + 4442 3; 12
1) Hell is the place of the future punishment call "Gehenna" or "Gehenna of fire". This was originally the valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where the filth and dead animals of the city were cast out and burned; a fit symbol of the wicked and their future destruction.
Strong's dictionary - Gehenna
1067. geenna geenna gheh'-en-nah; of Hebrew origin [01516 and 02011]; valley of (the son of) Hinnom; ge-henna (or Ge-Hinnom), a valley of Jerusalem, used (figuratively) as a name for the place (or state) of everlasting punishment:-- hell.
From the valley of the sons of Hinnom. Known also as the valley of Hinnom. First mentioned in Joshua and mentioned once or twice in:
2 Kings - 2 Chronicles - Nehemiah
And 5 times in Jeremiah where it is related that the people of Judah would sacrifice children in that valley. It later became a garbage dump where criminal's bodies would be tossed to burn. The place was continually being fueled by burning sulphur. The imagery was perfect for the notorious way that criminals of God would be done away with. From this would no doubt come the inspiration for the image of the lake of fire.
So Jesus made ample use of the imagery conjured up by such
references to Gehenna. Jews knew exactly what he meant. It was a
dishonorable death and one that brought total destruction from which
there was no return for those who were given over to it. Let us take
a look at how fire is used in the New Testament.
Matthew 7:19 Every tree not producing good fruit is cut down and is thrown into fire.
Of course, he is not really talking about trees here, but people as is also the case in the next one.
Matthew 13:40 Then as the darnel is gathered and is consumed in the fire
Matthew 13:50 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; there will be weeping and gnashing of the teeth.
The fire is here described as in a furnace. It is symbolic of the harsh total destruction that fire usually represents as it did in the Old Testament.
Matthew 18:8 And if your hand or your foot offends you, cut it off and throw it from you; it is good for you to enter into life lame or maimed, than having two hands or two feet to be thrown into the everlasting fire.
As we shall see as we go on, the everlasting applies not so much tot he fire as to the results of the fire. This fire or judgement, does not quit, so to speak. It is permanent; everlasting. There is no 2nd chance after this judgement. Jesus was warning them that since the Holy Spirit of God was being manifest to them, there could not be any excuse for not obeying and submitting. Anyone sinning against the spirit would not get a 2nd chance. Death would be forever. No resurrection. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200, game over, forever! The same goes for some of the next ones.
Matthew 25:41 Then He will also say to those on His left, Go away from Me, cursed ones, into the everlasting fire having been prepared for the Devil and his angels.
John 15:6 Unless one remains in Me, he is cast out as the branch and is dried up; and they gather and throw them into a fire, and they are burned.
One of the reasons Jesus made ample use of this symbol was because of its common use in the Old Testement Hebrew scriptures such as the following:
Isaiah 34:8 For the day of vengeance is to Jehovah, the year of repayments for Zion's cause. 9 And its torrents shall be turned to pitch, and its dust to brimstone; and its land shall become burning pitch. 10 It shall not be put out night or day; its smoke shall rise forever. From generation to generation, it shall lie waste; no one shall pass through it forever and forever.
This passage also sounds a lot like that of the Lake of Fire in Revelation 20. They are symbols to convey a various serious and permanent destruction of the greatest of severity. We should not imagine we are coming back after going in there. Avoid it at all cost.
2Thessalonians 1:8 in flaming fire giving full vengeance to those not knowing God, and to those not obeying the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, Isa. 66:15; Jer. 10:25
Hebrews 10:27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment and "zealous fire being about to consume the adversaries." Isa. 26:11
Hebrews 12:29 for also, Our God is a consuming fire." Deut. 4:24
Paul does not hesitate to use Old Testament imagery to make known the wrath of God coming upon those who do not obey Him.
2Peter 3:7 But the heavens and the earth now, having been stored up by the same word, are being kept for fire to a day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
The heavens and earth stored up for judgment are not the literal heavens and earth. After all, why would the heavens need to be destroyed. There were no sinful men in the heavens. But there were spirits there that needed dealt with and they would be. The earth refers to men on it, not the literal planet. The Bible promises there will be survivors who will live forever on earth.
