- Aug 24, 2012
DEATH, HELL, AND THE LAKE OF FIRE
A. S. Copley
DEATH, HELL, AND THE LAKE OF FIRE
A. S. Copley
"And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death" - Rev 20:14. Some people carelessly confound these two places, as if they were the same. This statement alone proves them to be two distinct localities, though of a similar character. Other citations confirm these facts. Hell is not simply a painful state. It is a certain clearly defined locality. We will consider these two places separately, then their relation to each other. The word "hell" occurs twenty-three times in the New Testament, translated from three Greek words: "gehenna" twelve times, "hades" ten times, and "tartaroo" once (Jude 7). Jesus Christ used the word "hades" four times. It means a place that is down .. "Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell (hades)" - Mat 11:23; Lk 10:15. Its gates oppose the Church. Its inhabitants would pull saved folk into its realm, if possible; but "the gates of hell (hades) shall not prevail against" the Church which Jesus builds. Unsound teaching would send weak Christians into hades, if that were possible. Hades is a place of heat and pain. "In hell (hades) he (the rich man) lift up his eyes, being in torments (pain)." He prayed when it was too late - "Send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented (pained) in this flame" - Lk 16:23, 24. This is an unmistakably plain description of the state of the wicked in hell, from the beginning of time until the end of the Millennium. The rich man had no physical tongue then, neither did Lazarus have a physical finger. The guilty man's soul was suffering from a flame of regret and remorse. It was mental anguish, a burning conscience. His sight of Lazarus aggravated the pain. Observe that he did not repent. He was interested in his brethren's welfare; and their presence with him would increase his torment, because he had not witnessed to them and sought the Lord for them when he was alive on earth. But that was not the lake of fire. That was only "hades," not "ghenna." The adjective "everlasting" never occurs in connection with hades. The phrase "everlasting hell" is not Scriptural.
A DIFFERENT COMPARTMENT
"Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (hades), neither wilt Thou suffer (leave) Thine Holy One to see corruption" - Act 2:26, 27. These words are quoted almost verbatim from Psa 16:9, 10. The Greek word "hades" in the New Testament answers to the Hebrew word "sheol" in the Old Testament. It means invariably the habitation of the souls of the dead. It never means the grave, though it is thus translated in thirty-one instances. Note the differences between this person in hades and the rich man. Lazarus suffers no pain, no regret, no remorse, no despair. Instead, he is glad and rejoices, because he has ground for hope. David experienced all that, for through faith's telescope he saw that his Lord and Redeemer would go that way. However long his soul might be in "sheol" and his body in the grave (queber, Hebrew), some day he would be released from both. Jesus named that place in hades, "Abraham's bosom," which means nearness and intimate fellowship. Jesus "in the bosom of the Father" has the same meaning - Jn 1:18.
"Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed" - Lk 16:26. So sheol, or hades, comprised two distinct and separate compartments. The inhabitants could communicate, but could not change places with one another. Two citations at least in the Old Testament confirm this view. "For a fire (not a literal material fire) is kindled in Mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell (sheol)" - Deut 32:22. God's anger is not mentioned with reference to the righteous dead. "For great is Thy mercy toward me: and Thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell (sheol)" - Psa 86:13. David knew that his soul would never be in the lowest hell. Jesus "descended first into the lower parts of the earth"; but not into the lowest parts, or lowest hades - Eph 4:9. Those "spirits in prison," to whom Jesus preached, were in upper hades - the lower parts of the earth, as compared with the grave - I Pet 3:19. "The deep," also, evidently means upper hades - Rom 10:7. The Lord Jesus named upper hades or Abraham's bosom, "Paradise"; that is, a park. He said to the dying thief, "Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise" - Lk 23:43. The spirits of both Jesus and the thief went down into upper hades. That is not a question, but a declaration. The phrase, "shalt be," is one word in Greek. Bear in mind, that Jesus never went by His spirit into lowest hades. He could not contradict Abraham's words, which He quoted. "They which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence" - Lk 16:26. He never crossed the great gulf into lowest hades.
We must conclude from the above Scriptures that hades is a place of conscious existence. See also Isa 14:9-11. They that deny it, explain away Lk 16:19-31, saying that it is a parable. Lazarus and Abraham are mentioned, but names are not given in parables. If that is a parable, is not Psa 16:9, 10 also a parable? Then is not Act 2:25-32 a parable? Nay. Peter declares boldly, "He (David) seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hell (hades), neither His flesh did see corruption (in the grave). This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses" - Act 2:31, 32. Russellism (Jehovah Witnesses) denies Christ's resurrection. It says, "His human body may be somewhere, kept as a grand memorial, having been super- naturally removed." What blatant infidelity. It is plain where Russell went. "For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins." But God be praised eternally - "Now IS Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept" - I Cor 15:16, 17, 20. The Truth gives us undisturbed rest, and thrills us with unspeakable joy, and fills us with an undying hope of seeing Jesus in His glorified body and of being with Him forever.
Death, Hell, and the Lake of Fire continued on post #2 >