Do the wicked go to hell?
The concept that the wicked go to an ever-burning hell after their death is nowhere taught in Scripture. In fact, the Bible does not even teach the existence of an ever-burning hell, torturing wicked souls of departed ones for their evil deeds.
The concept of an ever-burning hellfire is derived from paganism. Richard Craze explains in his book, “Hell, An Illustrated History of the Netherworld,” copyrighted 1996:
“… the old horned gods of the Stone Age people became the new rulers of hell. There was a sort of logic in locating the place of the dead below ground — the underworld — because that was exactly where the dead were buried… The early [nominal] Christians borrowed Hel’s name [the goddess Hel ruled over the place of the “lost souls” in Viking mythology] for their own place of punishment… The early [nominal] Christians borrowed heavily from earlier mythologies, and the generally accepted appearance of Satan is an amalgamation of such things as the horns and shaggy hindquarters of the Greek god Pan, the wings of the Mesopotamian devil Pazuzu, and the scales and dragon skin of the Persian Azhidaahaka… The Greeks borrowed freely from the Babylonians… Pluto, Zeus’ brother, governed [hell] with a merciless severity and subjected his poor guests to the most ingenious tortures… [Others] were consigned to the deep bottomless pit… ruled by Kronos. Here they would suffer eternal torment… sinners were tortured for eternity… The Romans knew exactly where hell was located — underneath Italy. Everything else they borrowed from the Greeks.”
The author also points out:
“… it was the Synod of Bishops in Constantinople in 543 that… set the seal on hell, when they decreed that ‘if anyone shall say or even think that there is an end to the torment of… ungodly persons, or that there ever will be an end to it, then let them be excommunicated.’ And they promptly excommunicated Origen, an early Church father, for saying that he thought hell was finite.”
In addition, the Bible does not teach the concepts of “limbo” or “purgatory,” either. These concepts have their origin in pagan mythologies, as well.
Craze points out these most incredible facts:
“The early [nominal] Christians… introduce[d] the concept of a sort of waiting-room, where souls would stay for [a while]. They found a ready-made idea — limbo — that they freely borrowed from the Romans, who had borrowed it from the Greeks. Limbo became a place where anyone who did not quite fit could be put… Purgatory… was a cross between limbo and hell… Jesus’ mother, the Virgin Mary, was called back from heaven, where she had been asleep (the Dormition). She was given the keys of hell to look after, and the running of the purgatory. She does not administer any punishments — in fact, her main job seems to be protecting the souls of the sinners from the wrath of her son [Jesus Christ!!!]. Purgatory became a sort of temporary hell — but one from which sinners could be rescued.”
However, the Bible does not teach the concepts of limbo, purgatory or of an ever-burning hell.
It is true that the New Testament speaks about a fiery place, which is translated in some English Bibles as, “hell.” The Greek word for this place is “gehenna.” It does not, however, describe an ever-burning hell, as commonly understand by many. Craze explains:
“Gehenna — the place of fire. It is probable that it was named after the place just outside Jerusalem where the household rubbish, including the bodies of criminals and animals, was burnt.”
Please note the following excerpts from our free booklet, “Do You Have an Immortal Soul?”, addressing the concept of a fiery hell:
“The word ‘gehenna’ and the very concept of it are derived from the Valley of Hinnom outside Jerusalem in which the corpses of dead people, mainly criminals, would be burned up. It is another expression for the ‘lake of fire’ in Revelation 20:15, in which all who have acted wickedly, and who have refused to repent, will be thrown into, to be burned up or ‘devoured.’ (Remember that Hebrews 10:27… tells us that the wicked wait for God’s fiery indignation that will ‘devour’ them.). That is the ‘hell’ or the ‘gehenna’ fire that Christ is talking about…-‘the second death’ from which there will be no resurrection.
“Those who sin deliberately, willfully and maliciously, God will resurrect to physical life [please note that they were dead — not in heaven, hell, limbo or purgatory — and that they had to be brought back from death to physical life] to throw them-their physical body and their soul or their ‘life’-into ‘gehenna’ or the lake of fire (Revelation 20:13-15; 21:8). They won’t burn there forever-rather, they will be burned up. They are the ‘chaff,’ that will be ‘burned up’ with unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:12)-that is, no human can quench it. Notice that this fire will ultimately even burn up or bring to dissolution ‘heaven and earth,’ so that a ‘new heaven and a new earth’ can be created by God (2 Peter 3:10-13).
“The wicked, such as the rich man in Christ’s parable in Luke 16, will not burn forever and ever, for all eternity, in an everlasting hell fire, but they will be ‘burned up’ (cp. again Matthew 3:12). The Greek word for ‘burned up’ is ‘katakaio’-conveying the meaning that nothing of what is burned up will remain. We read in Revelation 18:8 that modern Babylon ‘shall be utterly burned with fire.’ The word for ‘utterly burned’ is, again, ‘katakaio’ in the Greek. And we are told that ‘that great city Babylon [will] be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.’ (Revelation 18:21). In the same way, the wicked, such as the rich man in Luke 16, that are [brought back to life from the dead and then] thrown into ‘gehenna’ or the lake of fire [called the SECOND death!], will be ‘burnt up’-they ‘shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up… that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.’ (Malachi 4:1). They will become ashes under the feet of the righteous (Malachi 4:3); it will be as if they had never existed (Obadiah 16).”
The wicked will be burnt up in a temporary gehenna fire, to die the SECOND death, from which there will be no further resurrection to life (Revelation 20:14-15; 21:8) — they will not be tortured forever and ever in an eternal hell fire, without ever being destroyed. We need to understand, too, that those who will be burnt up will have committed the unpardonable sin. As it is true in regard to the concept of “hell,” very few understand properly, either, what the “unpardonable sin” really is.
To learn more about the future of those who will be burnt up in gehenna fire, because they have committed the unpardonable sin, as well as the fate of all of those who have died, please read our free booklet, “Do You Have an Immortal Soul?”