Besides, Peter makes it clear that this fire has an intended target and purpose, namely, the destruction of ungodly men. Now destruction means exactly what is says, destruction. There is no survival after this. No suffering or torment. The purpose is to rid heaven and earth of the ungodly, not keep them around to mock, torment, harass and torture.
Jude 1:7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them, in like manner to these, committing fornication, and going away after other flesh, laid down an example before-times, undergoing vengeance of everlasting fire.
Sodom and Gomorrah were punished with everlasting fire. They were used to set an example for us. We know the fire did not literally last since there is no fire in those places at this time or for any time in a long time or people would be continually talking about such an unusual phenomenon.
Revelation 9:17 And so I saw in the vision the horses, and those sitting on them, having fire-colored breastplates, even dusky red and brimstone-like; and the heads of the horses as heads of lions; and out of their mouths come fire and smoke and brimstone.
You can imagine how fire colored breast plates and fire, smoke and brimstone coming from their mouths would be scary and fierce looking. That is the intended result of this imagery. They are scary. They are supposed to be. Fire gives them that dreadful appearance. Not something or someone you want to mess with, right. Besides, have you ever really seen horses who spit fire, smoke, and brimstone? Of course not. It is symbolic imagery which is more common in revelation than in any other book of the Bible.
In fact, Revelation is the key book and the key reason why God throughout the Bible and by means of His son, and prophets, has tried to teach us how to speak, hear, and understand symbolic imagery so that we can understand th8is most important of all prophetic books in the Bible. This one has especially important messages for we who live in those last times before the final judgement. It is the book to answer many puzzles and questions not quite so clear up to that point. It was not intended to be taken very literally. Keep that in mind as we continue to read scriptures from Revelation.
Revelation 14:10 he also shall drink of the wine of the anger of God having been mixed undiluted in the cup of His wrath. And he will be tormented by fire and brimstone before the holy angels and before the Lamb.
This scripture talks about those who worship the beast. It warns them and us that these will most surely be judged, punished, tormented with fire and brimstone (sulfur). In other words, they will die. It is supposed to be obvious. But many choose to see it in a silly way that it was not intended.
Revelation 19:20 And the beast was seized, and with this one the false prophet doing signs before it, by which he led astray those having received the mark of the beast, and those worshiping its image. The two were thrown alive into the Lake of Fire burning with brimstone.
This judgment is particularly painful as they are not killed and burned. They are thrown alive into the fire, a particularly painful and agonizing way to do. It is not swift, instant, and relatively painless. But lake of fire is symbolic and represents something as Revelation is about to reveal to us.
Revelation 20:10 And the Devil leading them astray was thrown into the Lake of Fire and Brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet were. And they were tormented day and night forever and ever.
Many interpret this as keeping them alive and torturing them forever. It could seem that way. But Rev. 21:8 is going to tell us otherwise. But their torment is forever in that they will never see life again. For some, that is a great torment, though they will not be alive to actually comprehend that but they will perceive that in their last moments alive when they are about to be destroyed. It is symbolic. This punishment will be everlasting.
Revelation 20:14 And death and Hades were thrown into the Lake of Fire. This is the second death.
Now if death and Hades are thrown into this lake of fire, then they are destroyed. So Hades can not be Hell as translators often render it. Death and Hades will be no more. This is after the devil and any foolish enough to follow him (when he is let loose at the end of the thousand year reign of peace) will be destroyed. Hades is destroyed because God wants to make it clear there are no more people waiting for a resurrection and there will not be anymore. You will have either done the right thing by this time or you will be dead for good. Death will be no more. Those who survive this have shown they are and will always be loyal and faithful.
Revelation 20:15 And if anyone was not found having been written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the Lake of Fire.
This just further verifies what I just said. You will either be one or the other. Dead or live forever. No more in-between's, no more resurrections, no more 2nd chances. This is the one chance and that is it. Get it right or be gone forever.
Revelation 21:8 But for the cowardly and unbelieving, and those having become foul, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all the lying ones, their part will be in the Lake burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
That lake burning with fire and brimstone? Sounds kind of nasty,
doesn't it? The imagery is strong, no doubt! This could be the only
thing really interpreted as hell. But this scripture makes it clear
that it is not hell. It is the 2nd death. This is, it means, it
stands for, it represents, the 2nd death. This is a permanent,
everlasting, no 2nd chance death from which there is never any return
or waiting for a future chance. It is over, never to return or come
again. Take advantage of it now the first time or you are dead
forever! That is a nice way to leave that.
This account is responsible for a belief in hell, perhaps more than any other, except maybe the lake of fire in Revelation 19-21. It seems so obvious to me that Jesus is using a mock illustration as he so often does, to illustrate a point. Let me show you why.
Luke 16: 19 And there was a certain rich man; and he was accustomed to don a purple robe and fine linen, making merry in luxury day by day. 20 And there was a certain poor one named Lazarus who had been laid at his porch, being plagued by sores, 21 and longing to be filled from the crumbs that were falling from the table of the rich one. But coming, even the dogs licked his sores.
The rich man was decked out like a king. Lazarus was so hungry he desired to be filled with the crumbs from the rich man's table. Surely you do not take that literally, do you? It is a literary technique called facetiousness. Crumbs could hardly have filled a starving man. It was an illustrative and exaggerated way of saying that Lazarus would have been happy with the leftovers of this guy.
Luke 16: 22 And it happened, the poor one died and was carried away by the angels into the bosom of Abraham. And the rich one also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hell, lifting up his eyes, he sees Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosoms. 24 And calling he said, Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering in this flame.
Knowing that we are not resurrected until the last day, how do we reconcile Lazarus being carried away to the bosom of Abraham? And by angels, no less? When did that start happening? Do we all get that treatment? Now the scripture mentions hell. That was Hades in Greek and Hades was a waiting place not a place of torment so that makes no sense, either. It is misleading, too, to use hell.
The rich man can also see Lazarus and Abraham far off. Are you kidding me? Does that mean we have to listen to the screams and agony of those being tormented while in heaven. That is bound to suck! And then he asks that Lazarus dip his finger in water to cool the man's tongue. Is that honestly going to provide that much relief to him? Sounds like another facetious exaggeration to me. further, he is in a flame and yet not burning. How does that work, anyway? Is God also going to modify the laws of physics in Hades while He is at it? Doesn't this all seem way too far out to be serious and literal?
Luke 16: 25 But Abraham said, Child, remember that you fully received your good things in your lifetime, and Lazarus likewise the bad things. But now he is comforted, and you are suffering. 26 And besides all these things, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that those desiring to pass from here to you are not able, nor can they pass from there to us.
Now the rich man had not been so much bad as just indifferent to Lazaurs' suffering and neglect. For this he shall be tortured for eternity? Really? Wow! God is really severe, isn't He?
Luke 16: 27 And he said, Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father's house; 28 (for I have five brothers, so that he may witness to them, that they not also come to this place of torment).
Well, the rich man forgets his torment and asks that Lazarus be sent to the rich man's family to warn them to avoid the same fate.
Luke 16: 29 Abraham said to him, They have Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them.
Luke 16: 30 But he said, No, father Abraham, but if one should go from the dead to them, they will repent.
Luke 16: 31 And he said to him, If they will not hear Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if one from the dead should rise.
Abraham, but in reality, Jesus, says that anyone who will not listen to Moses and the prophets will not listen to someone returned from the dead, either, prophesying the rejection Jesus would experience, even after having been resurrected. And so the rich man's request is denied.
How can anyone take this story seriously. It is an illustration. How can that not be seen? It can happen because people do not know how to read and when the Bible says the Jesus always spoke in figures and parables, they do not get it. They have not been granted eyes and ears of discernment from the spirit and so remain blind and silly. But for those of you who are sensible and reasonable, you will no doubt see the obvious facetiousness of the story and see its figurative meaning to the Pharisees and others who live it up great in this world to the neglect of the next and suffer great loss, missing out on the resurrection.
Some will say this applied to a specific person. Shall we also say
that about the faithful and discreet slave illustration. Are there
also 5 specific discreet virgins and 5 specific foolish virgins in
the parable about them. What we should have learned about
illustrations, like the one about the wheat and the weeds, is that
all the characters represented something else. A man represented the
devil. The harvesters were actually angels, etc. Nothing was as it
appeared to be in the story. Yet many still take the rich man and
Lazarus quite literally. I guess they are to be pitied.
Jesus and various writers in the Bible often would describe death as a sleep. Not because they really thought people were sleeping. Jesus described a girl as sleeping and Lazarus as sleeping, not because they were. They were absolutely dead. But from the standpoint of Jesus or his Father, this death was only temporary, as if it were sleep. With sleep, you often lose all consciousness. But you gain it back the next morning and sometimes in between when you dream.
Since we are to rise again, our death and non-existence is more like a sleep, since it is not any sort of permanent state or judgment. To God we will live. We are carefully preserved in His mind and will be brought back to life at the proper time. But like sleep, we are not conscious of anything even as Solomon wrote and made clear in Ecclesiastes. There is no soul that survives to think or do anything. There is not spirit that continues and sometimes haunts those living.
There is nothing about us that lives on after we die. We return to dust, the elements of the earth from which we first were assembled in the womb, from digested food consumed by our mothers. We return to non-existence, just as we were non-existent before our conception. We did not exist before and we do not exist after. But for those God wills, they will live again, either because they obeyed God, or because they did not have a chance to hear the word of God and make a choice before.
So from that standpoint of God, we will return and so we are said to be sleeping. It is a fitting illustration. It is also described in another way when we are said to be waiting in Sheol or Hades or the grave. We come out of our graves, or from Sheol or Hades, when the voice of God calls us on the last day. They are all different ways of making it clear that we will return and that death will only be temporary.
In contrast, those who reject the warnings of the last days will
not sleep and will not rise from the grave or Hades but will be
permanently destroyed, never to return. There is a big contrast in
fates there. And that was the intention, to make a strong sharp
contrast between the two outcomes. So don't pass them by lightly.
Make the right decision so you can be in the book of life and live
When I first had the resurrection explained to me and it was made clear that death was total and complete, with no consciousness, nothing surviving until God brought me and all back, I was not comfortable with that at all. I did not like that idea. I was afraid that somehow, there would be something missing. So I want to address that since I imagine there are many who might feel that same way when they discover that what they have been taught about an immortal soul is not true.
First, We are completely flesh. Our whole, entire, complete consciousness is absolutely and completely contained within our flesh. There is no separate and distinct consciousness or intelligence which survives. We are flesh, pure and simple. We represent the image of God in physical form. We are physical expressions of the Godly image. Our fleshly form was the only form intended for us, initially.
But when Adam sinned, it brought about a situation that was not what God intended but did allow for. But now to enable us who were born in a defective condition brought about be Adam, we need to be taught and our flesh brought back into a cleansed perfect state that Adam once possessed. In order to do that, God wanted to make some of us spirits in heaven to help in restoring physical mankind.
But the goal was to have a planet full of perfect people who accurately reflected the image of God in physical form. That has never changed. We were always physical fleshly creatures and many of us will always be that. There is no better state for us. Those who go to heaven, go there for a purpose and they are, compared with those on earth who are saved or resurrected, a comparatively small number.
But may are afraid that if there is not some part of us that survives, then we will not be quite as we were. So it is important that we appreciate that we absolutely are totally physical in creation and existence! Why? Because if all we are is an assembled bunch of atoms and molecules, then if we could be created and arranged once, we can be assembled that way again. And if our consciousness and memory are nothing more than physical arrangements of matter, atoms and whatever, then they can absolutely be recreated and arranged just as they were the first time. There is no question about that. If God can make us once, He can make us many times.
It is important to understand that there is nothing about us physically that is any more than 7 years old. Every cell in our body is replenished after 7 years. Even the elements within our bones are continually replaced. So our consciousness is not dependant on the exact physical elements that started us for those are long gone. We maintain our memories and consciousness, despite the constant renewal and change. The patterns and memories are preserved in some organization that is kept and maintained without dependence on anything in particular. It is certainly a remarkable system which God created. Miraculous in every way. But physical and reproducible at any time by God.
If we have faith in God, we need not be concerned that nothing physical or metaphysical or incorporeal survives. If it was physical to begin with, it can be recreated. God, who knew how to make it the first time, can remake it any time. It is only a matter of memory. And God has plenty of memory to remember us in every exact detail. So we need not worry about coming back intact. Everything will be well taken care of. That is why Jesus came back to his disciples to show them the resurrection was truly real. That is why may resurrections of a temporary nature were performed. It gives us faith.
We do not need an immortal soul or an intelligent eternal spirit.
We were never those things to begin with. Our souls are simply us in
our physical form. Nothing more.
I am going to explain it to you and then you can read the history to see for yourself. First, in order to fully support my ideas that I have presented to you, you need to know more about the resurrection, and how god is carrying out His Purpose. I have linked to them at the end of this article. I deal with the topic of word spirit, spirits, and spiritual in detail so we can better understand those things, too. I gathered a number of related articles to help anyone understand.
In addition, I have gathered the writings of various early Christians who lived after the Apostles and wrote about these various ideas. They were mixed up and confused about the resurrection, the soul, and related matters like hell. So I will explain why I think they were confused and wrong about what they wrote of.
In the first place, they did not understand that there were two resurrections promised, two hoes or promises to be fulfilled. This is explained in the articles I link to at the end. There was the first promise made in the law and the prophets of the earthly physical resurrection. That resurrection was valid and applied to the majority of mankind and to all early (pre-John & Jesus) Israel. Then there was the heavenly hope offered to all from John and Jesus onward, a resurrection as a spirit to reign in heaven with Christ. This was part of the new covenant Christ instituted. But it was for a limited number and a limited time whereby the number would be filled in the last days and many others would simply inherit the earth without needing to die and be resurrected.
This point was lost on the early Christians who lived after the Apostles died. They did not discern two different hopes so they tried to reconcile what Jesus and the Apostles preached with the understanding of the Old Testament, Old Covenant hope of an earthly fleshly resurrection. Their opposers, the so called heretics, also were mistaken in that while they did understand the resurrection as spirits, they did not believe in the earthly physical resurrection and thought all flesh and material creation to be evil. They imagined Jesus did not come in the flesh but only in the appearance of the flesh, perhaps as an angel might have done in previous times. So both parties or camps were wrong, but neither could see why.
Further, I do not think they had a very high opinion of God. To me, it seems foolish to imagine God feeling the need to eternally punish people for a sin attributable to Adam. It seems unfair and rather cruel. And are those in the heavenly realm suppose to enjoy the sounds and sights of those in torment? No matter how bad or hideous a criminal, the last thing I want to see or hear is the pain and agony of another human being. It takes a sick man to enjoy torturing people. Are we and God that vindictive and cruel hearted? The whole idea seems very silly and perverted when you take literalism too far.
How did they forget so quickly what the Apostles taught? Well, it is a sad fact of human nature that people, including all God fearing people, do a lousy job of passing on what they were taught and what they learned about God. And with the passing of just a generation of two beyond the Apostles, most quickly forgot any details. For many, the picture might not have been very clear to begin with. Many, then as today, do not take that great an interest in Godly things, anyway. They are busy making money, living the good life, having fun, worrying about this life and not giving enough concern to their future life with God and righteousness.
So before you knew it, no one really new in precise detail what was taught by the Apostles. So they read the Bible and discerned as best as they could. But they were not very bright and some would not discern the often spiritual meanings of scriptures. Some ignored clear statements of scripture. It all amounted to errors and lies being spread instead of truth, which is exactly what the Bible foretold would happen. There is an article dealing with that at the end, too.
Now not only did they not discern two different resurrections, they did not, as I just said, understand the spiritual, figurative, allegorical method with which Jesus and others spoke and wrote. They took too many things literally and a few took too many things figuratively, too. But mainly it was people not paying enough attention to the symbolic nature of the parables and illustrations given in the Bible. That is how many came to believe in an eternal torment called hell. So errors multiplied upon errors.
Then to make matters worse, some were desirous of justifying and
pleasing the flesh. These were mostly those called heretics. They
went in for every sort of bad behavior, knowing that the flesh would
be dissolved when they became spirits do they wanted to live it up in
the flesh while they could. They were not from God. Others got caught
up in spiritism and mysticism, casting aside the Bible in favor of
invented things which were intended to make those who revealed these
"new" things look favored by God and special. But they were
Then came those who were seduced by Greek philosophy. This was a real problem in the early centuries of Christianity. Many early Christian writers were well versed in both Greek religion and Greek philosophy. They often made fun of the religious ideas and found much fault with the philosophy of many, too. But, deep underneath, there seemed to be a desire to perhaps appear smart or intellectual to the Greek philosophers, or perhaps to make Christianity appear pleasing to the Greeks. In addition, some Greek philosophy was really science or math and was treated that way by Christians as well. But the only problem there was that they could not always carefully discern what was established proven science and what was mere philosophical imagination.
For whatever the reason, early writers treated the soul, as basically defined by the Greek philosophers, as fact and truth, well established. Either that or they were trying to use terms the Greeks would understand. But in doing so, they began to try to make distinctions about what the soul or existence was or was not, just like the Greeks did. But in doing so, they totally ignored the Bible and began to speculate, initially starting with the Bible but later leaving it behind without realizing it. Before you knew it, they were asserting all sorts of things that were not only not addressed in the Bible, but often even refuted in the Bible. The Bible, in fact, was often completely left out of a discussion of an idea or an article.
They had got suckered into the playing the Greek's game and left their own behind, and leaving God behind with it. They strayed too far from the Bible and were too caught up in trying to look pleasing to the Greeks.
We see hits today as some Christians groups concede to evolution, political correctness, psychology, some philosophy and other such things that we are told are nearly infallible and certainly righteous and correct. Many fall for that crap instead of sticking to what God says about a matter. We are not the first to stray. Those early Christians started it first.
So sadly, what has come down to us through the ages today has been largely corrupted or replaced by various doctrinal lies and errors. It now is up to us to carefully search through what has been handed down us to see what can be supported by the Bible and what needs to be thrown out and changed. We need to stick close to God's word and not venture too far into the fad of the minute in philosophy, science, or trendy religions and new age mysticism. The devil has saturated the world with false ideas and propaganda to mislead and deceive Christians. And the Bible tells us may will be deceived by it. So we want to open our eyes and get to work so that we are not among those deceived and thrown into that symbolic lake of fire.
What Is in Related Articles?
In addition to articles already mentioned, I have supplied two articles of Tertullian's. One is on the resurrection and the other on the soul. Although Tertullian is way off and wrong in my opinion, his articles do the best job of showing the very many influences that cause him and all others to go off track. All the early Greek ideas are there. It becomes quite clear how profound the influence of Plato was on all modern day religions like re-incarnation and new age stuff and on much of Christianity, too. The influence of the heretics is to be seen, too.
And then there are the gathered writings of the other various writers on the soul, resurrection, and hell. They seem to be much like Tertullian, except for Polycarp and Clement (I) who say nothing but only quote scriptures, which is excellent. Have fun!
Articles dealing with the Soul and Hell
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